Scriptures: Deuteronomy 2:1-3, Galatians 5:24
Israel turned an eleven day journey into a forty year struggle: they found themselves stuck in a state of wandering. Moving without vision, passion or purpose: they were going through the motions without submission. They knew enough of God's Word to be argumentative.
God told Israel: you have skirted this mountain long enough. Israel needed to break their cycle or that cycle would be passed on to the next generation. If we aren't careful our walk with Christ can become a routine: we can make lifestyle allowances accepting wrong attitude and appetites. We learn so we can change, not justify. We do not just look for happiness: we strive for holiness.
Circling mountains- Breaking cycles. The first cycle to break is moving but not growing. We can mistake time or activity for progress. We can go through the motions or routines without advancement.
The second cycle to break: things in our lives we have never gotten victory over. Things like: habits, unforgiveness, gossip, overeating, lust, jealousy, critical spirits and losing our tempers. Ask yourself the question: when you experience similar conditions do you respond a certain way? If yes, this a cycle!
Have we skirted the mountains too long? Feeling guilty and repentance are very different. Issues in our lives must be dealt with. In every situation we face we have a choice: a fleshly response or a response according to God's Word.
To break a cycle: we must crucify the flesh. Surrender to the Holy Spirit as He reveals your secret places. Allow God's Word to redirect your thinking, attitudes and actions. Have you been circling the same mountain too long?
Scriptures: Amos 5:18-19
Ask yourself the question: have you ever felt overwhelmed? The answer is almost 100% yes. Today we will look at different kinds of obstacles that we face in life.
First, fleeing from a lion. Lions are prowlers: they sneak up on their prey. There are events in our lives that sneak up on us, seemingly they come up out of nowhere. We must remember that we have an enemy waiting for that opportunity! Hebrews 11:33 says that faith stopped the mouths of the lions: "who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions..." Faith is our shelter against difficulties; faith is the shelter that keeps the lions out!
Second, we can face the bear. Bears are scavengers. They will drive another animal away from its prey. There are events of life that come to take away from us things we have already gained. We have an enemy waiting for an opportunity to take what is ours! Faith in Jesus makes things possible, but not easy. Faith is a refusal: it gives us the ability to hold on to what is ours.
Finally, we can face the bite of the serpent! In these verses its speaks of a man going into the house, leaning against the wall and a serpent bites him. Serpents wait. They wait for their prey to let their guard down and then they attack. There are troubles in our lives that come because we have put our shields down. In a battle the first thing to go is the shield. We must remember that we have been given faith to be our shield in times of battle. Faith means letting God be God.
Some things in life we must just flee from and take shelter in Jesus. Some things in life we must fight for: faith in Jesus will give us the power to hold on and fight for what is important. Some things in life we need a shield to face: faith in Jesus will give us a defense a
Scriptures: Nehemiah 2:11-18
Ask yourself these questions: have you ever rented a car or stayed in a hotel room? When you rented that car, did you take it through the car wash? Did you make the bed in your hotel room? Now ask yourself the questions: do you pay to have your car washed and do you make sure your own house is clean and tidy? What's the difference? Ownership!
We can operate this same way in church and with God. This type of attitude changes when a person feels a degree of ownership. We must ask ourselves: am I treating God and His church the same way I would treat a rental car or hotel room?
Now think about the things you feel passionate about and love. Along with passion and love comes a feeling of ownership, we feel this for things like our families, teams, cars, homes, states and neighborhoods.
In these verses, we read that Nehemiah took a look at the building project that was taking place in Jerusalem. The project was to rebuild the walls of the city, not his own hometown. There was work going on, but not much of anything was getting accomplished. There was no feeling of ownership, so Nehemiah calls the people to take ownership of this great task. By taking ownership the people gained passion, energy and pride. They strengthened their hands for the good work and the walls were completed in 52 days.
Are you sold out to what God is passionate about? Jesus said He would build the church that He loves. Jesus is the primary owner of His church, but He is looking for partners, co-owners and investors. Those who have a feeling of ownership are involved in the day-to-day! Are you doing the best you can for God and His church? Get a sense of ownership and you will be filled with passion, energy and pride.
Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Aimlessness is probably the most costly of all human traits. Human beings need something to aim for to feel a sense of accomplishment.
To stay on track as a Christian there are some specific things we must do on a regular basis:
1) Constant encounters with Jesus: These encounters can happen through people, through circumstances of life and can happen through events. We must seek to constantly have interactions with our Creator.
2) Daily we must realign our lives with God's will- Romans 12:2 tells us: "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." When we are transformed we are able to define the will of God for our lives.
3) Accept the call to service- God's calling becomes apparent through our actions. Church is where we workout to prepare for the game. Every star athlete needs a coach! God calls us and commissions us: the church prepares us to recognize the call and fulfill our commission.
Jesus said: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
Are you ready to have an encounter with Jesus? Realign yourself with His will and prepare to fulfill your God-given calling?
Scriptures: Matthew 5:13-16
What is the most compelling argument for salvation that Jesus can present to the world? A closed-up view of a transformed life, which is why He calls us to be "salt and light."
Salt preserves, seasons and adds flavor. Light drives out darkness, changes the environment, and brightens our vision. How are you like salt? How are you like light? Do you preserve the joy of those around you? Add goodness, mercy and joy into those around you? Does your presence bring light into darkness and help those around you see the power of Christ?
Let's look at an equation for evangelism: HP + CP + CC = MI. MI means maximum impact, HP = high potency, CP= close proximity and CC = clear communication. Something with great power must get very close to something that needs to be influenced. We have great power in the Holy Spirit and with relationships we are given the opportunity and responsibility to communicate the message of God's love and grace. Salt and light do not make much of an impact from a distance.
Where's does a Christian power come from? The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual confidence, promotes authentic faith and challenges us to share the gospel message.
So how do we become more salty? Having a consistent mind focused on Jesus. Having a personal holy place to meet and interact individually with Jesus. Allowing the Word of God to speak to us. Having close relationships with other believers and allowing the use of spiritual gifts in their lives.
You have power to be witness! Maximum impact requires one to be in close proximity so that you can communicate clearly the saving power of the gospel. Who in your life needs some of your salt and light?
Scriptures: Revelation 3:1-6
The Church of Sardis was told that were things ready to die; it wasn't referring to specific people but certain things. The church was counseled to do whatever it took to keep these things from dying. As a church, we must keep certain things alive!
First, we must support true worship! One of the most important functions of the church is sincere worship. True worshippers do not need a specific environment or the perfect setting to worship. David lived a life of worship, but throughout his life he was under attack. He dealt with a: lion, bear, giant, king, enemies and even his own family. True worship gave David the strength to overcome the many challenges he faced.
Second, the church needs continual revivial. Revival means to live again, to receive again and to rekindle a flame again. Revival applies to something that was once alive that gets new life: rekindling fresh fire and receiving again the life-giving heavenly breath. The spirit of revival will die a church when saints are worried about getting recognition and credit; as long as the church is experiencing victory it should not matter who gets the credit. Christ is the only one who should receive any recognition and applause.
Finally a healthy church needs real ministry. There is a spirit in our time that is trying to silence the pulpit: this is nothing new as through the ages the truth has always been challenged. The Bible writes it this way: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil." There must be liberty for the church to declare the whole counsel of God.
To keep the church healthy we must endeavor to have true worship, continual revival and real ministry in everything we do.