Sunday, October 31, 2010

We have a choice!!

No matter how good we feel at a given moment there are a couple of constants in the universe.

  1. God loves us.
  2. The attacks will come.
We have been overwhelmed with the stories of how God loves us and we have studied many of them here.  Yet while we live in a world of darkness, it is not truly until we are saved that we start to realize that the attacks are coming and they come hard.

1 Peter 5:8 - "Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)

The attacks can come at any point.  Usually they come at the times when we are flying the highest.  Something great has just happened.  Many of us walk around with that feeling of dread when something good does happen.  Many of my friends refer to this as the "Waiting for the other shoe to drop" period.

God created us in his own image.  It's almost as if he has given us an additional sense to know that the attacks will come.

But even though we know the attacks will come, the Word gives us several scriptures that let us know how to withstand those attacks.

1 Peter 5:7 - "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (NIV)

Hebrews 11:1 - "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)

James 1:5 - "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)

Romans 6:11-12 - "11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." (NIV)

James 1:19-20 - "19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, 20 for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (NIV)

The attacks WILL come.  The enemy seeks to kill, rob, and destroy (John 10:10).  The enemy will make you doubt yourself.  The enemy will strike at the heart.  The enemy will work to turn you against others, against yourself, against God.

But we have a choice!!!  We have the ability to change.  We have the ability to ask God for his help, (see Acts 17:11 about donning the full armour of God).  We have the ability to take our negative situations, thoughts, and deeds and transfer them into something powerful for the Glory of God.

Oh the attacks will come.  But our great and glorious God has given us the ability, the armour, the willingness, and the love to make a choice that glorifies him and thus saves us. 

When the attacks come.  Stop - Pray - and if your heart is not right - Pray some more - and if it is still not right - Pray some more - then and only then, when you and God are in agreement -  then act in a manner that brings glory to the Father.

We have a choice - we must exercise it.

Blessings to each of you this day.  I am praying for each of you and I ask that you do the same for me.  God loves you!!

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stepping out of your comfort zone

As we get older, we start to become creatures of habit.  We get comfortable.  We get complacent.  We develop this thought process that there is always tomorrow or it will change later. 

We like how comfortable things feel.  Change is difficult and we don't want to be stretched.  Yet isn't this what Jesus calls us to do?

Sometimes even the smallest step in faith can have the most profound effects on us and those around us.

What is that first small step for you?  For me it was starting to believe and have faith in a God that I could not see and that I could not hear.  Then it was talking to Him.  It is still a process of believing that God has chosen me to do things for Him.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." (NIV)

Take a moment to reflect on that.  The OLD is gone -
  • Whatever you have done in your past is gone - see Isaiah 43:25 
  • God has forgiven you
  • Because of God's love - see John 3:16 -17 - we have been granted a new beginning, a new salvation, a new mission.
  • Read Isaiah 53:5  -  summed up - "by his wounds we are healed" - but don't take my word for it.  Read it.  Read about the story of Jesus LONG before he came
The NEW has come - 
  • You are a new creation in Christ - refer again to 2 Corinthians
What a glorious reward.  Yet it is not the ultimate reward.  Remembering that God gave his one and only son (a concept as a father that I cannot fathom) to save each and every one of us, it falls on us to not squander this gift.

This is one time where the sharing of a gift in not only OK but encouraged!!  This is where people get uncomfortable.  Oh, no - he's going to say - "Tell someone about the gift you've been given."  And you are right.

When I found happiness in God, I found happiness in life.  And I want to shout it from the mountain tops.  Just like when my children were born, I want to tell everyone about it.

For many of us, we maybe do not know how.  That is where recently I talked about just facilitating the introduction.  It is up them to then have a conversation with God.  But again, you have to stretch yourself to begin to do that.  We can't just waste our gift by sitting back and enjoying the blessings.  Share them.

God has a purpose for each of us.  God has a plan.  It won't be easy.  Trust me.  I did not know God most of my life, even though He was still with me I realize now looking back.  I falter now with words to describe God's love and gentle hands.  But God guides my fingers as I type, so I do not have to worry.

Step out.  Do something radical for God.  He did for you.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Get to Living!!!

2 Corinthians 4: 6-10 - 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in dispair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body.(NIV)

In our time of great struggles - often of our own creation - it is important to reflect on the importance of what has been taught to us.  One of the saddest things in today's world is to witness the suffering of others.  What compounds that is those that suffer at their own hand. 

Some of those individuals do not know Jesus.  That is part of our commission to facilitate the introduction.  Not to ram God down anyone's throat, all must come to the Father of their own accord.  But rather to simply introduce God to others who may not know him.  There are many ways to do this - we can teach, we can preach, we can badger, we can condemn, etc.  But while some of these can be helpful, ultimately it is not usually any of them that make the first impression for God. 

It is rather how we act in our lives.  The actions that we illustrate can create a spark of curiosity in others.  It is the light that we project.  It is how we respond to the trials and tribulations of this life.  It is how we demonstrate a love and faith for someone that others do not see.

That brings me to the second group of sufferers.  Those are the ones that do know Jesus.  They know that God sent Jesus to take the burden of ALL sin upon himself to facilitate a relationship between man and God.  They've asked Jesus into their heart and asked him to guide their lives.

But something happened.  A bad thing.  You can fill in the blank.  We have all been there.  A break up perhaps?  A lost job? A lost loved one?  Anything can be used as a reason to fall off course.  Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (NIV).  This is not said in condemnation, but rather as fact.  We have all fallen short - whether we never believed or if we strayed.

The point is that God remains steady.  He remains our rock.  He remains present even when we wander away.  He waits patiently and then he welcomes us back.

We have the opportunity to LIVE in such a manner that it brings glory to God.  Through that living, we are able to show a loving Father who will be there in the time of need for others.  It is by being a light - not a perfect one because only Jesus filled that role - that we can illuminate God's presence to the lost.

Everyone who chooses to come to God must do so of their own accord.  But if you are down now, remember He is still there. 

Go to Him, share your burdens. 

Ask for His help, guidance, and love. 

And once you have it (and you have it the moment you ask, no waiting for credit approval):

Get to Living and share it with someone else.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Steppin' Up

One of the greatest fears that man faces is the fear of failure.  It is sometimes because of fear of failure that we do fail because we ultimately fail to act in a situation or an opportunity.  We have been witness to great failures throughout history, both from attempting something and failing (Thomas Edison and the filament light bulb is a great example) to the unwillingness to try because there is a fear of failure (Insert any regret that you have in this spot).

We live in a world where it appears to be easier to criticize than to encourage.  It appears easier to Monday morning quarterback the big game rather than get in there and make the plays ourselves.  It is easier to whisper in secret than shed light on situations in order that they become opportunities for success.  It is easier to try to keep up with our neighbors (in material gains) by complaining then overextending ourselves or having unrealistic expectations versus working diligently, seeking God's favor and decision in our plans, and trusting what He says is right.

1 Chronicles 28:20 "David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished." (NIV)

Take some time to reread that verse a few times and break it down.  Here is what God's word says to me.
  1. Be strong and courageous - Have faith (see Heb 11:1), stick to it, you have support.
  2. Do the work - How often do we want it just handed to us?  When we get to heaven the Lord will say "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matt 25:23) because we have done the work of the Lord.
  3. Do not be afraid or discouraged - Often we are so full of fear that it incapacitates us to the point of non movement, and we fail.  (see Matt 6:25-34)  Worry, fear, doubt are all tools that Satan uses to drive a wedge between us and God.
  4. For the Lord is with you and will not fail you or forsake you - If we go back to the first three points, can we get a firmer grasp on this point. 
IT IS NOT GOD THAT FAILS US - but rather we RIP ourselves away from his support.  We try to fix it in our own manner or we give up and walk away.

God desires us to have a life fulfilled not empty.  But we must understand that a life fulfilled may not be the "American Dream", it will be something way more powerful than that. 


We commit.


We do the work.


We trust, believe, love, and have faith.

God already stepped up to the plate.  It is now our turn to meet him.

Has God given you an opportunity to step up?  Has God given you an idea, a plan, a passion, a talent that you are not using? 


Blessings upon each of you this evening.  God loves you.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let Go!!

A saying that I have had the most problems with in recent years is "Let go and let God."  Personally, it used to remind me of catchy jingles that make me want to go out and buy ice cream only to find that a few hours later after I have eaten it, that I am only filled with remorse over not holding to my expectations of eating healthier.

Let go and let God.

A cheesy, whimsical phrase that has allowed many to use God as their scapegoat.  "Oh well, I let go, and God didn't do _____."  Ever been there?  Ever listened to someone else being there?

Let go and let God.

How many of you are control freaks?  If not a freak, then just some other minimization that allows to you live with being in control? 

I would like you to think back to some things that we have discussed about our relationship with Christ.  God has allowed man choice.  This is not the same as control.

You have the ability to choose -

Choose between resentment or rejoicing
Choose between love and anger
Choose between right and wrong
Choose between reading the word or not
Choose between following the word or not
Choose between being a light or blindfold
Choose between being kind or being harsh
Choose between following or rebelling
Choose between worshiping God or worshiping something else (money for example)
Choose to ask for the Lord's help and guidance or try to do it on your own

My point is you have the choice to make decisions on how you will live your life that does not mean that you have control.  Control is an illusion.

Let go and Let God.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

Let go and Let God.

If you continue to read in Jeremiah, you will find that the Lord offers a path to his plans for you.  Jeremiah 29:12 says "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen."  (NIV) Yes, God knows what you are going to say, even before you say it, but God will wait for you to come to Him.  God will wait for you to pray to Him.  God will wait for you to speak to Him.  AND HE WILL LISTEN!!  What a glorious relief.

Let go and Let God.

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." (NIV).

For many years the "Let go and let God" slogan angered me.  But it was not because of anything anyone else was doing.  It was because I bought in to the lie that I was in control.  I bought into the lie that I could do it on my own.  Jeremiah 29:13 gives a key to God for us.  A key that we often misplace.  When we seek him we will find him - but only if we seek him with ALL our heart.

To trust in the Lord - to Let go and LET God - means to seek him with ALL of our heart.  God does not want a one-way relationship.  God does not want a piece of our lives.  God wants the whole thing.

Sometimes it may seem as if God is not there, that he is not listening, that he does not care.  But in reality, it is us, who must seek with the love of our whole hearts.  God will provide for all of your needs at the appropriate time.  God will prepare you for the daunting tasks that lie ahead of you.  God will stand by you and love you - even when you feel the most alone and vulnerable.

God will do all these things if you will...

Let go and Let God.

Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you!

Pastor Jim