Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jettison the Junk

Memory Verse:
“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” - Matthew 5:30

Big Idea:
Jesus is calling us to jettison the junk. He is emphatically urging us to remove anything from our lives that competes with Him and causes us to sin. Jesus loves us and wants us to be free from the grip of sin and to live forever in His arms of love. What does Jesus mean by these radical statements? Is He advocating self-mutilation? Let me quickly say no. Remember, Jesus is concerned with our hearts. He knows that cutting off a hand won’t truly make you pure. However, He is using shock and awe in order to make a serious point. He is waking us up and calling us to get rid of the things that cause us to sin.

In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus is telling us that we have a role to play. We are called to take action and to take the necessary steps to remove those things from our lives that cause us to fall into sin. We must remember that God’s grace OPERATES powerfully in our lives and His grace also calls us to CO-OPERATE with His work in our lives.

We live in a culture where people love their sin. They are so comfortable with sin that they fill their minds and ultimately their hearts with it on a regular basis as they watch TV, go to movies, or surf the internet. We lie to ourselves and say we can handle it, but we can’t. What we put in us affects us and either builds us up or tears us down. It either brings us life or brings us death. It either glorifies God or it offends Him. What we look at matters. What we listen to matters. Where we go matters. Who we hang out with matters. It either builds us up and promotes holiness or it tears us down and breeds sin. We need more of the stuff that promotes holiness and lifts up the name of Jesus. And we need to remove those things from our lives that breed sin, that draw us away from God and into sin, that entice us to commit spiritual adultery and forget our first love – Jesus Christ. We have all we need in Christ Jesus to jettison the junk and live for God.

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:29-30 – How serious is Jesus about removing the things from our lives that cause us to sin? Who is supposed to throw away the things that lead to sin? What kind of things can cause us to fall into sin?
2. Colossians 3:1-10 – Why are we able to jettison the junk that leads to sin? Have you experienced how God’s grace empowers you to say no to temptation? Share them and write them down.
3. Philippians 4:8 – How do you feel after filling yourself with these kinds of things? Make a list of things that you can add to your life or increase in your life that lead to God instead of to sin.

Kids Corner:
Talk to your children about the need to stay away from things that cause them to sin. Have your child get a handful of dirt and then have them bring it into the house and run around. What happens to the dirt? It gets all over the house and makes things dirty. (Sorry parents, maybe you will just want to talk them through this one.) Talk with them about how bringing dirt inside can often make things dirty and even ruin things. However, keeping the dirt outside keeps things clean. Now explain to them how this relates to other things in their lives. Explain how what they look at and what they listen to can have this kind of effect on their lives. God tells us to stay away from the dirty things in the world that can mess up our lives.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Ask God to expose those things in your life that pull you away from Him and breed sinfulness. Ask for forgiveness and ask God to help you jettison the junk. God has promised that His grace gives us all we need to say no to sin and yes to Him. God’s grace is more powerful than temptation and sin. If you have given your life to Christ, His grace is in you. Live in His powerful grace and let it free you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Go Deep

Memory Verse:
“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” - Matthew 5:22

Big Idea:
Jesus uses the topic of murder in His sermon to remind us that it’s not about the letter of the law; rather, it’s all about the heart. Yes, our actions matter and our words matter, but ultimately, it’s about the condition of our hearts that really matters.

Jesus affirms that murder is wrong – it is sinful. However, He takes it deeper and tells us that our words can also be sinful. In fact, Jesus tells us that calling someone bad names and speaking evil towards them is the equivalent of murder. Calling someone a “fool” is so bad because our words matter, and they “have the power of life and death.” But Jesus keeps going deeper and also tells us that anger is equivalent to murder. Anger is a sin, and Jesus shows us that murder actually starts with anger. Anger is the root. Anger is at the heart of the matter. What you are in your heart is who you really are. So, what’s in your heart? Let me remind you that if you are in Christ Jesus, He is in your heart. If Christ is in your heart, you have a new heart that is powered by His amazing grace. You have all you need for Life and Godliness. You can GO DEEP without fear because that is where Jesus is.

Finally, where there has been anger or any other sin, there is a need for reconciliation. God loves reconciliation. He desires it so much so that He sent Christ Jesus to pay the ultimate price for our reconciliation. He reconciled us to our Father God. Jesus loves people and He wants us to be reconciled with one another. He wants us to forgive one another and love one another. Listen to the voice of Jesus and respond to His call to GO DEEP!

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:21-22 – Do our actions matter to God? Why is God even more interested with what’s in our hearts? How can a changed heart change our actions?
2. Proverbs 18:21 & James 3:9-12 – Have you ever been the recipient of hurtful words? Do you see how words can cause severe damage to a person? How can a heart that is purified by Christ affect how we speak to others and how we treat others? Make it a point this week to speak life.
3. Matthew 5:23-26 & Romans 12:18 – Why is reconciliation so important? How can unforgiveness affect our relationship with God? Have you ever tried to reconcile, but the other party wasn’t interested? What should you do? Ask God to reveal anyone you to be reconciled with.

Kids Corner:
Talk to your children about how we need to remove sin from our lives, but we must go deeper than what we just see. We must deal with sin at the root level or else it might come back. Now, it’s time to do some gardening. Find some weeds that need to be pulled and tell your children that the weeds are like sin, they don’t belong and they can make things look ugly and actually kill the good plants. Cut the top of a weed off and then talk to your children about how that weed will grow back because the root is still there. Now help your child pull some weeds – root and all. Explain how that weed won’t grow back and that when we allow God to pull the sin out of our lives, roots and all, that the sin can be gone and not return.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Ask God to examine your heart and to reveal any corruptness or impurity that is present at your heart level. Repent. Ask for God’s powerful grace to purify your heart and to separate you from the junk that had attached to your heart. The grace of Jesus is amazing and powerful and will purify a heart that is surrendered to Him. Do not be afraid. Jesus is at the heart level and He is full of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. GO DEEP!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Whole Notha' Level

Memory Verse:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” - Matthew 5:17

Big Idea:
Jesus very clearly tells us that He didn’t come to “do away” with the law and bring a new law. Rather, Jesus tells us that He came to fulfill the law and to fulfill all the prophecies that proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. The law represents the character of God. The Law represents the righteous requirements of God. The law has not changed just as God has not changed. However, scripture tells us that we have a new covenant in Jesus Christ because only in Christ can we fully meet the requirements of the law. This new covenant is all about the heart. God wants our hearts, and when He has our hearts, we can live for Him like we couldn’t before - because of Christ.

With Christ, it is different. When we accept Him as our sacrifice, we not only receive forgiveness, but we are actually made into new creations. The old passes away and the new comes. Our hearts are filled with His grace that gives us what we need to live for God in a new way. Jesus takes it to a “whole notha’ level”. He fulfills the law.

God’s grace changes our hearts and empowers us to live for God - to live for righteousness and say no to evil. Sin is dead in us and we can now walk in newness of life because the work of Christ on the cross is complete and fulfills the law. The grace of Jesus Christ is powerful! The law hasn’t gone anywhere. God’s requirements remain the same. God still requires holiness and righteous living. However, in Christ “we now have all we need for life and godliness” - 2 Peter 1:3.

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:17-20 – Why is the Law still good? How did Jesus fulfill the Law? How did Jesus fulfilling the Law change everything? What does it mean to you and your daily life?
2. Ezekiel 11:19-20 – Why did we need a new heart? How does a new heart of flesh change us? Have you experienced an ability to follow the commandments of God since receiving your new heart in Christ?
3. Titus 2:11-12 –Beyond forgiveness, what does God’s grace do for Christ-followers? What areas of your life need a dose of this kind of grace? Take hold of God’s grace and in faith ask God for deliverance.

Kids Corner:
Setup a racecourse or an obstacle course in your backyard or in your living room. Race your children. Have fun with it. Next, tell your children that they can only hop on one leg for this next race. Then have one final race using both legs again. Read Matthew 5:17-20 and ask your children the following questions: (1) Was it easier to run with both legs or just one? (2) Where you faster with one or two legs? (3) Can you run longer one two legs or using just one? Talk to your children about the new covenant in Christ Jesus where He fulfilled the law which means we have His powerful grace that has two spiritual legs – one leg provides for our forgiveness while the other leg empowers us to say no to sin and to live for God. Read Titus 2:11-12 again and talk about how God’s grace helps them do the right thing.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Repent if you have only looked to His grace for forgiveness and not for the power to say no to sin. You are forgiven. Now confess Titus 2:11-12 and thank God for the new covenant in Christ Jesus that both forgives you and empowers you to kill sin and break bondage. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any area where you need God’s grace to break bondage. Ask God for His grace to destroy that bondage, sin, habit, or lie from the enemy. Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law and in Him you have all you need for life and godliness. It is by His grace.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Live It & Share It

Memory Verse:
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:16

Big Idea:
In this sermon, Jesus tells us that we are different and that we must maintain our difference. We are called to be salt to a rotting world. We are called to be light in a world of darkness. However, simply being different is not our entire mission. Jesus also tells us to go and share the difference with others. He tells us to bring His righteousness into this lost world. We are called to be holy as Christ is holy and then to bring the holiness of Christ into the darkness. We are called to be salt and light and we are called to be change-agents for the glory of God.

Jesus tells us that if we lose our saltiness, then our ability to help save the world is compromised. We can lose our saltiness and our impact for Christ in this world by allowing impurities into our life, like ongoing sin, and worldly affections. Likewise, if we cover up the light of Christ in us, our usefulness is snuffed out. If we don’t share Christ with others, His flame in us can actually be extinguished because we do not let it shine. Jesus calls us to live for Him and to share Him with others.

There are many ways to be salt and to be light. There are many ways to bring righteousness and share Christ. Here are three places to start. (1) Prayer: praying for others and also praying with others who need a touch from God. (2) Living it out in actions and deeds: We are light in the darkness as we daily say yes to righteousness and no to evil; as we show others love and compassion; as we love our neighbor as ourselves. (3) Sharing truth: Ultimately, we must open our mouths and share the gospel of Christ with others. We are called to go beyond living an obedient & godly life. We are also called to tell others about Christ. LET’S LIVE IT AND SHARE IT. Let’s be salt and light for the glory of God.

Scripture and Discussion Questions: Read the Bible passage(s) and discuss the questions.
1. Matthew 5:13-16 – What kind of things can cause you to lose your saltiness? Discuss practical ways you can protect yourself from these things. Strategize how you can “let your light shine” in your family, neighborhood, work, friends, and community. How do you feel when you live it and share it?
2. Romans 10:14 – It is important to live in such a way as to glorify Christ, but why is it important to tell people about Jesus? If you had two minutes to tell someone about Jesus, what would you say?
3. Romans 1:16 – Why is sharing the gospel with people so important? What has prevented you from sharing the gospel with others? What can help you push past your fears of sharing Christ?

Kids Corner:
Make some popcorn without any salt (or butter) and have your children have a few bites. Now add salt (be generous) and ask them if they like it better with the salt. Read Matthew 5:13-16 and ask your children the following questions: (1) What made the popcorn taste better? (2) Why does Jesus call us the salt of the earth? (3) Why does bringing Christ into the world make it better? (4) Have your children brainstorm and come up with ways they can be salt in the world.

Prayer Time:
Have a discussion with God about what you have just studied. Repent of past failures to be salt and light. You are forgiven. Now confess Romans 1:16 out loud three times. Cry out to the Lord for boldness and courage. Reject the spirit of fear and ask the Lord for His powerful grace for you to be salt and light in the world. Challenge: (1) Map out your “network of influence” and plan how you will share the light of Christ and then go for it. (2) Commit to praying with at least 4 non-family members every month. Be salt and light. Live it and share it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where does persecution come from?

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; - Psalm 143:3 nasb
Persecution comes from the Devil, not people. It comes through people, not from people. This is how Jesus, while He was being crucified, was able to say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Because He knows it is the Devil who persecutes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
We live in a lost world. We live in a world that is ruled by an anti-Christ spirit. We live in a dark world. And, if we live in a dark world, then the darkness will persecute the light. If we live in a world that is against Christ, then we who are in Christ won’t fit in and we will be persecuted.
Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. – John 3:19 18
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” - John 15:18-21
Jesus tells us, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." There are people who believe that if they love the world enough; if they do enough good things for people; they will be loved. But, you just can’t love people enough for them to love you back. Jesus is perfect love. He loved the world in word and in deed. He healed, He comforted, He forgave, He even made water into wine, but the world still crucified Him.

In fact, the more loving you are, the more Satan hates you and the more you will be persecuted.

Why do we get persecuted? Because of righteousness; because of our relationship with Christ; because we live for Him; because we bring Him into our lives and into the lives of others. Being persecuted because you tell a bad joke or because you don’t shower doesn’t count. Jesus is talking about the persecution that comes because He is evident in our lives. This is what the Devil hates and this is what He fights against.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Got persecution?

In His final Beatitude, Jesus tells us that it is about to get tough. Persecution happened to the prophets, it is happening to me, and it will happen to you.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:10-12
In our sterilized view of Christianity (primarily here in America), we think that once we get saved that everything should work out for us. In fact, if we have any problems we are shocked. “How can this happen to me? I am a Christian. Where is God? Everything should be ‘hunk dory’ in my life because I am a Christian. Right?” Most Christians throughout history and even now throughout the world know that problems and persecution don’t disappear when we come to Christ, but in many ways, they begin. God actually promises us…
In fact, everyone (all) who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12
How many followers of Christ will experience persecution? ALL. In other words, ALL who live the Beatitudes will suffer persecution.

Some Christians try to hide from the persecution. But, God doesn’t want us to live under the radar. The devil would love for us to hide and not let anyone see Christ in us and not share Christ with anyone else. The devil tries to convince us that it is best to just not make any waves; don’t rock the boat. But, we know that that is not what we are here for. We are here to make a difference. We are here to bring Christ into the lives of a lost and dying world. We are called to be peacemakers. We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be let the light of Jesus shine. And when we do, we will be persecuted. Many people don’t like Jesus and if we are ambassadors of Christ, many people won’t like us. That is just the way it is and we must be OK with that.

So are you suffering for Him? Are you catching some flack for your faith or are you a secret agent. Do people know that you are a follower of Christ?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Got Peace - Part Two

We are called to be peacemakers. So, what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who brings righteousness (Jesus) into a situation. You actually make peace by sowing righteousness. For instance, if you don’t have peace in your marriage, don’t avoid the conflict. Rather, bring your marital relationship into right standing with God. Bring righteousness into the relationship and peace will follow.

If there is an area of conflict in your life, then examine to see if it is in right standing with God. Bring righteousness into that area of your life. Make it completely right before God. Totally surrender it to Him. Give it to Jesus! Righteousness will bring peace!

How do we stay in the place of peace? We stay focused on God. Check out this scripture:
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. - Isaiah 26:3
We stay in perfect peace when we stay focused on God. No matter what the world says, no matter what our circumstances are, no matter the economy, no matter the doctors reports, no matter what. So, do you want peace? Then bring God into your situations and stay focused on God and His truth. What does God say about it? Believe it, confess it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Got Peace - Part One

Peace is being in right relationship with God! Peace is being in right standing before God. Peace means that Jesus is Lord of your life, your relationships, your attitude, your finances, your everything.

Peace is not the absence of something, but rather the presence of someone. You can have a storm, but if Jesus is in the boat, you can have peace. Peace is the presence of Christ. Peace is present when Christ is present. Peace is present in your relationships when Christ is the Lord of your relationships. Peace is present in your finances when Christ is the Lord of your finances. Peace is present in your marriage when Christ is the Lord of your marriage. Peace is present in your heart when Christ is the Lord of your heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Keeping the heart pure

"If the pure in heart see God, then tell me how to have a pure heart because I want to see God."

Let me start out by emphatically stating that the only way we can ever have a pure heart is to invite Jesus to reside, rule, and reign inside our hearts. He alone is the essence of purity and holiness. So, there’s no hope for a pure heart without God.

But know that in Christ, we now have the ability and responsibility to actively pursue this progressive work of developing a pure heart. “I can do all things through Christ…” My heart can be purified. I am called to "work out my salvation with fear and trembling.” I am called to work on my heart.

Our responsibility in our relationship with Christ is to give our heart to Him every day and not give it to the world. We must build our affections for God and allow the affections for this world to be cut off. How do we do this? Scripture clearly points to some things that must be present in the life of one whose heart is being purified. These are often called the spiritual disciplines. Don’t discount them, because they are used powerfully by the Holy Spirit to transform us and to purify us. Here they are...

1. Repentance: “Thinking differently about things.” Thinking God’s way about stuff.
“8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Phil. 4:8
2. This involves RENEWING OUR MINDS: We renew our minds by reading the Word of God – the Bible. When we read God’s Word, we fill our minds with life and with truth – with purity instead of filling it with the filth and follies of this passing world.
2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (be purified) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
3. Prayer & Fasting: Communing with the Holy One purifies our hearts. When we pray and when we fast, our focus is on God and nothing else. This strengthens our heart. In fact, scripture tells us it is so important that we should, “pray without ceasing” – 1 Thes. 5:17. Always be in a state of prayer (communing with God); allowing God to be involved in our everything. We need to wake up praying, not planning our busy day – Praying. It is no accident that I see God and His will so much clearer when I am purposely focused on Him during times of intense prayer and fasting? Could it be that my heart has undergone a cleansing from other affections? Could it be that I have just taken a spiritual bath and come to a place where my heart has been rinsed of gunk that had attached itself?

4. Fellowshipping with Christ Followers: You have probably heard the saying, “you are who you hang out with.” This is so true. Hanging out with negative people will suck the life out of you and you will become negative and critical. Likewise, if you hang out with people who are passionately pursuing God, you will find yourself passionately pursuing God. You will find your heart being purified and you will see God and you will be Happy in God! AMEN!
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. - Proverbs 13:20
5. Let me add one more thing: Ask God for help. Not just once, but daily. Listen to King David, the man after God’s heart,
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
Tell God you want the other stuff that is trying to pull your heart away from Him to be cut off.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Want to see God?

So, the pure in heart will see God. To “See God” means to see Him both in eternity and now. Again, we see the eternal blessings and the now blessings in the Beatitudes. Yes, the pure in heart will see God in eternity. They will see Him face to face in heaven. They will actually live and rule with Christ in the new earth. The pure in heart will be forever in His presence. Hallelujah!

But, the pure in heart will also see God now. The pure in heart will see God moving in powerful ways. They will see God in miracles; they will see God move spiritual mountains and heal physical disease. They will see God changing hearts and transforming lives. They will see God defeat the Devil and drive back the enemy. They will see God in dreams and in visions. They will see God in the midst of life’s circumstances – holding you up, protecting you, and walking with you. They will hear His voice and feel His touch. God is alive in amazing and awesome ways to the “pure in heart”.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. – Matthew 5:8

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The way to God is through the heart

Yesterday we talked about how the PURE IN HEART chase after God and not other stuff. The PURE IN HEART pursue God and not selfish things. The PURE IN HEART seek God and they find Him because God has told us, “If you seek me, you will find Me.” The PURE IN HEART forsake all other affections and long for God alone. The PURE IN HEART are crazy in love with God and don’t allow anything else to compete for His affection.

You see, God wants our hearts. He wants us to crave Him. When we do, we will see Him.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. – Matthew 5:8

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What motivates you?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. – Matthew 5:8
Pure in heart means to be “free from corrupt desire.” It means that we are motivated by God and not by self. Pure in Heart means that we are led by the Holy Spirit and not by our corrupt flesh. It means that Christ is our deep desire. It means that we have died to self and that our inner motivation and the craving of our soul is Christ centered.
“A wicked heart is a mind in a state of devotion to self; a pure heart, a mind in a state of devotion to God. It is a state of moral purity, resulting from a committal of the soul to God.” – Charles Finney
So, what is your devotion? What is your motivation? Is it your happiness, your comfort, your reputation, your acceptance, your desire to avoid pain? Or, is it a heart-felt desire to obey God, to follow Jesus, and to glorify the Lord? How you answer this question matters tremendously. It is all about the condition of your heart – your motivation. Is your motivation (heart) turned to you or is it turned to God.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What you want...

Do you want your soul to be revived? Do you desire wisdom beyond your years and beyond your peers? Do you long for more joy in your heart? Do you want to see the world in a new light? Do you desire to stay out of trouble and to succeed where others fail? What you want are the things of God. What you want is His truth. What you want is found in God's Word - the Bible. Go after it; read it; trust it; mediate on it; devour it and you will be filled. Do what it says and you will be blessed.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. 11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. - Psalm 19:7-11

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Forgiveness is hard, but...

God never told us it would be easy to forgive. He never said that showing mercy was easy – it cost Jesus His life to show us mercy. But, Jesus has clearly told us that it is the only way; that it is a non-negotiable. We have to forgive because we have been forgiven much. We have to show mercy because we have been shown much mercy.

Left to ourselves, we couldn’t do it. But, we are not left to ourselves. We are in Christ Jesus. We are Spirit led people who are no longer controlled by our flesh: our own mind, will, and emotions. And in Christ, we can do all things. In Christ, we have been given all we need for Life and Godliness. In Christ, we can forgive. In Christ, we can show mercy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sow justice - reap justice. Sow mercy - reap mercy.

37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Luke 6:37-38
The principle of sowing and reaping is always at work:
  • When you don’t judge others for their junk, you will receive good measure (loads) of mercy.
  • When you don’t condemn others for the things they have done against you, then you will not be condemned.
  • When you forgive others (even forgive them for the extremely hurtful, horrible, sick stuff), then you will be given complete forgiveness – overflowing.
  • When you give out this mercy, it will be given to you in such large amounts that it will be running all over you and this will make you happy in God. AMEN!
Notice the context of this passage. It isn't talking about financial sowing and reaping. Jesus isn't talking about receiving amazing gains in the area of money and finances. Rather, He is talking about reaping amazing gains in the area of mercy, grace, and forgiveness. That blows away financial blessings any day of the week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Judging others is a way of seeking justice

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2
This is a very clear statement from Jesus: If we demand justice and repayment for the sins that others have committed against us, then we will be dealt with in the same manner. OUCH! Let God judge. Leave any vengeance to God. We are called to be merciful.

The way we treat others is the way God will treat us. If we seek justice for others, then God will hand us over to justice. I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle that kind of justice. I can’t handle what I deserve - not from God, not from Satan, not from this cruel world. But, when I extend mercy to others; when I don’t judge others; when I forgive others for their sins against me, I then remain in the place of mercy and escape the place of justice – Hallelujah.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Got Mercy?

Our flesh cries out for justice. "They owe me and I want it. What they did to me was wrong and they should pay. Give me justice!" Our world is built on the principle of justice. Look at the court systems, look at the massive numbers of lawsuits. It is all about justice, but where is the mercy?

Even though we have received ultimate mercy from the Creator of the Universe – God almighty. Even though He has forgiven our gross actions and our hard hearts, we still gravitate towards justice. But Jesus tells us many times, “Don’t go there.” In fact, He says: “You really, really, really, don’t want to go back to that place of justice.” He is warning us; He is pleading with us to stay away from justice and to remain in the place of mercy. Why? Because when we seek justice from others, it requires us to step down from the place of mercy. Jesus paid the ultimate price to get us to the place of mercy.

You see, we can’t have it both ways; “I want mercy for me, but I want justice for others.” It just doesn't work that way in the Kingdom of God. When we seek justice for others, we forfeit mercy.

GOT MERCY?
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – Matthew 5:7

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Justice, Mercy, Grace

Justice is giving someone what they deserve.
Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve.
Grace is giving someone what they don’t deserve.

It is justice to send me to hell.
It is mercy to not send me to hell.
It is grace to send me to heaven (to be in God’s presence for all eternity).

When we received God’s mercy given to us through the sacrifice of Christ on that cross, we were lifted out of the place of justice (getting what we deserve) and lifted to the higher place of mercy. Hallelujah!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Desperate for the Righteousness of Christ

The righteousness of Christ isn’t something we just wear like a mask. Rather, it is who we must become. His righteousness must be allowed to fill us to the full; to take us over. So that, we begin to become righteous as He is righteous - "Be Holy as He is Holy". So that we think like Jesus and act like Jesus. That is the real transformation that happens to those who are in Christ, who are meek, who are led by the Spirit and not by the flesh.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. – Matthew 5:6

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Finding Happiness in God - Audio Teaching

At Evident Life Church we started our journey through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount three weeks ago. For the past two weeks I have taught through the first 4 Beatitudes. God is blowing our minds, bringing us to repentance, and filling us with a happiness in Him that the world can never come close to delivering.

You can listen to these teachings at www.EvidentLife.org. Click HERE.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Got mourning?

Do you need to be comforted? Do you need the comfort of your Heavenly Father? Well, Jesus tells us that “those who mourn will be comforted.” The specific word that Jesus used here refers to the mourning that we should have, not over loosing a business deal or the loss of a pet hamster, rather a mourning that we should have over our sin.

So, when we are truly sad for our sin; when we have godly sorrow; when we then humbly ask for forgiveness and repent of our sin; then we will experience the comfort of God. This comfort is the forgiveness given by our Creator and a freedom given to us to live for Him and not for our sin. God will comfort us by releasing the grip that the sin had on us. WOW!

So, do you “got mourning?”
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4

Friday, October 02, 2009

Life after death

New life only comes after death. If we want new life in Christ, we must die to self. This is true about our lives and it is also true about ministry. We must allow our plans to die so that God can bring His plans to life.

I just experienced this kingdom principle at work as I laid down something I was holding too tightly. In fact, holding on too tightly caused God’s plans to come to a screeching halt. Well, I finally woke up, released my grip, and laid down my plans. Immediately, God showed up and brought everything to life. That ministry is now the East Valley House of Prayer. You can check it out at ArizonaPrayer.com.
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. – Luke 9:23-24

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds – John 12:24

Thursday, October 01, 2009

In the battle? Start crying.

When we find ourselves in the middle of the battle. When we find ourselves under attack. When our lives feel threatened and when things are spinning out of control all around us, we must not retreat, we must not despair, we must not look to our own understanding or our own strength. Rather, we must cry! We must cry out to the living and powerful God of all creation. We must trust in Him and His ability to deliver us. We must allow the battle to be the Lord’s. This is when we will find victory. This is when we will find our prayers answered.

20 They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him. 21 They seized the livestock of the Hagrites—fifty thousand camels, two hundred fifty thousand sheep and two thousand donkeys. They also took one hundred thousand people captive, 22 and many others fell slain, because the battle was God's. And they occupied the land until the exile. – 1 Chronicles 5:20-22

Friday, September 25, 2009

The extreme makeover

We must remember that when we ask Christ into our lives that we are asking for Him to both save us and to change us. We are asking for His forgiveness and for His love, but we are also asking Him to come in and clean house. We are asking Him to make us like Him - full of love, mercy, grace, righteousness, and holiness. This means we are asking Him to drive out the selfishness, pride, lust, and sinfulness. We are asking for the extreme makeover.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! - 1 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jesus said it’s all about repentance

Many say that the primary message of Jesus when He ministered on this earth was love. No doubt about it, Jesus spoke a lot about love and demonstrated pure love. However, the primary spoken message of Jesus was really repentance. Yes, repentance.

Scripture even makes a very clear point of this reality:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matt. 4:17
In fact, Jesus’ the whole Sermon on the Mount is a cry for repentance. This all starts to become clear when we see that the word “repentance” as used in the Greek means to “to change one’s mind for the better, to think differently, and to allow this new way of thinking to thoroughly change one’s actions and lifestyle.”

So, Jesus taught that it was time to stop doing things the same way. It was time to repent. It was time to think and act differently. It was time to do it God’s way. And it is now possible to do it God’s way because Christ has brought the kingdom; He has conquered sin and death. His grace now gives us all we need for life and godliness.

Are you living a life of repentance? Are you thinking differently? A great litmus test is the Sermon on the Mount. Does this describe your thinking and your life?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Answer the call and see miracles

Amazing things happen when we do what God has called us to do. Let’s look at the Gospel of Mark’s take on the Great Commission to see what kind of results we can expect when we live out the calling that Christ has placed on our lives:
15He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe (those who have come to Christ as a result of us going and making disciples): In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." - Mark 16:15-18
When we fulfill the calling that has so clearly been placed on our lives by Jesus Christ Himself, we will see miracles. We will see the kingdom of God advance in power and in might. We will see things be made right again. We will see order come where there was confusion, we will see health where there was sickness. We will see freedom where there was bondage. We will see hope where there was despair. We will see life where there was death.

Let's GO!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's save the world

As a red-blooded man, I have had my fill of dreams where I was the one who came crashing through the door to save the day; where I was the one who blew up the plans of the enemy; where I was the super hero. In the Great Commission, Jesus gives His followers an amazing gift; He gives us clear insight into why we exist; why we are here. Additionally, He makes us part of the greatest possible adventure that life can offer - we get to partner with Christ to SAVE THE WORLD. Check it out...
18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - MAtthew 28:18-20
Jesus tells us to join Him in bringing people out of darkness into His marvelous light. He invites us (well, actually He commands us) to help save the world. This is so cool. Let's deploy. Let's engage. Let's do this thing and fulfill our calling in life.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Find the wall and tear it down

We know that Jericho was a barrier to Israel’s advancement. It had to be removed. It had to be destroyed for them to fully occupy the land. Is there a Jericho in your life today? With some it is selfish ambition: the desire for fame or success. For others it is covetousness: the desire to accumulate wealth – stuff. Still others it is worldly pleasure. Only by active faith can obstacles be overcome.
“The frowning walls of Jericho must fall before there can be spiritual progress and enjoyment of the riches of grace in Christ Jesus.” H.A. Ironsides
Is there something that is keeping you from going to the next level; to the next season; to the next blessing that God has for you? If so, seek God for His plans to destroy that Jericho in your life and step out in faith and do battle against it. God will cause it to crumble. But just like the Israelites, you have got to obediently stand up, walk around the wall, and declare it to be removed. IN JESUS NAME!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

God get’s His people involved

God can do things anyway He desires. For instance, He could have caused the walls of Jericho to fall and crumble with one word from His mouth. But instead, He got His people involved. He required that His people stand up and engage in the process. His people had to stand up and walk or nothing would have happened. God’s people had to take real steps of faith.

As followers of Christ, we see this same call on our lives. Jesus tells His disciples to follow Him. He tells us to step out of the boat. He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. We are called to GO; not sit, not observe, but GO! God wants us to be involved in His kingdom coming to earth. He wants us to be active participants. This is a mandate to us just like the Israelites were commanded to get up and walk around the city of Jericho.

Let’s get involved. Let’s be active participants in God’s kingdom plans.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Is it really foolishness?

Some people think that the things of God are foolish. They say, “prayer is a waste of time, it doesn’t do anything; fasting is ridiculous, what does not eating have to do with God moving in our lives; going to church and singing songs is silly, nothing changes." That is what the world thinks.

Jesus said that, “The things of His kingdom will look like foolishness to the world.” But, it is exactly that foolishness, driven by true faith and the grace of God, that moves mountains, that changes nations, that brings healing to bodies and to relationships, that frees us from bondage, and that causes the walls to crumble.
Bring on the foolishness. Bring on the power of God!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Did you know that you already have it?

The Promised Land was given to the Israelites before they ever attacked Jericho. It was already theirs by title, but they still had to truly make it their own by driving out and destroying the vile inhabitants.

If you are a follower of Christ, a child of God, then this is also how it is in your life. We have been given the kingdom. We have been given the victory, but we are still called to make it our own by doing battle against the enemy and driving out the yuck from our lives. We know we don’t battle against flesh and blood, but we do battle against the ruler of this lost world, against evil spiritual forces of the devil.

There is a blessing, a Promised Land, a victory for those who are in Christ Jesus. Sadly, many fail to grab hold of it by faith and practically enjoy it because of ignorance, laziness, or selfishness. Let’s not miss it. Let’s take what has been given to us and not miss out on any of it. Let’s advance the kingdom for the glory of God.
Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have (past tense) delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. – Joshua 6:2

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Evident Life Church is moving! "Read" all about it...

That’s right, effective this weekend we are moving our Sunday meeting location from the Freestone Recreation Center to the Southeast Regional Library (755 N. Greenfield Rd in Gilbert). The library is on the Southeast corner of Greenfield and Guadalupe. It is a wonderful facility and gives us more room for growth at virtually the same weekly cost – praise God! We will continue to meet on Sundays at 4:00pm and have our time of dinner and fellowship afterwards.

The church website has been updated, but please let your friends and family know of the change and invite them to join us on Sundays. There is a tool on our website that allows you to easily invite friends and family to Evident Life. Take advantage of it and let’s keep growing the church for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

Click this link for a map to the library.

In amazement of Him,
Pastor Eric

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I don’t want to miss Him

In the Gospel of Mark we read that Jesus had just fed the 5,000. He had performed an amazing miracle of turning a few loaves and a couple fish into enough food to feed thousands. His disciples were right in the middle of it all. In fact, they were the waiters. They distributed all of the food and even carried off the 12 baskets full of leftovers.

But, apparently it didn’t sink in. It didn’t stick. For some reason they still didn’t understand who Jesus really was. You see, soon thereafter they were blown away that Jesus was walking on the water. Scripture says that, “They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” OUCH! Why? How?

Before I judge the disciples for their error and their lack of recognizing the person and power of Jesus Christ, I must ask myself, “Have I ever missed it?” Are there times when Jesus has shown himself powerful and moved mightily in my life, but I have flat out missed it? Have I ever not recognized His presence, His healing, His provision, or His mercy in my life?

Lord, may I have eyes that always see and ears that always hear; a heart that is always tender toward you. I never want to miss you. You are my desire. My heart is yours.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Don’t be a boiled Christian

Are you familiar with the boiling frog story? “It is a widespread anecdote describing a frog slowly being boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people to react to important changes that occur gradually.”

Unfortunately, I think we can find more than one Christian who has experienced this phenomenon as it relates to being slowly, but eventually completely, infected by the things of this world that are against the character and will of God. Do you know what I am talking about? You allow a little of the world in and then it gradually expands. It starts with small amounts of compromise, but before you know it, it has you and you are all in. You are being boiled alive.
“I can handle looking at that stuff. It won’t affect me. I can hang out with those friends. I won’t start using those bad words or doing the things they do." But, it happens. You slowly get sucked in and before you know it, you’re seemingly small compromises result in all-out sin and sometimes addiction. You feel far from God, you are cooked, and you wonder, "how did that happen"?
We must be aware of this tendency and not allow ourselves to fall into this trap of the enemy. We are in the world, but we are not supposed to conform to it. Have you taken the temperature lately?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book of Joshua - Audio Teaching

I am posting my weekly teachings in audio format on the Evident Life Church website. You can check them out HERE. I hope to get them in a podcast format on iTunes in the near future.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Because God is our hero

Why does God call His people to establish memorials: things that help us remember the great things He has done in our lives? Why is it important for us to have testimonies? Why does God perform miracles? Why did God deliver us? Why? Ultimately, so that His name is glorified. So that people will be drawn to Him. Memorials proclaim the greatness, faithfulness, and the almighty power of God. It reminds the world that He is King, He is good, He is just, He is Lord, and He is our HERO!
He did this (stopped the waters of the Jordan and had the Israelites build a memorial) so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God." – Joshua 4:24

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One day we will need to remember

Why is it a good idea for us to heed God’s word and build memorials to His greatness and His faithfulness in our lives? Because, one day the river could be low. One day, things could get tough. Where’s our memorial? What will we be able to look to that helps us say, “OK, I remember what God did and I have come to trust Him?" Some day our river will be low, we’ll need some stones, a memorial, that helps us remember that God is good, that He is great, and that He is able. Something that reminds us that God has done it before and He is our hope.

One day it will be essential, because the day will likely come, when the memorial, our memory of God’s faithfulness, may be all we have to hang onto.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Memorials help us pass on our faith

We are still on the topic of memorials. We tend to witness that the children of believers have the best opportunity to come to faith while they’re in the home of their believing parents. That personalizes the memorial a bit, doesn’t it? That’s why the Bible here deliberately introduces the notion of children and memorials. So that we can pass on the faith to the next generation!

We need to identify the spiritual high water marks that have occurred in our lives so that they can be shared and transferred to the next generation?

Where were you when God did a work in your life? Is there a memorial? Can it be shared? Stop and think. When did God move? Where? Have you told anybody? If you have children at home, share these important stories with them! Pass it on…

Memorials help us pass on our faith to future generations. There’s a reason that Deuteronomy 6 talks about Israel remembering the things of God and transferring them on a daily basis as a way of life to the next generation. It’s a family thing and memorials help raise children of faith. Build memorials and use them to display God’s goodness to your children and your children’s children.
6 "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' 
7 then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever." – Joshua 4:6-7

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

God wants us to remember

God clearly calls His people to build spiritual memorials. A definition of a spiritual memorial, what the Israelites set up in Joshua 4 after being led across the Jordan on dry ground, would be "a monument to a spiritual high water mark in life."

What has God done in your life, in my life? And what have we done to commemorate it? Have we established things that will cause us to remember the wonderful things God has done? When was our latest trial? When was our latest victory? When have we seen God move? How are we commemorating that?

Why build memorials? Why remember? So we can say, "Those were the good old days"? Maybe, as long as the good-old days point us to a very good God, because that’s what He wants of us.

It was God’s idea to build memorials because He knows the hearts of people; He knows us very well. He knows how self-centered we are, how forgetful we are. How many times we gone before God, saying, "Lord, I need help -- again." How soon we forget. GOD WANTS US TO REMEMBER.
1 When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2 "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." - Joshua 4:1-3

Friday, July 31, 2009

The river is raging, but it's harvest time

I think it is very significant that the Israelites where called to cross the Jordan river into the Promised Land when the river was at flood stage. God could have chosen any time during the year for His people to cross this river. Why not drought season when the Israelites could have tiptoed across?
“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” - Joshua 3:15
This is the most difficult and dangerous time to cross a river. If you have ever been around a river that was flooding, you know it can be a terrifying thing. The waters were rushing and the river was at its widest. But, it was harvest time. This is often how it is. When it appears to be the most difficult time, that is when we are called to cross over and take the land. This is when we are called to step out and follow God into our calling. This requires faith; a total dependence on God.

Today, we see financial instability, things are being shaken, the world is confused and in a state of panic, yet it is HARVEST TIME. We are being called to cross over and take the land. WE ARE CALLED AT SUCH A TIME AS THIS. THE RIVER IS RAGING, BUT IT IS HARVEST TIME! LET’S TAKE THE LAND!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When God moves, follow Him

"When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.” - Joshua 3:3
The Ark of the Covenant in those days represented the very presence of God. It was His seat. It was the place where His Spirit dwelled. To follow the Ark meant to follow God.

So God is saying: “When you see me move, follow me.” Follow God. That is what we are supposed to do. We are not called to follow our own plans and our own desires. We are not called to follow what the world is doing and where they are going. We are not called to follow everyone else. We are not even called to follow our friends and family. We are called to follow God.
“Then we will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” - Joshua 3:4
How often do we ask, “What should I be doing? What is my purpose? Which way should I go?” The answer is always “FOLLOW GOD”. Go where God is going. We can look to the life and words of Christ to help us understand this. What did Jesus do? How did He live? Where did He go? He didn’t live for His own comfort – He didn’t even have a place to lay His own head. He lived for His Father and for others. He gave everything for everyone else. So, which way should we go? Where is God going? What is on His heart? What does God want us to be doing? Too many people end up like a deer staring into the headlights of life and not moving – they’re frozen. They want to do what God wants them to do, but they keep sitting around, paralyzed, waiting for His direction. The problem is, most people are looking for some kind of miraculous sign or wonder – like a cosmic billboard with their name on it and a big blinking arrow saying “go this way!" However, God has already given them the answer in His Word. He wrote it out for us so that we would know exactly what we are supposed to do and which direction we are to take. He has shown us which way to go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ready to take the land

You can now listen online at www.EvidentLife.org to last weeks teaching from the Book of Joshua: "Ready to take the land - Let's GO!"

CLICK HERE to go to the Evident Life Sermons page.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Motivation matters

When we ask God for something, our motivation matters. King Solomon was motivated by a desire to be a good leader and faithfully govern Israel. He was motivated by a desire to help others and do good for others. He wasn’t motivated by personal gain and wealth. Because his motivation was pure in the sight of God, his request was answered. But we see that God went way beyond Solomon’s request and blessed him with so much more than wisdom and knowledge.
10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 11 God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." – 2 Chronicles 1:10-12
God will lift up the humble and He will reward a heart that is motivated by love for Him and love for others. Lord, by your grace, help me root out any selfishness in my heart. I desire to be motivated by love. I want my desires to be your desires. Make me an instrument of your peace. Create in me a pure heart.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

God rescued me. I am His. I will live only for Him.

Psalm 116 is my hearts cry this day. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord. I will follow His plans. I will chase after Him and Him alone for He has rescued me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fear God and not man

God deserves our full reverence and respect. God deserves all honor and praise. He is holy; He is almighty; He is all-powerful. There is no one like God – NO ONE.

Man cannot save us and man cannot condemn us. Do not fear man. It is only God who saves. He is the author of life; He is the giver of life; He is the restorer of life; He is the judge of life. Blessing and prosperity are found in fearing God and not man. Life is found in fearing God and not man.
1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. 5 May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, 6 and may you live to see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel. – Psalm 128

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Moving forward without fear

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. - Joshua 1:9
If we are living in His will, following Him, going where He tells us to go – then we don’t have to worry because HE will be with us – even when it gets tough, even when it is not easy, even when others come against us. Don’t worry because God is with us. If God is for us, who can be against us --- NO ONE! No person. No addiction. No circumstance. No one.

Sometimes my younger children don’t want to go to the other side of the house alone when it is dark. They are fearful of the unknown. However, when I go with them, they go without fear. When their father goes with them, when their father leads the way, the children confidently follow – without fear! Our father is with us when we follow His calling, when we live for Him. We can go in confidence; we can proceed and walk to the other side, to the new land, into the unknown, without fear, boldly and courageously. GOD IS WITH US.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Want success?

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. - Joshua 1:8
The opposite of success and prosperity is failure and poverty. We find success and prosperity when we live for God. Things go well for the people of God when they obey Him. Things go very wrong when they don’t obey. There is a direct correlation between obedience and successful living - accomplishing God's plans for our lives.

How do we live obedient lives? God's Word clearly tells us that we meditate on His Word. We read the Bible. We diligently seek Truth so that we can live Truth. Obeying God’s Word is vital to following Him. He has written down so much for us to know and to do right here in the Bible. We must embrace His Word. We must hunger for His Word. We must get His Word into our hearts and minds and do what it says. It must consume us and we must be consumed by it.

Yes, God will give us special revelation. Yes, the Holy Spirit will speak specific words to us. But, we must not neglect His written Word. This must be where we start. This is our home base. This is our manual for daily living. When we live by this Book, we will find great success and accomplish God’s plans and His call on our lives. If we neglect His Word; if we seek to once again do it our way; we will fail. With that said, LET'S DO IT GOD’S WAY!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HE HAS OUR BACKS

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. - Joshua 1:5
This is the nature of God. This is how He deals with His people. This is how He protects His people who call upon His name and step out in faith and pursue His calling. This is how He will be with us. WOW! God, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty One, the All Powerful One will be with us and never leave us as we obediently step into the plans He has for us.
HE HAS OUR BACKS!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Go and God will give it

I will give you every place where you set your foot." - Joshua 1:3
What an incredible promise. What an amazing reality for God’s people who follow Him and obediently go where He is leading.

I also find it interesting that God is saying He will give His people the land when they step out and move. They must place one foot in front of the other and move in God's direction, toward His calling, into the new place He has for them.

We too must go. Following Christ is not a spectator sport; rather, it is an action packed adventure where our full participation is required. We must walk it out, we must run the race, we must get up and GO.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What has your attention?

Have you ever been so wrapped up in a TV show, a book, or a project that you completely ignore someone (your spouse or child) who asks you an important question or requests help? You kind of heard them, but you were just too captivated by something else. I know I have done this too many times.

Sometimes I find out that I missed out on a critical conversation or I really let someone down or I was left out of all of the fun. I think most of the time I never knew just what amazing opportunities I passed by. Has this ever happened to you?

Have we ever done this to God? Do we sometimes get so busy and wrapped up in the minutia of life that we blow off the call of God? What have we missed out on?

It is one thing to hear the voice of God and yet another thing to sit up, pay attention, and respond to it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are you paying attention?

When we don’t pay attention to instructions, bad things can happen. My oldest son just returned from a week of fishing in Canada with his grandpa. They caught a boatload of huge fish. I am somewhat jealous, but am getting over it.

Anyway, they took a helicopter to their floating fishing lodge. Before taking off, the pilot gave some important instructions about the aircraft, the flight, and safety. One of the instructions was, “Do not apply pressure to the windows during flight because, as a safety measure and point of emergency exit, they are designed to dislodge and eject when pressure is applied.”

My son was listening intently as he had never flown on a helicopter before. However, the young man sitting next to him was not paying attention. Well, you can imagine what happened next. During the flight, the inattentive young man pushed a little too hard on the window as he was amazed at the view of some feeding whales and out popped the window. Not a good thing, but a natural result of not listening to instructions.

This is the kind of thing that can happen when we don’t pay attention to the instructions given to us by our Maker – God. How many “windows” have we popped out in the mid-flight of life because we haven’t listened to God’s instructions? Read His manual – the Bible. Listen to His voice. Keep your focus on Him, and have a safe, successful flight.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Need help?

When I need help; when I need hope; when I need direction; when I need love; when I need comfort; when I need healing; when I need strength; when I need protection; when I need clarity; when I need peace; when I need joy, I can go to God and be completely satisfied. I cannot look to anyone else or anything else. I cannot depend on this world for these things. As amazing as my wife is, I can’t even expect her to meet my needs; however, I can always count on God. He is able. He is always there. He will meet my needs. My help comes from the Lord!

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (PSALM 121)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Launching a church in Gilbert, Arizona

After 16 incredible years at City of Grace Church in Mesa, Arizona, I am following God’s call to launch a new church in Gilbert, Arizona called Evident Life Church. I enter this season of life with great expectation and with great reverence.

Evident Life Church will be a multi-generational and family integrated group of Christ followers who are pursuing God in His fullness of Spirit and Truth. Our passion is seeing people saved, set free, discipled, and empowered to live for God and advance His kingdom.

Our official launch date is scheduled for September 13th; however, we are currently meeting as a launch team on Sundays at 4PM at the Freestone Recreation Center in the Assembly Room with a time of food and fellowship following.

For more information, contact me at eric@evidentlife.org or visit us online at www.EvidentLife.org.

Let it be EVIDENT to the world that Christ is in us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Prayers that reach heaven

Do you want your prayers to reach heaven? (2 Chronicles 30:27) Do you want God to hear your cries? (Psalm 40:1) Do you want your prayers to be powerful and produce results? (James 5:16) Well, we see throughout God’s Word, both Old Testament and New Testament, that God hears the prayers of those who have humbled themselves, those who have consecrated themselves to His will, those who have prepared a place for Him, those who have purified themselves, those who have waited patiently for Him, and those who have passionately pursued Him with righteous abandonment.

By God’s grace and our willingness to respond to Him by living solely for Him, we can be people whose prayers reach heaven - may it be so.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sometimes we need a little push

I am spending a few days at the lake with my family. The weather up here is gorgeous and the water is perfect. My kids love to swim, they love to play in the water, and they love to tube and ski behind the boat. You would think that every morning they would immediately run down the dock and jump into the water. However, it is quite the opposite. Even with all of the fun awaiting them, it is very typical that one or more of the kids are hesitant to enter the water. Something keeps them from jumping in and enjoying what they love.

I think we sometimes experience this same type of hesitation as it relates to spiritual matters. We know that time with God is awesome. Yet we find other things to fill our days. We know that reading His Word blows our minds and brings amazing change. We know that worshipping God with songs of praise bring us closer to Him. We know that obedience brings favor and blessing. We know these things, yet we sometimes hold back. We don’t always jump in. Sometimes my kids need a little encouragement to jump in and enjoy the water. Sometimes they need a little push. Likewise, there are times that we need a little encouragement to jump in and enjoy God. Sometimes we just need a little push. JUMP IN!