Wednesday, August 31, 2011

No More Delay

Ezekiel 12:28

Therefore say to them, ”This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Many times there is no urgency in what we do because there are no consequences for our delay. We wait for deadlines before we do anything because we know we have some more time to procrastinate. In times past, we had the luxury of Grace that gave us time to get ourselves together. Paul said, “a thousand years are like one day for the Lord.” God has been giving us time to get it together. He wishes that none would perish but that all would be saved. He’s given us time to get it together but now there is no more delay. We are entering a season where God’s judgment comes without delay. God’s word will do what it says it’s going to do when it is spoken.

We live in a generation of young people whose favorite mantra is, “Only God can judge me!” That is true and his judgment is coming swiftly. God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.” As a result, God told Ezekiel I will no longer delay with my judgment. God is a loving God but he also means what he says.

God says there is no more delay when it comes to:

1. Idolatry. Idolatry is when we put something in God’s place whether it be money, our job, our lovers or ourselves. God will not share his glory with another. We have to make sure we get rid of our idols before we experience God’s wrath. Ezekiel 14:6

2. Disobedience. We can’t be hearers of God’s word but we also have to put it into action. Ezekiel 12:2

3. Lying prophets. We just can’t tell people what they want to hear. WE have to speak truth in Love. God is tired of us preaching a popcorn gospel that doesn’t challenge people to Holiness or social justice. We must speak only what God gives us to speak. Ezekiel 12:24

Dear God,

We have been disobedient long enough. It’s time for us to live the life you want us to live. You gave us Jesus as a sacrifice so we would not be condemned to death. You gave us time to catch up with the gift of salvation. The deadline of our judgment is fast approaching and we want to get there before our time is up. Today, help us to walk in obedience so that we can get an extension of Grace. Thank you for giving us time to get it together. There is no more delay.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's Time to Change Up!

2 Cor. 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Ezekiel 10:14 Each cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

Rev. 4:7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle.

God is always changing things up. He told the prophet, “Behold I do anew thing in you, do you not perceive it?” God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow but yet he is constantly changing us. It does not yet appear what we shall be but we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. When we are born again we become a “new Creation” old things have passed and all things become new. God shifts us to handle new assignments in new places. Whatever shape your life takes depends on the assignment that God has for you.

In both the Old and New Testaments, there is a vision of four living creatures around the throne of God. Their descriptions are the same in both accounts accept for one change; the cherub is now an ox. The living creature in Ezekiel had an angelic face or a cherub’s face. In Revelation, he was replaced with an Ox. Angels are messengers. An ox is a strong worker. We shift from an announcement of Judgment in Ezekiel to a preparation for Judgment in Revelation. This may be your season for God to shift you into a new creation. Where you were before required you to be angelic now you are in a season where you have to pull which requires you to be an ox. It’s time to change things up.

1. Lion. The lion is the king of the Jungle. He is at the top of the food chain. Jesus was often called the “Lion of Judah or the "conquering Lion.” There are times in our lives when we need a Lion spirit to go out and conquer territory where the enemy is like a roaring lion. This is the season where you have to be brave to protect your land from the enemy.

2. Ox. The ox is strong and steady. This may be the season where you are not running but you are pulling your weight. Your life is not moving fast but it’s steady.

3. Man. Never lose your humanity. As strong as you are, as brave as you are, you are only human. It’s not by power nor by might but by God’s spirit. To be human is to have compassion on other humans.

4. A flying Eagle. Eagles fly above storms. This is the season where you use your storm to give you altitude. With all of the storms we have been experiencing it may be time to shift to eagle mode and fly above the storms to get to where God would have us be.

Dear God,

Whatever season you have me in change me into a new creature and do new things in me so that I can fly high above my circumstances, pull my weight, hold on to my humanity and handle all of my enemies. Thank you for making me into a new creation. I’m ready for something new.

In Jesus Name,


Monday, August 29, 2011

Wake Up!

Revelation 3:2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.

I hope I wake up before they start my wake up! –Lecrae, Rehab

Bill Hybels, Sr. Pastor of Willow Creek recently spoke about the Life Cycle of Ministry at his Leadership summit. He said that Life cycle consists of accelerating, Booming, Decelerating, Tanking, and death. He said, “Nothing Rocks forever.” A life cycle is not meant to depress u but to awaken us to the fact that we have to inspect what we expect.

When we first start a ministry, business, or relationship we begin at the Acceleration stage. We start picking up steam. It’s new and word is getting out about the new initiative. People are getting on board slowly but surely.

Booming is where you’ve hit your stride. You’ve reached maximum capacity, you’ve hit your stride. This is where the organization is reaching your intended target.

Deceleration is when things start slowing down. Numbers fall off. Momentum begins to slow. You’ve become stuck in a routine.

Tanking is when it starts going down real fast. You’re pouring resources on something that is no longer working.

Then there is death.

In order to avoid death in your ministry, business or relationship you must come up with fresh ideas during the deceleration stage. Stop nursing dead stuff and put your resources to new and invigorating ideas which will cause you to keep booming.

In order to ensure that you keep growing in your life cycle you need to:

1. Wake up! Take a sober look at where you are and ask yourself are you accelerating, booming, decelerating or tanking. Name the problem and add a solution.

2. Strengthen that which remains. Even if you are decelerating, you still have something left. You can’t get stuck on what you lost but you have to strengthen what you have left. Your new start comes from strengthening that which remains.

3. Finish what you started. It’s not time to die but you have to add some fresh ideas because God is not through with you. As Marty Neumeier says, “you have to Zig while others are Zagging.” In order for your ministry, business or relationship to thrive you have to do something new to once again accelerate and boom.

Dear God,

Give us fresh wind, fresh fire and fresh ideas so we can boom again. Breathe new life in my ministry, my business, and my relationships. There is more you want from me. It’s not time to die. Renew the right sprit and restore the Joy of my salvation.

In Jesus name,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother!

Jeremiah 38:10

Then the King commanded Ebed-Melech the Cushite, “take thirty men from here with you and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the cistern before he dies.”

There is a painting by an African-American artist I saw when I was younger, depicting a man reaching over a wall to help another man over to freedom. The caption under it read, “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.” This painting was inspired by a song written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell in 1969. The first verse in the song said:

The road is long with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows were, who knows when but I’m strong enough to carry him. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

In these uncertain times there are a lot of brothers and sisters down who not only need a hand out but more importantly need a hand up. Especially from those of us who are in a position to help someone out. We should help lift them up because in helping them we really help ourselves.

Jeremiah, the prophet, was thrown in a well and left to die for telling the truth to the king that they should surrender to the Babylonians. Speaking truth to power can be dangerous but not speaking Dos’ truth can be deadly. Jeremiah said, “when I said wasn’t going to speak in his name anymore, his word was like fire shut up in my bones.”

They threw Jeremiah in a well with no water in it, just mud. He sank into it and was left to starve to death. How many people are sinking into a depression because they’ve been let go, laid off, or put in prison? So many brothers/sisters are starving in dark places with no hope for tomorrow. They’re not heavy they just need a job. They’re not heavy they just need another chance. They need a lift.

Ebed-Melech the Cushite heard about Jeremiah’s plight and went to the King on his behalf. He was a minority. He was an official in the Royal palace. He used his position at the top to help a brother who was at the bottom of a well. Jeremiah had a good name and integrity even though he was at the bottom. No matter how hard times may get there is one thing that people can’t take away from you and that is your good name. Guard it with everything that you have. Ebed-Melech didn’t mind risking his position or helping him because he knew Jeremiah had a good name and he wasn’t heavy!

Lifting people out of a mess is not heavy work when they are worth the lift. Jeremiah was in a mess but he wasn’t a messy person. He wasn’t heavy. His punishment didn’t fit the crime. His only crime was telling the truth. There are some people you can’t lift because they start pulling you down.

When you find someone of integrity who needs your help to lift them out, here’s what you should do:

1. Use your position and influence to talk to important people to get them out. Ebed-Melech went to the King.

2. Use a network of people to help you. Ebed used 30 men from the palace to help him lift Jeremiah out of the well. Who are the people in your network that can help you lift them out?

3. Use whatever resources you can find even if they are not financial. Ebed-Melech used old rags which were below the treasury. He didn’t use money but rags. I guess Jeremiah went from rags to riches through the help of Ebed-Melech.

4. Make sure the person you are lifting is working with you, not against you. Ebed told Jeremiah to tie the ropes around him. Jeremiah had to participate.

5. Don’t hurt them while you are lifting them. He told Jeremiah to pad the ropes with the old rags so the rope wouldn’t burn. We have to be tactful while we are trying to help pull people up. Don’t tell everybody their business or rub in their faces what you are doing for them.

6. Place the lifted person somewhere safe and where they can succeed. Jeremiah was placed in the courtyard of the guard and brought daily bread until the siege was over.

7. Watch God elevate you after you lift them. Ebed-Melech the Cushite was the only person from the royal palace that was saved when the Babylonians finally broke through. God told Jeremiah to tell Ebed, “I will rescue you on that day, declares the Lord; you will not be handed over to those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 39:16-18. When you help others God will help you!

Dear God,

Show me how to lift up my brothers and sisters who are not heavy. Give me discernment on who to lift and whose pulling me down. Give me the resources to help those who are not heavy. Thank you that one day when I was stuck in despair, that your love lifted me. When nothing else could help Jesus your love lifted me. Thank you for lifting me out of my mess.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Time For Intervention

I John 5:16
If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

We’ve all had loved ones in our lives who’ve gotten into trouble before. We watch them as their lives become unmanageable. Particularly in the area of addiction to things like drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, hoarding, etc. There are times when family members have to do what’s called “intervention.” It’s when the family brings the addict/offender into a room without knowing why they are there and everyone begins to tell them why they can’t live like this anymore. They tell the addict/offender how their behavior is affecting the family in a negative way. They challenge them to go to Rehab. Sometimes, this is the only time that the addict/offender is able to really look at themselves because their loved ones have intervened all at once. They do it out of love because they don’t want to see them die or ruin their lives.

At some point we all need intervention, whether we will admit it or not. Somebody intervened for you. When your life was teetering out of control somebody prayed for you. You probably avoided becoming an addict because somebody intervened early in your life. Prayer is a form of intervention through intercession.

I John 5:16 says, “If you see a brother or sister sinning and they have not already died from it you should intervene or intercede through prayer first.” All sin leads ultimately to death but there are some sins that take us out immediately. It’s only by grace some of us are still here. Then some of us are here because prayer warriors have been interceding, giving us more time to get it together and go through spiritual rehab.

There is a sin that leads to death. Sometimes, when we refuse to stop sinning God has to take us home early to protect our salvation. Then there are sins that have immediate consequences of death like robbing someone and getting shot. When we see someone sinning and they are still alive we need to intervene and pray for God to save them. When we intercede for someone God will intervene. After you intercede through prayer you should follow up with intervention.

Matthew 18:15 is a good model for intervention that can save somebody’s life:

If your brother/sister sins against you, go to them and show them their faults. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If they listen to you, you have your brother/sister back. But if they will not listen to you, take one or two persons with you so that every accusation may be upheld by the testimony of two or more witnesses as the scripture says. And if he/she will not listen to them, then tell the whole thing to the church. Finally if he/she will not listen to the church, confront him/her with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love. Matthew 18:15-17 MSG

Dear God,

We all need intervention. Thank you for giving us time to get ourselves together. I should’ve been dead but you spared my life. Thank you for Jesus intervening on Calvary’s cross so I wouldn’t have to die but have eternal life.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is There Anything Too Hard For God?

Jeremiah 32:27
I am the Lord, the god of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

We are facing some difficult days and times right now. It seems like we’re in perpetual limbo with our finances. Some of us are so distraught because we feel like there is no way out but there is one thing that separates us from everybody else, our faith in God!

Jeremiah was in prison for prophesying the truth about Jerusalem’s destruction. He warned the people that they would be taken captive by Babylon because of their disobedience to God. It was equivalent to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being thrown in a Birmingham jail because he spoke truth to Power and he wrote one of his greatest messages on a roll of toilet paper, “we can’t afford to wait.” This was the fate of Jeremiah, but just because you don’t want to hear the truth doesn’t mean the truth will not be heard or come to pass.

Jeremiah is in prison and God sends his cousin to ask him to buy some land. God tells him to buy the land in prison! God is going to restore his people in years to come and Jeremiah is to put the deed of trust in a clay jar and bury it until God’s promise is fulfilled. Jeremiah is obedient but with his checkbook in his hand, in prison, under siege, he is honest with God and asks God, “You want me to buy some land with the way conditions are right now?!” God answers him with a rhetorical question: “Is there anything too hard for me?” God tells Jeremiah that when his people turn back to him he will turn things around! He says I will:

1. Bring back the people and allow them to live in safety. Verse 37. With all that is going on God’s promise to us is that when we turn our faces back to him he will bring us back to the land we were kicked out of.

2. Give us singleness of heart and action. Verse 39. God will give us focus again and bring all the people on the same page. There has been so much division lately from the White House to your house. God will bring us back together as a nation.

3. He will never stop doing good for us. Verse 40. God told Jeremiah that those who survived the sword would find favor in the desert.

4. He will plant us in new places. Verse 41.

5. He will once again give us prosperity. Verse 42. Prosperity is more than money. It’s life and life more abundantly. In the past we thought prosperity was only material things to be spent on ourselves. In the future we will not waste our prosperity but use it to be a blessing to others.

6. The housing market will pick back up. Verse 43. When we get back right with God, our homes will have value and we will restore our neighborhoods for good.

7. He will restore our fortunes. Verse 44.

Dear God,

I believe that when we turn around things will turn around. God we will show you our face and not our backs. We repent of our sins and follow you in obedience. Thank you for hearing our prayers.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Can't Keep Doing This!

I John 3:9

No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

When you are born again, God places a deposit inside of you. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit. God then begins his redemptive work that was set in motion by Jesus dying for us on the cross. Old things have passed away and behold all things should be new. We must work out our soul’s salvation every day. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray daily, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Even when we are saved and give our lives to serve Jesus we are still prone to drift. What keeps us is God’s seed and his inner voice.

If you truly belong to God and you have been born again there is the seed of God’s Spirit and his word inside of you and it will not leave you alone. The old folk’s use to sing, “What is this that makes me feel so good inside, what is this that makes me want to love my enemies, what is this that makes me want to do right when I want to do wrong, whatever it is I don’t want it to leave me alone.”

John says, ‘You can’t go on sinning if God’s seed is in you.’ God’s seed is the Holy Spirit which nurtures the word of God when we hear it. When John says, “We can’t go on sinning if we belong to God”, he doesn’t mean that you won’t make mistakes after you get saved. The Writer of Romans tells us that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.’ What it means is that when we find ourselves off course the Holy Spirit will help us to “Recalculate”.

Whenever I drive out of town, I like using my GPS. If I make a wrong turn the ‘Voice’ of the GPS says, "Recalculating”. The Voice is trying to get me back in the right direction but I have to choose to listen to the Voice. It’s not that God doesn’t speak to us, it’s that we don’t listen. If you belong to God you can’t keep ignoring his Voice. What is it that God is trying to get you out of that you keep ignoring his Voice? You have to get out before you miss your exit.

Dear God,

Help us to hear you loud and clear today. We can’t keep doing this! You’ve been too good to us to jeopardize our lives by heading in the wrong direction. Today, I’m going to recalculate my life’s plan to make sure that I’m following your voice.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Behind Closed Doors

John 20:19

On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Recently, we lost a great man of God, a colleague in ministry. Zachary Timms was just 42 years young, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in the Orlando, Florida area. He died in a Manhattan hotel room of a heart attack behind locked doors. The hotel security had to break through the door to discover his body. After blessing so many people with his life and ministry he died alone searching for peace. I wish some of his friends and colleagues could have been behind those closed doors to intercede with him and help him get the peace that only Jesus could offer.

Ministry can be demanding and draining. The toll it takes on you can make you want to hide behind locked doors in fear for your life. Even when we are in the will of God, fear can still get the best of us. Fear sometimes is False Evidence Appearing Real but it can still be paralyzing. The enemy can get you behind closed doors and make you think your ministry is over, you don’t have “it” anymore, nobody loves you, you’re doomed, and if you are not careful you can give into those lies.

The disciples were hiding behind closed doors because Jesus had been executed. They thought they were next because all of the haters hated their teacher enough to kill him so why shouldn’t they experience the same fate?

Even though Jesus had been teaching them and showing them he had the power over life and death they allowed fear to wipe out what they already knew to be true. To their credit they did something right. They were together. As fearful as they were they were still together behind locked doors. The enemy can break you if you are by yourself but Jesus promised, “Where two or three are gathered together there I will be in the midst.”

As Christians, ministers, and human beings we must make sure we are connected to 2 or 3 people who we can call no matter what we are going through. You should never be alone when you are hiding in fear. There is nothing so bad that God can’t fix and help you face. When you come together with 2 or 3 believers Jesus will show up and help you with your fear. Jesus came through the locked door and:

1. Stood amongst them. Jesus told us that he would never leave us nor forsake us. When we are together Jesus is standing in the midst of us.

2. Spoke peace to them. Peace is Total well-being, prosperity, and security associated with God’s presence among his people or the cessation of conflict.

3. Showed them his wounds. I think Jesus did this not just to prove that it was him, but to show them that in spite of his wounds he was still alive. We are all wounded healers. Our wounds shouldn’t stop us from God using us.

4. Gave them their new assignment. This was important because all of them felt like failures for running out on Jesus but he assured them by telling them he still had work for them to do.

5. Filled them with the Holy Spirit. He told them to receive the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, when we are empty we need to be refilled with the only thing that can get us back in the right place, the Holy Ghost.

No matter how bad it looks right now don’t give up on your dreams, your purpose, your ministry. We‘ve all made mistakes like the disciples. Peter denied him, Thomas doubted he was alive; James and John fell asleep while Jesus was under stress. They all ran away but Jesus still loved them enough to come behind locked doors to give them peace. Open your door today. Jesus wants to come in.

Dear God,

Touch my brothers and sisters who are hiding behind locked doors. Let them know that you are still with them. Let them know you have a new assignment for them. Let them know this is not the time to die! Come through the doors and heal them and fill them.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trouble Don't Last Always!

Jeremiah 24:6

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down. I will plant them and not uproot them.

There seems to be so much trouble in the land right now. People are suffering in disproportionate number. Jobs are seemingly impossible to come by. Families are being displaced. There hasn’t been much to celebrate lately. Everyone seems to be waiting for this storm to lift.

Jeremiah 25:32 “look! Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth.”

There is something corrective in this storm that we haven’t seemed to figure out yet. When we finally turn back to God, and take care of the poor, practice justice, stop striking each other with wicked fists; I believe God will heal this land.

Like the remnant during Jeremiah’s time, God has a remnant of people who still believe and have hope. God has promised to that remnant that he would:

1. Watch over us for our good. There is a blessed assurance that the believer has over everyone else. God’s eye is watching over us and all things work for the good of those who have the Lord and are called according to his purpose.

2. I will bring them back to their land. Like the widow woman during Elisha’s time, who had to abandon her house during the famine only to come back seven years later to find favor with the king; we will get back what the famine took away if we come back to God.

3. I will build them up and not tear them down. After deconstruction comes reconstruction. Some of us have already been broken down. If you are down to nothing God is up to something. God now wants to build you back up stronger than you were before.

4. I will plant them not uproot them. In order to grow, plants must have uninterrupted growth in a place where they’ve been planted. After this period of correction that we are going through God will once again plant us in a place where we can flourish without interruption.

Dear God,

We receive your correction. We don’t have to go through this again. Your people have suffered and your remnant is ready for a new day. Please turn this day of darkness into a day of promise. We are ready for a New Direction.

In Jesus name,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hold Your Position!

Psalm 112:4

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

In these turbulent times everyone seems to be struggling trying to keep a grip on their lives in this uncertain financial climate. Famine has claimed a corner of the Globe as it darkens the continent of Africa. The middle class in America have become the new poor and new homeless. The prison system has been used to try and make blacks into a permanent underclass as it replaces slavery as the new racial caste system. Thousands of people are still unemployed looking for hope that this economy is finally going to turn around. In the midst of all this darkness there are still points of light that illuminate the hopelessness of this nightmare. It is the light of the upright. God has been keeping us in the midst of it all in spite of our inconsistencies.

The psalmist exclaims that God still illuminates the darkness for the upright. Upright does not imply perfection but position. There are people still in a posture of seeking God and attempting to live right, these represent the upright. Every now and then I attempt to do yoga and there is a position where we do a head stand (or try to). You must engage your core to stand on the crown of your head, supported by your forearms with your feet straight up. Holding this position is challenging. I can do it but I keep falling out of it, but then I get back into it because my teacher says, “be patient and do your best.” I believe that’s what Jesus says to us, he sees us struggling, wobbling, and falling in and out. But he honors our effort knowing that we are saved by grace and not works.

Living Holy is like trying to hold that yoga position. It is counter cultural or counter intuitive to live upright when everyone else’s core values are upside down. It is living upright that God honors our attempt to hold our position. We must engage our core values to stay upright. God takes care of the upright even in dark times there are three core values we should employ to hold our position:

1. Gracious. Grace is unmerited favor shown by God. When God give us grace it is underserved. When we have been recipients of this grace it is only right that we show it. We ought to be gracious in how we show grace to others. Giving keeps the window of heaven open for God to shower us with blessings. When we show grace it keeps grace coming our way.

2. Compassionate. Compassion is when you are moved in your sprit to do something about a situation that troubles you. The world is full of what Marty Neumeier calls, “wicked problems,” problems for which there seems to be no solution but which we should have compassion. Pastor Wayne Lomax of the Fountain church was asked by a Haitian pastor to come to Haiti with his mission team. Pastor Lomax asked him, “What do you need?” He said, “Come and see.”

3. Righteous. Being Righteous is living right. It’s when you delight in the Law of the Lord and you meditate on it day and night. It’s like Spike Lee’s character the ‘Mayor” played by Ossie Davis in the movie, “Do the Right Thing.”

Mayor says to Mookie, “Dr. …..I have to tell you something….Always do the right thing.”

(Mookie) “is that it?!’

(Mayor) “That’s It!”

(Mookie) “I’m Out!”

What the Mayor was telling Mookie is what Jesus is telling us, if you want God to keep you during these hard times always do the right thing, and hold your position. Stay upright.

Dear God,

Help me to do the right thing, to live upright, in a world that is upside down. Thank you for keeping me in these dark times. I pray my character would keep me where my talents take me.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Give Him Glory!

John 17:4
I have brought you Glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

1. A: praise, honor or distinction extended by consent
2. Worshipful praise, honor and thanksgiving
3. A. Something that secures praise or renown (the Glory of a brilliant career)

You’ve heard people in the church exclaim, “Give Glory to God saints!” Usually that follows with people giving God praise, erupting in Hallelujahs because they are acknowledging the worth of God’s awesomeness. It's giving God honor through thanksgiving but this is just one part of the definition. Some of us do pretty good on Sunday’s giving God the Glory but it's also important to give him the Glory in the way we live.

The way we choose to live out our lives either secures praise for God or takes it away.

Jesus was talking to God the Father when he said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” The question for us is, ‘are we doing the work God called us to do?’ Is the work we do giving Glory to God or bringing attention to ourselves? Are we are building God’s kingdom or trying to build our own? When we help other people to see God we are giving him Glory. Glory is not about you, it’s about what we do for others on God’s behalf. Sometimes, God has to get us out of the way because he will not share his Glory with another. Jay Z and Kanye have a new CD called the “Watch of the Throne.” One of the songs is called "No Church in the West", where they ask “What’s a God to an unbeliever.” One writer compares Kanye and Jay Z to gods in the rap game and they have earned the right to sit on the throne. It’s dangerous when we put ourselves on thrones when God is the only one who should ascend. Whenever anyone tries to make you a god make sure you correct them real quick!

Acts 14: 11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.

We are to be like the moon and not the sun. The only function of the moon is to reflect the light of the sun so there will be light in the dark. We are supposed to reflect the light of God’s son so his people will see his Glory.

Dear God,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Raising the Deficit of Healing

Jeremiah 8:20-22
The crops are in, the summer is over, but for us nothing’s changed. We’re still waiting to be rescued. For my dear broken people, I’m heartbroken. I weep, seized by grief. Are there no healing ointments in Gilead? Isn’t there a doctor in the house? So why can’t something be done to heal and save my dear people? (MSG)

I keep wondering if this intense heat will ever lift. Today, there is a pleasant overcast with a promise of rain. I never thought I’d be relieved by an overcast. Many of us keep waiting for something to break while we sit under an overcast of dissension, political jockeying and economic uncertainty. All of the gains we made in the Dow Jones this year have been lost, our school system is closer to being consolidated but yet still divided, and people are still looking for work with threats of more layoffs. Memphis feels like Israel when Jeremiah said, “the harvest is past, the summer has ended and we are not saved. Since my people are crushed; I mourn and horror grips me.”

In the midst of all that is going wrong in our world, I’m still helpful that there is a balm in Memphis as well as the United States of America. Jeremiah asked a rhetorical question when he asked “Is there no balm in Gilead?” He knew there was a balm, that is a medicinal extract from a tree in Gilead, he just didn’t know why his people didn’t have access to it. We have the ability to create one equitable school system in Shelby County. Why are we still divided? We have the ability for every person to get healthcare. Why are we still arguing over Universal healthcare? We have the ability to bring our troops home. Why are we still fighting? We have the ability to create jobs by focusing our energies on rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Why are we sending more jobs overseas?

A house divided against itself cannot stand. The sooner we can come together for the good of the people, for the good of the children, for the good of the least of these we can see the balm or the healing we need for our city and nation. The way we see that relief get to where it’s needed the most is to put into practice what God told Jeremiah for the people of Israel in Jeremiah 7: 5 Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another.6 Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans, and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshiping other gods, for that will destroy you.7 If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession.

The effects of healing in our city and our land have been blocked by self interest, partisan politics, and a lack of concern for the least of these. Whether it’s an unjust shooting by police officers in London, Five million starving people in Somalia unable to get food and water, or unemployed teachers in Memphis, we must put our difference to the side and create an equitable school system, create jobs for our people, bring our troops home, and work together for liberty and justice for all. In short, we must heed what God said to us in 2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. New International Version (NIV)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's On Your Account?

John 12:11
For on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

It’s good to regularly check your account to make sure you are not in the negative. Sometimes, you can think you have more in your account then you actually do. If you make more withdrawals then you do deposits you can be penalized for an overdraft unless you have overdraft protection. Really that’s the only reason many of us have been making it is because God give us overdraft protection. We have a tendency to take out more than we’ve put in. God’s grace has covered us time and time again when we have taken far more than we have put in. Every now and then God even puts something on our account even though we didn’t make a direct deposit.

What have you done lately that God can put on your account? Do you have a positive or negative balance with God? The way we get in the positive or as Biggie Smalls said, “I went from negative to positive and it’s all good” is to allow God to use the negative in our lives and make positives out of them.

Dave Ramsey gave an interesting perspective on the Dow Jones being down the other day when everyone was anxious about a double dip recession, he said, “It’s like a blue light special at K-mart, everything is on sale. Rather than panicking this is a good time for people to buy stocks while they are low and sell them when they go back high.” The key is that we don’t panic when things are in the negative but instead look at what you can add to your account.

When your life is at its lowest that’s when God is getting ready to put something on your account. Lazarus died. That’s the lowest you can go. Jesus raised him from the dead. That’s the highest you can go. On account of Lazarus’ turn around, the Jews were coming over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. When our lives reflect the Glory of God, that goes on our account. Like the stock market our lives might take a turn for the worst but if we remain steadfast God will come in when everybody else walks out and put something on our account to give us value again! What has God or Jesus done in your life lately that is on your account? How many people have put their faith in Jesus because of your life going from negative to positive?

How to put more on your account:

1. You must be born again. When we are spiritually reborn through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross people are able to see us go from death to life.

2. Share your testimony. We overcome by the word of our testimony. What we are going through today will help somebody else get through tomorrow. On our account others will put their faith in Jesus.

3. Bring people to Jesus. We must continue to bring people to Jesus and it will be credited to our account as Righteousness.

Dear God,

Thank you for putting something on my account. I went from negative to positive now it’s all good. You’ve been better to me than I’ve been to myself and I just want to say thank you.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Take Away the Stone

John 11:39
"Take away the stone" he said, "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

There are some issues we don't want to deal with because they stink. The longer we delay the more they smell. when we fail to address issues in our lives we will experience the decay of delay. Sometimes it's easier to just bury our feelings instead of raising the issue but at some point if you want to see God work on your issue you have to roll the stone away.

Jesus' friend Lazarus had died and had been laying in his grave four days. Jesus came to raise him from the dead; but it seemed it was too late. There are some things that appear to have sit too long for us to raise but if Jesus is present we don't have to be afraid of the odor.

We cant leave unresolved issues in our marriage stagnant in our relationships, mired in our ministry, or buried in our business. When we have issues we have to speak to the issue and take away the stone. In Jesus day, whenever they buried someone, they put them in a cave and rolled a stone over the entrance. There was no embalming fluid instead the body would decompose at a fast rate because of the desert climate. For Jesus to ask them to roll the stone away was a shock to the already grieving family because the body would have been offensive to the senses after laying there for four days. No matter how long your issue has been laying there if Jesus is there he can cause what should be offensive to have new life.

I like what Samuel Chand says in his book, Breaking your Churches Cultural Code, "we need to have HOT conversations, Honest, Open, and Transparent." His thesis is that if we really want to know what's going on in our organizations we have to roll the stone away and have HOT conversations in Love.

The way we have HOT conversation is that we have to:

1. Take Away the Stone. Don't be afraid to face your mess even if it looks like it's dead.

2. Call him out. Speak truth in Love to whatever appears to be dead. Some people appear dead when all they need is for you to speak life back into them.

3. Loose him and let him Go. Lazarus came out stumbling because he was wrapped in grave clothes. Jesus told them to take the grave clothes off and let him go. Resentment and unforgiveness are grave clothes. In order for you to move past your issues you have to release others through forgiveness.

Dear God,

Help me to face what I've been trying to keep buried. I'm afraid of the stink but I love them too much to let them lay there, especially when I have Jesus standing here with the power of resurrection. Give me discernment to know what needs to die and what needs to be raised. Show me what stone to roll away today so I can speak life and not death.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, August 8, 2011

God Needs Some Facetime

Jeremiah 2:27

They say to wood, 'you are my father.' and to stone, 'you gave me birth.' They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, 'Come and save us!'

I was talking to a member of my church who is a father of a teenage girl. He said his daughter called him the other day with excitement in her voice. He said, "I knew then she wanted something because she never really calls me." Not only did she call wanting something but it was a big ticket item, she wanted her daddy to get her a car! Prior to this the daughter had spurned any attempts at relationship from her father but when she wanted/needed something she called her father.

Does this sound familiar? often times we are the Teenager and God is the father. God only wants a relationship with us but instead we give him our back. God wants some FaceTime. When singer, Katy Perry, is out on the road she likes to talk to her husband on her IPad through FaceTime but wishes they had a 'black&white' option because, "everyday looks better in 'black&white'." Everybody looks better when they have FaceTime with God in 'black&white' with no gray areas. Those who worship God must worship him in Spirit and in truth. We ought to approach him even when we don't want anything.

When we choose other things and other people over God it's like turning our backs on God. When we worship money, fame, relationships over God, it's like choosing idols and turning our backs on God. When God requests FaceTime and we click ignore we give him our backs. In order to keep growing in grace and favor we need to seek God's face and not just his hand.

Give God your Face by:

1. Praying every morning. David said, "Daily will I seek you." God needs some face time with you. You should fall on your face and seek God early in the morning.

2. Reading scripture everyday. God's word is a lamp unto your feet and a light for your path.

3. Serving others in ministry. Jesus said, "when you do for the least of these you also do unto me." By serving others we are spending FaceTime with Jesus.

Dear God,

Today, I give you my face and not my back. You deserve more from me then just a call when I need something. Daily will I seek your face. Thank you for giving me time to be with you and to do your Holy Will.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pick Up The Pieces

John 6:12
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

When I was a child you didn’t throw away food. Leftovers became tomorrow's dinner. Food was too hard to come by to be wasting anything. When you sat down for dinner you could get all you wanted but you better want all you got. My dad would say, “dont’ let your eyes be bigger than your stomach.” If there was anything left we had to pick up the pieces because we could use them to get us through rougher days when we might not have the same abundance that we had on payday. Some of you know what it’s like trying to stretch your money and food out from one pay period to the next.

Great Grandmama taught us how to pick up the pieces when she made dresses or clothes for the kids. If she had any material left over she made quilts to cover us and keep us warm. Whatever God provides you, make sure you pick up the pieces because you will need them later.

One day Jesus had a multitude of people who followed him because they heard he could heal the sick. When it was lunch time he had about 5 thousand plus staring at him with hungry bellies. One of his disciples said, “Send these people home, if we worked 8 months to feed these people we wouldn’t make enough for each of them to get a piece of bread.” Then another disciple found a little boy with a lunch bag consisting of 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. The disciple said, “How can this small meal feed so many?” Some of you have the same question today, here’s how you pick up the pieces:

1. Make the people sit down. Miracles take place when we all sit at the feet of Jesus. Many people miss miracles because they stop coming to church. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I will be in the midst.” Where Jesus is and we are sitting together there you will find miracles that meet your needs. This Sunday come to church and sit in worship with your unmet needs, with your hunger, and watch God provide. Jesus said, “Those that hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied!”

2. Put the little bit that you do have in Jesus’ hands and watch him multiply it. The little boy gave up his lunch to feed more people than they had food. The generosity of this child sparked a miracle. Sometimes, what we think is our last is really what God wants to use for a miracle that leads to leftovers. God loves a cheerful giver. It’s not equal giving it’s equal sacrifice that God honors.

3. Pick up the Pieces after your miracle. When you sit at Jesus feet in worship and give him what little you have get ready for the miracle you need from God. After he blesses you make sure you pick up the pieces. When the disciples picked up the pieces they had 12 baskets of barley loaves. That was one basket for each disciple. When they got to a place where there was no food guess what they ate off, the leftovers. Pick up your pieces!

Dear God,

Thank you for my pieces. My pieces gave me peace when I was in a hungry season. You gave me just what I needed when I needed it. Work a miracle for every hungry person, every unemployed person and make it stretch until their next season of more than enough. Thank you for the pieces. Give us this day our daily bread. Thank you Lord for making a way out of no way!

In Jesus name I pray,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It Could Be Worse

John 5:14
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

Have you ever been sick before? I mean down on your back sick and you told God, “If you get me through this I promise I’ll do better.” We’ve all been sick before or in a place where we were not complete. God graciously stepped in to our time and space to heal us. However, there was a pre-requisite to your healing; you had to want to get better. God can’t move against your will. You have to want to get better and do better. Getting better and doing better both go together. The very thing that God is bringing you out of could be worse than what it is because after you get better you have to do better. It could be worse.

Many people who get organ transplants are advised by their doctors to take care of their organs but many of them go right back to the behaviors that made them sick in the first place and destroy the new organ. They are worse than before. They have wasted the sacrifice.

When Jesus gives you new life you have to change your lifestyle or you could be worse than you were before he saved you. Jesus healed a man that had been an invalid for 38 years, lying in the same spot making excuses that people kept cutting him off. How many of us have been lying in the same spot for years? Do you want to get well?

I was watching a movie last night called Surrogates with Bruce Willis who plays a cop trying to stop a man who helped create a high-tech surrogate phenomenon that allows people to purchase remote controlled humanoid robots through which they interact with society. These fit, good-looking, remotely controlled robots ultimately assume their life roles, enabling people to experience life vicariously from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Bruce’s character destroys the machines because it robbed the people of their ability to truly live. Many of us have surrogate appearances while our true selves remain invalid. Once the fa├žade of who we are in public is destroyed who we are in private has to get up and do better.

Jesus has raised us to our true selves and we have gotten back in church. Jesus healed the invalid, got him back on his feet, but he doesn’t know who healed him. Could it be that many of us have benefited from being healed by Jesus but we really don’t know Jesus? We’ve been healed but we haven’t been discipled. Jesus meets the man in the temple. You have to give the man credit at least he was in the Temple even though he didn’t know the man who healed him. Jesus had slipped away before he could finish his introduction. Many times we leave church before we are properly introduced to Jesus but every now and then he will catch us at church and he will tell us, “You are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

After you are healed you need to:

1. Go back to church. This Sunday you need to get back in church so you can have an encounter with Jesus. You can worship with us live or online at 8 am and 10:30 am, 6120 Winchester, or 9:15 am Collierville, 114 Highway 72.

2. Get Disciples which simply means, get taught on what it means to be a Christian by attending Tuesday night Bible study live or online at 6120 Winchester @6:30 p.m. or Wednesday in Collierville 114, Highway 72 6:30 pm.

3. Change your Lifestyle or give your life to Jesus through service. Sign up for a ministry so that you can engage your life in something positive. When you stop doing something bad you need to start doing something good.

Dear God,

Thank you for saving me and healing me. My life could be worse than what you delivered me from. I don’t want to see what worse looks like. I’m ready to head in a New Direction from the inside out.

In Jesus Name,