When Perseverance Matters Most

When Perseverance Matters Most

The Made Well series were life-changing for many people at our church. (If you missed any of the messages, you can watch them right here.) Interestingly, while we learned a lot about healing, we in turn learned a lot about prayer. 

Not receiving healing can be discouraging. It can challenge our faith when we ask God to show up, and it appears as though He hasn’t. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us how to pray: 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

-Matthew 7:7-10 (NLT)

For many of us, this is exactly when we give up on praying. We throw in the towel with disappointment and frustration when God leaves us with seemingly no answer. Some of us have prayed for God to show up for years, and we find ourselves wondering what He’s up to. It can be so much easier to accept current circumstances as the way it has to be, rather than trust God to provide, especially when you’ve asked God in the past. 

But this is precisely when persistence matters most. The place where you have reached the end of what you think God can accomplish, the edge of where you believe God can provide, is the EXACT moment Jesus tells us to keep on asking, to keep on seeking and to keep on knocking. It is the desire of our Heavenly Father to give good gifts to His children, and His promise will come to pass.

For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

 

When we persist in our prayers to God, we expand our ability to trust Him. God’s promise to us is that He will never short-change us, never let us down, and never leave us empty-handed. Even if you have all the faith in the world, there are still moments when we ask, “Will God keep His promise?” 

When you face that question of whether or not God will prove Himself faithful, just remember, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.

Big Things Come Through Preparation

Big Things Come Through Preparation

I am praying that 2017 will be a year of great miracles.  God has promised us that He will enable us to perform many amazing works, even greater than Jesus performed while here on earth.  John 14:12  “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”

Anticipating, as we pray, to be used in healing and revival facilitates the power of God to work through us.  Anticipation and expectation is essential in allowing God to use us.  Praying for miracles is not a question of whether or not it is His will or not, but a question of how and when He will use us and answer these prayers. This is faith: Hebrews 11:1,”Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Faith urges us to prepare for a move of God.  Preparation to meet God’s movement and facilitate His calling on our lives recognizes God is at work in the background to facilitate the mechanism of the answers to our prayers.   Galatians 3:22, “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”

Preparing for God to move in our lives, families, teams and church requires focused prayers and reliance on God’s promises.  God wants to give us the gift of faith to believe for big things to happen. Miracles happen when we join in His plan by praying His word over situations, dreams and visions.  1 Corinthians 12:9, “The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.”

Here are some great ways to prepare for a move of God:

  1. Explore, examine and then disengage from the past.  Self-examination can position you to see where you need to grow in your faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
  2. Raise your faith level.  Faith is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the more it strengthens.  Be in the word and speaking it out to increase your faith.  Faith comes by hearing the word of God. James 1:22-24(NKJV) offers a second way to increase your faith: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
  3. Position yourself to be near God.  Jesus can touch you and your needs when you in proximity to Him.  (Luke 13)
  4. Expect the miracles. Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”
  5. Be willing to step out in the unknown. Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Join me in prayer and expectation for an amazing year of miracles with God.  

How To See The Need In Your Community

How To See The Need In Your Community

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? A man is attacked by bandits and left for dead when two religious leaders happen to come along. The religious leaders see the man, but they pass right by him. Maybe they had pressing matters to attend to, or maybe they felt overwhelmed by the prospect of helping. Whatever their circumstances, they did not lend a helping hand. Instead, it was a despised (by the culture of the day) Samaritan who was moved with compassion and helped the man in need.

What can we learn from the Samaritan?

First, the Samaritan STOPPED…

We have no way of knowing what the Samaritan was thinking on this particular day, but his example shows that he stopped. The busyness of life often puts blinders on us so that all we see is what is directly in front of us. The Samaritan reminds us we must be intentional about giving moments to God every day and paying attention to what and who has been placed around you. Are you willing to stop when you see a need?

 

Second, he LOOKED…

The Samaritan saw the man beaten and injured. What he saw caused him to show kindness and meet the need. There are people with needs all around us. Some of what is seen around us can be intimidating and even heart-wrenching.  Are you willing to look at the needs around you?

 

Finally, he LISTENED…

The story of the Samaritan begins with a man trying to test Jesus about what it means to live for God. Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” We don’t know for sure, but maybe this Samaritan knew this part of God’s law. Certainly, the religious leaders knew of it, but hearing and listening are two different things. In this story only one person demonstrated he had listened, the Samaritan. He was a neighbor by putting God’s love into practice. 

 

In the same way, Local Service requires us to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN to those whom we encounter on a regular basis. It is more than a one-time event; it must be part of our regular lives, especially for believers. Giving a meal to a person will not get them off of the streets. Cleaning a park will definitely have to be done again, but it is in showing kindness that the light of believers shines before men and allows them to glorify God. 

Isaiah 58:7 reminds us that God is interested in seeing “us sharing our food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into our homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to our own families.” Being involved in local service in the community and neighborhood around you gives us an opportunity to be kind. An act of simple kindness cannot be underestimated. Scripture tells us that it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). 

Is His kindness being displayed in you? It can by taking a moment to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.

Break The Cycle

Break The Cycle

Ever feel trapped in life? Trapped like you know that you have to change something in order for your life to become healthy and progress, but you never really end up changing the outcome. Trapped like your life is becoming stale, boring, and irrelevant. Why is this? Why is it whenever we feel the Holy Spirit begin to move us to change that it never seems to work out? We ask ourselves, Did I miss God, or worse, does God even want to use me anymore? Now before you type up that resignation, quit your job, and move to Seattle to become a barista, let’s pump the brakes a little and bring some clarity to this issue. When God starts to bring change to your heart He’s not asking you to recreate your life, He’s asking you to redefine it. Did you catch that?

 

DON’T RECREATE YOUR LIFE; REDEFINE YOUR LIFE.

 

For this to happen, there are three perspectives that I believe are absolutely vital as we lead ourselves into a place where we see our lives become healthy.

1. Recall the Truth
There have been more times than I can count where I wanted to quit because it was hard, even rationalizing that God was moving me on from what He has called me to and that I wasn’t God’s man for my context anymore. Know that if you believe that, you believe a lie. One of the most self-sabotaging things we can do is believe the lie fed to us by the Enemy that we are washed up and irrelevant. When we believe this, we take on a spirit of fear, and that spirit was never a part of God’s original design for our lives. It is here that we must refuse fear and doubt in favor of perfect love. Your calling is still sure, your gifts are empowered, and out of all the people God could have called to your context, He called you. Once you grasp this, it will change your process and infuse it with power and purpose.
 

2. Remember the Vision
When we come to an impasse in our lives we often throw away the vision and start over. Whether we stop growing, become mundane, or lose momentum, we automatically assume that the original plan for our lives isn’t relevant. But before we allow that kind of thinking to take root, let’s not forget that the vision for our lives came from God. It’s just as good today as it was the first day you received it. Throwing away the vision for your life in favor of something else is like throwing away the Ark of the Covenant in favor of the golden calf. Don’t let the Enemy rob you of the very thing that first ignited the fires of passion in your heart. It doesn’t take you recreating your personal vision, just redefining how it works.
 

3. Redefine the Process
If you have the first two perspectives nailed down, this one will be easy. The most important thing in redefining the process is to ask yourself, Does my life behave in a way that reflects the vision God gave me? If it doesn’t, don’t change the vision. Instead, redefine the systems you have in place so that they reflect the vision. As a result, the correct behavior will naturally follow suit. The key is to never stop tweaking your systems until they create the behavior in you that honors the vision.

 

Hear me when I say that you have come too far and have invested too much to throw in the towel at this stage. Your calling is still necessary, and what God has given you is needed in your context. Never forget that you are God’s “Plan A” for the world He has placed you in, there is no “Plan B,” and He is absolutely cool with that. As you take those necessary steps in redefining your life and bringing health to it as a result, know that you do so with all of Heaven at your back and God’s purpose at your front and that you have it in you to bring health to the spiritual life of those around you.

What On Earth Has God Put You Here To Do?

What On Earth Has God Put You Here To Do?

Roughly 80% of all college students change their major at least once during their time in school. I was one of them. About two years into a major in Youth Development, I decided it was time for a change. While I found the subject easy to learn about, and even felt like I could make it work in the long run, I just couldn’t see myself feeling happy and fulfilled working in that career for the rest of my life. All the pieces just weren’t lining up for me.

If you’re like me, you know that your life is not an accident. You believe that God has something for you to do with your time here on earth. Knowing and believing this is only half the battle. We still have to wrestle with the question of what. 

What on earth has God put me here to do? 

Discovering exactly what that “something” is most often easier said than done. It’s a search that most of us spend years, decades, our lifetime trying to figure out. It is really tempting to try and can the answer to that question. We love to find ways to ascribe simple answers to complex, changing, even frustrating, questions like this, don’t we? 

In the midst of our searching and waiting, we run the risk of becoming inactive. We get so lost in our own search for our own purpose that we lose sight of the real purpose.

If you know exactly what you need to do for the rest of your life, great! If you don’t know where to even begin looking, that’s okay too. No matter where you find yourself on this journey, there is one thing you can ALWAYS do: 

Serve others.

This is seen more than anywhere in Jesus’ life. If anyone had a right to dismiss the simple and mundane, it was Jesus (He WAS God, after all)! Yet time and time again, we see Him serving people, sometimes in the simplest of ways:

He encouraged those who doubted. 

He brought hope to those who had given up. 

He showed grace to those who failed over and over again. 

He shared a meal with those who were hated by others.  

It seems like Jesus was always out to give people what they needed.

God is in the business of doing much with little. Our seemingly insignificant acts can have profound impact on the lives of others. A small act done in great love can resonate deeply in the hearts of those you impact. Never discredit the smallest of acts of kindness, they can go a long way! 

To put it simply, God has put us here to work with Him, reconciling all of Creation back to Him.

This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

-Matthew 10:40 (MSG)