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Archive for the tag “Impacting the World”

Learning from John

For the last eleven weeks, my small group studied the letters of John (1 John, 2 John and 3 John). If you have read those letters, you probably noticed a theme – God is love. John pointed to the fact that if we know God and are found in Him, then we are to love as well. In John’s words: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Another point I picked out from reading these letters is that truth and love go together. This point may seem obvious to you, but it did not occur to me these two should always be together. It makes perfect sense because Jesus is Love and He is Truth. When we walk in truth and love, we are the reflection of Jesus. Just speaking truth without love, is harsh. Just giving love without truth is incomplete.

I noted in a summary of one of the weeks: love is the indicator of our relationship with God through Jesus. If we love, it’s because of God’s Spirit in us; if we live in fear, God’s love is not there. Love drives out fear. John stated it this way in 1 John 4:18b: perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

It all makes perfect sense – when we are abiding with Jesus, day in and day out – we live with no fear, we live in complete love and we know the truth. Our joy is complete. However, it’s hard to live like that. It takes a daily grounding in God’s Word to sustain my mind in the truth and in love. I have to provide a shield over my mind and my heart. Because once I step out of my house, the world wants to influence me. Actually, I don’t have to step out of my house. The world creeps in when I turn on the television or I log on to the World Wide Web.

Another point John made that really hit home for me. We need to watch out for false teachers. He called them antichrists. We definitely have a problem today with false messages. John wrote two thousand years ago, we are in the last hour and antichrists are among us. His words in 1 John 4: 2-3: This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

How much more today than when John first penned these words. And the false messages are being broadcast across the globe. We need to watch who we let into our circle of influence – no matter if it’s a friend or a famous speaker (or singer for that matter). John wrote we should not let these who speak falsehoods into our house – check it out in John’s second letter: If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.

The teaching he referred to was the teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh; basically a deceiver who teaches falsely. Anytime we turn on the television or log on to the web, we are letting them into our house. Anytime we listen, we welcome them into our spiritual house unless we are grounded in the Truth and know the Truth and recognize their falsehood. John wrote in his second letter we are to test the spirits. This is how we will know if what we hear is truth or lies; compare it to God’s Word.

Last night, I listened to a show concerning the Hebrew year 5780 that just started a little over a month or two ago and the coming year 2020. The speaker said that “80” represented the mouth; 2020 is for vision. He mentioned this year there will be more speaking and more vision. If this is true, then we need to be grounded in God’s Word – first to understand truth, second to cover our minds with the helmet of salvation to protect us from negative influence.

God’s Word says it this way: Proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

And in Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed 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.

Be careful who you let influence your thoughts and your decisions. These days will continue to get darker. We are the light and we need to shine the light in this darkness. We are the ones who walk in love and in truth. Let us be the influencers we are called to be. Stay grounded. And stay focused on what’s important for this life and the one to come.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

World Changer

Seven years ago this weekend, I had a major decision to make. I was given the opportunity to move into another area at work or leave my full-time job. It was a hard decision, but I chose to walk out in faith to do something new. I believed God had something else in mind. It had seemed over the last couple years of employment that circumstances made me more uncomfortable in that place. I felt God had positioned me to leave. Was it right or wrong, I second guess it every now and then. But during these last seven years, I think God did do something new – in me.

It’s not easy stepping out of full-time employment. Yes, I have had freedom to do what I wanted to do. However, with no real money coming in, resources are very limited as to what can be done. I made the comment a couple of years before I left my job that I just wanted to quit my job and write. Guess what? That’s the opportunity I was given when I quit – I started writing. I wrote two books within the first five years. I started this blog during that time as well. The last two years, I picked up part-time jobs to help pay the bills. Yet, I still feel like there is something waiting in the future that I just don’t see. After seven years, I really thought I would have the revelation by now. Here I sit still waiting.

One of the things God has been doing over these last seven years is work on me. He has changed my heart and changed my perspective on a few things. He has given me a greater thirst for Him and His Word. I have had a great opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him. I haven’t been perfect in my attendance or in my attention. However, He has been faithful to teach me right where I am. There have been many opportunities to grow closer to Him. I desire to be closer still. I need more of Him and less of me – I need to be emptied of my selfish desires. However, I struggle with it.

I just finished two books by the same author on Seven Great Men and Seven Great Women and the secrets of their greatness. Eric Metaxas picked men and women throughout modern history to reflect on what they did to change events in history. The men and women weren’t great because of who they were but what they did when they surrendered everything to Jesus. They emptied themselves of their selfish desires and totally surrendered their future to God.

Joan of Arc was the first woman the author introduced us to. I had read her story a couple of years ago – a peasant girl who changed France single-handedly led by the Spirit of God (her “voices”). George Washington was the first man and how he could have become king of this nation – it was his right to do so, but through providence he chose to begin something new. William Wilberforce changed his nation and the world by two significant choices – he chose to end slavery through legislation in Great Britain and he taught the world how to be kind again – it’s an interesting story and it changed the western world in both regards. Mother Theresa and Rosa Parks were two small women who changed their worlds. Jackie Robinson did the same when he broke the color barrier in sports.

We look back at how these men and women changed their worlds and wonder if it could be done again. These men and women didn’t set out to change their worlds. They just surrendered to Jesus and look what He did through them. They gave up their comfort to endure the storms and the battles that were waged spiritually in order to change the world. It seems impossible to believe that one person could do all that; and it was. There were many behind the scenes that didn’t get the notice, but supported the efforts and championed the cause. It’s not done alone. No one can withstand the storms or battles alone. We need each other. If there is a cause, it takes one person to notice; but it takes many to engage in the battle.

The last couple of weeks of December, I had this word before me. I don’t know what this word means for me or for my circumstances. Maybe it’s really not for me but what God is going to do and I can be a part of it. The word is multiply. What’s God going to do? How will God do it? Those are the million dollar questions, right?

I don’t know what 2018 will bring. But I do know that we all need each other to engage in the battle that God places before us. We may not get noticed by the world as world changers, but God knows what He has determined for us to join together to make a difference. Multiply. Maybe it’s the people He will bring together to change the world as we know it.

You know what it takes to do it? Surrender. That’s what these great men and women did. That’s what we are called to do for our generation. We have to finish what has been started and we need to finish well. This world is waiting for someone to step into the gap. Are you the one? Am I? How about we do it together?

As I began my journey years ago, God gave me this verse and it’s the verse I leave with you today. Let it encourage you for this year.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen
you and help you;
I will uphold you
with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Chest Moves

You should know by now that I keep my ears and eyes open to prophecy experts. I love to see how God is moving the pieces around. Sometimes it’s not too obvious. We can look back at history and see God working through circumstances, but it’s a little more difficult in real-time. Take the Bush-era, “W” that is. We weren’t too thrilled when the invasion to Iraq happened. But that was just a “chest piece” move by God. We don’t like to think about World War II being a chest piece move, but it was. Israel would not be in possession of their land today (and I know there are those who do not believe they have the rights to it) if it were not for WWII.

I read last night about the Wooden era of basketball at UCLA – seven national championships from 1967 to 1973. I know that isn’t much of a chest piece move. But the dates are significant. I think it has God’s hand print on it. From what I understand coach Wooden was a godly man. I don’t know what became of those young men who came through his program, but God does and knows exactly what He used them for.

1967 was a major step for Israel to get Jerusalem in their possession once again (I know, contested rights). 1973 abortion became legalized; the US got out of the Vietnam War in 1973; and a big Jesus movement happened in that same year. There was much strife between ’67 and ’73. I remember those years being filled with protests and the hippie movement with peace signs everywhere. Everybody wanted peace. Isn’t that what we want today? Peace in every corner of this world? The trouble is there will be no peace ever until Jesus returns.

I believe chest moves are countered by the enemy. One step for God’s Kingdom when bring the enemy to the door. Each move God makes, Satan and his demons will counter, which we will be right in the middle of the conflict. There is a battle going on – first for our soul, second for our walk. If God is moving in us, the enemy is going to make sure we don’t take that step. If there is no storm brewing, then we need to check our walk. Are we in step with God?

Andy Andrews wrote in his last book that it’s the little things that take us where we need to go. It’s the small decisions not the big ones that get us to our destination. I am not a “big picture” kind of person. I like to look at details. I guess that’s the analyst in me. Someone has to help me see the big picture. I can get bogged down in the details. I rely on God to move me away from the details and show me the next thing. I figure when the right time to move comes, God will show me the way. He has done it in the past, and I expect Him to do so in the future.

One thing Andy mentioned in his book was about what’s best. He asked three questions that have to be answered in our hearts to get to the best.

  1. Do you believe God wants the best for you? Think about it. If God loves you as He does, does He really want what’s best for you? Do you believe it?
  2. Do you believe God has a better imagination than you? Ah, YES. That one seems simple enough!
  3. Looking at your life, are you living the best life God has for you? That might be a “no” at this point. But that could change in a split second.

God has something in mind for all of us. He has chest piece moves ready to happen, and He needs people ready to do His work. There are small and large things that need to take place. Some of us will get the small stuff to do; others will get the big stuff. The presidents get the big stuff. Some are chosen to run countries, some are chosen to run large companies; and some are chosen to do the grunt work to help those in charge.

We all have a part to play; however, we have to be in God’s game. The best for us is to be part of God’s plan. We don’t like this word, but we have to surrender our desires and our plans for His. If we believe He loves us and wants the best for us, why would we choose something different? What could happen if we let God have His way in us? The BEST life ever! And the best life ever could impact the world for the better for generations to come. Wouldn’t that be something?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)

Note: Andy Andrew’s book The Little Things published 2017 by W Publishing Group, Nashville, TN

The Message

When disaster strikes and we have nothing left, who do we turn to? In the message on Sunday, my pastor said “Is Jesus enough?” What are we left with, when everything is gone? Pastor Andy Stanley said on Sunday, “Worry not.” Worry is about tomorrow. When we worry, we bring tomorrow’s trouble into today. Is Jesus enough for today? Is Jesus enough for tomorrow? Can we really trust Jesus to meet our needs? What if He doesn’t come through? What then? I have trusted Jesus as my Savior, but have I trusted Jesus as my Lord? That means giving Jesus every aspect of my life; things that I know I have no control over and the things that I think I have control over. That means He controls the day – where and when – how and why all belong to Him. Today is His.

Is Jesus enough? How do you actually know that Jesus is enough unless you have nothing but Him? If you have everything you need, do you still need Him? Jesus isn’t a magic genie waiting to fulfill our wishes. He is King of kings – He is Lord of lords. He is God who created the world and everything in it. He is the One who was before the world began. God separated the waters; gave boundaries to the seas. He placed each star in the heavens and calls them by name. He knows the beginning from the end – He has already seen each and every aspect of what we endure. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He understands our frailties. With all of that knowledge of who Jesus is, it takes a real encounter with Jesus to actually believe what we know.

Back in the first century, people didn’t have the written Word – all they had were eye witnesses to the events that unfolded. The disciples followed Him daily. They witnessed the miracles (but it wasn’t enough); they heard His teachings (but some didn’t believe). They saw Jesus’ love to the outcasts – the sinners (some were outraged). Everything changed with the most important event: His death and resurrection. The ones who witnessed this big event spread the word. In order to have impact for the world, Jesus has to impact our own lives. We have to feel the nail prints for ourselves. We have to live our lives in a way that gives Jesus opportunity to become real to us. When we witness the resurrection power at work, everything changes.

Trust becomes essential to the message. When we encounter the risen Savior as Lord, we can trust that He loves us and has our best interest at heart. When we trust in Jesus as Lord, it means our lives will have impact. Trust that He knows what we need and when we need it. Believe in the One who sent Jesus for us. And learn not to worry – easier said than done, but essential in our testimony of God being bigger than our problems. Nothing is impossible for God. Jesus gives us His peace, and we can trust that in all things, we can have contentment because of Jesus. Jesus is enough. When we witness the resurrection power at work, we have an awesome testimony to share that will impact the world around us. Scripture tells us that not a detail will be missed – trust Him in every little thing.

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

“This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” John 6:35-40 (The Message)

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