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Parenting with the Lord’s Prayer: Creating Stability

Parenting with the Lord’s Prayer: Creating Stability

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)   Study any psychological test and they’ll tell you the most insecure place for a kid to be is at the center of his or her family – controlling all the strings, getting their way in everything. Kids instinctively know they do not belong in the center of the family; it creates great insecurity in their lives. Where kids find stability and security is in having boundaries. This is true from the moment they are born. We take little babies and wrap them up tightly. It’s called swaddling and being tightly bound gives the baby a feeling of security. When you set boundaries with your children, they may push back, but they will also feel secure when those boundaries stand firm. They learn that you really do care about them. It’s when children don’t have those boundaries, and feel they can get away with anything, that they begin to question their parents’ love. In the same way children need to know God’s purpose for their life is part of God’s larger plan. This creates boundaries of identity for them. It let’s them know that life is not all about them. And in understanding God’s plan, they are able to find the answers to the basic questions of life: who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Where did I come from? Does my life have meaning? What is my purpose and how should I live it out? Why is this happening to me? When you teach a child, “thy kingdom come, they will be done” you are teaching them that God has a master plan for history, but he also has a specific plan for their...

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Your prayers are desperately needed for our nation and our world

Your prayers are desperately needed for our nation and our world

Your prayers are desperately needed for our nation and our world—and for everything you’re believing for in your own life!Today, the first Thursday in May 2011, is the National Day of Prayer for the United States of America.Our country needs all its Christian citizens to join in this call to prayer. And God’s Word promises that we will receive answers as we agree together!

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Parenting with the Lord’s Prayer: Creating Stability

Parenting with the Lord’s Prayer: Creating Stability

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)   Study any psychological test and they’ll tell you the most insecure place for a kid to be is at the center of his or her family – controlling all the strings, getting their way in everything. Kids instinctively know they do not belong in the center of the family; it creates great insecurity in their lives. Where kids find stability and security is in having boundaries. This is true from the moment they are born. We take little babies and wrap them up tightly. It’s called swaddling and being tightly bound gives the baby a feeling of security. When you set boundaries with your children, they may push back, but they will also feel secure when those boundaries stand firm. They learn that you really do care about them. It’s when children don’t have those boundaries, and feel they can get away with anything, that they begin to question their parents’ love. In the same way children need to know God’s purpose for their life is part of God’s larger plan. This creates boundaries of identity for them. It let’s them know that life is not all about them. And in understanding God’s plan, they are able to find the answers to the basic questions of life: who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Where did I come from? Does my life have meaning? What is my purpose and how should I live it out? Why is this happening to me? When you teach a child, “thy kingdom come, they will be done” you are teaching them that God has a master plan for history, but he also has a specific plan for their...

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Problems Force Us to Depend on God

Problems Force Us to Depend on God

I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing: make something of me! You can do it; you’ve got what it takes God. Psalm 40:17 (Msg)   Jesus warned us that we’d have . No one is immune to pain or insulated from suffering, and no one gets to skate through life problem-free. Life is a series of problems. Every time you solve one, another one is waiting to take its place. Peter assures us that problems are normal, saying “Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you.” (1 Peter 4:12 LB) God uses these problems to draw you closer to himself. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NLT) Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days — when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great, and you turn to God alone. It is during suffering that we learn to pray our most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. When in pain, we don’t have the energy for superficial prayers. Joni Eareckson Tada notes, “When life is rosy, we may slide by with knowing about Jesus, with imitating him and quoting him and speaking of him. But only in suffering will we know Jesus.” We learn things about God in suffering that we can’t learn any other way. God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result. Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us ….” (2 Corinthians 1:9 LB) You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve...

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Jesus Will Be With You Day After Day After Day

Jesus Will Be With You Day After Day After Day

The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said …. Matthew 28:5-6 (MSG)   [Jesus said,] “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (MSG) As we’ve been learning this week, Easter is a celebration of Jesus conquering even death in order to give us freedom. He wants you to join him in heaven. How do you do that? You accept the gift that he’s given you, the gift of forgiveness and life. You can do that right now. You can talk to him and tell him, “I accept your gift of forgiveness and I accept your gift of life. I want to live the life that you made me to live.  Thank you, Jesus, for loving me.” This is a very simple prayer, but it changes everything. When you say I accept the fact that Jesus’ blood was given so I could be forgiven, it changes everything about your life, everything about who you are and everything about your eternity. With you in mind, I want to pray, “Jesus, we celebrate you and who you are.  We celebrate your love for us.  We thank you for Easter and the reminder that no matter how discouraging our week was this last week, there is good news in the future for us.” “No matter what other people say about us, you say that you love us.  And no matter what has happened in our lives, you will accept us as we come to you. Thank you for the gift of your love.  Thank you for the promise of your freedom. In your name we pray,...

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So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day

So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day

So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” – Matthew 27:64-65 (NIV) People may think that there is a lot of antagonism to the Christian faith today, but the opposition toward Jesus during His time was far greater. With Jewish leaders trying to protect their religious power and the Romans asserting their military might, they were not about to let this renegade rabbi Jesus become a symbol of challenge. But even their best efforts could not stop the power of God. Empires have tried to destroy the gospel for centuries, but no one can keep Jesus body in the grave. His resurrection power lives on and is spreading across the...

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Jesus Redeems Us With Out stretched Arms

Jesus Redeems Us With Out stretched Arms

Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “ Eat it in my memory.” He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.” Luke 22:19-20 (Msg)   The third cup in the Passover meal is the cup of redemption. Redemption means to buy somebody’s freedom. Jesus bought your freedom with his life on the cross. At the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal, Jesus said, “This third cup, I want to give it new meaning. This is the promise of a new covenant between you and God, a new promise of freedom that comes through my blood.” He was saying, “I’m going to go to a cross and my life blood is going to be poured out for you.” He was saying, “I want you to take this cup of redemption and see it from now on as a representation of the fact that I’m pouring out my blood for you. And I want you, together, to take this and drink this and to remember me.” Jesus is the fulfillment of everything in the Passover meal. He’s the bread of life. He is God’s promise in our lives. The blood on the door posts in Egypt — now it’s fulfilled in Jesus who sacrificed his life for us, who poured out his blood to set us free from our sin and guilt. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 NLT) Jesus sets us free from ourselves; he sets us free from our fears; and he sets us free from our sin and our guilt. This is why we celebrate...

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Jesus sets you free from your fears

Jesus sets you free from your fears

“I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” Exodus 12:12-13 (NIV) There is a second cup in the Passover meal called the cup of plagues. And it is a reminder from God that he will free us from slavery to our fears. Do you remember the story of how the people of Israel were set free? Moses is tending sheep out on the backside of the desert and God comes to him, saying, “You are going to set my people free.” But when he goes to Pharaoh, Pharaoh says, “No way! They are too important to my economy; they are too important to my power in the world. I won’t set them free.” So God says, “I’m going to bring judgments against Pharaoh, and he will set my people free.”   God sends ten plagues across Egypt, such as the Nile River turning to blood, a swarm of frogs, the death of livestock, festering boils, darkness, even during the day, and, finally, the death of the first born. Things we all might fear. But God told the people of Israel: “I don’t want the death of the first born to occur in your households. If you’ll put your faith in me, if you’ll trust in me in this way, my death angel will pass over your house when it comes into Egypt. Take a lamb and kill it, then put the blood of the lamb on the door of your house and I will pass over your house.” The Passover meal celebrates the truth that God saved the first-born sons of Israel. Easter celebrates the truth that God gave his first-born son to save us. Just like the angel passed over those households, God says you can crossover from death to life. The Bible says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV) Jesus says you may die physically, but you’ll never be separated from me, and you will live with me in eternity. A lot of people they live in fear of God. They feel like God’s out to get them somehow and, if you feel that way, here is a verse to remember: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (1 John 4:18...

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Passover is all about how God

Passover is all about how God

“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” Exodus 6:6-7a (NIV)   Passover is all about how God sets his people free and, in the Passover meal, we see the four promises that God makes to set his people free. Easter is a celebration of God’s promises, that through Jesus, God sets us free: “So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” (John 8:36 Msg) The Passover meal begins with the first cup called the cup of sanctification.  You would recite a blessing: “Blessed be the God, the maker of the universe and the creator of the fruit of the vine.” And then you would drink from the cup. This prayer, the Kadaysh, and this cup reminded people that they were sanctified, meaning they were set apart for God’s purposes, set apart for God’s love, set apart because of what he wants to do in our lives. God set the people of Israel free, set them apart and freed them from slavery. Jesus wants to set you free; he wants to set you apart too: “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23a Msg) Holy means set apart — God wants to make you holy and he wants to make you whole.  If you look at your life this last week, this last month, this last year and you think there is nothing in me that could connect with God, God says, ‘No, I want to set you apart to be person I want you to be. I want to free you for the purposes I made you for.’ Now, I get it.  I understand. You look at your life and you get frustrated.  I do too.  ‘Why can’t I do what I want to do when I want to do it?’ ‘Why do I find myself doing what I don’t want to do when I don’t want to do it?’ That’s why Jesus wants to set you free – not only to begin in a new life, but also to set you free from the guilt from your faults and failures. Jesus says if you’ll come to me, you’ll be free through and through. This cup of sanctification is a picture of our sanctification, the way that Jesus...

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Father, Forgive Them

Father, Forgive Them

“Father, Forgive Them” The dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. From the onlookers, “Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!” From the religious leaders, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.” From the soldiers, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Bitter words. Acidic with sarcasm. Hateful. Irreverent. Wasn’t it enough that he was being crucified? Wasn’t it enough that he was being shamed as a criminal? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short? For some, apparently so… Of all the scenes around the cross, this one angers me the most. What kind of people, I ask myself, would mock a dying man? Who would be so base as to pour the salt of scorn upon open wounds? How low and perverted to sneer at one who is laced with pain… The words thrown that day were meant to wound. And there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt… If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else’s words, you’ll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration. Meditate on these words from 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV): “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Did you see what Jesus did not do? He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!” “Come on up here and say that to my face!” “Just wait until after the resurrection, buddy!” No, these statements were not found on Christ’s lips. Did you see what Jesus did do? He “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Or said more simply, he left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunters and sent out no posse. He, to the astounding contrary, spoke on their defense. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”? (Luke 23:34 NIV)… “they don’t know what they are doing.” And when you think about it, they didn’t. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. But they didn’t know what they were doing. Yes, the dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. The verbal stones were meant to sting. How Jesus, with a body wracked with pain, eyes blinded by his own blood, and lungs yearning for air, could speak on...

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Who Could Use Your Encouragement Today?

Who Could Use Your Encouragement Today?

So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Romans 14:19 (HCSB) • God wants us to build one another up — The word support literally means to increase one another’s potential. It carries the idea of strengthening one another, to make one another more able to face the challenges of living for Christ. “We are in this fight together” (Philippians 1:30 NLT). We cannot afford to lose anyone. To succeed, you need the strength supplied by the Body of Christ, just as they need you. • God wants us to stand along side one another — “Encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 11:25, NIV). God does this for us. He “supports us in every hardship, so that we are able to come to the support of others, in every hardship of theirs because of the encouragement that we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:14). We’re created to stand along side one another. • God wants us be patient with one another — When we support one another, we express unconditional love. Even after we grow close enough to each other to learn one another’s quirks and annoying little habits, we will stick by each other’s side. “With all humility and gentleness, and with patience, support each other in love” (Ephesians 4:2 NJB). Is there someone who could use your encouragement today? Don’t wait until later! Encourage them...

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Jesus Accepted You; Now You Accept Others

Jesus Accepted You; Now You Accept Others

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Romans 15:7 (MSG)   God wants you to accept others in the same way that Jesus accepted you. In faith, we accepted God’s acceptance of us – through Christ – when we were unacceptable, and so we love God by freely offering the same gift – His acceptance – to others. To love God and to be to others what He is to us … We must be willing to be for others — God’s life is a life for others. He always is and does what is best for others. He has a non-selective love for all others. To love God is to have — in faith — a non-selective readiness to be for others … all others … any specific other God sends your way. We must see others as God sees them — True love, God’s love, is not blind. It sees what those living for themselves do not see. We set aside our judgments in order to “see what eyes have not seen and ears cannot hear” (I Cor. 2:9) so we can help those in...

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The Great Omission

The Great Omission

Among the last words Jesus gave His followers are those known as “The Great Commission.” He instructed His followers to, “Go into all the world and make disciples of the nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them.” It is obvious believers have failed to fulfill the Great Commission because of a Great Omission. We have gone forth preaching and proclaiming the Gospel, but not necessarily teaching the importance of becoming disciples of Jesus. Too often we have omitted the truly weightier matters of the Word. Christians are failing to grow in the grace they were born into and do not live under the influence of this transforming power in the here and now. Jesus told perhaps the most religious person He ever encountered, Nicodemus, he would never enter heaven (future) or have life now unless he was “born from above.” Jesus was describing a supernatural birth. The result of this spiritual birth creates in the heart a desire to be fruitful. Any lack of desire on the part of professing church members to be fruitful is a legitimate reason to “examine yourself whether you be of the faith.” Believers are misguided when they try to be like other church members rather than holding on to Jesus. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:3-8) There is no clearer evidence of spiritual birth than the desire to know and please our heavenly Father.When born again believers are challenged to become Christ-like, there is a supernatural witness within their heart. The garden of God longs for the light of His presence and the water of His Word necessary to be fruitful. Pastors and church leaders must encourage this desire. We have substituted the commission to “make disciples” with “making church members.” Membership has been substituted for relationship. People are misled into becoming part of an organization rather than part of a living organism – the church, the very Body of Christ. The light of God’s glory, grace and truth is consistently hidden by conformity, comfort and compromise. Without question, far too many professing to be Christians...

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If Jesus was on Facebook, who would be on his friends list?

If Jesus was on Facebook, who would be on his friends list?

I can remember a number of years ago when somebody told me there was going to be an information superhighway and how revolutionary it was going to be. I thought to myself, That sounds like a crazy and unrealistic possibility. How wrong I was. I admit that I am not technologically up to speed. I have, however, learned to use an iPad—barely. I can look at my calendar, and retrieve phone numbers and addresses from my list of contacts. Our grandchildren were surprised and some thought it was awesome when they got a text message from their Papaw’s cell phone. I think it put them in a brief moment of shock, but they were thrilled to respond. Now we are actually following our family and some very close friends on Facebook. Betty is the one who utilizes it every day. Betty loves to follow our grandchildren. She checks daily for family-related pictures our children may post. We’re both thrilled to see the inspirational comments, including many Scripture passages that our family posts on their page. (Please caution all family members that they will likely receive requests from people they should not and must not accept.) Time magazine named Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its “Person of the Year” in 2010. The article about him is fascinating (Time, Dec. 15, 2010). It states that one out of every 12 people on the planet uses Facebook, with 700,000 new members joining each day. (We encourage you to connect with Scriptures and Quotes at http://www.facebook.com/Scriptures. I often post Scriptures and Quotes I hope you’ll find meaningful.) In seven years, Zuckerberg created a social network almost twice as large as the United States. Nearly half of all Americans are on Facebook—and even more significantly, 70% of all Facebook users live outside the United States. It’s a global phenomenon. Zuckerberg’s success is undeniable, and I have heard nothing concerning his faith or a relationship with God. As I do for all people who obviously are in a position of influence, I pray that some co-worker or employee will effectively share Christ with this gifted entrepreneur. Now the important question: If Jesus was on Facebook, who would be on his friends list? Would you? We should all want to be! Because of his faith, Abraham was referred to as “a friend of God.” Jesus spoke very clearly concerning those He would call friends. When challenging His disciples to be fruitful by abiding in Him, keeping His commandments in order that His joy would be in them and the joy would be made full, He was very specific in the next verses: “This is my commandment, that you love one another,...

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Go in Grace, but Change Your Life

Go in Grace, but Change Your Life

I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again. John 8:11 (TEV)   Grace is meant to justify the sinner – ‘Go and sin no more.’ Grace is never meant to justify our sins – ‘Everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are.’ In other words, the grace of God is not a cosmic ‘get out of jail free’ card. Grace is given freely, but it cost Jesus a bloody price to offer it to us: “Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13 NLT) Grace is given freely, but to walk in grace with Jesus will cost us everything as we join Jesus in “the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:10 MSG) Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery from certain death, but his expectation was that her life would change immediately. To return to her old life would have mocked the very grace that Jesus offered her that day. His expectation of a changed life is no different for us: Go in my grace, and sin no...

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You Matter to God

You Matter to God

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ … All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.”’” Luke 19:5-7 (NIV)   Have you noticed that it was Jesus’ dinners with sinners that always got him into trouble? He was always getting into hot water with the religious people because he was always hanging out with the wrong crowd. Can you imagine what bloggers would say today about Jesus having dinner with Zacchaeus, a corrupt politician? Guilt by association is one of the favorite tactics of critics today. I’ve often faced accusations because of some of the people I’ve been seen hanging out with. I hang out with these people because I’m an evangelist. My goal is to build a bridge between my heart and the hearts of unbelievers, a bridge of love that Jesus can use to reach them. Jesus came to earth for the sick, the broken, and the insecure people that the religious people wanted to ignore. He came to fill their deepest need with his love. One of our deepest needs in life is to feel secure, to feel valuable, to feel acceptance. Because of this we are constantly doing two things – evaluating and comparing. We do this all the time, consciously and unconsciously. We judge ourselves by one of the world’s four standards that don’t matter: Appearance. How do I look? This mentality says that the more beautiful you are, the more important and more valuable you are. Affluence. If I own a lot, then I must be worth a lot. Achievement. Do you base your value on your awards, notoriety, and promotions? Approval. How many people like me? How popular am I? The problem with this value system is that it’s not stable. Beauty fades with age; possessions wear out; someone else will surpassed your successes; and not everyone will like you. Studies show that you tend to base your self-esteem on what you think the most important person in our life thinks about you. So I recommend you make Jesus Christ the most important person in your life because he will always tell you the truth. The only solid foundation for self-worth is to realize how much you matter to God. When you see yourself the way God sees you, it will transform...

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“Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name,

“Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name,

“Jesus looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name, ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said.” Luke 19:5b (LB)   All of Zacchaeus’ life he’d been ridiculed and rejected, first for his appearance and then for his sinful life. But Jesus not only looked at him — by calling Zacchaeus by name — Jesus showed that he knew him. Imagine the shock Zacchaeus must have felt! How did he know his name? God not only knows where you are, he knows who you are. He knows what you’re going through, why you’re going through it and how you feel about it. He knows you better than you know yourself. He cares about you personally. The name Zacchaeus means “pure one.” That’s the last thing you would think of when you think of a corrupt government official. He was anything but pure. And yet Jesus, calling Zacchaeus by name, was saying, “Hey, pure one, I’m coming to your house today.” Jesus was affirming what he saw in Zacchaeus, not what he was. You may be afraid to get close to Jesus because you think he’s going to scold you for all the things you’ve done wrong. But Jesus wants to affirm you. He wants to let you know how much he loves you. “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a  child she has borne? Even if that were possible, I would never forget you! See, I have engraved your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT). When Jesus died on the cross, stretched out his arms, and the soldiers put nails through his hands, your name was engraved there. When you get to heaven, there will be no scars on anyone except Jesus. He’s going to have those scars for eternity to remind us how much he loves us, to say, “Do you think I could forget you? Not a chance! This is how much you matter to...

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Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Luke 19:37-40 – Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:37-40 (NIV) When the miracle worker came into Jerusalem the Jewish crowds were ready for a king to sweep the Roman occupation out of power. The praise was overwhelming – so much that the Pharisees were nervous about the attention this would bring from the Roman guard. Yet Jesus had a bigger picture. He WAS the king, but this king was not coming to deliver the Jews from political oppression. Jesus came to deliver all of humanity from the oppression of sin. Even the rocks understood what the crowds didn’t; the King has come to take his rightful place on His...

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We are all about the numbers

We are all about the numbers

I get asked all the time if Elevation is all about the numbers. Let me just clarify something: Our church is all about the numbers. The number of lives that Jesus can permeate and penetrate with the gospel. The number of marriages that can be restored. The number of teenagers following the Lord. The number of depressed people that can find hope in Jesus. The number of dads who don’t give their kids any attention who will learn to order their lives by the Word of God and start prioritizing their families. What else matters? What else should we be about? This might come as a shock to a lot of people, but measuring numbers and putting an emphasis on them isn’t a new phenomenon. 2000 years ago, Luke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote: 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day…47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:41, 47 Apparently God is all about the numbers. So I want to be, too. And so should you. It’s unacceptable to me as a pastor that we would stop growing when the Lord wants to add to our number daily those who are being saved. And in order for that to happen, we need to track every scrap of statistical data at our disposal. We’ve got to make sure we’re measuring ministry numbers to measure our effectiveness and enlarge the Kingdom of God. I don’t want to waste a single dollar or second on a program, piece of equipment, or ministry position that isn’t the best option for reaching the most people. You might be averse to numbers for a number of reasons. Maybe you don’t like the idea of big crowds. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t have liked the New Testament Church. And you really won’t like heaven. Maybe you think it steals away from discipleship. It’s possible. But it’s just as possible for that to happen in a church of 10 people as it is in a church of 10,000. Whatever your reason is, remember: every number is indicative of a story. Personally, I don’t want to put a cap on the number of stories God wants to redeem. Especially when I read this: 9 I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God.” Revelation 7:9-10 Now that’s a number worth shooting for. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wait until I die to see...

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In Search of Perfect Conditions

In Search of Perfect Conditions

Then the LORD ordered him, “Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you.” Judges 6:14 (TEV) Think about this the next time you insist on perfect conditions before you’ll get started on God’s plan – Gideon, a mighty warrior and judge in the Old Testament, was the least member of the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh. His job was the tedious threshing of wheat, a process where the cereal grain is knocked loose from the chaff. Perhaps he hoped to do great things for God when the conditions were right, but, for now, Gideon saw himself as just a guy cranking wheat through a creaky old winepress. But that didn’t matter to God. God saw Gideon as a mighty warrior and judge. He told Gideon: “Go with all your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I myself am sending you.” (Judges 6:14 TEV) Gideon was still stuck in tunnel vision, believing what he thought and what he saw defined the truth. To paraphrase the ancient Hebrew, Gideon told God, “I just don’t have what it takes, Lord. I know you’re perfect, but I think you made a mistake.” (Judges 6:15) Again, paraphrasing the ancient Hebrew, God told Gideon, “Get your head out of the wheat dust and pay attention to me. I will be with you and so, yes, you will strike down all the Midianites as if they are no more than one man.” (Judges 6:16) The strength of the Sender is more important than the strength, or perceived weakness, of the one being sent. It doesn’t matter what Gideon says about himself or what others say about Gideon. Only one opinion counts: God’s. What God says about Gideon is the truth. What God says about you is the truth. You are his precious child, created in his image; a sweet aroma that is pleasing to the Lord. Trust in God’s strength and do what he tells you to...

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