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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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Truth Is Jesus

Truth Is Jesus

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 (NIV) The enemy’s great lie is that we must remain separate from the Father. Satan may use a false form of guilt to trick us into thinking we’re unworthy to be God’s child, or he may convince us that we have to act independent of God. His use of smoke and mirrors splits us off from the reality of our connectedness to Jesus, leading us to think and choose as though we actually are disconnected from Christ — and from each other. Jesus is able to set us free from the lies of the enemy, but this means we must believe God’s Word, Jesus, the Truth himself. We must remember always that the Truth is a person, and so our relationship to the truth is just that—a relationship with God’s own Truth, the only begotten Son, the author and perfector of our faith. Pray — “Jesus, I accept that the truth is not based on my ability to understand your plans or all of who you are; the truth is not dependent on my thoughts and opinions. What you say is the truth; what you think is the truth; what you do is the truth. You are the Truth and you are calling me to live connected to the truth and to think and act according to that relationship. Help me to trust you, the Truth, and to abandon any lies that keep me independent of you, so I can follow you into this Decade of Destiny. All glory and praise to you, forever and ever,...

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Jesus Teaches Us: Get Alone and Pray

Jesus Teaches Us: Get Alone and Pray

“I will climb up into my watchtower…” Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT) If we want to fulfill God’s vision for our lives, we must continually hear from God. We must believe that hearing from God daily is a requirement for us as we move forward toward our destiny. It is not just a nice add-on to our lives; it is a necessity for fulfilling our destiny. The Prophet Habakkuk says, “I will climb into my watchtower ….” This is his way of saying; ‘I’m going to get alone with God.’ It doesn’t matter where you get alone with God. You just need to find a place. I happen to like outside. When my kids were growing up, I actually built a little Prayer Garden down on the slope behind my house where I could get away and pray and focus on God. You need to have a place that’s quiet, a place where you habitually go every time you meet with God. Make it special and specific. The Bible says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV) This was a habit with Jesus and it needs to become a habit in your life. What I’m teaching you is not something you are going to do one time. It’s something you need to do every day the rest of your life. If you want to get God’s vision for your life and hear God’s voice, you need to meet with him daily. This means you take the phone off the hook and you remove as many distractions as possible. Jesus says, “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6 Msg) Here’s the thing – You are not waiting on God, he’s waiting on you. God wants to meet with you.  He wants you to know him as well as he knows you.  If you don’t understand this, you are rarely going to go to God for guidance. There is nothing in your life that God is not interested in: “Don’t worry about what you will eat … or drink … or wear. Your heavenly Father knows that you need (these things).” (Matthew...

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Wait Expectantly for God to Answer

Wait Expectantly for God to Answer

“…I will station myself…” Habakkuk 2:1 (NIV)   If you want to get God’s vision for you life, you must want to hear it, you must withdraw to hear it, and then you must wait to hear it. To get God’s dream for my life, for my career, for my family, for my relationships, I’ve got to withdraw and then wait to hear from God. The New International Version says, “…I will station myself…” (NIV) What does it mean to station yourself before God? It means stay put. It means, ‘I’m not moving.’ It means, ‘I’m going to be still.’ ‘I’m going to sit here and I am not going to move until I hear from you, God.’ Hurry is the death of prayer. The reason you never hear God speak to you may be because you don’t wait long enough, and God won’t speak to you as you run out the door. He wants you to care enough to listen. Most of the time we’re running so revved up, we can’t get slowed down enough to tune into God.  So, how do you slow down? You calm your mind by relaxing your body. You take deep breaths and you relax your muscles and let the tension drain out. The Bible says David sat before the Lord. Some people think you have to kneel in prayer and that is one of many appropriate ways to pray, but it’s not the most common way of praying in the Bible. The most common form of praying in the Bible is standing with your eyes wide open looking up to heaven and talking out loud to God. You don’t have to have a speech. You don’t have to be poetic. You don’t even have to speak in complete sentences. Just talk to God like you’d would normally talk, but then, like any conversation, stop talking and listen – wait to hear from God. David says there are three things to do as you wait – Wait quietly — “I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” (Psalm 62:5 NLT) Wait patiently — “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 37:7 NLT) Wait expectantly — “I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for he has promised.” (Psalm 105:5 LB) And this is so important: you must expect to hear from God. Expect for him to give you a dream, an insight; this is the faith factor where you wait expectantly. Waiting on God is never a waste of time. In fact, it’s some of the best time you are ever going to invest in your...

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Watch For What God Says

Watch For What God Says

“I will look to see what he will say to me ….” Habakkuk 2:1c (NIV)   God’s voice is often visual. If we want to hear from God, we must learn to listen with our eyes. God will often answer your prayers by giving you a mental picture. This is what it means to have a vision. In fact, the Bible has hundreds and hundreds of examples of God putting a picture or an image in the mind of a person. Sometimes it’s called a vision; sometimes it’s called a dream. Isaiah has it. Jeremiah has it. Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum — they all get God’s vision. Psalm 73 says, “When I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache until I entered the sanctuary of God. Then I saw the whole picture.” (Psalm 73:16-17 Msg) If you want short-term change, focus on behavior. But, if you want long-term change, then you must focus on a whole new mental paradigm, a whole new picture, a whole new way of seeing yourself, seeing life, seeing God, seeing your future, seeing your problem. That’s what Decade of Destiny is all about, seeing your money differently, seeing food differently, seeing your family differently, seeing your career differently, and when that happens, change will take place. So how do get the vision from God? Ask God a question. “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him.… But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you…” (James 1:5-6 LB) And be specific about what you ask God.   Look into God’s Word. After you ask God a question, read the Bible again. And pray this prayer: “Open my eyes, so that I may see the wonderful truths in your Word.” (Psalm 119:18...

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Start the Spiritual Habit of Journaling

Start the Spiritual Habit of Journaling

“The Lord gave me this answer, ‘Write down clearly…what I reveal to you…’” Habakkuk 2:2 (TEV) Let’s review.  If I want to hear God speak to me, the first thing I do is I want it. I say, ‘God, I want you to speak to me. Hearing from you is not just nice, it is a necessity!’ And then I withdraw and get alone and get quiet: “Be still and know that I am God.” And then I wait quietly, patiently, and expectantly on God. I ask a specific question, I look into his Word and then when I see God’s answer, I write it down. Habakkuk said, “The Lord gave me this answer, ‘Write down clearly…what I reveal to you…’” (Habakkuk 2:2 TEV) Writing down what God reveals to us is the spiritual habit of journaling. This is not the same as keeping a diary. A diary is, ‘Dear diary, this is what I did today.’ A journal is, ‘This is what I learned today.’ So it’s not about what you did, it’s about what you are learning, what you are praying, and what God is saying to you. David took the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and he meditated on them day and night. He wrote his prayers down and that is how we got the Psalms. And, as you read the Psalms, you’ll see that David includes just about every emotion known to the human race: envy, jealousy, lust, greed. Why? Because he’s honest.  He’s not writing what he thinks he should write; he’s writing what he honestly feels. We should be honest, too, when we talk to God about our problems. Here are some suggestions for journaling — Requests and Answers — On each page, make two columns. In one column write down what you say to God: ‘God, I need this. I’m worried about that,’ and so forth. In the second column, write down the answers that God gives you.   ‘What I learned today’ — Another way to do it is to take a page and write, ‘Here is what I learned yesterday about life or about God.’ This will help you focus your thoughts and help you remember what God...

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Thank God When He Answers Your Prayers

Thank God When He Answers Your Prayers

“O Lord, now I have heard your report, and I worship you in awe…” Habakkuk 3:2 (LB) For the past few days, we’ve been looking at how to hear from God when we pray. One final point that is critically important is this: If you want to hear God speak, then worship God. In other words, thank him for being a part of your life and for being interested in the details of your life. Thank him for answering your prayers: “O Lord, now I have heard your report, and I worship you in awe…” (Habakkuk 3:2 LB) God gives you a vision. God gives you a dream. You know what God wants you to do, so now you thank God for answering your prayer. That’s part of worshiping God. What I want you to do is to stop seeing your prayers as a monologue and start seeing them for what they truly are: a dialogue. Prayer is a conversation with God. God hears you when you pray and he answers you when you ask questions. He wants to talk to you every day. If you will faithfully talk to God every day throughout the day, it will revolutionize your life. Now you can’t hear God until you know God and there are three levels of knowing God: recognition, acquaintance, and friendship. You may be at the recognition level; you know God is there, but you don’t really know him. Or, you may be at the acquaintance level: you know God a little bit, but you don’t know him very well. God wants you to live at the friendship level. He wants to be your friend and he wants you to be his friend. God wants for you to talk together all the time. Pray this: “Dear God, I’m amazed that you would want me for a friend. I really want to learn to have conversations with you. Help me to spend time with you everyday. Thank you that you care about every detail of my life. Jesus, I want to know you more and more every day and I want to depend on you for guidance in my job, my family, my future and in every other area of my life. I invite you to be the manager of my life, my Lord and Savior as I follow you and trust you. In your name I pray,...

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Nurturing Quiet as You Pray

Nurturing Quiet as You Pray

My heart is not proud . . . I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother. . . . O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. Psalm 131:1–3 (NIV) Psalm 131 teaches us to — Keep our hearts humble. A humble heart means we know our position in Christ, and so we stop being responsible for the things of which we were never responsible. This frees us to live like God intended and allows us to make uncluttered choices that will move us closer to God.   Show the maturity of a weaned child. We quietly center ourselves on God, peacefully, without agitation and anxiety, and trust God is actively supporting us. We trust God even when the answer to our prayers seems a long way off. It’s the nursing child who demands attention now, but the weaned child trusts and is content to wait. Hope in the Lord with confident expectation. God’s Word says God will answer our prayers; he will respond to our needs; he will pave the path before us now and forever (Psalm...

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10 What if wisdom were not a body of facts but a relationship? As children of the Enlightenment, we tend to want enough data in order to make a logical decision, but according to Scripture, wisdom has a foundation in the fear of the Lord. This kind of fear is different than what we often think of. This fear is a reverence and awe for God that fills us so much that it dictates every decision that we make. When we base our understanding of the world around us upon God’s nature and character in Scripture, we enter into true...

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Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8-11 When God finished creating the world, He rested. And He set aside a way of resting for all of His creation to observe from that day forward. God did not rest because He was tired; He rested to show that everything was complete and perfect in Him. Nothing else was needed. It was finished. When we keep God first in our life we stop living like we are gods, as if everything depends upon us. We show that God is in control of all that He created-including us! If we live in the reality that God is the only true God, we do not have to live frantic, frenzied lives. Because God is great and powerful, we can rest. And now, the amazing truth is, we can live a life of Sabbath rest because of Jesus’ completed work on the cross. There is nothing left to do…it is...

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Your Weakness: God’s Power Made Perfect

Your Weakness: God’s Power Made Perfect

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)   Hi! I got your note saying you don’t think you can do what God is telling you to do during this next decade. You may be surprised to hear me say this, but I agree! If God called you to do it, then you shouldn’t be able to do it without him. In fact, if you could do it without him, then it’s really not a God-thing. I know you feel that God is asking you to do something that works against your strengths. But God has called you and that means his strength is working through you and that will make you sufficient for the task. God’s Word says your weaknesses, doubts, and insecurities are no surprise to God. You may try to hide them from others, but you can’t hide them from the one who created you. The truth is, God created you with weaknesses. And, since he’s God, he couldn’t have made a mistake. Is it possible he created you with weaknesses in order to keep you on your knees before him? With you dependent upon him, you’re able to do all things through him who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13–14). This also means God won’t let you use weaknesses as an excuse for not doing what he’s asking you to do. If God is calling you to a monumental task, then he’ll give you everything you need to complete the task, starting with the Holy Spirit working within you. My friend, God didn’t call other people to this task! He called you and in his strength you can do it. The God-who-loves-you is with you for every step you take as you follow Jesus toward your...

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Something Out of Nothing

Something Out of Nothing

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE “The earth was formless and empty…and God said, Let there be light” (Genesis 1:2–3, NIV) TODAY’S WORD Do you need a miracle in your life for something that seems impossible? With man it may be, but we serve the all-powerful God, and He can create something out of nothing! He can make a way when there seems to be no way and open doors that seemed closed forever! Genesis tells us that in the beginning, God created the heavens and earth, but before He spoke the world into existence, it was formless and void. If God can make the world out of nothing, He can take the empty places in your life and create something beautiful, too! He can speak light into your darkest hour. He can take your formless dreams and give them shape. He can resurrect your dormant gifts and talents! He can make your crooked places straight! Remember, you are created in the image of almighty God. There’s power in your words, and there’s power when you’re in agreement with Him. Start saying what God says about your situation. Speak life to your broken dreams today. Speak hope into the hopeless places. Keep an attitude of faith and expectancy because He will turn things around for you and create something out of nothing! A PRAYER FOR TODAY Father in heaven, I trust that You are willing and able to make a way for me where there seems to be no way in my life. Fill me with Your peace and faith. Give me a vision for all You have for me and help me to always speak Your words of truth and life. In Jesus’ Name....

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Be An Answer To Jesus’ Prayer

Be An Answer To Jesus’ Prayer

Many times I have said to friends and viewers of LIFE Today, “If you want your prayers answered, seek to be an answer to someone else’s prayer!” As Betty and I have supported other missions and ministry endeavors all over the world, we have seen the things we were able to do or provide come as a direct answer to someone’s prayer, not just a need met. When we give attention to the concerns of our Father and hear the heart’s cry of others, there is no question that God grants us light in our darkest moments and we become a fruitful garden, truly an ever-flowing stream. Recently I have found myself overwhelmed by a deep yearning to be an answer to Jesus’ prayer. For centuries, dedicated believers and the general public have repeated the words of the model prayer Jesus gave the disciples in Matthew 6. Every phrase has become increasingly precious to me, especially, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” which is preceded by the necessary manifest power of His kingdom coming – not a future reward, but the present prevailing reality of His majestic power. Living with an awareness of God’s kingdom now increases our sensitivity to everything in the spiritual realm. God is ever-present in transforming power which can and should be revealed through our yielded lives. Meditate on this truth! My personal focus now and for the rest of my life is to see Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17 fulfilled in our day. Our Lord expressed excitement to His Father about the glory that had been revealed through Him to His followers now being revealed to the world through them. Very specifically, He addresses something we have everything to do with if the prayer is to be answered. He desires that we each become one with the Father as He (Jesus) is. We are to capture the heart of the Father because we have been totally captivated by His heart. His will becomes our will, His concerns our concerns, and His focus our focus. As we submit to Him “presenting ourselves as living sacrifices, we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds to know what the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”1 Jesus prayed for us to be protected from the evil one and to become holy, consecrated by the truth of His word. Paul referred to this process as being “washed with the water of the word.”  Jesus taught that abiding in Him enables us to know the truth that sets us free. It is critically important – absolutely necessary – for us to come into this oneness...

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The Sufferings of His Broken Heart

The Sufferings of His Broken Heart

Go with me for a moment to witness what was perhaps the foggiest night in history. The scene is very simple; you’ll recognize it quickly. A grove of twisted olive trees. Ground cluttered with large rocks. A low stone fence. A dark, dark night. Now, look into the picture. Look closely through the shadowy foliage. See that person? See that solitary figure? What’s he doing? Flat on the ground. Face stained with dirt and tears. Fists pounding the hard earth. Eyes wide with a stupor of fear. Hair matted with salty sweat. Is that blood on his forehead? That’s Jesus. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Maybe you’ve seen the classic portrait of Christ in the garden. Kneeling beside a big rock. Snow-white robe. Hands peacefully folded in prayer. A look of serenity on his face. Halo over his head. A spotlight from heaven illuminating his golden-brown hair. Now, I’m no artist, but I can tell you one thing. The man who painted that picture didn’t use the gospel of Mark as a pattern. Look what Mark wrote about that painful night, he used phrases like these: “Horror and dismay came over him.” “My heart is ready to breakwith grief.” “He went a little forward and threw himself on the ground.” Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God? Hardly. Mark used black paint to describe this scene. We see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3 NASB) We see a man struggling with fear, wrestling with commitments, and yearning for relief. We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart. The writer of Hebrews would later pen, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV) My, what a portrait! Jesus is in pain. Jesus is on the stage of fear. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in humanity. The next time the fog finds you, you might do well to remember Jesus in the garden. The next time you think that no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to him pleading among the twisted trees. The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to God. Watch closely. It could very well be that the hand that extends itself to lead...

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