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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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