Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spiritual FitnessTen Weeks to a New You Week 3


This is week three of our ten week spiritual fitness class. This course will get you in the best spiritual shape you have ever been in and is designed to begin:

A lifestyle that will last a lifetime.

The spiritual exercises we have and will discuss are designed by God to stretch and strengthen you beyond your current capacity and make you able to successfully handle every situation in life.

At the end of these ten weeks, providing you keep up with the spiritual exercises, you will be sharper, more confident and spiritually ready for any challenge. Other exercise programs don’t always afford you the benefit of seeing immediate results. Not so with this program, it begins paying dividends instantly. From the first time and every time you allow these principles to work, they will stretch you, strengthen you, and increase your spiritual momentum.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

The Greek word translated work in this scripture is a prime example of the dynamo of God’s Word turning over on the inside of you to create energy … the energy needed to run the race, finish the course, and keep the faith. If you take every principle we will learn in these ten weeks and apply them to your life, discipline your soul with daily spiritual exercise, and keep them under your conscious command, you will win the race of life.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ …

This is a given … victory is a pre-drawn conclusion for the spiritually fit.

Joshua 1
8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

When God needed Joshua to be strong and courageous, God gave Joshua some spiritual exercises and told him to be disciplined and consistently stretch and strengthen himself.

Joshua 1
5 "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
6 "Be strong and of good courage …
7 "Only be strong and very courageous …

Joshua was told that if he did these things that no man would be able to prevail against him all the days of his life. But it all hinged on Joshua keeping up with his spiritual exercises and looking beyond the natural circumstances to the spiritual realities.

Spiritual things are the things we cannot see. Natural exercises are things we can see and touch, but spiritual exercises are exercises of the mind, the will and the emotions of man … the invisible things which cause natural circumstances to line up with spiritual realities.

Invisible things like the stretching exercises we discussed in week one. Remember them? Have you yet disciplined yourself to stretch your spirit on a daily basis?

* To Dream
* To Meditate & Get A Plan From God
> A dream is not a plan!
* To Declare

In week two we continued adding exercises to our spiritual exercise plan and discussed:

* Relationship
* Presentation
* Participation

If you missed these sessions please don’t fall behind or risk failure by not knowing how to fully exercise your spirit and get the every advantage in life. Log onto or, download the notes and view the archived sessions or stop by the information desk and ask for your copy of the lessons you missed.

This week we are going to add yet three more disciplines of spiritual fitness from God’s word. We are continuing to use the life of Joseph as God intended, for our example, our role model if you will, to instruct us on the things we need to add to our discipline of life.

So, let’s turn in our study guide, which is the Holy Bible, to the book of Genesis, chapter 39.

Genesis 39
7 ¶ And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me."
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.
9 "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.

This brings up the first exercise we need to add to our life this week:

1. Character

* Character is who you are when no one else is watching.
* Is your integrity for sale? If so, what price?
* Whatever you compromise to keep you will ultimately lose.
* You will encounter character defining and character confirming moments in life … these defining moments give you an opportunity to redefine your character when you find a flaw.

Just because you are a person of character and your integrity is intact does not guarantee you will never face injustice. However, with continued exercise of your character and integrity in the face of injustice, you will prevail.

The Apostle Peter said, (1 Peter 4), that if we suffer injustice as a Believer we should not let it get us down knowing that we are just and right within ourselves. However, if we suffer as an evildoer then we are only suffering the trouble we have caused ourselves.

* Joseph continued passing the tests of character.

The story continues in Genesis 39 by telling us that this woman could not stand being rejected and ended up falsely accusing Joseph of trying to rape her. When Joseph’s master heard this he believed his wife and put Joseph in prison.

Genesis 39
20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.

The second principle of spiritual fitness we need to add to our life in week three is the element of:

2. Humility

* How a person handles the false accusations, demotions, and failures of life will determine if they overcome or are overcome by the circumstances.
* At times we must wait on God.
* What we do while we wait may at times determine how long we wait.
* You think things are bad now? Believe me, you can make them worse!
* No man can change your destiny … God can … just don’t make Him mad at you.
* Convince yourself: “My future is set … Today won’t be the end of me … This is not the big one.”
* When you can’t do anything else … just don’t make it worse. * Give God time to work … He is still on your side!

Genesis 39
21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Exercise Three:

3. Endurance

Genesis 39
23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.

Even after all of his trouble, Joseph had the energy to keep on going … to start all over again … to prove himself to yet another master.

* Do not allow hardship or pressure to take away the dream. * Keep your focus on the goal and keep the dream alive.
* A successful person is one who blossoms where they are planted.
* Success is more than a one step process.
* Most often success in life belongs to those who are able to endure the process.
* Never adjust your theology to accommodate a tragedy.

Assignments for this week:

Remember to: Keep Stretching

1. Work on your Character
* Do not compromise your integrity.
* Seek to impress God today more than man.

2. Work on Humility
* Blossom where you are planted … even if it is beneath you.
* Pray for those who persecute you, despitefully use you, or falsely accuse you.
* Give God space and time to work.
* When you can’t do anything else, just don’t make it worse.

3. Work on Endurance
* It’s not what you are going through but what you are going to.
* Endure hardships as a good soldier of Christ.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Fleece


One cannot deny that there is a true mystical quality about God and His dealings. Something which man cannot manufacture … something mysterious … God is a Spirit and He interacts with mankind on a spiritual level, often behind the scenes.

God divinely intervenes in the lives of His children … however …

Divine intervention is designed to facilitate divine purpose.

In about the year 1200 B.C., give or take a few years, near 200 years before King David reigned in Jerusalem, the Children of Israel had no governmental leadership, no army and no elected officials to protect them and their lands. Rather, each time a crisis occurred which necessitated a military response, God chose a person who then gathered men from various tribes, fought the war and restored peace to the land. These periodic chosen leaders were called Judges.

Samson was a Judge, Deborah was a Judge, Samuel was a Judge … by some accounts there were fifteen Judges in all. This period of the Judges ended when Samuel anointed Saul to be the first King of Israel in about the year 1050 B.C. Some of the greatest bible stories occur during the times of the Judges as the Children of Israel learned to walk with God. One such story we are going to study today will give us insight into God’s willingness to mysteriously intervene in the lives of His Children.

Ok, so in about the year 1200 B.C. the Children of Israel were being overrun and robbed from by an army from the neighboring country of Midian. It seems every time Israel would harvest a crop the Midianite army would ride through the land and take the harvested fruits and grains for themselves, leaving the Israelites poor and without supply. This continued year after year for seven years in a row.

The Children of Israel grew weary with these continual raids but what could they do … they had no leader, no army and no way to resist. It seemed they were doomed to remain at the mercy of their enemies.

However, not only were the Children of Israel wearied by these raids, but God in heaven, Who watches over His Children on earth, had also grown tired of seeing His Children robbed and mistreated. You can read this story beginning in Judges, chapter six. In fact, why not turn there now as we will be reading some verses from that chapter in a moment.

The story continues by telling us that one day the Angel of the Lord came to a certain city in Israel and sat under an oak tree. Nearby there was a young man named Gideon threshing wheat beside a winepress. Gideon was hiding so that the Midianites might not discover his wheat and take it from him.

The Angel of the Lord spoke to Gideon and told him that the Lord was with Him and the angel called him a mighty man of valor. As the story unfolds we learn that God chose Gideon to save Israel from the hands of the Midianites. But what could Gideon do … he was only one young man and the Midianites had a very large army?

God never points to where He will not also provide.

Gideon saw himself as he was while God saw Gideon as he could be if he would only trust God and let the process of God’s will unfold in his life. God is in the business of making more out of people than what they or others might imagine possible. We see what is while God sees what can be.

Gideon was initially inspired by this angelic visitation and did some great things. God was truly with Gideon and protected him. However, in the process of time Gideon was faced with making a truly difficult decision. Should he risk everything to go and fight against the Midianites and their other allied armies?

How can Gideon gain the confidence and direction he needs to be sure before he commits himself and his followers to the fight? Let’s begin reading at verse 33 in Judges 6 and see what truths we can glean from this account.

Judges 6 NKJV
33 ¶ Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together; and they crossed over and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel.
34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.
35 And he sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, who also gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali; and they came up to meet them.
36 So Gideon said to God, "If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said—
37 "look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said."
38 And it was so. When he rose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece together, he wrung the dew out of the fleece, a bowlful of water.
39 Then Gideon said to God, "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew."
40 And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, but there was dew on all the ground.

Wow! A Fleece! This seems inherently dangerous … and it is if not understood and approached with sincerity and purpose.

Of course there is much more to the story than we will cover here. Please take time to read the whole account and see how God ultimately delivers Israel by the hand of Gideon and only 300 chosen men. It is amazing to read how Gideon’s army started out with 32,000 soldiers before God decided that it was too many men … too many because God did not want anyone to think that man’s might or large numbers won the battle. So God began a weeding process that finally left Gideon with 300.

These 300 men fought against and killed more than 120,000 men who drew the sword plus another 15,000 soldiers who fled the battlefield. (Judges 8:10)

Gideon’s 300 did such a good job that the whole land of Israel had peace for another 40 years after that battle. That’s a great victory!

However, let’s get back to the point of our message … the fleece.

Through the years, although I know I have been called by God and anointed to do His work, I have nonetheless suffered some moments of indecision as to what to do or which way to go. Not that I have doubted God’s general will for my life or His superintending grace over my life … but rather I have been faced with some decisions in which the answer was just not clear enough and yet the decision big enough to demand clarity.

I am not a coin flipper or a dice roller nor do I live my life or pursue ministry by taking pathways of least resistance or being led through open door opportunities. I desperately need a word from God … leadership from the Holy Spirit … confirmation from the scriptures … counsel from my peers … clear instructions from heaven. But, what do I do when I have to make a decision and no decision is yet clear? Much like Gideon, I appeal to God and throw myself on His mercy.

Believers don’t often discuss this subject but for the sake of the word, seeing God included this passage in His account of Gideon, this mighty man of faith and valor, for our benefit … allow me to pose and answer three questions concerning the matter of a fleece.

Three Questions Concerning A Fleece:

1. Does God take time to personally deal with our requests for confirmation and/or clarity of His will?

* Yes

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil."

2. What instances in life may warrant a fleece?

* Important decisions when no decision is clear and time is of the essence.

Revelation 3:7 ¶ "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens"

* When God’s Word is clear, your instructions are clear.
* Don’t test God when you already know His Word.
* Approach God with nothing to prove, no hidden agenda.
* A fleece is not laid flippantly, in insincerity or to prove God.
* God opens doors when the time, the place and the people are right.
* Open doors do not initiate God’s Will but are rather used for confirmation and never violate God’s Word.

3. When might a Believer lay a fleece before God?

* When the Believer is right with God
* When a Believer is sincerely committed to God’s will and not looking for his own way or a convenient ‘way out’

Luke 22:42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

* When the decision is bigger than just you and your stuff
> God is not a personal divining rod supplying stock tips
> God is not a Ouija board to find boyfriends or prom dates
> God wants to help you make a difference

There will be times in life when only God can give you the answer you need and you won’t be able to read about it in the Bible. In these times make sure you are right with Him, committed to His will above your own and willing to be used by Him to make a difference.

To make an important decision without acknowledging God and giving Him every chance to speak, lead or intervene is not the best choice. A fleece is not unscriptural, unless it is …

God has already sent you an invitation to participate in this spiritual dynamic. So …

Do you want to try putting a fleece before God? You want to get into the mystical, mysterious spiritual realm of divine intervention … do you want your life to be more than mere happenstance but rather guided by providence … then start with God’s clear personal invitation He has already given you…

God clearly invites you to lay a fleece before Him in the area tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3 NKJV
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts;

God wants to prove His Word, His Way and His Will by divinely intervening in your life to bring mysterious blessings and increase …

Go ahead, trust Him, try Him and prove Him in this … see if He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you … it really is a great place to start the process.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spiritual Fitness Ten Weeks To A New You Week 2


We are beginning week two of our ten week spiritual fitness class and as I told you last week, this course will get you in the best spiritual shape you have ever been in and is designed to begin a lifestyle that will last a lifetime. These spiritual exercises will stretch and strengthen you beyond your current capacity and will make you able to successfully handle every situation in life.

At the end of these ten weeks, providing you keep up with the spiritual exercises you will be sharper, more confident and a spiritual force to be reckoned with. Other exercise programs don’t always afford you the benefit of seeing immediate results. However, this program begins paying dividends instantly. The first moment you start stretching you will increase your potential and begin moving closer to your strongest day.

Speaking of stretching, I trust you have been doing the three daily exercises we discussed in week one. Remember what they are? If not either log onto to view, or stop by the info desk and order your copy of week one … you’ll be glad you did!

So, let’s open up the Book of Life together once again and add this week’s exercises to our program. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis.

We continue this week following the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Joseph is our role model and we are using his life story as an example as we transform ourselves from that proverbial 98 pound spiritual weakling into a world class champion of faith. Today we will pick up on his story in the book of:

Genesis 37 NKJV

Verses 12 through 18 tell us that Joseph’s ten older brothers were away from home feeding and tending to their father’s sheep in the Valley of Hebron. Joseph was at home when his father, Jacob, asked him to go and check on his brothers and bring back a report of how they were managing the sheep.

When Joseph was still a ways off the brothers saw him and conspired together to kill him. We pick up the story in verse 19.

19 Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming!”
20 "Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!"
21 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him."
22 And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" —that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.

When these brothers wanted to kill Joseph and rob him of his destiny and put an end to his dreams, Reuben, the eldest brother, spoke up on his behalf and delivered him to keep his dream alive. All of this went on behind the scenes without Joseph knowing.

This speaks to us confirming the strength, protection and defense that others can add to our life, even when we are unaware. Without someone else in the background standing up for Joseph he would have perished. Our first element of personal strength for week two centers on:

1. Relationship
* Relationship means to be connected or allied by kindred, marriage, kindness or cause.

It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.

If who you know, not what you know gets you into heaven, then who you know will also be a key to open every other door in life. What you know is only important after who you know gives you a chance to show what you know. Without opportunity, what you know means nothing and your potential will never be realized.

It is a firm principle of life that before you can stand on your own, you stand on someone else’s strength first. Some other person carried you nine months before you could even breathe on your own. This is a basic principle of life, strength and success … sad to say … some otherwise healthy people with great potential choose to be carried all of their life rather than exercise themselves and gain greater personal strength.

It is true that the enemy may be speaking to men behind the scenes about destroying your dreams, but God is speaking to men behind the scenes to protect your dreams.

God has a plan for your life, but so does the devil. Learn the difference and remember: Relationships matter … who you know makes a difference … two are better than one … a three fold cord is not easily broken … no person makes it on their own.

There are many players in the game of life and your life, your dreams, your strength and your success may depend on others more than you imagine. Don’t cut others short … don’t write them off … be kind … you may need someone to speak up behind the scenes on your behalf in a time to come.

The second element of spiritual fitness we are going to add to our lives in week two is a personal strength called:

2. Presentation
* Your life is a commercial about you. You are writing the story that others will one day tell about you. If your life ended today, what would your epitaph sound like? It would probably depend somewhat on how you have presented yourself to others thus far … unless you knew someone who loved you beyond your presentation … maybe mom could write it!

Joseph’s life was saved by Reuben however when Reuben was gone and the other nine brothers were left alone with Joseph trapped in that pit, they didn’t like him and … since Reuben was not there to stop them … they sold him into slavery to a group of traveling merchants. These merchants carried Joseph down into Egypt and put him on the auction block. Let’s look a couple of chapters further into this story to Genesis 39.

Genesis 39 NKJV
1 ¶ Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.
2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

What made Joseph a good buy on the auction block of his life? What made this intelligent and well educated man of means choose Joseph as his slave? It could have been they way Joseph presented himself, even in the dark hours of his soul.

Beware … there may be something bigger at stake than whatever is causing that frown on your face.

Joseph had an image in his mind of what he was going to and he did not let what he was going through cloud that image. Joseph was a man with a dream, a man with a destiny … he knew he was somebody going somewhere and he also had the good sense to understand God was going to use others to get him there.

Neither Reuben, his older brother, nor Jacob, his loving father, was with Joseph to protect or promote him right now. Joseph was going to have to make some new friends, impress some new people and for this he needed to make a good presentation of himself to others.

Genesis 39
3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.
5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

Joseph looked good! He cared for his fitness and appearance …

After being sold into slavery, mistreated, rejected, and separated from his family and the good life he was used to, Joseph, nonetheless, presented himself well. He did not kick and scream, fuss or complain, argue or whine, make excuses or beg his freedom … rather Joseph strengthened himself and realized the power of presentation.

Joseph knew that his life, the way he looked, the way he spoke, the way he acted and even the way he reacted, were all opportunities to let others know what they could expect from him. So, he presented himself with destiny’s qualities in the light of his present situation.

He could not afford to act haughty or high minded but rather he needed to come off confident and cooperative, willing to serve.

We must consider our presence and our presentation. How valuable do we appear to others? Success avoids a lazy or a complaining person … work on yourself – exercise yourself – position yourself to be someone others see of value.

This brings us to our third element of spiritual fitness for week two:

3. Participation
* Participation is simply working with God and others.

Genesis 39
3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.

God demands that we participate in our miracles and many miracles are made from the accumulation of life in its daily grind.

Joseph was not where he wanted to be in life but realized that he was where he was and if he was going to get anywhere from here it would take participating to the best of his ability right where he was.

Like Joseph, if we are going to get where we want to be in life we are going to have to:
* Take what we have
* Start where we are
* Do the best we can

Many people refuse to participate responsibly, do their best or go the extra mile when they find themselves in surroundings which either they don’t like or feel they don’t deserve. When you find yourself in a difficult position which requires more strength to conquer … exercise yourself! We must exercise ourselves to get victory in the situation before we gain victory over the situation.

What am I saying … if you want to be spiritually fit you are going to have to exercise and pay close attention to the essentials. You will never become spiritually fit unless you are able to:

1. Make and maintain relationships
2. Present yourself as valuable to others
3. Participate in life by serving at your best where you are

So this week your assignment is to work on your old relationships and take every God given opportunity to make new ones; examine your presentation; and participate – blossom by serving where you are currently planted. Without these spiritual strengths you may not be as promotable as God needs you to be when He calls.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Week To Remember


Only those who love a thing will attempt to change it for the better.

Key Scripture: 2 Chronicles 7:14 "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Today I want to tell two Bible stories, one before I preach and one afterwards providing we have time. The first Bible story is found in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 18 NKJV
20 And the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,
21 "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know."
23 ¶ And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24 "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?
25 "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26 So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes."

This haggling continues all the way through verse 32. Abraham asked God to spare the cities for the sake of 45, then 40, then 30, then 20 and finally for the sake of 10 righteous people. God agreed that He would not destroy Sodom if 10 righteous people could be found therein. I would say that Abraham was a good salesman.

You see, it only takes a few righteous people, sometimes only one, to turn a city or a nation’s destiny from destruction to reprieve.

Ezekiel 22:30 "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

God is still looking for a few righteous people! Are you one? What does it take to qualify as righteous?

I’m no Abraham but I do have a great job, although a very difficult one at times. It is my responsibility to keep the Body of Christ and in particular our local church congregation unified, in agreement and focused on God’s Word, God’s Will and God’s Work in this generation.

Each time I come to the pulpit, answer an email or counsel someone over the phone, I challenge myself to stick to God’s Word and point people to their proper response in the situations and with the challenges they face. It’s not always as easy as one might think because God often just does not feel like some of you feel about your life or problem. He may have a completely different perspective and I am left to sell His way to you in efforts to keep you right with God.

Don’t get me wrong … I would not trade places with anyone in the world or in history for that matter. I love my job and I love my Boss. However, my duties disallow me to hold or promote any personal opinion, including mine, which stands apart from that of my Master.

So, on occasion when some significant event takes place in our world which merits mention, it is my duty to spend time with God in prayer, the Word and counsel, and get heaven’s perspective before I come to the pulpit or make the odd comment which might serve to influence some soul I am charged to watch over.

In the course of my ministry there are two things I have been constantly concerned with. First I want to please God and be right with Him. Next I want to tell you the truth in such a way that you are most likely to understand it, accept it and put it into practice.

My greatest challenge is often finding a way to keep you interested and listening while I share the truth. The truth is always easy, telling the truth in such a way that it is understood and embraced is the hard part. Jesus faced this same challenge and often chose to tell stories or put truth in parables in His attempt to help people see and accept His message of the moment.

However, many times when Jesus was with those close to Him, He simply cut to the chase and laid the truth bare with some straight talk. That’s what we do with family and close friends. So, since we have a relationship, allow me to take that approach this morning.

Today begins a new week and this week is a historic week in our nation and indeed the world. Tomorrow, Monday the 19th of January 2009, (my 36th wedding anniversary), is a national holiday celebrating the birthday and commemorating the life, the struggles and the victories of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. and his leadership in our nation’s civil rights movement.

The following day, Tuesday of this week, January 20th, is Inauguration Day. On Tuesday Barack Hussein Obama, a half Black Kenyan, half White American, 47 year old man, will become the 44th President of the United States of America.

This week history will be made as the world witnesses the swearing in of the first African-American president of this nation. In August of 1961, when President Elect Obama was born, who would have imagined this ever being a real possibility?

Our nation, although losing ground on many moral fronts in recent decades, has nonetheless become a true leader of civil rights for the whole world. America who serves as peacemaker for many nations has not forgotten her own people, their differences and the struggles they face attempting to level the playing fields of life while dealing with the hell and injustice of prejudice. Do not minimize this day or the accomplishments to which it points.

Our nation has come a long way, especially in this generation. Why? First, because prejudice is not in the heart of God and second because it is not in your hearts either. However, prejudice is still something we are for the most part strangely silent about.

We need not be silent any longer. In fact it is imperative that those of us who bear no ill will or limitation for any other person or people group because of their race, color, national origin, gender or religion, speak up and speak up loudly, to our friends, our families and our world. America has truly become a land of opportunity.

Let every man be judged heretofore by his own merits and even then judged only by God. For what reason, to what benefit or advantage do people hold race based prejudices? Only the ignorant, insecure, fearful or unforgiving would judge a book by its cover or a person by the color of their skin, color of their hair, or color of their money.

* Not every middle aged, southern born white man living in America in the 1950’s & 60’s was a member of the KKK
* Not every black man in the 60’s was affiliated with the black panthers
* Not every Hispanic working on a roof in your neighborhood is an illegal alien
* Not every gorgeous blonde beauty is an airhead
* Not every homeless person is a bum
* Not every Palestinian is a member of Hamas
* Not every Muslim is a terrorist
* Not every Asian is a computer programmer or a cook
* Not every postal worker is disgruntled
* Not every used car salesman is a liar
* Not every person in a nail salon speaking a foreign language is talking about you
* Not every person accused of a crime is guilty
* Not every man with a beard and a motorcycle is dangerous
* Not every young Black, Hispanic or Asian is a gang member
* Not every tattooed white man is a member of the Arian Brotherhood
* Not every German in the 1930’s and 40’s was a Nazi
* Not all Jews are wealthy bankers or jewelers
* Not all Christians blame Jews for Jesus’ death
* Not all Tele-Evangelists are slime-ball, money hungry preachers

Only the ignorant, fearful, insecure or unforgiving judge a book by its cover or a person by the color of their skin or a group by their loudest member … we are not one of those people and most likely, you never have been. Congratulations, we have won a great battle.

From this point on there is no need to defend ourselves or defend our nation from the accusers … however, there is still much work to be done. We need to be a part of that process and engage the day.

God is looking for a few righteous people … how many only He knows … will you be one? What does it take to qualify as righteous before God? This takes us to our second Bible story this morning.

2 Samuel 21 NKJV
1 ¶ Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites."
2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah.
3 Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?"
4 And the Gibeonites said to him, "We will have no silver or gold from Saul or from his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us." So he said, "Whatever you say, I will do for you."
5 Then they answered the king, "As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel,
6 "let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose." And the king said, "I will give them."

Once when the nation of Israel was experiencing a famine David inquired of the Lord as to why and God told David that it was because a former King of Israel and an earlier generation had wrongfully mistreated a group of people living within the borders of Israel. As David sought remedy he found that only one thing would satisfy the injustice.

Seven descendants of the former King, representing completeness, would have to be hanged to make atonement and restore God’s blessings to the nation. It is the same in this day for any nation and each individual … the old man and his ways must be fully dealt with by hanging him on the tree … I speak of the cross of Calvary.

A nation can survive with only a few righteous people standing in the gap and making up a hedge of protection around it. However, for a nation to thrive it takes that nation recognizing and dealing with their past sins. This is what Nineveh experienced in the wake of Jonah’s preaching.

Believing that the Lord still wants to do great things in and through our nation, what must we do in our day? This is our chance to:

1. Get right with God
* Hang our old man and his old ways on the cross
2. Pray
* Talk to God about our nation’s needs.
3. Influence Others
* Talk to our nation about God’s needs.
* Speak up and Stand up for what is right
* If we really care about our nation being right with God, we will work on ourselves and influence others to make it better

* Our nation will be right with God only after we are

Only those who love a thing will attempt to change it for the better.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spiritual Fitness Ten Weeks To A New You


Opening Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:8 Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (NLT)

Another translation of this scripture begins: “Bodily exercise profits little”. When I read this my usual mental response is that I desperately need even the little bit of profit exercise might bring me. This is true for most of us. Even if exercise only profits us a very little, the very little it profits is better than the nothing we get if we don’t exercise.

I have often said that the reason I don’t exercise more is because it makes me tired. Of course I say this to poke fun at the simple truths we all face in life. Believe me, looking better as you mature through the ages and stages of life is not an easy thing. If it were easy we would all be in the shape we want to be in instead of the shape we are in.

To keep physically fit is work and takes commitment, even when we may not feel like working out. But, go one day, one week, one month or a year without exercise and you know what happens. In fact, go long enough and you won’t even miss it. The weaker you get the less energy and motivation you possess to begin a program that will make you stronger and healthier … these are the facts of life.

Spiritual fitness follows the same path as does physical fitness … it’s work. However, just as with physical fitness, once you are established in a good spiritual regimen and begin to see progress, you can get addicted to it and just don’t feel complete unless you spend that dedicated time in the word and prayer. Spiritual fitness is its own reward and gives a person added protection from all kinds of ailments and injuries which readily plague other, weaker believers.

The more spiritually fit a person becomes the more Godly they are. And, Godliness carries with it a promise of blessings and rewards in this life as well as in the next. Who would not want to be more Godly? That’s like asking the question, who would not want to be more healthy? Of course the answer is, everyone wants to be more Godly.

What if I told you that you could become spiritually fit in only ten weeks? What if I told you that in ten weeks you could change your whole approach to life and become a new you, the you God wants you to be? Well I am saying just that!

Ten weeks are going to come and go anyway and in just ten short weeks you can become more spiritually fit than you have ever been in your life. Take this challenge and make a commitment that you are going to get with this program, attend the classes, participate in the exercises and get that spiritual edge you’ve always wanted.

Ok, a new you begins right now! Are you ready? Open the Book of Life with me and let’s start making progress.

Genesis 37 NKJV

Just as our physical body, which we can see, depends on things we can see such as, bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood and oxygen for life and strength, our spirits, which we cannot see, depends on those things we cannot see for its health and strength. Thoughts, attitudes, choices, faith, feelings, desires, decisions, perspectives and character qualities are but some of the invisible things which go into the mix of what makes a person Godly and spiritually fit.

The Word of God and its untapped resources holds the key to transforming our lives into the image of God. When we approach the Word and embrace it by faith its transforming power is released to change us, much like another sit-up or chin-up or another mile will do for our physical reshaping.

God wrote the book on spiritual fitness and the whole Bible serves as a record of testimonies of both winners and losers in the battle of life. Those who worked God’s program are always the winners, those who did not – the losers.

This spiritual fitness program, ten weeks to a new you, will use one of these winners from the Bible as a role model for our success. The winner I am talking about does not start out a winner. When we first meet our winner he is one of those 98 pound weaklings, living in a sheltered existence, a tattle-tale, surrounded by strong type-A personalities who constantly make fun of him and push him around something terrible. But … he does not stay a 98 pound weakling spiritually, or physically for that matter, … let’s meet him and see where he begins. Then during these next ten weeks we are going to follow his training course and watch him become a real heavy weight champion of the whole known world.

Genesis 37
1 ¶ Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
2 This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.
4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
5 ¶ Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.
6 So he said to them, "Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:
7 "There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf."
8 And his brothers said to him, "Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me."
10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"
11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph’s new day began with a challenge from God. In order for Joseph to become what God wanted him to become and be strong enough to conquer life’s problems and be a winner, Joseph was going to have to learn some things.

The first exercise God gave Joseph was a stretching exercise. God gave Joseph a dream … not just any dream … but an impossible dream … a dream of a better day, a greater day, an amazing day!

God made Joseph imagine himself as a winner. God had to plant the seed of a winner in Joseph while Joseph was sleeping. Why? Perhaps because in Joseph’s waking world, the world he was used to seeing and hearing every day, Joseph saw himself as small, young, insignificant, unaccepted, put down, made fun of, limited, weak and unable to compete, last in line … a loser …

In order for Joseph to have a chance of becoming what God saw in Joseph, God was going to have to change Joseph’s self image!

That’s what a dream does! It’s a self image booster!

A dream gives a person a glimpse of a better day, a better future … sure it’s something you can’t see, can’t touch, can’t prove … but it’s those invisible things which make the spirit stronger and more like God.

Joseph learned to dream and learned the power of a dream … not just any dream, but the dream God gave him.

Only God can give a true dream. But, good news, God gives a true dream to everyone who wants one, everyone who needs one, and everyone who asks for one.

God sees you and your potential differently than you may see yourself. If you are going to take advantage of these next ten weeks and develop a more spiritually fit you, a more Godly you, then you are going to have to do some stretching exercises.

You are going to need to open your mind and your heart to imagine a new you … to see a changed you … to see this invisible goal which will hold you steady on course until you win. You are going to have to stretch! A dream will help you stretch.

What would a better day look like for you? What would be God’s best for you and your best for God? What would that look like? Begin stretching yourself as we continue … there are still two more stretching exercises to learn in week one.

The second exercise necessary to get Joseph’s life change off to the right start was also a stretching exercise. Joseph woke up one morning and realized that he had dreamed an amazing dream. The dream evidently excited him and he naturally became a bit pre-occupied with the dream and the potential effects of that dream.

The dream was given by God to Joseph’s spirit while Joseph was unconscious of what was going on. However, when Joseph woke up he immediately captured this image in his mind and began to consider each detail, careful not to forget anything.

This process is a simple mental exercise aimed at broadening the thoughts and expanding the imagination. Joseph was no doubt stretching the possibilities and considering the implications of such a dream. He gave time to these considerations and meditated on them rehearsing them over and over in his mind.

We are told that meditation, which is basically deep consideration or focused mental energies, is the best way to counsel yourself, convince yourself, relieve stress and strengthen the mind. We often accept and set our course with determination as we are left alone to deeply consider those things which are troubling the mind.

Our mind gets troubled on purpose. Thoughts vie for time … important thoughts press us, demanding that we consider them and give them priority so decisions which must be made, can be made before it is too late. This is what was happing to Joseph.

Meditation allows us time to capture the imagination, to handle the dream, to stretch our potential. It is in the process of meditation that we come to own the dream, embrace the possibility and develop our winning attitude. This is where we gain and grow our faith.

The last exercise we will learn in week one is the power of a spoken word. God gave Joseph a dream, Joseph accepted and embraced the dream and finally it was for the dream to be born.

So many dreams are never birthed due to the lack of one essential element necessary in the invisible world of faith. Faith demands declaration! Even God, once He had dreamed and meditated on all of the possibilities of a new and better earth, did not begin to realize change until He made His declaration and spoke, “Let there be light!”, and it was so.

This is where things begin to happen. This is where we first begin to see change, both in us and things around us. This is where the dream gets out of our head, out of our heart and into the world. We breathe life into the dreams of God when we speak them in faith. Our meditation is where we build faith and our faith filled confession begins life.

So, let me bring all of this into perspective for week one … here are the exercises you need to do this week in order to take advantage of this program and begin to get yourself spiritually fit.

1. Dream
* Stretch
* Get an image of a spiritually fit you
* Ask God to give you that dream
* God’s Word is filled with dream seeds
* Make sure you have God’s dream for you …
* God won’t mind confirming His dream
2. Meditate
* Develop that new self image in your mind
* Begin to see yourself as God needs you
* Meditate on the new you
* Don’t allow yourself to think otherwise
* Take your thoughts captive
* Cast down every contrary imagination
* Keep stretching the possibilities
* Build your faith
3. Declare
* Pull the trigger and start the race
* Begin your regimen of confession
* Bring your dream to life
* Daily breathe life into the new you
* Speak your dream

Be ready, those closest to you may attempt to rain on your parade or make fun of you, but don’t let them get the best of you … keep stretching! And I will see you back in class next week.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Church


Our text today will be taken from the book of Acts.

When we desire to understand more about creation and God’s intended plan for mankind we often refer to the beginning, to the book of Genesis, which reminds how God first made everything. I believe that God’s best for mankind is found in those first pages of creation and even though He was forced to put His best on hold to deal with sin, I can’t imagine that He has given up on His plan for us.

We are in a parenthetical moment, the time between the fall of man, recorded in Genesis 3, and the creation of the new heaven and the new earth seen in Revelation 21. We live in a capsule of time dedicated by God to the putting down of every evil and every enemy who has dared to stand against His plan for mankind. When God gets finished dealing with sin, it’s back to Garden of pleasure for us.

God included the story of creation in the written account of His will to show what His intentions are and how He wants life to be enjoyed. Genesis 1 and 2 are pictures of the foundation of God’s will for man’s life on planet earth. God still intends to walk in the cool of the day in the midst of His children, enjoying a divine relationship with each one of us throughout eternity. We only have to read the story of creation to be reminded of God’s desires.

Some Bible scholars hold to the ‘law of first mention’. The law of first mention is the thought that in order to correctly understand and rightly define God’s original intent on any subject, one must go back to its point of origin or introduction into the scriptures and use that as a foundation for all further study and belief on that subject. I certainly accept that the law of first mention has some merit.

I want to use that principle this morning to help us better understand God’s original intent for The New Testament Church. So, without further ado, let’s turn to the book of Acts, Chapter 2.

Acts 2 NKJV
1 ¶ When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The book of Acts chronicles the birth and work of the first Church. Acts 2:1 gives us a glimpse of the first days of that Church and paints a picture for us much like Genesis does for those first days of creation. Genesis 1 and 2 reveals nothing about what was happening outside the Garden of Eden, but definitely shows the peace of God that Adam and Eve were intended to enjoy inside the Garden.

Acts 2:1 gives us that same feeling about the environment God created inside that upper room Church. There was an evident unity, perhaps even a ‘living unity’, a spirit of unity if you will, that permeated the place where they were all gathered. It is worth noting that God included and worded this verse on purpose and we cannot neglect the importance of people being gathered together in one mind and one spirit. It is in this type of Church environment that God poured out His divine blessing and power.

Look back a few verses into chapter one with me and let’s set the stage for happens to this first Church later in Acts 2. For the sake of the time we have this morning and the conclusion God has given for me to share with you, we won’t be able to read all of chapter one, but I do encourage you to go back and re-read this passage to get added personal revelation and greater application on this subject.

Ok, at this point, Jesus had been crucified, buried and resurrected, spent 40 days thereafter appearing to more than 500 people, teaching His disciples and had just ascended up to the Father from the Mount of Olives, about one half of a mile outside the city walls of Jerusalem. The eleven disciples are now officially Apostles with instructions from heaven … what do they do? Let’s see …

Acts 1
12 ¶ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
13 And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

The Church begins to take some form in this upper room as these Church leaders gathered together, praying and being careful to include others … the Church grew from eleven to over one hundred people in a very short time … somewhere between verses 14 & 15.

15 ¶ And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said,
16 "Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus;

Peter, either inspired directly by God in that moment or else inspired by what he had seen and knew from his previous three years as a disciple of Jesus, begins to teach revelation and give instruction from the Holy Scriptures … these things still happen in Church. He tells those in attendance that day, that they need to ordain another church leader to fulfill prophecy and fill the vacancy left by Judas.

Peter uses both the Word and current events to prove his point. Then he sets some qualifications and guidelines and calls the Church to action. This is the very first board of directors, elders or leadership meeting the church every held.

Through the years since that time, both the process and the results of that first leadership meeting have been held in question by scholars and theologians, proverbial ‘armchair quarterbacks’, who do agree with the Church’s pick of Matthias to replace Judas. This serves to show us that a Church’s decision may later be critically judged by others, even by some who weren’t actually involved.

Nonetheless, by the time we get to Acts 2:1 the church is formed as a solid unit of committed believers and despite their differences, they are in one mind and purpose, praying and petitioning God for His divine power and looking for the return of their Lord, Jesus.

Luke 24:49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."

How do we know they were praying for power? Because power is what Jesus had earlier told them they should wait for and not leave Jerusalem until they received.

Did they get what they prayed for? Glad you asked! Back to:

Acts 2
1 ¶ When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What were the results --- “They got the POWER!”

However, that was not the end of the day, it was just the end of the Church service that day. Power is never the end … power is the beginning … Power is never the purpose … it’s but a means to the fulfilling the purpose of God.

The Believers of that day were not super spiritual Church goers, committed to prayer, living in a spirit of unity, worshipping God and seeing the Church grow while out of touch with the real world … they were real people with real problems in their life and facing real limitations in their Church and in need of help from God to continue.

These Believers were held captive by fear and insecurity. They were not accepted by the mainstream religious groups of their day and on top of that they had recently experienced some tragic disappointments in life and ministry. These Believers and their Church were subject to the same pressures of life as are we.

This was not only a Church that got the power but it was also a Church that desperately needed the power. Without something dynamic happening to the Church, how could they survive until Jesus came again? Great things should happen in Church …

Well, they got the power and this power gave them what they needed to begin accomplishing the will, the purpose and the plan of God not just in the Church but through the Church in the world.

By the way, the plan of God was not to stay longer, pray stronger, worship louder or have more meetings and discuss deeper revelation … rather the plan of God was to get the Church out into the streets of life with a message that challenges and changes men and women from all walks of life to submit their lives to the Lordship of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit was given to equip Believers with the power to be a witness and make this happen. Every Believer should possess the willingness and the ability to give testimony to the gospel message in a language others can hear, understand and accept.

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

The power received by those attending Church that day was designed for the streets … to be most useful outside the Church walls to accomplish the purpose of God that all might hear the Gospel and be saved.

The greatest day of the church is still in the streets, in the homes and in the hearts of those who do not yet know and have not yet heard.

We come to church each week to:
* Pray for the power
* Commit to the purpose
We leave church each week to:
* Work the plan of God

This morning you may be facing some problem or some limitation of life. Perhaps you have experienced a tragedy, are burdened with fear or dealing with insecurities …

You are in the right place … this is the Church, and this is the time you can receive the power you need to set you free from those burdens …

Allow the Holy Spirit to unburden you this morning by His divine visitation upon your life. Stop complaining, don’t be divided, angry, unforgiving or resentful … stop being critical and lay it all down at the feet of Jesus. Commit yourself to more earnest prayer and worship God in the spirit of unity. Join yourself to the Body of Christ according to the will of God and become a functioning part of His family in the earth.

Remove those things which are standing between you and God and let God deal with your fears, insecurities and disappointments. Only He has the power you need …

Ask Him to fill you right now!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The New Creature


Life is more than a one step process however, one step is essential … the first step!

Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (NKJV)

For just a moment imagine with me how marvelous it is to witness the birth of a new baby. This new creature is born into a world quite different from all they have previously known. And, although they are basically equipped to handle this new world, it will take some time, growth and maturity before they can manage life all on their own.

This is the picture God paints for us when He describes the miracle of salvation. Becoming a Believer and accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, Messiah, Lord and Savior is likened in the scriptures to being Born Again.

In the third chapter, the Gospel of John records how Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to see the Kingdom of God, he must be born again. Jesus went on to clarify that this new birth is not of a natural means but rather a person is born of the Spirit … a Spiritual New Birth, if you will.

The Bible goes on to confirm in very definite terms that once a person is Born Again by the Spirit of God, they become a New Creature in Christ and enter into a brand new life. Just like a baby born into this natural world, each new spiritual baby is equipped to handle their new world only it will take some time, growth and maturity before they can manage it on their own.

Nonetheless, each Believer is a New Creation in a new world with new benefits, new rules, new dangers and new opportunities. Imagine how important it is for each newborn to be under the constant nurture and care of someone who already knows what this new life is all about.

Life is more than a one step process however, one step is essential to all life … that first step … the new birth.

Once a person is Born Again it is necessary to the continued health, well-being and development of each individual that they grow.

Psychologists and Sociologists have long considered just how people come to be who and how they are. Those who have studied in these fields will recognize that the question centers around two thoughts: Innate verses Tabula Rasa.

Innate refers to those things which are resident within a person at birth that act on that person throughout life to make them think a certain way, hold a certain perspective or act and react to life’s stimulations. Basically, is a person’s character and confidence pre-determined by the life qualities and finite schematics which were genetically inscribed before birth? Or, are we each born with a blank slate, (Tabula Rasa), upon which the experiences of life write the fortune and fate of our character and considerations?

Well, as you can imagine, it is a little of both. The Born Again experience is much the same. At the New Birth, the Word of God which has already been written in our heart and mind by the Spirit is brought to life. Our spiritual genetics come into play as we are no longer simply mortal man searching for answers and hiding from God. Rather we are Children of the Most High Creator of the Universe, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Each person possesses a New Birth nature, different from the old nature of our natural existence. However, the new realities of this God-like nature will be mixed with new life experiences, then tested, tried and proven, as we grow and mature into Spiritual Adulthood. In order to continue learning and growing on a healthy course, we must receive the nurture and admonitions of those God has given to guide, guard and protect us.

It should be no surprise that God desires all of His children to grow up happy, healthy and able to handle spiritual life.

This growth is a process of transformation experiences. Little by little, brick by brick, block by block a house or a life is built. It takes time and effort to build a life or a house strong enough to withstand the elements of this world. How can we begin building, keep building and know we are building our life the way God wants? How can we grow up to please Him? How can we become more like Daddy?

Psalms 68:6 God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

First, we are all Born Again into a family. Family is a necessity for developing a healthy spiritual life! The Church is God’s family in the earth and we each have been given a home in which to grow up.

Much of the growth and maturing of a Believer is accomplished through the simple processes of life as we interact with our family.

Next, each Believer has a personal responsibility to take advantage of their individual opportunities to grow and become more like their Heavenly Father. This is done on purpose as we submit and commit ourselves to God’s lesson plans for life. These lesson plans are found in His Word.

Romans 12 NKJV
1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This coming year you will have many opportunities to grow spiritually.

One such opportunity begins next Wednesday evening as we embark on a Spiritual Fitness Course which is entitled, Ten Weeks To A New You.

Each week for ten weeks we are going to challenge ourselves to become more like Christ by taking a close look at life through the scriptures. These ten Wednesdays will be fun and exciting times together as we get the chance to take inventory and change key elements of our life which will no doubt lead us to greater maturity and success in our spiritual life.

So let me encourage you to set this time aside and get your new year off to a great start. You can become spiritually fit and spiritually stronger than you ever imagined. I promise, this will work for you if you will only work it. Join our spiritual fitness class and begin 10 weeks to a new you.

See you here!

Sunday, January 4, 2009



Key Scriptures: Philippians 3
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Here we are at the first of the year again, faced with the opportunity to make some New Year’s resolutions … Maybe do it a little different this coming year than we did in the past.

There is a lot to be said about new beginnings, fresh starts, first impressions, last impressions and second chances. The Bible is a book about God giving people opportunities to leave their past behind and begin again.

A decision to begin something new, make a good first impression or to change life in some way is not the most difficult part of the equation, especially if one really needs a new day. However, in order to be successful in that new day, a person needs to possess a:

* Conviction - of what was wrong with the old day
* Passion - for what is right both now and for the future
* Discipline - to live a changed life

Of course, our pattern example of new beginnings is God. Let’s turn to Genesis 9. While you turn there let me catch us up in the story.

One day …

Genesis 6
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 ¶ And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."
8 ¶ But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

God instructed Noah to build an ark, a boat through which He saved Noah and his family along with the animals which He caused to gather into that ark. After the flood waters receded, God opened the ark and gave Noah and his family a commandment to begin again. We read this commandment in Genesis 9.

Genesis 9:1 ¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Even though Noah was ‘perfect’ in all his generations, as one translation puts it …

Genesis 6:9 This is the history of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with him.

… nonetheless you and I both know that since Noah and his family exited the ark and set up a new world until now, things have gotten a bit off track. The world, once again, is in need of a new day … and I hear that one is coming real soon! But … back to our story …

Do you remember what God commanded Noah in Genesis 9:1:

“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

Perhaps you recall seeing that same commandment spoken elsewhere in the Bible? Look with me in Genesis the first chapter.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Do you think this was a first beginning or a new beginning? Why do I ask? Because, in:

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth …

God gave the same commandment to Noah as He had given to Adam and Eve, ‘replenish’. Reckon why? Was the earth inhabited by others before Adam and Eve? I don’t know and neither do you, but allow me to speculate from the scriptures we do know.

Genesis 1
1 ¶ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 ¶ And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

We don’t know what happened between verse one and verse two, but something must have gone wrong in order for the earth to end up in such chaos and disuse.

Without knowing what happened we do know what God did to fix the problem and get a new beginning for the earth and a new day for Him and His new creations.

1. God recognized that the present condition of earth was unacceptable for the new day He desired.
2. He thought about it and dreamed about it and came up with a plan for a fresh start.
3. God took the first step and then stuck with the process, taking step after step, until it was just like He wanted it to be.
4. Then God told man to replenish the earth and look after it for Him. This was a new day!

Perhaps, much like God, you have awakened to the realization that the present condition of some area(s) of your life are unacceptable for the new day you desire. If so, why not follow God’s pattern.

Without regard as to whether this is your first time for a fresh start or your thirty-first time … the steps are the same.

You will need to possess conviction, passion and discipline to make it work … but you can have a new day, a fresh start … you can change what needs changing if you will only begin by getting God’s dream for your future and then take the steps necessary to succeed

Here is what you do:

1. Ask God to show you what needs changing
2. Prayerfully decide your first step
3. Place your trust in God and take that step

There is no magic that will fix a problem and no way to make it better without God’s intervention. Believe me, no matter how bad it is right now … you can make it worse! However, the bible says:

Psalms 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD …

This may be the opportunity you have been waiting for. Why not make the most of it! Be that good man and let God order your steps.

Surely you can think of one thing that needs changing in your life or world. Truly give it to God and do what He leads you to do and see what happens … what have you got to lose?

I pray you have a very Happy New Year!

New Beginnings Really Do Work!
Two Amazing Stories

(from an unknown author)

The First Story: Al Capone thought he owned Chicago. He was notorious for bootlegged booze, prostitution, murder and a lawyer nicknamed Easy Eddie. Eddie kept Big Al out of jail.To show his appreciation, Al Capone provided Eddie's family with a fenced-in mansion and estate so large that it filled a city block, and Easy Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob. However, he had a son he loved very much and, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie wanted to be a good example for his son. So Eddie testified against the mob, knowing it would cost him dearly. Within a year his life ended in a blaze of gunfire. Eddie had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Before the police moved his body they removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.The read, "The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell when the hands will stop. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, and toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still."

The Second Story: During World War II Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. Once in the air Butch O'Hare discovered that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier, so he dropped out of formation and headed back. Flying alone he noticed a squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding toward the American fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, Butch O'Hare dove into that formation of Japanese planes with wing-mounted 50-caliber machine guns blazing. In and out of that surprised formation he flew, hitting as many planes as he could until his ammunition was gone. Undaunted by his silent guns he dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of rendering a plane unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron turned in another direction as Butch and his tattered plane limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported the events surrounding his return and film from a camera mounted on his plane told the story. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This air battle took place on February 20, 1942, and for that Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. However, his home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade. The O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.The next time you visit O'Hare International please look for the memorial displaying Butch O'Hare's statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.Why are these two stories amazing? Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.