Saturday, February 26, 2011

Timeless Answers


This morning we are going to look at some “Timeless Answers”.

I know what you are facing. I have faced the same things in my life and learned how to successfully handle them. I have the answers – “Timeless Answers” – to the current questions you are facing in life.

Matthew 6: 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

During His earthly life and ministry, Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven and hell combined. The majority of what Jesus had to say concerning the principles of money can be summed up from Matthew 6:24. Money wants to be your master and ultimately, the love of money is the root of all evil.

According to the timeless Word of God, whether an individual, a corporation or a nation – no one can serve two masters. We will either pursue God’s goals and use money as a tool or we will serve money’s dictates and use God as a tool.

Among the top three questions people have in today’s society, and perhaps the top question of society itself is: Why don’t I have any money left over at the end of the week? There just doesn’t seem to be enough money to go around. It takes all I have just to pay bills. There is nothing left over.

You know, life is designed by God to be lived with a margin. It is a part of the “Abundant Life” plan of God.

John 10:10 "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

An Abundant Life is a life in no need of a miracle … a life lived with a margin so that when you get to the top of the stairs you still have breath left; so that when you get to the end of the week you still have money left; so that you don’t just always come screeching to a stop at every red light with the front bumper sticking over the white line, anxiously looking in the mirror hoping that huge truckload of debt doesn’t come plowing right through you without respecting the fact that you were forced to stop or be destroyed.

Life is designed to be lived with a margin and instead most people, corporations and nations are standing right on the edge of financial ruin. One little push would send them plummeting to the very bottom.

Life on the edge is too dangerous, too fragile, to be truly enjoyed. And yet, most people are living right on the edge of financial disaster.

What can be done? It is really very simple to understand in theory but evidently not as easy to do in practice. Nonetheless, there are timeless answers to this age old problem and to the current situation you face in life.

If you will follow some simple steps, I guarantee that you will achieve:

Financial Success,

Financial Security

Financial Significance

As I said earlier, this morning we are going to discover or re-discover some timeless answers to the current financial problems in life. Before we start, allow me to give us some points to ponder. Remember these points, they will speak to you when you most need direction: (I have pointed them at “you”) and, the great thing with timeless answers – you are never too old to apply them.

· Most often the reason why you can’t buy what you want is because you bought what you wanted.

· The problem with a dollar is that it only spends once.

· Saying yes to one purchase means you are saying no to another.

· Life is designed to be lived with a margin.

Now for some things which you can begin to do today:

#1. Stop Digging

Firmly determine that you will make no more consumer debt

#2. Curb Spending

10 apple income model

Live on 6 apples

Save 2 apples

Give 2 apples away

#3. Harness Appetites

#4. Adjust Expectancies

100% versus 60% Lifestyle Spending Plan

Create a 6 Apple Budget you can live on

One of the greatest dangers is creating a no margin budget

#5. Attack Debt

Stay in the game – it’s your debt … pay it!

Put together a spending plan

Set financial goals

Stop wasting money

Re-Arrange your financial picture

Move higher interest to lower interest if possible

Free up capital

Sell things you don’t need or use

Begin a debt reduction plan

#6. Forecast Trends; 7) Diversify Portfolio; 8) Control Growth; 9) Enjoy Life

Why go through all of this? Because you will live longer, happier, more secure and productive with a financial margin than you will without one. And that longer, happier life will free you up mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to serve God – and that’s reason enough!

Don’t just do it for you or even for your family, but connect your money, your success, security and significance to God! If you do, He will help!

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Gospel of Mark Series – Part 6


What I call the “Dynamic Doctrines” of the Gospel can be found encapsulated in the Gospel of Mark. We have already discovered several themes which run through this Gospel account including:

· Authority

· Power

· Urgency

· Demonic Realities

· Hardness of Heart

The repeated references to these themes point out their importance not only to the writer but to all who are the intended recipients of this Gospel message. There is only one story, one Bible and only one anointed Gospel. God gave these scriptures to the first church as His “New Will and Testament” and they are meant as directives to each church in every generation. The same word Mark gave to the 1st Century Church believers is the same word given to us and they are relevant for life today.

As I said, there is only one Bible and it is the same today as it was yesterday and will be forever. We are to embrace the Bible as though it was given directly from God to us … because it was!

We have discovered that the book of Mark is more about what Jesus did than what He said. However when Jesus performed miracles which often amazed His disciples, He usually took the time necessary to explain those works by teaching the dynamic doctrine upon which that miracle rested. Such was the case when Jesus cursed the fig as recorded in Mark 11.

(Tell the story of the fig tree from Mark 11:12-21 – and notice that Peter is the disciple mentioned herein but not referred to specifically in Matthew’s account in chapter 21. Again this points to Peter’s evident influence in the writing of Mark’s Gospel account.)

The evident miracle is explained by Jesus in light of the dynamic doctrine we call:

Faith and Confession

Mark 11 NKJV

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God.

23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ’Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Note that one cannot believe for something which one does not believe in. In other words: You have to believe in a thing before you can believe for it. Or … We must have faith in before we can have faith for.

The dynamic doctrine of faith and confession is taught throughout the word of God. We find this doctrine from Genesis through Revelation. The Apostle Paul was a great proponent of this doctrine and declared it to be the foundational doctrine upon which a person receives salvation.

Romans 10

6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way… , "Do not say in your heart, ’Who will ascend into heaven?’" (that is, to bring Christ down from above)

7 or, "’Who will descend into the abyss?’" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If faith and confession works for salvation – it will work for everything else!

Even God uses this dynamic doctrine Himself. Perhaps that is what Mark is referring to when he said: “Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22) One scholar phrased that quote to say: “Have the God kind of faith!”

Why would God need faith? I am not an authority on what God needs or does not need, but I am an authority on what God demands from us. The Bible firmly teaches that even He uses faith and confession to affect changes He desires and to move mountains which stand in His way. No doubt, this is where His Son, Jesus, learned how to curse the fig tree.

Genesis 1

1 ¶ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 ¶ Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

You know, “It ain’t dark” just would not have worked.

Faith demands we call those things which do not exist as though they did.

Romans 4:17 … God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

Calling a thing which does exist as though it did not exist is not faith – it might be fear or just plain lying but, it’s not what God did and it’s not what He instructs us to do. The scriptures tell us to let the weak say “I am strong” … not … “I’m not weak”. It’s just not the same. Faith moves us forward!

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Mark, Paul, Solomon, Jesus and even God the Father, all teach and practice the dynamic doctrine of faith and confession. It works … when you believe and say – dynamic creative power is released – in the positive realm as well as in the negative. (Psalms 141:3 – set a watch …) Watch what you believe and for godliness sake, watch what you say!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Creative Investments


God has given you the power to create your passion.

This morning I want to lead you to Re-Discover Your Passion and Re-Invigorate Your Life. We have a limited time, so let’s get to it.

Proverbs 26:20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.

Without regard as to how much wood is used to start a fire, it will eventually go out unless more wood is added thereunto.

A car cannot run forever on only one tank of gasoline.

Every battery carries a limited amount of energy and will become dead and useless unless re-charged by a higher source of power.

This principle of stored energy is also true for humans. A body needs food and water without which it weakens and loses capacity to sustain life. According to some figures, each year more than 18 million people die from starvation of the body however, I fear even a greater number of people suffer from spiritual starvation each day. The alarming difference between physical and spiritual starvation is most often that of choice.

Either by ignorance, neglect or by outright choice, many live in a severely weakened spiritual state, almost comatose and with little or no ability to respond or make any meaningful spiritual contributions to life. Perhaps you have known someone who stopped recharging themselves spiritually, quit putting wood on the fire of their spiritual passion, or allowed themselves to avoidably run out of gas and are now looking for a place to pull over, or are sitting on the roadside of God’s will for their life.

A life with no spiritual investment or re-investment will weaken and eventually lose capacity and potential for continued participation. How does a person know when this is happening to them, their spouse, children or church? Yes, it can happen to individuals, families, communities, nations and even to a church.

We are designed to live life on stored energy which we cannot borrow from the future. Without energy – we go nowhere in life.

There are some indicators which we can use to gauge our current capacity and our stored energy levels. Let’s discuss three of the top ten signs a person is spiritually running out of gas. Then we will discover one simple fix. First, let’s look at these energy level indicators. One indication of need is:

· It’s been a long while since you filled your tank.

o Old gasoline turns into a sticky varnish like substance

o Un-replaced batteries tend to corrode

o Even wood rots and crumbles into dust after a while

· You’ve come a long, hard or fast way since you filled your tank. (Distance – Difficulty – Speed, all 3 determine depletion rate)

o The farther and faster you go, the more often you have to fill up.

o The demands on energy dictate the consumption and the frequency with which we must recharge.

o Wood burns more rapidly on a bigger fire. (But produces a greater heat which often meets greater needs)

· You are dangerously close to shutting down

o Slowing down – looking for a place to pull over

o Left with no reserve of energy to access – lack of motivation

o Growing colder by the moment – losing vision

Don’t be fooled into thinking you are ok simply because things are happening around you.

· It could be the other batteries in the bunch that are providing the power you’re witnessing

· You might be riding on someone else’s bus

· Or warming by someone else’s fire

This can happen with your career; marriage; family; friends; community involvement or church commitment. However today we are specifically discussing our personal spiritual strength and the contribution we are making to God’s overall plan.

When we take inventory today, let’s take inventory of our own lives. However we must also realize that taking inventory is just the beginning.

Many of you may already know that you are running on empty but simply don’t have the energy, the motivation or the vision to do anything about it. Oh, you might have energy, motivation or vision for some other things, but not for the things of God, where God placed you, in what you know God has called you to … not like the energy, motivation and vision you used to have.

Take the person who has plenty of energy and motivation for things which they should not be doing … it’s not that they lack passion – it’s just misplaced passion and misplaced potential. Remember, today we are focusing on God’s will and how your life benefits His Kingdom plan.

Perhaps you have never found, or cannot now find passion which you know you should have but don’t have. It’s just not in your heart!

Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

Let me clear something up for you … It can be a dangerous thing to follow your heart … as a Believer in Jesus and the Bible, we embrace the responsibility to lead our heart and we do this by way of investment.

Have you ever heard someone say: “I don’t want to, but I want to want to”? This is often the testimony of someone who has let their fire go out. But, good news!

You can lead your heart to want to even when you don’t want to You don’t have to live life without energy, motivation, vision and passion for your marriage, family or future, and especially concerning your personal relationship with Jesus and His Bride, the Church.

What can you do to invigorate or re-invigorate your life? It takes only one step and you can take it today. What step? What can you do? How can you lead your heart, obtain or regain energy, motivation, vision and passion?

Matthew 6:21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

A few days ago I was traveling on the road and stopped to eat at a restaurant. There was a talk show was on the television facing my table and the host was interviewing the actress Jennifer Anniston. She had evidently just returned from the Super Bowl, which was her first time to attend a pro ballgame. She decided to go with friends but had no care or connection to the process or the outcome – she had always been indifferent to football other than thinking some of the players were cute.

When asked what she thought of the game now … she was pumped. (For those of you in other parts of the world who aren’t familiar with the American slang, “Pumped” – in this sense it means “really excited”, “full of energy”, “Passionate”!) At any rate:

Her body language revealed how excited she was about the game and even though she still did not know the names of the players, (she referred to Brett Favre as that guy who retired and came back to play again) … nonetheless – she was pumped.

The reason she gave the drastic change stemmed from the pre-game advice she received from her friend, Adam Sandler, with whom she recently co-starred. She said that Adam had told her that in order to enjoy the game she needed to place a bet on one of the teams – which she did.

Now she didn’t know the players, had never followed or even seen a pro football game, and really didn’t care anything about it … until she made an investment. Then - all of the sudden – her passions came alive. She began to care and got involved in both the process and the outcome.

How did she go from not caring to caring? How did she go from low energy to high energy? How did she go from cold to hot? What connected her to the game, its process and the final outcome? – It was her investment!

(Some of you might be having a hard time with me quoting Jennifer Anniston to prove the point here in church today, but believe me when I tell you – the principles of God’s Word are true and work without regard as to where you make your investments.)

In conclusion – I challenge you to do two things with me this morning:

1. Take inventory of your stored energy levels.

a. How long has it been since you were filled with passion for the purpose.

b. How far, fast and hard has the journey been?

c. How close are you to shutting down or just quitting? Are you looking for a place to pull over or stop?

2. Make an investment.

a. Lead your heart and begin your new adventure today

b. God has given you the power to create your own passion

c. Re-Discover a passion for God’s will and Re-Invigorate your life

It needs to be an investment of something you really care about. Money – time – attention … … what are you protecting, what are you holding back on God … give God your best and He will do the rest! Make an investment of the things you value most - You know …

Your life won’t change without you!

Make an investment and Create your passion for God’s will …