Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Eyes are On YOU

I am not one who has a great prophetic anointing to forsee what God has in mind for the nation in 2016. Each year seems to bring  new surprises, unexpected changes, and challenges that we have never met  before. I suppose that if we all could forsee the many crises that arise in the course of one year, it would cause us to make some of our decisions out of fear rather than trust and faith. 

Fear paralyzes our decisions and confidence to move forward. God never intended that His children live by fear. He intended for us to live by faith and trust in Him. Our plans should include moving forward and to keep dreaming God’s dreams and plans for our lives. He calls us to be fruitful. To give more, to serve more, to love more, to believe more, to work harder, and pray more.

Make Decisions
Among the most important decisions we can make to prepare for the year 2016 is the decision to follow the Lord completely. Make up your mind that no matter what happens, you will not look away from Him. Scripture says, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith - -” Heb 12:2.

Jehoshaphat  the king of  Judah faced overwhelming opposition from enemy armies. Jehoshaphat was very fearful until he set himself to seek the Lord and proclaim a fast throughout all Judah. The word of the Lord  came to the king and to the people telling them to not be afraid because it is God’s battle, not theirs. They knew that they were powerless to come against such overwhelming forces and didn’t know what to do. But they made this statement that all of us need to make when evil comes against us - 2 Chronicles 20:12 “But our eyes are upon you.”

Jennifer Slater delivered a message on “fixing our eyes upon Jesus” this past year. Here is a reminder of those thoughts from her:

Where are my eyes?    - My eyes are on YOU!
The story of Peter walking on the water is found in Matt 14:22-33 The disciples are in a boat, fighting a storm that is threatening them. They become exhausted, fighting in their own strength to not sink. they see a from walking towards them but do not recognize that it is Jesus at first. Peter is amazed to see Him walking on water and his elevated faith propels him to ask Jesus to call to him so he can do the same. Jesus responds and Peter steps out on the waves and begins to walk on the water. However, after a few steps, he starts to look at the waves instead of Jesus and begins to sink. Jesus reaches out for Peter when he calls to Him, pulls him up and together they walk back to the boat. Storms in our lives could be relationship issues, health problems that compound, financial reassure, emotional wounds, addictions, or even the pain of change. (vocation, family dynamics, health, economy, government, culture. I have walked through many of these storms. In fact I am living in the storms of life daily, as we all are. I hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit asking me, "Jen, where are your eyes?" My response, "My eyes are on you Lord" and again He says "Jen, where are your eyes?" and my response with more clarity is, "My eyes are on you Lord." From the story of Peter, I found applications for our lives.
  • How many times have we fought the storms in our own strength only to become exhausted.
  • We are filled with fear
  • Jesus is walking towards us but we don't recognize Him.
  • We see God work in things in our lives or others around us and our faith is elevated and we are ready to have radical trust in Jesus.
  • We take our eyes off of Him and we begin to sink. ("this world is a mess, I will never be free, how will I survive")
  • Then Jesus calls to us to put our eyes on Him and He rescues us.

And here's the big eye-opener.......... Jesus walked with Peter to the boat and the storm stopped AFTER they were in the boat. We seem to keep our eyes on the storm and pray for God to fix the storms in our lives. The reality is, there will always be storms. The truth is, if we keep our eyes on Him, we will never drown!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

O Holy Night!

This world has witnessed many nights since it was created by God. Many of these nights passed without anything remarkable taking place. Others saw profound changes in history take place.

On April 14, 1865 America went to bed thankful that the long, bloody war between the states was finally over. America awoke the next morning to discover that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. On December 6, 1941 America went to bed watching war spread across Asia and Europe and thankful that, for the time being, America was being left out of the conflict. They awoke the next morning to news of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and to the awareness that avoiding war was no longer a possibility.

On June 5, 1944 the world went to bed wondering when Adolph Hitler and Nazi armies would be defeated and the people of Europe delivered from his iron grip. The world awoke the next day to the news of the Allied invasion at Normandy on D-day.

The nights I just mentioned brought radical change to the world. Other nights have brought incredible circumstances to pass, and the world failed to notice. On such a night is the one portrayed next. The night Jesus Christ was born was an ordinary night from a human standpoint. The shepherds are watching their sheep. The people in the villages and towns of Israel sleep off the weariness of another long, hard day. In Jerusalem, the High Priest and the other men of religious power sleep as though it was any other night. King Herod has no idea that his kingdom has been invaded, and that a new King is about to be revealed. The world over, people drifted off to sleep not knowing that God was transacting eternal business in their very midst. They did not know that a Savior was being born in Bethlehem.

The night Jesus was born had all the appearances of being just another common, ordinary night. Yet, the events that occurred that night reveal it to be unlike any other night in human history. One night, long, long ago, God moved heaven and earth to provide a Savior. Miracle after miracle took place in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! Every single miracle was for you. Everything God did was so that you might have a Savior! Have you received Jesus as your Savior? Have you unwrapped Heaven’s greatest gift? Are you saved? Would you like to be? If you need to make some things right with God, you can do that today? Why not ask Him into your heart today and make this Christmas the best Christmas ever! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If Christ Had Not Come

Larry and Gloria Lundstrom sent a beautiful Christmas card that noted they were celebrating their 50 years in ministry. They have been a wonderful witness of the gospel of salvation that have brought thousands of souls to Christ over that period. We have been their friends for many years.

Gloria wrote about a thought provoking Christmas card that was once published with the title “If Christ Had Not Come.” The story is told of a pastor falling into short deep sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream, he found himself looking through his home but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort and to save. He walked out to the street but there was no church with its spire pointing toward heaven. He came in and sat down in his library but he realized that every book about the Savior had disappeared.

The doorbell rang and the messenger asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother. As he reached the home, he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise but it was empty. There was no Gospel verses, no promise of hope and salvation. He could only bow his head and weep in bitter despair. Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of hope, no mention of heaven and no consolation or comfort to share.

This little story gripped my heart and challenged me by the reality of how tragic life would be “without Christ.” Think of how different your life and my life would have been this past year if Christ had not come! When we receive bad news - a doctor’s fear-inducing report, the heartbreaking loss of a spouse, child, or sibling, the devastating loss of a job or financial breakdown, or the weight of a broken relationship. If Jesus had not come, how could we make it through the dark days of discouragement, loneliness, and tears? There would have been no hope, no joy, no answers, and nothing but a dismal future to look forward to...but….Christ has come!! He is the greatest Christmas gift of all!

“There is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

“I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)


“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

HOPE!

I’m sure that everyone has taken notice of the lighted word “hope” that appears at the back of the church platform. It is such an inspiring word to see.

In Colossians 1:5 we read “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel (vs. 6) which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit….”

Of course our hope is in heaven. But are we going to wait until we get to heaven, or is God trying to get heaven to us? God has a vested interest in us to be fruitful. The issue is fruit. And it appears that hope is to be a productive fruit in our lives.  Nothing is so bad in this world that God can’t see through nor even break through on behalf of those who hope in Him. “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

Folks, we have the Living God resident within us by the Holy Spirit which  God’s word says is “Christ in you, the hope of Glory.  We don’t’ have to go to find hope somewhere because hope has come to you! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13  Joy, peace, and hope are God’s gift to you which the Holy Spirit has imparted to all believers.  We don’t have to wait for situations or circumstances to change before our hope returns. Hope is a constant unwavering expectation that good will happen. It is God who puts hope in our hearts.

Christmas is the season of hope to many. Just think of a life without hope and faith in the Savior. Jesus is the hope of the world - and He is in you, the hope of glory. We cannot carry the burden of the world upon ourselves. We cannot change certain circumstances but we can “rest in hope” like King David in Psalm 16:9. Why? Because He is the anchor to our soul through every storm of life. Hebrews 6:19  If you and I could see the outcome to our circumstances we would not have to have hope and we would never learn to persevere in life. Without learning to persevere we would not have the privilege of developing strong character. Hope will never disappoint us because it’s the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us. Romans 5:3-5  So, be hopeful in the Lord dear friends. He has your back - and He has your future. Remember, God does know what He is doing. Your trust and hope can totally rest in Him!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Church as a Lifeline

The most important thing people want to know about your belief in Jesus and Christianity is first, “Do you really care about them?” and secondly, “Can you accept them where they come from without judging them?” And the question we must ask ourselves is, “Am I ready to become a lifeline to those who may need my unconditional love and support?”

Our world is broken and fragmented in government, families, and individual lives. The opportunity to become a lifeline and support system to bring transformation has never been greater. In fact, this is why Christ Jesus entered our broken world, to bring healing to all this mess. The power is still in Him to bring transformation, but now it is His church (His body) that has become the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus to bring healing to this generation.

In Matthew 4:23,24 Jesus came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kids of disease among the people.” The extent of his ministry consisted of teaching, preaching, making disciples, healing the sick, and casting out demons. It is clear that Jesus healed out of compassion for the multitudes who were suffering. Matthew 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion for them - -”. Someone described compassion as “Love in action”. Love sees beyond the immediate and the personal and compassionately relates to the lost, the hurting, the needy, and distressed. It moves more and more into the dimension of discipleship that discovers the compassion of Christ flowing through a believer to care for and to serve others. This is the Kingdom of God in action.

There is a community of unbelievers out there who need us, and there is a community of believers in the church who need one another.

I believe the church has lost something that we need to get back to fulfill the destiny God has given us that makes a difference in peoples lives. It is not more preaching we need. It is not more professionals to serve in ministry. It is not more knowledge or deeper truths that will change our world. It is not more criticism about our failures.

What is needed in the church?  For the church to become a greater lifeline to our broken world, God must give each of us a new God-vision and fresh compassion to be kingdom driven rather than self-driven. To be more God-conscious rather than self-conscious. To desire unity rather than division. Together we share in His kingdom plans to reshape our world from this present darkness into His marvelous light.

As we move together into another year, let us ask God to make us into new wineskins to be able to contain the fresh new thing that He wants to do in us. Matthew 9:17.