Time to Resurrect?

Dream-Again-2

 

What Has Died in your life and Needs to Resurrect?

We often hear about things that need to be let go of or challenges to drop the baggage of the past.

Recently I sat with a young leader with great promise and potential. He shared that he has a tendency to become comfortable in his life. His comfort gives him a sense of stability and allows him to know what is coming and how he should prepare. As I listened I heard some deeper things in his heart. You have probably heard them in your heart too.  You see, we can all grow comfortable in various areas of our lives. We all have our comfort zones – in home, work, office, education, relationships, you have them even now. Some have the seat in the sanctuary, the same one each week for many years, some have a certain restaurant, some songs you listen to over and over or the same treadmill at the gym. It is routine and if not careful it could be damaging to your growth. With Easter just around the corner I think the question at the top of this blog is worth asking. It may even be various relationships that you gravitate to simply because they no longer stretch you or cause you to move out of your comfort zone and establish some new relationships.

What dreams did you once hold dear that have now become ‘entombed’ and dormant? In the Movie: I can only Imagine, the story of Bart Millard of Mercy Me is told. In it, his father tells him repeatedly, “Don’t hold onto your dreams – don’t pursue them, they will never help you deal with reality.” Bart is the writer of the song: “I can only Imagine.”

In the story, he comes around to holding his dreams and realizing them. How about you?”

Hold fast to dreams. For it dreams die, life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to your dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen in snow.” – Langston Hughes

Whatever our dreams have been it will take risk to see God help resurrect them. It takes work and risk to step out of our comfort zones. These steps can be incredibly big life decisions, but many times it may just be small decisions, or a small change in our usual routine, that can provide the momentum we need to consistently step out of our comfort zones. Truth is, like the young leader, most of us enjoy routine and the luxury of the known, the safety of the convenient and predictable. It takes extra effort to step out, but if we’re not risking and pushing ourselves out of the normal and routine, we develop a lack of necessity of trust in God and our influence to lead others is diminished. Few people are inspired by those who live mundane and safe lives.

  • Take some time to make a list of things you would do if you knew you could not fail. Where have you grown risk-averse and dropped your faith in the faithfulness of God?
  • Take some time to make a list of dreams you used to hold close and have allowed to die?
  • Take some time to list the top three fears you face and see how they connect to the hold the comfort zone has upon you.
  • Think about where you might begin to serve and give yourself away.
  • Think about a relationship that needs to be rekindled.
  • Think about a talent or gift that God has given to you that you have allowed to go dormant?

It is easy to walk away from things God has called us to and dreams He has placed inside of us. Disappointments and shattered hopes can cause us to become fatalistic – believing nothing will ever change.

Think of the following statements:

  • To change and to change for the better are two different things.
  • The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.
  • God will not look you over for medals, degrees, and diplomas but for scars.

There is a price to pay for obeying God and for living out your dreams for Him but it is always worth it.

“So long as breath remains in our lungs, untapped potential lies inside us, waiting to be released. The reason we are still alive is that we are carrying something inside us that this generation needs.” -Wayne Cordeiro

“Your big dream always lies outside your comfort zone. You have to choose between your dream and comfort.” -Bruce Wilkenson

We must not forget that we are not alone in this transformational calling. God is with us and His grace is literally amazing in every aspect. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) We cannot resort to our own will power and strength. Remember that will power does not change man. Time will not change man. Christ does. Therefore “Let that mind be in you which is also in Jesus Christ.” Allow His resurrection power to become yours. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11 (NLT)

It’s never too late to dream again and never underestimate the power of a dream in transforming a life! and Never underestimate the compelling power of a dream. Maybe in this lifetime, we may not achieve what we wanted to achieve, but at least every day we attempt to move a step closer to it. It is important that we never underestimate the power of a dream in transforming our lives.

What do you need to step into this week?  What dream has God placed in your heart? Ask Him to reveal it. Review the questions that I wrote for you above and then be prepared to move. Let Easter be a season of resurrection for you and all God has for you.

Let’s pray for each other,

Bernie

 

 

 

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God Is Holy

god is holyAt our church we have been in a series called: The God I Wish You Knew.

This past week we focused on: God is Holy.

God is utterly unique: He is perfectly righteous and good.

 

God is not just holy or holy, holy, holy—He is wholly and holy unlike us. Pain does not plague him. The economy does not phase Him. Headlines and the acts of men and women do not define him. Diseases do not infect him and death cannot claim him.

The acts of humanity cannot change how we view Him. If we allow the things that people do to define our theology we are sunk.  Some time ago a person in our community did some horrible things and was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, actually 45 years which would make them 112, but they were sentences without possibility of parole. While I never mentioned their name, the Sunday following their arrest, as I spoke to my congregation, I shared these poignant thoughts: Humanity cannot define divinity.  The acts of men and women do not dictate our theology. When bad things happen, that does not subtract from God’s goodness and holiness.

 

  • Ephesians 3:20
    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.. (NIV)

He is amazing and magnificent. Holy and Sovereign – He exercises His Holy and perfect will.  When we make our lives all about us, we miss out on the power and grace of God. We need to make our lives all about God.

Creation is all about God; history is all about God, life is all about God; you are all about God. If it’s all about God, then it’s supremely important that we know God and think about God correctly. Life is all about God.

Everyone matters to God whether God matters to them or not. – Andy Stanley 

If we think incorrectly about God, all of life gets messed up because it’s all about God.

A.W. Tozer put it this way:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.” – A.W. Tozer The Knowledge of the Holy, pg. 1.

The gravest question is always God Himself, and what we conceive God to be like. What is God like?

Here is the problem: how can we know God? How can we know what God is like? The answer: God must reveal Himself to us. We can only know what God is like if God lets us know Him, if God tells us what He is like. This is known as revelation.

 

People guess all the time about God; they describe a God they don’t know, a God that they have ignored. Their description of God is what they want God to be like. “I think God is…” But apart from God’s self-revelation, your opinion is of no value. It would be like you telling me what you think about about a person you never met. Think of a famous person! Because they have a public persona and we have video, social media, celebrity reports and the like, we can assume what they are really like, we can even argue that they are a certain way because of what someone said about them or how they have been portrayed. I once heard two people debating about a celebrity, arguing that they knew what they were like. Truth was, I had met this particular celebrity and even had dinner with them, so I knew what they were saying was not truth. As I attempted to interject what I knew, these people were not having it. They had tweets and posts to prove otherwise.

We can do that same thing with God – thinking He is mad, anger, a taker and not a giver, a judge and not a Father, a mean tyrant.

“What is God like?” And the only way to answer that correctly is to know what God has revealed about Himself. To discover that, we turn to Jesus and to the Scripture. God’s self-revelation is supremely in Christ, and in the Scripture.

  • God is holy: unique and different; righteous and good.

What do you think of when you hear the word “holy”? We usually think of something sacred, religious, spiritual, consecrated, special.

The words “holy,” “sanctified,” “consecrated,” and “saint” all come from the same root words in Hebrew and Greek. And they mean two basic things.

  • Holy means “different, unique, special, set apart.” 

To say that God is holy is to say that He is utterly unique; He is different from everything and everyone else. There is none like Him.

1 Samuel 2:2
There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (NIV)

2 Samuel 7:22
How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. (NIV)

Isaiah 40:25
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. (NIV)

Jeremiah 10:6–7
No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. (NIV)

But aren’t we made in God’s image? Aren’t we like God? Yes, we are. We are like God; and we are unlike God. We are created in God’s image, but that doesn’t mean that God is just a bigger version of me. This is the danger for us. We tend to think that God is just a bigger, better, buffed up version of ourselves.

The best we can come up with, is a caricature of God. That is why He was real clear about not having any images of Himself. This is why God commanded us not to make and worship images of Him—because the image is far less than the God it represents.

  • People attempt to reduce God to someone of something they can manage, control and comprehend.

When we say God is holy, we mean that He is different from everyone and everything else. He is in a category by Himself. There is no one like Him.

We try to describe Him by using comparisons and analogies, but they all fall short; they are pitiful next to the reality of God.

Some people conclude that they do not need God: People that conclude they do not need God have never come to the reality of their humanity.

If you truthfully look at yourself, you will discover your brokenness, your limitations, your sinfulness, and surrender to the evaluation that you cannot do all you planned on your own, and most certainly that your life falls short of greatness. I have been with people that are so arrogant, and wise in their own eyes, that they believe they do not need God at all. They have created themselves as supreme. If you believe you are perfect then, what do you need God for?

I challenge people to look at the reality of their existence and their fears, and hurts and pain. I even challenge them to consider their future and eternities. Some have said, that when life is over it is over. We stop breathing and stop feeling and never feel again. We have emotions, but they are simply chemical reactions – there is no soul, no spirit other than the beating heart and the bleeding skin.  I happen to believe we are more than that. I ask people all the time, why would be be created if only for 75, 85 or 90 years on a planet. There has to be more.

If people then get around to telling you about God, it is always a drastic reduction: we reduce God to a smart phone size, handy deity made in our own image, able to serve us and do what we want. It is all about us, again!

  • God’s character is the standard for righteousness and goodness.

Caution: Do not take one aspect of God’s character and focus on it alone. Well, you can do that with Holiness, but not with provision, power, protection or anything else. For example, if you conclude that God will provide you with all you need (or all your greed) at anytime that you ask, then you will create a Heavenly waiter out of God. One who responds to every one of your beckon calls.  If, for example then, God does not do what you want Him to do when you want Him to do it, you need to create a new theology for how He did not reply. In the 80’s it was a theology of ‘name it and claim it.’ And if God did not do it, then it was due to your lack of faith, or not saying enough prayers, or sin in your life or a curse on your family.  In other words, anytime you take one aspect of God and make that the totality of God, you grab a hold of poor theology.  We need to realize who were are, our need for God, then the enormity of God and the fact He can do things we fully do not understand.  If  God is limited to your understanding, He is a very small God and I do not want to embrace your way of thinking.

God is holy, perfectly righteous and good, compared with humans who are not. sinful.

  • Isaiah 5:16
    But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.

So when we say that God is holy, we mean that he is unique and different; righteous and good. Listen to this:

Isaiah 6:1–8
I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”… “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (NIV)

This is Isaiah’s awesome vision of God.

Notice the angelic creatures with six wings. Why six wings? They used two to fly; and two to cover their faces in the presence of a holy God, so they wouldn’t look at Him and die; and two to cover their feet, covering their uncleanness in the presence of a holy God. These amazing creatures were very aware that God was different, He was holy! And so they cried, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!”

To the Jews, repeating something three times indicated its perfection; so the seraphs were saying that God is perfectly holy, that there is no one like Him.

Notice Isaiah’s response: “Uh oh!” He knew he was in trouble. He was a sinner in the presence of a holy God! “Uh oh! Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” God gave Isaiah a glimpse of Himself, of His holiness, and Isaiah was undone! This happened all through the Bible when God gave people a glimpse of Himself. When John saw his vision of Jesus in Revelation, John “fell at His feet as though dead.”

When you see God as He really is, it is an “uh oh moment”. You will be overwhelmed with awe. You will realize how different He is from you, that He is holy and you are a sinner. “Uh oh—woe is me!” Even in His Holiness and Perfection – He wants to be with us.

NOTICE the response from Heaven. The angel comes to cleanse Isaiah. He takes a coal  off the altar. This was an altar of sacrifice to the Lord. It was where the animals were laid for forgiveness of sins. This is grace and mercy at work. Isaiah realized his humanity and need for God and God realized Isaiah could not cleanse himself.

This is sinner meeting Savior. This is humanity meeting Divinity. This is the heart of God. Isaiah was not being casual about God – but respectful and humble.

“Most people are casual about God because they don’t
have an accurate picture of him.” ~ Francis Chan

  • A holy God is to be feared and worshiped.

In the Bible the universal response to seeing God was an “uh-oh moment.” People fell on their faces in fear and awe and reverence and worship. When Angels came from God to encounter humanity, people were afraid.

I’m guessing that some of you are uncomfortable with that word “fear”—with the idea that a holy God is to be feared and worshiped.

Worship, yes; but fear? “Isn’t God our Father? Isn’t He loving and merciful?” Yes. And isn’t He to be feared? Yes.  Fear is not simply

A mature theology, a mature understanding of God is able to embrace both.

The Bible is filled with paradox:

Man is free and God is sovereign; God has chosen us and we have to believe;

God is love and God is judge; we are saints and we are sinners. We get in trouble when we hold to one and reject the other; the Bible teaches both, so we have to embrace the paradox and live in the tension. I believe that the best way to understand what it means to fear God is to understand His holiness.  Remember Isaiah: He was fearful of God in the sense that He realized who He was – unclean man with unclean lips.  It created an ‘UH OH” moment for him.

Isaiah 8:13
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear…(NIV)

We fear God because He is holy. When we see God as holy, it’s always an “uh oh moment.” God is so great, so huge, so awesome, so different than me, that I should always feel a healthy fear in His presence.

In today’s culture, we do not revere or fear the name of God enough. In the Old Testament they wouldn’t even say the word God. They would never causally call him God but Hashem, which means the Name. His name is so sacred they didn’t even want to say it.  Our lips aren’t even worthy of saying his name.

He is not some little old man sitting in a chair. Do you understand how the Bible describes him?  We can’t be casual about this.

I love God…and I fear God. I don’t fear God because He is cruel, or unreliable, or unjust, or evil—He is none of those.  (you can see more on fear below)

We underestimate God’s goodness, justice and moral perfection. God is good—perfect goodness. He hates sin. We are so accustomed to sin that we can’t imagine how deeply God hates it. I am guilty of this. I think, “Oh, I’ve got a little problem with pride.” God hates pride; but I tolerate it. Or I think, “I’m a pretty good person.” Of course to think that, I ignore all my sin, large and small. But if I were to stand in the light of God’s perfect and holy presence for even one moment, I would, like Isaiah, cry out, “Uh oh! Woe is me!” In the light of His purity, all my sin would be unmistakable…and ugly.

 

The problem is: People don’t recognize the holiness of God and realize the reality of their humanity and therefore think they do not need God.

Or some day they will just walk into heaven because they were good.

Big Lie on the Earth: The God that some people know: People are good people.  He is good, they are good, so all good people go to a better place when they die.  -Francis Chan

 

Romans 3: 9 – 12 & 23 & 24
Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away… For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. (NLT)

 

God is pure, The idea is that God is far greater and better than anything we can imagine, and if we only caught a glimpse of Him, we would be undone.

We can easily approach God time and again with a careless indifference to our own sin as if it does not matter. This should tell us that we are not seeing God as He is: a holy God!

  • Psalm 96:9
    Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (NIV)

Worship and tremble! We are to do both because of the splendor of His holiness.

  • Psalm 99:5
    Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. (NIV)

You can only worship at His footstool (a low place) if you are humble and realize you need God.

  • Psalm 103:1
    Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (NIV)

In Revelation 4, John describes a vision he had of God on His throne in heaven.

 Revelation 4:8–11

  • Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

It is a vision of unceasing worship of a holy God. Day and night, the four living creatures (who look a lot like the seraphs in Isaiah’s vision) never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” And whenever they do this—which is all the time—the 24 elders fall down before God and worship him. “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.” In John’s vision, this worship goes on forever!

Imagine a person so awesome that you never stopped feeling awestruck around them. You never took them granted.

We live near the the amazing Pacific Ocean.  Wow!  But if you commute to Goleta or Santa Barbara or need to drive South often you can easily take it for granted. You cease to see it’s beauty. But someone seeing it for the first time on a clear day. It is amazing to them. I have seen people from a dessert place or the Midwest, stop and stare at the vast Pacific, they are in awe. Some are amazed by its beauty while even fearing its depth, and the creatures within it, the riptides and more. Beauty and fear can reside in the same person about the same body of water.

We do the same thing to God. We get used to Him and take Him for granted; we lose our sense of awe and wonder. We do the same thing to God. We lose our sense of wonder.

But that doesn’t happen in heaven where people see God as He really is, in the splendor of His holiness. There, face-to-face, we never lose our sense of awe; there, we worship all the time; not because we have to, but because we want to; we are moved by His holiness.

Have you lost the wonder? Let’s ask God to give us a fresh vision of Him, to see Him as He really is. God is holy.

  • God has called us to be holy too. God has made you holy in Christ.

This is amazing: The only way you can become holy, is to be inside and covered by the Holy One.

1 Peter 1:15–16
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (NIV)

Be holy in all you do, because God is holy. What does that mean? It means we live a holy life, a different life, for God and not for ourselves.

Holiness is not just avoiding the obvious sins. It is avoiding all sin! But you cannot earn your way to Holiness.

  • Holiness is the result of being close to a Holy God and placing your faith fully in the Holy act of Salvation by Jesus Christ.

God told Moses at the burning bush, “Take off your shoes, Moses; you are on holy ground.” What made the ground holy? God was there, meeting Moses. It was an ordinary bush surrounded by ordinary dirt that became holy when God showed up.

  • God takes ordinary things and makes them holy.

You are a holy person. Why? Because of your relation to God. He made you holy. You aren’t holy because of your efforts or goodness; you are holy because God took an ordinary person and made you His own; He made you holy, set apart for Himself, different.

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

God has sanctified you in Christ—that means He made you holy in Christ. He called you to be holy, to be different, to live your life for Him and not for yourself. It’s all about God—a holy God who calls you to be holy because you are His.

God has made you holy…so be holy, because He is holy. Live your life like a person who has seen the holy God and can never be the same again!

Keep learning and studying and getting to know who God is,

Bernie

 

Additional Notes on the Fear of God:

The main Hebrew and Greek words translated fear in the Bible can have several shades of meaning, but in the context of the fear of the Lord, they convey a positive reverence.

The Hebrew verb yare can mean “to fear, to respect, to reverence” and the Hebrew noun yirah “usually refers to the fear of God and is viewed as a positive quality. This fear acknowledges God’s good intentions (Ex. 20:20). … This fear is produced by God’s Word (Ps. 119:38Prov. 2:5) and makes a person receptive to wisdom and knowledge (Prov. 1:79:10)” (Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament, 2003, pp. 470-471).

The Greek noun phobos can mean “reverential fear” of God, “not a mere ‘fear’ of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, “Fear, Fearful, Fearfulness”). This is the type of positive, productive fear Luke describes in the early New Testament Church:

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31, emphasis added).

One resource includes this helpful summary: “The fear of God is an attitude of respect, a response of reverence and wonder. It is the only appropriate response to our Creator and Redeemer” (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, 1997, note on Psalm 128:1).

King Solomon put it this way in explaining his reason for writing the book of Proverbs: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Why? Consider these words of the psalmist: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).  This proper fear, puts God’s words and ways above our own.  His power as the power we lean in on and not our own.

In Psalm 34 King David also tells us about learning the fear of the Lord: “Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. … Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (verses 11, 13-14).

A healthy fear of God includes the fear of the consequences of disobedience. There may be times of temptation or trial when we may forget some of the better reasons for obeying God, and that is when we had better think of the consequences (Exodus 20:20).

Reverence of God helps us to take Him and His beneficial laws seriously. Being in harmony with the spiritual laws that govern the universe has astounding benefits.This is what Hebrews 10:26-31 tells us: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Reverence of God helps us to take Him and His beneficial laws seriously. Being in harmony with the spiritual laws that govern the universe has astounding benefits. Many of these come in this life, but the greatest benefits will be experienced in the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8Psalm 16:11).

Sticks and Stones

We all remember the old axiom: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Yet, how many people have been deeply wounded by words — accusatory statements, hot-headed misinterpretations or venom-filled words.

Today, those words might be written in emails, texted, posted on Facebook, jammed into editorials and more. There is an ever-increasing rise of anger and people felling an obligation to be mean and vindictive.

PrintThere is great power in words and they have the power to hurt or heal. Your words are messengers and couriers of life or death. The wisdom of Solomon is profound when he shares: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue. … (Proverbs 18:21) Your tongue is a very powerful instrument. This scripture reminds us of the death blow that words can create. But since our words can give life as well they can provide comfort and be used to uplift someone. Words can endear you to someone or cause you to be brutal enemies. Words can touch or break a heart. Words can instill confidence or fear. Words can be used to convey the heart of God to someone and the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus, to see someone set free!  We know so much about Jesus, because of the words He spoke and the messages His words conveyed.

According to the Bible, God created the heavens and the earth and some of it was created just by he words that He spoke. Jesus Christ raised the dead and cast out demons with His words. Words are very powerful, and depending on how we use them, they can help or hurt. Sometimes our words are like a sledgehammer being swung without much thinking, and then all of a sudden we look around and we discover a pile of relational rubble. When you thoughtlessly sling your words around and tear people down, your relationships are going to suffer.

 

There was once a little girl by the name of Norma Jean, whose mother had always told her that she was no good. She told Norma that if anyone ever told her, “You’re smart” or “You’re pretty” that, in fact, she was not. At the age of 36 years old, Norma Jean reportedly killed herself despite what most people would have thought was a glitzy and glamorous life. Most people knew Norman Jean Mortensen better as Marilyn Monroe.

 

Certain things people said to you in a careless way — even as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working —you still remember today. That’s how powerful words are. So when it comes to your mouth, you’ve got to think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Practice saying something good. It’s not sufficient to just avoid saying something bad.

Every person has one thing in common: a hunger for sincere appreciation.

We need to make appreciation and affirmation a part of our daily practice.

Words are important and very powerful. They have the ability to build us up and heal or tear us down and wound us. Consider how to use our words to repair broken relationships and the wrongs we encounter, to encourage others and lift them up.

Let’s be alert to our words and speak in truth and grace, in turn, we will experience health and wholeness in our own lives.

Broken bones are never good.

Grateful for you,

Bernie

Talk About Your Faith

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.


When was the last time you shared your faith with someone?
90 seconds
When was the last time you even told someone, you believed in God, the Bible or in Jesus Christ?
Okay, the reasons we keep Christ to ourselves are numerous. Fear, being laughed at, wondering if you will be marginalized, or maybe working in a place where you cannot share your faith – I get it.
One of the most common reasons we don’t talk about our faith with those around us is the fear of not having all the answers to the response we might get. We can easily hold back, afraid of being uncomfortable or losing a friend. Most common is that we believe  we’re not qualified enough to talk about who Jesus is and what he’s done.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus says we’re called to be witnesses. We are to witness as to what we personally know.  Like a witness to an event. We simply share what we saw, heard, experienced.  Jesus does not call us to be lawyers or salesmen. He simply asks us to share what we know. Sharing our story doesn’t require us to be a pastor or seminary graduate, and it doesn’t take tons of biblical training. The most compelling argument you have for Jesus probably isn’t based on your knowledge or training—it’s based on the life change you’ve seen happen in your life and in the lives of those around you.
I want to lovingly challenge you to share your story with others.
Many Christian leaders have called for people to have a 90-second story in their hip pocket – a story ready to go when the conversation lends itself. For many years, I have encouraged our church to have such a story ready. This is a simple way for us to share what Jesus has done in our life. Our 90-second story has three simple parts:
  1. What was your life like before Jesus?
  2. How did you meet Jesus?
  3. How has your life been changed by Jesus?
The responsibility Jesus gives us is simply to let people know what we’ve seen Jesus do in our lives. It’s on us to open the door and share. However, only God can change somebody’s life. It’s our responsibility to share our story, but we have to trust Jesus with the results.
Consider writing your 90 second story. Then practice it, so that you feel confident at sharing it.
Consider inviting someone to church with you – that can always open up room for the 90-second conversations afterwards.
It is always right to invite!
You can do it, and just think of those who can be changed by hearing your story.
Praying for you and the courage to share your story,
Bernie

 

The Breath of God – Life & Abundant Life

live-an-abundant-life-smaller

 

God is an amazing creator. Just look around at all He has made and while you are at it, look in the mirror. We are only alive because of God!

Today, approximately 150,000 people will die. Someone said; “we should thank God that we made it today!” Another person (as pessimist) said; “The day is not over yet, things could change.”  It is God who made us.

  • Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (NIV)

Breathed: the Hebrew word is Ruach. It is litterally the breath of God. The divine breath hit the dirt formed nostrils and the life of the divine was breathed into the dirt. The result is a living human being – Adam.

The New Testament would speak of God’s breath as pneuma – and in Latin, spiritus. Both mean wind, or breath. It is God’s inpartation of Himself into us.

While there are other living things, we alone have been created in the image of God.

  • Genesis 1:27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NIV)

It is unique to us – being in God’s image. No other creature can say it.

It is the breath of God that gives life, then the breath of God that provides abundant life. As we give ourselves in faith to God and believe in HIs Son, Jesus, God sends His Holy Spirit to us. Jesus did something unusual. In John 20, as the disciples are fearful for their lives (since Jesus had just been crucified – they wondered if they would be next) and Jesus breathed on them.

  • John 20:22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

There is the breath again – the pneuma, the ruach, the spiritus – it is the essence of God Himself who is life, being breathed into them and into us. It would not be much later that they would gather in a room and pray.  Suddenly the sound like a rushing wind – or loud breath.

  • Acts 2:2 & 4Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.(NIV)

God’s breath and life is available to us all.

I find it fascinating that of all the ways God could have designed the human body, he included lungs and the capacity to breath in and exhale out. It is a beautiful reminder of the breath of God – the life of God coming into us. Each time we inhale, it is symbolic of the life of God being breathed into the first human. It is a reminder of how God wants us to remember that without this breath and breathing there is no life.

spring-allergy-treatment

 

God’s Spirit desires to fill us each day and each moment. Our lives are to be lived in the surrender of ourselves and the receiving of all that God is for us and has for us.

  • John 10:10 Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The thief is still working this way because he knows no other methods. He steals, kills and destroys. It is his desire to take your breath away (in a bad way). The cause you to go without the Holy Spirit, without the inpartation of God.  It is his desire that we live believing the lies of the past and the promises of darkness (which are never delivered) that he has something beneficial for us. Jesus says: I have more for you – life and life to the full.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16
    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful….(NIV)

What God breaths into, the first human, each of us, His words to us in scripture, it is all about life. Everything God breathes upon comes alive.

Recently my iphone froze and locked up. So, I simply breathed on it to see what would happen. What kind of power did I possess? UH, nothing happened. Okay, a silly story, but none of us have the power God has and none of us can do with our breath what He can with His.

Breath in and out – and as you do, invite the Holy Spirit of God to breath upon you and fill you with His divine power and character.

Thank you God for life, this day, this gift of today and the realization there is more for us. Abundant life, eternal life.

Breathe and consider,

Bernie

 

2018: What will you Choose?

Little boy choosing between a cupcake and apple

 

Galatians 6: 7 & 8
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

 

You and I will make 1,000’s of choices in 2018.  What will be your best and or your worst ones? 

It really depends on how you set your moral compass and your heart.  We can choose to be the same as we were in 2017 or we can chose a heart and attitude adjustment. We can choose a stall relationship with God or we can press into Him with a new fervor. Reading the bible, joining a small group, doing devotions with others, sharing your faith and having spiritual conversations with people who are far from God.

Choices:

My friend, Wayne Cordeiro says: that the average person makes about 300 choices every day: when to get up, what to wear, what to eat, whom to call, what to text, what to tackle first at home, school or work. Of those three hundred choices, about thirty of them have potentially life altering outcomes; which relationships I should pursue, should I go to college and where, is it time to start a family, should I consider that job offer, or do I try to beat this read light?

To narrow it even further, Pastor Erwin McManus says that “most of us can summarize our lives around five of six defining decisions – decisions that if we’d chosen differently would have radically altered the trajectory of our lives.”

So how will you chose to live in 2018?

 

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

I am using part of this in my message tomorrow at church. I have read this before in church and each time people ask to get the reference. Each time I read it, I am reminded I have a choice – not to all that happens to me, but how I respond to all that happens to me. I have a choice in how I respond to the misunderstandings of others and how I respond to the hurting around me. How I chose to allow the comments and input or the slack and lack of others to affect me.

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming.

In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding pace of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met. For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice.

Because of Calvary, I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose love. No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.

I choose joy. I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I choose peace. I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.

I choose patience. I will overlook the inconveniences of the world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I’ll invite Him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.

I choose kindness. I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I choose goodness. I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness.

I choose faithfulness. Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.

I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.

I choose self-control. I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful-ness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek His grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Chose wisely because before you know it, 2018 will be gone.

Choosing to honor God and serve others well,

Bernie

 

Excerpted from Let the Journey Begin by Max Lucado © Thomas Nelson.
Originally published in When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado © Thomas Nelson

Jesus: the life and light for all mankind

light of the world

In today’s message. The Light of the World, I shared the fact that we need to be in awe and deeply moved by the story of Christmas. That John (who had been with Jesus, and spent time with Mary, the Mother of Jesus) writes in synthesized form when he says:

  • John 1: 1 – 5

The Word (Christ) was in the beginning. The Word was with God. The Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. He made all things. Nothing was made without Him making it. Life began by Him. His Life was the Light for men. The Light shines in the darkness. The darkness has never been able to put out the Light. (NLV)

This is the summary of who Jesus really is and it is John’s version of the Christmas story. He does not focus on shepherds in their fields, watching their flocks, or mangers or Herod or even Bethlehem. He focuses on who Jesus is.

John would go on to write:

  • John 20: 30 & 31
    Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (ESV)

John Piper writes (and I used this today and gave him credit for it): “I feel so strongly that among those of us who have grown up in church and who can recite the great doctrines of our faith in our sleep, and yet who can yawn through the Apostles’ Creed — that among us something must be done to help us once more feel the awe, the fear, the astonishment, the wonder of the Son of God, begotten by the Father from all eternity, reflecting all the glory of God, being the very image of his person, through whom all things were created, upholding the universe by the word of his power.

You can read every fairy tale that was ever written, every mystery thriller, every ghost story, and you will never find anything so shocking, so strange, so weird and spellbinding as the story of the incarnation of the Son of God.

How dead we are! How callous and unfeeling to your glory and your story, O God! How often have I had to repent and say, “God, I am sorry that the stories men have made up stir my emotions, my awe and wonder and admiration and joy, more than your own true story.”

Perhaps the galactic movie thrillers of our day can do at least this good for us: they can humble us and bring us to repentance, by showing us that we really are capable of some of the wonder and awe and amazement that we so seldom feel when we contemplate the eternal God and the cosmic glory of Christ and a real living contact between them and us in Jesus of Nazareth.

When Jesus said, “For this purpose I have come into the world” (John 18:37), he said something as crazy and weird and strange and eerie as any statement in science fiction that you have ever read.

Oh, how I pray for a breaking forth of the Spirit of God upon me and upon you; for the Holy Spirit to break into my experience in a frightening way, to wake me up to the unimaginable reality of God.

One of these days lightning is going to fill the sky from the rising of the sun to its setting, and there is going to appear in the clouds the Son of Man with his mighty angels in flaming fire. And we will see him clearly. And whether from terror or sheer excitement, we will tremble and we will wonder how we ever lived so long with such a domesticated, harmless Christ.

These things are written — the whole Bible is written — that we might believe — that we might be stunned and awakened to the wonder — that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came into the world.”

Devotional excerpted from “Christmas and the Cause of Truth”

 

I pray you will allow the Christmas message and truth to fill you with life and that life will provide you with the light you need.  Christmas is more than just this season, it is the fact that Jesus came to Earth for us and is the light of the world.

Merry Christmas,

Bernie