“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

– Vance Havner

Our adversary is PREYING so we’d better be PRAYING!

 

 

1 Peter 5:7-9

Casting all your care upon him[Jesus]; for he careth for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

 

THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE

What is your life? Consider that question carefully. I’m not asking you what is life. Rather, what is your  life. How do you answer this question? How would you define your life? Take a moment and ask yourself the question, “what is my life?”

Time of Your Life

Today is my birthday, and the older I get the more sobering life becomes. More than ever, there’s an urgency in me to make my life count. Mainly for 2 reasons:

1) Earthly Life Always Fading Away

2) Eternity Is Nearer Than Ever

Roller CoasterMy wife Sue and I love roller coasters. The bigger and faster the better. We’ve been to countless theme parks and tried numerous types. Standing, sitting, hanging, and even laying down on a Superman coaster. No matter how different, they all have at least one thing in common: you’re not in control.

Life feels a lot like a runaway roller coaster. You’re  strapped in and launched at breakneck speed knowing there’s no stopping this monster. With every loop and turn you’re closer to the end of the ride. Before you know it, it’s over.

So back to the question, “What Is Your Life?”

1) YOUR LIFE IS A GIFT

You have been given the gift of life by your Creator. Manage it wisely.

2) YOUR LIFE IS A VAPOR

James wrote that our life appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:14 KJV)

Life is a constant vanishing act? With every second you have less of it!

3) YOUR LIFE IS ACCOUNTABLE  TO GOD

There is an “after”, and someone to answer to.

Hebrews 9:27

27  And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

After This! We have an appointment to keep, but what about after this? What will you say to the One who gave you life, gave you His Son to die for your sins, and promised to prepare you a place for eternity?

I have never met anyone who didn’t want their life to count for something. At the same time, I have only met a handful of people who lived life to its full potential.

Start today, right now. Do something that matters instead of staring aimlessly into the TV. Invest into someone else’s life. Write a note, make a phone call, send a gift – something! Make it count!

Most importantly, follow Jesus. He came that you might have abundant life. Make your life count in eternity. Take inventory right now of where you are and where you would like to be.

Psalm 90:12

12  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

James 4:14

14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

What can I do right now? I’m glad you asked. Start by sharing this article with someone. Forward it to a coworker or a friend.  Send someone the link and bless someone else.

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We must not attempt to move God’s presence – His Presence must move us!

How to Create Clarity as a Christian

Have you ever second-guessed yourself after completing a task? Have you ever replayed a situation in your mind thinking of everything you should’ve done differently? Yeah, me too – ALL THE TIME!

I have a tendency to replay every message I preach and torture myself over every little thing. I dissect every lesson, every staff meeting, every service trying to correct things that fell short. It’s mind-numbing and it can drive you crazy!

Clear Message

What does success for the Christian look like? How do we know if we are accomplishing what really matters? How do we know we’re making progress?

Do we measure this in attendance in our houses of worship? How would that even apply to those who aren’t pastors? Do we add up the hours we’ve spent in prayer or chapters we’ve read in our Bibles? What about the people we’ve shared Christ with? Do they count as success?

Many would argue that it’s faithfulness, not success, that God is after. Ok then, how do you measure faithfulness? How do you know you’re on track?

I’ve put together three simple principles to help to clarify our personal vision. These have not been thrown together for the sake of this article. These three principles have helped to define my christian life and ministry for many years.

 

1. PRAY FULL

The Key Word Here Is: PRESENCE (as in God’s Presence)

This is priority number one. Everything begins here. You’ve probably heard it said, “you can’t give what you don’t have.” If you read the account of Peter and John going to prayer in Acts chapter three, you’ll find their encounter with the lame beggar. Peter says to him, “such as I have give I thee…” To what was he referring?

They had just come from the upper room experience (Acts 2). They had prayed until the Holy Ghost was given and they were filled. They had received of God’s presence, they had been educated by the words of Christ, and they had something to give.

The phrase I use, “Pray Full”, isn’t exclusively about the act of prayer. Rather, it has to do with our ongoing  communication with The Lord. It includes Prayer, The Word, Fasting, Worship, Church Attendance and Fellowship, etc.

This has to do with being filled with God’s Presence.

Ephesians 3:16-19

16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

 

2. PREACH EMPTY

 The Key Word Here Is: PASSION

This has to do with your pulpit. And yes, you’re supposed to have one! The places you go, the people you talk to, the business you are involved in, are all opportunities to give away what you have in you.

You can’t skip to this step and bypass #1. You’ll end up frustrated, trust me! I know you may be uncomfortable with the word “preach”, but it accurately describes how we’re to interact with the world around us.

In our “please don’t offend” culture of political correctness, people shy away from getting “preachy”.  To preach, simply means to proclaim something. For the Christian, this means the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (read 1 Corinthians chapter 1)

You must be passionate about what you believe! When you are deeply passionate, you WILL passionately proclaim it!

Remember, your pulpit will be different than mine. I fill a physical pulpit in the church I pastor. I also have a pulpit outside of our church. This blog is a pulpit. My interactions in our community are pulpits. They’re all opportunities to proclaim what I’m passionate about!

3. PRESS ON

The Key Word Here Is: PERSEVERANCE.

The difference between those who finish and those who give up comes down to this: perseverance. It’s the determination to keep going, to overcome.  It can be the difference between finishing and failing, and even life and death.

Many times, I find myself getting stuck right here. Struggling to make real progress. Here’s the secret: sometimes it has more to do with not giving up than it does with making progress.

The folder I used to use for preaching notes

The folder I used to use for preaching notes

Commit to Press On no matter what. After a while you’ll begin to notice that you are making progress!

Philippians 3:13-14

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

Proverbs 24:16

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:…”

This is where these principles really come into play. You’ve prayed. You’ve given until there’s nothing left. Now what? This is the time that giving up becomes an appealing option. When you’ve tried and tried yet feel you’re not making a difference.

The answer? Press On! In spite of how you feel or how it seems – Press On! When no one’s there to cheer you on, or pat your back – Press On!

These 3 principles are what govern my life and ministry. Without them I would’ve probably given up a long time ago. I have a tendency to focus on everything I said, should’ve said, or messed up on. That’s why I developed these principles. I can’t change what’s already happened. What I can do is Press On so that I can Pray Full, Preach Empty, and Press On some more!

PRAY FULL – PREACH EMPTY – PRESS  ON!

You will begin noticing that most of my articles will be categorized by theses principles. I want to help you bring clarity to your life, be filled with all God has for you, develop your “pulpit”, and encourage you to persevere!

If you’ve enjoyed this article please let me know. It would be a joy to hear your thoughts!

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Broken Purposes

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Ephesians 3:16-19

16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

Holy Bible (KJV)

STOP SEEKING GOD’S WILL!

Seeking God’s will can be one of the greatest errors in a Christian’s life. Why, you may ask? Well, before I answer that, let me ask you a question. Is God Himself your priority or just God’s will?

 

auto-door

“How can I know God’s will?” How often I’ve been on the delivering AND receiving end of that question. How many prayers have been prayed over that very subject – and rightly so. Every sincere christian should be concerned about following God’s will. After all, it is the one right path for our lives.

Consider the following verses:

Psalm 143:10 (KJV)

10  Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God:

Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Ephesians 5:17 (KJV)

17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Colossians 1:9 (KJV)

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

PLAN “B”

Beginning in Genesis 12, Abraham (or Abram before his name was changed) began to receive instruction and promises from The Lord. One of those promises specifically dealt with his son-to-be. Abraham was getting older and he and his wife Sarah (or Sarai) had yet to have their own children. The more time passed the more God’s will seemed to slip away.

That’s when it happened – PLAN “B” entered the story. In Genesis 16, Sarah introduces a new plan. If it is God’s will for a son to be born, and if Sarah still hasn’t naturally had any children, we need an alternative.

Our adversary, the devil (yes I know it’s not capitalized – that’s on purposes!) is great at introducing alternatives to God’s perfect will. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been presented with a plan “B” right before God’s plan “A” reaches fulfillment.

Abraham accepts the alternative. Sleep with a servant named Hagar and have a son named Ishmael. It’s a son isn’t it? He has Abraham’s DNA right? So what’s so wrong with it?

Plan “B” left out at least 50% of the miracle God intended! Sarah was a vital part of the miracle! The greatest error, I believe, was when Abraham went after God’s will instead of God Himself.

THE WILL OF GOD OR GOD HIMSELF?

I take nothing away from the greatness of Abraham. His faith was considered righteousness by God. He was very close to The Lord for much of his life, but here, if but for only a moment, he valued God’s will greater than God Himself.

This begs the question: “Do you want God’s will or God Himself?” Are you more interested in what God can do FOR you or who He is TO you.

THE AUTOMATIC DOOR

Automatic Dorr

You’ve seen them. You’ve used them. Walk up to the grocery store and a sensor says you’re ready to enter. Much of God’s will relates the same way. We walk with God, and as we do, His will opens up to us as we approach.

Seek God = receive His will. We all want to know what door we should take. Which path is right? Who should I marry? And the list goes on. The real question is, “How can I know Jesus more?” God’s will is an automatic door if you walk with Him.

For Enoch, God took him right into Heaven. For Peter, obeying Jesus’ command to “wait for the promise” put him in a place to preach to thousands.

Stop stressing over God’s will! Focus on strengthening your relationship with Him, obey even the little things, and His doors will open to you. Walk with God and He will place the right people and opportunities in front of you!

What situations have you encountered concerning God’s will in your life? How have you experienced the leading of The Lord?

Leave me your thoughts below!

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Day of Hope

 

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Date: August 16, 2014
Time: 10:00-2:00 p.m.
Event: DAY OF HOPE
Topic: Day of Hope
Sponsor: Victory Assembly of God
850-587-2295
Public: Public

Why You Can’t Understand The Bible & 3 Simple Fixes

It goes something like this. You grab your Bible and boldly dig in with all the enthusiasm you can muster. You have a new “reading plan” in front of you and a highlighter nearby. So far so good.

Why

Why Can’t I Understand the Bible?

Then it happens. You struggle to understand it or fail to remember it ten minutes later. Sound about right? You’re not alone.

In this extremely digitized, mach speed world we live in it’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to focus on anything for very long.

I want to give you a few simple strategies for getting the most out of your time in God’s Word.

When I first became a Christian, there was one verse in the Bible that I couldn’t escape. It became the first verse I ever memorized. I think even then The Lord was preparing me for a life in the ministry. The verse was 2 Timothy 2:15

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

That verse, nearly twenty-five years later, still reminds me of the importance of careful and diligent study of God’s Word. Let’s see how you can get more from your time in the Word.

HOW TO GET MORE OUT OF GOD’S WORD

To get the most out of God’s Word, there are some fundamental principles to keep in place. If you’re like many, you know the benefit of reading and studying the Bible. So what’s the problem? How many times have you sat down completely determined to take it all in and struggled to get anything out of it? Could you be going about it all wrong? Here are 3 tips to help.

 1. STOP READING!

Yep, you read that right – STOP READING! Well, not right this second. I want you to read this article, but stop reading your Bible. Wait, what?! I know, you’re getting a little nervous about where I am going but hear me out. Stop reading and start listening. Before you dive right in stop and pray about what you’re about to do. It’s God’s Word. Ask Him for understanding and help from the Holy Spirit.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a familiar passage only to find brand new understanding. One preacher told his wife one morning after reading, “Honey, I believe God slipped in this house last night and put a brand new verse in here!” I have found that by praying and seeking Him before reading, my spiritual ears are more in tune to hear what He is saying in His Word.

 

2. START FEEDING!

Treat God’s Word like the greatest meal you’ve ever eaten. Savor every word. Notice every nuance. Think upon every character. Take time to enjoy God’s carefully prepared meal. It’s the greatest sustenance you’ll ever take in!

Matthew 4:4 (KJV 1900)

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 

3. START QUESTIONING!

There are 2 primary questions you must ask when studying God’s Word.

  • WHAT IS IT SAYING?

This is a matter of interpretation. What is it saying within its context? Never remove the Word from its setting to prove a point or position! Allow the Word to tell you what it means. Interpret the Word BY the Word. Before you consult commentaries, dictionaries, or scholars, give the Word its rightful authority.

  •  WHAT IS IT SAYING TO ME?

This is where application comes in. How does this affect me? Does this passage require a response on my part? Am I being challenged, convicted, or commanded something? Every word in the Bible has been divinely placed there on purpose. If you do not plan to obey it, it will continue to have little or no meaning to you.

 

I do understand that this article only scratches the surface. There are many, many, methods for proper study. My only intention is to add a bit of help to those who desire more from God’s Word. Put these simple principles into practice and let me know what a difference it makes.

Leave me your results in the comments section.

One more favor:  I would love for you to forward this article to everyone you know. I’ve made it super-easy in the share bars on the top & bottom of this article. Encourage someone to plug into the community and let’s grow together!

Brokenness is valuable to God!

image courtesy of mybible.com