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Embracing Uncertainty

March 29, 2019


To embrace uncertainty in life gives you the ability to live free – free to forgive, free from feeling like you are broken, and free from the cancer of captivity. It is one thing to be held captive by circumstances, life and even others, but it is another thing to be held captive by chains of your own making. The fear of the unknown can be a prison that keeps you from your destiny. Psychologists call it subconscious sabotage. 

There are variables in life that can’t be measured and offered in neatly trimmed packages. Life can be messy and unpredictable, but life can be lived to its fullest without the fear of what tomorrow may bring. To embrace uncertainty is one of the highest levels of spiritual growth. Once you are truly free from the fear of uncertainty then you are released to experience spiritual growth in a new dimension. 

If you have to be sure of the outcome of every choice and decision you make, you will never know victory and even if you do experience a certain level of victory, you will not be able to enjoy it because you are being held by chains of doubt crafted by your own fears. 

Here is our opportunity to discuss several emotional responses needed to live free and to learn in the midst of these crises so they become opportunities to embrace uncertainty, grow spiritually, and find a renewed sense of significance and purpose. Paul Boese said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” 

If it is true that “to err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope), then we must make a choice to act in a manner that is congruent with the author of our salvation. We must never allow ourselves to become so broken that it becomes a mental state of being rather than an event that took place in the past. If you choose to adopt the life style of always being broken, then it is easy to excuse obsessive behaviors, always pointing to the past and remaining a prisoner of yesterday’s traumas. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” (Lewis B. Smedes). 

It is true that we are not programmed or hotwired to embrace uncertainty; it is a learned attitude. The right perspective is the fuel that runs the engine of love in your spirit. We must learn to navigate life from a heart of love, embracing the uncertainties of tomorrow. Forgiveness gives us the freedom from the victim mentality of, “I am too broken to function”. Then we can discover a new mentality – “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” (Mark Twain).

You will never embrace uncertainty unless you remain determined, even when you are disappointed. You’ve probably heard the expression “E for effort.” It suggests that the reward is in the trying, as much as in the achieving. Actually, the truth is we must learn that this expression should read “D for Effort,” and the “D” stands for DETERMINATION. 

Effort should always be linked with determination. When we are determined then we engage our heart to achieve our objectives and reach for the highest goal possible. You will stand a better chance of reaching your goals, even with an element of uncertainty, when you factor in spiritual determination. Determine to see it through to the end. Commit to the details. You will always regret what you leave undone.  Determine to achieve it with daily practice until it becomes a routine. Winston Churchill once said, “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” If being a champion was an easy task, everyone would be wearing gold. Go for the gold!  “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will” (Isaiah 50:7 NLT).

An Old Testament prophet by the name of Habakkuk learned to embrace uncertainty and discovered that living by faith is the higher level of life, and consequently found his purpose and lived free from the cancer of captivity. 

Habakkuk 2:1–4 (AV) — I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. 2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. 

The word “Habakkuuk” means “embracer”. He was asked by God to embrace the judgment that had come upon his people. He complained to God because of the harshness of the Chaldeans. Even though they were being used of God to judge Israel, they went overboard with their cruelty. God did not judge the Chaldeans for their cruelty but allowed them their excess, so Habakkuk had a complaint – a legitimate one at that! God told Habakkuk to “write the vision and make it plain”. Make the letters large enough so even if someone is running, they will be able to read it. 

The vision was the destruction of the Chaldeans. Make it so plain that no matter how much in a hurry people may be, they can see it without any problem. People have a tendency to forget that there is a period of time between the giving of the vision and its fulfillment, therefore we must learn to wait for it. The just shall live by faith. When God gets ready to perform His promise nothing will stop it. 

Dr. A. B. Simpson said that he once saw a reproduction of the Constitution of the United States which had been skillfully engraved on a copper plate. At first glance it seemed to be nothing more than a piece of noble writing. When he looked at it from the proper perspective, however, he could discern the portrait of America’s renowned President George Washington artistically etched in minute detail. Simpson adds, “His face was revealed in the shading of the letters and I saw his person, not just a flow of words or lofty principles. Then I thought: that’s the way we should look at the Bible if we are to understand its deeper meaning. We must see in it a ‘Face of love shining through’, not merely ideas, not just doctrines, but Jesus himself sufficient for all our needs.”

So, how do you embrace uncertainty and pursue your destiny? You must do four things:

1. Take your complaints to the Lord. I will stand upon my watch and see what God will say. We all see people doing wrong and we all know those who do not appreciate our values. Unfortunately, the world will reject us and our values, but if we are going to maintain our integrity with God we can’t spend our time complaining to others about the difficulties of life. We must learn to take our complaints to the Lord. David M. Dawson says that as a boy he watched the Scottish shepherds “bundle their plaids around them” and go into the hills in a blinding snowstorm to help their sheep. The animals felt secure in the hollowed-out places where they had found temporary refuge, but the herders knew that unless they were driven from these comfortable spots, they would ultimately be trapped by the snow. Like sheep, God’s children prefer to remain in their cozy shelters of tranquility, so the Good Shepherd must press them forward through the storms of life. That pressing us out of the comfort zone can and will save our lives from the damage the storm could do if left unattended. May the Lord urge us to apply the principle of no complaints. 

2. Wait for His answer. Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. Notice the progression: First you fly, then you run, and finally you walk. Flying is God’s supernatural ability to deliver you from trouble, running is the race of purpose every saved soul should participate in, and walking is the ultimate privilege of the believer – a relationship with Jesus Christ. The ultimate purpose for evangelism is relationship. Don’t go forward without God’s direction. If you have to stand in place for a season, do so. Wait for His answer. Habakkuk did and discovered how to live by faith – which is far more rewarding than any other life you can live. Yes, he had to embrace uncertainty. Thank God for His purpose, for His deliverance, and for the privilege of walking with him. In the book, The Vance Havner Devotional Treasury, the author wrote, “I shall never forget Dr. R. A. Torrey saying to me as a young preacher, ‘Young man, make up your mind on one thing and stick to it.”‘ Havner comments, “The Christian life should be like a sword with one point, not like a broom ending in many straws. Such a single purpose forgets the past, reaches toward the future, and presses on. There is no time or place for side issues, diversions to the right or to the left. There is no place for hands on the plow with eyes looking back. Paul was a one-track man, but you can go a long way on one track!” 

Acts 8:26–35 (AV) — And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 

3. Don’t forget to minister to the one. PREACH JESUS! It is the true mandate of the church. Whether you are a Sunday teacher, evangelist, pastor or home bible study teacher, Jesus is the main focus of our mission and message. Home bible study is ministry to the one. Philip was busy ministering to the city, but God called him to minister to the one. He did not resent this interruption in his mighty crusade, but made himself available to God and God blessed him by putting him in contact with the man that opened the door to revival in Ethiopia. It is the greatest medicine for a fearful heart and an uncertain future – to start telling people about Jesus. 

4. Trust that God is already ahead of you. No matter how spiritual you are, you will always have to run to catch up with the Holy Ghost. God is always ahead of you. You can’t outrun God. Ethel Barrett told about an infant girl who died before reaching her first birthday. Mrs. Barrett said that the little one simply went to be with Jesus and that the youngster’s life had served a real purpose. During her brief span on earth the child “had patched up an ailing marriage, brought her grandparents’ families closer together, and jolted her parents from lip service to total commitment – which influenced a neighborhood, which influenced a community, which spread to another community, which ultimately started a church!” Mrs. Barrett concluded, “I’m still going to have to go some to catch up with her.” God is in your future, working everything for your benefit. So learn to embrace uncertainty and live life to its fullest. 

Vision of Increase

Vision

The original meaning of the word “saw” is to “cleave, or split, then to see into, to see through, to go beneath the surface and to discover the real nature.” Biblical vision means to be “perceptive.” Biblical vision also includes the ability “to see the final state, to see the end in the distance, the completion.”

Three things essential to complete a vision are listed by George Barna in his book, The Power of Vision; vision of self, vision of task, and vision of God. George Barna’s components are accurate but their sequence is out of divine order. If vision of self and a vision of the task, precedes a vision of God, then we are trying to fit God into our vision. When you TRY and MOLD God into your vision and when we try to fit God into our plans; we are out of ORDER! When our sequence is out of order then God becomes the one who is manipulated, molded and shaped into our image. When we see God before we see self, God transforms us in order to fit His vision. If it is His vision, there is an anchor of the soul that keeps us returning to GOD to get new orders to accomplish the continual unveiling of HIS vision.

In his book, In Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer said, “Sin has twisted our own vision and getting God into focus. Sin has twisted our vision inward and made it self-regarding.” Unbelief has put self where God should be and is perilously close to the sin of Lucifer who said, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.” When our vision is out of order, we become dangerously close to the attitude of the enemy. 

Sin can misalign the order of vision

A lack of faith can also do this

The Divine Order of Vision: (Isaiah 6:1-9)

Vision of God – “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).

The starting point of all vision is death to the old rulers of life, “In the year King Uzziah died.” In order to have first the vision of God, the vision of our self must die. It cannot be in the picture. The vision of God will recreate the vision of self.

John said in 1 John 3…when we see God as He is…we will be like Him

A ministry that is going to impact and conquer must see, 

  • God in the seat of Supreme authority “Upon a throne” 
  • God as the only object of worship – “high and lifted up” 
  • God who can bring victory into any situation – “His train filled the temple”

Vision of Self – “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (Isaiah 6:5-7).

We must be willing to examine ourselves in the laver of water. Even though Isaiah was a mighty prophet he understood that he was still a sinner in need of grace. We must never forget that we need God’s grace and mercy.

“After seeing the Lord, he now sees himself. Seeing God first radically conditions how one sees oneself. In every case, a stripping comes first. Every vestige of one’s ownership of oneself or one’s ministry is stripped away.  Not only is all subtracted, but prior to any addition, the stripping must be accompanied by conscious surrender and admission of personal inabilities. Qualification for ministry comes by being touched with fire from heaven.” (Wilson)

Vision of Mission –  “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people…” (Isaiah 6:8-9).

No successful ministry can begin with Mission. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is at the heart of any successful ministry. We cannot allow ourselves to become more enamored with ministry/mission than with our Savior. 

Isaiah had to go back in order to go forward. Back from mission to vision, and back from vision to Spiritual Formation. He had to undergo a radical transformation by a crashing in on his world, from another world. New Testament Leadership lives and thrives under this same order.

Paul became blind to get his vision! The spiritual event (a Kairos moment) on the Damascus Road shakes Paul to the very center of his being. This resulted in Paul’s being driven backward from Mission, backward to Vision, which in turn drives him further back to Spiritual Formation, of which he had no prior knowledge. He was a genius—rabbi-educated above virtually all others—who discovers a level of personal Spiritual Transformation totally beyond his awareness!  

Education can never replace a personal walk with God. Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus did more for him than his education ever could. Spiritual Transformation comes from a personal and continual encounter with Christ. In discovering overpowering identity of God (“Who art thou?”), he finds self-identity in his call to the Gentiles. This inner order of vision kept Paul from disorder when suffering struck in the form of a whip across the back! 

Mission, Program, and Action outside of godly vision that comes from a spiritual encounter makes Moses a murderer of Egyptians. When he is driven back into the wilderness and “sees” he becomes a Deliverer. 

To circumvent any part of this Leadership Wheel is to invite disaster. 

Mission

Jesus said, “Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.” (Matthew 22:9).

Mission is where the CHURCH brings a visible manifestation of heaven to the world. The essence of something is in its perfect state. The life and ministry of JESUS is the pattern of all things in the mind of God. In the beginning was the word. the word became flesh. Jesus was the “express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). He ALONE is our model for ministry and mission. 

“Verily, verily, I say unto you. The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth . . . I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me . . . But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” (John 5:19-20, 5:30, 14:31)

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 17:16-17)

The church can only remain defined as the church as it maintains its “alignment” between doctrine and mission. There is an Apostolic mandate upon us! In mission, there must be integrity in “holding on to” and “passing on to.” 

Doctrine, Deliverance and Demonstration go together. 

“Breaching of this integrity dissolves the potency of the church into increasingly grotesque creations until the resulting product is, from a biblical standpoint, virtually unrecognizable.” 

However, to fixate only on keeping the theological mandate will create a rigid, deteriorating atmosphere. As in the parable of the talents, to preserve that which is initially given by “burying it” is tantamount to aborting mission and, as Christ points out, is unacceptable. Concepts such as “we may not be evangelizing but we are preserving the truth” and similar ideas are examples of misinterpreting Christ’s command to “occupy until I come.” The Church is to be a city set on a hill, a light that cannot be hid, if we are hiding from world then we are like the steward that hid his talent. 

A theologically sound concept of “occupy,” as the word is used by Jesus Christ, includes a preserving element and an investing element. Like a steward over a great estate, the church is responsible to utilize the resources of the estate in such a way that it is enlarged and has a positive return on the investment. 

A common practice among billionaires and financial gurus is called ‘Wealth Preservation’… “A wealth preservation strategy can ensure that assets not only grow over time but also provide a legacy for one’s family.” Primacy of place belongs to preservation. Without a preserving of the pristine condition of the gospel, the MISSION is threatened. 

However, preservation alone is not acceptable. An INCREASE must result from planting, harvesting, and investing. This is the apostolic mandate; that is to invest the gospel in the world. This investing process is OUR mission. Our greatest TASK as the church is to LIVE out the mission of Jesus Christ in the world by ALWAYS keeping the mission in the authority of the gospel. 

First Steps is a program with the goal of getting people recognize their areas of gifting, at which time we plug them into a job. Many times, they are won by BELONGING BEFORE BELIEVING. First Steps is an on ramp to belonging.

Anyone who’s ever been part of a successful team knows the feeling of camaraderie that comes by working together. First Steps gives people hope. It helps them feel like a part of the great vision of the church – to win the lost. When you become part of a team, you invest in it. You grow with it and you are proud of it.

Meaning it is the MANDATE from GOD. All that we do must flow from a VISION of GOD. “I saw the Lord High and lifted up. . .” (Isaiah 6:1) Without a true order of divine vision, the mission of the church will just become vain tradition. 

To keep the vision in order you must 2 Timothy 3:10 “hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions…” 

In Bunyan’s book, Pilgrim’s Progress, the protagonists Christian and Hopeful near the end of their journey when they encounter Ignorance. Ignorance entered the King’s Highway from a crooked by road. Justifying his salvation by his religious works and “obedience to the law.” Ignorance was on the mission, but he lacked the vision of God and of himself. Paul warned Timothy of this in the church that men would have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5).

The Wells Of Provision: The Five Wells of Issac

The purpose of a well is to provide access to a natural source of water. Water is the one thing all of nature needs to survive and thrive. While most of us have no need for this method of accessing water today, wells are still used in underdeveloped countries to acquire this life-giving liquid. Water is essential for drinking, irrigating, and industrial uses; in a word, water is necessary for life. 

We know that Jesus is the Living Water, providing for us the only thing that can give us an eternity of life and not death. He flows through us, providing for our every need and leaving us wanting for nothing more than Him. He is our provider in every way. He is our well of provision. While He is our everlasting, never-ending well of Life that we trust to lead and guide us, we have to learn to dig wells ourselves. We need His water giving blessing and abundance.

In Genesis 26, we see this demonstrated in the life of Isaac.

For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. (Genesis 26:14-18 KJV)

Many times, God will test us through relationships with others. Isaac had been blessed by God and his prosperity got the attention of his neighbors and turned them into enemies. Even good relationships can turn sour.  God doesn’t cause it, but He uses those relational problems to get our attention and to test our attitudes.  Isaac’s five wells represent various tests in our relationships.

 

The First Well: Jealousy – (Genesis 26:14)

For no apparent reason, the Philistines began to act strangely toward Isaac. Once they had been open and friendly, but now their attitudes changed. They became jealous and felt threatened by the blessing of God upon Isaac’s life. Many relationship problems stem from jealousy. When you are blessed, you seem to be growing while others are diminishing.

The Philistines decided to “sling mud” into Isaac’s wells. David faced the problem of jealousy with Saul, Abel with Cain, Hagar with Sarah, and Joseph with his brothers.  When a person “throws dirt,” it is usually because he is jealous. It would be so easy for us to retaliate and do the same in return, but we must fight that urge. Acknowledge what the cause is and move past it. While it is our job to build others up, it is not our responsibility to give up our calling and success in the Kingdom to make others feel better about themselves. Isaac seemed to pay no mind to what they had done to him; rather, he just “brushed the dirt off” and moved forward. He had no intention of correcting them for their wrong doings but channeled his focus on what he needed to do in order to continue in his blessings.

 

The Second Well: Arguments – (Genesis 26:20)

Jealousy can be subtle, causing one to withdraw. Or, as in this section of Genesis 26, jealousy can turn into opposition and even open arguments.  “Esek,” the word used in the original text, can mean a “lawsuit.” Envy brings strife, and strife brings contention.  A person you never quarreled with before will suddenly begin to act like your enemy, openly challenging you for no apparent reason. In these cases, it is important to remember it is best not to engage in senseless squabbles. Realize that the issue is within the person exhibiting jealousy or envy and must be dealt with by them. All we must do is continue in the will of God.

 

The Third Well: Accusation – (Genesis 26:21)

Isaac dug another well, and again, it was contested.  He named it Sitnah, which means “Satan,” or “accuser.” This is the third level of relationship problems.  At this point, the problem has gone beyond jealousy to opposition and accusation.  The person involved in the test has now begun to spread things against your character and is slandering you to others for no reason. At this point, we have the urge to attempt to defend ourselves, and in many cases, this can make things worse for us. Once we begin to try to fight our battles instead of allowing God to do so, we can cause all sorts of problems for ourselves and for others. It is best for us to allow the Lord to defend us. All truth comes to light eventually. 

 

The Fourth Well: Room Enough – (Genesis 26:22)

At last a breakthrough came! Because Isaac “acted” and didn’t “react,” the enemy finally had to leave him alone. He outlasted all his critics, opponents, and accusers. This is an important lesson. Our human nature likes seeing results, even if those results are negative. Because Isaac did not give into his enemies’ quest for a fight, they grew bored with him. When people realize that they are not going to gain the satisfaction they seek in the destruction of another, they tend to move on. God will see us through and bring us out into a place of prosperity.  The fourth well was uncontested.  Isaac named it Rehoboth, which means “wide open spaces,” or “room enough.”  No longer was everything he did controversial and contested. Now it was prosperous and abundant.

 

The Fifth Well: Restoration – (Genesis 26:23-33)

Now came a strange turn of events.  Out of nowhere, his enemies appeared and asked for his forgiveness and blessing. Isaac had not concerned himself with his enemy’s agenda; instead he focused on his task, his goal, and his God. By doing so he retained his good witness, allowing God to be seen through him. Isaac could have turned them away when they came to make amends, but rather he made them a feast, and their relationship was permanently restored with a covenant. That day, they hit another well.  Isaac named it Shebah, which means “seven” or “oath.”  The Lord will cause your enemies to restore back seven times what has been stolen from you (Proverbs 6:30-31)!

Taking Aim

Luke 12:26–31 (AV) — If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

 

Find Your Target

Among shooting enthusiasts there is a common expression; aim small, miss small.  The idea behind this expression is that if you aim in the general direction of your target, there is a good chance you could miss what you are shooting at. However, if you pick a very small, or concentrated area near the center of your target, even if you miss your exact point of aim, you will still manage to hit your intended target. With enough discipline, training, and intentional focus, it is possible for you to always hit your target, even if it isn’t your exact point of aim. This same principle can be applied spiritually. Philippians 3:14 (AV) — I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

It is extremely easy to find yourself in the position where you are living from moment to moment, service to service, expecting your walk to grow simply because time is passing you by. Age does not equal growth in the kingdom of God, just as age does not always equal wisdom. Job 32:9 (AV) — Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. This is why it is imperative that we remain intentional in our growth and in our spiritual aim. If we lose sight of our intended target we end up focusing more on the distractions of life and getting lost in the sea of monotony, rather than the will of God. 

 

Focus Your Breathing

In the verse above, Jesus tells us that we need to consider the lilies. They’re not worrying, they’re not fretting, and they need nothing because God Himself is providing everything they need. He is telling us that we were made for God to be our sole provider in life – not worrying over anything and putting it all into His hands. Jesus says that when we do so, and we focus on His kingdom rather than our selfish ambitions, all things will be added to us! We were made for more and we will get more if we focus on Jesus. But this takes a certain intentional discipline. When a marksman decides he is about to take his shot, he focuses his breathing. In the same sense, we must have a focused spirit when we are aiming for the Kingdom purpose. Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of all nations. If the disciples were chosen of God to make disciples, ultimately, that makes me a disciple chosen by God. Therefore, it is my duty, my purpose, to do the same. I must submit myself to that purpose and give all of me to God so He can use me to make disciples. 

 

Practice Makes Principle. 

It is God’s intention that His people live abundant lives. Intentional living means not to be weighed down with temporal things that will all pass away, but to be blessed abundantly that we may be a blessing to others. God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him and his seed. Genesis 22:18 (AV) —  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. Yes, we are Gentiles by birth, but we are sons of Abraham through our re-birth! Galatians 3:29 (AV) — And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. It seems pretty clear that God intends for us to have these blessings and intends for His chosen people to be more, not just for themselves, but for the kingdom. The blessings referred to here are not all temporal blessings. The things in this life that we treasure so much: a good job, house, car, etc. These are party favors to the One who created EVERYTHING! He will give them freely, because eye hath not seen, and  ear hath not heard. 1 Corinthians 2:9 (AV) —  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But none of these things truly matter in the end. That is why we must lay up our treasures in heaven. Matthew 6:20–21 (AV) — But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  

So, you’re ready to get focused. You’re ready to get intentional. How do you get intentional about growth? To answer that question, I would like you once again to consider the marksmen mentioned earlier.  What would it take for him to get to a point of hitting his target nearly each and every time? An action plan is the only way; a plan that demands we be consistent.  Think of your children, if you are a parent.  What is the most effective way that they learn? Through random happenstance? Or through consistency? Made for More teaches one how to apply Biblical principles to his or her life in a way that promotes true excellence. And although it uses universal values from the Bible, each person will find their unique gifts being hewn out and sharpened in a way that they can become more aware of what God has called them to be. 

 

Principle Inherits the Promise

The word says that the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former. In order for God’s word to be true, and for the heirs of the promise to fulfill that promise, growth is not only necessary but an essential part of God’s sovereign plan. So now the question becomes, Do you dare bring your self-will into alignment with God’s will? If your answer is yes, then personal growth is the key!  You cannot grow someone else’s spiritual walk; you can only grow yourself, which is why the growth you must focus on is personal! When we get to heaven, there will be no question who gets the glory, the honor and the praise.  The glory belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ! That fact is clear amongst believers. The reason God desires for His people to grow to their fullest potential is to be living, breathing proof that living for God is the ONLY way to live, and to make us as effective as possible to win the most important treasure in the universe – souls. In a lost and dying world, there must be a light, a city set upon a hill, if you will. Something to look to, a mere reflection of God’s glory, grace, and mercy. To put it simply, by God blessing His church, He brings glory to himself! 2 Corinthians 4:6–7 (AV) —  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are not blessed for our own sakes. We are blessed to the glory of Almighty God. We are blessed to become a blessing to others. 

 

Be Open To Instruction

I taught these lessons to my church and revealed the need to be intentional in their growth. I have found that there is a common theme of people growing up in church, yet never realizing or understanding the principle of growth. They don’t really think that it requires an active, involved drive of determination and discipline to achieve. I want to share with you a couple of testimonies of people who have been in church all their life and yet never understood the principle of growth. In most cases, it is not the fault of the individual, but rather the lack of communication of the importance and the direction to do so that hinders the growth of the person. Listen to their  below:

“I honestly did not understand why I was chosen to be invested in nor why I needed to be part of this training. I stayed submitted to your leadership training and took notes on everything you said. The steps I have taken have ultimately taken me to developing my Plan for Growth. I have read books on leadership and have daily focused on anything that would help me grow on the Lord. I also prayed specific verses over myself to enhance my learning and growth. After 18 months of developing notes, keeping a journal, praying, and meditation on your leadership training, I found myself with information overload! I began to consolidate all of my notes and all my thoughts down in digital format on my computer. After a few hours of doing this, I realized that what I was doing was developing my Plan for Growth. Now, looking back, I have to say that one must be patient with himself and focus on one thing at a time because ultimately, one will discover his or her purpose and will develop their Plan for Growth. Also, another thing I have done is teach other people. I had faith that the leadership skills you were teaching me would greatly benefit, not only myself, but others, too. Everyone that is close to me, even non-Christians, have been getting an earful on self-discipline! I must say, Pastor, the main thing that has been important to my personal growth is that I always maintained focus on personal growth.”

My practiced principles:

  1. 1.Submitted to leadership
  2. 2.Took notes
  3. 3.Read books
  4. 4.Stayed focused on growth
  5. 5.Prayed for growth

“It was hard for me in the beginning because I didn’t know why I needed to grow. But, after understanding that it was my duty (Luke 17:10), that it was my mission to make disciples (Matt 28:19), and that I needed to apply and multiply what I have (Matt 25), it was easy to maintain my focus on personal growth. Only a passion for God and souls could provoke you to want to help others to become More. Your first question was, “How to convince them to set up a plan.”  You touched me writing about a personal relationship with God. The question came up, am I passionate about my purpose or is it just something I do because I was taught it? I must keep in mind what this is all about. It is not just how to build a church, but its about building a Bride for Jesus Christ. That’s the end result. How can I help do that? You are good at pulling out the passion because you are passionate yourself. Pull out all the stops. Next you asked, “How to convince them to develop a personal growth plan?” I know from experience of myself and teaching others, it is helpful to have something in hand or it is easily forgotten as soon as the event passes to fellowship.”

My practiced principles:

  1. 1.Be patient with yourself
  2. 2.Focus on one thing at a time
  3. 3.Teach others

In these testimonies you see that the understanding of the growth principle is not one that always happens by chance, but rather it may take someone to help you see and find the importance of being intentional. We all have the opportunity and potential to grow, we just have to invest in ourselves and in our spiritual walk in order to achieve the higher level. Do not be discouraged if you feel like you are not where you need to be. Set your sights on His promise, focus your spirit, practice you principles, and take aim toward your potential. 

Rule of 5

To be sure, all growth is intentional. It is not automatic. Therefore, we must create a plan of action. Too many in religious circles believe that growth is automatic, but it is not. You can come to church, worship, be involved in ministry and NOT GROW. You can sit on a church pew and be unforgiving, bitter, hateful, spiteful and just down right mean. However, when you develop a plan for growth, you begin to switch your focus from the parts that need to be changed to the transformed nature that we need to change into. I assure you, if you do not have a plan for growth, you are not growing. But, with a plan you have an opportunity to grow beyond anything you thought possible. A transformed life begins with an intentional plan for growth.

So, what does it take to grow people personally? How do you do this? Let me tell you about the plan that God showed me when I was 19 and struggling as an evangelist to make it in full time ministry. It was a plan that at the time I didn’t realize would lead to a transformed ministry. The Lord spoke to me in prayer when I was fretting over my future, not quite knowing whether or not I would be able to make it. He said, “If you will meet me every day, I will show you how to do it.” And the remarkable thing about it is that God was true to His promise. 

In the story of Esther when Mordecai went back to the King’s gate, even after he was exalted by Haman for a day, he knew that Israel was still under Haman’s curse to be executed. So he returned to the King’s gate to weep and pray for their complete deliverance (Esther 6:12). God told me, “Go back to the King’s gate every day.” 

Pentecost is so event oriented that we have forgotten how to be growth oriented. I wanted to change that culture and the Lord told me to “teach them how to grow.” I called it the Rule of Five. Leadership gurus have used this term for years. The Rule of Five is the basic practices that you will complete every day, no matter what. Consistency is vital and more important than quantity or even quality; the key is do it every day. You have to have a designated place where you can get alone, and you have to have a plan. Judas was able to betray Jesus in the middle of the night because he knew the place where Jesus prayed (John 18:2). If you don’t have a place, then I know your plan will not work.  No place, no plan = no growth. 

My Rule of Five

  • Read and pray the Word for personal and kingdom purpose. 
  • Write in a journal the things that you learned while reading and listening to the voice of the Lord. 
  • Speak a word of encouragement into a leader’s life.  
  • Speak a word of healing into a hurting saint or sinner’s life every day. 
  • Reflect at the end of the day whether you completed your rule of five and plan the next day’s journey. 

Four Transformational Attributes that will develop from a consistent application of the Rule of Five: 

  • Abundance Mentality (defeats a jealous spirit that consumes professional Pentecostals)
  • Serving Heart (defeats the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent in today’s culture)
  • Blessing Tongue (defeats the negative viewpoint that causes complaining and criticism)
  • Yes Spirit (the ability to have faith that God has a plan and a destiny for each one of us)

You must commit to this daily process. If you have a day filled with victories, do your rule of five. If you have a day that seems like nothing but an utter failure, do your rule of five. If you are walking on clouds and life is bliss, do your rule of five. If you are in the darkest of days and your worst trials, do your rule of five. Your rule of five can differ from mine, but key ingredients should include: prayer, a daily diet of the word of God, and pouring out of oneself. 

What happens to water if it stands still too long and there is no movement or flow? It becomes stagnant. Water is necessary for life and the world around us shows us that water is itself a life source. But this substance that was once a life source, can become foul, putrid, and rotten. So every day our spirit needs to be renewed, refreshed and rebooted to allow for the free flow of His Spirit. 

John 7:38 (AV) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 

Rivers can only exist where there is a constant current or flow. We must have that outpouring of ourselves into the lives of those around us so we do not become stagnant Christians, and the only way we can pour into those around us is to have a constant source of this living water. The necessity for the rule of five works from both ends of the current! 

Ultimately, the only one responsible for your growth is you. You can’t buy all the raw materials and tools needed to build a house and then get mad when the foundation never gets poured. You must start the building process. God has given us all the power and resources we need and it is up to us to put them to good use.

Earlene Perkins, a dear lady in our church who has worked with our Sunday School Department for almost 50 years received the lesson I taught our church about the rule of five. Although she has served the Lord all these years, she obediently and happily applied it to her personal life and came up with an acronym that encompasses the heartbeat of this lesson – PULSE. 

Praise – Wake up with praise and praise God throughout the day.

Unleash the word (read the Bible).

Lean on God in prayer.

Speak the word to someone.

Encourage others.

There is no better time to start than now and no better place than home, so let’s begin.

Made For More

One of the great privileges I have enjoyed as a Pastor and a mentor is to share my passion for personal growth with others. Today, more than ever before we must create a growth atmosphere and learn how to sustain it. Our culture bombards us daily with its corrupt message and the only deterrent is for us to resist this terrible onslaught every day. We must become convinced that we have a destiny and that we were made for more. We must learn to grow into our purpose or we will be infected by the world and become powerless to change ourselves or those around us. 

In light of the current culture, we can allow ourselves to become negative and refuse to speak blessings into the lives of those who look to us for influence and leadership. We can be in a bad mood and miss what God wants to do. It is our duty to allow the seed of God’s word to grow in us until we are able to bless even our enemies. 

It is crucial for us to be careful that what we are asking for and speaking is what God has intended for us to live and to do. We must diligently search the scriptures to make sure that what we are asking for is God’s original plan and intention for our lives. I am fully persuaded that if it is not God’s design, I just don’t want it. I don’t want my will, but His.

It is my hope that I am able to provoke you to take inventory and to see the hand of God on your life, to recognize your anointing, to speak God’s blessing and to lift you to a higher level where God is able to fulfill His eternal purpose in and through you. You are anointed, you are blessed, and God is still working to bring you to a larger place in Him. God gave me a plan 5-6 years ago that changed the culture of our church. Although the process of change is nowhere near complete, it is definitely much improved and growing every day. 

The culture of our churches will never change until our concepts change and those concepts must become convictions. I know that these concepts have been corrupted by people who have no intention of examining the scripture to make sure they are representing the true meaning of God’s intention. Yet, it cannot be denied that these concepts are biblical; they are tried, and they are true. The word has been placed in the crucible seven times, meaning, they have been proven to work in every kind of situation. There is no conflict, attack or problem where the word of the Lord has not been proven to work. This word picture refers to a completed process that leaves no doubt that God’s word works all the time in every situation. Psalm 12:6,7 (AV)  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. 7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Concepts for Transformation 

Concept #1: Jesus wants every believer to flourish with abundance and to increase in favor.  We are heirs to Abraham’s blessing and because we belong to Christ we are heirs to the promise. It belongs to us by divine decree.  Galatians 3:29, And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. The only force that would oppose this is the devil, who hates to see God’s will done in the earth. It is clear that God intends for us to have these blessings, and intends for His chosen people to be more, not just for themselves, but for the kingdom. To experience these blessings, we must grow. We lack the virtue to use it correctly; we lack the capacity to hold it in righteousness and we need further wisdom and guidance to leverage these concepts in a way that is Christ honoring and will advance the kingdom. Growth is not only necessary but is an essential part of God’s sovereign plan. So, the question is, “Do you dare to bring yourself into alignment and agreement with God’s will?” If you answer, “Yes,” then you can begin to unlock the treasure of a renewed hope and blessing that comes only from a God who takes great joy in seeing His children realize their purpose, grow through the process and in the end possess the promise. 

Concept #2: You cannot grow someone else’s spiritual walk; you can only grow yourself. 

Paul paints a perfect picture of the blessings we receive when we reach our full potential in Christ: Although we are poor, we have made many people rich. And though we own nothing, everything is ours (CEV 2 Corinthians 6:4-10). God’s ORIGINAL intention for man as expressed in Genesis 1:28 is abundance, dominion, and multiplication. In order for us to receive these spiritual gifts, we have to change our ways, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  It’s important to recognize that this intention only comes to fruition when we make the effort in our own lives. We must make the conscience decision to obtain His intention for our lives, and in doing so, we can be a light to others. However, this does not mean that we can force our own growth, or our own spiritual walk, on those around us. We must learn the difference between mentoring others and “growing” them. The only person we can grow is ourselves.

Concept #3: Develop an abundance mentality. 

I believe that God is calling us all to a higher level in Him.  We, like Peter, are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ  (2 Peter 3:18). This is a never-ending process.  As John F. Kennedy said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”  We should never feel that we have “attained” for that is the point in which we detour from our journey towards full potential in Christ. When we recognize the potential for intentional and continual spiritual growth, and in our relationship with Him, we can then begin to realize what abundance really means. The more we seek, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more we can see that there is always more! 

Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  Jesus came to give us life, abundant life. When you begin walking towards your goal you will see that He has been walking right alongside of you.   

There are some things that you need to take for your journey: purpose, hope, encouragement, a positive attitude, and determination.  Even if you are not sure of your “final” purpose, we all have things that we know the Lord is calling us to.  Start heading in the right direction and you will find your “destination” will become clearer as you get closer.  He will bless you abundantly as you take the steps to better yourself. No one can do it for you. You have to walk this walk.  

Concept #4: Learn to take authority and have dominion. 

Taking authority is a learned behavior. As you walk in life you will see that in almost every situation you will need to take dominion.  From the beginning of time God has given us dominion as we were made in His image. Genesis 1:26 tells us, And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  

Jesus again tells us in Luke 10:19, Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. We were created to have dominion, not to be dominated! Notice that Jesus goes beyond Genesis and its dominion over everything.  He lets us know that we have power over the enemy. Satan never had and never will have power over us unless we give it to him.  Paul tells us in Romans 6:14, For sin shall not have dominion over you… There is no one who can stop us from reaching the potential God has for our lives. The choice is ours. As William Jennings Bryan, an orator from the turn of the century said,” Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” 

Concept #5: Multiplication is the promised result of all growth. 

Finally, I want you to reach for the high calling of Christ and experience the blessing of multiplication. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that it is His will for each servant to increase their talents. You find that you have even more to offer Him than you originally thought. Each of the servants had a PLAN to multiply their talents. We too must develop a plan and take the necessary steps to grow into God’s intention for multiplication. I have identified five steps to a successful execution of a plan: define your goal, set priorities, organize your time, determine the measurement, and remember the power of words.  Follow this plan, give of your time and ability to increase in His kingdom, and you will find that your talents will also be increased.

It’s a scriptural principle we can be sure of, Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). That multiplication in your life will spill over to every area of your life. You will increase in compassion, charity, and wisdom. In conclusion, we all as Christians need to become more than just conquerors; we need to learn to rule the possessions given to us by the promises of God well. This is what Paul meant when he said, …we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:37).  

We have a supernatural power through the Holy Ghost to grow and become more like Christ so we can be used in His kingdom. It is His will for us no matter what we look like or what others think. He saw the simple fisherman, Peter, preaching to the thousands on the day of Pentecost. He saw Paul, the Christian killer, as the writer of thirteen books in the New Testament that we are still reading for wisdom and guidance today!  It is undeniably God’s will for us to continue to grow. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers. You were Made For Morenow start walking!

Shed The Shame

Unresolved shame creates mental, emotional & spiritual dysfunction. It is the root of almost all Christian inconsistency. If we are to advance in the kingdom of God we must resolve the issue of shame. To live without condemnation is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its’ transformation in our life. Therefore, we must become intentional about removing shame from our lives.

Shame is defined as “the painful feeling of the loss of self-respect.” Shame emphasizes the humiliation felt at the loss of esteem. This includes the idea of feeling humiliated or embarrassed as from a sense of inadequacy or inferiority. Shame also includes the pain caused by losing the respect of others. It can only develop through problems in inter-personal relationships that are significant to us.

Shame is always a product of the failure, or perceived failure, to meet the expectations of someone from whom we desire to receive approval. This “failure” results in rejection or perceived rejection. Therefore, failure and rejection are the key elements of shame. When I feel that I am not good enough to be accepted by the people that I consider most important to me, I will usually reject myself.

*** THIS SELF-REJECTION IS CALLED “SHAME”! ***

Shame says to us – you are a mistake; you are flawed and defective as a human being; you will never be good enough; you will ultimately be rejected by everyone as soon as they find out what you really are; you are a failure.

What leads to these feelings?

MY OWN ACTIONS – the most obvious sources of shame are those things that I did that I wish I had not done or those things that I did not do that I wish I had done. Goals that I did not reach which greatly disappointed me or let someone else down causing me to feel that my life will be forever incomplete. Things that I earnestly intended or greatly desired to do, but missed the opportunity to do because of neglect, procrastination, etc.

REJECTION – The real or perceived rejection by someone of significance to me. Shame is usually created through emotional, mental and verbal abuse such as: “Why are you so stupid? You will never amount to anything. Why can’t you be like your brother?” Sub-consciously, the rejected person blames themselves for not being able to be or to do good enough to be accepted.

ALIENATION – This includes the idea of the extremity of alienation which is ABANDONMENT. People who have been victims of sexual infidelity of their mate, victims of divorce, these feelings of being abandoned can cause this type of alienation.

ABUSE – These are defined as violations of the “person.” They can be physical, mental and emotional. The perverseness and irony of all types of sins against the person is that the victim subconsciously blames themselves and not the perpetrator.

CLASS REJECTION – Shame experienced by a group of people because of rejection experienced as a group. When one is misunderstood and being accused of being something that you are not racism, prejudice and

SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR – Shame begets more shame. Shame is the root cause of ALL self-destructive behavior.

Once shame creeps in, we tend to fall into a cycle:

Shame-Based Identity – I begin to associate myself with the person that rejection has convinced me that I am – someone worthy of more and more rejection. I become convinced that I am hopelessly flawed as a person and that there is no power within me to change me.
Distorted Thinking – I become convinced that I need someone or something more than I have within me to be happy, to feel complete, or to feel better about myself. If I could just find something from outside of me that is better than what I have within me, I could become a better person and feel better about myself.
Acting Out Feelings – I resort to searching for ways to fulfill my lust for things, pleasure, etc. This includes drugs, alcohol, adultery, perversion, gluttony, etc.
Life Damaging Consequences – The results of my actions obviously serve only to severely compound my problems. Now I must deal with the consequences of my actions which have caused a intensification of my shame beyond my imagination.

Prior to their sinful action, Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness before God, in fact they didn’t even know they were naked. It was only after they sinned that they became aware of their nakedness. While they were guilty in their actions, that was not what caused them to feel shame. The problem was that they had lost the ability to believe that God could love them – SHAME.

When people feel rejected and are filled with shame they develop a sense of feeling naked. Therefore, we hide from God, people, and ourselves. Shame causes us to feel naked or VULNERABLE. Therefore, we create “fig leaf’ type defense mechanisms behind which we hide. These are not comfortable, and they certainly are ineffective, but they are all we’ve got!

You see, shame is often confused with guilt. Guilt and shame are not synonymous. Guilt is the sin or offense deserving of blame or punishment. Guilt rejects the act as wrong. Shame rejects the one who committed the act. Guilt results when I violate the Word of God. Shame results when I am accused of not being good enough to keep the Word of God.

Guilt says, “I have done wrong.” Shame says, “I am wrong.”
Guilt says, “My conduct is not good.” Shame says, “I am not good.”
Guilt says, “I have failed.” Shame says, “I am a failure.”

While Satan’s goal is to keep us sinking lower and lower into sin in attempt to keep us a prisoner of shame, it is our confidence in God’s love for us that is the foundation for our defense against the Devil’s attack of accusation and the onslaught of fear in the midst of crisis. Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God did not separate Himself from them. In fact, He went looking for them. He sought for them; they did not seek for Him. Why? They felt shame not guilt.

Our guilt is not a problem to God. Our shame is a problem. He is well able to deal with our guilt. – He provided all that was necessary to deal with our guilt all we must do is asked to be forgiven and we are.

If God forgives so readily, why do I feel the need to constantly repent over and over again for the things in my past that God’s Word says He has already forgiven? Because, I am dealing with shame. Even though God has forgiven me, I do not feel forgiven. Why? Because I have not forgiven myself – Shame! Shame undermines my faith preventing God from being able to answer my prayers. (“my heart condemns me”)

How Does One Recover From The Snare Of Shame?

When I allow Satan to coerce me into opposing myself through a verbal assault conducted by me upon myself, I then open myself to being taken captive by Satan at his will. A person thus captured must be taught how to extricate themselves from the Devil’s snare.

II Timothy 2:25-26
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

Here in verse 26, the word recover means – to return to soberness, as from a state of delirium or drunkenness. This is speaking of those who, oppose the truth through accepting perversions of it, falling into the snare of the Devil, becoming intoxicated with error; for this “recovery” is possible only by “repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.” This “error” includes believing Satan’s Lie about who and what we are in God, and his lie about the faithfulness and effectiveness of God’s forgiveness and cleansing in our lives. The source of this recovery is a “sound mind.”

I Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

If we are to be free from Satan’s influence we must be freed from the intoxicating delusion of his lies that we have come under the influence of. The teaching of the truth about God’s love for us and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to our hearts will bring us to the point of deliverance.

Jesus was not subject to Satan’s insults, why?

John 14:30 (ASV)
I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me;

Jesus made it clear why He enjoyed such success against Satan and why He had no fear of Satan or his influence upon Him: THERE WAS NOTHING IN JESUS THAT SATAN COULD USE TO OVERPOWER HIM! If we are to be free from shame, we must identify and deal with those things that Satan is claiming as his and that he is using to influence or over-power me.

God’s method of dealing with shame was first demonstrated in the Garden of Eden. God took away their shame by taking off of them the aprons of fig leaves that they had made and clothing their nakedness with coats of skin that He had made.

God’s method of solving the problem of shame is very specific and is very effective. It is not based on Psychology. It does not promote the idea that my problem is permanent and that I must learn to cope with it. God is a healer and a deliverer. It is His perfect will and plan to make each of us into a new person.
The Lord deals with our shame by providing a covering for it. He clothes my sins, thus taking away the shame that I feel because of them.

There is a specific garment that He has provided to “cover” my shame permanently. Christ is our hiding place and His personal righteousness is our robe of righteousness that God has provided for our covering! How do we put on this “robe”?

Galatians 3:27
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

God has made it very clear to us that he not only wants to save us but to make us whole. Jesus not only came to seek and to save the lost, but he also came to heal and deliver us.

II Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

When we allow the Lord to help us, He will set us free from our timidity. (Greek word for “fear” — “Timidity” is another word for “shame.”)

Jesus wants us to:
-accept His love unconditionally
-forgive ourselves of the grudge of shame
-let Him clothe us with His righteousness

Shed The Shame
IN JESUS NAME!

Become Exceptional

Daniel 6:3 (NIV 84) Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

I hear it all the time, “I just want to be normal,” and “I just want to be like everyone else.” However, it is amazing that when we find out what everyone else is like we don’t want to be like them anymore. They mistreat people, they are messy and they aren’t very disciplined. We all want above average results but we must remember that in order to get exceptional results we have to work at it. No one is an overnight sensation. Everyone has to put in the work if they are going to make a difference. It doesn’t take much more to be exceptional but it does take more. You must learn to become exceptional if you want to find out what the King has planned for you. So let’s find out how to do that.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it shows up in overalls and looks like work.”            – Thomas Edison

You have to do the work and put in the time if you are going to excel in whatever you have found to be your life’s work and purpose. No one is good the first time they do something; everyone fails or does sub-par work. But, that is when you need to get up, shake the dirt off and learn to improve.

Discover your uniqueness and your purpose.

  • First of all, you must discover your uniqueness. You must find your purpose and live it out daily. People cannot live intentionally if they do not discover why they exist. Alice Bloch expressed what I so often see in others: “We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.” Quit wasting time trying to do stuff that makes you feel good about yourself and start doing the things that will make you a better person.
  • It is disgusting when people always talk about what they want to see in others but never change themselves. “Be the change you want to see in the world”. – Gandhi
  • Consider what I have heard others say, “It’s all about souls.” Yes, it is. But when you say that and never witness, never work in an altar and never pray intercessory prayers then you don’t truly embrace the virtue and it makes you a fake. If you want to be about souls, then be about the Father’s business and become all that you want to be. If we say that we need more worship and yet do not apply ourself to increase our own worship, then we are just being judgmental and critical. If you are leading the charge then you are at least investing energy and time to influence others to follow your example. If you say that we should live holy and a separated life, you need to make the change in your own life to reflect the values that you say you have. If not, then all we have are good intentions rather than an intentional life.
  • Most everyone I know wants to make a significant difference but few ever do. Great ideas have to be backed with consistent daily actions that are reflected upon nightly. You have to quit playing Monday Morning Quarterback and get out of the bleachers and into the game. Yes, you may get knocked down; you may fumble the ball but get up and keep at it. Don’t just go to church, but get into it. Stay with it. If you hit a stronghold don’t relent but keep the pressure on. If you want amazing grace and results then you need to do things that are unamazing. Practicing, studying, reading, trying, changing and yes, even failing are not amazing. But when you learn to do these unamazing things with passion you will begin to improve and then you will discover just how amazing grace can be.
  • “I possess the greatest power ever bestowed upon mankind, the power of choice. Today, I choose to persist without exception. No longer will I live in a dimension of distraction, my focus blown hither and yon like a leaf on a blustery day. I know the outcome I desire. I hold fast to my dreams. I stay the course. I do not quit.” – Andy Andrews

Set your own standard of excellence.

  • If you are waiting for someone else to motivate you, lift you, encourage you or do it for you, it will never happen. You must set the standard higher than what others expect of you. If you are only interested in meeting other’s expectations you will find they can change with the wind and you will be like a chameleon that blows up sitting on a bold plaid pattern because he didn’t know which color to relate to. So, set the bar high; move it up not down, declare it, write it out, hit it and then learn to leap over it into a greater tomorrow.
  • Develop a winning attitude. Learn to grow from the inside out because your root system is going to determine the longevity of your fruit. Your attitude is either your best friend or your worst enemy. It is the librarian of your past, the speaker of your present and the prophet of your future. So, choose it carefully. Work on it daily. Let God change it if necessary.

Exceptional people invest in themselves.

  • Learn to invest in yourself. Spend time with God, keep up your rule of five and allow God the chance to speak a word of power into your life that can create something that didn’t exist before.
  • “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desire to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell

What is important to you?

  • You cannot find the passion to do the grunt work if you don’t know what it is you truly want to see. Where and from whom do you get your feeling of importance? This is the wellspring that your values, your morals and your choices will flow from. Change what is important; change the source of your significance and you will change yourself either for the better or for the worse. That is why we need grace so much because our significance needs to come from the Lord.
  • “If you tell me how you get your feeling of importance, I’ll tell you what you are. That determines your character. That is the most significant thing about you.” – Dale Carnegie

Become exceptional and let’s together discover what the King has planned for us.

Stay In God’s Lane – Listen To The Rumble Strips

Exodus 19:12 (AV) — And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death:

 

Highways have lines that guide us into the proper lane and any new driver soon finds out that driving can be hazardous if we are not careful to stay within the lines provided. Along with those painted white and yellow lines, many times rumble strips – or warning strips if you will – are placed just off to the side of the road. We tend to wake up a bit and pay closer attention when we hit those rumble strips. They jolt us to awareness when we drift, and help us to straighten up and get back on the right path again. In life we are given the freedom to move as we please, but without true guidance we can end up being destructive in other peoples’ lives as well as endangering our own. Freedom comes at the price of responsibility. We must accept our responsibility to use our freedom wisely and to the good of others. This is the case on the literal roadways, as well as in life’s ever winding metaphorical roads.

When God chose Israel as His special people He made sure they understood their purpose by setting certain spiritual guidelines to keep them moving in the right direction. God used Moses to set these guidelines and you would think that his connection with God would cause the people to accept him. But their rebellion proved otherwise and instead of recognizing his leadership as a blessing they chose to make life difficult for him every step of the journey. When we ignore the rumble strips that indicate we are moving in the wrong direction, we open the door for great tragedy; we grieve the heart of God and become dysfunctional and destructive in our behavior. This impacts our own lives and the lives of the people around us.

 

What are our spiritual “guidelines” that keep us going on the right track? Exodus 19 reveals three important guidelines that we must learn to follow.

Change your Identity
To prepare for the appearance of God, Israel was instructed to change their clothes and wash (Exodus 19:10-11, 14-15). Today we are accustomed to having soap and water readily available and extra clothes hanging in our closets, but people in Bible days didn’t enjoy such luxuries. They couldn’t take showers daily, and only the wealthy had stores of extra garments. That’s why bathing and changing clothes often marked a new beginning. Washing and changing clothes is the Old Testament equivalent of 1 John 1:9; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and 2 Corinthians 7:1; Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. By repenting of our sins and walking not in the flesh but in the spirit, our identity is effectively changed and we are being led by the presence and the will of God.

 

Keep Your Wonder
Moses gave Israel strict instructions to keep a distance between them and God (Exodus 19:12–13, 20–25). Staying away from Mount Sinai was a matter of life or death, for the presence of God sanctified the mountain. Moses put up barriers to keep the people at a distance. He also posted guards with authority to kill from a distance anybody who broke through the barriers, and nobody was to touch the dead body. When the trumpet sounded, Moses ascended the mountain to meet God, but even then, God sent him back to warn the people not to get too close to Mount Sinai. In a dramatic way, God was teaching the people the distance between a holy God and sinful men and women, as well as the danger of presumptuously rushing into the presence of the Lord.

Later, Nadab and Abihu would forget this principle, and God would kill them, (Leviticus 10). This shows just how important it is to heed the warnings of God’s boundaries. The structure of Old Testament worship emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s “otherness”: the fence around the tabernacle; the veil before the holy of holies; the fact that only the priests could minister in the tabernacle and only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, and that but once a year. The emphasis was always “Keep your distance!” But the New Testament emphasizes the nearness of God, for the Son of God became flesh and came to dwell on earth (John 1:14), and His name is “Immanuel—God with us” (Matthew 1:23). By His death and resurrection, Jesus opened a new and living way into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:1–25). The New Testament emphasis reads, “Let us draw near!” This doesn’t mean that we should get “chummy” with God and act like we’re His equals, but He is our Father and He welcomes our love. (See Hebrews 12:18–29.) He established a new set of boundaries, guiding us in closer relationship with Him.

 

Understand Your Storms
A storm was created when God appeared on the mountain (Exodus 19:16–19; 20:18–20). Sometimes when storms enter our life it is not the work of the enemy but the presence of the Lord. In Scripture, a storm can be a symbol of awesome presence and power of God (Psalm 18:1–15; 29; Habakkuk 3:1–16). The cloud and darkness, the thunder and lightning, and the earthquake and fire, all manifested the greatness of God (Deuteronomy 5:22–23, 27) and produced a holy fear in the hearts of the people. Even Moses trembled with fear and admitted it! (Hebrews 12:21; Deuteronomy 9:19) God was about to teach His people His law, and “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The combination of washing themselves and changing their clothes, witnessing the storm, and keeping their distance from Sinai, couldn’t help but impress the people with their need to be changed in order to enter the presence of God.

 

Today, we are losing the need to be changed. Quint Studer, in a recent newspaper article said, “It’s time to change how we think about change.” Only as Israel obeyed God could they truly enjoy the privileges of being a kingdom of priests, God’s special treasure and His holy nation. Just as the people in the Old Testament needed to have a healthy dose of reverence to God’s greatness, resulting in obeying and listening to His commands and warnings, we need that same reverence today. We must recognize the warnings (convictions), and use every tool God has given us as a guide in our lives (His Word, His Spirit) in order to keep on the right path. As long as we remain obedient to His guidance, we are able to continue on in the will of God. Learn to realize the boundaries God has set before us, allow the awareness of the rumble strips to provide correction, and in doing so, may you stay in God’s lane.

 

 

Grace Like Rain

What if we could visually picture the grace and blessings that are poured out on us in every moment? What an awesome view that would be! Rooms with a view are always more costly but worth it to those who understand that outlook can oftentimes affect outcome.

We all know that when it rains so hard we cannot see two feet in front of our face it can slow us to a snail’s pace and at worst, it can stop us dead in our tracks. But what if our eyes were suddenly opened to see God’s abundance all around us and that God was there all the time? Talk about an awakening; it would put us in the moment and we would focus on what God is doing now and learn to appreciate what’s right in front of us.

Yet, many times in our anguish, pain and emotional upheaval we can become so upset at the rain that we miss the water that brings the blessing of life into our lives.

A perfect example of this is when Hagar was faced with the rejection of Sarah and her ultimate dismissal from Abraham’s tent. At first, she had difficulty responding correctly to her adversity, but eventually corrected her way and later was given a unique blessing from the Lord that is still in effect today. Haven’t we all responded in the wrong way?

We cannot fix or enjoy what we cannot see. When Hagar first faced the mistreatment of Sarah, she did what most people do; she ran away. Too many are living in denial, running from their place because of pain, and consequently missing the blessing. An angel appeared to her and told her to return to Sarah. Hagar returned and submitted. We find out that no matter the difficulty, even in the face of injustice, we can still grow if we learn not to escape.

We must stop running away and learn to obey.
We never experience the rain unless we are positioned correctly and respond positively to God’s voice. Trying to escape difficulty is pointless and fruitless. Hagar had a unique character flaw that many of us portray when we are faced with adversity.
After Ishmael was born Hagar allowed her pride to get the best of her and taunted Sarah, in turn causing Ishmael to follow her example, which ended badly with both of them being expelled from Abraham’s camp.
When her son needed her the most Hagar left him under a tree and did not attempt to console him because she couldn’t bear the pain. The scripture recounts that when the water of the skin was consumed, she cast off the boy beneath one of the trees. She went and sat herself down at a distance away and said, ‘Let me not see the death of the child”. However, Hagar experienced another visitation and grace fell like rain.

We must stop blaming others and start accepting responsibility.
Ben Zoma taught in the Talmud that all happiness comes from within (Pirkei Avos 4:1). He said:
Who is wise? He who learns from every person.
Who is strong? He who conquers his desires.
Who is rich? He who is satisfied with what he’s got.
Who is honored? He who honors others.
External factors are not important; what is happening within you makes the difference. If you can learn to see the problem in the right perspective and understand God never reveals a problem to condemn you, you will see that through Him, you will have life more abundantly.
If we start depending on Jesus, we can begin to not only see the problem but receive the solution to the problem. Once we are free from the blame game we are free to become wise, strong and honorable.
Remember to first see the problem. Own it and set a path to overcome it.

Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.
(John Gardner)

Learn to think differently. Stop self-medicating and entertaining yourself to death. Learn to listen carefully to the still small voice because God’s voice has the power to alter our perspective and give us the right view. Yes, it may be raining but the water is life.

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
(Albert Einstein)

We must stop quitting and learn to start again when we fail.
Sometimes in our panic we quit. Our emotions cloud our judgment and we react rather than responding correctly. Notice that Hagar had abandoned her son and fled, saying that she could not bear to see him die of thirst. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water (Genesis 21:19). God did not create a well where none had existed, but “opened her eyes” so that she could see an already-existing well, which she had not seen because of her state of panic.
Many opportunities may be right before our eyes but if in our anguish we panic, we may fail to see them and the result may be a misfortune that could have been averted.
Hagar almost lost Ishmael, not because there was no water, but because she could not see it. What was necessary was not a miracle, but a correct perception of reality.
God’s word can teach us and provide guidance that can assist in avoiding distortions of reality.
Today, make up in your mind to avoid panic and any other emotion that clouds the ability to see what is truly before you.

Just like God opened Hagar’s eyes to a well of water that had been there all the time, He can open your eyes too. Ask yourself this question, “What is right before me that I am not seeing?” What grace is invisible yet working to save you? Remember what God did for Hagar. He changed her name to Keturah (beautiful as incense). The same blessing God gave to Abraham, Sarah, Jacob and Simon Peter, He gave to Hagar by changing her name. You may have called yourself, “worthless, useless, clueless, and beyond hope.” But now you drink from another well, and the water is not the poison of the past but hope for the future.

Genesis 21:17–20 (AV) — 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

When invisible grace is made visible, things change. The Rabbis teach that Hagar (or Keturah) never remarried even though she was cast out. She remained faithful. There is just no substitute for faithfulness. She was blessed. Let’s not escape our pain but turn to God in prayer, and let’s grow and improve. The rain is never designed to destroy, but to lead us closer to Jesus. Hagar obeyed and the grace like rain blessed her and it will do the same for you.