“BE CAREFUL CONNECTING”

Don’t give a second thought to people who are not interested in your story. They don’t know the pain, hurt, and brokenness in the previous chapters of your life. You don’t need people around you that won’t take time to find out where you’ve been. As harsh as that might sound, you need to surround yourself with the ones that can empathize and sympathize with your journey. If they can’t keep their eyes focused on you when you try and share your heart; move on. You’ll do better with fewer friends that will celebrate you, than with an abundance of fake ones. It’s not about the number of bodies that are around you; it’s about how many hearts are connected to yours.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.

“RESTORATION IS NOT AN OPTION”

The word restore means to bring back to a former condition. It involves rebuilding, refurbishing, replacing, re-establishing,  and rehabilitating. Ask anyone that has restored a house or an old car, and they will tell you, it is not easy work. It takes vision, time, and patience to start and finish the job. Not everyone can do it because not everyone can see it. Some people can’t look at something in a broken condition and see it new again. Many would say tare that building down, or smash that vehicle; it’s not worth the time and money it would take to restore it. However, for some, restoration is not an option. Sure, they might count the cost, not to try and decide what they’re going to do, but to understand the investment. They don’t just see it like it is; they see it renewed. Depending on who they are, some can remember how it looked in the beginning.

My dad was a piano restorer, and he would teach us the importance of every step in the restoration process. You can’t just repaint a piano; you have to strip every piece and take everything back to a place where you can really begin restoring it. Dad wouldn’t cut corners; he would repair them. I remember when I first started working for him, I would bring him something I was working on and ask, do you think this one is finished? One key thing he would have us do is take a piece of the piano and hold it up in the light. No matter if you thought it was finished, the light would reveal everything. For the piano body itself, he would bring the light to it and see if the work was complete. You see, for my dad, restoration was not an option; it was a must.

If something needs to be restored, then it has drifted from its original condition. Why don’t you examine yourself today and be honest enough to figure out if you have strayed from where you once were in God. Has your prayer life started to slip? Are you as faithful to church and the things of God that you use to be? Do you still have the same passion for ministry that you had in the beginning? If you have drifted at all, please don’t just ignore it, restore it. Don’t tear down the house, rebuild it. Bring the light to the piano and let revelation begin. There might be some that have given up, but there are still people who believe in complete restoration. Be determined, have your mind made up, and pay whatever the cost will be in getting things back to their original condition. When you get finished reading this, I want you to feel like; RESTORATION IS NOT AN OPTION; IT’S A MUST!!!

“GROWING IN KNOWLEDGE”

I believe we must grow in the knowledge of God. Daily prayer and Bible reading are two of the primary keys in that process. Other things help us grow, as well. One, in particular, is having experience through difficult and challenging times. When we face an uncertain situation, and then God brings us through; we can look back and realize that we are closer to Him than ever. We will also discover that our knowledge of who He is has significantly increased. Through every storm, we grow, through every battle we grow, and in every trial, we learn more about who He is.

There is something else that happens when we go through these difficult circumstances. We not only grow in the knowledge of who God is, but we also learn more about who we are in Him. Our understanding of who we are in Jesus increases each time He brings us through. We become more confident in God as our knowledge of Him elevates, but that should also cause us to become more confident in ourselves through Him. It’s a powerful thing to say, I know who He is; but what a remarkable revelation to declare, I KNOW WHO I AM IN HIM!!!

You can face this trial, this storm, and this day, knowing who God is, and also knowing who you are in Him.

Acts 17:28
For in Him, we live, and move, and have our being.

“SECURITY SYSTEMS”

I’m sure you’ve heard and seen an advertisement for the ring, motion-activated doorbell. You’ve probably seen the reports of how effective they are in protected areas where they cover. My wife wants us to get one right away for our new home. We’re also getting ready to install several security cameras at our church location. We have a first-class alarm system, but with cameras, it will make protecting our facility even better. When you have valuable things, and even personal items that you ‘can’t put a price on, you should want to safeguard them. The more important they are to you, the more you will want to secure them.

If we feel that way about physical things, then shouldn’t we feel the same way about spiritual things as well? We each have valuable gifts that have been given to us by the Father. Items and blessings that are priceless. There are also things that we have invested our time and prayers into. You see, not everything we have has been given; some came with a price. As we take inventory of our treasures, doesn’t it make sense to protect it? Build spiritual walls, set up boundaries, and establish an alarm system that makes you aware when an intruder is trying to break in. If what you have means something to you, then protect it.

So, when the enemy comes to steal your dreams, ministry, or blessings; make sure he is met by a locked door, and a loud, ear-piercing sound that forces him to flee. You’re the owner, and you have a right to protect what is yours.

“WHAT GOD SEES”

There are so many people who are facing incredible challenges right now. For some, it’s like climbing an exceedingly high mountain, and they are entirely exhausted. For others, it’s a dark, cold valley without the view of the sun. There are those who are in a raging storm, and they are holding on with everything inside of them. It’s someone in a hospital needing a miracle. It’s someone that just lost a job, and they don’t know what they are going to do. It’s someone battling depression or a diagnosis that has them fearful. It’s a family problem, a bitter divorce, school issues, work stress, or physical challenges. There are so many more situations that I could share, and the list would go on and on. They’re discouraged, and the problem is, they don’t see themselves getting through it. 
 
For anyone facing a seemingly impossible situation, I want you to be encouraged at the starting of this week. The same God that allowed whatever you’re going through plans on you coming out. He didn’t let the storm come so you would die in it; He saw you making it to the other side. He sees you climbing that mountain, walking through that valley and being renewed, restored, and revived when it’s over. No matter what it is or how long it takes, God plans on you coming out with the victory. He let you go in it because He plans on you getting through it. That’s what God sees. 

“BELOW AND BEYOND”

An old hymn we use to sing says;

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.

We cannot afford to get so focused on the present, that we forget the promise of eternity. Yes, I’m concerned about situations going on in our world, and I pray daily for it. However, I don’t allow the issues here cause me to forget who is still in control. Once we are born again, we become a stranger to where we are currently, and a citizen of a place that has been prepared for us by the Father. We’re praying for a land where we are only visiting. I’m a guest, not a resident.

Every time something terrible happens, we have to remember to look beyond, not below. For below, there will always be suffering and heartache. Below, we will continue to deal with pain and problems. Our hope is not below; it’s beyond.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the world.”

It’s comforting to know that below, He is with us, but beyond, we will be with Him.

“UNDERSTANDING THE WORK OF GOD”

Are you praying for God to use you? Do you have a passion for something specific? Maybe you’re even growing a little impatient because you’re ready to get started. You want to do a work for God, and that is awesome. You’re dreams, passion, and gifts are all coming together, and you’re anxious to get busy. In your waiting, you’ve probably even said; Lord, I know you can open this door because I’m doing it for you. I’m ready to work for you, God.

After being in ministry for over thirty years, I want to remind you of something. Before God can work through you, He has to work in you. Just because your hands are ready for work, doesn’t mean your heart is. God’s process always proceeds our progression, and that’s where you might be; in the process. Just because you don’t think you’re working, doesn’t mean that God isn’t working something within you. He is a God of timing, so wait on Him and learn to hear His voice more than you listen to your own. You have been called; you will be sent, you are going to do work for Him, as soon as the work is complete in you.

“I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWER”

A faithful member of my church came to me yesterday with a personal prayer request. She has been having a difficult time with her supervisor at work, and yesterday, things became almost more than she could handle. The person over her has an excellent education, and a title, but lacks a lot in leadership qualities. The workers under her suffer from a lack of morale and motivation. She shows partiality, is not always truthful, and her moods are entirely unpredictable. Unfortunately, the company has to have her right now, so there isn’t anything they can do either. It’s a tough situation, and I have been helping her pray about it for several months now. Because of her education and career, she doesn’t have many options, so she feels trapped and totally discouraged. There is much more to the story that I don’t have enough time to write about it, but maybe this will give you a small example of what this sister is going through.

As I responded with encouraging words and prayer yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder, how many others are dealing with work-place situations that are stressful? How many are discouraged and dread going in every morning to work? How many feel trapped? How many had a passion for what they did when they started, but now it’s almost gone? And in the time we are living in, you can’t just walk out and look for something else, so you just go through the motions. My heart goes out for anyone that is in this type of situation.

As a pastor, I see this not only affecting people’s personal lives, but also spiritually. When you spend forty plus hours in a challenging environment, eventually, it’s going to pour over into your family life, and church. I might be writing to someone that it’s happening to now. It’s hard to focus on a two-hour worship service, after so many hours spent in frustration. Your passion is draining, your personal and family life is starting to suffer, and you’re scared to make a move because of what might happen.

I do not know who all of you are this morning, but I hope you read this before you go into work. I also want you to know that I don’t have the answer to all of your work problems, but I do have a prayer. I am praying for you this morning, in the name of Jesus!!! I am believing God for peace, in the midst of your storm. As I’m going to the throne of God on your behalf, I don’t have the answer, but here are some things to consider.

* Maybe this is just a season.

   Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

* Perhaps this is a test. As soon as you pass it, the test will be over.

* God could be showing what kind of leader you don’t want  to become.

* You might be there for someone else besides yourself.

* Maybe you’re supposed to step out in faith.

* Let this experience make you better, not bitter.

* And yes, God does see and know where you are.

   He is going to make a way for you.

 

Wherever you are, I want to encourage and inspire you in the middle of your trial. These are just a few things to consider this morning. Again, I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWER, BUT I DO HAVE A PRAYER.

“ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE?”

We know that the Old Testament is a shadow, or pattern of literal things that have become spiritual in the New Testament. As you read what is in the Old, you have to realize what the Lord was showing us for the New. One of the words that carry over is sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant, God asked for His people to bring an animal and offer it to Him as a sacrificial offering. It was an act of worship and praise to God. Without going into a lot of details, the bottom line was this; their worship had to cost them something. It wasn’t that they had to do all the time, but there were just certain times that God wanted to know if they were willing to pay an extra price.

Our worship is much different today, under the New Covenant. It’s not about bringing an animal, laying it on an altar, and building a fire. The Bible tells us that the fruit of our lips and the raising of our hands is now our praise and worship. Praise is what we do physically in the present; worship is our lifestyle. However, just because we know longer bring animals for sacrifice, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still offer a sacrifice. What I mean by that is, at times, our worship to God should still cost us something. It’s not something He requires of us all the time, but I do believe it mean’s something Him when we offer worship that is not convenient or comfortable.

We must be willing to sacrifice in our physical praise to Him and our lifestyle of worship. That means, sacrificing in the church, and out of the church. In the pulpit, and out of the pulpit. When we’re singing, and when we’re not singing. When we’re playing music, and when we’re not playing music. I could keep going, but I think you understand what I’m saying. It’s sacrificing in praise and worship. It reaches that level of sacrifice when you don’t feel like it, or you’re too overwhelmed, too stressed, and maybe too hurt. It’s in those moments that God is moved by what you do because He knows; IT COST YOU SOMETHING.

ARE YOU WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE?

“WHAT DID YOU HEAR?

Well, it’s Monday, and I’m curious about what you heard yesterday? It was Sunday, so where did the minister take his text from? What was the title of the sermon? Yes, I’m putting you on the spot and causing you to think. The reason is that nothing you did or heard at church yesterday is more important than hearing the Word of God. The music and singing are lovely, and if you’re involved in serving, that’s incredible as well. However, nothing changes or transforms your life more than God’s Word.

The reason I asked you what you heard is that I want to ask you another question. Have you begun to apply what you heard? Or, what have you done with what you heard? Hearing the Word is the first part, but the change happens in the application. So many times, the sermon goes forth, and it’s content only lasts until the dismissal prayer. We have to make sure we hear it, keep it, and apply it.

The Word of God is like a mirror where you see your reflection. As you look into it, you might see things that are ok and even improving. But if you see your reflection, and notice obvious things that need to be fixed, yet you walk away and ignore it; you’re only hurting and affecting yourself. You have two choices. You can either try and forget what you saw, or make sure you never look in the mirror again.

I am writing about this today, because of what the Apostle James said in his book.

James 1:22-25 (NKJV)
22  But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23  For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24  for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Since it’s the first of the week; start today with becoming a doer of God’s Word. You can’t do it all in one day, but you can sure make a good start. So let me ask you again.

What did you hear?
What did you see?
What are you going to do?