“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.

“DON’T LOSE YOUR WILL TO FIGHT”

I have several friends and family members that are going through a challenging time right now. I pastor two churches, and in both of them, there is a long list of problems that our members are facing. Anything from sickness, marital, depression, financial, and the list goes on. It’s evident that the enemy is working harder than ever to try and discourage God’s people. I’m not saying the devil is causing these things to happen, because I don’t believe he has that kind of power. However, I do believe that he has the ability to torment and taunt us when we’re going through a trial.

I wish I could gather everyone that I know personally is going through something and encourage them at one time. Even though I’m a preacher, I wouldn’t preach a sermon. I would just simply say, DON’T LOSE YOUR WILL TO FIGHT.” I feel like that says it all. That statement really isn’t hard to explain. The minute you drop your hands, turn around and give up, it’s soon going to be over.

You have to fight to stay encouraged.
You have to fight for your marriage.
You have to fight for your family.
You have to fight for your ministry.
You have to fight for your health.
You have to fight for your financial freedom.
You have to fight for your mental well-being.
You have to fight to keep your relationship with God.
You have to fight for your dream.
You have to fight to keep the faith.

Well, I said I wouldn’t preach a sermon, but here I go. I want you to know that nothing you have will remain unless you fight for it. Also, nothing you had will ever come back unless you fight for it. Stop expecting the ones around you to fight for you. Some battles you can only fight alone. Your friends can cheer you on, but at the end of the day, this is your struggle. Whatever you do,

DON’T LOSE YOUR WILL TO FIGHT!!!

“ONE OF THOSE DAYS”

Maybe it’s one of those days.
Maybe you don’t feel like facing what’s ahead.
Maybe it’s a recent hurt or a reminder of what happened in your past.
Maybe you’d like a do-over day and forget this one.
Maybe _____________________ (you fill in the blank.)

Honestly, sometimes our specific issues can get the best of us and cause us to want to check out. Believe me, I understand. No matter what load you’re carrying, at times, it can just get too heavy. Whether you’ve been thinking about it for a while, or something caused you to remember it; somehow it got in your head, and you can’t seem to get it out.

I’m going to encourage you while I encourage myself today. We’re all human, and certain things are going to bother us. We have the power to forgive, but we’re not able to forget. That makes it difficult in the process of overcoming. Here’s my advice. Take some time, but don’t waste a whole day. Your memory is not like a switch that you can turn it off and on. It’s hard to get over hurts and things that have affected your life. You can’t just drive those thoughts out of your mind, so let them in, but don’t let them stay. Allow it to be a passing thought and not a remaining one. You can’t keep it from getting in, but you can keep it from staying there.

Each day we live is a blessing from God, and you don’t want to waste all of it on something that is going to keep you from reaching a goal. We should have personal, daily goals, and we need to understand that God has a daily plan for our lives as well. Don’t let an interruption in a day, mess up your entire day. Take some time, but don’t take a day.

“THE TOUCH”

I read a familiar story in the Bible this morning about the woman that had the issue of blood for twelve years. I noticed a few interesting things as I looked at the story again. The scripture says that many pressed Him, or touched Jesus as He was walking through the crowd. Have you ever wondered who all the people were that had touched Him and what their needs might have been? I don’t think the women the issue of blood was the only one in the mix that was looking for a miracle. One by one, hands began to touch the Master as He walked gracefully through the crowd with a variety of sicknesses and diseases that day. He felt the touch of everyone but continued to progress on His journey.

However, something different happened when this woman with the issue of blood touched Him.

Luke 8:45-48 (ESV)
45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”
47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.
48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

So many were there that day needing Jesus to touch them, but only one really knew how to make contact with Him. The crowd reached for Him, but just this woman moved Him and caused Him to stop and respond. It’s very plain why her touch was different than the others. Jesus said, “YOUR FAITH HAS MADE YOU WELL.” I don’t know what the others were thinking that day when they reached out to Jesus, but I know when this woman touched Him with faith, He felt it and reacted.

There are all kinds of needs today and a lot of people reaching out to Him. If you’re one that is in need of a miracle, my question to you is this; I know you want to feel His touch, but can He feel your faith touching Him?