“INVENTORY AND REPORT”

It’s hard to believe that we are just a few days from closing out 2019. The year is ending, and the last quarter of the year is too. For businesses, that means it’s inventory and report time. What all did they sale, how much is left, and what did they make. It sounds simple, but it requires a lot of detailed work to get an accurate report. This report helps them know what to prepare for in the next year. Things like where to set their budgets, what is left over that still needs to be moved, and establish a clear vision for 2020.

What if we did the same thing but on a personal level. Why don’t we spend a little bit of time taking inventory and creating a report to close our year out? You can have your own list of things you’d like to know about, but here are just a few ideas.

How well did I treat others?
Did I increase my prayer life?
Was I consistent in Bible reading?
How well did I share the gospel?
What other books did I read, and which ones are unfinished?
Did I manage my finances well?
Was I faithful in tithing and giving to those in need?
Did I experience personal improvement?
Did I manage my time well?
Has there been an improvement in my marriage? (If applicable.)
Have I taken proper care of my health?

Again, these are a few things that I’m looking at as 2019 comes to an end. My suggestion is that you make yourself a personal list and answer each question honestly. How you close, this year will help you transition into the next one. Take inventory, create a report, and establish a personal vision for what you want to accomplish in 2020.

“IT’S A NECESSITY”

The need for prayer has never been more imperative than now. I’m not talking about a few words spoken in passing; I mean God’s people lifting up their voices with all their might with the purpose of a complete breakthrough. The church is under attack, our marriages and families are being targeted, and the enemy is not letting up at all. The attack on our Nation is not from another country, but rather from the kingdom of darkness. There is a war going on, and we must not neglect the weapons we have to engage in it.

Before you call it quits on your marriage, tell me how many hours you’ve invested trying to save it. Maybe you’ve stayed up all night worrying about a particular problem, but have you prayed during the night for victory? I would encourage you that the bigger your situation is, the harder you need to pray. There is nothing you can get through until you pray through. Your perspective will change, your passion will be revived, and you’ll feel a fresh anointing when you pray. It’s not a suggestion; it’s a necessity.

“WHO ARE YOU HANGING AROUND?”

Hang around people who are cheering you on to keep going. You don’t need anyone in your life that can’t look beyond your mistakes. Your past should be something you learn from, not what keeps you from moving forward. 

Don’t let your mess up keep you from getting up. You have to be careful with not only how you spend your time, but who you spend it with as well. Not everyone who says they love you, really understand the true meaning of the word. Let me remind you in The Message Bible Translation, what it is.

 

I Corinthians 13:7 THE MESSAGE

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

 

Make sure you’re with people and family who genuinely love you.

“THE ENEMY’S GREATEST FEAR”

You can be loud without being rude. You can make a point and not make an enemy. The subject you’re standing for might cause controversy, but keeping the right attitude is imperative. Tearing down those who don’t believe like you doesn’t help your cause. This is important for everyone but especially Christians. From politics to other denominations, how we present ourselves is now seen everywhere because of social media. There is a big enough war going on against righteousness without us looking for more reasons to fight against each other. I can promise you this; God’s people standing together in unity is the one thing the enemy fears the most.

“NO APOLOGIES”

I will never apologize for preaching and showing mercy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” No one will get it all right and live mistake-free. So, the mercy that I show to others is the same mercy that will be shown to me in my shortcomings. Who doesn’t want or need that? Mercy is not denouncing living a Godly life; it’s being honest enough to admit that at our best, our righteousness is as filthy rags. I choose to focus on people’s potential, not their weaknesses.

I personally believe that God’s grace didn’t just save us, but it is still saving us. Grace cannot be applied until mercy is shown. Mercy looks beyond the errors of an individual, so grace can bring salvation and continue to save.

Galatians 6:1
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

While others may choose to judge and condemn, I’ll be standing on the side of mercy cheering and rooting for those who have messed up to try again!!! NO APOLOGIES!!!

“THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PREACHING”

Preaching should be encouraging, faith-building, Biblically sound, uniting, and, most of all, anointed. Using the pulpit as an agenda is dangerous. Even rebuke and reproof should be done in love with the goal of improving, not provoking to anger. A preacher of the Gospel must be confident in their calling, but not arrogant in their delivery. It’s not about growing a tribe, but building the church. Yes, God will reveal things to those who preach the Word, but no one minister or organization has the exclusive rights to all truth.

I still believe that Jesus is our greatest example of teaching the Word of God. He made sure that whoever He was talking to, could understand what He was saying. There were only a few times when Jesus was upset and shared His feelings. On one occasion, He looked at His disciples and warned them about a specific group of people. Jesus said, “Beware of the Pharisees.” These people were Holier than everyone else and were incredibly condescending to anyone that was not a part of their group. Jesus was teaching His disciples to be preachers of the Gospel, and He was letting them know, I don’t want you to ever sound like the Pharisees when you share my Word. They have more tradition than they have a revelation.

Young or old, if you a preacher of the Gospel, I encourage you to preach the Word with love. For Jesus said, “By this shall ALL men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.” We have an incredible responsibility to equip and build up the body of Christ. Use your voice to be a builder, not a divider.

“AN AGGRESSIVE PURSUIT OF UNITY”

When a church or any movement is experiencing revival, they will inevitably feel the attack of the enemy. The devil hates it when God’s people begin moving in a Holy, anointed progression. He will strategically plan a way to try and stop what is going on. The problem is, there’s not a lot he can do. We are the church, and Jesus said the gates of hell could not prevail against it. So, what can the enemy do to hinder it? He can only do what he has always done, and that is to try and destroy us from the inside out. He can’t defeat us, but we can bring defeat to each other. Our unity is what helps bring revival, and when we cease from being united, we will eventually be defeated.

We need to be aware of how the enemy is going to attack. He will try and cause division between the members. Hurt feelings, gossip, and sowing discord is the only successful strategy the enemy has. When one brother gets offended at another, and a sister begins to harbor feelings about another sister, the attack is on. We cannot afford to start fighting each other. That’s what the enemy wants us to do. We have to understand what is going on and turn our fighting toward the enemy and not each other.

None of us are perfect, and at times we’re going to say things we don’t mean. We all have bad days and mood swings. But let us work hard on protecting the unity of our church or group. Learn to forgive and work hard on putting things in the past. If you feel like someone has an issue with you, stop waiting on the other one to make the first move and go ahead, make it yourself. Put aside your agenda, keep your problems off social media, and protect the body of Christ.

We need each other.
We desperately need to build up one another.
We need to choose love over everything.
Give your brother or sister the benefit of the doubt.
Stop chasing rumors and aggressively pursue unity.

“SAFE AND SOUND DOCTRINE”

It’s interesting to have theological conversations with people who base their decisions on emotions versus the Bible. Some don’t have a choice because they have no Biblical knowledge whatsoever. I’m not trying to be rude, but unfortunately, they’ve had no teaching or training in the Word of God. Therefore, all of their decisions are based on what they feel about God instead of what they know. It doesn’t make me angry; honestly, it makes me sad. We have so much work to do as the body of Christ. The gospel must be preached, and those of us that have a knowledge of God and Bible understanding, we must be busy. I know not everyone will accept it, but our job is to share it.

In this fast rhythm of life, people are so busy; many are not taking the time to build an authentic relationship with Jesus. They seem to be lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s a scripture about how it will be before the Lord returns. Because of that, so many see God through their opinion of life. Someone told me recently, I think God wants me to have fun, and if I just do my best, I’ll be fine. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25

No matter what you think about God or your opinion about what will happen in the end, everyone will be judged according to His Word. Don’t be fooled by a feeling or misled by your emotions. Build or rebuild a relationship with Him right away. Don’t be caught up in some crazy wind of false doctrine that is blowing. Be faithful to the things that will cause you to grow. Find a church that preaches sound doctrine and a pastor that can interpret the scriptures. Get involved in serving and helping others. Create a safe lifestyle for you and your family. The return of our Lord is very soon; make sure you know what it takes to be ready to go with Him.

“STORIES FROM THE BROKEN”

There is nothing that thrills me any more than seeing people that have been broken and hurt become healed by the hand of God. It’s incredible to watch them transform from having their heads down to seeing them lift it with a renewed joy. I’ve seen them walk in the church discouraged, with no direction whatsoever; then, after a while, through the power of God and the love of God’s people, a transformation begins to take place. Seeing that happen is one of the greatest joys I get to experience as a pastor. That’s marvelous healing and restoration.

As much as that excites me; when I hear a few of their stories of how they got in that condition, it upsets me. You see, many of them have been hurt by other people. Sometimes it’s a church member, then, amazingly enough, a pastor or minister has caused it. Brothers and sisters, I don’t understand this. No matter what a person does or how disappointing they’re actions might be, no one should ever be ok with willfully causing someone hurt. Even if someone makes a mistake, nowhere in the Bible does it give anyone a right to hurt someone intentionally. That is not the Spirit of God.

As pastors, there are times the Bible tells us we have to reprove and rebuke, but there is a difference between that and hurting someone. Something is wrong when a pastor or a church member can justify such actions. If somebody messes up, deal with it and move on. Their failure shouldn’t be the talk of church members at the next gathering. I know people that suffer from real problems, but they can’t get healed from the main problem because now they’re suffering from people that have added hurt to the original issue. If you can’t speak words of healing, the best thing you can do is keep quiet; and that’s putting it nicely.

Healing follows kindness. We can’t restore what we’re not willing to forgive. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” There isn’t one of us that is perfect. That includes all of us pastors. It’s a sad day when mercy is missing from our message and actions. It’s taking me several years and a lot of criticism, but I am so glad to be the pastor of a church that loves everyone and shows mercy to all. From our stage to the parking lot are a group of mess-ups, misfits, and imperfect people. But I can promise you this; they can recognize someone broken and hurting when they walk through our doors. You know why? Because they remember when it was them.

Do you want to be like Jesus? Go looking for the one lost sheep that needs to come home. Promote healing, not hurt. Be a restorer, not a divider. Remember, Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER.”

“BE THAT ONE”

One of the most important things you can do is also one of the hardest to achieve. Be quiet. Being right doesn’t always mean being loud. The loudest one in an argument is not necessarily the winner. I’ve also discovered that helping someone doesn’t mean you give them tons of advice. Sometimes listening to someone is more important than talking. Don’t get me wrong, having something to say is valuable, but what you say, how you say it, and how long you say it is an excellent act of wisdom.

I think you will find in the Gospels, that even though Jesus spent a lot of time teaching, He also spent a considerable amount of time listening. Nobody had more to say than Him, but we find Him sitting down with people and listening to them. He taught His disciples, but He also let them talk as well — what an incredible example for all leaders to follow. You don’t just lead people by talking; you can also influence them by listening.

So, practice it and achieve it. Let it be a goal of yours to listen more the next time you’re in a conversation with someone needing help. Be slow to speak, but in a hurry to listen. Somebody needs someone to talk to. Be that one.