“WHAT I SEE WON’T HELP YOU”

We have been taught that God is omnipresent. That means He is everywhere present and nowhere absent. It’s hard for our human minds to comprehend that. Not only does He feel all space, but He is also present in any area of time. There is literally nowhere He cannot go. He told Isaiah, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? To say we serve a great and big God is an understatement. Think of a sermon you’ve heard recently where the minister proclaimed the greatness and size of God. That minister was reminding you that God is bigger than whatever it is you are facing.

But here is the reality. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been told or taught. Even the number of sermons is irrelevant. You can read about Him, hear others talk about Him, but if you don’t see the vastness of God for yourself, then it’s not going to do you any good. How great I see Him, and how big I try to preach that He is will not help you if you don’t start viewing Him that great in your own eyes. You can’t live off of your parent’s vision of God. You can’t exist off of your Pastor’s perspective of Him. No matter how your spouse sees God, you have to get your own vision and revelation of Him. I don’t want you to just hear about His greatness; I want you to see it for yourself.

So, at the start of 2020, I ask you this question; How great do you see God? Your eyes, your vision, your perspective, and your revelation of His greatness.

“21 DAYS OF FOCUS”

Today, our Church begins, what we’re calling “21 DAYS OF FOCUS.” The definition of focus is to bring something to the center of attention. It also means, having clear vision. I’ve heard a lot about 2020 being the year of vision, and I love that, but what good is a vision without focus? We don’t just need vision; we need a clear vision. We have to make sure we have the right things at the center of attention. So, for the next 21 days, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. In fact, it’s going to be a year of focus for us. We all get busy with other things in life, and before you know it, certain things start becoming blurry and out of focus. Here is a list of some things that we are bringing to the center of attention.

PRAYER
FASTING
BIBLE READING
FELLOWSHIP
RELATIONSHIPS (Marriage, family, and friendships)
FINANCES
YOUR GIFTS AND CALLING
MISSION AND EVANGELISM (Reaching out to the lost and hurting)
FAITHFULNESS TO THE HOUSE GOD

You are more than welcome to go on this journey with us. If you are a part of a Church that is doing something similar to this, that is great, and I am praying for you and your Church. Let’s set the pace for 2020 by joining together in unity and focusing on things that might have become blurry in our lives.

“WAIT FOR CLARITY”

We are three days into 2020. How are you doing on your goals? Remember, you have to maintain a consistent pace to last throughout the year. It’s not about how great you start, but how well you end. You will experience highs and lows as you strive to reach your goal. Don’t let the highs cause you to be overconfident, and don’t let the lows convince you to quit. No matter what you want to see happen in 2020, it will take daily commitment to achieve it. Things might look a little blurry now, but begin to focus and wait for clarity.

“YOU CAN’T GO UNTIL YOU LET GO”

Well, this is it. Today we will perform our last acts of 2019. What did you complete, what’s left unfinished, and what are your goals for 2020? There are probably some things you’ll need to carry over to make sure they get done, and not abandoned. However, you might have a few things you keep hanging on to each year that should be released. Only you know what those things are. I can promise you this, letting go of hurt and bitterness will free you for your greatest year ever. Whatever you’re holding on to, is keeping you from where God wants to take you to. It’s not worth it. You might ask, how do I let go of what happened to me in the past? It’s not easy, but here’s what I would say. You have to be more excited about where you’re going versus where you’ve been. You’re passion for your future needs to be stronger than the pain of your past. God’s calling on your life will never be behind you, only in front of you. Your purpose is in where you’re going, not where you’ve been. The bottom line is, you can’t go until you let go.

“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.

“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!!!

“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.

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

To lead means precisely that; you lead, guide, direct, and point. You take someone or several where they can’t get to without your directing them. What an incredible responsibility and load for a leader to carry. If you think about it, a leader can only take you in one of two directions. Forward or backward. The leader can either move you ahead or turn you around and take you back in the direction of where you’ve already been. To make the ones you lead better, the leader has to direct them forward. Real Increase is in progress, not digression. Even though moving people ahead can sometimes be uncomfortable, it’s imperative.

I think it’s also essential when an individual or a group chooses a leader; they need someone that will take them where they haven’t been. It can be devastating for a company, church, or any organization to appoint a leader that takes them in the direction of their past. The past should only be a reminder, not a destination. You need someone that can see and lead you beyond the point you are currently. A leader needs to hear your desires and have a plan to get you there. And I can promise you, that place is somewhere you’ve never been or seen.

So, leaders, if you’re going to lead, then move them forward. If you need a leader, make sure the one you choose is looking ahead of you, not behind you.

“HERE’S WHAT YOU FORGOT”

So, you remember that mistake in your past. You can’t seem to get it out of your mind. Maybe you remember a particular storm that almost cost you everything. Perhaps you even remember a broken heart from someone you thought would never hurt you. Honestly, when you start going down that road, your memory can be your worst enemy. You don’t want it there, you’ve asked for it to leave, but for some reason, nothing will cause it to get out.

As bad as some things are in your past that you’re remembering, here’s what you forgot. In spite of your mess-up, God never gave up on you. His grace was greater than your failure…you might have forgotten that. Yes, you suffered a heart-break, but no one has ever loved you more than Jesus. You remember who walked away, but you might have forgotten who stayed. I know that the storm was terrible, and the details make you cringe even now, but guess what? YOU MADE IT! You remember being in it, but you might have forgotten that you’re out. Even if things are still challenging, you could be failing to remember who’s holding your hand.

So, if you’re going to remember the sorrow, don’t forget the joy. If you’re going to think about the hurt, don’t forget the healing.

He was there in your error and didn’t forsake you. He covered you with His love while you mourned from grief. Here’s what you forgot; He was there, He’ll always be there, and He is here now.