Mission: Puerto Rico ~ Update

Mission: Puerto Rico ~ Update

We saw God moving in powerful ways. Every person we worked with or came in contact with was touched by the presence of God. The construction projects were a blessing to the people. We saw hundreds of students come to know Jesus in the public schools we spoke at. And countless people were ministered to and healed in the services. Literally the deaf could hear, the blind could see and the lame walked. God is doing powerful things in Puerto Rico, but what He did there He will do here. What He did for them He will do for you. 

UNPRECEDENTED

“I’ve never seen anything like that before.” 

“I’ve never heard of anything like that!”

That is the essence of the word, “UNPRECEDENTED.” I feel the Lord speaking this for 2018. God wants to move in your life in ways you’ve never seen before. He wants to do things that are completely UNPRECEDENTED for you.  It says in I Corinthians 2:9,

“What eye did not see and ear did not hear,

and what never entered the human mind—

God prepared this for those who love Him.” (HCSB)

It sounds like the definition of UNPRECEDENTED. It reminds me of Abraham. God made a promise to Abraham that he would give him a son. Years later God did the impossible, He gave Abraham a son when he was 100 years old. It was completely UNPRECEDENTED. Years later God told Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him. I don’t know about you but I would have had trouble with this. 

“Wait a minute. I’d like to be sure that was really you, God. That sounded a lot like the devil.”

Some people behave like that when God speaks to them. But it’s obedience to His Word that brings the blessing in our lives. Abraham didn’t hesitate. It says in Genesis 22:3, that he got up early the next morning and off he went, to sacrifice his son. I bet he didn’t discuss it with his wife. Try explaining that one. He just went. 

How could he be so confident? It says in Hebrews 11:19,

“He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead.”

Now we read that and we think, “Of course.” But remember this, God had never raised anyone from the dead before. It was UNPRECEDENTED. It had never happened, ever.  But he believed God would do it for him. You know the rest of the story. His son didn’t have to die, it was a picture of what God would do in sending His Son, Jesus.

Here’s the point. God wants to move in your life in ways that are beyond your imagination. But you must believe that He will do it.

Can you receive that? It makes a difference what you think. Remember the story of the 12 spies in Numbers 13. God told Israel he was going to give them the promised land. But, it was UNPRECEDENTED. Nothing like this had ever taken place in all of history. God took a bunch of slaves and made them into a nation. He promised to give them land. But when they got there they couldn’t believe it. 

Ten of those spies came back and said, “We can’t do it! There’s giants in there! They’re going to eat us for lunch.” But two of those guys (Joshua and Caleb) stood up and said, “Come on, we can do it. There might be giants but God has given this land to us! Let’s go!” Who did they listen to? They listened to those guys who were only looking with their natural senses. 

You can’t live by your natural senses, you have to live by what the Word says. What happened to those people? They all started crying, “God brought us out here to die!” “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt!” So God told them he was going do for them exactly as He heard them say. They were all going to die in the desert but their children could go in to the promise.

And God made a promise to Joshua and Caleb. Because they believed His word they could go in. Everyone else in their generation was going to die. Imagine that. Everyone from your generation is dead. But you are alive because you believed the promise of God. It makes a difference what you believe and what you speak. Joshua and Caleb had to step over dead bodies of those who refused to believe in order to take hold of the promises of God. It was UNPRECEDENTED. Some from their generation might have told them, “You’re going to die too, Joshua and Caleb.What makes you think you’re special. You’ll die like the rest of us!” But they couldn’t listen to that stuff, they had the promises of God and that’s what kept them strong.

When Caleb finally got into the promised land he was 85 years old. Look at what he says about himself,

I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out. My strength for battle and for daily tasks is now as it was then.” 

(Joshua 14:11 HCSB)

Then he tells Joshua to give him the hill country where the giants live. He is going to go kill all the giants and take his inheritance. What!? This is UNPRECEDENTED. An 85 year old man taking on an entire city of giants! But he believed the promise.

What are you facing today? Are there giants in front of you that no one has ever been able to beat? Don’t listen to people around you who say it’s impossible, listen to the Word of God. Get a hold of His promises.

There are facts and then there is truth. I read some things recently about Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Newton came up with the idea of gravity. With it he was able to make predictions and calculations about how the world works and how the planets move in their orbits. Gravity is a fact. He proved it. No one would ever doubt it. Until Einstein came along and figured out a new theory. The problem was his theory didn’t work together with gravity. One of them was wrong. It turned out the traditional view of gravity had to be changed to make way for the new.

Sometimes we think we know something. We see the facts. But facts aren’t necessarily the truth. Here is one definition of truth: “A fact or believe accepted as true.” That’s interesting. What you believe matters. How you think matters. It’s important we believe what God says. If you’ve been believing something else, get rid of it! It’s wrong. The FACT is: God’s Word is TRUTH!

Believe for God to move in UNPRECEDENTED ways in your life this year!

Vision Correction

Vision Correction

Take a look at this picture. Which one is darker A or B? Would you believe they are both the same? Don't believe me? Cover up the middle where they touch and see for yourself. Maybe you've been fooled before by something that looks a certain way but the reality was much different.


Vision can be a tricky thing. We are conditioned to see a certain way. In order to see something different we need to change our perspective. 


In Ephesians 1:18-19 it says,
"I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength."


His prayer was essentially that our perceptions would be changed so we could be able to grasp all that God has for us! So often we get stuck thinking the way the world thinks and seeing the way they see. The problem is we are living in two worlds at the same time. The Kingdom of God is in us and we are living in this world. And when we are looking at things from a worldly perspective we can't comprehend God's plans for us. Instead we need to start to see things the way God sees them. We need to have our vision corrected so we can see our lives through the eyes of our Father who loves us. Change your perspective today. Get into the Word of God and believe what He says. 


When we start to see the way God sees we will be changed. It is only then that we can step in to the purposes and plans that He has for us.

Romans 12:1-2 says this,

"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God."

 

When you lay down your will and get your mind renewed you will be able to "discern" the will of God for your life.

More on this soon. 

 

Blessings.

 

Get Groovy!

Jeremiah 6:16

This is what the Lord says:

Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves.

But they protested, "We won't!"

We've all felt at times that we are, "in a rut." Maybe you've used that expression. We feel that we are doing the same thing over and over and we can't seem to shake it. The expression raises the image of a car driving down an old dirt road, a road that has been so well traveled that deep ruts have been worn into it. If you were driving that car you could let go of the wheel and bounce back and forth in the rut, but you probably wouldn't bounce out. You would be stuck in the rut. It doesn't always have to be a bad thing, it just depends on where the road is taking you. If the rut leads over a cliff you better get out of that rut, put the car in reverse if you have to. But if the rut is taking you home, just follow the rut.

We don't typically speak of being stuck in a rut in a good way. There is another expression that means almost the same thing, "I'm in the groove." If someone is doing something well and can't seem to make a mistake, he is "in the groove." A basketball player who can't miss a shot, is in the groove.
Habits and things we do on a regular basis don't have to be bad things. What we need to do is develop good habits. We need to purposely develop ruts in our lives that will take us in the direction we want to go. We need to get in our groove. But we have to know the way to go. That is what the above verse is saying. The Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and told the people to get into the ancient paths, the old grooves or ruts. They had left the road God had started the people on and were following their own ways, making new ruts. So God instructed them to leave the way that looks good and find the old ways.

The Bible, in Proverbs 14:12, says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."

Not everything that seems good is good. We need to find out what the Word of God says and do that. Conventional wisdom might tell us one thing, but what does the Word say? That is what we need to do because it is the "ancient path." The Word of God will lead us to life, and peace. Jeremiah announced to the people to follow God's way, but the people responded, "We won't do it!" Will you?

Let me encourage you today, follow God's way. Develop a pattern, a rut, of listening to and obeying God's Word. Before you know it you'll find yourself in the groove.

God is in the small things

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the heavens are above the earth, your days and those of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your fathers."

We like big things. I know when I visit a restaurant I am really disappointed if my food comes out and I get a small portion. I am really upset if my wife gets a bigger portion than me. I want a big plate. I want to leave the restaurant full. I want to have so much that I can take some home and eat a full lunch off of it the next day. 

In life we love the big things. The big events, summer breaks, vacation, and Christmas. We look forward to these things. And so we tend to overlook the small things. The daily routine of life. We call Wednesday "hump" day, because we made it half-way through the week, looking forward to another weekend. But the small things are where life happens. Don't miss the small opportunities to speak to people about the Lord, to share your faith, to teach and encourage. That is what the Lord was encouraging the people to do in the above Scripture. 

The Lord was telling them to make the Word of God the central part of their lives, so much so that even something so normal as walking down the street would become an opportunity to speak to their children about Him. They were encouraged to have the Word on their hearts and mind, to put them on their doorposts and on their hands and foreheads. The people took this very literally and still today you will see Jewish men with small boxes containing Scripture tied to themselves. But the point is the Word should be so central in our lives that it becomes the focus of all we do. We don't wait until a "big" service or a special day to discuss the Word. It is meant to be the center of our lives, because when it is that means Jesus is the center. 

Make a commitment today to make Him the center of everything you do, the big things and the small things.

Living in Thanksgiving

1 Chronicles 16:4

"David appointed some of the Levites to be ministers before the ark of the Lord, to celebrate the Lord God of Israel, and to give thanks and praise to Him."

Here in this story David has just brought the ark of God to Jerusalem. The first thing he does is appoint priests to minister. Their job description: to celebrate the Lord, to give thanks to the Lord and to praise the Lord!

All day, every day, all these priests did was minister to the Lord. They stood before the Lord and celebrated Him. In other words they remembered what God had done for them. They recalled His goodness, His mercy, His favor. They spoke of His miracles. They remembered. 

When was the last time you stopped and remembered what God has done for you. We celebrate a time of thanksgiving in the United States every November. It is meant to be a time to reflect on all that God has done for us. This should not just be a once a year thing, as good as that is, but instead we should be people who are constantly celebrating the goodness of our God. 

As you celebrate Him and His goodness you can't help but give thanks. I remember the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. They came to Jesus and asked to be healed. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests. As they went they were all healed. But only one came back to give thanks to Jesus. Jesus was shocked. It was offensive that some were healed but never gave Him thanks. It pleases the Father when we are thankful. I know as a parent I appreciate it so much when my children are thankful. It is no different for God. He loves for us to be thankful. 

Finally the priest were told to give praise to God. What is praise? We throw that word around sometimes without really understanding it. It has ties to thanksgiving and celebration, but it literally means to go crazy with your celebration. It is the same word for rave. Imagine a rave type of party, except for you are expressing worship. Now I know some people will have a problem with this. David's wife had a problem with his expression of worship as he brought the ark in. David was basically "raving" before God. Some would say, "This sounds like the flesh, that's not very spiritual!" But I would say, God gave you your flesh, worship Him with it.

Immediately after David appointed the priests to serve he wrote a song or psalm of thanksgiving to be sung before the Lord by the priests. David had in his heart to give thanks. It was right after this that God spoke to David and made a covenant with him, promising Messiah would come from his line. When we have in our heart to be thankful to Him, He is going to bless you for it. Get in your heart to be thankful today. Live in Thanksgiving ever day. 

A Picture of God

Zephaniah 3:17

Yahweh your God is among you,

a warrior who saves.

He will rejoice over you with gladness.

He will bring you quietness with His love.

He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

What a picture of God! 

If we're honest, most of us don't see Him that way. So many have a view of God as a grumpy, old man waiting to hit you on the head with his cane. Even those of us who feel like we have a good understanding of who God is still may have trouble seeing Him as He is portrayed in the verse above.

A warrior. God is a warrior who saves you. The knight in shinning armor. That's Him! You may feel like you're in over your head, and there's no way out... But that's when the warrior comes in! To read this brings up images of fairy tales and legends, full of knights, and dragons, and the damsel in distress. It doesn't matter how big the dragon is, he is no match for the knight, determined to win the damsel's heart. That's your God. His love is beyond measure.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, "I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God's love, and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 17b-19)

His love for you is beyond measure. But Paul prays that if they could just get some kind of understanding of His great love, that is to us through Jesus our Savior, they would be "filled with all the fullness of God." The key here is love. God is love. When we begin to understand that we are filled with love for one another.

Look again at Zephaniah 3:17. 

He rejoices over you with gladness... In other words, you make Him happy. Think about that. You make the creator of the universe happy. If you are in love with someone, it should make you happy to be around them. This is how God feels about you. You make Him happy. Not just a small grin, happy... but rejoicing with gladness. The Hebrew word here is "sim-khaw" which is more than gladness but a happy festival! God has a big party over you. There is essentially a heavenly party taking place over your life, and God is in charge of it! 

The next part of the verse says, He will bring you quietness with His love, and He will delight in you with shouts of joy! His love for you should bring peace to your life. When you know the love of God nothing can bring you down. He is shouting joy over your life today. So walk in that truth.

Living a Victorious Life

"For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4 (AMP)

What are you facing today?

Do you feel victorious? Maybe you don't. Maybe you've gone through some battles and you feel like you've lost. 

But the Word of God calls you victorious! So how can you be victorious when you don't feel like you're a winner. Forget about conquering the world, you don't even feel like you can kill a blind fly.

Here's the thing. You are victorious. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter what battles you think you have lost. God will make you victorious over this world.

Look again at the words in this verse: victorious, victory, conquer... There are all from the same greek word: "Nee'kay" (or Nike) it means literally to subdue or a means of success. 

This isn't for everyone. The qualifier is, "Whatever is born of God..." If you have given your life to Jesus you have been born of God. You have been re-made as a conqueror. That is what Adam's original job was. He was told by God in Genesis 1:28, 

"Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth." (HCSB)

Adam was designed to rule and subdue this world. He was created to be victorious, but he allowed sin to come in and rule instead of him. But you have been re-created. You are victorious. It doesn't matter how you feel because your victory isn't tied to your feelings. The Word of God says the victory that conquers is our faith! 

Believe God today for victory in whatever you might be facing. Stand up and shout the victory, because you have been re-made as a victorious person. It doesn't even matter if you can't see the victory right now, that's good, because you have an opportunity for your faith to be put into practice. Faith isn't about seeing, it's about believing. So believe God today. Speak His words. This world can't touch you. It has no hold over you. Depression and fear have no place in your life, because you live in victory. 

Doing Life God's Way

Daniel 1:8-9
"Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank. So he asked permission from the chief official not to defile himself. God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official"

Daniel was taken into captivity, from Judah into Babylon. Babylon represents the world's system, the world's way of doing life. Now Babylon had a plan. As soon as they captured a people they would engulf them into their culture. They wanted them to forget where they came from and start to think and live like a Babylonian. One thing they did was change the names of the people they captured. They took Daniel who's name meant, God is my judge and changed it to, Belteshazzar, which meant, Bel's prince. Bel was the main god of Babylon. They did the same thing with Daniel's three friends. They tried to get them to identify with their gods, because if they could get them to change that way of thinking they would have their whole lives.

Another thing they did was pick out some of the best ones and prepare them to be in the kings court. These select ones were given food from the kings table. The only thing was the food had been given as a sacrifice to the god's of Babylon. To eat this food would be a form of worship of these gods. This is why you see in the verse above Daniel didn't want anything to do with this. He refuses to conform to the world. He determines in his heart he is not going to live like the world, act like the world or smell like the world. He is going to do life God's way.

That is not always an easy decision to make. There are so many people telling you, here is what you should do. Here is what you should think. We hear it from media all around us, 24/7. We hear it from peers and family. They might call you crazy for following after God. But it doesn't matter, because like Daniel, you have determined in you heart you are going to follow God's way.

I wonder how many other men and women were taken into captivity at the same time as Daniel, but went ahead and ate the food. They probably figured, "What else can we do?" But Daniel and his friends decided that they would follow God's way. Look at that verse again. Even though they decided to do things God's way, they didn't stage a protest or start some kind of revolt. They humbled themselves and asked permission. Now I am 100% sure that even if they had been told no they still would not have eaten that food. But the point is they believed God would make a way to do things in peace and respectfully. Again remember they were taken in captivity. Maybe some people would think, "I have a right to fight!" But not them. And so God gave them favor.

Look at how it ended for them, "At the end of 10 days they looked better and healthier than all the young men who were eating the king's food." Daniel 1:15
"God gave these  young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind." Daniel 1:17
"The King interviewed them, and among all of them, no one was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they began to serve in the king's court." Daniel 1:19

They were promoted in Babylon. In the wicked world's system they were blessed by doing things God's way, because it wasn't man who promoted them, but God. What are you facing today? What challenges or decisions do you have before you? Determine in your heart to do life God's way today. Seek Him for your answers and guidance and He will bless you more than you can imagine.

God is speaking... are you listening?

Acts 8:26 (HCSB)
"An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: 'Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.'"

Acts 8:29 
"The Spirit told Philip, 'Go and join that chariot.'"

This is just one of countless examples of God speaking to His people. This is the story of Philip ministering to an Ethiopian. I would encourage you to read this entire story, but what I want to point out is the fact that the Lord sent an angel to speak very clearly to Philip and give him direction. Then in the same story the Holy Spirit speaks directly to Philip, again, giving him clear direction. I find it interesting that God speaks clearly in this story in two different ways.

Why not the same way both times? Sure, God could have spoken to Philip the same way both times, but He chose not to.

Hebrews 1:1 says, "Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways."

He is a creative God and likes to do things in different ways. According to the book of Hebrews He was even doing it long ago. I believe that God speaks through His Word and will never, ever contradict His Word. But my question is are we open to other ways He might be trying to speak to us or get our attention? Some ways God speaks are: through His Word (the Bible), by His Holy Spirit, through other people, angels and other ways that grab your attention. He can use anything and anyone. Remember the talking donkey? The question is, are we open to the voice of the Spirit of God in our lives?

I, like many other men, have a super-power. I am able to tune out the world around me in order to focus on whatever is on TV, be it a football game or a movie, I am able to completely focus on it. My wife can talk to me all she wants, I will never hear it. She does not appreciate my super powers as much as I do. We can all be a little like that at times. We have to make ourselves available to listen to the voice of God. Shut out the distractions and open ourselves to what He is speaking to us. I know this, He wants to speak to you. You just have to be open to listen to Him.

Take some time today and ask Him to speak to you and then listen.

Amazing God

John 5:19-20
Then Jesus replied, "I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that you will be amazed."

Jesus only did what the Father was doing. He only healed the sick, fed the multitudes and raised the dead because that is what the Father was doing. In fact He said He was not able to do anything on His own. His life was so submitted to Father that He wouldn't or couldn't do anything on His own. That is how our lives should be.

The Father is still working by the Holy Spirit and wants to do things in us and through us, but will only do it if we will be submitted fully to Him. It's not about what we can do, but what we can't do. When we recognize we can't, we make room for Him to do the work. What work does He want to do? The same works that Jesus did. Look again at what Jesus said, why did the Father want to do the works and even greater works? Jesus said it was, "so that you will be amazed."

The Father wants to knock your socks off. He wants to bring blessings to your life. He desires to bring healing and miracles to your life, but not just to you. He wants to make you an instrument of blessing just like Jesus was. He wants miracles flowing through you so that people will be amazed and give God the glory. But first you have to get submitted to Him and recognize it's not about you, it's about Him.

Lord, work through me today! I humbly submit myself to you and ask you to work through me for the glory of God!