What I’ve learned about worship from my teachers:
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Just the Two of Us…Dr. James Merritt
We were all born, wired to worship something greater than us.
1. Spending time with God causes us to reflect God’s character. Ps 37:4 The better your relationship with God the better you will be able to influence others about God.
2. Spending time with God allows us to receive God’s blessings. Ps 37:4 When you want what God wants, God will always give you more than you want.
3. Spending time with God moves us to rely on God’s power. Ps37:5 The things that God wants you to do for Him are the things God can do through you. At 211 degrees just one more degree can make the difference between really hot water and creating steam that can drive a locomotive. Without God, you will always be a degree short of what you could accomplish in your life. Turn everything you have over to God.
4. Spending time with God teaches us to rest in God’s will. Ps 37:7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently on Him. Don’t let life get you hot under the collar. Spending time with God lets you understand Him better. As you trust and love Him more you will worry less.
Did Jesus use a modem at the sermon on the mount?
Did He have to be on itunes for His ministry to count?
Did He ever use a fax machine to get His message out?
Did the disciples carry iphones as they went out and about?
Did Paul use a laptop with lots of RAM and ROM?
Did he use an email address such as “Paul@Rome.com”?
Did he always have to hear the word of God on his personal ipod?
Did he need his Bose earphones if he wanted to hear from God?
Did Moses use a joystick at the parting of the sea?
Did he need a satellite GPS to show him where to be?
Did he really receive the commandments on tablets or was it really on CD?
Did he really lead the exodus are was it just on DVD?
If in your life the voice of God is sometimes hard to hear,
with other voices calling His doesn’t touch your ear,
then set aside that ipod, unplug that fancy gear,
and open up your bible and talk to God in prayer.
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Battle Signs…Rick Warren
“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” Romans 7:15 (LB)
I love how gut-level honest the Apostle Paul is in Romans 7. Here he was, a mature believer, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, sharing his struggles with his fellow believers.
And I’m so glad he did! He shared the emotional battle that is going on inside me and you and everyone who is a Christian when we try to do the right thing on our own effort.
Paul highlighted six emotional costs.
1. You will experience confusion. Paul said, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t …” (Romans 7:15 LB). Notice that Paul said “I”. He didn’t lay the blame on another person or an enemy. He recognized the confusion came from within himself.
2. You will experience guilt and shame. “I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I’m breaking” (Romans 7:16 LB). The word “conscience” means “with knowledge.” So if your conscience is bothering you, it means you did something with the full knowledge it was wrong. The outcome of a bothered conscience is guilt and shame. God doesn’t want you to carry that around.
3. The outcome is compulsions and addictions. If you don’t learn how to fight the battle inside you, it will lead to compulsions and addictions. As Paul said, “I can’t help myself because I am no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am …” (Romans 7:17 LB). We have a natural human nature with a built-in resistance to doing the right thing. We want to do what is easy and fun, but we don’t naturally want to do what is right and good. Sin is fun, and it can easily become habitual.
4. You will experience self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is when you start to feel bad and judge yourself, because you continually give in to your temper or laziness or whatever you struggle with and don’t want to. As the Apostle Paul said, “I know I’m rotten on the inside, as far as my old sinful nature is concerned” (Romans 7:18 LB).
5. You will experience frustration. “No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t! … I find myself still enslaved to sin” (Romans 7:18-20 LB). The Bible calls this the law of sin. The law of sin is like the law of gravity – it always pulls you down. And the law of sin will continue no matter how hard you try to break your bad habits simply by willpower.
6. You will experience discouragement and despair. Paul said, “In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin” (Romans 7:23 LB). Paul recognized that every day there was a battle going on inside his mind. Continually losing that battle because you’re fighting it with your own power will eventually lead to discouragement and despair.
“So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in” (Romans 7:24 LB). The word predicament in Greek means “totally exhausted.” Are you exhausted, like Paul was, from the inner battle? Hold on because Jesus brings us hope!
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Pastor Rick Warren…God speaks to people who decide in advance to do what He tells them to do, not those who say, “God, tell me what to do and then I’ll decide if I want to do it.” When you have an attitude of cooperation, you are going to hear from God. A willing mind is the good soil that we see in…“The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.” Luke 8:15 (GNT)
You need to be able to say, “God, I’m willing to do whatever you want me to do. Even if it seems scary or unusual or hard, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to keep at it until I bear fruit.”
“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you …” (James 1:5 LB). We have to ask before he answers because our relationship with God begins with faith. He doesn’t force things on us. He invites us into a relationship with him. So we ask.
If you’re just rushing through your day assuming everything’s okay, you need to just stop once in a while and say, “God, I ask you, what is your direction?” He will gladly tell you.
And how does he tell you? An answer will usually come through one of two main ways – through people that are following him and through his Word. Get together with a few people who you know seek after God and ask them for their opinion. And turn to God’s Word. Ask him, “God, what do you have to say about this?”
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Pastor Greg McBride…”Jesus in the Passover”…Exodus 12-13
The 10th plague that God inflicted on Pharaoh (and his people) to convince him to let the Israelites leave Egypt was to kill the 1st born of each family. This plague would skip (or pass over) the Israelites’ homes if they followed detailed instructions. They were to eat a passover meal of lamb without defect or blemish. The lamb was to have no broken bones and they were to put the lamb’s blood on the top and both sides of their doorframe the night of passover. They were also instructed to eat nothing made with yeast during the celebration meal.
Similarly, in Luke 22:7-8 and 14-20 we learn that Jesus is the passover lamb, perfect and without sin. None of His bones were broken during cruxification. Jesus’ blood takes away all the sins of believers who confess their sins. The cup corresponds to the blood of passover and Jesus’ body is the unleavened bread.
1 Corinthians 11:26 says that during communion we proclaim Jesus’ death until he comes again.
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Pastor Buddy Owens…Believe you are who God says you are…
My Faith Confessions
• I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)
• The Son has set me free. I am free indeed! (John 8:36)
• My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
• I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
• He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)
• There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
• Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39)
• In all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
• God is faithful. He will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
• God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
• My light and momentary troubles are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
• He is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me. (Ephesians 3:20)
• God is for me! Who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)
Receiving God’s promises into your life
• He loves you – you have his Word on it (John 3:16).
• You are forgiven – you have his Word on it (Psalm 103:3).
• You belong to him – you have his Word on it (Romans 1:6).
• He will never leave you or give up on you – you have his Word on it (Hebrews 13:5).
• He will meet your needs – you have his Word on it (Philippians 4:19).
• He has a plan and a purpose for your life – you have his Word on it (Jeremiah 29:11).
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Dr. James Denison…James asks, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We are sustained by faith in a power and purpose greater than ourselves. For followers of Jesus, that power is a Person who became one of us that we might be one with him.
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Rick Warren…”Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2 (NLT)
The wise men were wise because they came to Jesus for the right reason. They were seekers of the truth and would go to any length to find Jesus and worship Him. They didn’t come to get something from Jesus; they came to show gratitude, to show love, to show honor, to show respect.
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Dr. Charles Stanley…3 Responses to the Christmas Story of the wise men from Matthew 2:1-12
– Some are Indifferent to the season…we need to talk about Jesus and make clear what He is all about to our family and friends.
– Some show Hatred…they don’t say “Merry Christmas”, they don’t want nativity scenes and they want to take away the crosses. Like Herod in the bible references they have fear and are threatened.
– Some will Worship…the outstanding, wealthy, students who were the wise men fell on their faces and worshiped Jesus. They also listened to God and went home a different way to keep away from Herod.
Worship is an attitude. For it, you need a pure heart, confess your sins, be humble and submit to the Spirit of obedience.
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Dr. James Denison…Thanksgiving—It is the one holiday mandated by Scripture: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Thanksgiving is the will of God and should be a daily experience in your soul.
“Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Biblical joy is a sense of well-being which transcends circumstances. “Happiness” is produced by “happenings,” but joy is produced by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” (Galatians 5:22).
We choose joy when we choose to live in the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 commands us to “be filled with the Spirit.” The words mean to be continually controlled by the Spirit, to submit our lives to him. In the Bible, God is a King. In our culture, he is a hobby. When we make God our King and submit to his Spirit, we experience his joy.
Scripture tells us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is how we stay in the Spirit. Walk through the day with God. Pray when you have a decision to make. Pray when you face a temptation or find an opportunity. God’s word promises us: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). As you pray through your day, you will encounter the tangible peace of your Lord.
You are the greatest miracle you know. Your body consists of 206 bones, wrapped with 650 muscles and seven miles of nerve fibers. Your eyes possess 100 million receptors, and your ears 24,000 fibers. Your heart beats 36,000,000 times every year and sends blood pumping through more than 60,000 miles of veins, arteries, and tubing.
Your brain contains 13,000,000,000 nerve cells. Picture the possible number of interconnections in your brain this way: the number of atoms in the universe is one followed by 100 zeroes. The number of different patterns possible in your brain is one followed by over 800 zeros.
Did you deserve to have physical abilities and not challenges? To be born in America and not North Korea? To have parents who would love you and not abuse you? To have the privileges and opportunities you enjoy today?
We’ve considered what God has done for us. Now consider what he is doing for you. He has given you eternal life in his Son. You are eternal. You will never die. Jesus told Martha, “He who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26).
And consider what he will do for you. Paul testified: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). He assured us: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Have you submitted your life to God as your King today, asking for the joy his Spirit alone can give? Have you decided to walk through this day in prayer, seeking the peace of your Lord? Have you given thanks for all he has done, is doing, and will do, positioning yourself to experience his power? Will you tomorrow?
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Pastor Rick Warren…From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to make you like his Son, Jesus. This is your destiny. God announced this intention at Creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image and likeness.” (Gen 1:26 NCV)
In all of creation, only human beings, are made “in God’s image.”We don’t know all this phrase covers, but we do know some of the aspects it includes: Like God, we are spiritual beings—our spirits are immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies; we are intellectual—we can think, reason, and solve problems; like God, we are relational—we can give and receive real love; and we have a moral consciousness—we can discern right from wrong, which makes us accountable to God.
As creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want you to become a god; he wants you to become godly—taking on his values, attitudes, and character. We are meant to “take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:22 Msg)
God’s ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing your personality or becoming a mindless clone. God created your uniqueness, so he certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.
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Pastor Greg Laurie…When things go wrong and we turn to worry, it is best to turn to God. We need to take those circumstances and put them into God’s hands. As Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” The best antidote for worry is prayer.
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Dr. James Denison…In My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers states: “We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Never allow that the haphazard is anything less than God’s appointed order, and be ready to discover the Divine designs anywhere.”
Live each moment as if you were in the very presence of God.
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Greg Laurie…Put God First—When Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, ascended to the throne after his father died, he was overwhelmed by the task at hand. So he prayed, and God appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5).
Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people: “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).
Because he had not asked for a long life, riches, or even the death of his enemies, God told Solomon He would give him just what he requested and more: “And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days” (1 Kings 3:13).
Solomon had his priorities in order. He sought God’s kingdom first, and all of those things were added to him.
When we put God and His kingdom first, our lives will find the proper balance as well. When Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” Matthew 6:33, what things was He speaking of? In context, these “things” are what you will wear, what you will drink, and what you will eat. But it is also where you will work, where you will live, and even whom you will marry.
The basic issues of life will be taken care of by God when we put Him first.
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Dr. James Denison…A psychologist once said that 90% of his patients’ problems resulted from guilt over the past or fear about the future. The problem is that “yesterday” and “tomorrow” do not exist. How much do they weigh? What color are they?
Even God cannot help me deal with what does not exist. But if I will focus on this day, on the only moment which actually exists, I will have all the strength and hope of God Almighty. He is not the Great I Was or the Great I Will Be, but He is the Great I Am (Exodus 3:14).
If I am focused on the past or the future, I cannot hear the voice of God. He speaks only in the present, in the moment which actually exists. If I am not in the present with him, I cannot receive the wisdom he intends to give me through His Spirit.
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If Jesus is your Lord, when you die, you don’t. When you close your eyes on earth, you open them in heaven. Your last breath here is your first breath there. There is never a moment when you cease to be. You simply step from time into eternity, from this broken world into God’s glorious paradise, from death to life. Evangelist D. L. Moody told a group of newspaper reporters gathered at his deathbed, “Don’t say that Dwight Moody is dead. I shall be more alive than you.” He is.
If you will follow Jesus, the worst that can happen to you will lead to the best that can happen to you. In a sense you will be buried alive—your body dead but your spirit rejoicing in glory.
What about tomorrow worries you now? Trust it to your Father now. No matter what the markets do today or the election decides on Tuesday, your future is a secure as the promises of God.
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The enemy attacks with disappointment, discouragement, and deception when we are in a weakened physical or emotional state. But, we need to remember God is with us along with ministering angels when we need help. (I Kings 19:5-7)
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Everything you have was given to you by God. He appointed the time of your birth, the family you were born into, your home country, your physical attributes, your talents, skills, and gifts–all were given to you. Even your most prized possession–the reward of eternal life in heaven–is a gift you received by faith.
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A sign hanging in Albert Einstein’s Princeton office proclaimed, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” He maintained that “imagination is more important than knowledge.”
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Eugene Peterson, the gifted pastor and translator of The Message, spoke of the Christian life as “a long obedience in the same direction.” How we spend our hours is how we spend our days, which is how we spend our years, which is how we spend our lives. Have you surrendered this hour to the Spirit of God?
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Greg Laurie…No Worries! A poll was taken in which Americans were asked what they worry about the most. The number-one response was, “My appearance.” They may lose their house. They may lose their life savings. They may get wiped off the earth in a nuclear blast. But the real concern is, “How do I look in this outfit?” Things don’t change much. Two thousand years ago, Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs” (Matthew 6:31–32).
What do you worry about the most? What causes you the greatest stress? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us why we should not worry, and what we should do instead. Then He concludes with this statement: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33).
What we learn from Jesus about anxiety and worry is that the follower of Jesus Christ should not be filled with anxiety. This does not mean that a Christian should not be concerned with needs like food or clothing. Yes, we need to concern ourselves with them. Yes, we need to think about a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and food in our stomachs. In fact, the Bible contains many admonitions about saving our money, investing wisely, and working hard for a living. Jesus is not saying that we should never think about these things. Rather, He is saying that we should not be obsessed with or worry about them.
Worrying doesn’t empty today of its sorrow; it empties tomorrow of its strength.
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Dr. James Denison…All Muslims believe in five tenets (often called the “five pillars of Islam”): the witness (“There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet”); prayers five times a day while facing toward Mecca (Muhammad’s hometown); a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in the Muslim’s lifetime (or financial provision for another to go in one’s place); fasting during the month of Ramadan (the first “revelation” which came to comprise the Quran was given to Muhammad on the 17th day of the month of Ramadan); and alms-giving to the poor (at least 2.5% of one’s goods). We are in Ramadan now; the observance will continue to September 19 this year.
Radical Muslims adhere to two additional beliefs. First, they assert that the West has been attacking the Muslim world since the Crusades (1095-1291) and especially with our support for Israel. This is a crucial belief, since the Quran forbids a Muslim to initiate aggression but requires him to defend Islam. Second, radical Muslims argue that since the West is made of democracies in which the people elect their leaders and support their military, there are no innocent victims in the West. You and I are viewed in the same way we might see Germans who supported Hitler and the Nazi movement.
As a result, 9-11 was not an unprovoked attack on innocent Americans in the mind of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. They saw it as a defense of Islam, striking at the symbols of Western imperialistic aggression—the Twin Towers represented the financial, the Pentagon the military, and Washington the political. (For my essay on our subject, including a history of Islam, the beliefs of Muslims, and the threat of Radical Islam, I invite you to go to our website, www.informedfaith.com.)
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Dr. James Denison…”Helicopter parenting,” is where moms and dads hover protectively and constantly over their kids. You may not want neighbors or parents “helicoptering” over you today, but there are some observers you and I should welcome. There are always angels watching over you. There are angelic beings in the room with you, created by God as “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).
Angels protected Lot and his daughters in Sodom (Genesis 19), the Hebrews from Egyptian armies (Exodus 14:19-20), and the Israelites from their enemies in Canaan (Exodus 23:20-23; 33:2-3). An angel saved Hezekiah and his people from annihilation by the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:32-36). Across the history of Israel, “the angel of his presence saved him” (Isaiah 63:9). Angels rescued the apostles from prison (Acts 5:17-19) and Peter from death (Acts 12:6-11).
The next time you feel alone and lonely, think about your angelic guardians. Know that they work for our Father in heaven, your omnipotent “helicopter Parent.” Take comfort and courage in their presence, and trust their Lord for your strength and peace. This is the invitation of God.
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Greg Laurie…That is why I think our generation could easily be called the iGeneration, because we think it is all about us. It is all about our getting what we want, when we want to get it. Now that we can get our information on demand, we don’t want to be told what we can see or hear—or let others decide when we can hear and see it. We want what we want, and we want it when we want it. And many are taking the same approach to morality
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Rick Warren…In Philippians 4, Paul says, “May you always be joyful in your life in the Lord.” Can we really be joyful in all circumstances? The Bible suggests the following strategy:
Don’t worry about anything–Worrying doesn’t change anything. It’s stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That’s good news. The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned.
How do you unlearn it? Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV). He’s saying don’t open your umbrella until it starts raining. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Live one day at a time.
Pray about everything–Next, instead of worrying, use your time for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a whole lot less to worry about. Some people think God only cares about religious things, such as how many people I invite to church or my tithing. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.
Thank God in all things–Whenever you pray, you should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.
Think about the right things–If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think because the way you think determines how you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act, which is why the Bible teaches that, if you want to change your life, you need to change what you’re thinking about.
This involves a deliberate conscious choice where you change the channels. You choose to think about the right things. Because the root cause of stress is the way we choose to think, we need to focus on the positive and on God’s word.
What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul tells us the result is, “you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
What a guarantee!
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Rick Warren…The moment you start retaliating or seeking revenge is the same moment you give up control of your life. You have allowed the person you’re angry at to gain control of your life because you are reacting, which is a position of weakness, as opposed to forgiving, which is a position of Christlike strength.
The Bible teaches, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NLT).
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It’s not failure to fall down, but it is failure to stay down. Has our fallen world fallen on you? Is discouragement whispering in your ear? Are you thinking of abandoning a dream for the security of mediocrity? Don’t do it. Remember that “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). When Peter turned his eyes from Jesus to the wind he was afraid and began to sink (Matthew 14:30). But when Stephen looked up, he saw Jesus (Acts 7:56).
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Dr. James C. Denison…God doesn’t have to multitask. You’d think he must–running the universe while listening to millions of people using hundreds of languages to pray to him right now. But he doesn’t live in time as we do. He created the space-time continuum, and stands outside of it. We know that our Lord is not bound by space–it’s harder for us to imagine him outside of time, but he is. To quote C. S. Lewis: if we imagine time as a line on a page, God is the page.
As a result, your Father has all of eternity to listen to your next prayer. To focus on your next problem or opportunity. To welcome your worship and speak to you through his word and empower you by his Spirit. He is the Great I Am-all of God there is, is in this moment.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has all the time in the world for you.
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Dr. James Denison…I may live to be 101 or this may be the last essay I write. Jesus could come back to our planet before I go to bed tonight-we’re one day closer to his return than ever before. In the meanwhile, the worst thing that can happen to me will lead instantly to the best thing that can happen to me. One second on the other side of death, I’ll be glad I’m home.
Justin the Martyr (executed for his faith in AD 165) told the Emperor, “You can kill us but you cannot harm us.” If Jesus is your Lord, you already have eternal life. You are immortal. You will live forever with your Father in his perfect paradise.
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Rick Warren…1 Timothy 4:8 says: “Take the time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” (Phillips) How do you stay spiritually fit so you can love people? By building habits into your life that keep you spiritually renewed.
A daily quiet time — “This is the reason we never lose heart. Our body does suffer wear and tear but every day the inward man receives fresh strength.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) Outwardly our body suffers wear and tear, but inwardly we can be spiritually renewed every day by spending time alone with God.
I don’t know what could help your life more than to begin the habit of a daily time with God. Start out with just ten minutes a day. Find a place where you can be by yourself – the car, your bedroom or living room, the backyard, even your office. Then pick a book of the Bible and read a chapter a day. Read it, think about what you’ve read, write some things down. That’s a habit that will make a difference and keep you spiritually renewed.
Small group — A Christian without a small group is an orphan. You need a small group. “Let us encourage one another daily.” You need to get together in a small group at least weekly where you can share needs and problems, where you care and pray for each other.
Worship – Praising God will renew and rejuvenate you. Psalms 59 “I will sing of your strength in the morning and I will sing of your love for you are my refuge in times of trouble.” You need that emotional release and that recharging that comes from singing. Put on a Christian tape or CD and sing along and see how God restores your soul.
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Greg Laurie…”You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” — Matthew 5:14
When you are living for Jesus Christ, your very presence will sometimes bother others. And the more godly a person is, the more obviously this will take place. Few things are more difficult to put up with than a good example. And when you live this way, it really gets the attention of people.
Light reveals things. We have all heard the well-worn excuses as to why people don’t believe in Jesus. But the real reason people don’t believe is they don’t want their sin exposed. They don’t want to acknowledge their shortcomings. The Bible says, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19–20).
Light not only exposes what is hidden in the darkness, but light shows the way out. In the same way, the light that shines from Christians shows people not only their shortcomings and their sins, but it shows them the way out, the way to Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). You may be the only representative of Jesus Christ that your friends, your family, your coworkers, and your neighbors may ever meet. And they will evaluate the whole idea of Christianity on the basis of what they see in you. They will form an opinion about what they think about God based on you. So let your light shine.
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Dr. James Denison…As I so often warn people, sin will always take us further than we wanted to go, keep us longer than we wanted to stay, and cost us more than we wanted to pay. The best way to begin every day is to submit it to the Spirit of God, asking him to bring to our minds anything in our lives which displeases God. We confess what comes to our thoughts, repenting of our sins and claiming God’s forgiving grace (1 John 1:9). Then we ask the Spirit to take control of our day (Ephesians 5:18)
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As Christians, we have no reason to fear death. The game has been played, the Lord has won, and the Bible promises us that “we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection” (Romans 6:5b NIV).
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Pastor Greg Laurie…To wear the breastplate of righteousness is simply recognizing we have Christ’s righteousness in our life. The Bible says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19 NKJV).
This means that when a person puts their faith in Jesus and is saved, His righteousness is transferred to that person’s “spiritual bank account.” This is something that God does for us.
We stand right before God, regardless of the way we feel. It is a part of what we call justification. When we are justified by God, all of our sins are forgiven and the righteousness of Christ is transferred to us.
When the devil says to us, “You are not worthy. You are weak. You are going down!” we can say, “I stand righteous before God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ!”
Scripture says Christ has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6 NKJV). In other words, if you have put your complete faith in Jesus Christ alone as Savior and Lord, you stand righteous before Him.
You are both loved and accepted by God.
Satan tries to defeat us with accusations, but we can be confident of our standing before God, because of the righteousness of Christ.
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Pastor Andy McQuitty…Christianity is a historical and world-famous religion that not only answers all the big questions, but answers them correctly! Christianity doesn’t ask people to don robes and perform rituals. It just asks that people recognize the reality that Jesus Christ is the Risen Son of the Living God and, having done so, to respond in humility and joy and salvation by committing to follow Him all of our days. The purpose of life in Christ? It is that, through Him, we might fully experience faith and hope and love, spreading these to others and living every day with abundance and joy.
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Rick Warren’s Christmas Eve message broadcast on Fox News Network, 12/24/08. Has God ever changed your plans?
Not everything that happens in your life is God’s ideal will. Most of the things that happen are your fault. We live in a broken world. Nothing happens correctly. God’s will is not for bad things. Most of the time we do what we want to do and not what God wants. “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21. God has a purpose for every person he has made. He has never made a person that he doesn’t want in heaven.
God changes our plans for at least three reasons. #1) He wants to get our attention. Pain is God’s megaphone. God just wants us to listen to him. We need to just sit and listen for God. God says, “I wish my people would listen to me.” Psalm 81:13. God wants us to listen so he can save us from problems. God has a perspective we don’t have. God is a god of love. He wants us to do what will not hurt us.
#2) God changes our plans because he has a better plan. “I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” Jeremiah 29:11. How is God’s plan better than our plan? It’s bigger, longer lasting, more rewarding, and sometimes harder…but the reward lasts forever.
“No one has ever seen, or heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. God has an eternal plan for your life. It’s harder and sometimes confusing. We sometimes don’t know why we go through those things. Jesus said “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later.” John 13:7. You have to learn to trust Him.
#3) He changes our plans because we should learn to trust Him. That is the only way to please God. It is not by promising God something or through religious rituals. It is through having a relationship of trusting God. Of having faith, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. What do you do when your plans don’t work out? You seek God and you trust God. You don’t seek the solution to your problem, you don’t seek relief, you just seek God. God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. It’s called repentance. Be God centered, think the way God thinks and trust that he knows better than we what is better for us.
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28. You must live for God’s purpose, God’s purpose driven life.
Every time your plans get changed, God is testing us. Who are we going to trust? Some things for sure about 2009…#1 God will change your plans, #2 God has a plan and purpose for your life that is bigger, better and more meaningful that our plans. It may be harder at times. Cooperating with God’s plan is the only way to live. Any other way…is just existing. “There’s a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Proverbs 16:25
If you seek God and trust in him God promises to fulfill His plan in our life. “The Lord will work out his plans for my life – for his faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 138:8.
How do I know if I’m following my plan for my life instead of God’s plan? There are three warning signs…fatigue, frustration and fear. If you are fatigued or frustrated all the time it is because you are doing things God never intended you to do. Jesus told us to take my yoke on you; my burden is easy and light. If you are nervous about the future or have anxiety, it is because you are not following God’s plan. “Today a savior has been born for you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11. A savior just for you. If God didn’t think we need a savior, he wouldn’t have sent one 2,008 years ago. He saves us from our self, the bitterness, the anger, the jealously that happen when we are following our plans instead of His plan.
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Greg Laurie…Do you know what the nonbeliever’s favorite verse is? It is Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” This verse is usually quoted after we say something like, “Well you know what? I don’t think that is right.”
This verse, however, is not telling us that we should not make judgments, because in other passages we read that as believers, we are indeed to make evaluations, to be discerning, and yes— to even make judgments. In fact, the Bible asks, “Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?” (1 Corinthians 6:2). We are also told in Scripture that “judgment must begin with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17).
We are to judge, but we are not to condemn. In fact, a better translation of Matthew 7:1 would be: “Do not condemn others, and you will not be condemned.” I am in no position to condemn a person. But I am in a position to make judgments about things, situations, viewpoints, and even about people to some degree.
We accept the fact that we have absolute truth from God. And we develop our worldview from what the Bible teaches.
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Dr. James Denison…My favorite verse in the Bible is also the shortest verse in Scripture: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). This one statement signifies what is unique about Christianity. Zeus did not weep for the Greeks from his throne high atop Mt. Olympus. Muslims do not believe that Allah weeps for people; Hindus do not view their numerous gods as crying with our pain; Buddhists do not picture a personal god who grieves as we grieve.
But the Son of God, the One who created everything that is and holds it together this moment (Colossians 1:16-17), weeps with us. He cried with Mary and Martha at the grave of their dead brother. He wept over the people of Jerusalem as he grieved their unbelief and sin. He holds us in his hand this moment (John 10:28), so that everything which hurts us must first hurt him.
He calls us to share his compassion with those who need to feel his love in ours. He told us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
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Rick Warren…In John 16:24 Jesus says, “You’ve not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.” (NCV) Why does God want me to ask? So he can give. Why does he want to give? So I can receive. Why does he want me to receive? So I’ll be full of joy. Why does he want me to be full of joy? It’s a great advertisement for Jesus Christ. Joyful Christians are a positive testimony.
Your Life Will Work Out the Way God Wants it to Work Out
Read (Romans 8:28)
A. I Must Believe God’s Word To Me
– God is involved in your life, 24-7, making sure ultimately everything will work out for your good.
– Life is like a puzzle and God knows how all the pieces fit together.
B. I Must Receive God’s Working for me.
– God is working things out behind the scenes.
– There are times God takes what is bad and ultimately turns it to be for our good.
– “No matter what happens in my life, God is always acting in my best interest.”
C. I Will Achieve God’s Will For Me.
– Everything that happens to us is for a purpose.
– God’s purpose for us is to be conformed to the image of His Son.
– God is more interested in changing our character than changing our circumstances.
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Dr. Richard Dunagin…Six methods God uses to communicate:
1. Phenomenon + voice; i.e. Burning bush..God vocal
2. Supernatural Messengers; i.e. Angels
3. Dreams & Visions
4. Audible voice
5. Human voice; i.e. other people’s voices 1 Thes 5:19-23
To Hear..need to be open to hearing God
To Speak..Stay prayed up and in tune with God 1 Cor 14:29-33
6. Human Spirit (Primary means God uses but God will not compete for our attention
–You will know it is God’s voice by experience.
1. Quality of the voice (God’s voice has an impact on us.)
2. Spirit of the voice (He speaks with authority. Peace, Joy and Good Will – James 3:17.)
3. Content of the speech (conforms to the Bible’s “fundamental teachings”)
Five Crowns awarded to believers From Our Daily Bread Insight
“As Christians, we can expect to be rewarded for our faith and faithfulness. Five crowns can be won: the ‘imperishable crown’ (1 Cor. 9:25), the ‘crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim. 4:8), the ‘crown of rejoicing’ (1 Thess. 2:19), the ‘crown of glory’ (1 Peter 5:4), and the ‘crown of life’ (James 1:12).”
We live in two planes. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” NIV
Above and Below the line living:
Above the line…Eternal Now, believing in the unseen, eternal, and the I Am.
Above the line living…Abundant life, influenced by things on high. Setting your hearts above, setting mind on things above.
Below the line…seen things, temporary, earthly things.
Under the line living…concentrating on paying bills, buying things, work, success, reputation, sports, competition with others under the line.
Live by Faith John 14
The “Three Fold Interlock”
A life of faith is our love for God, leading to a dependency upon God, resulting inobedience to God.
Colossians 1:2 says we are the faithful ones.
Pleasing God vs. Trusting God Hebrews 11:1-7
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Flesh (I can take care of it), Fear (I can’t handle it) and Philosophy (I simply believe it) keep us from having total faith. “God measures us by the degree of trust we exhibit, not what the flesh produces. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8. Our attitude should be trust God in us so we can please God.
Anchored in God’s Word There is no other book in the world like the Bible because God wrote it. It is our job to daily use God’s word to train ourselves. Read Acts 5:42.
Christ-centered attitude Read Colossians 3:5-18. After we accepted Christ as our Savior the clothes of our old life need to be striped away because we are a new body and Christ is all and in all. Get rid of: Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander and lies. Get into: Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness and Patience. Bear with each other, forgive each other and do all with Love. Get into this: Peace of Christ (be a peace maker), the Word of Christ, Teach and admonish one another and get into a variety of worship that comes out of soaking in the word of God. Do it all in the name of Christ and give thanks to God.
One Verse Evangelism Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Ask them, do you ever feel separated from God? That is death.
Sin created this canyon between us and God
Wages you earn, gifts you get free.
Death is separation forever. Eternal life is being with God forever.
Jesus was human and eternal. He is the only way to move us to God forever.
Give the person a pen and have them show you where they are. Show them how trust in Jesus Christ will let them cross the canyon.
Do a short prayer
Get them started in discipleship
Why we need a church…when wisdom is needed, when defeated people return, when immorality is disciplined, when tough times come, when a prayer is made, when seekers are looking, when battles are brewing, when it’s time to repent.
Christians are super heroes because we have the Holy Spirit living in us. But the world has taught us to repel this thought.
In Ephesians 1 & 2, we find that God’s purpose is to bring everything to Christ. His plan for us is redemption, centered on Christ, manifested in people. Church is the central place of God’s history. v18, that we would open our eyes wider. We have all the strength we need. Church is the center of called-out ones. “The church fulfills Him”…Jesus said, “I am the head, you are the body”.
Acts 1:8 tells that church must continue to expand. We are part of that history.