Archives For Praise

sheepfence

Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

Can You Hear Me Now?

January 29, 2013 — 1 Comment

god_speaks

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12).

One of the most personal gifts of the creator is the promise we (His children) can hear his voice. God has called you to an intimate relationship with Him that includes being able to hear Him speak into your life.

We are the height of His creation, and because of that we can and should be able to hear His voice and recognize it as Him. Demons hear God’s voice and they obey. Nature hears His voice and obeys. We too can hear His voice and obey. Hearing His voice is part of the eternal life package.

Let me give you a few thoughts to put in place in your life that will help you to hear the voice of God more consistently.

1. Being familiar with His written word begets being familiar with His voice

The more you read the Word of God, the better you will become at recognizing the voice of God when He speaks to your heart. As you daily read His word, ask God to teach you to hear His voice. I promise it’s a prayer He will answer.

2. Don’t disregard every thought that runs through your head as your own.

God often places a thought that is highlighted more vibrate than a normal passing thought. For me, this seems to happen as I’m driving. I almost never turn on the radio. I use my commute time to listen to my thoughts, and many times, God drops His thoughts into the water of my thoughts. A ripple takes places, and I know it’s Him speaking.

3. During my prayer time I sing worship songs and then stop for silent time.

When I praise Him through worship songs, I can feel my soul being cleansed. I feel God drawing me closer to Him.  Worship opens the ears of my heart to Hear Him more clearly.

God bless you as you listen for Him to speak.

You are fired!

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I get criticized today.” None of us pursues criticism, but criticism has a way of finding each of us.  We each love positive feedback that lifts us up and encourages us. However, along with positive feedback, there is a place for criticism in our lives.

As a pastor, I get my share of uplifting feedback, and I’m grateful when it happens. It’s nice to know you are loved, cared for and that something you have said or written has touched someone’s life in a positive way. Nevertheless, criticism finds it way to my doorstep also. I don’t have  a criticism shield that protects me from hard words, but I do have a way of navigating strong and sometime hash words.

1. Fast answers mostly make it worse

When I first hear or receive criticism, I tend to get defensive. I can feel hurt and anger start to gain a foothold on my heart. Therefore, I don’t answer the criticism fast. I take time to hear it again, read it again, and think through it. I want to first find any truth in the criticism that I can grow from. You can’t find the truth in criticism fast. You must find it slow.

2. I write what my flesh would like to say

I have fun with this one. I defuse my anger and hurt by GOING OFF in writing. I write strong in your face stuff. I respond like I’m in a war. I keep writing until I begin to laugh with just how silly my words of defense are. Once I’m done with writing, I delete it or throw it away.

3. I try and give the other person grace and pray

Often we only see criticism as all about us. However, that is just not the case. The other person might be condemning me because they are just hurt and needed to deflect their angry and pain toward another person. Therefore, I read the criticism again and look for pain that might be in their life. Then I pray for them. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.

4. I respond until its time not to respond anymore

If I respond I ask them question of clarification. I ask them question that help me to see their side. I can’t fully turn a situation around unless I really have a handle on what they are truly trying to say. If they answer back in a calm and mature manner, then I keep the conversation going. If they take it to a more ugly level…I stop responding and move on with my life.

god-is-in-control_t_nv

Image Credit

God’s sovereignty is found from the opening pages of scripture. When you read Genesis 1:1 it teaches that in the beginning, God created all things. God’s authority and power are found in creation.

All the way through the Old Testament and the New Testament, God’s sovereignty is proved. The Bible even ends with God as the Omnipotent judge of all creation. There simply is no debating the sovereignty of God. He is sovereign.

The reason I’m bringing up God’s sovereignty is because it’s important to your life. How do you feel about God’s sovereignty? Do you believe in His sovereignty? A Christ follower will agree with God’s sovereignty when all things are running smooth. However, if things are out of control, and life seems to be completely falling apart, the Christ follower may begin to doubt the sovereignty of God.

At times, confusion concerning God’s sovereignty sets in, and your world becomes unstable. So, what is the Christ follower to do when this happens?

1. Don’t leave your foundation

Belief that God is in control is a faith fundamental. There is no other foundation to build on. It’s imperative to remain on the foundation. The world will rock and shake around you, but God’s foundation is unshakable.

2. Keep trusting

When you keep trusting, it is an act of pure worship back to God. You are saying to God that no matter what, you will keep moving forward with Him. It is showing that you will serve Him no matter how rough the road may become.

3. Problems are no problem for Him

Whatever you are facing is not a problem for God. It’s a problem for you, but not for God. He works all things out according to His perfect purpose. It’s not about you; it’s all about His glory.

4. You will not understand it all

You will never understand all that happens to you this side of the second coming, but one day it will all make perfect sense. Live with that thought in your heart and mind and it will keep you in perfect peace.

I leave you with this quote.

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” ~R.C. Sproul

Prayer

There are times in my life that prayer gets so commonplace that it becomes more of a daily checklist than actually meeting with God in new and creative ways that are fresh.

 

If you’re like me, you could use a facelift on your prayer life. After all, God is fresh in the way He approaches us, and we need to keep it fresh in the way we approach Him.

Here are a few ways I give my prayer life a facelift

 1. A past reminder

Often, I like to go before God in prayer, and take a great memory from the past, and remember it with God again.  It helps me to remember God’s goodness, and faithfulness. I especially like to do this when I feel like I’m not hearing from God. It always refocuses me on the fact that God does hear me, and will answer me in His own beautiful timing.

2. Write a prayer

You would be amazed at what will flow out of you when you write a prayer. You can do it on paper, or a word processor. No matter which you choose, you will be blown away at how God uses this exercise to draw things out of you. There is something special about having to seriously think about what you are going to write or type. You think about the words more deeply.

3. Pray a Psalm

This one is one of my favorites. I love to go to the book of Psalms and choose a Psalm to pray through. You will be amazed at how when you are praying through a Psalm, God is working the Psalm through you. You begin to experience God at a deep level. When you pray the Word of God back to Him, you are praying God’s word, and God’s words are the most powerful words of all words.

I hope these tips help you. What are some other ways you have found that help? Leave a comment and share with others.

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doubt

If you have ever had a friend, or a family member doubt the faith, you know how disheartening that can be. It cuts your very soul. In some cases, your friend or family member simply doubts something in the bible, but in other cases, they may even depart from the faith altogether. It hurts to see this happen, and it give rise to many emotions inside of you. In fact, many of those emotions, if not submitted to the Lord, can damage the one doubting, if unleashed on them improperly by you.

Here, are some things to do when doubt has captured your friend or family member.

1. Keep your emotions on the altar

Take all your angry feelings, and leave them on the altar of God. He can handle your pain better than you can. Worship Him until the feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal slip away.

2. Trust that God is still asking questions through them

Even John the Baptist doubted at one point in his life, and sent word asking if Jesus was really the one. Once He heard the right answer, he was unchained from doubt, and moved on in His faith. All great men and women of God have doubted at some point in their walk with Christ.

3. When they become unfaithful, God doesn’t

2 Timothy 2:13 tells us, “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” God is faithful and will continue to work in their lives, even when they have stopped moving forward with God. You must remember, God loves your friend or family member more than you ever can.

4. God can move mountains

What is impossible for man is never impossible for God. He can move doubt over the cliff in their life in a moment of time. Mighty to Save by Hillsong says this,
Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever
Author of Salvation
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

5. Finally, my favorite verse that many forget about.

MERCY! Jude 1:22 tells us, “22 And have mercy on those who doubt;” You must never forget that mercy wins over judgment. When you want to give judgement to the one you love…GIVE MERCY

God bless you
Pastor Steve

stress 2

Life is complicated and therefore brings stress often to the doorstep of the Christ follower. Stress is part of the human condition but God has the answer for that condition. God is the author of our life. He knows the beginning and the end and will give us peace that passes all understanding as we submit and trust Him completely. When stress dominates our walk; you can bet that somewhere along the way our trust in God has faded just a little.

Stress often attacks us with circumstances that are out of our control. Stress comes in all kinds of forms, but no matter what form it takes, trusting in God is a major key to winning the battle. Don’t misunderstand me…living a stress-free life isn’t easy to obtain. However, there are a few things you can do that will keep you heading in the right direction when you feel stress staring to take over.

Here are a few tips that have helped me over the years

Practical Tips

1. Get in a bar fight (Okay, that’s not true. Just wanted to make sure you were pay attention)

2. Sleep (You must get enough rest. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night)

3. Take a look at your diet (Are you eating healthy? Is your weight were it should be?)

4. Exercise (You don’t have to go crazy but walking after your evening meal will do wonders)

5. Work and Family (Do you work more than have family time? Change that NOW!) (Balance it!)

Spiritual Tips

1. Prayer (Give your stress to God by telling Him all about it. Then, leave it with Him. Trust Him)

Philippians 4:6-7
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

2. Praise Him (God inhabits the praises of His people. Sing to Him and watch what happens. Try it!)

Praise will take your mind off of self, and refocus your mind on God.

Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

3. Stay in the Word (Read God’s Word and let it read you)

Matthew 11:28-30
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

What are some ways you have found to be helpful? Leave a comment.