Posts Tagged ‘Elevation Worship’

What Are YOU Here For?

September 26, 2018

Why do YOU exist?

Most of us never think about this.

We go through our days, our weeks, our months and our years doing pretty much the same thing. We get up, get ready for the day, grab a quick breakfast on the way to work or school, then come home, eat dinner, maybe watch some t.v., then go to bed. Next day, we do it all again.

When you look at it that way, it seems pretty ‘meaning-less’.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-14:

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. 11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. 14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

That is a serious bummer!

Is he right? Is that all there is? The sun comes up and goes down and all our scurrying in the meantime is meaningless?

 

The Mission Statement.

According to Dictionary.com, it means, “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.”

Whether it’s about a Business, an Organization, a Church, or an Individual, it is, in essence, your REASON for existing.

So, what is YOUR ‘Mission Statement’?

Is if about money?

Satisfaction?

Impact?

Does it have to do with family? Work? Education?

All of these things are fine, and many have great impact, in the here-and-now.

However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, ultimately, these, too, are “meaningless…chasing after the wind”(Ecclesiastes 2:22).

So…is there any real ‘hope’? Any secret to finding TRUE ‘meaning’ and purpose?

Yes, in fact, there is!

“This only I have found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.” (7:29)

Man rejects God’s ways and tries to find meaning and purpose on his own, by himself. We pat each other on the back and encourage one another to ‘do our own thing’ and do ‘what feels right’.

However, we miss God.

Wisdom–real wisdom–comes when we acknowledge Him.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…” (12:1)

This will be THE best thing that sets you on the past to the ‘best life possible’. Remember your Creator. Humble yourself. Seek Him.

“Remember Him–before the silver chord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken…and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (12:6-7)

Seek the Lord. Pray to Him. Ask Him to give you ‘meaning and purpose’. Seek Him for an ‘Eternal Mission Statement’.

If you do, you will live differently, think differently, love differently, and react differently to all the ‘meaningless’ activity around us.

This will put you on the only real path toward “Life…to the Full” (John 10:10)

You will live to glorify and honor God, to impact this world in His name, to share the Good News of Jesus with all, and to walk out your faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now that is an Eternal Mission Statement!

One-Legged Ladders and Easter

April 3, 2018

One-legged ladders: Ineffective and dangerous!

I admit that I’ve never tried to use a one-legged ladder–a ladder where a portion of one of the legs is missing. However, I have tried to use an uneven ladder, where one leg is on the ground, and the other leg is a few inches off the ground, because of a hill. Uneven ladder.jpgEven with pieces of wood underneath, it’s dangerous an un-advisable.

Everyone knows that using a ladder in this way is unwise. It would be even more foolish to try to use a ladder where the lower foot of one side is missing. That ladder would rightfully be called ‘broken’ and should be tossed out.

We recently celebrated what most call ‘Easter’–the day that celebrates the single most momentous occasion in the history of the world: The miraculous resurrection of Jesus!

Now, I’m aware that there are many who don’t celebrate this–for many reasons. Some believe in other religions, some believe that ‘miraculous’ things, by definition, can’t happen–and therefore, this event is simply folklore. Others believe that Jesus of Nazareth never really existed.

If you fit into one of those categories, this blog is not for you. Save yourself time, and stop reading.

Others fall into 2 groups: Group 1 believes it all–and celebrates accordingly; Group 2 believes that Jesus lived, did remarkable things, taught profound truth, and then died via crucifixion…but don’t believe in the resurrection.

If you fall into Group 2 I want to remind you of something.

Celebrating Good Friday without celebrating Resurrection Sunday is like using a one-legged ladder. It’s unbalanced, dangerous, and makes no sense!

This is the “Jesus Christ, Superstar” version of these events. Jesus Christ Superstar

Many of you may have watched the live version Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical on Sunday night. Although done with excellence and creativity, I was reminded, as it ended, that it presented Jesus as a conflicted, tormented man who died for a noble cause, but was misguided in doing so. The last scene in the musical shows Jesus on the Cross…an important scene but NOT the end!

It conspicuously avoids the resurrection.

Jesus, it must be said, was NOT ‘conflicted’. Human, to be sure…but He knew His Mission!

Jesus knew it was coming, and He knew why:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11, 17-18)

Again…

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)

And…

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 27:22-23)

Then, finally, after He’d died,

“Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:36-48)

The point is this: If you’re going to tell the story of Jesus, you MUST tell the whole story–including the resurrection!

If Jesus isn’t raised, then none of this makes any sense. In that case, He died as a misguided man.

C.S. Lewis wrote,

 “You must make your choice.  Either this man was,Trilemma and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

It is important to note, that IF Jesus merely died on the cross, but then stayed dead, then he was no different than many other self-deluded ‘messiah’s’ throughout history.

IF, on the other hand, He rose from the dead, then that shows that He was who He said He was, and His death did have the power to be the ‘atoning sacrifice’ (see Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2), and make forgiveness, and Eternal Life, possible for us who believe!

That is a HUGE difference!

The Cross is Mighty–but only because of the Resurrection!

 

Celebrate and Dream

December 28, 2017

Time.

It marches onward, whether we’re ready or not.

Here we are at the end of 2017, and headed into 2018.

For some, the very fact that you are still here today–in spite of what you’ve gone through in the past year–is a miracle!

For others, you are just ‘ready’ to flip that calendar, and have 2017 over with.

Still others had so much to celebrate in 2017 that you want to savor every last second, and you’re not all that sure that 2018 can measure up.

Whatever your perspective, I want to encourage you to do 2 things: Celebrate, and Dream.

Celebrate what happened in 2017. 

Sure, some of it may have been difficult…even excruciating…but you’re here, and there’s a great chance that you’re a better person today for having gone through it.

Besides…even in 2017 was tough, there were moments to celebrate. Moments of beauty. Moments of tenderness. Moments of elation and celebration.

So take time, today or over the next few days to celebrate those moments. Maybe you should look back through your Facebook, or through your calendar…you’ll remember.

…and when you do, thank God for His grace, His faithfulness, and His blessing!

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.                                                                          Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the ocean depths.
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings!” (Psalm 36:5-7)

For some, God has been there…all year. He’s been calling to you, moving your heart to come to Him. For others, you know, by faith in Jesus, that He’s been there. You’ve felt His hands beneath you, you’ve known His faithfulness.

Now, as time marches forward and we get ready to flip that calendar, I also want to encourage you to Dream.

Dream about what 2018 could be. The promise it holds…the opportunities. 

This is as good a time as any to make the changes which could or should have been made earlier. Consider how you want to be different in 2018.

If you’ve never opened your life up to Jesus, I can’t stress it enough–OPEN UP TO HIM, in faith and repentance, TODAY! He is waiting to forgive, restore, love and lead you…but you must submit yourself to Him.

If you have done so, then you already know that today–like every day–is a new opportunity to grow. However, it might not be how it’s been before. It might be that the Lord wants to do something new in your life this year…that He’s been trying to stir your heart and wake you up more, so that you hear the leading of His Spirit more clearly. Maybe He’s been preparing you.

Rather than simply asking God to ‘bless you real good’ in 2018, do this: Dream forward, in the power of the Holy Spirit…what is it that God wants to do in your life? Ask Him for His heart and trust Him for His direction.

Could it be that there’s a ‘step of faith’ He’s been preparing you for? 

Maybe there’s a ‘stronghold’ in your life that has been holding you back, and He wants you to experience VICTORY in 2018!

Maybe there’s a new priority that He wants to lay on your heart and mind in 2018.

Dream forward, in the Spirit…what is He stirring up within you?

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, 
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Go ahead: Let God take you to a whole new level in 2018.

New levels of closeness to Him; new levels of faith; new levels of Spirit-driven Power within, new levels of love for those who are lost and blind to their lost-ness…

Celebrate the past, and Dream forward in the future.

God is moving!

He has never failed, and He hasn’t changed!

The SAME Power?

April 21, 2017

The resurrection of Jesus was The event that changed history!

Many don’t yet understand or believe that, but they will.

For those of us who do, however, I posed a question yesterday that, I hope, God has been rattling us with:

IF you believe that Jesus has risen, AND you have committed yourself to a life of faith, and IF you believe Paul’s words here, then ‘Why is your faith not Transforming your life, powerfully?’

After all, Paul wrote to the Ephesians…

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 1:19-20, emphasis mine).

The Very Same Power of God that rose Jesus from the dead is also at work in those of us who are Believers in Jesus Christ today!

So…does our life show it?

Or, is it time for you to Move Forward in your faith?

Now, if you’re like most Believers (including myself), you can say something like, ‘Well, there are a lot of things I do differently now…’

I no longer smoke, I no longer do drugs, I no longer get drunk, I don’t gamble, I try not to gossip, I try not to lie, I don’t swear (at least, very infrequently)…VERY infrequently!

You get the idea.

God, through Jesus, has ‘cleaned up our act’.

I get it…and that’s good.

But is that all there is? Is that what “The Same Power that raised Christ from the dead” wants to do?

That’s it?

Personally, I think there’s more.

A.

Whole.

Lot.

More.

…and I, for one, want that ‘resurrecting power’ to flow through my veins also.

So what does that mean, exactly?

I’m not quite sure.

I’m pretty confident that it means that God wants me (and you) to actually move in a positive direction, and add–not just ‘subtract’ from our lives as we follow Jesus.

In other words, our faith is not only about ‘avoiding sins’, but our faith is about “being conformed more and more into the image of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In other words, He wants us to become more like Him in the positives also…to Increase our love for God…to increase our willingness to obey Him as a result…to increase our love for others, our heart to point them to Jesus, to show mercy, grace, compassion, forgiveness…to increase our resolve to stand with Him and on His Word, no matter what the cost.

In other words, to show Jesus, not just show religion!

Yet, as every sincere Believer in Jesus knows, no one can just ‘make this happen’ by trying harder to do so.
In fact, these character traits are produced by the Holy Spirit in our lives…and that gets us back to the promise of “This Same Power” that rose Jesus from the dead.

The Holy Spirit produces ‘fruit’ in our lives, as we walk with Him and are filled with Him.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23). 

So, one question–from yesterday’s blog–that we have to ‘wrestle’ with IF we want to go further with our faith is, ‘Does my life reflect ‘the same power that raised Christ from the dead’? 

A second question is, ‘Am I cooperating with the Holy Spirit so that my life is being conformed more and more to reflect Jesus–in the positives (additions-to) as well as the negatives (take-aways)?

To be sure, there is a 3rd question…and I’ll get to that soon.

In the meantime, wrestle before God with this one!

Leaking Mugs

April 6, 2017

I like my coffee.

I have a cup EARLY in the morning when I get up, then later in the morning, as I’m headed out the door, I grab a travel mug with more coffee in it (don’t judge me!).

Not long ago, as I was driving to work with my trusty Detroit Lions travel mug, I took a long sip…and then noticed that I had a leak! The cup was leaking from the lid, and from the bottom…and was not on me!

Leaking cups are no good, so I had to throw my ‘lucky’ Lions mug away.

In life, there are times we trust ‘reservoirs’ that leak.

We choose to depend on things to sustain us, give us joy, define our purpose and provide direction…and those things are faulty. They don’t work.

There is only One who does!

The people of Israel did this too…and as we look for the STREAM of God, we need to learn from them!

Jeremiah 2:11, 13: 

“Has a nation ever changed its gods?
    (Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their glorious God
    for worthless idols…
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

God brings charges against His people. They have chosen ‘gods’ which are not really ‘Gods’ at all! They are worthless idols.

They have done 2 separate things that are unwise, foolish, and sinful: 1) They have forsaken/rejected/been unfaithful to Him, and 2) they have “dug their own cisterns” that cannot even hold water!

The people of Israel had been fools!

They rejected God–the Spring of Living Water, and chosen instead to dig cisterns on their own to hold water–on their own terms.

Think about it: A stream of fresh flowing, refreshing, clean and satisfying water, or a cistern–a hole in the ground which holds stagnant, stale, lifeless water.

Don’t get me wrong: Cisterns, when properly constructed, have their place. In arid lands, where water is not plentiful, the ability to collect what water does come from intermittent rain is crucial. Stale water is better than no water.

However, they weren’t in that situation! They didn’t need to settle for ‘stale water’.

It’s almost as if they had chosen a life in which the best they could hope for was funky water!

And oh, by the way…when they went to the cistern to drink from it, they would be sorely disappointed: The cisterns had leaked! There was nothing there for them! No refreshment, no sustenance, no life-giving water.

We do the same thing today: We reject God–our true Source of Living Water–and dig out our own ‘cisterns’ that we foolishly think can satisfy. Money. Sex. Drugs and Alcohol. Food. Popularity. Politics. Fame.

None of these things truly ‘satisfy’.

Just look at the tabloid in the supermarket…clearly those who are ‘digging cisterns’ like these become more desperate with each day.

But we don’t need to look to the ‘famous’ people…we know it ourselves. We know that the ‘stuff’ we buy…the experiences we seek…the images we watch…the the things we put in our bodies…the things we do with our bodies…the opinions of others…none of these things satisfy for long. They can’t! They’re broken cisterns. Leaky mugs.

Where is our One True Source of Living Water?

A relationship with God, through faith in Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit…THAT is the One and Only Source.

THE. One. And. Only.

So, whatever ‘cisterns’ you’ve been digging, fill them in. Reject them. Walk away. Depend on them no longer.

Instead, go to the Lord. Go sit by the Stream of God…and let Him give you life, refreshment, and joy…

HE will satisfy. 

Immerse yourself in Him, and receive the sustenance…the blessing…the refreshing that He gives you all day, every day.

He invites you…

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