A Grace Growth Spirt

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2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever, Amen”. 

As children head back to school, they may notice certain classmates that grew several inches over the summer.  They experienced a “growth spirt”, they grew faster than others at an exponential rate. Interestingly, a lot of growth happens at night during sleep.  Secretions of human growth hormone peak throughout the night.  In fact, it is recommended that children ages 6-13 sleep at least 11 hours a night. 

REST CAUSES GROWTH!  The more we rest, the more we grow.  In what?  Grace.  And what else?  In 2 Peter 3:18 it mentions another important component to growing in grace…the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.  We grow in grace when we receive more knowledge.  Not just any knowledge, but knowledge of Jesus.  If you want more growth, study more about Jesus.   Jesus is full of grace and truth. Get ready though, when you grow in your knowledge of Jesus, you will experience a “grace growth spirt”!  Others will take notice that there’s something awesome happening in your life.  You’re standing taller, you’re more confident, and happier, and at peace and rest.  Grow!  Grow!  Grow! 

 

R&R

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Isaiah 28:12 “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not” 

The phrase “R&R” is an abbreviation for rest and recuperation.  It originated as a military term referring to the time members of the armed forces spend relaxing and resting away from the war or the battle. The military knows that for their forces to be effective and at their optimum, and to avoid burnout, they need R&R!  I love the dictionary definition of R&R, it’s awesome.  It means” relaxing when you’re not working”. 

So how does a believer enjoy this rest that verse 12 talks about?  You need to go back to verse 11 which describes one of, if not the most important, grace gifts, speaking in tongues.  “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people”. This is so powerful. 

Many of you have been facing battles and you’re wondering “What should I do?”  Here’s what you should do…get some R&R, praying and singing in the Spirit.  Praying in your prayer language gives you rest and refreshing in the presence of your enemies.  Raise your hand if you could use some R&R!   If you feel tired and worn out, if you’re on edge with your emotions, or having trouble sleeping, get some R&R.  Are you irritable? Frustrated?  Anxious?  All of the above? Take five.  Take five minutes right now and pray in tongues. 

If you’ve never heard of speaking in tongues, or would like to know more about it, Pastor Joe has a free message for you called Speaking in Tongues.  It will truly help you understand and receive this powerful gift.  Receive this grace gift today and start enjoying an unlimited supply of R&R, anytime and anywhere. 

 

May the Fourth Be With You

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Genesis 1:19 "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day" 

With Independence Day just behind us, I trust you enjoyed a day of rest and celebration of our nation’s birth, and the blessing that we have in being…the United States of America.    

However, there is another “fourth” that is very, very meaningful to all of us, no matter where we live. On the fourth day of what is called "creation week", God spoke into existence our sun, the moon, all the stars and the seasons. (Genesis 1:14) Interestingly, the Hebrew word for "seasons" is MOED, which is literally translated as "appointed times" (divine appointments).  Get ready for divine appointments in the coming days and some appointed times that are waiting specifically for you. 

“In the evening and the morning were the fourth day".  The Hebrew day started in the evening.  This means that while you are sleeping and resting, God's day has already begun.  Before you open your eyes in the morning, God is already causing favorable opportunities to be presented to you in your life, career, relationships, and pursuits.  

I really believe this means that God wants us to rest.  In the days, weeks and months ahead, as you rest in what He has already finished, divine appointments, key relationships, and Holy Ghost led associations are coming your way.  It's your appointed time.  A time where you will be at the right place with the right person.  

May the 4th be with you!...divine rest, divine activity, totally directed by the Spirit of God, that brings you to your appointed time.  So get ready and get excited because the 4th is with you, and His name is Jesus!

 

Let Go, Live Long

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Psalm 91:16 - "With long life will He satisfy you and show you His salvation" 

It's okay when the Bible says to "number our days" (Psalm 90:12), but it's not okay when the doctor says, "Your days are numbered!"  That's not good news. Maybe your parents died young, and you're fearful that you will die young too.  Thank God for doctors who are doing all they can to fight sickness, but the things that are impossible for man are possible with God.  

God's Word is health to all your flesh (Proverbs 4:20-22).  God's Word is health to your kidneys. Healing to your bones. It's healing to your skin. It's healing to your lungs. Not a single part of your body will be left untouched by the healing power of God's Word!   

Like many people, I used to say, "Well, life is short" to express how we shouldn't take anything for granted.  I stopped confessing that over my life many years ago, because my Bible says "with long life will He satisfy me…" 

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones".  A heart at peace is sound.  The Hebrew word for sound in this verse is "marpe" which means "a healing" or "a cure".  So what does that tell you?  When your heart is at peace it becomes a healing heart that gives life to your body!  If you want to live long you need to have a relaxed attitude. Don't let your heart be troubled.  Be at peace.  Be at rest.  Declare today, "I let go and live long".  

 

God's Grace Graph

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Romans 5:9 "Much more then, being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" 

If you followed the news recently, you may have heard about the sudden shift in the stock market.  How it skyrocketed for twelve months, and then a few weeks ago declined at a rapid rate.  When it was going up people were up.  When it went down, some commentators were reporting that the "sky was falling"!  Well guess what, it started back up again. 

I want to ask you a very important question…is your view of God's love for you up some days and down the next?  If it were charted on a graph, how would it look?  Perhaps after a great church service, you feel God's love for you is "up".  Then you do something you shouldn't have, and you feel God's love for you is "down".  Then you read your Bible, and you feel like God really loves you!  Then you don't read your Bible one day, and your graph shows a decline.  Here's some good news.  God's love for you is constant.  It never changes.  Your behavior does not change God's love for you.  

Romans 5:8 says "But God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us".  Then in verse nine it says, "Much more then, being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him".  In other words, before you were saved, as a sinner, God's grace abounded toward you.  How "much more then", after you were saved, did His grace super abound toward you. That's really big.  

Fix your eyes on His love for you, not on your performance or behavior.  His love for you is unshakable and immovable.  When you do, you remain stable, settled and strong no matter how you "feel".  No more up one day, and down the next.  God's grace graph is always the same…love, love, love.   

 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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Isaiah 41:13 "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee" 

It seems like yesterday that my whole family would gather around our TV in our basement every Sunday night to watch the Ed Sullivan show.  Anyone with a TV set was doing the exact same thing, all across America.  On one particular Sunday night in February of that year, a band from England rocked the nation with their new hit called I Wanna Hold Your Hand.  The band…the Beatles.  

In Isaiah 41:13, the prophet Isaiah says "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy hand".  How many of you know that a child holding on to a mother's hand is never as secure as when the mother holds the child's hand. I would always grab hold of my daughter's hand when she was young, when we were in a store or at some kind of event.  I held her hand tighter and more secure than she held mine. 

I want you to encourage you, you're not holding on to God's hand, God is holding on to your hand, and He'll never let go. The verse says "I will hold your hand, fear not".   When God holds your hand, there's nothing to be afraid of.  Even when we are weak, His hand is strong. Hallelujah!  Do you feel weak today?  He's holding on to you. 

You might ask, "What about Psalm 51 where it says, "Take not your Holy Spirit from me"?  David prayed that because he was under a dispensation where the Holy Spirit would come upon you, and the Holy Spirit would go.  As a born again believer, the Holy Spirit lives and abides in you, and will never leave you, ever, no matter what. That's good news for us today.  Let that sink in.  Rest and be secure in His love for you. He will never let go.

 

Trust Now, Understand Later

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John 13 :7 " What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand" 

Much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding later. Jesus typically doesn't always explain on the front end why He is doing something the way He is doing it. Like Peter, when something looks wrong to us, we are tempted to go against the Lord's will.  God wants us to trust Him.  During those times when we don't understand, we need to remember Jesus' words to Peter, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand". 

Peter had grown used to Jesus doing and saying unpredictable things, but in the context of John 13:7, the way Peter saw it, Jesus washing the disciples feet was just plain wrong.  He believed Jesus was the last person in the room who should be washing feet, that was a house servant's job, a non-Jew.  People traveled in sandals, their feet were smelly, dirty and came in contact with things the law declared unclean.    

Here's the twist.  Under the law the unclean makes the clean, unclean.  But under grace, the clean makes the unclean, clean.  Jesus washed the disciples feet, when it should have been Peter down washing the feet of Jesus.  It looked like it was all backwards.  Peter didn't understand in the now, but he would later.

Today you may not understand what God is doing in your life, but trust Him, you'll understand later.  Follow the example in His Word, listen to that still small voice that says "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Remember this simple truth, God is good, all the time. When your down to nothing, God is up to something!  Something good.  

 

Why is it Taking So Long for God to Answer My Prayer?

Daniel 10:12  "Then he said to me, 'Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words"' 

Day 1: Daniel prayed.  Day 10: Didn't see the answer yet.  Day 20: Still didn't see the answer.  Day 21: Angel shows up, Bam!  He sees the answer to his prayer.  Wow.  Have you ever prayed for something, and it came rather quickly, and then at other times it seems like it took a long time?  

Why does God answer some prayers in a short period of time, and some prayers in three weeks or three years?  Here's the problem with that question.  God answered your prayer the moment you prayed it.  However, we think God answered it when we see it with our own eyes.  God told Daniel, "from the first day…your words were heard, and I have come because of your words".  The variable is not God.  It says in John 4:24 that "God is Spirit", He moves instantly. 

So what happened?  In verse 13, it says, "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days".  Your faith is like a bridge from the spiritual world to the physical world.  If you quit standing in faith to see the answer to your prayer because you can't see it, you can stop the manifestation.  What if Daniel had quit on the 20th day, right before the 21st day when he got his answer?  When we pray, we must believe that the power of God is released instantly on the first day that we pray. Period.  Expect to see it, no matter how long it takes.  Don't quit.  Every day is the "20th day" until you see it!  You're "21st day" is coming.  

 

My Pillow

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Mark 4:38 "And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master carest thou not that we perish?" 

Have you heard the pillow commercial on TV and Radio with a catchy jingle that says, "For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, mypillow.com".  Now, I’m not endorsing "My Pillow", but I love the concept. You probably didn’t know that My Pillow is the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation.  Founder, Mike Lindell, tells the purpose behind the pillow, "When I invented My Pillow, my dream was to help as many people get a good night's sleep as possible". 

In Mark 4:38, it says that Jesus was in the back of a ship sleeping on a pillow in the middle of a storm. I think most of us would be busy bailing water out of the ship, or screaming for help!  Not Jesus, He's asleep on a pillow in the middle of the storm.  It was the peace that was already on the inside of Him, that allowed Him to sleep through a storm.  It was that same peace that was spoken out of His mouth, "Peace, be still", that calmed the storm.  Jesus shows us a picture of restful increase.  His sleep was evidence of his trust, faith and rest that "all is well".  

We have that same peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the inside of our born again spirit, that is to be exhibited in our actions and our words. When we rest He works, but when we work He rests.  More happens when we rest, than when we don't rest.  So grab your grace pillow, lay your head down, and rest on the promises of God.  

 

Blank Slate Baby by Natalie Fortunato

Colossians 2:14 (The Message) "Think of it!  All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross".  

In 2014, Taylor Swift wrote a song called Blank Space, poking fun at all her multiple failed romances and the casualties she's left behind.  Though her relationships were at a loss, her song won a Grammy for Song of the Year..crazy! 

I'd like to put a little twist to her song title, to help you remember this very helpful principle when dealing with your close relationships.  Here it is: Blank Slate!  If God has wiped the slate clean with all our sin, how about if we wipe the slate clean at the close of every day with other's sins against us?  

Ephesians 4:26-27 says to “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."  In other words, wipe the slate clean every night and wake up the next day with a clean slate, totally empty, no records of wrongdoing against anyone.  Don't mess up today with your wife, or husband, or best friend, or boss, or neighbor's mess ups (intentional or unintentional) from yesterday.  

Paul said there is one thing that he does…forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things ahead (Phil. 3:13). If you need to confront something, do it in a godly way, then regardless of the outcome, move on!  Forgive!  Let it go!  Start each day with a blank slate baby! 

 

Say Goodbye to Guilt

Gal 4:17 (The Message Bible)  "Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God's grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making themselves important." 

The biggest curse in the body of Christ today is the enormous amount of guilt, condemnation, shame, and fear.  These destructive behaviors are totally disarming and paralyzing the people of God. Sadly, statistics have shown that Pentecostals, Charismatic's and full gospel people suffer with guilt and guilt related disorders more than any other religious group in the world. 

The dictionary defines guilt as, the feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, or crime, whether real or imagined.  The reason why is we get hooked on what I call a toxic mixture of old testament law and new testament grace.  Once you mix the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, it will poison every area of your Christian life. 

For the majority of believers in the church today, guilt is their drug of choice.  For many, if they don't feel guilty, they wonder how they be motivated to serve God!  Some actually think guilt is a Christian emotion. IT"S NOT! Paul calls this mixture "another gospel".  Any time a person tries to earn the love, acceptance, forgiveness and favor of God, it is going to result in guilt, condemnation, shame and fear. God's unmerited favor is the answer that will deliver God's people from this addiction.  God loves, accepts, and forgives every one of us unconditionally.  It's time to kick the habit!

 

No More Religious Do Do

Romans 4:6 "Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:" 

Because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, as Christians, we no longer live a life of do, do, do.  Under grace, we live a life of done, done, done!  Everything promise in the Word of God is already ours through Christ.  

Do, do (aka: doo-doo).  Sound familiar?  It's that little "present" that your dog leaves for you when you're out of the house for an extended period of time.  

Similarly, a "performance based" Christianity, or trying to do good so that we will get good is what I call, "religious do, do".  Trying to pray long enough, or read the Bible long enough, or fast long enough, just to get good, is religious do, do.  Trying to earn God's goodness, or living in fear of something bad happening if you don't do enough, is a total "waste" of time.  Religious do,do. 

Don't get me wrong, praying and reading the Bible and fasting are all good when you are living a life of grace, and enjoying the freedom and victory you already have in Christ.  In Romans 4:6, Paul says the man who God imputes righteousness without doing anything to earn or deserve it, is blessed.  That’s powerful and liberating!   You were made righteous, it was a gift, you can't do anything to earn it.  So, no more religious do, do.  At the cross it became done, done, done! 

 

It's Worth the Wait

Acts 1:4-5 - "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

Jesus didn't recommend or suggest that the disciples not depart from Jerusalem until the "Promise of the Father" had come, He commanded them. After His resurrection, they had spent many amazing days together, He taught them kingdom principles, and He knew the disciples were eager to share the good news all over the world.  But He commanded them not to get started until they had been clothed with the Spirit's power (Luke 24:49).  

In 1 Corinthians it says that He gave this command to about 500 people, yet in Acts 1:15 it says there were only 120 men and women in the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit.  What happened to the other 380?  Perhaps they didn't want to wait.  They wanted to get started doing the work of the ministry…without the power of the Holy Spirit!

When God calls us to do something, we need to make sure that we don't get so excited about the task, that we move out ahead of Him.  Moving out in our own power and timing will actually interfere with what He wants to do in our lives, and interrupt the process.  Our decisions greatly affect the lives of those around us, and the people that God has called us to reach.  Slow down!  Don't worry, you'll know when the Holy Spirit says to move, and He will empower you for the task at hand.  It's worth the wait.

 

You've Got to Love God More!

1 John 2:15 - "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" 

There is a great misunderstanding as to why people are entangled in sin and love the things of this world.  Some people say that it's because they don't love God enough.  That if they loved God more, they would sin less.  

In 1 John 2:15, John tells us that "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him".  Notice it says the love of the Father is not in them.  It doesn't say the love for the Father.  People are trapped in sin because they don't know or don't believe the love of the Father for them.  People are in love with the things of this world is because they have no idea how in love God is with them.  

Once a person experiences the love of the Father, and truly receives it into their heart, they will simply lose their desire for sinful and worldly ways.  When they've embraced God's goodness and grace, they become transformed from the inside out.  Always remember, it will never be about our love for God, but always about his overwhelming and unconditional love for us.

 

Home "Sick"


Indeed, nearly all people miss something about home when they are away, making homesickness a nearly universal experience.  However, an intense desire to go "back" to a familiar place and time can be very debilitating.  A longing for the "good ol' days" and what "used to be" makes it impossible to look with hope to the future.
 
According to Hebrews 11:15, you follow the direction of your most dominant thought.  You don't go anywhere in the natural that you haven't first gone in your imagination. This can be good or bad, depending on where your mind is taking you.  If you spend your time meditating on God's promises in His Word, by faith you'll move forward and fulfill God's plan and purpose for your life.  If you follow thoughts that want to take you backwards, you will find "constant opportunity to return to it".  You'll be home "sick", instead of enjoying and being content with and trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness in the place He has for you today and every day to come.  

 

The Worst Trade in History


Exodus 19:8 "And all the people answered together, and said, "all that the Lord hath spoken we will do"
 
The worst trade that ever took place in sports history was when the Boston Red Sox traded future baseball icon Babe Ruth for $100,000 and a loan of $300,000 to finance the musical No, No Nannette.  Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee, dealt Ruth to the arch rival New York Yankees and watched them dominate the World Series for the next 20 years while his team won absolutely nothing.  Again, the worst trade in sports history!
 
The covenant God made with Abraham and his seed was based totally on grace.  Every blessing that Abraham and his descendents received was unearned.  Every promise undeserved.  This is clearly seen in the exodus of Israel. On their flight from Egypt they complained and murmured, and still God did not treat them as their sins deserved. Instead He gave them grace.
 
At Sinai, everythingchanged. The Israelites traded the grace and goodness of God for the law.  They actually chose a covenant whereGod's blessings now hinged on their faithfulness. 
 
THIS is undeniably THE worst trade in history, of all time!  Before the law, the Israelites sinned and received God's grace.  On the day they received the law the Israelites sinned again, but this time 3,000 people died.   Like I said, the worst trade in history.  They exchanged God's grace and mercy for a performance based covenant, the law..
 
But thanks be to God for the blood of Jesus, which paid the penalty for our sin once and for all, and redeemed us from the curse of the law.  Romans 10:4 says, "Christ is the END of the law for righteousness to them that believe".  Hallelujah!  The trade has been reversed and it's time to win, win, win, again! 
 

 

Pick Up Sticks

Numbers 15:32 " And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath day"

When I was a kid we spent a lot of our rainy days inside playing all kinds of games. Monopoly, war, a card game, hide and seek, one of the games we always played was a game called " pickup sticks". The object of the game was to pick up the most sticks. To begin the game a bundle of sticks are randomly distributed so that they end up in a tangled pile. The players attempt to remove a single stick without moving any other stick. Players must not move any other things while attempting to remove the stick, if any other stick moves, he loses his turn.

In Numbers 15: 32-36, there's a story of a man who simply picked up sticks on the Sabbath day, you would have thought that he broke some law or something because immediately he was thrown in a prison and the Lord said " The man shall be surely put to death"! WOW! What is going on? You pick up a few sticks on a Sabbath and your put to death. According to the ten commandments you couldn't do any work at all, no raking leaves, no laundry, no washing the car. That all changed when Jesus came, Moses came by the law but Jesus came by grace and truth, under the law there was serious consequences for breaking any of the laws of Moses, now you can "PICKUP STICKS" and not be stoned! Good news you are not under the law but you are under grace so you don't have to live under fear of punishment from an angry God He loves you and accepts you!

So pickup as many sticks as you want this Sunday, play tennis, go swimming, and if your scheduled by your boss to work, you're in a guilt free zone He is your Sabbath rest, be blessed not stressed! God's not mad at you He's not even giving you a dirty look, He certainly loves and accepts you.

You've Already Got It!

Philemon 6 "That the communication of your faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus"

You've already got it!  Everything that you will ever need for this life has already been provided for you. Your healing has already been provided.  Your deliverance has already been provided.  Financial prosperity has already been provided.  You’ve already got it!

Where is it?  It's IN CHRIST JESUS!  Philemon 6 say's that if you're in Christ, then every good thing is already in you, in your spirit!  It's like a water well, and the pump is activated by "acknowledging every good thing that's already in you”.  In Christ Jesus you are now living from the inside out, not the outside in.  Peace is in you.  Joy is in you.  More than enough is in you.  Start declaring it.  Why?  Because you’ve already got it!

One definition of faith is - a positive response to what Grace has already provided!  God didn't provide healing the day you got sick, HE provided it 2016 years ago.  God didn't provide finances the day you got that bill in the mail.  He provided it 2016 years ago!  God didn't provide deliverance the day you fell into bondage or addiction.  He provided it 2016 years ago!  

If you’re born again, every good thing is already in you, you've already got it!  All that you need is not “out there” somewhere, or in your future, you don’t have to go get it from God.  Simply release the healing that is already in your born again spirit.  Release the finances that are already in you through the finished work on the cross.  Release the peace that is already in you, a fruit of the Spirit.  

Go ahead, “Abound and overflow in thanksgiving” as in Colossians 2:7.  Hallelujah!  Whatever you need, you’ve already got it.  It is finished!

To Obey is Better Than ________

1 Samuel 15:22 - "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." Have you ever had something in your heart that you know you were supposed to do, but you tried to substitute anything and everything else instead of doing what the Lord has told you to do?...

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