Archive for October, 2011

October 30, 2011

Relevant:

“God Dreams ”

Genesis 37:1-11

I love the story of Joseph. There are so many truths of God’s sovereignty that can be dived into. This week I want to talk about dreams…God dreams. I once heard a pastor say that God dreams are always met with opposition, are always greater than our current capabilities and character, and are always for a purpose much greater than ourselves.  These three characteristics fit Joseph’s dreams perfectly. In Genesis 37, Joseph shares two of his dreams with his brothers and father. In both dreams, the Joseph was the object of others bowing down to him. That, of course, was met with significant opposition (especially his brothers wanted to kill him but ended up selling him into slavery), was certainly greater than his ability as he was just a shepherd boy, and was certainly for a purpose greater than himself as he would eventually be second in Egypt only to Pharaoh and save millions from starvation because of his plan to gather grain during prosperity in preparation for a 7 year famine.

While most of us will never have a story like Joseph’s, we are all given God dreams. I will tell you that Servant Warrior Ministries was one. ..and still is. For many, a God dream it may be a vocational change. For others, it may be a business venture. And for some, it may be something like teaching a Sunday school class, going back to school, even starting a new hobby. If it is a God dream, the three characteristics will be clearly evident.

Challenge:  We often times place a level of expectations on “God Dreams.” We think that to be a “God Dream”, it has to be some earth-shattering, world changing endeavor. It doesn’t.  God dreams are simply those things He places on our hearts that we cannot do ourselves, in our power and abilities. They usually require us to leave a comfort zone and/or go where we feel wholly ill-equipped knowing we have no reason to be there but realizing it is exactly where we are supposed to be. “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. Isaiah 55:8 (MSG).

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Dreams. Thank You for bringing me to a place where I know I can’t do what I have been called to do without You. Lord, please give me the ability to recognize the dreams You place in my heart. And please give me the strength and confidence to go where You call me. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.  Make a statement without saying a word. Visit www.dontdiestupid.net to find out how.

 

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October 23, 2011

Relentless:

“And the walls came tumbling…”

Joshua 5:13-15

The story of the Walls of Jericho and how Joshua and the Israelites overcame this seeming impenetrable and impassable barrier on their way to the promised land is one of the most well known stories in the Bible. The City of Jericho was an  absolute fortress….virtually impenetrable to anyone coming against it. To God, it was simply another “faith waypoint” for Joshua and the Israelites on the road to the promised land – a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). The journey to the promised land was God’s plan for the Israelites. It is no different for us today. God’s plan for our lives is filled with these “faith waypoints” that we must face. Joshua faced a seemingly impossible task to be accomplished by, what many would think, very unorthodox (you can say it…crazy) means…bring down the fortified walls Jericho with only voices and faith. Of course, the operative word is faith.     

Challenge: The journey of the Israelites is no different than our journeys today. God’s plan for our lives is filled with “faith waypoints” where we must decide whether we will trust in Him and follow His promptings or choose our way and our logic. Just as He had for the Israelites, He has promised us a land filled with milk and honey…if we will trust Him…a life fulfilled…a life on God’s terms. (Luke 17:33 MSG) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your love, grace, and for Your promises. You tell me that whatever I ask in Your name it will be granted to me. Thank You for Your faithfulness despite my lack of it. Please give me the ability to hear You and the strength and courage to do what You have called me to do…to follow Your plan for my life, not mine. Please give me the strength to have faith in You when I come up upon the many “walls” in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

 For more information visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.

October 9, 2011

Real:

“Who am I kidding?”

Psalm 139:13-16

In this day of “never let’em see you sweat” and “don’t show all your cards”, the permeating sentiment among men in our country is that we need to look a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way, in other words…be who we are not. Why? Is it because society tells us to? Is it because we have created expectations that we need to live up to? Is it because we feel if we don’t, we won’t fit in at the neighborhood pool, at work, at school, or at church? Why do we put on an act for those around us when the One who we will ultimately stand before as He judges all of creation, who knew us before the world began, who formed us in the womb, who knows every hair on our head, who knows our heart and our motives, sees us for who we truly are? Who are we fooling?  God, in His sovereignty, created us and gave us personalities, talents, characteristics…gifts, to specifications unlike any other – past, present, future – has set forth a plan for us….a perfect plan, and has given us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in heaven if we will accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord of our life. All of this leads me to a question: Why in the world would we put on an act and seek the approval and acceptance of the people in the world rather than be who we truly are, be who we were created and called to be, accept the unconditional love and grace of Almighty God and live a life worthy of Him?

Challenge:  The pressures to be accepted, both self imposed and of the world, have a significant impact on how we act, how we portray ourselves, and how we want others to see us. This is true across age segments, especially in our youth. The more we try to be what we are not, or what we think we need to be, the more we are setting ourselves up for failure and a life unfulfilled. Why? Because it’s not from God. He tells me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And that, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14,16 (NIV).  This week, take a good look at yourself, your life, and ask yourself: Am I authentic and real with myself and others or am I an actor? Are the lenses I see myself in mine, the world’s, or God’s”? Know this: He will never let us down and we are the apple of His eye.

Prayer: Lord, thank you so much for loving me. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. The pressures I face to succeed, to fit in, live up to an expectation, are sometimes overwhelming. And You know my struggle as You faced those same pressures while You were on earth. Help me see me as You see me. Help me see Your plan for my life. Please give me the courage to be who You have created me to be. I know that through You, I can do all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

“Who Am I Kidding?” is a repost from earlier this year.

“The B-side…”

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Articles

“The B Side…”

Hello, October. Oh, how glad I am to see you. Leaves are changing…everywhere but here in Florida (bummer!). College football is in full swing. The Fall Classic is upon us.  The annual family pilgrimage to the apple and pumpkin farms of North Georgia is so close I can taste it…literally! And for all the fans of Inspirational Country Music, the ICM Awards are just days away. And in honor of the ICM’s and Power Source Magazine, both very near and dear to my heart, the theme of this month’s article has an obvious ‘musical inspiration’.

It hasn’t been that long ago that records or albums, the vinyl type played on a turntable, were the way we enjoyed music. I can still hear the 33’s played at 78…chipmunks! Those old enough to remember are laughing in nostalgia. Oh, the pain and anguish you felt when you left a record in sunlight or let it get scratched. We all still have memories of songs that would never end due to a stuck needle and a trip from the other side of the house was necessary to help the needle along so the song would finish. How many of you who remember the beloved vinyls ever found yourself mesmerized by the needle going up and down as a warped record went around…and around…and around on the turntable? Oh, the memories…and how times have changed.

Of course, now we can get individual songs electronically. But back in the day (For those of you over 40 please hang with me for another 30 seconds) we got individual songs via smaller records called 45’s, records played at 45 rpm’s. The 45’s had an A side and a B side. The A side was always the ‘hit single’ and the B side was another song from the artist’s album, usually not slated to be promoted as a ‘hit’. And even though every now and then it became as big of a hit as its A side counterpart, the B side song was simply a song to fill the back side of a record.

In the life of a new believer in Christ, the A side of the record is this awesome, incredible, eternal new life song with Christ and the decision for Him to be their Lord and Savior. This is the ‘hit’…as it should be. This is the side that receives most of the attention and the ‘airplay’. The B side to this record, however, is equally as important and awesome but a bit scarier, painful, and not necessarily material for the marketing posters. But it is critical to the spiritual life of this new believer that the B side be listened to as well. When someone accepts Christ into their hearts, their life is changed forever. That decision also propels this new Christian right into the middle of an all out war…one where every weapon of the enemy is pointed at, well, them. New Christians, even Christians further along in their faith seeking to get closer to the Lord, pose a serious threat to the devil. Satan will do everything he can, as quickly as possible, to stop this new life direction and choice. That means he will come with everything he has, from all sides and sources. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us “…the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” To use an analogy from the jungle, a baby antelope or an animal that is wounded is much easier prey than one that is older, faster, more experienced, and especially one that is part of a larger group.

As Christians, we need to reach out to, take responsibility for, and be real with people seeking a new or renewed life in Christ. They need to know that a decision to accept Christ as Lord of their life is the greatest decision they will ever make and one that will radically change their life forever. It is one that will bring them into direct and eternal fellowship with the all powerful and sovereign Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Great I Am, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Beginning and the End. They need to know it is also a decision that will bring about an all out spiritual attack intended to stop that ‘life’ before it gets started. However, they can take heart, and we need to remember, that the devil loses (Revelation 20:10), earthly troubles have benefit (1 Peter 1:6-9), Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33), and that believers are heirs to the throne of Glory (Galatians 4:7) and will live forever (1 John 2:17). That rocks…and so does our God!

So if you come across a music store that advertises classic records and music, I encourage you to go inside. Find the 45’s and check out some of the A side titles. Given the resurgence in popularity of music from the 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s, you will likely recognize some of them…even if you’re a twenty something. But don’t stop there. Turn it over. There is a very good chance there is a great tune on the B side as well. To all those who fill our lives with music, we thank you and celebrate you. More so, however, we are thankful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as He IS the song of our heart. “Let the Word of Christ – the Message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives….And sing, sing your hearts out to God!” (Colossians 3:16 MSG).   Keep it real…Armor Up…and Don’t Die Stupid!   JSS

The above article appeared in the October 2011 Issue of Power Source Magazine, www.powersourcemagazine.com. Click HERE to view the pdf of the actual article.

October 2, 2011

Relevant:

“The Struggle”

Romans 7:19

If I hear anyone saying that being a Christian is easy, I wonder whether they are living in the same world I am. I never will question anyone’s faith as our testimony is the ONE thing that can never be questioned. What Christ has done in the life of an individual is something no one can question…even though it happens more often than it should. However, being a follower of Christ, dying to Him daily, and doing what we know we want to do and are supposed to do is something that is not easily accomplished given the inherent nature of sin that resides in all of us. The apostle Paul, the author of 13 books in the Bible, faced the same struggles as we do today with doing what we know we shouldn’t and don’t want to do in spite of our relationship and love of Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul got very real with his fellow Gentiles when he said, “And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:18-19 NLT) We beat ourselves up when we do something we know we shouldn’t and often feel we should “pack up and go home” in regards to our walk with Christ because a voice we hear says, “a Christian doesn’t live that way…or do that. You’re a poser…a fake…a hypocrite. You can’t impact anyone for the Kingdom.” That, my friends, is the voice of the THE liar and comes directly from the pit of Hell. Ineffective and worthless to the Kingdom is exactly what the devil wants us to hear…and believe…because if we believe him, we no longer pose a threat. Don’t listen to him. Tell him to sell that somewhere else because we know in Whom our victory lies. Remind the devil that we know how the story ends.

Challenge:   One of the most effective tactics of the enemy is to remind us how far we fall short of perfection…of a sinless life. There has been only One who has lived a sinless life on this earth…and none of us are Him. Remember, God’s word tell us, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.” (Romans 3:24-25a). “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for loving us…in spite of us. We fall so short of Your glory. Yet You still see us as holy…all because of Your Son, Jesus. Lord, give us the strength to call on Your name when the evil one attacks us with lies and deception as the devil has to flee when we call on Your name. Thank you for Your assurance of victory and everlasting life…all through Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.    

Make a statement without saying a word. Go to www.dontdiestupid.net.

For more information about Servant Warrior Ministries, visit www.servantwarriorministries.org.