Friday, June 29, 2018

Ignore the Score, Run the Play

Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." John 20:29

I'm reminded of a dear friend of mine, 

Bob who lives in Alabama who shared 

story with me from his life that really inspired me. 

He played college football and came to a place where he really disliked football. 

His children grew up and started playing little league football and at one point 

the coach asked if he would assist. Bob was really hesitant to do it but he did 

and their team was the worst team in the league and lost every game.  

They got to their final game and it just happened to be against the best team 

that had won every game they had played.

He said they practiced that week and the kids worked really hard and it 

was just like a movie where the coach couldn't be there and Bob was the one 

coaching. The first half of the game was just like you'd expect and their team 

was getting really clobbered, 21-0. At halftime he sat with the kids and it just 

came out of his mouth, "Ignore the score and run the play! 

They fought their hardest and that team came within 5 seconds and one play  

of winning the game. As he drove home that night the Lord spoke to him 

and said,"I was talking to you Bob, ignore the score and run the play!" 

The enemy is always trying to get your eyes on the scoreboard,(your 

circumstances or difficulties.) He's always telling you to live by what you see

and trying to get you to believe a lie.

When I was sharing in the prison, one of the men told me that he didn't make 

parole and his family is just falling apart. He said he is giving up! 

I don't know where you are at in your life but I can't give up! There is nothing 

for me to go back to because I've burned the bridge behind me. That doesn't 

mean that I understand what God is doing but He is always working 

and setting the stage to do something supernatural. We just have to trust 

Him and get our eyes off of ourselves and off of our circumstances and look to 

Jesus, our living hope.

When we do not trust God, it's because we don't really believe He loves us.  

He not only loves us, He is orchestrating things in order to reveal His 

redemptive purpose.

also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,  to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 
Ephesians 1:11-12 NASB

Special thanks to Bob McLeod,

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Friday, June 22, 2018

The Parable of the Sower Part 2

Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Matthew 13:5-6

   Continuing our study of the Parable of the Sower, we look at the seed sown on rocky ground. Immediately it sprang up but it had no depth of root to it. It was impressive at first , “Wow, look how fast that sprang up!” The truth you can’t see is that it had no real root system to draw upon. The scripture says “when the sun rose,” which is a picture of tribulation, persecution and affliction, the plant died because it had no roots. 

   You may be crying out for God to get you out of a bad situation and all of a sudden it appears like it is getting even worse.... Now I don’t say that lightly because no one wants to be in any difficult or hard situation. I am disappointed and discouraged too when that happens to me. There is a place that God will sometimes not answer our prayers according to our wishes. His desire in this is that the root system will grow deep within us. This is so that we can endure trials, hardships and afflictions. 

Listen, the word talks about;

An inheritance gained speedily, (hastily) without a root of character grounded within us can destroy a soul. 
How many of you have seen people get an inheritance of great sums of money but they have no root system in their life and end up spending that money very quickly. They end up with nothing and very often it destroys people’s lives. They have no root system grounding them and they were not ready for it.

There is an inheritance for the believer in Revelation 21:1-2 which says;
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

The first heaven and earth are going to pass away. 1st John chapter two tells us that the lusts of this world will pass away with it. Stop and think about that for a moment.

If your heart and life are built upon the lusts of this world, you will pass away with it!

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul encourages us;

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 

Paul's main desire was to prepare the heart of those he was with, to be presented to the Lord Jesus Christ as a chaste and pure virgin. 

He told them he was afraid that the serpent would begin to deceive their minds like he did Eve’s with the lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. That is a very real battle that we have to face each day.

The battle is to keep a sincere and pure devotion to Jesus and that is our one objective. To love Jesus with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength is our goal. Sounds easy right?

I’m sharing with you what God is teaching me from the simplicity in my own life. It’s hard to know God’s will and what to do each day. 
I can’t make anything happen in my own strength and I don’t know what I’m doing 99 percent of the time. I need the Lord’s direction and His guidance of my life. 

The Lord has encouraged me, “Andy, you have one objective today and that’s to love me with all your heart mind soul and strength. If you will simply do that every day I will open doors that no one can open and close doors no one can close. I will give you words to speak that you never thought of before.”

The heartbeat of the gospel is not what God can give you or do for you, it’s relationship. 

God is not distant! He put on flesh and bone so that He could identify with your weaknesses. He was without sin so that He could be a faithful high priest. Jesus understands your pain and heartache. He longs for relationship with each one of us.

 Let Him into your world today. Pour out your heart to Him in prayer and let Him develop that deep root system of Godly character within you. Cling to Jesus in your storm as the anchor of your soul, giving Him your unwavering trust in the midst of your trial. Even when you don't understand, even when it just doesn't make sense....He is still faithful. 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:3-8

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Friday, June 15, 2018

The Parable of the Sower, Part One

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.
Matthew 13:1-3 
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This scripture is from the Parable of the Sower spoken by Jesus in the New Testament.

Jesus said that understanding the Parable of the Sower was the key to understanding all of the other parables he spoke. Have you ever taken time to really chew on the word and digest what Jesus is saying in this most important parable? 

The sower of course is the Lord Jesus Christ and the seed is the word of God which is being sown in our hearts. The birds of the air are a picture of the enemy, Satan and the powers of darkness. 

These enemies come into our lives to steal the word and stop it from finding place in our hearts. They use every scheme they can to prevent spiritual growth in us and to take our thoughts off of spiritual things.

  Do you ever wonder why you can sit and read a magazine and be completely uninterrupted but the minute you start to read the Bible, everyone seems to want your attention?

How many times have you sat in a Bible Study and your mind seems to drift a million miles away? 

You think about the favorite T.V. show you saw or how well your favorite sports team is doing, when all while, the Word of God is going forth. 

The birds of the air are stealing the word from your heart! They are distracting your mind and taking it in a different direction. They don’t want the word to take root in your heart and produce life in you. 

There is a war against the word! 

  If we were honest every one of us has been there. We battle distractions and tiredness but it’s important to keep our minds engaged in what’s happening and to have ears to hear what is being said! The Bible says these are perilous times and we do not want to be distracted from the simplicity and purity of being devoted to Christ. 

  Lord help us today to really hear what you are saying to us and to listen to your word and allow it to be planted in our hearts on good soil. Help us not to be "hearers" only but to walk out the word in our daily lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

The real fear of the Lord is the fear of missing God. What if He is speaking and we are not listening?

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Ripple Effect part two

  In 2 Corinthians 10:4  Paul the Apostle mentions that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world and that they are mighty in God to pull down strongholds.

What is a stronghold?

It is something that has a "strong hold" upon you.

There is nothing in your life that God cannot conquer if we seek Him and we trust Him. 

In verse five Paul mentions taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. God would not ask us to do that if it were not possible. It's through struggles that I learned to fight the, "fight of faith."

We don't let those thoughts remain there, we take them captive.

When those thoughts come we say, "Father right now I take that thought captive, I don't receive it into my heart," and then we stop thinking about it. We can start thinking about things above, in God's kingdom where righteousness dwells. (Take some time to look up Colossians 3:2 and 2nd Peter 3:13)

We can't watch or listen to garbage and let it affect our lives or our outlook. These things will take root in our heart and manifest in our lives if we don't stop letting these things in and instead start renewing our minds with the word of God.

Now listen....I'm not going to be the judge of what anyone watches or the music they listen to but If you are watching or listening to garbage it's going to find root in your heart and be expressed in your life.

In 1st John it tells us that Jesus came into the world to break the power of the devil. (See 1 John 3:8)

There is nothing in your life that God can't conquer and overcome if you will just trust Him. You can talk about wanting to be free from things in your life but if you are not willing to deal with the thoughts of your mind and to cry out to God for change, you will never be free of the actions that come out of your life.

Just like God changed me in the area of fighting, it took a lot longer to be delivered from other things, like lust. As I have mentioned in the past, some things take longer to overcome because we have to learn to use the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. I had to learn by falling down and getting up and crying out to the Lord and even enduring through suffering.

 As we learn to deal with the thoughts of our lives there is one thing I believe that is very important to mention.

 Just because a thought comes into your mind, that doesn't mean that you have sinned. I have found that it is when that thought comes and you allow it to stay and meditate upon it.

Consider the scheme of holding a grudge against someone. What is referred to in the church as, "Unforgiveness."

 Let's say you are at the supermarket and you see someone you know and you smile and wave at them but they walk right past you without even stopping to say hello or acknowledge you.

Right then a thought comes into your mind, "I can't believe they just ignored me." That's how the enemies schemes start, with a single thought. Suddenly you find yourself having a conversation in your mind about how they treated you and how unkind they were. You're staying up at night thinking about how that person has always been rude and how they must think they are better than you.

Then you decide you are going to confront them about it tomorrow when you see them. You think about what you'll say to them and then what they will probably say back.

The Bible says we are not ignorant regarding the enemies schemes and this is exactly how it starts, with a thought allowed to fester in your mind.

Before you know it you are carrying on conversations in your mind with people who aren't even there. The source of the problem is that you are not taking those thoughts captive.

Again, how do we take thoughts captive...?
You are back at the supermarket and you see that person you know and you smile and wave at them but they walk right past you without acknowledging you. The thought comes into your head....what were they trying to say by that? Why were they so rude?

You must immediately take that thought and pray in your mind, "Father, I'm a little uncomfortable that he ignored me, but Father right now i'm going to choose to forgive. He may have not seen me or maybe he is having a bad day or received some sort of bad news. I forgive him and choose to believe the best about him in Jesus name I pray. Please help him through what he is going through today."

That's how you take thoughts captive instead of letting them take over your thought life.

Or guys, let's say you are watching television and a commercial comes on with a supermodel wearing almost no clothing and that thought comes into your mind. The thought is not a sin, it's when you continue to meditate upon that thought and it leads you to a place of lustful desire, that you do not want to have place in your heart.

Here's another thought....maybe you've been told all of your life, "You can't do anything right," or "you're not important." Sometimes that may be from the enemy or it's just something wrong in your thought life.

You have to stop receiving those thoughts from the enemy and instead think upon what the word of God says about you. Things like......

 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)


 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 NASB
how about...
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 

Ephesians 2:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Write this one down and renew your mind with it; 
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well. 

Psalm 139:14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

We ARE new creations and we must believe what this word says about us not what our thoughts are telling us.
Entertaining sinful wrong thinking may start as a small thing but the ripple effects can change the course of many years of your life.
I remember when I was a young man I had a friend whose dad, who was a believer and he had an affair.

The adultery in his life began long ago. There was a choice he had made years before to live in a secret place in his thought life. 
One day, he was faced with an opportunity for adultery and he made a choice to act upon it, because in his thoughts he believed he wouldn't be caught. 
All of a sudden the price for sin had to paid in his life and he is still trying to recover from the devastation and broken relationships over 30 years later. 
If not dealt with, sinful thoughts always lead to foolishness.
God says before the foolishness comes, he promises to give us the grace and to help us fight the battle. The Psalmist David said, "It is God who taught me to bend a bow of bronze." 
He will teach us how to fight the fight of faith but we must engage in the battle!
As we look to Christ and seek Him in every situation we can engage in this battle and not be overcome by it.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, mglory, and the One who lifts my headPsalm 3:3 NASB 
"Never Give up!"  (Winston Churchill)

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Friday, June 1, 2018

The Ripple Effect, Part One

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Matthew 15:18-20 KJV
I hate to disappoint you but there are no, "Good guys" in this broken world. The law of God clearly shuts every man's mouth and there is no one who is just before God. There are a lot of things in life I haven't done because I, was "born again" and became a Christian, going into my freshman year of high school. I've never been drunk, I've never taken drugs and I wasn't sexually promiscuous. Yet going into my high school years there was a light that came into my life and I knew if I died that there was a hell waiting for me.

There was no way to change the person that I was inside and I knew that if I did not change, then what was on the inside was going to come out. I began to cry out to Jesus for mercy and grace because the law had shut my mouth and made me accountable to God.

  Every one of us have been touched by the tragedy of sin, by the ripple effect of the fallen nature. It doesn't matter what your educational background is or your economic status or what country you are from. If you have been born into this world you have been touched by the law of sin and death. The scriptures say that evil things come from within the heart of man. The very first thing Jesus mentions is evil thoughts. Whatever you are allowing in your thought life is going to come out into your life.

It's the thought that becomes the seed of what happens in your heart. Stop and think about that for a minute.

If you look back in the book of Genesis, during the time of the flood that destroyed all creation, God didn't send the flood because the acts of man were evil. He sent the flood because their thoughts, what they were meditating on, was continually evil. (See Genesis 6:5) God cares about your thought life and your thoughts are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account,(Heb. 4:13 paraphrased).

When we come to the Lord, there are still ways that we react that we have learned from this world. Now that we are Christians we are not supposed to war anymore like we used to. (See 2 Corinthians 10:4) When I came to the Lord, God would convict me about the ways I would react to people, just as I had when I was lost. God would send difficult people into my life to teach me to think and respond the way he wanted me to. There is not going to be change in our lives without suffering. I had to learn not to fight according to the flesh but to live by the Spirit.

   I remember as a young man getting a job at a lumber yard and word got around that I was a Christian. At lunchtime one of the men grabbed me and held my arms and taunted the other men to hit me. They started hitting me in the legs and were laughing at me. There was a time that I would have hit back and fought with all I had. God had worked a change in my heart and when they saw I wasn't going to fight back it all stopped. Later in the day, one by one they all came and visited with me and asked about my faith in Christ. They saw that there was something different in my life.

  God wants to raise up a testimony in YOUR life but it involves suffering and change and a willingness to trust Him. 

God's word is true and He wants to bring a change for the better in your thought life. His word is like water that washes us and renews our mindset. (See Ephesians 5:26) If you don't seek the Lord and renew your mindset, what you are letting have place in your heart will manifest itself in your life. Jesus is our hope, our champion deliverer and as we seek Him He will be faithful to renew our thought life.

 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Philippians 4:8

  to be continued next week.....

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