I’M EXPECTING

Dads all across the world know this statement all too well. It’s an exciting and breathtaking moment. A moment that builds a great sense of anticipation for what will take place in about 9 months.

When you hear this news it changes everything and not just for the dad but especially for the mother. Every decision they make for the next year will directly affect not just one, but two lives. Any stress, sickness, joy, excitement will all be felt by mom and child. And because of this, mothers will live a life that is dedicated to making sure that their baby will be 100% healthy.

I’m expecting. Words that change everything. I wonder, what would the church look like if we were expecting? And of course not for a baby, but what if we began expecting God to move? What if we began expecting God to do miracles? To heal the sick? To breath vision and great dreams into our kids? To save the lost? I believe it would change everything.

Every time we wake up and our feet hit the carpet we should start expecting. I used to ask myself over and over again, why are other people used to perform miracles??? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because they truly expect God to move.

It’s time as the church that we truly begin to expect God to do what His word says so clearly that He wants to do. Let’s join our hearts as one and fill our lives with expectancy. It will change everything.

Acts 1:4 “….Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”

The disciples went and waited for what Jesus had promised. They expected that His word would come to fruition and then they experienced the beginning of an incredible move of God through them. And the rest is history.

HEY GOD, THAT’S NOT FAIR.

I was talking with Dad the other day and he received an email from a sharp gentleman in his church with a great question that maybe you’ve had too. I thought it relevant enough that I wanted to share it with you. I hope you enjoy.

Dear Pastor,

I was teaching the children today (3rd-5th graders) about the Exodus story. As I read, “. . . and God hardened Pharaoh’s heart . . .” a child immediately interjected, “See, that doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not fair to Pharaoh that God made him disobey.” I did my best to explain to her how difficult it was to fairly answer her statement in terms that she would understand. I was hoping that you could shed some light on this for me possibly?

I love Dads response. I think we can learn something here.

Great question and one I’m often asked. Let’s think together. Now, we need to do some biblical theology (Luther called it the Analogy of Faith) and tie the entire scope of Bible teaching together. Here we go.

01. We know God does not create humans for the purpose of condemning them, nor is He ever responsible for the sinfulness or hardening of men toward his mercy.

02. Twenty times the Bible speaks of Pharaoh hardening his heart. Interestingly, ten of those times it says Pharaoh hardened his own heart and ten times it states God hardened his heart. Also, three different Hebrew words are translated “hardened.” Each has a slightly different shade of meaning

03. We must deal with Romans 1. In verses 20-28, it teaches that when a person begins to sin and to harden themselves against God, He will “give them up.” That is, He lets them go their own way. God does not actively harden someone, but He passively allows them to harden them self. In this sense God hardens them.

04. God gave both Pharaoh and Moses the same amazing revelation of his power and mercy in the ten plagues. Both had the same opportunity to submit to God’s will. While God’s revelation melted Moses, it hardened Pharaoh. Let this illustration help: wait for a hot, sunny August day. Put a lump of wax and a lump of clay one foot apart on the sidewalk. The wax will soften and the clay will harden—same day, same sun. You can apply.

10 WAYS TO LOSE FOCUS

I saw a bumper sticker the other day it read: “Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to see him.” Texting while driving has become a dangerous epidemic across America, one at times I’m guilty of. The reason why it’s such a dangerous habit is because it distracts you from what you should be paying attention to… THE ROAD. In a nutshell it causes you to lose focus.

I want to make a bold statement to you. “The only reason men fail is broken focus.” Think about that statement for a minute. Think about David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah.

The reality is while we’re traveling down the road of life the enemy is working overtime to distract you, to get you off track and he does this by getting you to lose focus. He would love nothing more than to get you side tracked and wrecked in the ditch of life.

When you and I lose focus, our marriages become a drag, ministry becomes drudgery, and relationship with God becomes a duty.

Below are 10 ways in which the enemy will distract you and cause you to lose focus.

10 WAYS TO LOSE YOUR FOCUS:

01. When the job you’re doing is no longer a challenge because you quit striving for excellence.

02. When the enemy’s voice becomes louder than God – you become Stagnate.

03. When you feel slighted or wrongly accused.

04. When you inadequately plan your day.

05. When you desire someone else’s position.

06. When your vision seems impossible.

07. When you fight to survive due to weariness, fatigue, depression, and offenses.

08. When you look too far ahead.

09. When your prayer life becomes a time of complaining.

10. When you listen to the advice of people.

Luke 22:39 records the story of the disciples being with Jesus at one of the most important moments in His life. Yet these men could not discern the times. They became distracted and fell asleep. How many times has God wanted to use us, but we have become distracted, unfocused and it lead to us missing some of the greatest opportunities in the marketplace, family, and ministry?

This is why Paul is my hero. After all the turmoil, trouble and trials he faced HE NEVER GAVE UP. He stayed focused to the end. These are words straight out of his mouth. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have ran the race.

So what do you do if you’ve lost your focus? How do you get it back? Great question, I’m glad you asked. Here are nine ways to regain your focus.

9 WAYS TO GET YOUR FOCUS BACK:

01. Go back to the Beginning.

Deuteronomy 8:11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.

Very few things are as powerful as when you start remembering the beginning. I will watch couples eyes light up when they start talking about when they first met. The spark of romance is rekindled. Remember when you first got saved, when the dream for that business first hit your heart. What you felt when you brought your newborn home from the hospital. I think you get my point. Don’t forget the dreams of the past.

02. Clear your Schedule.

Jesus retreated into the wilderness all the time to spend time alone with God. When was the last time you broke away from the rut and routine of life to recharge and refocus?

03. Go to God in Prayer

Jeremiah 33:3 Call on me and I will answer you and show you great and hidden things which you don’t know about.

God has great and hidden things about your life that will bring new focus if you only knew. So how do you discover them? Talk to God about them.

04. Help someone hurting.

Ephesians 6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord.

Have you ever experienced the rush of allowing the God of the universe to flow through your life to touch someone else? Try it, help the hurting, volunteer in a ministry, go on a missions trip and watch your focus become clear.

05. Look at someone else’s vision and dream.

Others inspire. Who are the leaders in the industry you serve, in ministry, in life, who inspire you? Get around them and let their story help you to regain new ideas.

06. Hurt again.

Luke 19:41,42 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Wow!!! This is so good, Jesus’ compassion, and love for people gave Him fresh focus for the coming days as He made His way to the cross. When was the last time your heart broke for people?

07. Get around someone with Zeal.

You are becoming the average of your five closest friends. So today chose to rub shoulders with people who are filled with passion and zeal.

08. Realize God is still there.

09. Realize you’re affecting everyone else’s dream!

The Bible says we’re all apart of the same body, the “Body of Christ.” Imagine with me what could happen in a church if everyone was 100% focused on what God had called them to be and do. That local church would be unstoppable.

SLOW DOWN – DON’T RUSH

A medical school student once told this story. “I was finishing up my classwork in med school one day, when the professor threw us a pop quiz.” I was a good student and kept up with my studies.” I breezed through the questions until I came to the last one. It asked, “What’s the name of the woman who cleans our classrooms and bathrooms in the medical school?”

“I read the question and thought, is this some kinda joke?” I had seen the lady many times (tall, dark-haired, probably late 40s), but why would I know her name? I left that last question blank and turned in my quiz. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question counted toward the quiz grade. “Absolutely, the Professor said.”

In your career, every Sunday at Life Fellowship and even in our daily lives, you and I will meet many people. Each and everyone is important. They deserve our attention and care, even if all you do is smile at them and all you know about them is their name.

You see, the truth is, you are called by the Lord Jesus to be a witness to the non-Christian and an encourager to your fellow-believers. Listen, that’s a tough task if you’re so busy that you don’t take time to learn the names of people you see in your world every day. So this week when you walk into the gym, or grabbing that coffee at Starbucks, slow down, take some time and look for those God opportunities to invest in others. You’ll be amazed how often doors open to tell somebody about your best Friend. I dare you to try.










REST

I recently read an article by best selling author Donald Miller. And in this article he focuses on one simple word: “rest”. Now, “rest” is a word that we would all probably agree has too easily slipped from the minds of many in our culture. We have school, work, kids, t.v., more work, church, our kid’s sports, and yet again more work, and it just seems like there is never a spare moment to breath.

I wonder, why is it so hard for us to rest?

In Genesis, the book of beginnings, we see God beautifully form the Universe. He crafts the heavens and hangs the stars. He creates man, breaths life into everything, and then we see that on the 7th day God rested. Wait a minute….God rested? Why would an all-powerful God need rest?

I know that creating everything that has ever existed was probably hard work, but why rest? I believe God was showing us from the dawning of time the importance of resting. Of course God didn’t need to lie on the couch and rest, but he knew that thousands of years later there would be many of his children that are constantly creating and never resting. Many that never take their “Sabbath”.

Here are three reasons why God told you to rest:

01. You’ll Find Success

Just look at Chick-fil-a. They take one day a week off yet they are still one of the leading restaurant chains in America. If you’re in the business world it would be wise to follow Donald Miller’s advice and take time to rest. Because if you don’t, your competitors will pass you by if they choose to rest.

02. You’ll Find a Rhythm

Finding rest consistently doesn’t mean you stop working hard. It doesn’t mean that your family, job, and kids all take a back seat. But it does mean that you take time to get away from all of the “stuff”. And as you do, you’ll find yourself in a groove and rhythm that you can ride for your entire life. Plus, if you don’t rest now, you’ll be laid to rest sooner than you think.

03. You’ll Find Inspiration

In his article, Miller shares how some of his biggest breakthroughs in writing have come from him stepping away and going for a walk. He can sit in front of a keyboard for hours sometimes, but until he finally steps away and rests, that’s when God gives him a shot of creativity. It’s the same way with me. There are many times when I’m working out, or mowing the lawn, or just sitting on our porch watching the sunset that God speaks to me so clearly and places new inspiration inside.

UNWAVERING HOPE

Imagine if you will, being 99 years of age and God telling you that you would be the father of many nations. You have yet had a child with your wife and here God is saying that you will be a father to many. This is exactly what happened to Abraham. The Bible says he was ninety-nine years old when the Lord spoke to him.

I love the conversation God has with Abraham and Sarah during this time. Their response is so often indicative of our own responses to God.

Genesis 17:1-2, 4 “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.’”

Genesis 17:17 “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’”

Genesis 18:10-15 “Then the Lord said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’ Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.’ Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But he said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’”

Here is a man and woman who are old. Abraham will be 100 years of age and Sarah 90 years of age. The last thing they probably wanted was to have a son. But, it is what God promised them and they laughed. They laughed at God. Sarah even tried to deny it by lying but God calls her out and says, “Yes, you did laugh.”

How many times have we laughed at God when he has promised us something that seems impossible? Or, maybe it doesn’t seem all that impossible but we continue to wait and our hope begins to waver. Our trust in God begins to get a little shaky.

Romans 4:18 says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him.”

There are 4 Keys to Abraham’s faith, that will help us to not waver in our hope of God’s promises to us.

01. Abraham ignored the human possibilities and trusted God to keep His promises.

Isaiah 55:8,9 “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways; declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’”

02. Abraham did not waver at the promises of God.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

03. Abraham praised God before the evidence was there.

Psalm 146:2 “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

04. Abraham believed God was able to do what He had said He would.

Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Abraham had to walk in faith. He had to put all of his hope and trust in Jesus Christ. The conception of Abraham’s son, Isaac was a miracle, but not an immaculate conception. Abraham’s faith didn’t mean he did nothing and just waited for God to create a child.

Abraham had to put action to his faith. Faith does not mean doing nothing but doing all with trust and reliance on God to perform His miraculous work. Are you fully convinced that what God promised He will be able to perform?