Closer

CloserWhen God allows us to go through seasons that aren’t particularly pleasant…we always wonder why.  Searching, reasoning, forecasting our future, talking it out with a best friend..still we are not sure. Rest assured God is in control and wants to help you through seasons of wilderness that may seem to last for an eternity.

 Here are 3 tools that have always helped me push through times like these:

1.  Prayer– talking to our Heavenly Father first about the concerns of our heart is our first step .  We need to “get it all out” with him first before going to anyone else.  True confession and crying out to Him will begin to align our heart with the heart of God.

But in my distress I cried out to the lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.  Psalm 18:6 (NLT)

2. People – spending time with friends face to face does good for the soul.   God puts friends in our lives to encourage us and give us hope to see our situation through a different set of eyes.   In a culture that bends our perception of friendship as a ‘friend’ on Facebook, a ‘favorite on Twitter, or a ‘like’ on Instagram, we need more than that.  God uses others to give us Victory over our struggles.

 “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.”  Proverbs 27:9 

3.  Scripture –  reading the promises of God that he has for you will change the way you are viewing your current situation.  When we fill our minds and souls with God’s truth, it gives us an eternal perspective of our lives.  God’s Word gives us hope that what we are walking through now has a “reason and a purpose” in it.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8

God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life.  The season in your life will not last forever, no season ever does.  Allow God to shape you and mold you into the person he wants you to become!!

Grace

Grace It’s something we cannot possibly earn and certainly don’t deserve.  If we all got what we deserved, it probably wouldn’t be pretty, at least in my case it wouldn’t.  Grace.  God’s Grace.  His undeserved favor in our lives.  Grace is a word that’s thrown around in culture but rarely unpacked.  We have a ‘grace’ period in paying our monthly mortgage payment.  We say ‘grace’ over our food.  When we look into our lives and see what Jesus has done, we start to remember his grace in a whole new way.  We fall into a state of thanksgiving and humble thoughts about who and what God has rescued us from.  We remember what we used to be, a wretch, who said yes to a God who wants to teach us his grace the rest of our lives. This Holiday season allow God to use you to be a ‘grace giver’.  Allow him to use you to be a ‘dispenser’ of his grace.  His awesome, powerful, life changing grace.  Offer it to those who certainly don’t deserve it, from the world’s viewpoint, and it will glow even brighter.  It will take an intentional effort on your part & will more than likely take you by surprise.  You will find yourself right in the middle of the moment where you get to be a ‘grace dispenser’.  Will you ignore the opportunity or allow the Holy Spirit to work through you?  You get to decide in the freewill God gives you. Watch God use you this season to be a ‘grace giver’ and a ‘dispenser’ of his grace.  It will bless the person receiving the grace and bless the giver also. His Grace is Amazing……

Groups are where Growth Happens

 

LifeGroup Pic

 

Groups are where Growth Happens.

In my 19 years as a follower of Christ, I have been involved in larger and smaller churches. I have sat in services of 1000+ and services of 150. While both have their pluses and minuses, one thing they have in common is their inability to connect people in relationships how God has wired us.

You may hear a good sermon, listen to some great worship music but when it comes to truly growing in your relationships with God, others must be involved. Growing in your walk with Christ cannot just be vertical it must be horizontal. This normally happens in a Small group, Life group or Community Group, whatever you decide to call it. It is where people can get real with people and talk about spiritual thoughts in their mind and heart. There are not many places where talking about such things is acceptable but in a small group, talking about God is understood and expected.

The conversation should flow about life in general, but always point back to God. After all, He is the rock of our salvation. He is the main reason we are all getting together, isn’t he? Groups all have different ebb and flow, depending on their leader and culture to which the group is formed. But something happens when people get together in Jesus name, lives begin to be transformed. This is done intentionally and takes time.

 Here are 6 things a healthy small group does:

1. Pray. The leader must encourage other group members to have a special, personal time with God daily. They must also pray for ‘one another’. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing you are being prayed for by somebody else.

2. Meet regularly. Weekly is the goal to shoot for. If weekly can’t be done than twice a month can work, but is not the optimum meeting time. A lot of life happens every day, so meeting weekly gives group members a chance to be able to share what God has done and is doing in their lives.

3. Pick relevant material to study/discuss. You won’t hit a home run with every study you do, but you should be close to where people are living life every day in your group. Mix up the topics as well as the method you are choosing for delivery.

4. Making group members feel Valued and Loved. While everybody has a different motive to get involved in a small group, one thing is common, when group members know that you care about them, they will continue to attend group.

5. Plan activities outside of your normal meeting time. Make sure you schedule dates and times just to do life together. Picnic at park, game night, bowling, dinner and movies, you name it; just make sure you do something away from your typical meeting environment.

6. Plan to serve together. A healthy group is not strictly inward focused, but strives towards meeting other people’s needs. When you serve together in the community, it brings a sense of unity to the group that you can only experience by serving others.

These are just a few of the things that will grow your group stronger!

 

 

 

Ordinary

God is looking for ordinary people to do his Extra-ordinary Work. He doesn’t need flash or super educated people to display what he wants to do in others lives, he just wants someone with a willing and obedient heart.

In Acts 4:13 tells us that the priests and the other leaders “took note” at something they saw. They heard two guys names Peter and John telling them that “salvation is found in no one else but the name of Jesus Christ”. How dare they be so bold to say this to them? How could they? They were filled with the Holy Spirit as they spoke with boldness and clarity.

When the leaders “saw the courage” of Peter and John it caught their attention. They realized that these guys did not go to school to be able to talk like this. They knew one thing. They “had been with Jesus”. Oh yea. That changes things…a lot.

When we spend time with Jesus, people take note and notice something different about us. When we get into the presence of the Holy One who created us we are transformed by his Glory. He does something inside us that is reflective on the outside also.

Go spend some time with Jesus….and see what happens!!Image

Recognizing God’s Voice

With so many voices and lines of communication trying to grab our attention, we long to hear God’s Voice.  There are very few things in this life that are better than hearing they voice of God.  We can flip flop and hear from God one moment and hear something the devil says the next.  Look at Peter and Jesus.  One moment Peter is telling Jesus that he knows that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.  A few verses later, he tells Jesus not to follow the will of God by leaving them.  Are you kidding me….you just said something brilliant to Jesus Peter.  Now you are telling him something that the devil told you to say.  C’mom dude, get with it.  Yea, thats just like you and me as we sort through the thoughts and voices we hear and wrestle with every day.

How do I know it’s God’s Voice?

1.   Does it agree with the Bible?

 God’s will never contradict God’s Word.

He will never lead you astray apart from His Word.  His voice will always like up with His Word.  Many things change every day.  This life we live will always be in some sort of change.  God’s Word will never change.  When God is giving you thoughts that are from Him, it will always line up with his Word.

2.  Does it make me more like Christ?

Is this something that is going to build my character or my trust in God?  Would it represent Jesus well?  

Does it display all the attributes of James 3:17?  

James 3:17-(NIV)“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

If it fits these parameters, good chances that you are hearing God’s Voice.

3.  Would my church confirm this?

Your church family wants what’s best for you in your life.  They love and care about you.  For many of us, God has used our church family to help us to develop where we are today.  Thanks be to God for the great things he has done!

Make sure you exercise these 3 things before deciding whether you are hearing from God or not…Image