In General

disappointment

Do you ever feel like a visitor in your own life? Do you feel like everyone around you knows what to say, what to do and where to go—like they have all the inside info it takes to succeed at life—while you struggle to find your way?

I think everyone feels this way at some point or another.

Add to that the fact that we are strangers and wanderers here on this earth, and it makes perfect sense that sometimes you feel like the odd one out.

But let me tell you one thing you need to remember when you feel this way:

God has promised to bring you home.

Think about the Israelites for a minute. They were exiled in Babylon. For years, they were not only strangers and wanderers, they were persecuted and sidelined. I can only imagine they felt forgotten.

Everyone around them had it better than they did.

The Babylonians had all the good opportunities, all the money, all the power. Meanwhile the Israelites must have wondered where God was in all of this.

And yet God promised to give their nation back.

And He did! He didn’t do it right away. They suffered for a period of time first. But no matter how forgotten they may have felt, it didn’t change the promise God made.

He would be back to rescue them.

God wants you to know that a day is coming when He will set up His Kingdom here on earth and we will rule and reign with Him.

All things will be set right. Everything will be new again. Whatever pain you have will disappear. Your body and mind will be restored. God’s perfect will is going to be done.

Revelation 21:1-5 (NIV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! Gods dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new!Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

 

This is incredible news.

No matter what you are going through right now—whether you’re dealing with grief over a lost loved one, chronic pain, digestive issues, back pain, broken relationships, or even maybe financial problems—God promises to bring you home.

No matter how lost you feel, take heart. He will lead you to the Promised Land.

A day is coming where there will be no more crying, no more mourning, no more death, no more pain and suffering. The old order of things will pass away and God will rule with an iron scepter.

He will make his dwelling among us.

I hope you can find encouragement and hope in that today.

 

In General

harvest

 

Becoming a Christian is only the starting point of our walk with Jesus. The rest of the way involves telling other people about His love and forgiveness. It involves opening our eyes to the hurting world around us that needs to hear the Gospel.

It involves getting out of our comfort zones, so others can know God’s redemption.

When we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we accept that part of our becoming Christians means loving and accepting those who are different from us because God loves people. God wants us to tell everyone about his love, and the price that His son paid on the cross.

Jesus set the perfect example for us when he met the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan. In their time, it was unheard of that a Jewish Rabbi would be anywhere near a Samaritan! Does that sound familiar with how Christians act around sinners? We’re quick to turn the other way when we are faced by those who are not like us.

The encounter between the Samaritan woman and Jesus left a profound impact on the woman, and because she realized and accepted who Jesus was, she told her neighbors, her friends and her family.  Word traveled fast, and suddenly others wanted to meet and know Jesus.

Are we like the Samaritan woman in her excitement and wonder in meeting Jesus?

We have a responsibility to those around us who don’t know Jesus. As a matter of fact, we have a two-fold responsibility:

•  You are to sow seeds like the woman at the well. Be a witness to everyone you know as the Lord leads you and gives you opportunity to do so. Just share what Jesus has done and is doing in your life, and Invite them to learn for themselves.

•  You are to be part of the team that brings in the harvest like the disciples standing with Jesus. Every person who walks in the doors of your church is coming because someone prayed for them, invited them, talked to them, and loved them.

We all play a crucial role in the eternity of others. How can they know about Jesus if we don’t tell them?

 

In General

hungry2

 

My favorite meal of all time is steak, baked potato and salad with bleu cheese dressing. Because America is diverse, we have access to many kinds of ethnic foods like Mexican, Italian, and Chinese. Is your stomach starting to growl?

While food satisfies us physically and even emotionally, there is only one kind of food that has eternal value.

It’s the food and water that this world doesn’t know anything about. We’re blind to it until God opens our eyes. It is available to us if we hunger and thirst for it like the woman at the well.

As the story goes, Jesus and his disciples were making their way through Samaria and stopped at a well. Jesus met a woman and asked her for a drink of water. The woman was so shocked that Jesus would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink of water!

Jesus told her that if she knew who he was, she would be asking him for a drink.

He then offered her not just water but living water. Water that one could drink, and never be thirsty again.

Jesus interacted with someone from another culture who was perceived to be of lesser stature. Jewish rabbis would never stop in Samaria, much less talk to Samaritans, because they were half Jewish and half Gentile. Jesus offered her something that only he could give.

God wants us to open our eyes to the people around us, so we can offer them living water, as Jesus did to the woman at the well. We need to open our eyes:

 

1.         To the marginalized people all around us.

The Father is calling us to open our eyes to how much He loves all people — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Indians, Hindus, Muslims, atheists. All lives matter to the Father. God is calling us to love heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals. He’s calling us to love the sick, the poor, the different, the hurting, even our enemies. All people are welcome to the living water of eternal life! Our Father wants us to love each other like Jesus loved the woman at the well, and the people of Samaria.

 

2.         To the supernatural season of grace you are living in.

We’re living in a supernatural season of grace! We’re in a time of preparation for a super harvest, a time of revival. A spiritual awakening is coming for your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. Do you see it? Can you sense it?

 

3.        To the strategic role you play in the Father’s overall plan.

Because the woman at the well was astonished by her encounter with Jesus, she told everyone she knew how she met him and how he knew everything she had done.  The Samaritans came and believed! The disciples had a key role to play. They could have rejected the crowds that came by, or they could have welcomed the Samaritans by accepting and loving them. How do you treat others who are different from you?

 

4.         To the limited time you have to finish the work you’ve been given.

Jesus explained to the disciples that his food was to do the will of the One who sent him and to finish the work he was given. He was singular in his focus, treating his work with the utmost urgency. Are we doing everything for the will of God to be brought on this earth? Are we reaching the lost and hurt around us? Or are we turning our backs on sinners because they’re different from us?

 

Let’s ask God to open our eyes to our own “well” moments where we encounter those who are different from us, those who we wouldn’t normally speak to or associate with.

In light of eternity, we’re here on this earth for only a blip in time. May God open our eyes to how short our time really is! May we set our hearts on the food and water that’s not of this world – the only food and water that can satisfy us for eternity.

In General

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 6.43.57 PM

When we think about our calling as Christians, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Many of us would say prayer, reading scripture or being in community. I would say that one of the most important things we can do as believers is to never give up.

The Apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos later in his ministry career.  Although he was called to preach the message of Christ, there was no one there to hear his words. The island was empty. Although he could have felt “benched” by God, he submitted himself to God’s will and was given the greatest gift of his entire ministry- the book of Revelation.

Instead of becoming frustrated with his circumstances, he listened to the Spirit, and allowed the Lord to reveal Himself in ways He had never done before.

 

What can we learn from John’s example?

1.    Keep serving, even when you feellike you aren’t making a difference. 

Maybe you have been praying, loving and serving, but it doesn’t seem like anything is happening. You may even feel like it’s not making a difference at all. If you are doing what God has called you to do, and you are where you are supposed to be, just be faithful. Don’t give up. God will make you fruitful!

2.    Don’t second guess God’s plan.

John had an incredible ministry as one of the twelve apostles of Christ. He was one of the very last apostles to die, and watched the early church grow in leaps and bounds. He was on the ground floor of one of the most sweeping movements in all of history. When he was exiled, it is only fair to assume that this was not easy for him. There he was, alone, isolated, unable to do the very thing that he was called to do. But God had a better plan.

3.    Remember that you may not always see the fruit right away.

A couple months ago I was speaking to a group of youth leaders in Israel. A young man came up to me and said that he received Jesus as His Messiah at a youth camp where I preached over 20 years ago. There is a picture above of he and I. This camp was memorable because of all Jenni and I had to do to even get there. One of our sons was sick and we debated on whether to attend at all. The whole trip seemed to be a major struggle. Thank God we persevered so that we could be used by God.

Moti is now a youth pastor at that same camp, and a respected leader in the church. Every year, he shares the story of how a man came from the U.S. and shared the Gospel with him. It changed his life forever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about that camp, and if anything I said there even made a difference. To know what God has done in this young man’s life is astounding!

God calls us to be faithful, to never ever give up. He will take our faithfulness and make it fruitful.

How can you make a decision to be faithful today?

In General

veruca salt

 

Humans can be pretty selfish beings.

So often we throw pity parties for ourselves. We tell ourselves that life is unfair, that people don’t give us the respect we deserve, or that God has forgotten about us.

This type of thinking will get us nowhere.

The Apostle John was in the perfect position to believe all of these things. He was exiled to the island of Patmos late in his life, isolated from his friends and fellow apostles, and unable to do any of the ministry that he had become accustomed to for the majority of his adult life.

He was one of the leaders in the early church, but rather than use his authority to boast, he tells the church in his letters that he is their brother and companion in suffering. He could have been proud, selfish, and self absorbed. Instead, he chose to serve, and to humble himself as Christ did.

If we don’t submit ourselves to the grace and peace that is in Jesus, we will constantly be striving and struggling to be noticed and recognized.  We will walk around with a chip on our shoulder wondering why we don’t get what we deserve and why God doesn’t bless us like he blesses others.

So, how do we shift our mindset from one of pride and expectation to gratitude and service?

1. Give yourself fully to the Kingdom of God, not to the Kingdom of “me”.

Who do you live for?  I know the ‘church answer’ is Jesus, but is that true in your everyday practice? Are your prayers filled with requests, asking God to give you what you want and need, or are they more focused on discovering His will for your life?

Have you given up your rights, your demands, and your plans for the future and submitted it all to living for Jesus? In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” The first step in following Jesus is to deny yourself and do what God calls you to do even when it means discomfort, pain, and suffering. Who are you living to please?

2.    Keep serving the Kingdom of God, even when it is painful and difficult. 

John was exiled to Patmos because of his faithfulness to the Word of God. He continued to serve the Lord even when it was painful and difficult.  What about you?  What do you do when life gets hard?  Do your prayers become more authentic, more intense?  Do you dedicate yourself even more to serving? Or do you feel sorry for yourself and complain about how hard and unfair life is?

If Jesus wasn’t exempt from suffering, we won’t be either, so don’t let Satan convince you that God is unfair or unloving. He is with you, and loves you completely, and will give you the grace and peace you need to get through it.

3. When things get tough, lean into God for supernatural gratitude.

Instead of looking to your circumstances when things are difficult, look up. God has not forsaken you. Lean in, pray harder than ever before. Don’t hide your feelings from God- He is big enough to handle it all. Trust that He knows the whole story, and is equipping you for your calling and journey. Then you will be able to say, no matter what happens, “bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”

How can you choose gratitude today?