It’s Time To Get Up

Acts 20:7-20

What an awesome and timely word we received from Pastor Jeffery Johnson II.  One of the gifts of being a child of God is the grace and mercy that comes with being in Christ. This passage of scripture is centered on a young man named Eutychus.  He was sitting on the window sill and as Paul continued to talk, Eutychus was overcome by sleep and fell from the third floor to the ground.

There are a couple of things that stand out in the text.  First, there is the disposition and position of Eutychus.  Paul was delivering a message to all who were gathered in the upper room and he was talking for a long time.  Apparently Eutychus lost interest in what Paul was saying and fell asleep. There are moments in our life where God will send a messenger to give us instruction, but if our disposition is not right, then we will not receive the message. This is what caused Eutychus to fall out of the window.  He was in church physically, but not mentally. It is impossible to experience the fullness of God and His glory if we are not totally engaged.

Eutychus fell out of church just as some of us have, but thanks to God who is loving and forgiving to give us another chance. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short so therefore it’s not the fall that keeps us from getting to our purpose, but rather what we do after the fall.  In the text, the people came down and immediately said that Eutychus was dead. They assumed because of his position of being in the street that his life was over.   Paul, however spoke life over him and he lived.

Family, we all have fallen in our life, but never put a period where God intended for a comma to go. Let’s continue growing and winning!

God Got My Life Together

Ephesians 2:1-10

There are times when we must take a moment and just reflect on the benefits of being in Christ. The fact that we are in Christ has kept us out of some things, but the truth of the matter is that we are still growing in Christ therefore we cannot forget how God is transforming and conforming us into His image.

Ephesians 2: 1-2 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”  All of us have fallen away from God and His ways at some point in our lives, but we must ask the question what or who is it that has pulled you away?  Ephesians 2:3-4 shows us that it is imperative that we deal with the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts.   “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  We must always recognize where God has brought us from in order to appreciate where we are today. God’s grace is His unmerited favor towards us. Meaning He has given us what we truly don’t deserve in order to display His unconditional love for us. Grace is what God gives us and mercy is what God took for us.  As messed up as we were, God sees a message in us that will ultimately change us, and the lives of others.

In the game of baseball the batter is allowed only three strikes before the umpire disqualifies and calls them out. I’m grateful that God doesn’t treat us like an umpire and only give us three strikes. God doesn’t expect for us to continue to swing and miss the mark.  Some of us are spiritually striking out and still running the bases, but not making progress. The text shares that God can take us from desolation and place us on the road to restoration.

Family, God is not concerned with where you have been, but He is concerned with where you are going.  We must follow the instructions of our coach (God) and the playbook (the Bible) if we want to reach our full potential and purpose in life.  Let’s Keep Growing!

The Benefits of Being Blessed

Psalm 1:1-3

Society gives us a false identity of what a blessed person resembles.  It is not what we drive, the house we live in, the position or titles we may hold, or even our bank account.  What good would it be to have all that but have no peace, joy, love or happiness?  If God blesses you with it, then He will give you provision to keep it.  I recall when I started my first real job with benefits.  During orientation, they explained my job responsibilities and then they suggested that I take this manual home explaining my coverage in my benefit package.  I was so excited because I never had coverage and it seemed like a great plan.  Could it be the reason our faith is not growing is because we haven’t truly looked at our benefit package (The Bible)?  Here in Psalm 1 we see the writer giving us instruction on what to stay away from in order to receive the blessings God has for us.

Obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings burdens.  In life, there will be blessing blockers which will attempt to deter you from your destination.  Be careful of ungodly advice which can lead you down the wrong path.  Some people are hindering us instead of helping us reach our purpose, so we must surround ourselves with people who will push us toward our potential and purpose.  If you are the smartest person in your circle, then it might be time to add some other people.  This is a season of evaluating your circle and examining our conversations.

The text goes on to warn us of standing in the way that sinners take.  Our mindset must be on the ways of Christ, otherwise we will fall back to our old ways.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  God did not deliver you to stand in, but rather stand out.  The text reminds us not to sit in the company of mockers.  If the people we keep company with are judgmental, then please don’t think for a minute that when you’re not around they’re not judging or persecuting you.  You can’t get better hanging with bitter people.

If we believe the ungodly advice, then our behavior will change and will lead to us belonging or surrounding ourselves with people that do not have our best interest at heart.  The text encourages us that if we take delight in meditating on His word, then God will position us like a tree planted by streams of water.  We must have an appetite for the word of God so that when trouble or temptation comes, we can pass the test.  What are you craving?  The word will get you through the wilderness.  This particular portion of the text is saying not only will God position us, but He will give us provision.  Philippians 4:19 says “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus”.  The text goes on to say the tree will yield its fruit in season and its leaf shall not wither.  The source of our life (God) will not only bless you with resources (water, fruit), but He will also sustain it.  Leaves normally fall off trees in certain seasons and elements but God is saying your blessing will not dry up.  The text also says whatever they do prospers. The favor of God will be on your life because of the faith you have in God.  Family, no matter how tough the test is, always remember that it is an open book test with all the answers.

The Beauty of Getting a Fresh Start Pt. 2

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

The beauty of giving our lives to Jesus is that we get a fresh start.  When you accept the offer of being in Christ, there is an incredible benefit package afforded you. You may have tried other people and things but “can’t nobody do you like Jesus?”  God is able to see things in you that are difficult for you to see in yourself.  God loves you more than you love yourself.  God created you and He knows everything about you and knows what you are capable of becoming even when you can’t fully understand it.

When you are IN Christ you can’t view yourself the same way you did before you gave your life to Christ.  You are now a new creation.  If we are honest, some of us are looking at ourselves lower than we should because we have listened to our past, people, pain and problems.  Yes, my past may explain me, but it shall not define who I am for the Bible declares that if any man be in Christ, they are a new creation, the old is gone and behold the new has come.  What is the implication of this verse for the life of a believer?  First, the text says that if anybody is in Christ, no matter who you are or what you have done, you are not a new man or woman but a new creation.

When Paul uses the word creation he means that you have been totally remade into a new creation by the hands of an All Wise, All Knowing and Almighty God.   New creation gives the idea of tearing down and building brand new, not to rehab or remodel, but to build from scratch with new spiritual materials and tools.  When God gets his hands on you he has a way of creating something you have never seen before like new attitudes, actions, new conduct and character.  It doesn’t matter what you used to do or even how long you have been doing it, when God places you into His family, eyes have not seen nor ears heard what the Lord will do with your life.  Yes, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a new creation in Christ.  It’s like a new tree that starts out as a new seed and takes time to mature into what it is.  When God looks at you (new tree seed), He already sees a tree (Christian maturity). We first see God’s proclamation of being in Christ, and then we see the process of being in Christ.   When we give our lives to Christ we don’t instantly mature spiritually overnight, it’s a process.  I’m not everything I’m going to be, but I am not what I used to be, God is still working on me through the power of the Holy Spirt and the process of progressive sanctification.  Now that we recognize who we are in Christ, let us begin to act like we are in Christ.

The Beauty of Getting a Fresh Start

Pastor Jackson began a series entitled “Get In Because You Fit In” dealing with our rightful placement because we are in the body of Christ. What a timely message this past Sunday with the message “The Beauty of Getting a Fresh Start.”  In order to appreciate a fresh start, one would have to experience a season where you wish you had a ‘Ctrl + Alt + Delete’ button. There are moments in everyone’s past where we wish we could have a do over in order to correct some of the decisions we made. The good news is that the text encourages us that if we are in Christ, then we are new and the old has past.

The truth of the matter is even though you are new in Christ, there are still moments when the old you wants to interfere with God’s plan for the new you. We are not perfect by any means, but we serve a perfect God. If you stick with the process, you will notice progress. During the process of becoming the new you, some may deal with a low perception of themselves which could be a result of being ashamed of their past decisions.

No matter how ugly our past is, God still loves and covers us with the beauty of His Grace. Have you ever had someone say you look different since being in Christ? That is because when we are in Christ, He makes us look nothing like what we have been through. You realize that everything you have has nothing to do with you, but everything with being new in Christ.  I noticed a sign on the side of the road that read “will buy junk houses”. It amazed me that someone would pay money for something that was considered junk.  When I spoke with a friend who flipped homes, he explained the process of making something that looks invaluable to one look valuable to another.  He and his team do an overhaul on the house starting with the inside and then the outside. Now what was overlooked by many because of its past, is a thing of beauty now because someone saw great potential in it and paid a price for it. This is the same with us as God saw something in us when nobody else did.  He paid the ultimate price for us by sending His son Jesus Christ to die for us.  He loved us that much that He was not concerned about our history (past), but more concerned about our destiny (future). Family, see yourself Greater – the way God sees you.

Movie with a Message: “Lion King”

What an amazing month with our “Movie with a Message” series.  What an awesome way to end our series with “Lion King”!  So many Biblical truths were illustrated in this movie.  The first being that Christ died for us and took our place on the cross.  Because of this fact we ought to live like we have been saved and adopted into the family of God with all the rights and privileges of a child of God.

Simba had to make a choice to listen to what his father had instructed him to do or listen to the enemy in his ear trying to speak hopelessness, despair, guilt, shame and regret in his life.  If we are not careful, we can sometimes allow the enemy to get into our ears and cause us to lose focus on who we are, but more importantly Whose we are.  We see an amazing illustration of an identity crisis in Simba.  He was listening to the enemy and getting caught up around people and places he was never been designed to live.  The joy in this story is that even though we sometimes get lost in our circumstances and environment, God will always send somebody with a word who remind us who we are in Christ.

Pastor Jackson reminds us that everyone must come to grips with their God-given purpose. Even though you may not know you purpose or destiny, it knows everything about you.  As Simba was in exile in a place that was not his promised land, he became too comfortable with the crowd and his surroundings. It is so easy to get distracted and lose focus when you are intoxicated with that which is appealing to your flesh.  The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy who you are little by little, but God came that you may have life and live more abundantly in Christ Jesus.

We all have so much to offer to the world around us.  God has put us here on Earth to do more than just exist. God has called us to impact this world for the kingdom of God. Like Simba, we sometimes have to face our past and determine whether or not we are going to run from our past or learn from our past.  Have you been living like you have forgotten who you are or Whose you are?  Are you stuck in your past pain, mistakes and regrets?   If so, it’s not only your time, but your turn to stand up and be the man/woman of God for whom He gave his life.  I know you have been through some tough times, but it’s your time to live as a child of the King.