Think Fast

Growing up, whenever someone would throw something at you without your knowledge they would yell out the phrase “Think fast.” In order to not get hit by whatever it was and to catch it, you had to think quickly and react. The same adage is true today. Your thoughts are very powerful and impact the way you live, how you approach different situations, and how you react to various circumstances that come about.

Proverbs 23:7 says it this way “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, however you see yourself that is what you are going to be. If you don’t like what you see then change how you think. What you see can be changed but you have to fix you thought process.

Paul tells us about eight different things that we should think about and meditate on (See Philippians 4:8). Whenever you start your thought process go through this checklist. Make sure your thinking is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. I love how The Message translates this verse in Philippians “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

In Romans 8:5-8, we see that our thoughts can either lead us to death or lead us to life and peace. Paul says that people who think carnally or on things of the flesh kill everything in their lives but those that think on things of the Spirit bring life and peace into every situation or circumstance. Proverbs says that there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death (See Proverbs 14:12).

Paul goes on to tells us that in order to transform ourselves or change who we are, we need to renew our mind (See Romans 12:2). When a caterpillar goes into its cocoon and begins the process of metamorphosis in order to change into a butterfly, nobody knows or can see what is going on inside of the cocoon. After the whole process is complete, the caterpillar emerges out as a butterfly. The same is true for us when we think. No one can see what we know or are thinking about, but when the thought process is complete, we become transformed into how we view ourselves. In other words, in order to transform, change, make your life different you have to go through the process of renewing your mind. It’s like the saying “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keeping getting what you always got.” So if you keep thinking like you always thought, then you’re going to keep seeing what you’ve always saw.

Lastly, Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we can think. Bishop T.D. Jakes said it this way “Your penthouse thought is God’s basement performance.” God can do so much more than we could ever think of, but He will only do what we are thinking of. So if you can think it, no matter how big or how small, God can and will do it.

So what are you thinking? Do you like what you see? Have you limited God’s potential to do things in your life because of your thinking? Think fast!

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Strength in Weakness

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We find Paul here in a situation where he is begging God to take away a weakness or imperfection, what Paul refers to as “a thorn in my flesh,” and God tells him that there is strength in weakness. Paul’s response is somewhat strange. Instead of complaining about what God refuses to take away, he finds the opportunity to use his weakness for the glory of God. How many times do we plead with God to take something away or complain about why we weren’t blessed with the talent and abilities of others? We immediately stop everything and think that we’re useless. Peter found himself in a similar situation. He had been out fishing all night long, caught nothing, and Jesus wanted to use his boat to preach to the multitudes (See Luke 5:1-11). Will you let Jesus use your disappointment, your imperfection, your difficulty, your weakness?

Now in Numbers 20:2-12, we see an example of how God wanted to use Moses’ weakness to perform a great miracle in front of the children of Israel. There was no water for the people and they started to complain to Moses and Aaron. Now the people had run out of water before and God told Moses to take his staff, strike a rock, and water started to spring forth out of it. This time God commanded Moses to do the same thing but instead of hitting the rock, He told Moses to speak to it. Hitting the rock was easy for Moses. It was one of his strengths. He had already done it before and it worked, plus the main reason why he fled from Egypt in the first place was because he had struck down an Egyptian task master. In other words, God wouldn’t have gotten the glory if Moses struck the rock again.

Sometimes God tells us to do something different to stretch our faith. He wants to take us to the next level in our walk with Him. I heard Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor Redemption World Outreach Center, say “God isn’t the lottery, He works on levels.” You don’t automatically jump right to the top. If you did, you wouldn’t be able to maintain that level because you hadn’t gone through what it takes to get there. What got you to where you are at now, won’t get you to the next level or get you to where you need to be, what God has called you to and purposed for you.

The other day God revealed to me something in this story of Moses that I’ve never seen before. God told Moses to speak to the rock. We know from the burning bush encounter that Moses had, one of his excuses that he told God was the fact that he had a speech impediment. God even told Moses to have his brother Aaron speak for him. Moses’ weakness was speaking. God really wanted to reveal to Moses His power by now using Moses’ weakness. We see that Moses wasn’t willing to allow God to use his weaknesses and as a result Moses missed out on the promise.

Are you like Paul and begging God to take away your weaknesses? Are you like Moses, God is telling you to use your weakness for His glory but you refuse to allow Him to and therefore miss out on His promises? Or are you like Peter and will allow Jesus to use your weakness in order that He might reach the hundreds, thousands, or even millions?

Stuck

Have you ever been in a place where you have done everything you know to do but you’re not making any progress forward, you’re just stuck?
Have you ever been sick of where you’re at in life and asked God I’m done hear, I’m ready to move on?
Have you ever told God I’m ready for you to take me to where you have called and purposed me to be?
I know how you feel. I have recently asked those same questions. While I was questioning God, He revealed to me the answer to all of the questions I had.
In Mark 6:45-53 and John 6:16-21, we see two different accounts of the same story of Jesus telling the disciples to get into a boat and to go over to the other side. Now I know at the point when they’re are walking to the boat there had to be at least one disciple questioning what Jesus had told them to do. He probably said something like “The last time we got into a boat and went over to the other side it didn’t go so well and Jesus was with us. Now we’re going to do the same thing but this time without Jesus.” Isn’t this the same way God usually stretches our faith. The first time through the storm we could see or knew He was with us, but the next time through He’s still with us but we can’t see Him or know that He’s there.
Now it says that the disciples got into the boat, started toward the other side, got about half way, they were straining and rowing as hard as they could, they had done everything they knew how to do, yet they were stuck. Now this wasn’t the first time the disciples were out at sea, this wasn’t their first rodeo, most of them were fishermen, they knew what to do during certain situations out on the water, but they were stuck. The same thing happens in our lives today. We’ve been there before, we know what to do, we’ve tried everything that worked before, but still we’re stuck.
Now the Bible wants us to know, that Jesus saw the disciples struggling out on the water, started walking out to them, and was going to pass by them. Now I believe that everything in the Bible is written in there for a reason. I don’t think Jesus was going to pass the disciples by because He didn’t care for them. I think He wanted them to recognize Him and acknowledge that they needed Him. So many times in our lives Jesus sees us struggling and comes walking out towards us, but we don’t recognize Him and acknowledge that we need Him. So many times Jesus is coming toward us to get us out of the mess we’re in, but we let Him pass on by and remain stuck where we’re at. Don’t let Jesus pass you by today.
As Jesus was about to pass by the disciples, they cried out to Him. Jesus answered their call. I’m so glad that when we cry out to God, He hears us and answers our call (See Jeremiah 33:3). The Bible goes on to say that when the disciples were willing to let Jesus into their boat, immediately they were unstuck and reached the other side. So many times Jesus is right there, knocking on the door, and we got to be willing to let Him into our situations, circumstances, and lives. I believe that as long as you’re not willing to let Jesus in, He’ll just stand at the door and you’ll be stuck right where you’re at.
Will you let Jesus in? Are you willing to allow Him to take you to the other side? Get unstuck today!

3 Levels of Faith

As I was reading through the Bible, I came across the story in John 21:1-14, when Jesus comes back to reinstate Peter. God revealed to me three levels of faith from this story that I’ve never seen before. I would like to share them with you.

#1) The first level of faith is just hearing the Word of God. In John 21:7 it says “As soon as Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water.” When Peter walked on the water, all he needed to hear was Jesus say “Come.” The centurion soldier also had this level of faith. He told Jesus just to say the word and he knew his servant was healed. Jesus refers to the centurion as having great faith (See Matthew 8:13). 

#2) The second level of faith is when you see the miracle happen. John knew it was Jesus after he had seen the miraculous catch of fish (See John 21:6-7). This is how the crowds operated. They would see Jesus perform a certain miracle and then they would believe in Him. They even told Jesus to do a miracle for them and they would believe. This happened right after Jesus just fed the five thousand (See John 6:30).

#3) The last level of faith is when you get close to Jesus and see Him then you believe. The other disciples that were with Peter and John had this type of faith (See John 21:12). This is a Thomas like faith. Thomas said “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it” (See John 20:24-29).

I have found myself operating on each one of these levels of faith in different times in my life. My prayer is that we would get to the first level where we just need to read the Word or hear God tell us to do something and we would do it without hesitation. There are twelve faith confessions that I have gotten from Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor Elevation Church, that I believe will help faith arise inside of you. Decree these everyday over your life and see if God doesn’t increase your faith to the next level.

1) I am fully forgiven and free from all shame and condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

2) I act in audacious faith to change the world in my generation. (Joshua 10:12-14, Daniel 3:16-18, Hebrews 11:17-19)

3) I have no fear or anxiety, I trust in the Lord with all my heart. (Proverbs 3:5-6, 2 Timothy 1:7)

4) I am able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life. (Romans 8:30, Hebrews 13:21, Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 2:10)

5) I am fully funded to do everything God has called me to do. (Philippians 4:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:24)

6) I have no insecurity, because I see myself as God sees me. (1 Peter 2:9)

7) I am a faithful spouse and Godly parent; our family is blessed. (Ephesians 5:22-23, Ephesians 6:1-4)

8) I am completely whole physically, mentally, and emotionally. (Isaiah 53:5)

9) I am increasing in influence and favor for the kingdom of God. (Luke 2:52, Proverbs 3:4)

10) I am enabled to walk in the sacrificial love of Christ. (Ephesians 5:2)

11) I have the wisdom of the Lord concerning every decision I make. (Proverbs 2:6, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 28:26)

12) I am protected from all harm and evil in Jesus’ name. (Psalm 91, Isaiah 54:17)

Run Forrest Run

We all know the scene in Forrest Gump. Forrest is running, Jennie is yelling “Run Forrest Run,” and we’re all cheering for Forrest too as we are watching. Our journey in life is very similar to this. In fact Paul says in Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” There are three points of how to run this race and finish well that I would like to make.

1) Forget the past and keep moving forward.

I remember running the 4×4 relay in high school track. My coach would always tell me, no matter what, keep looking ahead. Because every time I would try to look behind me to see where everyone else was and how much of a lead I had, I would begin to slow down and I would lose sight of the finish line. We see this in Philippians 3:7-14, Paul is using himself as an example. So many times we get caught up looking back at something that happened in the past. Maybe it was something good and we are caught up in celebration over it and we lose our anticipation for the future. Maybe something painful and hurtful happened to us in the past and we’re stuck there. The problem with that is when you’re stuck in the past, you can’t enjoy the present. I heard Bishop Eddie Long, Senior Pastor New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, make such a profound statement concerning this. He said God can’t help you if you’re still stuck in the past because David tells us that God is an ever-present help in a time of need (See Psalm 46:1). So don’t look back, focus ahead, and press on.

2) Run with purpose.

I am an extreme competitor. Everything I do I have to win. Whether it’s playing baseball or even just playing a board game, I got to finish first. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, we are told to run this race of life not just to finish the race but to win. Paul asks the question “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” Paul says when I run I run to win. He goes on to mention that the world goes into strict training and run the race in order that they might get things that don’t last. How much more should we do since the prize that we’re running for lasts an eternity? Jesus said it this way “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (See Matthew 6:20-21). Perry Noble, Senior Pastor NewSpring Church, always says that  we were made on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. So run this journey of life with that purpose in mind.

3) Focus on Jesus.

Hebrews tells us that we have many examples of men and women of faith that have gone before us and that they are cheering for us as we run this race (See Hebrews 12:1-3). So we need to eliminate all the distractions, throw off everything that is holding us back, and run with perseverance. This journey through life is not a sprint it is a marathon and we got to keep persevering. When we let perseverance finish it’s work in us, we will be mature and complete, lacking nothing (See James 1:2-4). The author of Hebrews goes on to tell us to fix our eyes on Jesus and to consider the example He set before us. It wasn’t until Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to look around him at the wind and the waves that he started to sink. It’s only when we forget about what Jesus said and start listening to what Satan and the world have to say that we start to fall. Only when we lose sight of Jesus and start looking at our situations or circumstances that we start to sink. Keep your focus on Jesus.

So forget the past and keep moving forward, run with purpose, and focus on Jesus, then I believe you’ll be able to say what Paul said to Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

God is Able

Yesterday while I was at church, the worship band sang a new song by Hillsong called “God is Able.” As we were singing it, I started to read the lyrics on the screen. I was so overwhelmed when I began to think about the power in what the lyrics were saying. It got me thinking about what the Word says about what God is able to do.

The first verse that came to mind is Ephesians 3:20. Paul reminds us that God is able to do exceedingly above and beyond what we could even ask or imagine. How crazy is that? That even when we think what we are asking God is impossible, He can do even greater things that we can’t even think of. Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor Elevation Church, preached about and even wrote a book called “Sun Stand Still.” The main point that he made was a quote from a book he read which he calls his page 23 moment “I regret to think that my life would pass me by without the Lord moving mightily on my behalf.” He uses Joshua asking God to make the sun stand still, hence the title of the messages and book, as an example of this very point. Sometimes when we pray and trust God to do something, we put limits on His ability to move in our lives. The only way we can limit our potential is when we start to put limits on what God can do. The way you perceive God is what you’re going to get. Look at the people of Nazareth. Jesus was limited in what He could do for them because they saw Him as a carpenter’s son and not the Son of God (See Mark 6:2-6). Another example is when God wanted to reveal Himself to the children of Israel, but because of their fear and lack of faith, they limited God to a box (the ark of the covenant). So God revealed Himself to Moses while the Israelites received the law (The Ten Commandments).

In 2 Corinthians 9:8, God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that in all things at all times, having all that we need, we will abound in every good work. In other words, God is able to supply all that we need all the time in order that we may have an abundance for every good work that He has already prepared in advance for us. This promise is so comforting to me to know that I am not the source of everything that I am going to need in order to do what God has called me to do. Perry Noble, Senior Pastor NewSpring Church, says “If it’s God’s will then it’s God’s bill.” Paul tells us that God will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (See Philippians 4:19).

We see that God is able to keep us from falling and to present us without fault and with great joy (See Jude 1:24). Jesus said in John 11:9 those that walk with God will not stumble. David tells us that many are the troubles of the righteous but the Lord delivers them from them all (See Psalm 34:19).  I don’t know what you are going through, but hold on to this promise that God is able to keep you from falling and that He will deliver you out of every situation, circumstance, affliction, and trouble life throws at you.

Today I am celebrating my 28th birthday. As I look back on the 28 years that God has blessed me with, I can’t help but praise Him for what He has done and what He has brought me through. I love what Pastor Sheryl Brady said that some of us just need a flashback in order to praise God. That is so true. As I look forward and anticipate the future, I know that He has greater things planned ahead for me and the best is yet to come. I belive the same thing for you, that the best is yet to come and that God who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (See Philippians 1:6).

Lastly, Hebrews 7:25 promises us that Jesus is able to save us completely and forever. This is the greatest promise that God has ever given us. Paul reminds us that all God’s promises that He has made are fulfilled in Jesus (See 2 Corinthians 1:20). If God never does anything else for you, just the fact that He loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die for you in order to save you completely and forever should be more than enough. Romans 10:9 says “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” I encourage you today, if you have never done that, to take the time to do so right now. It is the best decision you could ever make and your life will be changed forever. Click on the link above “Learn more about Jesus” to find out more about the life altering decision you just made.

Hold On

I remember growing up going to youth conferences. One particular conference was an all night affair. We would start the night out watching a hockey game, then we would play some games on the ice. Then we would go to a bowling alley, after that we would go to an indoor astro turf facility for what they called “open gym.” In this facility they had set up a place to play dodge ball, ultimate frisbee, there was moon walk obstacle courses, a sumo wrestling ring, a boxing ring were you pummeled people with oversized boxing gloves, and a mechanical bull. Now the mechanical bull was what everyone wanted to ride and they would have a competition to see who could hold on for the longest time. The person operating the bull would make it buck up and down, move it side to side, jerk it front and back, and make it spin around in circles. Only a few people could manage to hold on for any considerable amount of time.

In 2 Samuel 23:9-10, we see a story of a man named Eleazar, who was one of David’s mighty men. The Bible says when the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand froze to his sword. Imagine holding onto something for so long that your hand gets stuck to it. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:17 that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. No matter what the enemy tells us or what the world tries to make us believe, we should hold on to the Word so long that our life is stuck to it or wrapped around it. Earlier Paul commands us in Ephesians “after you have done everything to stand, Stand firm” (See Ephesians 6:13-14). In other words, when the enemy comes against you don’t retreat stand your ground and after you have done all you think you are able to do, don’t give up, don’t quit, keep going, keep fighting, keep standing, keep holding on.

Jesus tells us about two different types of people or builders (See Matthew 7:24-27). He says one man built his house on the rock and the other man built his house on the sand. The man who built his house on the rock is the person that hears the Word and applies it. The one who built his house on the sand is the person who hears the Word but does not apply it. Jesus said the storm came and destroyed the house built on the sand but the house built on the rock kept standing. Both houses experienced the storm but only one house remained. In life no matter who you are, you are going to face tough circumstances and situations. Matthew 5:45 tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust. What are you building on? What is your foundation? What are you holding on to? What are you standing for? My dad would always tell me “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Are you standing on the Word? Are you holding on to the truth? Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

I love the song by Casting Crowns called “Voice of Truth.” It mentions the stories of Peter walking on the water and David going up against Goliath. It talks about how the waves may be crashing around you and the wind may be howling at you saying you can’t do it, but you need to listen to the voice of truth, the voice of Jesus telling you to come, that you can do all things in Me and through Me. The lyrics go on to say how the giant is calling out your name laughing at you, and saying how you will never win, but the voice of truth, God’s voice tells you that you are more than a conqueror, that you are an overcomer, and that you have the victory in Jesus’ name.

Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor Elevation Church, put this whole concept into perspective about a week ago at the Newspring Leadership Conference. He mentioned how in football they have instant replay. When a play is called on the field if the coach doesn’t agree with the call, he can challenged it and the referee will come out and say the previous play is “under further review.” I want to let you know that whatever the enemy is saying to you about your life, who you are, or what you have done, the voice of truth, God’s voice, says that the previous play in under further review. God looked at your life, your circumstance, your situation said it’s under further review and sent Jesus to overturn the call that was made on the field and rule in your favor. Paul tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (See Romans 8:1).

Keep holding on, keep standing, quit listening to the voice of the enemy and start listening to the voice of truth that says you’re an overcomer, you’re more than a conqueror, you’re victorious, you’re forgiven, you can do all things, you’re the head and not the tail, you’re above and not beneath, you belong to Jesus, if God is for you who can be against you, and that nothing can separate you from His love.

Get Back Your Joy

The other day I had to make a trip up to Charlotte, NC. The whole way there, I was praising God, thanking Him for His faithfulness, and believing that He was going to come through for me in this particular situation. When I got to Charlotte, the situation didn’t turn out in the way I was hoping and trusting God for. So on the whole way driving home, I was so depressed, hopeless, and disappointed with God. When I finally got back home, my dad really gave me a gut check and put the whole thing back into perspective. He said that I would have been praising God if the situation turned out the way I was hoping and trusting for, so I still should be praising Him even though it didn’t end up the way I thought it would. Why wasn’t I still praising God? Why don’t we continue to praise God even when our circumstances or situation don’t turn out the way we were hoping for them to. David says in Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise will continually be in my mouth.” No matter what our situation or circumstance is, it doesn’t change who we are in Christ and God is still on the throne. I love the song by MercyMe “Bring the Rain” that mentions our circumstances don’t change who we are in Christ and better yet they don’t change who God is. How reassuring is it that God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, peace, love, and joy doesn’t depend on us or our circumstances. Hebrews tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (See Hebrews 13:8).

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to rejoice in the Lord always. The prefix re- means to go back or to get back and the word -joice comes from the root word joir which means joy or be glad. So in other words, Paul is telling us in order to get back our joy we need to be in Jesus always. Paul goes on “I will say it again: Rejoice!” Notice that he repeats himself and adds an exclamation point to further drive his point home that in order to have true joy we need to be in Jesus.

David goes on to tell us that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy (See Psalm 16:11). In other words, if you are not abiding in God or constantly in His presence, it is impossible to be happy or joyful. Jesus said it this way “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (See John 15:11). Jesus just explained earlier in this chapter how He is the vine and we are the branches, how we are supposed to remain in Him, and that apart from Him we can do nothing. In verse seven Jesus tells us that if we remain in Him and His words remain in us, we can ask anything and it will be done. So in order for us to have complete joy, we need to abide in Jesus and His words need to be inside of us.

So no matter what you are going through or how your circumstances turn out continue to praise God, go get your joy back in Jesus, and find complete joy abiding in Jesus and His word.

I Can See Clearly Now

The last few years I have taken dozens of trips all over the country. Usually when I go on these trips, I have an extremely early flight and have to be at the airport while it’s still dark out.

When I first got started on my journey to the airport, the sun had not risen yet and all I could see is what my headlights shown on right in front of me. David mentions in Psalm 119:105 that the word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. In other words, in this journey of faith that we’re on sometimes we might be able to see a little ways up ahead on our path and other times we might just be able to see the next step right in front of us. Perry Noble, Senior Pastor NewSpring Church, says that the will of God for your life is to do the next step that God tells you to take. So don’t worry about what you’re suppose to do down the road, just take the next step.

Peter tells us that Jesus has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (See 1 Peter 2:9). When I initially got going on my trips, I couldn’t see anything because of the darkness, but when the sun started to rise I could slowly start seeing more and more of what was in front of me. I want to encourage you and tell you that the Son has risen. Jesus has risen! And you can see clearly now that you are in His marvelous light!

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