Clear Eyes

Those of you who are fans and watch the TV series “Friday Night Lights” as soon as you read the title of this post immediately this quote “clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose” from the series popped into your head. I want to focus in on the part of the quote that says “clear eyes.”

In Acts 9, we find a man named Saul who was on his way to Damascus on a mission to imprison, persecute, and kill Christians when he has an encounter with Jesus. Saul gets knocked off his horse and blinded. Right after this happens, we find an interesting statement in verse eight. It says “Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.”

In life, just like Saul, our eyes are open but we see nothing. Instead of seeing what God sees in our life, we see what others see in our life. Instead of seeing the positive, we see the negative. Instead of seeing how big our God is, we see how big our circumstance is. Instead of seeing that God is for us, we see all the things that come against us. Our eyes are open, but we see nothing.

In 2 Kings 6, we find a conversation between Elisha and his servant. Elisha’s servant comes running to him in order to inform Elisha that the city is surrounded by a vast army. Elisha’s response in verse 16 and 17 is “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Elisha prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes in order that he might truly see. His eyes were open, but he couldn’t see the truth of the situation. Because of what the servant chose to focus on, he couldn’t see what was really going on. There is a quote that says “It’s amazing what you will see when you chose what not to look at.” In other words, when our eyes are opened and we are determined not to look at our situation; we will see things that otherwise we wouldn’t have seen before.

In Matthew 13, Jesus says this to His disciples about the crowds “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (See Matthew 13:13) Have you ever seen someone who sleeps with their eyes open? It’s pretty creepy. Although their eyes are open, they are unaware of what is going on around them. This is what Jesus was saying about the crowds. Their eyes were open, but they were sleeping. They were unaware of what was happening around them. They couldn’t see what was truly going on because of their selfish ambitions. This is exactly what happens to us. Because of our selfish desires and lack of focus, our eyes might be open, but we see nothing.

So how do we start to see what we are suppose to see? The author of Hebrews lets us know how in chapter 12. This is what he writes “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (See Hebrews 12:1-2) In order for us to see, we must eliminate all other distractions that grab hold of our attention and fix our eyes on Jesus. Because if your eyes are on Jesus then you will be able to see all that you need. If your eyes are on Jesus, you will see what God sees. If your eyes are on Jesus, they will be clear.

After 3 days, Saul eventually regains his sight. When he does, it says scales fell off of his eyes. Let the scales fall off of your eyes and fix your eyes on Jesus, so that you will have clear eyes.

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If You Knew

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 ESV)

In John 4, we have this encounter with Jesus and a Samaritan woman. They begin to have a conversation together. Jesus asks her a question, and instead of answering, she starts an argument with Him. Jesus tells her that if she knew who she was talking with, she would stop making excuses.

We see a similar scene in Exodus 3 and 4. Moses has an encounter with God through a burning bush. God tells Moses that he is going to deliver His people out of Egypt and Moses starts making excuses. God’s response to Moses is “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (See Exodus 4:11) In other words, God tells Moses, if you knew who it is you are talking to, you would just listen and obey.

So many times we find ourselves just like Moses and the Samaritan woman. We start to question and argue with God instead of just listening and obeying. But if we only knew, we would trust in Him.

If you knew that God is love, you would not fear.
If you knew that God is hope, you would not despair.
If you knew that God is peace, you would not worry.
If you knew that God is your healer, you would be made whole.
If you knew that God is your joy, you would not be depressed.
If you knew that God is your shelter, you would be kept safe.
If you knew that God is your supply, you would not be in want.
If you knew that God is with you, you would not feel alone.
If you knew that God is your strength, you would not feel weak.
If you knew that God fights for you, you would overcome.
If you knew that God is for you, you would know all things are possible.

If you only knew.

Worry…What is it Good For?

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”
Corrie Ten Boom

There’s a song called “War” by Edwin Starr that I would have never known about, and you probably would have never heard of it too, if it wasn’t for the movie “Rush Hour.” The verse that they sing in the movie goes like this “war what is it good for, absolutely nothing.” I was thinking about this and there is another word that starts with “W” that you could replace the word “war” with and it would fit into the verse just fine. That word is worry. Worry what is it good for, absolutely nothing. Here’s why.

Jesus spoke on worry in Matthew 6:19-34. He said that what good does it do to worry about tomorrow. Because you can’t change it. You can’t add another hour to your life. Jesus goes on to say that if God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, how much more will He take care of you.

The interesting thing is that when Jesus talks about worrying, He starts talking about money. So much of the things we tend to worry about involve money. If our money starts to get funny, we seem to get all bent out of shape. Look at America right now. Since the economy has started to decline, there has been more worry and fear then ever before.

We worry about our past that we lose focus on the present. We worry about tomorrow that we lose sight of the here and now. We worry about others that we lose focus on ourselves. We are so caught up with something else and consumed with worry that when God is talking to us we forget what He said.

So what do you do about worry? Well Jesus finishes up in Matthew 6 by saying “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you” (See Matthew 6:33). In other words, focus on God and you won’t be worried about everything else because He will take care of you. Paul said it this way “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (See Philippians 4:6-7). In other words, don’t worry but thank God in everything because what you’re praying for has already been taken care of by God. Because when we say “Thank You,” we say it after we have received what we had asked for. So Paul is telling us that we don’t have to worry, because what we are worrying about, God has already worked it out.

So worry…what is it good for?

Butterfly Effect

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

No this is not a summary, synopsis, or review of the movie “The Butterfly Effect” featuring Ashton Kutcher that came out a few years ago. This post is about the transformation that takes place when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly through the process of metamorphosis and how it relates to our transformation in Christ. So I thought “Butterfly Effect” would be a catchy title.

When it’s time for a caterpillar to start the process of metamorphosis in order to change into a butterfly, it goes into a cocoon. We can’t see what is happening on the inside of the cocoon, but we know that transformation is taking place. Because when the process is complete, the caterpillar bursts forth from the cocoon as a butterfly.

The same is similar with us. We might be crawling around as a caterpillar but when we have an encounter with Christ we are transformed into a butterfly. Most of the time we can’t see any changes but we know that transformation is taking place because of what God has promised us in His Word. Paul tells us how this transformation takes place in Romans 12:2. Transformation comes from renewing our mind. The way we perceive things, the way we think, and what we put into our minds determines what we will change into. Therefore, the cocoon of life is the mind. If you want to go from a caterpillar, crawling around, to a butterfly, free to fly; you must start to think like a butterfly and not like a caterpillar. You must think about your breakthrough even though you can’t see it inside of the cocoon.

Another example is giving birth. When a woman first becomes pregnant, you can’t see from the outside that a baby is being formed on the inside. But after nine months, she gives birth to a child. In the first couple months you can’t see that anything is changing but around the last couple months you can see the signs that the woman is about to give birth. Paul tells us that even though we can’t see it we are being transformed ( See 2 Corinthians 3:18).

The reason why we give up most of the time before we give birth to what God has for us is what I heard Christine Caine say at Elevation Church for the Code Orange Revival. She said that we confuse our due date with God’s appointed time. We don’t want to admit it but we give God a due date on when we think that we should receive our breakthrough. And we give up on ever giving birth because we don’t wait on God’s appointed time.

God wanted me to remind you and to let you know, that even though it doesn’t look like anything is happening and that it’s past your due date; you are going to give birth to something like never before if you wait on His appointed time. So now is not the time to cry, now is the time to push!

United We Stand

There is a time in Jesus’ ministry where He is going about casting out demons. The Pharisees see what Jesus is doing and claim that He must be Beelzebub. Jesus quickly corrects them by saying “A kingdom divided against itself can not stand.” Jesus is stressing that we need to be united. This story is mentioned in three out of four Gospels (See Matthew 12:25-26, Mark 3:24-26, Luke 11:17-18). Anytime something is repeated in the Bible this means God is trying to point something out to us that is of great importance.

A clear example of how powerful unity is, is found in Genesis 11:1-9. We find here the story of the tower of Babel. The people were of one race, one language, and had one goal. They set out to build a city with a tower that reached to the heavens. Because they were united together, they would have accomplished this feat. God Himself said that there was nothing they could not do. God had to confound their language and cause division among them in order that they would not be able to reach their goal.

I heard a Pastor from Texas say “We are suppose to be a nation not a denomination.” We are so concerned with our own agendas, opinions, motives that we cause division among ourselves. If the people building the tower of Babel could accomplish a selfish feat, task, goal because they were united, what could be done if the body of Christ is unified. If God is the only person that could stop the people who were unified, nothing will be able to stop us if we could unite together for the advancement of the Kingdom. This is why Paul wrote “If God be for us who can be against us.”

God wants to do something, but because of our division, we are holding Him back. Because of our division, we are holding ourselves back. Because of our division, we are holding the world back.

Jesus knew how much power there is in unity. That is why He prayed for us to be unified together. If Jesus prayed for unity, then it must be pretty important.

So let us lay aside our pride, our motives, our opinions; and let us unite together for the cause of advancing the Kingdom of God. Because divided we fall, but united we stand!

Invitation Only

God has really been dealing with me lately about what it really means to evangelize and it’s no coincidence that I was recently invited to an evangelism event at Newspring Church. During that event last night, God confirmed what He has been revealing to me about evangelism through some of the points that Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, made.

One of those points was “Evangelism is not inviting someone to church.” Now you’re probably saying to yourself “Why then does every Pastor, staff member, and leader in the church always encourage, motivate, and urge their congregation to keep inviting people to church?” We have been conditioned to just invite people to church so we believe that is evangelism. We have become to believe that the only place where life change can happen is inside of the four walls we call the church.

We place all the responsibility on the Pastor. We invite people to church in order that they would hear the Gospel preached by the Pastor so that they might have an encounter with Jesus. The truth of the matter is people don’t need to come to church to meet Jesus, they meet Jesus when they meet you. The greatest sermon doesn’t come from some Pastor in some pulpit, the greatest sermon comes from you in the parking lot. We were not commanded to go and invite, we were commanded to go and preach the good news. We are the light of the world. We are the salt of the earth. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We are His ambassadors.

The last point that Perry Noble made in session two last night was “Every relationship you have is intentional, not accidental.” You have been placed where you are by God on purpose for a reason. God has placed you on an assignment. You live where you do for an assignment. You work where you do for an assignment. You go to school where you do for an assignment.

So don’t only invite people to church, but invite them to meet Jesus. Because people can come to church, never be changed, and leave the same way they came in; but when people meet Jesus, their lives will be changed and they will never be the same again.

Time Zone

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 ESV)

Everything we do involves time. We trade time for money. We shouldn’t waste our time. We only have so much of it. Time is a limited resource. We need to be good stewards of it. We can never get it back. Time is precious.

The first verse in the Bible says “In the beginning, God” which means that before there was time, there was God. God is not living inside of time with us. We think of an infinite God in the terms of our finite minds. When something happens to us in life, we pray, scream, and shout at God as if He is going through it with us and is in total shock and awe of what has happened. I heard Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center, say “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has occurred to God.” God has already planned the course and painted the picture of our life. So He is not taken off guard like we are when unexpected circumstances, situations, or things arise in our life.

A perfect example of this is found in Luke 8. Jesus tells the disciples to get in a boat and head over to the other side. (As a side note, when God says it’s going to happen; it’s going to happen. So when God tells you something, you can take it to the bank. That is a whole another post in itself.) As they were on their way to the other side, unexpectedly, a storm appeared. The disciples, forgetting that Jesus had already said they were going over to the other side, started to panic. Luke 8:24 says this “And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” The disciples couldn’t understand why Jesus was sleeping. But Jesus could remain calm and in peace because He knew that God had already planned for them to get to the other side, so it doesn’t matter what happens during the journey to the other side, Jesus knew that they were making it to the other side.

We tend to be just like the disciples. When storms arise out of nowhere in our life, we panic as if God has no plan and is caught off guard by the whole thing. We think God is asleep, that He doesn’t care about us, and that He is trying to figure out how to work everything out. The truth of the matter is that God is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, He knows the beginning from the end, He is the author and publisher, He is the director and editor, He’s got a plan, and no matter what might happen along the way; His purpose will prevail.

So don’t worry or panic when unexpected circumstances, situations, and storms arise in your life. Just like Jesus, you can be calm and at peace, because God has got you making it to the other side.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

In honor of Cupid and Valentine’s day, I felt it necessary to write a post about love.

Back in September at the first Unite Greenville event, Matt Pitt from the Basement spoke. His main point that he drove home all night was the question “What’s love got to do with it?” The answer to this question that he had us respond with was “Everything.” Without love we wouldn’t be here right now. Love has everything to do with it. Because of God’s amazing love for us, He gave His son up for us.

Today we have a skewed idea of what love is. We think you can make love. We think you can fall in and out of love. We think love has to do with flowers, chocolate, balloons, or jewelry. The truth is that true love has to do with sacrifice. True love has to do with what happened on a cross 2,000 years ago. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (See John 15:13)

John later writes “We love because he first loved us.” (See 1 John 4:19) In other words, unlike our view of love which is conditional, God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is based on your position as His child not based on the condition you find yourself in. Paul writes in Romans 8 that God for-knew us. This means that God knew everything we were going to do, all the good, all the bad, and all the ugly; and He still loved us. Paul writes later in the same chapter that nothing can separate us from the love of God. So those of you who think there is no possible way God could love you because of what you have done, He still loves you. Those of you who are single, especially you ladies, who feel alone and unloved while everyone else is celebrating Valentine’s with a special someone who loves them; you’re not alone and you’re not unloved. God is there with you and He loves you. His love conquers all fear. His love covers a multitude of sin. His love endures forever. His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on you.

So what does love got to do with it? Everything!

You’re the only Jesus

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven you. And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone? But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise, take up your bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins. He said to the paralytic, I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house. Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this! (Mark 2:1-12 NKJV)

I’ve heard many Pastors use this story in Mark to encourage, motivate, and compel their people to invite and even bring lost people to church. And because of this, people now have come to believe that Jesus only shows up at church and the only place to meet Him is inside of those four walls.

John writes that as Jesus is in Heaven so are we here on earth (See 1 John 4:17). Unfortunately because of what we have been conditioned to believe from these sermons, we have forgotten the real reason Jesus came to earth for. Jesus came to get the sin out of us so that God could come live inside of us through His Spirit. I heard Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, put it this way “Jesus died so that He could rise. And He rose so that He could live through us.” And that is why John wrote what he did in 1 John 4:17. Because of this we are just like Jesus.

My uncle, Wayne Negrini, sings a song called “You’re the only Jesus.” The chorus says “You’re the only Jesus some may ever see. You’re the only words of life that some may ever read. So let them see in you the One in Whom is all they’ll ever need. You’re the only Jesus that some will ever see.” We don’t have to bring people to Jesus anymore. We bring Jesus to them. Wherever we go, Jesus goes. We don’t have to bring them to church in order for them to meet Jesus. We are the church, and whenever they meet us, they meet Jesus.

Don’t worry anymore about you’re family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers not coming to church every time you invite them. Most of the time they won’t come to church because the people, the masses, or the crowd is holding them back or keeping them from getting to Jesus just like in Mark. And you try everything in your power to cut a hole in the roof in order to get them to Jesus forgetting that God has placed you in your family, at your job, at your school, in your neighborhood on an assignment. To be Jesus to them because to them you’re the only Jesus that they’ll ever see.

So don’t try to bring them to Jesus, bring Jesus to them.

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