Shot Clock

If you are familiar with basketball, you watch the NBA, or you have been recently watching March Madness; you know that when the team has the ball they have a certain amount of time in which they can shoot the ball. This time is kept track by what is called a shot clock. The team must go down the court, run an offense, and execute properly before the shot clock expires or the ball is turned over to the other team.

I think, unknowingly, in life we give God a shot clock. We try to tell God when, where, and how He can do what He wants to do and move the way He wants to move. We put God on the clock. If He doesn’t come through when we think He should come through, we think that it can’t be done. When He doesn’t do it the way we think He should do it, we don’t think it can happen. If He doesn’t do it in the particular time frame that we give Him, we lose all hope of it ever coming to pass. Before we even ask, pray, or seek after God; we already have our services, programs, and plans set in place to tell God how He should do whatever it is He is going to do.

There is a story in 2 Kings 4 about a woman who had believed in God to give her a son, but when it didn’t happen when or how she thought it was going to happen, she gave up all hope of it ever taking place. (See 2 Kings 4:8-17) When the prophet Elisha told her that she was going to have a son, she replied “No, my lord. Man of God, do not lie to your maidservant!” She had given up. She had convinced herself that it was never going to happen. So when she was told it was going to take place, she told Elisha not to play with her, not to mess with her, don’t get her hopes up, don’t lie to her. As Christine Caine said she had confused God’s appointed time with her due date. She had given God a shot clock, and when the clock had expired and what she had been believing for didn’t happen, she came to the realization that it was never going to happen.

I believe some of you are in that place right now. You have put God on the clock. You have been asking, praying, and believing for something for so long, the clock has now expired, and you no longer believe it is going to happen. You have convinced yourself of it. You have come to the realization that what you had hoped for will never take place. You have got your hopes up before and had them dashed. You have believed for something before and it hasn’t happened. So now when you hear a word from God, when someone tells you that what you have been believing for is going to come to pass; you smile at them, shrug your shoulders, and sigh because you have come to believe that the shot clock for the promise, miracle, healing, or blessing to take place in has gone off, has expired, has run out.

I want to encourage you today that even though the shot clock has expired, that even though your due date has passed; God is still going to do whatever it is that you have been believing for Him to do. He is still going to come through. Your promise, your miracle, you healing, your blessing, you breakthrough is going to happen in His perfect timing and at His appointed time. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, don’t give in, don’t give up, don’t you quit. Keep hoping, keep believing, keep trusting, keep pressing, keep pushing, keep praying, keep asking, keep standing, and keep holding on.

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Panic Attack

You have probably seen on YouTube the videos on the fainting goat. This particular goat, when frightened, startled, or scared; falls over as if it had fainted. If you haven’t seen the videos and you need a laugh, you should check them out.

The enemy (the devil) is the same way as these goats. Whenever we run up on him instead of backing down, he will get startled and fall over. James said it this way “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (See James 4:7 NKJV) Instead of listening to the enemy and buying into his lies, if we would just submit to God and obey Him; the devil would take off running.

A great example of this is the story of David and Goliath. Instead of waiting for the giant to come to him, David ran toward him and took him on. To many times in life we are caught playing defense. We take on all the attacks of the enemy with the Shield of Faith but we forget to go on offense with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Every time the devil came against Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus fought back with the Word of God until the devil had a panic attack and took off running scared.

The only problem we have is instead of resisting, we reason. Instead of attacking, we shrink back. We place ourselves in atmospheres and environments that open the door for the enemy to come in.

No longer play defense. Take on the enemy with force and watch him have a panic attack and faint right in front of you.

No Coincidence

I’m one of those guys that believes nothing happens out of coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. Everything in life has a purpose. I believe the same is true for the Bible. I believe everything written in it is there for a reason. From the beginning to the end. From the largest account to the tiniest detail. Paul said it this way when he wrote to Timothy “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (See 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NIV) He said “All Scripture.” Not just some scripture. Not just the verses that we like. Not just bits and pieces of scripture. All Scripture.

With that in mind, I was looking back again at the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 found in Matthew 14:13-21. I’ve never looked at the story like this before and also have never heard anyone preach on what I’m about to say to you.

We know that Jesus fed the 5,000 with a little boy’s lunch that consisted of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Now me being a math guy, being fascinated by numbers, and believing nothing is written in the Bible on accident; I started looking into this more carefully. There has to be a reason why out of 5,000 people there was only 5 loaves and 2 fish. There has to be something that God wants to point out to us. And I believe this is what He wants to tell us.

The number 5 is the number of grace. Grace is represented by the bread. Jesus said that He is the bread of life. He said that we should pray that God would give us our daily bread. Jesus also said that He is the true manna (bread) that came down from heaven. Because of Jesus, we were freely given God’s grace. God’s mercies (grace) are new every morning. The 5 loaves of bread is a reminder of God’s grace because of Jesus which is freely given and new everyday.

The number 2 is the number of witness. Witness is represented by the fish. Jesus told the disciples that He would make them fishers of men. He also told them that they would be His witnesses to the world. The word witness can also mean truth. The 2 fish are a reminder that we are to preach the truth of the Gospel to all people.

When you add 5 to 2, you get the number 7. The number 7 is the number of perfection or completion. When the loaves and fish were given to Jesus, grace and truth came together. In John 1, we read that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Jesus came full of grace and truth in order to do a perfect work so that God’s plan would be completed.

So just like the 5,000 were physically satisfied by the 5 loaves and 2 fish, we are to take Jesus (grace and truth) to the world in order that they might be spiritually satisfied. I hope that the next time you read the account of the feeding of the 5,000 that you would never look at it the same again. That is not just about some loaves and fish, but it’s a representation on how we are going to reach this city, this state, this country, this world with Jesus.

Favor Saver

Recently I have heard a number of messages on favor. Specifically the favor of God.

What is the favor of God? What does it look like? How do you know you are walking in it? Those are probably some of the questions you have been or are asking yourself.

Our society and culture, I believe, has given us a false perception of favor. We believe that if everything is working out for you and your life is all peaches and cream, you must be walking in the favor of God. We think that if we do steps A, B, and C, you will find favor with God. We believe that the favor of God can be earned or obtained.

Solomon writes that love and faithfulness bring favor. (See Proverbs 3:1-4) Not a ten step program. Not a certain number of prayers. Not because you have done a few good deeds.

When we look in scripture, we see that favor has nothing to do with age. Noah found favor when he was 600 years old (See Genesis 6:8), yet Jesus and Samuel both grew in favor when they were 12. (See Luke 2:52 and 1 Samuel 2:26). Favor has nothing to do with the condition, circumstance, or situation you’re in. Joseph found favor while he was in prison (See Genesis 39:20-21) and while he was in the palace. (See Genesis 41:37-40) God’s favor has nothing to do with gender. David enjoyed God’s favor (See Acts 7:46) and Mary also found favor with God. (See Luke 1:30)

So whether you’re young or whether you’re old, whether you’re male or whether you’re female, whether you’re going through a storm in your life or whether you’re enjoying peace and prosperity; the favor of God can and will find you just where you are.

Reality Check

Have you ever been there where you just want to get away? Where you just want to escape the mundane? Where you just want to get out of the same ole’ rut?

I’ve been there. I’m still there. If you told the truth, you probably are there too. You just want to escape reality. Kenny Chesney has a new song on the radio called “Reality” which emphasizes this feeling. This feeling where it just doesn’t look like you can escape, get out, be set free. You might go on vacation or maybe get away from it temporarily on the weekends, but as soon as you return from your trip and as soon as Monday rolls around, you are right back in the same place, same spot, same trap, stuck in reality.

So what do you do? How do you escape? The Apostle Paul sheds some insight on this in 2 Corinthians 4. This is what he writes “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (See 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)

Paul is saying that we should not look at reality, but we should focus on what God has said. We should not look at our situation, but we should focus on our God. When what we see doesn’t match up with what God said, we need to have faith and trust that God is going to do what He has promised. The enemy wants to have us focus on the reality of our situation instead of the faithfulness of our God. We need to remember that greater is what God has put inside of us than an circumstance the enemy can put around us.

This is why, when we don’t feel like a conqueror, God calls us more than conquerors. When we feel defeated, God says He always leads us to victory. This is why scripture says let the poor say I am rich. Let the weak say I am strong. Because even though reality might say I am broke, I know that the Bible says that my God owns a cattle on a thousand hills, that the righteous are never forsaken and their children never beg for bread, and that my God will supply all my needs. Reality might say I am weak, but the Bible says that the joy of the Lord is my strength; that it’s not by might, nor by power, but it’s by the Spirit of the Lord; and that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

So the next time you are having a reality check, trust in God to be faithful to His Word.

Hit the Ball Where It’s Pitched

I did individual one-on-one hitting instruction for over two years at a baseball training facility called Extra Innings in Wrentham, MA. For the past three years, I have coached baseball at Mauldin High School in Mauldin, SC. I always tell the players that I work with to hit the ball where it is pitched. Meaning, if the ball is thrown outside don’t try to pull it, but go with it and hit it to the opposite field. I tell them to not tell the ball where you want to hit it, but to let the ball determine or dictate where you should hit it.

The reason for this is that if you don’t hit the ball where it’s pitched you have a better chance of hitting a weak ground ball, popping up, and getting out; but if you hit it where it’s pitched you have a higher probability of hitting a hard ground ball, a line drive, and getting a base hit.

In life it’s the same way. So many times we want to tell God our plans, instead of following His plan. I heard Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, say “Instead of telling or asking God to bless our plans, get involved with God’s plan that is already blessed.” In other words, God has already planned out and purposed the best, most blessed, prosperous, and perfect path for your life; so start obeying Him.

Solomon said it this way “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”(See Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT) We need to trust in an omniscient, infinite God and quit relying on our limited, finite thinking. If we would seek after God, He will lead us down the perfect plan for our life.

So start hitting the ball where it is pitched today!

Current Affairs

The word current means – noun 3. flowing 4. water, air, etc., moving in one direction 5. the movement of electricity.
A current is the flow or cycle of something. If you stop the current, then you stop the flow or cycle.

Jesus tells us about a Heavenly current in Luke 6 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (See Luke 6:38 NLT) Every time I hear this particular verse preached, it always is associated with money. The truth is that Jesus doesn’t even mention money when He says this in Luke 6. Jesus is revealing to us a flow, cycle, or current. Before Jesus says this, He gives a few examples of how this current works. He says don’t judge and you won’t be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.

T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor of the Potter’s House, preached a message yesterday called “Choked.” He mentioned how when an animal wants to overpower another animal it goes right for the throat in order to choke it. The reason is that when you choke someone you stop the air flow, cycle, or current. When we breathe, we take in what we need and breathe out what we don’t need. When we only take in what we need, we no longer have capacity for anything else.

This is what Jesus is talking about in Luke 6:38. In order for us to keep the current flowing, we must give out. So many times though, we stop or choke out the flow. We only take in, like a basin, and don’t give out. We receive mercy but don’t give it. We accept forgiveness but don’t give it. We take love but don’t give it to others. We are judgmental and condemning.

Quit putting up dams and stopping the flow. Quit reaching for the throat and choking out the cycle. Let the current flow freely today.

First Rate

When I was growing up, whenever I got an allowance or earned some money from doing some work, I would save it until I saw something I really wanted or needed. I am still that way today. My brother, on the other hand, would spend his money on the very first thing he saw that he wanted. When all his money was gone, he would come to me and ask for money to buy something else he wanted.

Today we seem to do the same thing as my brother. Instead of waiting for what we really want and need, we compromise, jump at the first thing we see, and waste all that we have.

Jesus tells a story in Luke 15 that demonstrates this very fact. It’s a very familiar story and most of you might have heard of it. We have come to call this story the account of the prodigal son. Jesus talks about a son who takes his inheritance and sets out from his father’s house to be out on his own. He ends up compromising, wasting all he had, and winds up in the pig pen. The reason why he did this is because he forgot who he was. It wasn’t until he came to his senses and remembered his true identity that he got out of the pig pen and went back to his father’s house.

I want to remind those who are reading this that might have compromised and forgot your true identity. You are a child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You are first rate and first class. You are priceless.

The last time I checked, in order to tell how much something is worth, you have to look at what price was paid in order to get it. Twice the apostle Paul writes that you were bought at a price. (See 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23) That price that Paul is talking about is the precious blood of Jesus Christ. John wrote that God gave His only Son for you. (See John 3:16) You are worth more than you can ever imagine. Your Heavenly Father thought of you so much that He gave up Jesus for you. You were bought with the precious, priceless, spotless, unblemished, powerful, and limitless blood of the Lamb.

So no longer compromise, waste your life, and live in the pig pen. Don’t settle for second rate or second class. You are priceless. You are a child of the King.

Stuck at a Crossroads

When I was thinking about what to write for this post, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a message from T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor of the Potter’s House, I heard a while back.

The message was about a scene that takes place right before Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. This is Mark’s account of this scene “And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.” (See Mark 11:1-4 KJV)

Jesus instructs two of His disciples to go into the village, where there is a colt tied up at a crossroads, untie it and bring it to Him. Jesus says that, if anyone questions you, tell them that the Lord needs the colt. Some of you feel tied down. You have tried everything. Nothing seems to be working. And you’re wondering why God hasn’t used you yet. I just want to let you know don’t worry, don’t stress out, don’t be anxious, stop your straining, stop your pressing; God will loose you in His perfect timing and raise you up as soon as He needs you. He is keeping you tied up and stuck where no one else will burden you or use you so that when He needs you, you will have the strength to be able to carry out the task that He has called you to.

Others of you who are reading this, you are stuck at a crossroads in life. You have a tough decision to make. You are at a fork in the road and you don’t know which path to travel down. God wanted me to let you know that He has you tied up and stuck for a reason. And the reason He has you tied up is that, if He were to have let you loose earlier, you would have gone down the wrong road. But God is sending someone your way in order to untie you and to lead you down the road that He has purposed for you.

So don’t worry about being stuck anymore. God had you right where He wants you. He will come get you and lead you down the path everlasting.

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