Behind the Scene

Have you ever found yourself in a place of uncertainty? Have you ever been in a season where it seems like God is a far off? Have you ever thought that God has abandoned, forgotten, or forsaken you? Does it ever seem like God doesn’t hear your prayer and is not doing anything about your situation? I’ve been there. I know how you feel. I understand what you’re going through.

In the story of Samson, there is a verse that is easy to overlook and miss if we are not careful. It is a small, short verse but the point found in it is extremely powerful. Leading up to this verse, Samson has been pestered into telling Delilah the secret of his strength, had his hair cut off, has been captured by the Philistines, has been chained to a grinding wheel, and had his eyes gouged out. This is what the verse says:

But before long, his hair began to grow back. (Judges 16:22 NLT)

Samson was in a hopeless situation. He looked like he had been defeated. It looked as if God had left him. But the Bible says that after all this his hair begun to grow back. Samson had no way of knowing that his hair was growing. He could not see that even though it didn’t seem like it that God was still working. He had no way of knowing that God was doing something behind the scenes. Eventually, God put Samson in a position where he was able to kill more Philistines in one day then he did in his entire lifetime.

Sometimes God will close your physical eyes in order that your spiritual eyes will be opened to see what he is going to do. Even when you can’t see God working, have confidence that He is still moving behind the scenes. Even if it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, God is arranging everything in order to do something in one moment that is greater than anything you could do in your entire lifetime.

Some of you might be in this situation that Samson found himself in. You might be in a place where it seems like God is not doing anything. Take heart. Keep trusting. Don’t lose the faith. Have confidence that God is working everything out for His glory, for your joy, and for the world’s good.

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Now

My grandfather was and still is a go getter. He had a magnet on his refrigerator that said “Do it Today.” He definitely is a do it now guy. For instance when I was going to get my drivers license, I failed the eye test. Instead of waiting a few days, my grandfather took me to the optometrist, got me an eye examine, got me a prescription, got me a pair of glasses, took me back to the DMV, and I got my drivers license that same day.

Recently I was listening to a message from Judah Smith called “Yesterday, Today, and Forever.” I was reminded of the fact that in our world today we are easily caught up in looking back at our past or looking forward into the future. So many times we get lost in the good ole’ days and dreaming about someday that we miss out on the moment. Often we overlook the here and now.

John records an example of this in chapter 11 of his Gospel:

“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:21-26 NLT)

Martha’s brother has just died and right in front of her stands the only person that can do anything about it and she immediately thinks that Jesus is speaking about the future. She looked past the moment that she was in. She didn’t realize Jesus was talking about the here and now.

There is another example that John records in chapter 4:

“You know the saying, `Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35 NLT)

Jesus is saying this to the disciples because they are about to miss out on the moment that is about to happen. Jesus was trying to get them to see what was about to happen right in front of them.

The point is that we can’t move on to what God has for us next if we don’t take care of what He has for us now. Don’t get swallowed up by your past and don’t get caught looking into the future. Don’t miss out on the moment. Refocus your attention today on the here and now.

Next

In Luke 15 we come across a particular familiar story that we refer to as the story of the prodigal son. We always bog down on the younger son but in this post I would like to focus in on the reaction of the older son when the father throws a party for the younger son. We’re going to pick up the story in verse 25:

“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” (Luke 15:25-32 NKJV)

Everything that the older son had been working hard for the younger son received even though he didn’t deserve it. The older son couldn’t be happy for his younger brother. He didn’t realize what the father was telling him that if he could celebrate with his younger brother that he would be the next one to be blessed. I call this the “Older Brother Syndrome” (OBS).

So many times we find ourselves in this position. It’s hard to celebrate for someone else when they receive the position that you have been working so hard for. I’ve been there. When someone else gets the promotion at work. When someone else gets hired for the position that you applied for. When someone else gets chosen to lead a project instead of you. When someone else gets their breakthrough. When someone else gets blessed.

Paul writes this in Ephesians “Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”(Ephesians 6:8 NKJV) In other words, what you make happen for someone else God will make happen for you. The reverse is also true, whatever you won’t make happen for someone else God won’t make happen for you. So when you celebrate someone else getting a blessing, know that you’re going to be next to get your blessing. Jesus said it this way in Matthew “Do unto others what you would have done to you.” (Matthew 7:12) We refer to this as “The Golden Rule.”

So the next time someone else gets their breakthrough, celebrate because your next. The next time someone gets blessed, rejoice because your next. Remember “The Golden Rule” and the truth that whatever you make happen for someone else God will make happen for you.

Bring It On

Recently God has been really pressing upon me the story of David and Goliath. I’ve heard the story growing up countless times from Sunday school to different sermons from pastors and leaders. I’ve read the account in scripture backwards and forwards. But God pointed something out to me in a different light from this well known, well documented, well talked about, well studied, and well publicized story that I had never seen, heard, or thought about before. And the revelation that I got is David’s response to what Goliath says to him. In this post I really want to hone in and focus upon this statement by David. This is what David said:

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45 NIV)

The first thing that David points out is that Goliath is coming at him. The truth of the matter is that, in life, the enemy is going to come against you. I don’t want to be the bearer of doom and gloom but you are going to have storms arise in your life. Like Steven Furtick said “Not everything in your life is going to be peaches and cream, some of it is going to be a rocky road.” In other words, there is going to be struggles. There is going to be hardships. There is going to be pain. Jesus said it this way in John 16:33 right before He went to the cross “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” There is going to be things that come against you but Jesus has already given you the victory over it. As Perry Noble says “You are not fighting for victory but you are fighting from victory.” God has already provided the way out, you just have to walk through it. Which leads me to the next point.

Notice how David did not say to Goliath that I come at you with a sling and five smooth stones. But instead he says that I come at you in the name of the Lord. So many times we try to come against the storms in life in our own strength. We try to come at it with our education, wisdom, or own understanding. We try to come against it with our own finances, money, or resources. When we do this, the enemy is fighting solely against us. We are fighting on his level. We are trying to fight fire with fire. But when we come at our struggles, storms, and situations in the name of the Lord, they are not coming against us but are coming against God and that is a battle they’re going to lose. Look at what I think is one of the smartest and wisest Pharisees to ever live said when they were trying to stop Peter and John from preaching in the name of Jesus:

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:35-39 NIV)

Everyone who rose up in their own strength and power eventually died off; but Peter and John, who rose up in God’s strength and power, could not be stopped. This is why we see David charge after Goliath while everyone else shrunk back. This why David stood up while everyone else was hiding. Because David’s confidence was not found in a sling and stones, but his confidence was found in the Lord. David didn’t rest in his own strength, his own abilities, his own power; but he rested in the strength, power, and might of God.

So when the storm rises and the waves come crashing against you, no longer come at it in your own power but come at in the safeness, security, and confidence that’s only found in the Lord. Don’t shrink back but put your head down, put your hand to the plow, and charge forward being fully persuaded that the Lord is on your side.

Sticks and Stones

Most of you are familiar with the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” We would say this when someone was calling us names to make it seem like it was not a big deal. It eventually became just a catchy phrase. Because over time it was a big deal. It did matter what people called you and said about you. Their words became like sharp needles piercing through until eventually after so many of them the pain became too much to bear.

A name is of great importance. In fact, Solomon wrote in Proverbs “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1 NIV) There is great power, significance, and importance in a name. Look at some of the examples in the Bible.

Abraham was called Abram, which means exalted father, before God called him to be the father of many nations. Abraham wasn’t even living up to what everyone was calling him before God made a covenant with him. Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. Imagine everywhere you go, everyone that you come in contact with is calling you an exalted father and you don’t even have one child. Eventually Abraham did have two children, Ishmael and Isaac, but he never saw the promise of God that his seed would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and sand on the shore.

Jacob, which means supplanter or trickster, was also renamed by God as Israel. Jacob fell into the category that most of us find ourselves in. He started settling to live like what people had called him instead of breaking away and living up to what God had called him to be. So many times we fall into the trap of listening to what others call us instead of what God says about us. We end up missing out on everything that God has created and purposed us for.

Peter was called Simon, which means to hear, before Jesus called him to be a rock. Jesus saw the potential in Peter as the person to launch the church. While others saw and called him one who listens, Jesus saw him as a solid rock.

Maybe you find yourself like Abraham where you are falling short of what everyone is calling you. Know that in Christ you will not only reach the level that everyone else has you at but you will far exceed it. Or maybe you are like Jacob and are settling for what everyone says about you. Know that in Christ you are a kid of the King. You are a child of God. You have been called to so much more. Or maybe you relate with Peter.

Whatever the case, know that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says about you but what God says about you. He says you are blessed not cursed. He says you are the head not the tail. He says you are important, you are not just another number. He says that you are loved. He says that you can do all things. He says that you are victorious. He says that your past does not define you. He says that your future is bright. And He says that the best is yet to come.

Why Not?

In 2003 the Boston Red Sox season came to a crashing holt prolonging their World Series drought to 86 years. During the offseason the Red Sox management team made some acquisitions to try and change that. One of those acquisitions was Curt Schilling. Schilling started a campaign slogan per say that next year called “Why Not Us?” His purpose was to rally the rest of the team in to believing that why not win the World Series. What is holding us back? Why not us? Well it worked. The Red Sox made history by being the first team ever to come back in a series after falling behind 3 games to nothing and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals en route to their first World Series Championship in 86 years. Three short years later on the back of Schilling’s slogan, the Red Sox won another World Series Championship.

Now I mentioned all that because I believe we could benefit from taking the same mindset and approach to our everyday lives.

Why not go back to school to further your education? Why not start that ministry that you’ve been thinking about? Why not write that book that’s been hidden inside of you? Why not start your own business that you’ve been dreaming about? Why not climb that mountain that’s right in front of you? Why not face that Giant that’s been staring you down? Why not step out of your comfort zone into the realm of the unknown? Why not attempt something crazy for God? Why not shoot for something so impossible that you would be destined to fail if God does not intervene? Why not?

What is holding you back? What excuses or reasons are preventing you from taking that leap of faith? Why not you? Why not now? Take that first step. You’ll be shocked at what you can accomplish.

Abba Father

With today being Father’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to write a post on the topic of fatherhood.

Paul writes “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15 NKJV) In other words Paul is stressing to the Corinthians the importance of having a father. Although having many leaders, instructors, and teachers is beneficial and is of great importance, nothing can replace the value of having a father.

What Paul wrote about 2000 years ago speaks enormously to our culture, society, and world today. The statistics of children growing up in a fatherless home is shocking. Children that grow up in a fatherless home are twice as likely to be locked up in prison or incarcerated then children that grow up with a father. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes.

The fathers of our country have dropped the ball. Men today are more likely to sleep around then to stay around. In order for our country to turn around and for us to see these statistics drastically change, we need fathers to step up. We need more fathers to take a stand like Joshua when he said “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NKJV)

Where are the fathers today that will say “as for me and my house”? Where are the fathers that are willing to take a stand? Where are the fathers that won’t give in to the temptations of the world? Where are the fathers that will break the generational curses off of their children? Where are the fathers that will stop the cycle? This next generation is looking for answers to their questions. They are looking for instruction. They are hungry and thirsty for the truth. The world is telling them one thing. The Internet, MTV, movies, video games, and music are feeding them lies. What they need is a father to stand up, tell them the truth, and to lead them in the right direction. Read what Solomon writes in Proverbs “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV)

For those of you who are reading this who grew up in a fatherless home or maybe you grew up with a father but he seemed distant or absent from you. I want to let you know that, even though you didn’t have an earthly father, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you and wants the best for you. You don’t have to be another statistic. You are not a mistake. You were made on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. Know that today and be encouraged that you have a Father that you can call your own and who you can cry out “Abba Father” to and He will hear your cry and answer you.

For more on fathers click on this link to hear an amazing message by Clayton King that he spoke at NewSpring Church during the Adam & Eve series.

Go Home

In Mark 5 we come across an interesting encounter between Jesus and a demon possessed man. Mark writes that Jesus gets into a boat and goes on to the other side of the lake. As soon as He gets to the other side, He is approached by a man that Mark describes this way “He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.” (Mark 5:3-5 ESV)

So Jesus casts the demons out of this man and heals him. After He does this, Jesus gets back into the boat, but right before He leaves, the man comes up to Him and this is what happens “As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (Mark 5:18-20 ESV)

It’s very interesting that Jesus denies this man from getting into the boat and following after Him, but instead tells him to “Go Home.” Why would Jesus call the disciples to follow after Him and allow many others to be with Him, but not allow this man?

I believe this is because God wants to point out to us that, though some of us are called to go on the foreign mission field, many of us are called to be a witness right where we are at. Most of us are not going to go to another continent or country to preach the Gospel, but we are to be a witness to the people we come in contact with everyday. You have been placed by God and equipped with everything you need to reach the ones around you. You have been put on an assignment. You are God’s ambassador. Your job is your mission field. Your school is your mission field. Your neighborhood is your mission field. God has called you to reach the guy in the cubicle next to you. God has called you to be a witness to the girl that sits in the desk next to you during 5th period. God has placed you in your neighborhood to minister to the family that lives across the street.

So next time you are at your work, remember the words of Jesus “Go Home.” The next time your sitting at your desk at school, remember “Go Home.” When you are walking around your neighborhood and you run into the family next door, “Go Home.” Wherever, whenever, and however you come across the people in your life remember Jesus has called you to “Go Home.”

The Secret to Success

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

” ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:19-30 NIV84)

Based upon the master’s response to each servant, we can pull out a very important principle from this parable that Jesus shares in the Gospel of Matthew. The principle is that true success is obedience to God. We see that each servant who obeyed the master was told “Well Done.” But the servant who didn’t obey was called wicked and lazy.

Today we seem to measure success by the size of the house you live in and what type of neighborhood it’s in. We measure success by how expensive the car you is that you drive or how many degrees you have hanging on your wall. We tend to think success is measured by how many medals, trophies, or accolades you have on your shelf or how many different abbreviations are attached to the end of your name. We seem to think success is measured by the fame and fortune. We believe success is measured by how big your church is or how big your ministry is. We think success is measured by how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have.

The most simplest but yet profound statement I’ve ever heard is what Perry Noble says whenever he is asked about why is NewSpring Church flourishing when other churches seem to be dying out and what is their secret to success. This is his response “All we do is listen to Jesus and do what He says.” In other words if you truly want to be successful just be obedient to whatever God tells you to do.

So are you feeling like a failure? What is it that God is telling you to do? Start listening, start doing, and see if you don’t find true fulfillment, true joy, and success in every endeavor.

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