No More Ravens

In Genesis 8 we read about the account of how Noah found out that the waters had receded and that the land was dry. The first thing Noah did was send out a raven. But since a raven is a scavenger and seeks out after dead things, it did not return. Next Noah sent out a dove. Now the dove returned with an olive branch as a sign to Noah that there was life and that the waters had receded.

Now you’re probably wondering what does a couple birds have to do with anything, but what I want to point out I believe will help you.

Some of you might be like the raven seeking after dead things. You are like the women who came to the tomb to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. The angel asked them “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5 NKJV) The same thing could be true about you. You find yourself searching for life among dead things. You wander around seeking for satisfaction in places that will never satisfy.

The dove on the other hand is a symbol of the Spirit of God. The only one that can breathe life into your dead places is the Spirit. The Spirit is the only one who can satisfy. The Spirit will bring life back into your hopeless situation. Your lifeless circumstances can be resurrected instantly by the Spirit of God.

So no more searching after dead things trying to find life. Your raven season is over. Let the dove bring life back into your situation. No more ravens!

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The Replacements

In order for a business, organization, ministry, or church to continue to exist and thrive there must be a constant and continually passing of the baton. Current leaders must raise up future leaders with the mindset of someday replacing themselves.

For instance, if Moses never raised up Joshua, the children of Israel would have died off in the wilderness. If Jesus never raised up the disciples, the gospel would have never been preached to the ends of the earth.

I heard Pastor Greg Laurie say it this way when he participated in The Elephant Room: “If we don’t evangelize, we will fossilize.” In other words if we don’t raise up future leaders, our dreams, goals, and desires will die off with us. If we don’t replace ourselves, we will die off in the wilderness never reaching our promise land. If we don’t replace ourselves, we will erase ourselves.

In the Bible, God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is to say that God is a generational God. Which means that what He promised to Abraham, He fulfills in Jacob. And what He promised to Jacob, He fulfills in Isaac. So if we don’t raise up future generations, the promises that God has given to us will never come to flourision.

So who is it that you are raising up? Are you replacing yourself? When the time comes is there someone you can pass the baton off to?

Who Do You Know?

When I was traveling across the United States attending different workouts, tryouts, and spring trainings in an attempt to make it on a professional baseball team, I was told by a bunch of different people “It’s not about what you know, but it’s about who you know.”

One of the scariest verses in the whole Bible is written in Matthew’s gospel. This is what it says:

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22, 23 NKJV)

Some people believe that their education, how many degrees they have hanging on the wall, what abbreviation they have following name, what they have accomplished in life, their status, how many friends they have on Facebook, how many followers on Twitter, how many good deeds they have done, how much fame and fortune they acquire will impress Jesus. But the truth of the matter is it doesn’t come down to what you know or what you have accomplished in your life, the only thing that will ever matter is if you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

You can even know the name of Jesus, but just like in Matthew, knowing the name of Jesus won’t help you, you have to know Jesus. Just because you know someone’s name doesn’t mean that you know them. I know Justin Bieber’s name but I have never met him and got to know him. Luke records a story in Acts of these people who knew the name of Jesus but never really knew Jesus. Here’s what happened:

“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (Acts 19:13-16 NKJV)

These sons of Sceva thought that just because they knew the name of Jesus that they were able to access something that only could be reached by knowing the person of Jesus. They had never met Jesus and frankly it didn’t got so well for them.

So do you know the name of Jesus but don’t know the person of Jesus? Have you ever met Jesus? Because when it comes down to it; it’s not about what you know, but it’s about who you know.

What Are You Waiting For?

This whole week I have been down in Daytona Beach at NewSpring Church’s Youth Camp called “The Gauntlet.” We have heard some very powerful and very encouraging messages, but one thing has stood out to me thus far.

Our student director, Brad Cooper, has been speaking about the D.N.A. of the church. What is it? What does it look like? He made a statement in this morning’s message that I would like to press down upon a little more in this post. The statement is “I am the church.” He said the church is not brick or mortar. The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is not a denomination. But the church is the people. He went on to say “Jesus didn’t die to redeem buildings, but He died to redeem people.” Think about that for a minute. Let that sink in. Because I think so many of us have grown up with the belief that the church is this place we go to on Sundays when in fact it is impossible to go to church when you are the church. God does not show up in buildings anymore. God does not dwell in a structure built by man. God lives inside of you and inside of me. Paul said it this way:

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11 ESV)

After establishing this truth about the church, Brad went on to challenge the students and even us leaders as well. He said “What are you waiting for?” You are the church. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you. The same spirit that empowered Jesus to open blinds eyes, restore hearing to deaf ears, heal the sick, make the lame leap, raise people from the dead; also empowers you. So what are you doing to be the church? The church is proactive. We don’t wait for people to come to us. Just like Jesus, the church is suppose to seek and save that which is lost.

So what is it that is holding you back from being the church? Is it because you are too young? Paul answered Timothy like this pertaining to that question “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 ESV) Is it because you are too old? It is never too late for God to use you. He used Abraham when he was 100 years old. He called Moses when he was 80. He had Noah build an ark at the age of 120. Is it because of your past? Paul writes that there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1) and that all things have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). I could go on and on, but whatever it is, don’t let it keep you from being the church. Don’t let it hold you back any longer. What are you waiting for? Be the church!

One For All

One of the groups of heroes I loved to watch growing up was the Three Musketeers. If you have ever watched or heard of them, you know their signature motto. They would always say “All for one and one for all.”

The 11th chapter of Hebrews is well known as being referred to as the “Faith Chapter” because it includes the definition of faith in it’s 1st verse and goes on to list the patriarchs of the faith which is a common passage of scripture that we refer to as “The Hall of Faith.” But before that the writer of Hebrews makes a powerful statement that sets the foundation of our faith. This is what the writer penned:

“By that single offering, He did everything that needed to be done for everyone.” (Hebrews 10:14 MSG)

The writer of Hebrews is saying that Jesus did everything that would ever need to be done through His sacrifice. In other words, everything past, present, and future that you needed, need, or will need in life Jesus has taken care of. Jesus paid it all. Jesus provided it all. Jesus perfected it all.

For those of you who feel insufficient, inadequate, or incapable; take heart in the hope that, in Jesus, you are able and fully equipped to accomplish everything that God has purposed and created you for. In Jesus, you have all that you will ever need. In Jesus, you are all sufficient, more than adequate, and beyond capable for the task that is set before you.

I don’t know what season of life you are in or what the situation or circumstance you are in, but stand on the truth that through the sacrifice of Jesus you have what it takes to overcome whatever it is. You might not feel qualified for the position you are in, but through Jesus you are more than qualified. You might think that your resources have run dry, but through Jesus your supply will never run out. You might feel like you don’t have enough wisdom or knowledge to accomplish the goals ahead, but through Jesus you have the mind of Christ. You might think that you are too weak to carry the burdens that have been placed on you, but you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

No longer worry or stress out over your feelings of being inadequate. Live in the peace and hope that Jesus paid it all.

Rifle Man

If you have ever shot a shotgun, you know that the bullet shell for a shotgun disperses in an attempt to hit something. So you don’t really have to put too much effort in the accuracy and precision of your aim. However, not so with a rifle. When you shoot a rifle, you have to concentrate more on your target because the bullet does not scatter but stays in one piece, therefore causing a greater impact on contact.

In business, ministry, or even in life; we seem have more of a shotgun approach. We seem to spread ourselves out in order to do a variety of things. We have a tendency to wear a plethora of hats. We have so many jobs or tasks that we are trying to accomplish that we really aren’t able to make a great impact or do an excellent job on each one. We aim at a target, and like the shotgun shell, we disperse hoping to hit something.

Instead we should have more of a rifle approach to things. We should concentrate on one task, job, or area of ministry in order that we might make more of a lasting impact. We need to focus more on our accuracy and precision that when we shoot at something we hit it.

If we look at the example of Jesus, He had compassion for the multitude but He always pursued the one. He intentionally met the Samaritan woman at the well. (See John 4:1-7) He had to go to Zacchaeus’ house. (See Luke 19:1-5) He had to go across the sea in order to set free a demon possessed man. (See Mark 5:1-2) Jesus even said this in Luke:

“So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:3-7 ESV)

Jesus was so focussed on pursuing the one that He would leave the 99 to go after it. He was more concerned about seeking and saving the one that He left the comfortability and safeness of the pen to get it. He valued the one so much that He honed in on capturing it.

So what approach do you have? Do you disperse when shooting hoping to hit something or do you aim with accuracy and precision in order to make a lasting impact? Would you leave the 99 in order to pursue the one? Are you a shotgun or are you a rifle?

Bend But Don’t Break

The last two weeks at Fuse, NewSpring Church’s Student Ministry, we have been diving into Psalm 1. Our Student Director, Brad Cooper, has been talking about what the Psalmist says the righteous look like and the wicked look like. This is what the Psalmist writes:

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3 ESV)

The writer refers to the righteous as being a tree firmly planted by a stream of water. What kind of tree is the writer of Psalm 1 referring to? Well I love what Perry Noble says “The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible.” With that in mind, later on in the book of Psalm, the Psalmist writes:

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:12 ESV)

So the Psalmist compares the righteous to that of a palm tree. The interesting thing about a palm tree is that, if you have ever scene video footage of a tropical storm in Hawaii or a hurricane in Florida; you will see houses, cars, dogs, cats, buildings, and even other trees breaking, falling apart, collapsing, being blown away; but the palm tree remains standing, it may bend but it never breaks.

From these two verses in Psalm, we can gather two things you must do in order to not break in the midst of the storms of life.

1) Rooted in Jesus
In order for you to not break and be blown away during the storms and trials of life, you must be firmly planted and rooted in Jesus. Notice how the Psalmist points out in Psalm 1:3 that the righteous is like a tree planted by streams of water. If you have ever seen a tree that is planted close by a stream, you will notice that it’s roots have grown down through the ground and have busted forth into the stream. Thus the roots of the tree are pulling it’s nutrients and source of life in order to grow from the stream of water. In John 4, Jesus says that He is the living water:

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)

So Jesus is the stream of water that the righteous are firmly planted by and whose roots are emersed in. If you are rooted in the solid foundation of Jesus, I don’t care what life throws at you; you might bend but you won’t break.

2) Praise Through The Storm
If you notice the posture of the palm tree in the midst of the storm is one of bowing. Which is to signified that if you can praise God while you are in the storm He will hold you up through it all. Paul and Silas praised God at midnight while in jail and God shook the foundations and set them free. The children of Israel lifted up a shout of triumph and the walls of Jericho fell down. So if you can praise God in the middle of life’s storm, you might bend but you won’t break.

Get yourself rooted in Jesus, lift up your head, and raise up a shout of praise and you will find yourself still standing through it all.

Facing The Music

Have you ever been in the place where you had been believing for something and it looked like it wasn’t going to happen? Maybe it was a financial breakthrough. Maybe it was a healing. Maybe it was a job. Maybe it was a house. Maybe it was a car. The closer and closer you approached the time where what you had been hoping for was suppose to come through, the more hopeless the situation appeared, and the more people started to criticize you. I’ve been there. So what do you do when it’s time to face the music?

In Matthew we find Jesus in a similar situation. Jesus made all these claims during His time of ministry. He claimed He was the Son of God. He claimed that He would tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days. He helped so many other people. That when we get to this part of His life in the gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus hanging on the cross and it looks like all hope had been lost. People start remembering what Jesus said and now they begin to criticize Him. This is the scene that Matthew paints:

“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:39-44 NKJV)

When it’s time to face the music there is 3 people that will start to criticize you. Your peers will criticize you. Matthew writes that those who passed blasphemed Jesus while He was on the cross. Religious people will criticize you. Chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Jesus. Even your own family will criticize you. It says that even the robbers who were crucified with Jesus reviled Him.

So what did Jesus do when He found Himself in this situation? The first thing He did was that He forgave the people who criticized Him.

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV)

We seem to hold grudges. Hold on to unforgiveness. Hold on to hatred. When we need to forgive. When we forgive those who criticize, we cut the cord between us. Most of the time those who criticize don’t know what they are doing because they can’t see what we see. Release those who you are harboring hatred and unforgiveness against today so that you are not left on the cross or stuck in the grave.

The next thing Jesus did was to commit the situation to God.

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:46 NKJV)

So often we want to fix the situation in our own strength. Instead of letting go and letting God, we hold on to things with all we got. David wrote “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5 NKJV) When you hand your situation over to God, He will do something that you would never have expected.

So the next time you have to face the music, forgive the people who criticize and commit the situation to God. Even if your dream, promise, or blessing has died, God will resurrect it. Because we all know what happened three days later.

The 3 E’s

If you want your business, ministry, organization, or leadership to be taken to the next level, then there are three things that I believe you must do. I refer to them as the 3 E’s; encourage, equip, and empower.

1) Encourage
The first thing that Paul did whenever he entered a new city was to encourage the saints and believers there.

“When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He traveled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece.” (Acts 20:1, 2 NIV)

The bible also instructs us that we should encourage one another.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)

You never know how far a kind word or meaningful gesture can go. Sometimes people can keep going on second hand encouragement. Maybe they don’t have any faith, strength, or hope to keep going on, but because of your encouragement, your faith, your strength, and your hope they are able to keep pushing through. Never miss out on an opportunity to encourage someone or build them up because you never know when you might be the one who will need someone else to come along and lift you up.

2) Equip
So many times we place people in positions without properly equipping them for the task at hand. After encouraging and lifting them up, we must give them the necessary tools and training in order that they may be able to excel in every area they are in. Jesus, before He left, made sure that we were equipped to carry out the works of ministry that He called us to.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

For those of you who might feel like you’re not equipped or have what it takes to do whatever it is that God has called you to do. I want to encourage you and let you know that if God has called you to it then He has equipped and given you everything that you would ever need to carry out the task ahead of you.

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)

3) Empower
We usually struggle in this area of empowerment. Normally when we find, train, and equip a person on our team; we tend to hold them underneath us instead of releasing them to do the work that God has called them to. When we finally get that dynamic team player, we have a selfish tendency to hold them under wraps because we are afraid that, if we let them go, we will take a step back where the reality is that you will take a giant leap forward. After Jesus encouraged and equipped the disciples, He empowered them and released them in order that the message of the Gospel be spread to the entire world.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)

So if you feel like your leadership is struggling, apply the 3 E’s to your business, organization, or ministry. Start encouraging, equipping, and empowering your people today and you will see yourself rise to a new level that you’ve never experienced before.

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