Top 12 Posts of 2012

Since this is the last post for 2012, here are the top 12 posts from 2012.

12) Midnight
11) Enough is Enough
10) Stuck at a Crossroads
9) Key to Greatness
8) Hit the Ball Where It’s Pitched
7) Look Up!
6) Win From Within
5) Keys To Great Faith
4) Bend But Don’t Break
3) God’s Promotion Program
2) You’re the only Jesus
And the top post of 2012 is:
There is no Room

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Cast Your Nets

Have you ever started something and then after a while nothing you did seemed to be working? Maybe you tried launching a brand new business. Maybe you quit your old job and set out to start a brand new career. Maybe you went back to school to better your education. Maybe it’s your marriage. Or maybe it’s your finances. What do you do?

There is a story in Luke 5 that I believe, if we dissect it carefully enough, we will find the answer to this question. Here is what Luke writes:

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:1-7 ESV)

First thing we observe here is Simon, who we know now as Peter, had to let Jesus into his boat. A lot of times we set out to launch a business, start a new career, or make a financial investment, and at first everything is going great, but after a while we start to catch nothing. We had so much faith in God to begin with, but then once we started to have a little success, we let Jesus out of our boat. We started to try to do everything on our own strength. We began to try to do everything in our own wisdom. And just like Simon “we toiled all night and took nothing.” Paul tells us that we can do all things through Jesus. (See Philippians 4:13) Not in our own strength. Not in our own wisdom. So let me ask you, is Jesus in your boat? If He isn’t, then go back to the place where you left Him and let Him back in.

The second thing we see is that Simon had to let go of his pride. Jesus, who is a carpenter by trade, is telling Simon, who is a fisherman, how to fish. Simon is the professional here. He is the one that has made a living fishing. Simon probably said something like this in his head “Who is this Jesus, a carpenter, think He is trying to tell me how to fish?” We see the pride issue at first when he exclaims “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” But Simon was willing to let go of his pride and let down his nets again. Solomon tells us that pride comes before a fall. (See Proverbs 16:18) Later in the New Testament James writes that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (See James 4:6) So is there a pride issue that needs to be addressed in your life? If so let it go because you are just going to find yourself wrestling with God and wind up catching nothing.

The last thing we pull from this text is that Simon was obedient to the word of God. After letting Jesus into his boat and letting go of his pride, look at what Simon says “But at your word I will let down the nets.” I don’t know what this looks like for you. Maybe it’s “Jesus I’m too old to go back to college to further my education. But at your word I will let down the nets.” Maybe it’s “Jesus I don’t think I can stay in this marriage any longer. But at your word I will let down the nets.” Maybe it’s “Jesus I can’t quit my job to start another career. But at your word I will let down the nets.” Or Maybe it’s “Jesus I’ve done everything I know to do and nothing seems to be working. But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Let Jesus back into your boat, let go of your pride, and be obedient to His word; and see if you don’t catch so many blessings that your nets won’t be able to hold them. Cast your nets!

No Fear

Paul writes in Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. (See 2 Timothy 1:7)

So many times we are overcome by fear today. We let what is happening in the economy fill us with fear. We let what is going on in the political world fill us with fear. We let what we see on the news fill us with fear. Fear is all around us and it can cripple us if we are not careful.

I heard this phrase in a song that was playing on the radio the other day “Don’t let fear determine your fate.” Instead of having faith, we let fear hold us back from the promises that God has for our lives. Instead of focusing on how big our God is, we focus on how big our problem is. And what we focus on we magnify. So our fear becomes greater, while our faith becomes lesser. So what do you do when you feel overcome by fear?

John tells us this in the first letter that he writes “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (I John 4:18 NKJV) Love conquers all. Love overcomes fear. Earlier in the same chapter, John tells us that God is love. (See 1 John 4:8) So essentially what John is saying is that God conquers all and that God overcomes fear. When your faith is in God, you will have no fear.

Don’t let fear hold you back any longer. Don’t let fear determine your fate. Know that if God called you to it, He will see you through it. And there is no fear when you are full of faith.

No Pressure No Diamond

In order to produce a beautiful diamond, it must first go through a process involving intense pressure. Without a certain amount of pressure applied there can’t be a diamond. It will just remain a priceless stone.

Some of you might be wondering “Why am I experiencing so much pressure in my life?” You might even be feeling like you are being pressed by something on each side of you. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all‑surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NIV

What Paul is telling us is that in order for the treasure to be revealed that is inside of us, we must be pressed. In order for the diamond to be produced inside of us, we must go through a certain amount of pressure.

The promise that Paul reminds us is that even though we might be pressed, we are not crushed. Which implies, that just like the diamontologists knows how much pressure to apply and how long to apply it to the stone in order to produce the diamond without crushing it, God knows just the right amount of pressure to apply and how long to apply it to our lives in order to produce the purpose that He has for us.

So if you are feeling under pressure today, know that without pressure there can be no diamond. Know that God knows exactly how much pressure to apply and how long to apply it in order to produce the promise He has for you in your life. There is a purpose behind your pressure. Remember “No pressure, No diamond.”

GPS

For the first year I lived down in South Carolina, I had no clue where I was going. I would have to rely on directions I got off the internet or even better directions from friends. Needless to say, I got lost a few times.

One of the best things that could have happened to me is for Christmas that year, my grandfather got me a GPS. This device has been a life saver to me. If you have ever used one, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All I need to do is type in the address of the place I’m going to and the GPS will give me turn-by-turn directions to guide me to my destination. Even if I took a wrong turn somewhere along the way, the GPS would recalculate and get me back on the right track in order that I would still reach my destination. I might arrive at my destination a little bit later than before but I will still get to where I am going.

My GPS has taught me a very valuable lesson about how God works in my life. And that is that no matter how many wrong turns I take in this journey of life, God will recalculate my path in order that I still reach my destiny. My destination doesn’t change only my direction of getting there does. I might arrive there a little later than expected but I’m still going to reach my destination. God may correct my course, but He never changes my destiny. My path may change but my purpose will never change.

I want to encourage someone who is reading this that you may think that there is no way that you will ever reach your destiny in life because of the mistakes you have made. Know that the price God paid is greater than the mistakes you have made. You might have taken a wrong turn along the way but take courage in the truth that God never changes the purpose that He has for you and you will reach your destiny. You might get there a littler further down the path, but you will get there. Stand firm on the truth that Paul writes in Philippians 1 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 1:6 NIV)

Storm Warning

When I moved from Boston to South Carolina, I loaded all my stuff into my Ford Taurus and prepared to make the 16 hour drive. During the trip, I came across some inclement weather in some states and some beautiful weather in others. I would drive into storms and I would drive out of storms. Eventually, even though sometimes I would get sidetracked, take a wrong turn, and get off my path; I reached my destination.

As I was listening to a recent message from T.D. Jakes called “Stay on Track,” I was reminded of my trip from Boston to South Carolina. I was reminded of a very valuable lesson that the trip taught me about life’s journey. The lesson is that no matter who you are, no matter what your social status, no matter what your bank account, no matter what your education; eventually, if you keep traveling down the road of life, you will run into a storm. Sometimes the storm will come with a warning, but other times it will come without any warning at all.

The key is to not get caught in the storm. Like the great philosopher Gary Allen says “Every storm runs out of rain.” As long as you keep moving and don’t stay where you’re at, you will come out of the storm. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that after we have done everything to stand to keep standing. (Ephesians 6:13-14) Paul also writes in Galatians that we will breakthrough if we don’t give up. (See Galatians 6:9) Eventually, you will come out of the storm if you will just keep traveling down the road.

T.D. Jakes also mentioned that the same God that was with you as you went into the storm will see you through till the end. The same God that planned you going into the storm is the same God that has already planned your way out of the storm. Know that in life you are going to have storms, but be encouraged that God has already seen you through the storm before you even went in. Take heart that if you will keep on driving and not give up, you will make it through the storms in life.

Triumph Out Of Tragedy

With the events that have recently taken place in Connecticut that have been branded on the front of everyone’s mind, people have been asking “Where was God in all of this?” or “How could God allow this to happen?” It boggles my mind on how quickly God gets blamed for the chaos that goes on in our world today but never gets the credit for the blessings that we take for granted in our lives everyday. The truth of the matter is that going back to the shootings in Colorado to the recent shootings in Connecticut the common thread that so permeates each situation is the fact that as a nation we chose to remove God from our schools. In doing so we walked away from His protection, provision, and security. But rather drilling home this point in the remainder of this post, I would like to make a solemn charge and then lend some encouragement to those who are going through this dark and bleak time.

The first thing I would like to say is that this is a time for the church to rise up and be the church. Instead of looking down on with condemnation, we need to reach out with compassion. Instead of making a point in this time, we need to make a difference. Instead of judgement, we need Jesus. Wherever there is a need, we need to reach out with a helping hand. The writer of Hebrews tells us to come to God so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. (See Hebrews 4:16) So we being the people of God, the church should be a place where people can run to in a time of need. Where they can receive mercy and not judgement. Where they can receive grace and not condemnation. Where they can receive help and not hurt. Let the church be a place where the hurting families in Connecticut can come to and find healing.

Lastly I was reminded that about 2,000 years ago another tragic event took place on a Friday. An occurance where it seemed like all hope had been lost. But I was reminded as well of how God took this tragedy and turned it into triumph. How He took a blood stained cross and turned it into an empty tomb. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (See Hebrews 13:8) So I believe the same God that took a cross and turned it into a crown 2,000 years ago is the same God that can take this recent tragedy in Connecticut and turned it into triumph. I believe God will turn these events in a way where He gets the glory, we get the joy, and the world gets the good.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and communities in Connecticut that have been affected by this tragedy.

 

The Mundane Trap

Recently, I’ve been reading Steven Furtick’s new book called “Greater.” In the book, he talks about how we seem to get stuck in baseline living. That most of the time we settle for “good enough.” That we find ourselves falling into the trap of the mundane. But the truth is that we don’t have to stay there. We don’t have to settle because Jesus calls us to a life that is so much greater.

But why is it that we keep living in the “good enough” when Jesus has called us to the “greater?” I believe it has to do with what Jesus talks about in the beginning of John 15 when He says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1, 2 NIV)

I never saw this before until Apostle Ron Carpenter pointed it out in one of his messages. Notice how even the branches that produce fruit get stuff cut away in order that they may produce even more fruit. It is easy for us to allow God to cut away the branches in our lives that don’t produce fruit, like an addiction or attitude. But when He starts to prune us in order to cut away the “good enough” for the “greater,” we tend to be a little bit more hesitant. I believe because we hold on to the good in our life and not allow God to cut it away, we miss out on the greater that Jesus has called us to. Since we are not willing to sacrifice, we remain trapped in the mundane.

Perry Noble said “Jesus will not ask you to give up something in your life if He is not planning on replacing it with something greater.” If God is wanting to cut something away, it is not because He is punishing you but because He wants to produce in you something so much greater.

So do you feel yourself being trapped in the mundane? Are you settling for the “good enough?” What is it that you need to allow God to cut away in order that He may produce in you something “greater?” Get out of the rut of baseline living and start living the life of greater that Jesus has called you to.

Don’t Miss It

The other day at work I was feeling frustrated and disappointed. I felt as if I was wasting my time when I could be somewhere else making an impact doing something meaningful. I didn’t understand why my supervisor at my job would keep moving me around from department to department. Then all of a sudden, it hit me. In each department that I have worked in at my job, I have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a co-worker. In fact the last time I shared Jesus with a co-worker, I was able to play a part in saving a life. Every time I would share Jesus with someone at work, I would get moved to another department where I would get another opportunity to share Jesus with someone else. It’s as if God was moving me around from department to department in order that I would share the Gospel with someone who desperately needed to hear it. The whole time I was complaining about not making an impact and doing something meaningful, God was putting me in opportunities where I could help alter the course of someone’s life.

I wonder how many other opportunities I may have missed because I was to worried about a title or label that I didn’t see the need that was right in front of me staring back at me right in the face. Jesus talked about this very thing in Matthew when He said “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40 ESV)

There are opportunities to have an impact and do something meaningful all around you. You just have to open your eyes to see it. Whether you work in a corner office or in a warehouse, you have countless chances to play a role in life change. Don’t miss it!

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