Save The Best For Last

A good friend of mine gave me this advice “There is no second chance at making a first impression.” This is so true. In our world today, the thing that people remember the most about you is the first impression that they had experienced. You have to spend the rest of your relationship trying to change their opinion of you that they took from the first time they met you. This might be one of the hardest things to do in life.

In John 2, we are introduced to this story of Jesus attending a wedding at Cana. John informs us that after a while they ran out of wine. Jesus’ mother comes up to Him and tells Him to do something about it. Jesus tells the servants to fill up six jars with water, draw some of it out, and bring it to the master of the wedding. When they do this, the reaction of the master is astonishing. This is what he says “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” (See vs. 10)

I believe this first miracle of Jesus shows us the character of God. With people everyone always puts forth their best foot first, but with God the best is always yet to come. You may be thinking to yourself “How can things get any better?” or “Are things ever going to get better?” Believe me they will because God always saves His best for last.

  1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
  2. Are you having trouble believing that God has greater things in store for you?
  3. Is there anything in your life that may be holding you back from God’s best? Is there something God is telling you to do in order that He may pour out the best He has for you in your life?
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Found People Find People

For the next 21 days, we are going to take a journey together through the book of John. The next 21 posts are daily devotionals that I have put together that correspond with each of the 21 chapters in the book of John. If you would like, you can use these devotionals to guide you through reading the book of John over these next 21 days. So without anymore delay, here is day 1.

Found People Find People

 Have you ever made a purchase or started a new hobby and loved it so much that you couldn’t help but tell someone about it? You became so familiar, involved, and built a relationship with it that it just overflowed out of you.

I love to workout. Recently, I was looking for a new place to join in order to be able to workout whenever I wanted to. A friend of mine told me about this new facility. I went to check it out and immediately signed up to become a member. After my first couple of weeks working out there, I fell in love with it. Thereafter, I couldn’t help but tell everyone I came in contact with about how amazing this workout facility is.

John had a similar experience when he encountered Jesus. He couldn’t help but write about it here in the first chapter of his gospel. How all things are made in Jesus. (See vs. 1-5) How God came to man. (See vs. 14) How we now, because of Jesus, have grace upon grace. (See vs. 16-17)

John goes on to give two examples of people who couldn’t help but tell someone about Jesus and bring them to Him. (See vs. 40-51) Jesus finds Andrew and then Andrew finds his brother Simon. Then Jesus finds Philip and Philip finds Nathanael. Andrew and Philip, after being found by Jesus, couldn’t help but go find someone else. In other words, John is showing us that “Found People Find People.”

Once you have been found by Jesus, His love should compel you to go out, find others, and bring them to Him. The hope you have in Jesus should overflow out of you that you can’t help but tell someone else.

  1. What does this passage teach us about God? How does it apply to you?
  2. Have you experienced this hope that is found in Jesus?
  3. Who do you know that you need to tell them about Jesus and bring them to Him?

What Have I Done

Did you ever do something when you were growing up that was so terrible that you thought once your parents found out they would stop loving you? I think we have all been in this position sometime in our lives. For me it was when I was in college. I submitted to the peer pressure, did something extremely stupid that was against the college’s rules, and almost got kicked out. I tried hiding it from my parents because I thought once they found out what I had done they would never love me again. But they didn’t. They were disappointed in me. But they never stopped loving me.

In Luke 15, Jesus tells this well known parable that we have deemed “The Prodigal Son.” Jesus explains how the son takes his inheritance, goes away to another country, squanders his inheritance on foolish living, and winds up in a pig pen. The son thinks to himself that he has really done it now. That he has definitely screwed up. He believes that there is no way his father can still love him. In fact, he believes that he is no longer worthy to be his father’s son but that he should be a servant to his father. Thinking that maybe he can earn back his father’s love. That maybe he can work his way back into his father’s good graces. But that’s not true. Before he can even get all the way back home and before the words “I’m no longer worthy to be your son but I can be your servant” gets out of his mouth; the father runs to him, hugs him, kisses him, puts sandals on his feet, a ring on his finger, the best robe on his back, and throws a party for him.

I believe we find ourselves in the shoes of the prodigal son numerous times when it comes to us relating to God, our Heavenly Father. We think that because of the things that we have done or maybe even some of the things we haven’t done that God will stop loving us. That we are no longer worthy to be called His son or daughter but that we are to be His servants. Paul pens in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In other words, God loved us long before we could have ever done or not have done anything to earn His love or deserve His love. Because of this nothing we can do or not do can ever keep God from loving us. In fact, Paul goes on to expound on this later on in Romans when he writes “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s love is founded in Jesus. His love for us is based upon His love for Jesus. It doesn’t depend upon anything we do or don’t do, but upon what Jesus has already done. God’s love doesn’t hinge upon our performance, but on the performance of Jesus. It’s not reliant upon our condition, but on our position as His son or daughter. Nothing will change the truth that He loved us, He loves us, and He will always love us.

Career vs Calling

I heard this talk from Perry Noble, Founder and Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, recently and I just had to share it with you. He started off his talk by saying “someone is going to lose their job today.” And then he went on to list the 12 main differences between a person with a job and a person with a calling. My hope is that, after you have read this post, you too would lose your job. Okay let’s begin.

1) A person with a job is a distraction. A person fulfilling a calling takes action.

2) A person with a job is controlled by fear. A person fulfilling a calling is controlled by faith.

3) A person with a job is a consumer. A person fulfilling a calling is a contributor.

4) A person with a job needs to know everything. A person fulfilling a calling needs to know the main thing.

5) A person with a job says “I can’t believe I have to.” A person fulfilling a calling says “I can’t believe I get to.”

6) A person with a job thinks “These people are blessed to have me.” A person fulfilling a calling thinks “I’m blessed to have    these people.”

7) A person with a job will fight in tough times. A person fulfilling a calling will fight through tough times.

8) A person with a job assumes the worst in people. A person fulfilling a calling assumes the best in people.

9) A person with a job blames others. A person fulfilling a calling accepts responsibility.

10) A person with a job is jealous of the success of others. A person fulfilling a calling celebrates the success of others.

11) A person with a job makes excuses. A person fulfilling a calling makes a difference.

12) A person with a job is skeptical of others. A person fulfilling a calling believes in others.

When you’re fulfilling a calling, God will always provide your needs. Working a job is dangerous, but fulfilling a calling changes everything.

So, with that in mind, let me ask you. Are you working a job or are you fulfilling the calling that God has on your life?

 

Control Freak

How many of you reading this would consider yourself a control freak? You don’t have to raise your hand, but be honest, do you find yourself always seeking after control in every situation? I think our human tendency is to strive for control. Some of us can’t stand it when we are not in control. In fact, we can’t be a passenger in someone’s car because we need to be behind the wheel ourselves sitting at the center of the controls. We believe that we are in control of what happens in our lives, and in a sense we are by the choices we make, but the truth is there is only one person in control and that is God.

Solomon, arguably the wisest man to ever live and the wealthiest man on earth at his time whom would seem to be in control of his life; starts off Proverbs 16 by saying “We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer” (Proverbs 16:1 NLT) and finishes the chapter by concluding “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:33 NLT) In other words what Solomon is wanting us to understand is that we can make all the plans, decisions, and choices we want but ultimately God is in control. If Solomon, who at the snap of his fingers could have had someone killed or not, knew that God is in control, why do we believe that we are in control of our lives?

This is a tough concept for us as humans to grasp, because as I said earlier, we strive to be in control. We believe that we are in control of our lives. Jesus tells us in Matthew “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT) When we try to control our lives, we end up being worried and worn out. But when Christ is in control, we find peace and rest. We can’t carry the burden of being in control, but when we release it to God, He can carry us through our circumstances. When we believe that we are in control, it becomes scary when our circumstances and situations cause chaos in our lives. But when we believe that God is in control and that He only wants the best for us, we can find peace amidst the storms because we know as Paul said “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

So are you striving for control or are you resting in the peace that comes from God being in control? Does the chaos is life cause you to worry or are you confident that God will bring you through the storm?

I Want It

There is this story of a boy who really wanted a tricycle for his birthday. His parents, however, knew that he would be happier if he got a new bicycle for his birthday. But the boy kept insisting that his parents get him a tricycle for his birthday. So, reluctantly, the parents took back the bicycle that they had gotten him and got the boy the tricycle that he said he really wanted. The boy got his tricycle, but what he didn’t know is that his parents had something even greater in store for him than a tricycle.

“I want it. I want it.” Parents you know this phrase all to often. When your child thinks they really really want something but you know better. We tend to be the same way with God. We ask God for something we think we really want, but God has something greater in store for us that He knows we need. Most of the time we ask for something we really want for the wrong reasons like what James writes “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NKJV) Other times we ask for what we really want and God gives it to us, even though He has something greater in store for us. Judah Smith, lead pastor of The City Church in Seattle, said there are two ways we can go about this life. We can either “take what is ours” or we can “take what He gives us.” Based on what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” I would rather go through life taking what God determines is just to give me. I would rather take God’s greater for my life than to settle for the good that I think I want.

Jesus tells us that God is a good God that desires to give good gifts to His children. (See Matthew 7:11) God doesn’t want to keep anything from us but He desires to bless us. God doesn’t want anything from us but He wants something for us. God knows what’s best for us, we have to trust Him that He will give us what we truly need.

So are you asking God for what you want or are you trusting Him to give you what you need? Are you going through life taking what is yours or are you taking what God gives?

 

On the Mat

In boxing, when a boxer gets knocked down, sometimes they say that he got knocked down to the mat. It’s not a good position to be on the mat. The boxer is down there all by himself trying to pull himself back together and get up off the mat in order to stay in the fight.

In life, it can feel like we’re in a boxing match. You might not get knocked down to the mat physically but you do find yourself on the mat mentally, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even spiritually. So what do you do when this happens? How do you pull yourself together and get yourself up off the mat?

You probably have read this story but just have never really looked at it in this light before. The story is of the cripple man whose friends brought him to Jesus recorded by Mark in the second chapter of his gospel. I believe there are two things that we can pull from this story that will help us whenever we find ourselves down on the mat again.

1) In order to get up off the mat, you can’t do life alone.

Whenever I read this story before, I always thought that there was only four friends that brought their cripple friend to Jesus. But that is not what Mark writes. “Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.” (Mark 2:3 NIV) The man was being carried by four friends but there were other friends making a way for the man to get to Jesus. This shows that there are two types of friends in your life when you find yourself down on the mat. There are friends that are going to carry you to where you need to go and there are friends who are going to prepare the way for you. Friends that will make their way through the crowds, and when they can’t, get up on the roof and make a hole in it in order to get you to where you need to be. Friends that when you don’t have the strength to get up on your feet will say “Jump on my back and enjoy the ride.” Friends that won’t give up on you even when you have given up on yourself. Friends that won’t throw in the towel even when you’re down on the mat and it looks as if there is no way you can get back up.

So let me ask you, do you have those type of friends in your life or are you on the mat alone? Or better yet, are you one of those friends to others when they find themselves down on the mat?

2) In order to get up off the mat, you need to fall at the feet of Jesus.

You need friends in your life that will carry you and make the way for you, but only Jesus can pick you up off the mat. Your friends can get you to His feet, but only Jesus will get you to your feet. Look at what Mark writes “So he said to the man, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, We have never seen anything like this!” Jesus will give you peace in the middle of the storm. Jesus will give you hope in the middle of despair. Jesus will give you strength in the middle of your weakness. Jesus will give you joy in the middle of your mourning. When you find yourself down on the mat, Jesus will pick you up. And when He does the thing that was carrying you, you’ll have the strength to carry it.

So when you find yourself on the mat physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually are you falling at the feet of Jesus? Are you asking Him to pick you up? Have you asked Him to give you the strength to get back up on your feet today?

If anything from this blog has impacted your life and has helped you out, feel free to click the button below to help give back.

Overcome Day 10

Overcome Day 10: Take the Leap

Read: Hebrews 11 and 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

A few years ago I went with a friend of mine on his boat to enjoy a local lake. At this particular lake that we went to there was about a 30ft cliff that you could go to in order to jump off of into the lake. My friend and everyone that was with us wanted to go and jump off the cliff. When we got to the cliff, there was already a group of people jumping off of it. Now you might have experienced this before and you can probably relate to what I’m about to say, when other people are jumping off of a cliff it looks really fun and exciting and when you’re looking down from the bottom the cliff doesn’t look so high up, but when you get to the top and look down it looks as if you’re standing on top of the Empire State building. So when it was my turn and I got to the top and looked down, I got a little bit nervous and afraid. But after seeing a couple of my friends jump off I took a couple steps back, got a running start, and took the leap.

Some of you reading this feel the same way I did when I stood on top of that cliff looking down. You’re nervous. You’re afraid. You’re contemplating thoughts like “What if I take the risk and I fail? What if I fall flat on my face? What if I get hurt again?” You’re allowing fear to overcome you’re faith. You’re allowing past failures to trump God’s faithfulness. You’re allowing your regrets to keep you from taking risks.

The truth is once I took that initial first leap of faith off of the cliff and experienced the joy and excitement that came with it, I wanted to go back and jump off again and again. The same holds true for you in your life. Once you take that first initial leap and experience the faithfulness of God, you will want to take another leap, take another jump, take another risk, and take another step of faith again and again.

Talking Points:

What is holding you back from taking that leap of faith? Are you living in fear or are you living in faith? Are you allowing past failures keep you from experiencing God’s faithfulness?

Like these devotionals and want to get the book to go with them? Here is the links to where you can purchase it:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Overcome-above-Everyone-Sinking-ebook/dp/B00CLVG7XU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368023273&sr=8-1&keywords=Overcome%3A+How+to+Rise+above+When+Everyone+Else+is+Sinking

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/overcome-aj-turner/1115231792?ean=2940016582689

Christianbook:

http://www.christianbook.com/overcome-above-everyone-else-sinking-ebook/a-j-turner/9781620203187/pd/40515EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=40515EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

EChristian:

http://echristian.com/overcome-how-to-rise-above-when-everyone-else-is-sinking-a-j-turner-ebook

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/overcome/id643786874?mt=11

Kobo:

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Title/book-pDaE1wV_GUyVCXFV56CHOg/page1.html?utm_source=productlistings&utm_medium=g&utm_campaign=title-Overcome&gclid=COGC4dWdyLcCFQfl7AodMCMAcQ

If anything from this blog has spoken to you and impacted your life, feel free to click the button below to help give back.

Overcome Day 9

Overcome Day 9: Swing Hard in Case You Hit Something

Read: Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 27

There was this professional baseball player when asked his strategy when it came to hitting a baseball and he said “I just get up there and swing as hard as I can just in case I hit something.” He was obviously just joking around with the media who was asking the question because hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports, if not the hardest thing to do.

Some of us, however, walk through life with this “swing hard in case I hit something” mentality. We go through this life hoping and praying we have an impact and maybe accomplish something worthwhile in life. We get an education hoping that we will launch into an inspiring career once we graduate. We get married hoping that one day we will start a family and help raise the next generation in order that they may have an impact on our world. We change careers hoping that we might achieve something that will leave a lasting legacy once we are gone. We move to a new state or maybe even country hoping to get a fresh start on life. We hope and pray that someday, somewhere, somehow we will make a difference in this life.

The prophet Isaiah tells us that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. Not those who hope in their education. Not those who hope in their bank account. Not those who hope in their career. But those who place their hope and trust in the Lord. There is no hoping and praying when you find your confidence in the Lord. There is no aimlessly walking around in this life swinging hard hoping you will hit something. When you’re hope finds it’s foundation in the Lord, you will not only make a difference in this life but you will make history.

Talking Points:

Do you find yourself walking aimlessly around in this life? What or where do you find yourself putting your hope in?

Like these devotionals and want to get the book to go with them? Here is the links to where you can purchase it:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Overcome-above-Everyone-Sinking-ebook/dp/B00CLVG7XU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368023273&sr=8-1&keywords=Overcome%3A+How+to+Rise+above+When+Everyone+Else+is+Sinking

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/overcome-aj-turner/1115231792?ean=2940016582689

Christianbook:

http://www.christianbook.com/overcome-above-everyone-else-sinking-ebook/a-j-turner/9781620203187/pd/40515EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=40515EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

EChristian:

http://echristian.com/overcome-how-to-rise-above-when-everyone-else-is-sinking-a-j-turner-ebook

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/overcome/id643786874?mt=11

Kobo:

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Title/book-pDaE1wV_GUyVCXFV56CHOg/page1.html?utm_source=productlistings&utm_medium=g&utm_campaign=title-Overcome&gclid=COGC4dWdyLcCFQfl7AodMCMAcQ

If anything from this blog has spoken to you and has impacted your life, feel free to click the button below to help give back.

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