live and learn

live2So at the end of 2012, I want to talk to you today about reflection. Not getting down on yourself about all the failures, mistakes, or shortcomings of the year. But about looking at the past year reflecting on it, taking it in and learning from it. Something that I always say as a joke, but also very true is that “You live and you learn”. You mess up once, understandable, but take that experience and learn from it. Learn not to make the same mistakes over and over again. Really apply yourself, your will, and the strength and grace we have to overcome from the Holy Spirit to not making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like in life, when you overdraft by using your bank card when you don’t have any money, you learn not to do it again, or you get kicked in the hinder with a overdraft fee. A lot of times it is easy to get down on ourselves when trying to live this awesome Christian life for God and we screw it up by some sort of sin or mistakes, but since you made the mistake, go to God to ask forgiveness and he will give you a fresh start. Not only that, but you now have an experience in your life to learn from. Remember, God’s mercies are new every morning. He is always there to run to and to forgive any time we screw up (that’s not an excuse to sin, that would be another story, his grace isn’t a license to sin, but his grace is there to make us strong and to overcome.) This is a great time to reflect on the past year and learn from our mistakes and shortcomings and make the decision to change some things around whether that be overcoming an addiction, setting priorities straight, or just simply making more time for God and his call on your life. Yes, forgive yourself for your mishaps, but learn from them to not do them again. Ask God for grace and strength to keep strong and in pursuit of him. Know that when you do mess up, not to run from him further into darkness and sin, but run to him for he is there with open arms to receive you and love you and direct you.

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

Phillipians 3:13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

Forget the sins the you have committed, don’t dwell on them and let them drag you down, instead, you have learned from your mistakes, now strive forward towards God and keep your eyes on him. We all have a past, maybe even the past year that we want to forget, and we can do just that, give it to God and let his mercies cleanse you and make you clean, now that you are clean, run towards God and his plan for your life.

My challenge to you today is to reflect on what you have learned from life’s experiences this past year and declare this new year a time of dedication to God and his plan for your life. You have learned you can’t always do things on your own, you need God leading the way. You have learned that certain sins lead to certain results, but with God’s help we can over come that sin. You have learned that you feel emptier inside, because you haven’t given God the time of day when it comes to spending time with him and you aren’t pursuing his call in your life, so set aside that time daily to spend with him and follow where he leads. I challenge you to learn from this past year and decide what is right for you this year as it pertains to God and his calling and desire for you!

Perception

Think PositiveToday I want to talk to you about perception. About the way we look at life and what our mindset is going into life and all it’s different situations. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. I think it really is an important thing and the Bible the tells us so as well. Think about the kind of people you like to be around. Do you like to be around someone who is always complaining, dragging their feet, and someone who knows how to turn a typically normal situation into this big drama, or something negative to complain about. Or do you want to be around someone who is always looking for the best in people, someone who is looking to spin a bad situation into something that really isn’t that bad after all if you look at it a certain way. I mean you can take both of those to extremes and a lot of times extremes can be dangerous and unreal. You want the positive person, unless you are one of the negative extremes people. Of course be sympathetic to someone who may be going through a hard time and try and relate to them, but don’t let them bring you down or drag you into negativity. Do your best to look at life with the eyes of love and the way God looks at people.

Phillipians 4:6,8 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…….Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Matthew 15:11 “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

I could go on and on with verses that God is telling us to look at life positively and with love and kindness. These are just a few encouraging verses to you on just that. We need to really take a look at our heart life and our mind life, what kind of voices are talking to us in any and every situation? Are they voices that scream negativity, doubt, fear, hate, and so on or is it a voice of peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, and positivity? One of them is the right answer, the second one is the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us and the negative one is either your own negative attitude that you have adopted as your own, or it could be the devil and his evil temptations that are sly and may come off as a normal response, but are just temptations to give in to those negative attributes that we talked about. I’m not saying that any time you are negative, it’s the devil, but watch out for it. And plain and simple, looking at life one way or the other is a choice. You have the power to change and to be a light and to walk in love.

A lot of times when you fill your heart and your mind with negative thoughts, that is a direct line to what words come out of your mouth. If your heart is filled with God’s word and his direction and love, you’ll find that his word and love are the type of words that will come out of your mouth in conversation. Same with that dirty negative attitude, if you are always dwelling on the negative of life, those are the type of things that will flow from your mouth in conversation.

Matthew 12:34 “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

My challenge to you today is to try and see what kind of heart and mind you have taken on as your own. Do you find yourself thinking negative a little too often or do you find yourself full of positivity and God’s word? Be honest with your self evaluation, if you want, ask others which category they would put you in. Once you have determined what you were, now you have the choice to make a change, now you can determine what kind of person you want to be. Learn to fill your heart and mind with God’s Spirit and direction, and then choose to put away any negative thoughts that may want to overwhelm you and give them to God, for he cares for you. I challenge you today to start thinking positive and start speaking positive no matter how bad life may get, it’s only worse if you let it be, by your outlook and perception of it.

Focus

focusI want to talk to you today about perspective. And I want to mention priorities. It is so easy a lot of times in life to lose sight of the things that really matter, to lose sight of an eternal calling. So many distractions, so much business, and a so much to do – so little time perspective. A lot of this has to do with our prioritizing our lives. Sure it is great to have goals in our lives and dreams that we want to achieve. Sure it is great to have family and want that family to be number one in our lives. Sure we have careers and jobs that we want to give our 110% to. Sure we may have girlfriends or boyfriends that take up all of our thought life and social life. But we need to remember, “Where does my Lord and Savior fit into this”. All of these dreams and goals and family and friends are all great things to have, but we need to remember not only to give God just a time slot in the day for devotions or for church, but we need to keep him #1 and we need to keep him involved in every area that I just mentioned. Take time to think about how God views the different areas in our life whether that be careers, goals, dreams, friends, family etc. Take time to talk with him and keep him included and involved in your life as a whole. What I am trying to say is keep God 1st and at the center of your life. Keep God and eternal things in your heart and mind daily.

*Keep God and eternal things in your heart and mind daily and throughout the whole day.

2 Corinthians 4:18 “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.”

My challenge to you today is to set your center focus on God and the eternal things that we are working towards, amongst all of the goals, dreams, careers, etc that we have. Keep this life in perspective when it comes to this temporary life and the eternal life. Have your dreams but also have God lead you to that dream, have your careers, but have God lead you to succeed in your career, have your family, but let God be the center of it. I challenge you today to keep God and eternal things in focus and in your thought life and heart life daily through out every day! And when you begin to think that way, that is when you will find yourself putting God first and you second. You will begin to find yourself seeing life the way God intended us to see it, and that is for his glory and to see lost people saved, the broken hearted, come to restoration, to see the blind see again and the lame walk. To see the poor rich in faith and the community come together for the purpose of Jesus Christ. You will find yourself serving rather than taking, teaching rather than just learning, doing rather than just knowing. God has big plans for you and it all starts with you disciplining yourself to keep him involved at all times in your thoughts and hearts!

Who Am I

zoolander doneToday I want you to ask yourself “Who am I”? As believers a lot of the time we can get caught up in all the big name pastors, evangelists, missionaries and churches. We can find ourselves dreaming of one day being like that person or having a ministry like theirs. I want to encourage you that it is good to dream big, after all God can do more than we ask or think and his plans and ways are higher than ours, but it is also very important that we don’t lose sight of what God has already done in our lives, what he is currently doing in our lives and what he may have planned for our lives. We need to realize that we may be right where we need to be, especially if you know that you having been seeking God and his kingdom first in your life. If we are truly seeking God’s kingdom first, then we are where we are supposed to be. We can’t be afraid of the “whys” and the “hows”, you follow after God, his word, and his spirit, then God will guide you step by step where you need to be. You may be the only person that can reach that relative of yours that no preacher ever could, you may be that blogger that shines a light so bright and real that can reach someone across the globe to a person who has never heard about God in the way you write, you may be that good example in this world to a child who gets inspired to follow after God and do great things all because he or she looked up to you. Who are you? You are a light, you are an example, you are a disciple, you are God’s child, you are a witness to the world, you are the only Jesus some people may ever experience because of Christ’s love through you. You may not be called to be that mega church pastor or that evangelist that travels the world, but you are who God called you to be, and it’s important that we realize God has a plan for our lives and that we can really truly walk that out daily by seeking God’s kingdom daily and following the leading of his spirit. Seeking God and following after his plan for your life, seeking God and finding some small outlet to be used in any way you can, whether that be at church in any way, whether that be being a team leader and example, whether that be using your social media to be a positive light in this negative world. God has a plan for you, you are a Somebody in God’s eyes, you were made just the way he wanted you, so use “Who you are” and your personality and your skills and your drive to pursue God and to pursue being a light to the world. BE YOU!!!

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

My challenge to you today is, Realize that God has you right where he wants you. It is up to you to seek him daily and find outlets to be a light! I challenge you to get involved, make a difference where no one else has stepped up. Be the best possible you you can in God’s eyes and follow him!

Knowing vs Doing

I just want to say a quick encouragement to the body of Christ, that is to believers. I think that one of the hardest things to do for believers is to let go of pride and be truly willing to fully submit yourself to God. So, so many things in this life can take away from a life that is truly all about God. And some of these things can even be good things when they are put into perspective and prioritized. Things like family, having fun with friends, leisurely things, music and so on. We need to learn to put God and his word first in our life. I know we have heard this a million times before, but I think that this is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things, that we put into practice what we hear in God’s word. When God is telling us to do something, we need to strive to have that be a part of our lives. A lot of us, including me, are like, um yeah I know that, that is a good word, praise the Lord, but we leave it at that. That is knowledge, yes, and that is good, but we need to take that knowledge and meditate on it and find ways to incorporate that into our lives. We need to not only be a knower, yeah, I said it a knower, but be a doer, be a person that is intent of putting God’s word to practice in your life, even if that means to swallow your pride and be like yeah, I am with you Jon, I am one of the people who knows what God’s word says, but I don’t really truly put it into practice in my life.

Biblical knowledge is not equivalent to spiritual maturity

James 1:22 “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

My challenge to you today is, Be a doer. Don’t just know what to do, but really truly do something with it, If God says forgive, then forgive. If God says, be slow to anger, then do it. If God says to pray for those who persecute you then do it. If God says seek first his kingdom, then do it. Instead of knowing all these things that the Bible talks about and thinking you are something pretty special, well how about you give practicing it a try. I challenge you to take God’s word for the Holy Awesome word that it is and be a doer!