You are not Alone

13010-You-Are-Not-Alone

It is December 22nd, 2015, the first “official” day of winter. It has been a year that I do not care to remember and am looking forward to getting past. I am happy that here, at the end of the year, I am able to think about Jesus and his birth. I am able to think about the positives in my life like my loving God who saves me from sin, from hard times, from myself at times. I am able to look around me and see that I have a father and a savior who has never left me and never forsook me. I have a love that dwells within me that overcomes this world and overcomes the darkness. I have assurance in God that life is not about me and this temporary world, but it is about God and it is about others and what I can do to help them.

This season, this time of year, is always a great reminder of the power of giving. What can we give to others that they could never receive on their own? What can we do today that would show and share the love of Jesus to them?

I bet if we stopped for one moment, one minute to think about one person and something that we could do for them, it would come to us so quickly. We get caught up in the busyness, we get caught up in our own lives and what matters to us that we forget about the people around us and the people we could possibly impact majorly with one simple act of love, one simple act of kindness. We need to step out of our comfort zones, we need to step outside of the box and think about others and what we can do to “give” to them, to “serve” them, to “love” them.

It is great and awesome to give to family and the expected ones. But let us stop for a second to think about the person who comes to mind when we ask God, who can I impact with the love of Jesus today, that maybe needs an act of kindness, a reminder that they are not alone. We should show kindness to others, because we do not know the battles or struggles that they face or are fighting with. I know that a lot of people who seem like they have it all together, who put a smile on their face in public – who are fighting a battle that we know nothing about. I know because I was and am one of them. Pray for them, love them, go out of your way to do something nice for them. Not only are you blessing the Father God when you do these things, you bless the person, and you yourself will be blessed like never before because it will bring you true joy.

Ephesians 4:32                                                                                                                             Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Luke 6:35                                                                                                                                       But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Hebrews 13:12                                                                                                                               Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

1 John 3:18                                                                                                                                      Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

John 13:35                                                                                                                                       By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

My challenge to you for today is to stop for a moment and ask God who is one person that I can reach with the love of Jesus this season. Who is one person I can show an act of kindness and love to who needs it the most right now. I’m sure someone comes to mind. You don’t necessarily have to preach to them, but you can let them know that God put it on your heart and that he is thinking about them and loves them. This would be a good discipline and practice to have in your life everyday. Who are you impacting today with the love of Jesus?

So Fresh and So Clean

so fresh and so cleanIn this life there are trials, temptations, troubles and hardships that we have to face. Life is not always easy and doesn’t always go our way. Maybe we have come from a broken home, maybe you have struggled with addiction your whole life, maybe someone broke your heart when all you have ever been was kind, maybe you struggle financially, maybe you didn’t get that job you wanted, maybe you struggle with loneliness or feelings of inadequacy. So many things in this life can leave you feeling hopeless and broken. But I am here to tell you that there is a hope for the hopeless, there is love, when you haven’t felt loved in a long time, there is peace you can find and it’s when you find and meet and begin a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus let us know in the bible in John 16:33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
You see the start to overcoming your trials and your troubles, your sorrows and your storms is to start that real relationship with Jesus. The relationship where you keep your eyes on him throughout each and every day you live. Not just on Sundays or here at Uprise, but it is an everyday real relationship. Jesus is referred to being a husband to the church. People who accept Jesus and live for him are considered the church, we are his bride. So just like a husband and wife relationship, it is an everyday relationship. Each day you think about that person, they are number 1 in your life, (aside from God). You grow to know them more and more, even to the point where you know what each other are thinking. That is the kind of intimate relationship I am talking about. Jesus will keep us full of peace and enveloped in his peace when our focus is on him, because we know this life will be tough, but we know someone who makes us strong when we are weak, who gives us grace to get through tough times, who reminds us that he is with us and he will never leave us.
*The Struggle is real, but Jesus is the strength to live a life that is full of peace.
We don’t need to go to God and tell him how big our problem is, but we need to speak to our problem, and tell it how big our God is.
I have a van that I drive, I’ve been driving it all winter long. I never really had any problems with it. But I did always drive it down to empty. In fact It was most of the time below a quarter tank and I drove it like that all winter. Come a few months down the road, last month sometime, my van started chugging, as if it was running out of gas, but there was gas in it, about a quarter haha. Any way it died out on me and wouldn’t drive. I had to get it towed to a shop. They looked at it and fixed the problem. It was a dirty carburetor. It became that way because I had been driving it all winter close to empty. Not to mention in the air filter there was what appeared to be a mouse’s nest with all kinds of hay, grass and even a good amount of foam. My car wasn’t running right and it’s because of my neglect to give it what it needed to run properly, and because something got into my car without me noticing that was draining my gas even faster and causing it to run improperly.
This is just like our lives. We can go days, months, even years without really giving our lives what they need and that is our focus on Jesus, our relationship with Jesus, the months may past and everything seems to be running fine, but one day you are going to find yourself not knowing what happened, you are out of gas, or you are broken down. Some things got into your life little by little that acted as a poison, you didn’t notice it because you weren’t staying focused and you weren’t intentional about your relationship with Jesus and now you find yourself alone. That thing that got into your life, maybe even a sin that has you restrained from finding true joy, that thing, whatever it was, was sucking away your time and your attention, from the one true source that will lead you to have true peace, joy, fulfillment, and strength.
When we live without Jesus as our daily source, some things can get in to our lives that can make us dirty and that can break us down. But when we give our lives to Jesus, he can make us So Fresh and So Clean and give us what we need to keep moving forward when life seems to be moving backwards.
*When we keep our focus on Jesus first, he gives us what we need to keep moving forward when life’s circumstances around us seem to be moving backward
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
Jesus blood was shed as the greatest sacrifice to wash our sins away and to give us a new start on life. A new life with him.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
If and when we gave our life to Jesus Christ, we gave up our own lives and our old selfish desire, because he gave us his love and his life so that we can have strength in him and we can have eternity in heaven.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It is only Jesus who makes us clean, this is not something that we can accomplish on our own because the bible says and we all know it to be true, that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all equal and in the same boat, all in need of a savior to set us free from sin and death. Our hearts are dirty, hard and stained without Jesus blood and sacrifice to wash it away.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”
When we give our lives to Jesus, he gives us a fresh and clean heart that is responsive to him. He takes away our dirty hard hearts. Living for Jesus daily is what we need to feel clean, fulfilled, satisfied, and strong in this life. The more you know him, the more you will grow to love him.
*A relationship takes love, work and commitment, and our relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship we will ever have.

RT: We don’t need to tell God how big our problems are, we need to tell our problems how big our God is. #Godiswithus
RT: Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice by dying for our sins, the least we can do is to give and live our life for Him #becausehefirstlovedus

Running

As a Christian we are faced a lot of times with the reality of the battle of good and evil. Although this may sound cliche to some people, be aware that this is very evident and real in the lives of every human being. It also may sound way to deep or way over your head. The reality of the war, not against flesh and blood, but against  rulers, dark powers in this world, against evil spirits in high places (Ephesians 6:12). Think about it, how many times did the “Real You” want to do something and pass up on temptation and yet there were driving forces urging you to give into temptation. That is the battle that we face daily, that is the battle called “spiritual warfare”. Whether the temptation being smoking, drinking, sex, pornography, cheating, lying, drug addiction, shopping addiction even white lies, even the inward sins, like lusting after women, thinking up lies, strategizing how to get your self a promotion or ladies for you a boyfriend maybe, by ruining someone else’s reputation and so much more. These are all things that I am sure you don’t want in your life truly, but we battle with these things, and that is real. This is not what I am talking to you about today, I just wanted to lay some groundwork on the realities of what we face everyday and that is sin. It is all around us and we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. We need to learn to yield to God and his word and his call to holy living. This is something that we need to strive for every single day!

    But trust me, I do realize that nobody is perfect. God knows that we are not perfect. There is another choice. That is after maybe you fall into a sin, there is a temptation to run from God and try to hide out in more sin, but let me tell you from experience that there is a better way! That is running to God for he is so merciful, so forgiving, so loving with open arms that he will pick you up like a father and tell us its ok, we can try again, I will never give up on you or leave you. There is a choice to either run from God or run to God, anytime we sin. I have done both in my lifetime, It is so much better to run to God. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. What that means is sin and guilt can weigh on you so heavily, especially when you are to the point where you know God has called you to a better life, when you know that God has a plan to use you for his glory. This is what I want you to realize today. If you screw up, God is not going to turn you away, God will not run from you, but he will be there with loving arms to grab you and hold you. We just have to choose to run to him rather than away.

1 John 1:9 says “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

God knows what we have done, but it is part of a healing process that he has set up, his ways are higher than our ways, that we should confess it to him and get it off of our chests and out of our lives. He is so forgiving!

Lamentations 3:22-23 says “22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

God has new mercies for us every morning. I am talking to YOU! You can start today a brand new day as if you have never sinned in God’s eyes. *Don’t live life looking to your past, look at life through God’s eyes and see the future he has planned for you and follow after that(that is good preacing right there haha)!God is looking at your past mistakes, so you shouldn’t either. God is looking at the new you and the you He know you can be through him! God is here to love you and guide you and forgive you. The Bible is full of scripture that talks of how merciful God is and we should find great comfort in that! So I urge you and challenge you to the next time you screw up and you feel like maybe you want to run from the situation or that you want to run from God and back into sin, just don’t! It is so much better to run to God and his forgiveness. He knows that you messed up, but that doesn’t mean he will ever give up on you. He loves you to much and will welcome you back with his eager love!

Now there is an issue I would like to address and that is that God’s mercy and grace does not give us a license to sin. He calls us to a holy life, he calls us to take up our cross daily and follow him.

Romans 6:1-2;15-18 says “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?………15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”

As we see here, God’s grace is not a license to sin, but it is his grace that gives us power to overcome lives full of sin. Of course we are humans and we still battle against temptation, sin, and our fleshly desires and we will fall time and time again. But we are called to run the race and strive towards perfection. We are called to put off the old man and put on our new nature, we are called to be more than conquerors and put on the full armor of God so that we can be overcomers. God’s grace is not there for you to go out into the world and intentionally sin and think that its ok. No his grace is there for those who truly follow him, but obviously screw up from time to time. God knows your heart better than you know yourself. He knows your intentions and your heart decisions, so don’t try to sneak one past him! 🙂

    Another good verse to look at when talking about RUNNING to God and not from God is…

James 4:7-10 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

    This verse tells us to resist the devil, it is only by God’s grace and power working in our lives that we are able to do this. God is our strength when we are weak. And then it says that when we draw close to God, he draws close to us! He will always be there for you, we just have to turn to him rather than run from him to truly experience his love that forgives and heals our guilty hearts. We are to humble ourselves before God. We need to take a real look at our lives and our hearts and be completely and totally honest with God, We are nobody’s, who deserve nothing without him. We need to be wholly surrendered to him, and then he will lift us up, he will pick us up, he will love us and show us how to love. I challenge you once again if you have messed up from the even the smallest way to the biggest way, Run to God, not from him. His mercies are new every morning, His grace covers you and is sufficient for you. His love holds you and never lets you go. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Run to him!

Jesus Community

Jesus set an example of how we should live out our lives. What I am going to talk about is 3 key staples of Jesus’ community life. Here is a look at 3 different kinds of relationships that Jesus had. 1st is intimacy with God, he would always draw himself away to spend time with God. That is a relationship that we need to develop in our own lives, it is the most important relationship that we have in our life. 2nd was Jesus’ community with insiders, those who were his disciples. They would spend time eating together, in fellowship together, and were very close. In our church this is the example that we need to live by. Us as a church or a community of believers need to have authentic relationships. 3rdly in Jesus’ life, he had influence with outsiders. Those outside the church, the non-believer. For us, same thing, a relationship with those outside the church.

Luke 6:12-19 is interesting and kind establishes what I just told you with Jesus’ relationships.

12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:14 Simon (whom he named Peter),Andrew (Peter’s brother),James,John,Philip,Bartholomew,15 Matthew,Thomas,James (son of Alphaeus),Simon (who was called the zealot),16 Judas (son of James),Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).17 When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil[b] spirits were healed. 19 Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.”

If you look at it closer, you see kind of a pattern, Jesus went off by himself to have intimacy with God and spent the night praying. At day break he picks his disciples and has community, he chose some guys that he was going to do life with, to do ministry with, they then come down from the mountain and do ministry to other people. You’ll see this over and over in Jesus’ life, those 3 main relationships.

Why was Jesus’ so concerned with community? Did Jesus really need them? They a lot of the times didn’t even get what he was talking about. They would get in to stupid fights over who was the greatest of them, which is completely the opposite of what Jesus taught, When Jesus told them to stay awake in the garden, they fell asleep. When he told them to go to sleep on the boat, they woke him up and asked him to pray. I mean Thomas was a doubter, Judas was a Traitor, Levi was a tax collector, Peter cut a guys ear off. They told Jesus they would never leave his side, but when Jesus faced his biggest trial, they all scattered. Did Jesus need their community. Maybe he did, because of the value of love.  Jesus needed a group of people that he could do life with. That he could love. So that he could give us an example of how us as a community of insiders, as a church should do life together. (Matt 22) Love God and Love People.

John 13:34-35, Jesus says  “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Jesus is telling us right now, that we don’t have to be the prettiest, smartest, most awesome people in the world. But what we do need to be, is a people of love, and a people of close community. Jesus stamp on us, is the way that we love one another, that is how people will know we are his.

Here are 3 principles that Jesus tried to establish as biblical authentic community. Here is the first,

1.Everybody is Welcome – it didn’t matter who they were or where they came from. He would accept them, embrace them, include them, ANYBODY who would come up to him. Prostitutes, Tax collectors, etc.This is what Jesus was about. This is how us as a church should be. A lot of people may never again want to go to church because they didn’t have a good experience when they went, maybe they got judged or didn’t feel welcome. We need to be a community and church where everybody is welcome.

2.Nobody is Perfect – We are all on the same level (Romans 3:23). None of us deserved salvation. We all stand in a place at the foot of the cross in desperate need for the bloodshed of Jesus Christ. Everyone of us stand in a place in need the forgiveness of God. There is no room for judging one another. Matt 7:1 – Jesus wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t  make moral discernment to one another. He wasn’t saying there isn’t a time where we should go to a loved one and say “you are screwing your life up”. What He is saying is that there is no room for I’m up here and your down here.We all come from the same place, and we should look at people through the eyes of love.

3.Anything is Possible – Transformation is possible. Jesus took a man by the name of Simon, and called him Peter which means “Rock” and knew you will stand before thousands, who was at one point was scared and ran from Jesus, but then one day he came to a place where he would die for Jesus. Saul was a hater and killer of Gentiles, became Paul who became a man who gave his life to love the gentiles. This is something that we have to get as a Church. Jesus set the example for us. We are to look at one another and say I see something different about you. You have a “New Name”. You are not who you used to be. You can become something different. The old is gone and the new is come. You can become someone new. We should look at people and say I see a new name in you, I see what your life would look like if you just surrendered your life to Jesus Christ. Yet sometimes we don’t treat each other as if anything is possible. We may gossip, or judge inside ourselves, instead of seeing the best in one another. Not looking with the eyes that say anything is possible. We should believe the best in people. God can still transform people. Anything is possible.

Jesus community – Everybody is Welcome, Nobody is Perfect, Anything is Possible