Category Archives: George W Black, Blogs

George loves to share inspirational devotions, short messages, posts from other social media, etc.

GOD’S RELAUNCH PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE, Pt. 4

ARE YOU READY FOR JESUS 2ND COMING?

Opening Scripture:

1 Thess 4:15-17 NIV  “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

 

1. God’s Relaunch Plan for your life includes getting you ready for the second coming of Christ when God takes His obedient children home, and finishes His work on earth.

 

2. The 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ has two parts:

  • the secret coming (rapture) when Jesus returns for His church,
  • and the public coming when He returns with His church to defeat the antichrist, overthrow evil, and establish His millennial reign.

A. The secret second coming is not to the surface of the earth, but only in the air.

1 Thess 5:2 NKJV “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

1 Thess 4:17 NIV “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

“Air” – “Aer” Greek ἀήρ – air, atmosphere

This first coming is often called the “rapture” of the church, a term in English that describes the Greek word used for this event called “harpazo”.

“Caught Up” – “harpazō” Greek ἁρπάζω – to snatch away, take away by force, to catch, steal, carry off, to convey away suddenly, transport hastily.

The “harpazo” is the pre-wrath coming of Christ to take His church home to safety before the coming of the Great Tribulation, which is God’s judgement on the earth for its evil and wickedness. Like the Ark was for Noah’s protection, so the “harpazo” (rapture) will be for the Church.

1 Thess 5:9-10 NIV “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

B. The public second coming is to the surface of the earth to set up His Millennial Kingdom. Jesus will rule and reign on earth for a thousand years. Rev 19:11-16

 

3. Our Prophetic Future: Labor pangs / Rapture / 7 Seals / 7 Trumpets / 7 Bowls / 2nd Coming / Millennial Reign / Great White Throne Judgment / New Heaven & Earth

The world today is in the “labor pains” stage of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The future is being born just as surely as a mother with child.

1 Thess 5:3 NKJV “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”

 

4. How can we know we are ready for the “harpazo” (rapture) of the Second Coming of Christ, and will not be LEFT BEHIND?

Matt 25:1-13 NIV  “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 

The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

A. Am I a virgin? Have I been cleansed in the blood of Jesus and all my sins washed away, leaving me justified – just as if I never sinned.

“the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom”

B. Do I have oil in the lamp of my life? Have I been filled with the Holy Spirit, and am I staying filled (extra oil).

“Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.”

C. Even if Jesus never comes during my lifetime, am I living my life in anticipation of His coming?

“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’”

Heb 9:28b “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

 D. Am I keeping watch for His second coming and telling others about Him?

 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

Amp  “Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.”

GWB

 

 

GOD’S RELAUNCH PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE, Pt. 2

Pt. 2 of 4 – Five MORE Necessary Things For Your Relaunch

Opening Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

 

1. God wants to do a new thing in every one of His children, and help us go on to maturity and grow up spiritually. This is what “Relaunch” is all about.

 Heb 6:1-3 NKJV  “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, {2} of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. {3} And this we will do if God permits.”

A. Repentance from dead works – principle of separation

B. Faith toward God – principle of justification

C. Doctrine of baptisms – principle of integration

D. Laying on of hands – principle of impartation

E. Resurrection of the dead – principle of glorification

F. Eternal judgement – principle of destination

Mat 28:19-20 NKJV  “”Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

 

2. A renewed commitment to obedience helps us break the hold of “gravity” and propel us to escape velocity.

 Sometimes Christ-followers get sidelined on their journey and waste precious time.

Heb 5:12-14 NLT  “You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. {13} And a person who is living on milk isn’t very far along in the Christian life and doesn’t know much about doing what is right. {14} Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.”

Heb 12:1 NLT  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

 

3.  Catch a vision of what can be, and you will be inspired to continue the journey God has for your life.

Rom 8:29 NKJV  “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”(2 Cor 3:17-18 NKJV)  “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. {18} But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Gal 4:19 NKJV  “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,”

NLT “until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”AMP “until Christ is completely and permanently formed (molded) within you”

MES “until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives”

 

4. Understand that Relaunch is not about what will make you happy, but what will make you holy, and complete God’s purpose in your life.

Acts 14:21-22 NKJV  “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, {22} strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.””

Rom 14:17 NKJV  “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

 

5. Our greatest need for a personal Relaunch is humility.

When we humble ourselves to those around us so that we may benefit from their gifts and experience. This relationship is called “submission” and means placing ourselves in a position to receive from the gifts and experience of others the supply we need to continue our journey.

1 Pet 5:5 NKJV  “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.””

Eph 5:18-21 NKJV  “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, {19} speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, {20} giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, {21} submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

GWB

GOD’S RELAUNCH PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE, Pt. 1

GOD’S RELAUNCH PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE

Pt. 1 of 4 – Five Necessary Things For Your Relaunch

 

Opening Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

1“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”

 

1. Father God is doing a new thing in His people today around the world, that at Rejoice we are calling “Relaunch.”

2 Cor 3:18 NKJV “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

 Matt 9:17 NKJV “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and thewineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into newwineskins, and both are preserved.”

 

2. God’s Relaunch for your life means, no matter your past, God has a Great Big Plan for your future.

Is 43:18 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

Phil 3:13-14 NLT “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

 

3. In order to receive God’s Relaunch in your life, you must take the limits off of God.

Is 43:19a NIV “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

Mk 11:22-24 NLT “Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”

 

4. Every Relaunch plan faces challenges, but trust God in the middle of difficult circumstances.

Is 43:19b NIV  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Jer 29:11 NLT “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

5. Realize that God is the source of your Relaunch – your new beginning – and that He is also the ultimate purpose for your life as well.

Rom 12:1-2 NLT “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

 

YOU ARE GOD’S TROPHY

YOU ARE GOD’S TROPHY

Opening Scripture: 1 Thess 2:19-20 LB “For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again. 20 For you are our trophy and joy.

“Trophy” –  (1) trophy is a reward for a specific achievement, and serves as recognition or evidence of merit.  (2) a cup or other decorative object awarded as a prize for a victory or success.

 

1. God gave everything He had to win you as a trophy of His grace.

Jn 3:16 NLT “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 Rom 8:32 NKJV “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

 

2. God’s plan for your life is better than anything you can come up with on your own.

Rom 12:1-3 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

 

3. The Apostle Paul became a trophy of God’s grace.

1 Tim 1:12-16 NLT “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.”

1 Tim 1:12-14 AMP “ give thanks to Him Who has granted me [the needed] strength and made me able [for this], Christ Jesus our Lord, because He has judged and counted me faithful andtrustworthy, appointing me to [this stewardship of] the ministry.

13 Though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and was shamefully and outrageouslyand aggressively insulting [to Him], nevertheless, I obtained mercy because I had acted out of ignorance in unbelief.

14 And the grace (unmerited favor and blessing) of our Lord [actually] flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me, accompanied by faith and love that are [to be realized] in Christ Jesus.

15 The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.

16 But I obtained mercy for the reason that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might show forth and display all His perfect long-suffering and patience for an example to [encourage] those who would thereafter believe on Him for [the gaining of] eternal life.”

 

4. Like Paul the apostle, you are becoming a trophy of God’s grace, to be presented to Christ when your assignment on earth is finished.

2 Cor 11:2 NKJV “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

 

George W Black

YOUR BREAKTHROUGH TIME HAS COME

YOUR BREAKTHROUGH TIME HAS COME

Understanding The Process

Opening Scripture:Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV  In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

Definition of breakthrough: The act, result, or place of breaking through against resistance, as in warfare. This means there is a hindrance to overcome. God wants to change us. He wants to break us free.

  • God wants to bring you into your breakthrough on a personal level.
  • God wants to bring your church into a breakthrough on a corporate level.

 

1. God has a process for breakthrough: Promise, Problem, Principle, Purpose, Provision.

Mark 4:35-41 NLT “As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

A. The promise – let us cross over to the other side

B. The problem – the storm arose

C. The principle – To believe the promise more than the problem.

D. The purpose – To teach them nothing can remove them from their destiny.

E. The provision – The storm stopped, and the boat was immediately at the other side.

 

2. Another Example: The Promised Land.

A. What was the promise? A land flowing with milk and honey.

B. What was the problem? There were giants in the land and walled cities

C. What was the principle? To believe God rather than your circumstances

D. Those that applied the wrong principle died in the wilderness.

E. What was the purpose? To learn obedience

F. What was the provision? To inherit all that God had for them

 

3. DON’T CAST AWAY YOUR CONFIDENCE!

Hebrews 10:35 AMPDo not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward.”

A. Patience is a bridge you are building between the will of God today and the promise you are reaching for in the future.

B. If you are not doing the will of God on this side, you will not receive the promise on the other.

C. Today’s obedience positions you for breakthrough tomorrow.

D. The quickest way to lose out is run out of patience during the process. This blurs our focus and gives us a fragmented vision.

 

4. What you focus on you will determine your breakthrough.

Remember that God has a Process in everything, and keep your eyes on His Promises, as He takes you through the Problem, Principle, and Purpose, and you will reach your Provision.

Hebrews 11:13 AMP “These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth.”

 

George W Black

VISITATION, HABITATION, DEMONSTRATION

VISITATION, HABITATION, DEMONSTRATION

Don’t Miss Your Moment

Opening Scripture:Mk 16:15-16 “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

1. God has called us to be “fishers of men” and to become intentional in our outreach to others. Remember, heaven and hell are real, and we are still alive because God wants to use us to take others with us.

Matt 28:18-20 NKJVAnd Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, evento the end of the age. Amen.”

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” – Charles Spurgeon

“Any church that is not seriously involved in world evangelization has forfeited its biblical right to exist. Any Christian who just flat does not care whether or not people crash into eternity without God does violence to the heart of the gospel and the heart of Jesus. Such a Christian is a walking paradox, no matter how orthodox his or her theology may be.

“When you leave the plains of mediocrity known as “the balanced life,” you begin to scale the heights and breathe the rarified air that invigorates faith, hope, and love. Love is the mainspring of all effective ministry and the source from which all missions passion flows. God is ready and willing to give you a fresh baptism of compassion. He wants to perform ‘eye surgery’ so you can see once again with clarity, sharpness, and focus. Are you willing for this surgery?” — David Shibley in THE MISSIONS ADDICTION

2. God visits us to prepare of for what is next. Don’t miss your season of visitation, implanting, and impartation, or the field of your future will not be ready to produce the harvest God has for you.

Job 10:12 KJV “Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.”

Lk 19:43- 45 “For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

1 Pet 2:11-13 NKJV “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

3. “Relaunch” is God’s visitation for Rejoice Church, and for you personally. But Relaunch is not an event, it is the cultivation of a field God wants to plant his destiny in, so that it He can come down and inhabit us with a fruitful future that glorifies Him.

Ex 15:13 NKJV “You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength To Your holy habitation.”

Ps 26:8 NKJV “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, And the place where Your glory dwells.”

Ps 22:3 KJV “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

4. God’s visitation leads to habitation, and habitation leads to demonstration. Any atmosphere you sustain becomes the “culture” you demonstrate. If you sustain mediocrity, you will create a culture of mediocrity, and this is what you will demonstrate to others. But if you sustain the habitation of God in your life and habits, you will create a culture of God’s presence that demonstrates Him to others.

1 Cor 2:4-5 NKJV “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

5. Don’t miss your moment, your season of visitation, so you can receive God’s habitation, and become a vessel of demonstration.

1 Chron 12:32 NKJV “…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command;

Don’t miss your moment.
Moses and burning bush
Abraham and Isaac
David and Goliath
Jesus and wedding at Cana
There’s just lots of times you work hard for something and then nothing happens. That wasn’t your moment.
David worked hard tending his father’s sheep and killing the lion and the bear, but that wasn’t his moment, that was preparation for his moment.
When his moment came he was ready, and his destiny to become king of Israel began.

Relaunch is God’s moment for Rejoice, and it could be a special moment for you as well.

ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR GOD

Hungry For God

Hunger is an incredible motivator. I know if I start craving Mexican food, it won’t be long until I show up at a Mexican restaurant, or Taco Bell (semi-feeds the need lol), or I will ask Cathy to do her amazing Tex-Mex “whatever”, which is all great.

Are you hungry for God? I mean really, are you hungry for His glory – His tangible presence in your life, or is a snack on Sunday morning all you need each week?

I believe hungry people show up for what they are hungry for. When people are hungry for God, really hungry for God, nothing else will satisfy.

Jesus said if we are hungry for God, He will fill us. (Matt 5:6)

This Sunday Aug 17-24 begins our bi-annual prayer and revival week at Rejoice Church, with nightly services. We call it Rebuilding The Altars, and this years theme is “Reaching Escape Velocity.” I have been thinking a lot about what draws a person to something like this, and why some are not interested.

Perhaps the reason so many are not hungry for God (and why there have been times I was not hungry for God) is because we are already full of something else.

A scientific principle is that a vacuum always fills itself. A light bulb holds a filament inside a vacuum, allowing it to burn brightly for long periods of time. But crack the light bulb and the atmosphere rushes in and the filament immediately burns out. A submarine can dive to great depths while maintaining a vacuum relative to the outside ocean pressure. But if the hull of the submarine fails, the immense weight of the water outside will crush the submarine as it rushes in to fill the vacuum.

Another way of looking at a vacuum filling itself is when we are hungry, we eat. No more “vacuum.”

My wife is so funny. Sometimes when I ask her what she wants to eat she has said, “doesn’t matter…when we are full we won’t be hungry anymore.” Cathy is amazingly practical, and I try never to take that for granted.

Spiritual hunger is meant to create a vacuum that God comes in and fills. However if we have already filled up on what the world offers…busyness, so many cares of this life, tons of entertainment sources, an endless list of movie channels, sports channels, food channels, and a lot of good-but-not-godly filler, it is no wonder so many people have no hunger for God. And with all our mobile devices, we are never without the filler.

Jesus said “but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.” Mk 4:19 NLT

My wife Cathy has always tried to make dinner a family affair. Even now with the kids all grown and gone, it is important to her that we have dinner together. I love this. Sometimes with our still very hectic schedule it is a very late dinner. But we always have dinner together when possible.

There have been various times when I was really hungry before coming home for dinner, and I have stopped at a convenience store to fill up on junk food. Maybe it was a coke with peanuts (you have to be from the South), or an especially big temptation for me is Zingers, a raspberry and coconut crème-filled snack cake like a Twinkie…only better.

The problem is that when I got home and sat down for dinner, I was no longer hungry for Cathy’s good food. (Is anyone getting a sermon?) Junk food had taken the place that good food was supposed to fill.

This is the problem with much of modern America today. We are so full of “junk food”, we are no longer really hungry for God.

THANK GOD THERE IS A SOLUTION!

One of the secrets to being hungry for God is learning to do our “push-aways.”

A big problem in the South is we want our guests to pile on the food, then go back for seconds. That has always been a part of hospitality in our Southern culture as far back as I can remember. The problem in our over-weight world today is we need to learn to do our “push-aways” after the first helping, and push away from the table before seconds. (I am preaching to myself ya’ll.)

The same is true with all the distractions of this life.

Learn to do your “push-aways” from the world so you don’t end up immersing yourself in a fruitless and unholy life.

When you unplug from the world, turn off the television and put down the mobile device, you are creating a “vacuum”, a space in time, that God wants to fill.

It takes time to be holy, and holiness attracts the glory, because they are inseparably intertwined. Have we forgotten the call to holy living? Remember that The Helper’s first name is “Holy”, as in Holy Spirit.

Look up the word “holy” and you will be amazed how many times it is used in the New Testament, under grace.

2 Pet 3:11-25a “Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along.”

If you are hungry for God, you can stay hungry by always making room in your schedule for God to fill your life. Stop run, run, running, without running to God. Priorities are not wishful thinking…they are what we actually do.

If you are not hungry for God, but you want to be, start doing your “push-aways” today. Rebuilding The Altars week is a prime opportunity. The more you push away from the worlds table, the more of a vacuum you will create for God to come in and fill.

Here is the beautiful thing about being filled with God instead of the world…when you let God satisfy the hunger in your life, the hunger for the things of this world disappear.

Jn 6:35 NLT “Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Are you hungry for God? Are you really?

Hungry people show up for what they are hungry for.

George W Black

Click for more on Rebuilding The Altars week.

RELAUNCH, Pt. 9 – Seven Steps To Relaunching

Opening Scripture: Col 1:9-10 NKJV “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”

Music Video: Casting Crowns – Thrive (Official Lyric Video)

Joy Unspeakable,

Faith Unsinkable,

Love Unstoppable,

Anything is possible!!!

The Church that Jesus Christ started did seven things that provided every new believer with a personal relaunch out of their old life into God’s new life.

If we want a relaunch in our lives, we need to do what Jesus taught them to do, because that’s what He is teaching us to do as well.

 

1. They began with repentance.

Repentance is changing our mind to agree with God, and then making the needed changes in our lives to conform to what we now believe.

Acts 2:38-39 NKJV “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Have you repented of your sins and old life, and do you still repent when you drift?

2. They were baptized.

Baptism is changing our identification with the world to identifying with Christ, and His family on earth, the church.

Have you been baptized, surrendering your life fully to the Lord?

3. They received the Holy Spirit.

The disciples of Jesus Christ were asked to wait in Jerusalem until they received an enduement of power from the Holy Spirit. Some treat this as optional today, but Jesus meant for every follower to receive His power to live the Christian life, and be a witness to others.

Have you received the Holy Spirit the way they received the Holy Spirit in the New Testament?

4. Next they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the Word of God by the apostles.

Acts 2:42 NKJV “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Do you continue steadfastly in the teaching of the Word of God?

5. They continued steadfastly in “koinonia” fellowship – intentional relationship building for mutual benefit.

Do you intentionally invest the time needed to build meaningful relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ outside of church services?

6. They continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread through common meals (love feasts) and encouraging faith in one another for the things Holy Communion reminds us Jesus died for

Do you continue steadfastly in sharing common meals, and encouraging faith in one another for the things Holy Communion reminds us Jesus died for?

7. They continued steadfastly in praying together.

Do you continue steadfastly in prayer times with your leaders and church?

Here’s what’s waiting for you if you will take the challenge of these seven steps:

Joy Unspeakable,

Faith Unsinkable,

Love Unstoppable,

Anything is possible!!!

Get ready for a RELAUNCH…your life is not ordinary…God wants you to THRIVE!

 

RELAUNCH, Pt. 8 – Relaunching With Fresh Vision

RELAUNCH, Pt 8 –  Relaunch With Fresh Vision

VIDEO: Mrs Edwards Gets Invited To Church

1. God has placed every one of us in His church, and also in this local church, to unite together around fulfilling the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

Is 43:18-21 NIV  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

Psalm 105:40-41 NKJV “The people asked, and He brought quail, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it ran in the dry places like a river.”

2. Our target is defined by the word “RED” and means to Recover, Empower, Deploy. To hit this target means we will refocus and re-purpose our energies with new strategies for the future, AND MAKE IT FUN!

A. “Relaunch” is your churches campaign to repaint the target God gave us years ago so that we may lead our church and its members in reaching their full potential for Christ.

B. The Relaunch Campaign is about Rejoice Church allowing God to do a new thing in each member, in each ministry, and in the church as a whole, to bring us forward into a new beginning where we start over, as though we are planting a new church.

C. The goal of the Relaunch Campaign is to refocus our church and members on what we are called by God to do in our region and in the world, so that we can Recover more people for Christ, Empower more disciples, and Deploy more members into their ministry in the church and their mission in the world.

D. Relaunch is like a “Grand Re-Opening.” Help us get ready, then tell your community and family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. what you want them to know is best about your church, and what is new and improved!!! With your help, our goal is to double Rejoice in one year.

2. RED BEGINS WITH RECOVER – Rejoice exists for those not yet here. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, and this is job #1 in our continuing mission.

Lk 14:15-24 NLT “ Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

3. SECONDLY, RED MEANS EMPOWER – Rejoice answers it’s call to empower its members through discipleship and mentoring. It’s not enough to know what to do, but we must also be given the tools for HOW to do it.

Matt 28:18-20 NLT “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

4. FINALLY, RED MEANS DEPLOY – Rejoice releases its members to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. Deployment is mobilizing the trained to fulfil their ministry in the church and their mission in the world.

Matt 5:13-15 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

5. How does the vision of RED apply to you and your personal life? Your ministry in the church? Your mission in the world? It’s time for a RELAUNCH of fresh vision and personal application. God can only take us as far as we can see.

 

RELAUNCH, Pt. 7 – A New Beginning In Stewardship

Relaunchbutton

RELAUNCH, Pt. 7

Finding God’s Power For A New Beginning In Stewardship

Opening Scripture: Haggai 2:3-10 NLTThen the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you!Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 

1. When God saves us, He does a miracle of transformation in our inner person called the new birth, or being born-again. Our spirit becomes brand new.

2 Cor 5:17 AMP “Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”

 

2. God’s plan is for the fresh and new spiritual reality that is in our born-again spirit, to migrate outward to our mind and thoughts and attitudes and actions.

2 Cor 3:18 AMP “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”

 

3. The process of being changed into the image of Christ depends on our willingness to embrace God’s truth as it is revealed to us. Revelation brings transformation when we act on it by faith.

James 1:22-25 AMP “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).

 

4. One of the areas Jesus Christ spent a lot of time teaching was on financial stewardship. Jesus taught that how we handle money and material things has a great influence over our spiritual life.

Matt 6:19-21 NLT “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

 

5. From the very beginning it has always been God’s plan to bless and prosper His people, like any good father or mother wants to do for their children. We must renew our minds to the promises of God so we do not handle finance out of fear.

Dt 8:18 NKJV ““And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

Ps 23:1 NLT “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”

Lk 12:32 NKJV “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Rom 8:32 NKJV “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

 

6. When we understanding God’s plan for Kingdom Economics, we begin to trust that God’s plan is never to decrease us but rather to increase us, so we can do more and more to advance His Kingdom. But like all of God’s promises, His promises take faith.

James 2:26 NKJV “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

 

7. Under the New Testament Jesus Christ has removed the curses by becoming a curse for us. He now asks us to do out of a new nature of love and a new life, what was formerly a law and a commandment. We now keep God’s commands, not to avoid the curse, but because we share God’s nature.

Gal 3:13 NKJV “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Rom 7:6 NLT “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”

 

8. God established the tithe as the means by which He funded religious worship, teaching, and the ministry of the priesthood.

Mal 3:10-12 NLTBring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

A. There were twelve tribes or branches of Israel, but God chose one tribe, the tribe of Levi, to serve the other eleven tribes as priests, meaning this was their full-time occupation and career. This meant that the other eleven tribes would each take responsibility for a tenth or 10% of the cost of supporting the Temple and the priesthood.

B. This is why Mal 3:10 says “so there will be enough food in my Temple.” The tithes of the other eleven tribes literally helped to feed the Levites so they could serve the altar and conduct the sacrifices for the people.

C. This practice of the tithe was carried over into the New Testament as the means by which God ordained that the local church and its ministers would be supported.

1 Cor 9:13-14 NLT “Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. 14 In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.

1 Cor 9:7-12 NLT “What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? 10 Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. 11 Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? 12 If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported?”

D. The Bible makes it clear in the New Testament that the law was merely a shadow of greater things to come. If under the law God asked His people to give 10%, would grace in the New Testament ask us to do less? No, the idea of grace is that God wants to do it through us even bigger and better than the law could ever do, because we now share His nature, and because He wants to bless us even more that the law promised.

 

9. In the New Testament, Jesus confirmed the tithe, but used His apostles to teach us not to give for the wrong reasons. Giving is worship, and God doesn’t want us giving grudgingly or because we think we have to. No, the goal of giving under grace is give out of love.

2 Cor 9:6-8 AMP “[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].”

 

10. The bottom line today is that if we are living by faith and walking in the grace of God, God wants us to support our local church cheerfully so that our congregation has a home with pastors and spiritual leaders who can give themselves to the ministry without distraction, in order that we may be a lighthouse to our community.

A. The tithe, or first tenth, is a great place to start giving, because God still considers the tithe holy. But under grace, the tithe is a terrible place to stop. It all belongs to God, and sometimes God will ask us to go beyond what was required under the Old Covenant.

Lev 27:30 NLT ““One-tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.

B. God asks us to bring tithes and offerings to our local “store house” where we are fed. Today this is our local church where we are in covenant relationship with other Christ-followers.

1) Giving to other ministries is fine, but this should never come from the tithe. That is what our remaining 90% is for, to give offerings or whatever else we see is needed. If we eat at Wendy’s, but pay our bill at McDonald’s, how long can Wendy’s stay open?

2) Giving to other family members who may be in need is Biblical, but this should never come from the tithe. Again this is what God has allowed us to keep the 90% for. Be generous out of what is yours, not what is God’s.

3) Giving our time is not the same as giving a tithe. It is expected that all Christ-followers will invest their time in helping serve the local church and build God’s Kingdom. But serving and tithing are two different things in  Scripture, and to confuse them is not good Biblical interpretation.

Dt 12:11 NLT “you must bring everything I command you—your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, and your offerings to fulfill a vow—to the designated place of worship, the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.”

Mal 3:10 AMP ““Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse”

C. The tithe is the first fruits of all our income, not just what is left after we pay taxes, and retirement, and whatever else is being withheld. Be honest with God about your tithe because He already knows.

Pro 3:9-10 NLT “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

 

11. Why should I tithe?

A. Because everything you have, God gave it to you, and tithing is how you say thanks to God. It is like God gave you ten apples, and asks that we give one of them to Him out of appreciation.

B. Because it supports your pastors and staff so they can give themselves to the Word and prayer, and take care of the church and its membership.

C. Because it makes it possible for your church family to have a “house” to worship in, and pay the same bills you pay, such as utilities and upkeep.

D. Because tithing keeps us free from selfish and shallow living.

E. Because tithing teaches us to trust the Lord.

F. Because tithing teaches us to always put God first in our lives.

Dt 14:23 LB “The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” 

 

12. What is the temptation of not tithing and how can we overcome it?

A. Fear is always the temptation that prevents us from obeying God, because we don’t trust that God can take care of us.

B. We probably already spend more than our tithe on other non-essential things. Some people may pay more for a membership at the YMCA or local gym than they give their local church. Or they may be willing to spend $50 to take their family to a movie, but not consider that their local church cannot exist without faithful supporters. In many cases it is necessary to rebudget  and repurpose what we are already spending so that it is represents the new life of Christ in us, and not the old life we have been saved from.

C. When our income is small, giving one dollar out of ten dollars earned baby-sitting or mowing yards is not so hard. But when we are making $30k, $40k, or $50k a year, the temptation is to not want to give the 10%, or the $3k, $4k, or $5k this would require. But we have to remember who gave it to us in the first place, what He has asked us to do with it, and that He can take it away and give it to someone else who will be faithful. We have to also consider that He may have already done that, if we are stuck in a rut and are never able to get ahead.

Dt 8:11-17 NLT “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt…17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.”

 

13. God is inviting us to a RELAUNCH in our finances by remembering the Lord’s tithe. Try it. Let Him prove Himself to you.

Obedience is the place of blessing, and it is always God’s desire to bless you!!! God invites you to prove Him.

Mal 3:10 NLT “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!