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!

RELAUNCH, Pt. 5 – Transitioning Forward Without Offense

Relaunchbutton

RELAUNCH, Pt. 5

Steps ToTransitioning Forward Without Offense

 Opening Scripture:

 Is 43:18-21 Message “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards—because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.”

1. RELAUNCH means redefining God’s dream for your life. What have you given up on? What have you forgotten? Maybe it’s time to look again.

Gen 13:14-15 NLT “After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.”

Heb 12:2 NLT “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

2. RELAUNCH means letting go of whatever is holding you back.

Heb 12:1a 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 trips us up.”

Video: Rocket Launch – Stage Separation  (First 5 minutes only)

3. RELAUNCH means going the distance and not giving up.

Heb 12:1b NLT “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

4. RELAUNCH means embracing change without getting offended.

Ps 119:165 KJV “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

Who Moved My Cheese?

Wikipedia writes “”Who Moved My Cheese?” is a motivational book by Spencer Johnson written in the style of a parable or business fable. The text describes change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to said change by two mice and two “littlepeople”, during their hunt for cheese. It has sold over 26 million copies and is now in 37 languages.

AllegoricallyWho Moved My Cheese? features four characters: two mice, “Sniff” and “Scurry,” and two littlepeople, miniature humansin essence, “Hem” and “Haw.” They live in a maze, a representation of one’s environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans, paired off and traveled the lengthy corridors searching for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor at “Cheese Station C”. Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at Cheese Station C to find no cheese left, but they are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared beforehand for the arduous but inevitable task of finding more cheese. Leaving Cheese Station C behind, they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands, “Who moved my cheese?” The humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant, and so are unprepared for this eventuality. After deciding that the cheese is indeed gone they get angry at the unfairness of the situation and both go home starved. Returning the next day, Hem and Haw find the same cheeseless place. Starting to realize the situation at hand, Haw thinks of a search for new cheese. But Hem is dead set in his victimized mindset and dismisses the proposal.”

Haw is eventually successful at transitioning through the change process and makes a note of what he has learned:

Change Happens

They Keep Moving The Cheese

Anticipate Change

Get Ready For The Cheese To Move

Monitor Change

Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

Adapt To Change Quickly

The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

Change

Move With The Cheese

Enjoy Change!

Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again

They Keep Moving The Cheese.

 

4-A. God is not trying to push you out, He is trying to push you up. Promotion in the spirit means doing something we have never done before and going where we have never gone.

4-B. Don’t give in to feelings of not being appreciated for the hard work and dedication of the past.What got you here won’t get you there.

When God does a new thing, it causes a shift out of one gear into another, like going from 1st to 2nd gear. 1st gear is not unappreciated, or being discarded for failing when you shift gears. It did it’s job. But it is not possible to get to cruising speed if you stay in 1st gear.

Similar to the launch of a rocket there are stages that accomplish their purpose of reaching escape velocity, and then are jettisoned for the next stage. If the rocket holds on to a stage that is over, it becomes detrimental to the mission of the rocket.

We must be careful not to get offended when we feel the pressure to let go of a stage that is finished. Properly understood, God is showing you that He loves you and doesn’t want you to get left behind when gears are being shifted and rockets booster stages are being jettisoned.

Remember point A. You are not being pushed out, you are being pushed up.

4-C. God is doing you a favor by pushing you out of the nest you are comfortable with. Remember the mother eagle and her  eaglets. Eagles were made to fly.

4-D. Be careful of being more committed to your job/career than you are your calling. God doesn’t give us a career to take us away from our calling, but rather to help us fulfil our calling. We can’t get this in reverse or we can get offended when God begins to deal with us about our calling.

Paul spent a season making tents so he could obey his calling. He did not give up his calling to be become the leading tent maker in the world. He used his career to support his calling and became the leading apostle, and wrote over half of the New Testament.

Your calling is the most important thing in your life, not your career. Don’t get this confused. Your calling is your divine purpose that God created you for. Your career is a means to fulfil your calling. It pays you so you can do your calling.

Don’t sell out to your career when you aren’t willing to sell out to your calling. Let your calling drive your career, not the other way around. God saved you for a holy purpose, and it is about more than making a living, it is leaving a legacy.

5. God’s RELAUNCH for you must become personal. Ask God to give you a desire and vision for personal growth, and growth in your ministry, not just maintenance. Make sure Jesus is the main thing in your life, and not anything or anyone else.

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.”

Talking about God doing a “new thing” in our lives is one thing, embracing it is another.

It is easy to accept on a conceptual level that God wants to do a new thing in our lives, without actually embracing it.

We can say “amen” to the messages and lessons, and still not have owned it for ourselves.

Sometimes we can be willing to accept that our church has embraced something, and even be excited about it, without making it personal.

Example: I can accept on conceptual level that exercise is good for me. I can be in full agreement with this concept. I can be happy for everyone else that is buying in to this concept and changing their lives. But until I get off the couch and begin to walk or workout, I have not embraced it.

Maintenance is safe, it reinforces the status quo, mediocrity, and average. It can even be lazy, because it will only do enough to get by, not push the envelope and take new territory

“God has not called us to be safe, He has called us to be dangerous.” (Francis Chan)

If you keep doing the same things, there can be no change. Your vision and desire are your ceiling and destiny.

Time to practice listening. What is God saying to you about a personal RELAUNCH? Your success at transitioning forward without offense will come as a result of intentional listening and obedience to the voice of the Lord.

George W. Black

GOD IS DOING A NEW THING

god-is-doing-a-new-thing

God is doing a “new thing” in His church today, and in your life.

Is 43:18-19 AMP “Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

There is a divine shift happening as we go from present glory to future glory. While there is always a continuous sense of God’s progressive work, I believe there are also times when God does a quick work, and “suddenly” there is a major change over a brief perid of time. Get ready for another “suddenly.” Old things are passing away and the new thing is being revealed.

One analogy from the OT is during the exodus from Egypt when God’s cloud moved by day, and the pillar of fire by night, to lead the Israelites to the promised land.  The provision and protection were in the cloud and pillar of fire. Anyone that did not move with the cloud lost out on what God was doing. It’s time to break camp, for the cloud is moving again.

Another analogy comes from when Jesus taught that new wine must be put into new wineskins, or both will be lost. Many of us have been trying to put new wine into old wineskins (habits, methods, organizational systems, etc.). This is why nothing that man-made-religion builds can sustain the presence of God. God does not dwell in what men build, only in what He builds. Don’t be afraid of new wineskins. They are the only thing that can contain new wine.

Jesus said “I will build My church.”

I remember when the charismatic renewal had to go outside of the traditional church because man-made religion wouldn’t allow it to change their traditions. Millions of people were swept into the kingdom of God and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, who would never have darkened the door of church. They were hungry for Jesus, not our religion or programs.

I remember when the Jesus People Movement became the most powerful and galvinizing force for teens and twentysomethings that this nation has ever seen. The movement had to go outside of the institutional church as the Chuck Smith’s of that day began baptizing them in the ocean, long hair, flower power, and all. Millions of teens answered the call to follow Jesus, not organized religion. I was one of them.

I believe we are at the door of another Great Awakening in America and around the world. Will the church let it in, or will it have to pass us by?

The message never changes, but our methods and mentalities must change. It’s time to drop the fortress mentality, and let God reshape and remold us for a fresh move of God that will bring spiritual water to those outside of the church. “…a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Many of you have been praying for a fresh move of God that is more than just a series of good services. Get ready. God is about to do it again.

Many of you have been faithful through some hard times. I declare to you by the word of the Lord, God will not pass you by or forget your labor of love. You have been in preparation for such a time as this. Your reward is on its way.

Remain willing and obedient. Challenge every habit and tradition and be willing to change what God says has served its purpose and is time to retire. He is streamlining things for a fresh ingathering.

If we won’t let the old things go that need to go, we are worshipping an idol and not God. I have been guilty. I am being changed by the Spirit of the Lord.

Stay in faith for the exeedingly, abundantly, above all you can ask or think. God has made promises to you, and He will fulfil them. He is doing a new thing, and now it springs forth, in Jesus name.

George W Black

WAIT ON THE LORD

Waiting On The Lord

Don’t give up on God’s promises in your life. God does not count time as we do. Wait patiently, and with faith in His faithfulness, and you will receive them.

Delay is not denial. Timing is everything.

Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.

“…follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. …”I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.”” Heb 6:12-15 NLT

TEAM

TeamChurch

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Eph 4:11-12

TEAM = Teaching Everyone About Ministry

Hey church leaders, when you accept an invitation to lead a ministry in your local church, be willing to meet with and receive training and mentoring from your pastors. It’s their job to help equip you to be successful, and teach you how your ministry fits into the blueprint God has for the whole church. They have yours AND the church’s best interests at heart.

Leading other people under Christ is a great responsibility, and must be accompanied with great humility in order that Christ to be glorified, the flesh mortified, and the devil horrified. Humble yourself so that grace can flow to the low place.

Teaching everyone about how to work together in ministry is the only way for the local church to be a team that wins.

With a TEAM, you can reach your DREAM.

George W Black

 

CHARISMA OR CHARACTER

character_above_charisma

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.” Matt 7:15-20 Message Bible 

In Matthew chapter seven there is an astonishing statement about bad leaders in the Church, made by the Head of the Church (no, not the Pope, Jesus Christ…nothing against the Pope though :). I say astonishing, because given the religious climate of the time, it was definitely not politically correct. I have read “How To Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, and this is not that.

Jesus was the original counter revolutionary, but today religion often tries to tame him, co-opt him, leverage Him for selfish ambition, but rarely surrender to Him. (Saving this rant for another blog 🙂

I felt I was missing something powerful in the familiar words I was reading, until I decided to check the chapter out in the Message translation. As Chef Emeril Lagasse is known for saying, “BAM!” It hit me hard. “Jarring” is another term for it. I was glad it affected me. As long as I can feel the effect of Jesus words, I am not beyond hope, and neither are you. Let me explain.

Jesus hated the sin of falsely-religious people, and was harder on them than  anyone else. Maybe this is why religious people called Him a “friend of sinners.” Sinners are often less hypocritical about their true spiritual condition than religious people. ZINGER. Okay, I know I am already in hot water with somebody. Sorry. (Not!)

Having been raised on the King James Version of the Bible, my understanding can sometimes be limited by the preconceptions that still drape my mind when I read this older version, as wonderful as it once was. My go-to versions are the NKJV,  NLT, AMP, MESSAGE, and NET, in that order, but I use dozens.

Thankfully you don’t have to be a Greek or Hebrew scholar any more to uncover the expanded meanings of any word or verse in the Bible. Online Bible software makes it easy, and many modern versions of the Bible help in this process as well.

When I read verse 15, I was shocked at how absolutely brutal Jesus was on ministers that have lost their first love – um, er, that is putting it nicely. 

Sometimes our nice, polite, word-for-word English translations, don’t really convey the full meaning originally intended. If ministers can backslide as low as Jesus was indicating (diseased trees with bad apples, WOW!) no wonder our churches and members are so far from God. When the blind lead the blind, Jesus said they both fall in a ditch (Matt 15:14) or lose their tails, as in the old nursery rhyme, “Three Blind Mice.”

Dear fellow pastors, ministers, and every Christ-follower: none of us are beyond the deception and danger that Jesus referenced. It has repeatedly occurred throughout history, and is the principle reason so many today discount our God and distrust the “clergy.” (I really hate that term…not sure why.) We must be brutally honest with our own hearts before we can lead people as Christ intends, and I know it starts with numero uno. How about you?

Physical blindness is not often an immediate condition.  There are accidents of course that can cause it, but most lose sight gradually, over time. Cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, all progress with time when left untreated.

So does spiritual blindness, which leads to faking it.

Spiritual blindness results from knowing what God is asking us to do, and ignoring it, repeatedly. The theological term for this is “penal blindness.” Jesus said “to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” (Lk 12:48) In other words, God holds us accountable for the light we receive, and will judge us accordingly.

In God’s love and mercy, He begins withholding light (understanding and revelation) when we begin moving into disobedience. He does this so He does not have to judge us. The result is somewhat akin to Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Our religious traditions (faking it) take the place of true spiritual revelation and direction, but we still think everything is okay. We be lookin fine, right? Wrong!

Been there, done that, and even bought the T-shirt. Who hasn’t? But God had mercy on me, and still does, every day, and He will for you too. But we can’t “fake it till we make it.” We have to fall on the rock and be broken, and then He can use us. Multiplication always follows brokenness, as in the story of the five loaves and two fish.

Religious people are the worst offenders because they (sometimes we) can develop a HABIT of ignoring God’s obvious truth and direction, in favor of our own preferences, practices, traditions, titles, etc. Jesus characterized the religious people of His day as, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt 23:24 NKJV)

This was really funny when Jesus said it. I mean, seriously, can you imagine an “in your face” conversation where the Lord is saying this to falsely religious people? Talk about Laugh Out Loud. This is hilarious stuff…hit em again Jesus…unless He is saying it to you.

Jesus was using hyperbole, meant to highlight their hypocrisy. Aren’t we sometimes just as guilty? Yup.

“Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” Matt 15:6 NKJV

We undo the effect of God’s Word every time we excuse ourselves from being doers of the Word, and become hearers only.

But how did they become so blind?

They became blind a little at a time.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Ouch. I know. Truth is a two-edged sword…or maybe today we can call it a surgeons scalpel, the kind used to take out the cancer that will eventually kill us.

If you can still say “cut me Jesus”, your gonna make it.

The only way to prevent penal blindness is to repent quickly when we become aware of our sin. When we don’t, our hearts become desensitized to sin. When we don’t deal with our sins, even religious sins of pride, etc., they will deal with us. Religious sin, and all sin, is like seeds that will one day produce a harvest. You can fake it for a while, but harvest-time is coming.

No thanks. God has better plans for my life, and yours.

“You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” Heb 3:13 NLT

Maybe this is one reason that the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews places repentance from dead works at the #1 spot on the top-six-list of the doctrines/core teachings of Christ. (Heb 6:1)

Repentance is a word that most today do not fully understand. It is not just feeling sorry for our sins and disobedience. Real repentance is a decision that always bears fruit. (Matt 3:8) This fruit is having a change of mind that agrees with God, agrees that He is completely right and we are completely wrong, and then takes action to change course and go God’s way.

For instance, if am leaving Memphis TN and trying to go to Little Rock Arkansas (which is West), I may “feel” that going East is more appropriate. I may prefer going East. My habit may be to go East. But going East from Memphis is taking me to Nashville, not Little Rock. The best thing I can do is consult the road map (or GPS – Global Positioning System ) to determine the right course to follow.

The Bible is God’s road map for our life on earth. It is God’s Positioning System.

If you consult a map and find you are headed in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how sorry you may feel. It doesn’t matter if you cry about it, and tell others how sad you are that you are going the wrong way. It doesn’t matter if you tell people it’s just your nature to drive East, because that’s what you have always done (habit).

If you are headed the wrong way, there is only one solution – EXIT & TURN AROUND! You must change your mind  to agree with the map about the direction you are going, and then be willing to course correct.

If you don’t get off the interstate when you are headed in the wrong direction, there is no repentance. Repentance is not a feeling or an emotion, it is a decision that is demonstrated by changing direction. There have been many times I was headed in the wrong direction. I was sincere, but I was sincerely wrong. I had to repent.

Maintaining the wrong course never gets you to the right destination.

Many church members, pastors, ministers, churches, Christian organizations, etc. are headed in the wrong direction today. They are building on the foundations of men rather than Christ. But there is a solution to the problem – TAKE THE NEXT EXIT & CHANGE DIRECTION.

God is gracious and full of mercy, but we have to admit-it to quit-it. Only then does the fruit of repentance bring us back into alignment with the perfect will of our Father, and glorify Him.

My prayer is that Jesus will help us never bring dishonor to His name through the sin of religiosity, or any other sin. I pray that He will help us find the place of repentance when we begin to fall away in our hearts, and that instead of faking it, we will deal with our sin before it deals with us.

We need another great awakening, for His honor and glory and Kingdom expansion alone. I believe it is coming, but it will be the fruit of true spiritual vision, and real repentance from dead works.

“Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.”

George W Black

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