Archive for December 2013

Going to the Next Level, Part 3 This Place

Romans 5:1 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love" ~ Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Your perception of “Your place” or “position” greatly affects your understanding of how God is working in your life. It also affects how you handle situations in your world.

Grace is that place: “Grace in which we stand.” The word he uses for introduction is prosagoge. It is a word with two great pictures in it.

1. It is the regular word for introducing or ushering someone into the presence of royalty; and it is the regular word for the approach of the worshipper to God. It is as if Paul was saying, "Jesus ushers us into the very presence of God. He opens the door for us to the presence of the King of Kings

2. It is the word for the place where ships come in, a harbor from a storm or long journey.

All this sounds good, but how does it help you deal with your difficult circumstances? Remember that when Paul wrote this, it was difficult to be a Christian in Rome. Paul himself faced very difficult circumstances.

The process of standing in your place and grace:

FROM: Tribulations/Troubles: The Greek word doe trouble thlipis means “Pressure.” There are situations that press upon you.

TO: Perseverance/Endurance/Fortitude: The Greek word for endurance is hupomone means more than endurance as in “hanging in there.” Hupomone means the spirit which can overcome the world; it means the spirit which does not passively endure but which actively overcomes the trials and tribulations of life.

In the 17th Century, Beethoven was threatened with deafness at the age of 26. Losing one’s hearing is tragic for a musician. Beethoven showed hupomone or fortitude by continued to compose and write great symphonies. He used devices such as an ear horn. He even placed in head on the piano to faintly hear and feel the notes.

TO: Character: The Greek word for character is dokime. Dokime is a picture of metal which has been passed through the fire so that everything impure has been purged out. In your place of grace when trouble meets with fortitude, you emerges from the battle victorious, stronger, and purer, and better, and nearer God.

TO: Hope Two people can deal with the same situation. The difficulty can drive one of them to despair. For the person who dwells in the place of grace, the difficulty only drives him to triumphant action.

"I do not like crises," said Lord Reith, "but I do like the opportunities they provide."

Here is a strange statement: When you change, your circumstances will begin to change. Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

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Out of the Comfort Zone, Into the Blessing Zone

1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

I want to encourage us today. We are into something that is actually rare among churches today. We are doing something around Christian-time that is very odd.

That rare something is actually ministering to people outside the walls of our church building. That odd thing about Christmas is that we are making Christmas about Jesus.

Remember the term "Comfort Zone?" We used to talk about staying out of Comfort Zones, because it was a place of operating below God's best and outside our highest purpose. The best way I know to get out of a Comfort Zone, and into the middle of God's will, is to pray then go serve and help people through love.

In the Bible, we see Jesus operating outside of Comfort Zones, praying and ministering to people in all kinds of places. As a matter of fact, if Jesus had stayed in His Comfort Zone, we could never have been saved! If someone did not leave their Comfort Zone to talk to me about Christ, I would not be saved and serving God in ministry for 30+ years!

Don’t underestimate the impact of popular culture and religious mindsets. Even Jesus dealt with it.

Mark 7:1, Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

The Pharisees were the standard bearers of the religious culture of their day. The started out defending the Word of God, but in time began to substitute their traditions for the Word of God.

Today, we’ve substituted church service for serving God. Listen, this is NOT service. This is a church meeting. This is our time to gather for worship, celebration, community, learning, fellowship, and blessing. What we call the “church service,” but this is not where we fully serve God.

However, today in church culture, the church service is where nearly everything happens, especially on Sunday morning. We’ve trained people to totally focus all their preparation, efforts, training, rehearsals, prayers, and serving on the Sunday church service, because that is the pinnacle of our service to God. The problem is, this is not something we find in the Bible. It is not something we see in the ministry of Jesus Christ, or in Books of Acts, or something taught in the epistles.

We think that every problem can be solved by an anointed sermon and laying of church.

While in Africa, I spoke with the pastor who operates the orphanage that we visited. This brother runs an excellent ministry for children who have been abandoned by or have lost their parents. We met a brother and sister they had recently taken in, who saw the father kill their mother and then kill himself. I asked about how he organizes if orphanage and gets sponsorship for children. He works with people around the world, including the USA. I asked how many sponsors are African American. He said, “none.” There has never been a black person or church to sponsor one of his children.

I thought to myself, “I understand that.” In our culture, we don’t do outreach. We don’t do missions. We don’t sponsor orphans. The only we do, by in large, is have church. We too busy trying to add blessing to our blessing.

We can easily think of many examples of how moving out of a Comfort Zone positively impacted our lives, or the lives of others.

2 Corinthians 4:5 (NLT) You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Serving advances God’s Kingdom

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