Live a Life of Freedom

Freedom was God’s original intent for mankind.

LIVE-A-LIFE-OF-FREEDOM-CREATED-TO-LIVE-IN-FREEDOMWe were created to live in freedom, experiencing His love and exercising our authority over the earth. God didn’t fashion us to live under the power of sin and condemnation. However, Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden put all of mankind under that power.

God sent Jesus to save us from the authority of sin and an eternity separated from our Father.

“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7 (NASB)

Once we are united with Christ we are free from sin and now are carriers of Jesus’ power and dominion.

We can’t lose our salvation or our power, but we can choose to live as slaves of sin. All power, wisdom and love reside in our spirits but can go untouched through our decision to live as slaves.

How do we avoid living as slaves after we’ve been born again? -LIVE-A-LIFE-OF-FREEDOM-WORD-OF-GOD-QUOTE

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NASB)

One of the reasons people choose to live as slaves is they don’t know what to do with their freedom. The Word of God will teach us how to live a free life.

Our lives before salvation are conformed to the world we live in and we bring those mindsets to our new life.  It’s our spirits that are saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), but our minds are still conformed to the world. The Word of God will reform our minds to think like Jesus, so we can live like Him.

Ministry at Angelus Temple, Church of the Dream Center

Angelus Temple Logo

“Thinking Right”

Message at Angelus Temple, church home of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, February 9

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Angelus Temple and with Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett.  What an incredible church led by amazing Pastors.  The ministry they do in the city of Los Angeles is phenomenal.  I am grateful for my friendship with them and am especially humbled by being asked to speak to their congregation.

While the Live Stream did not work due to technical difficulties, they did record the service.  Here is the message, “Thinking Right”.  Enjoy!

Let me know what you think of the message on either Facebook or Twitter. You can also share your thoughts in the comments below.

Angelus Temple Logo In November 2001, Matthew Barnett took over the leadership of Angelus Temple. Angelus Temple was opened in 1923 by Aimee Semple McPherson, and Matthew continues the legacy of reaching the lost, hurting, and oppressed. The church now reaches thousands weekly and, together, with The Dream Center, is showing how churches and outreach centers can work together to make a huge impact for God’s kingdom.barnett_family1

For more information about Angelus Temple and the Ministry of Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett click here.

Dream Center logoRescuing people out of poverty, homelessness, addictions, and human trafficking, The Dream Center seeks to provide hope in addition to providing empowerment to the homeless, at-risk, and underserved communities in the inner cities of Los Angeles.  They do this by providing social services, intervention programs, and most of all, the love of Christ.

 

For more information about the Dream Center click here.

Tommy Barnett PhotoTommy Barnett is an author, the senior pastor of Dream City Church (formerly Phoenix First Assembly of God), and chancellor of Southeastern University. Dream City Church has branded itself as “the church with a heart”, and has over 275 active outreach ministries.  Tommy Barnett and his son Matthew co-pastor the Los Angeles Dream Center, a Pentecostal Christian Church mission in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

For more information about Tommy Barnett click here

I had the distinct pleasure of sharing a message called “The Real You” at Angelus Temple, church home of the Dream Center, on June 2, 2016. To watch that message click here.

New Beginnings: Self-Control

We all love new beginnings, self-control, however is not always our favorite aspect of life.

Starting something new always excites and energizes us. The only thing more exciting than starting something new with a specific goal in mind is actually reaching that goal. One thing we will absolutely need to reach our finish line is self-control.

“You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All who compete in the games use strict training (self-control). They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever,” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ERV).

Some people think that self-control is difficult to obtain.New-Beginnings-Self-Control-Photo-of-person-reading-Bible-with-Quote

However, if you’re a child of God you already have it. God gave it to you when He saved you. He deposited it in your born-again spirit. It’s just a matter of accessing it. It’s not that it’s locked away in our spirit and we need to learn a secret code in order to get to self-control. We are so accustomed to living without it that it’s not our normal way of living. So, we must learn to make it part of our everyday lives.

How?  The first step is renewing our minds to God’s Word. We live in a world whose way of doing things is completely opposite to God’s. We have to so immerse ourselves in God’s Word that we drown out all the voices and influences of the world.

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you,” (Romans 12:2 The Message).

New-Beginnings-Self-Control-Photo-of-butterfly-with-quoteIf self-control is already in our spirit, then one of the best ways to make it part of our lives is praying in the Spirit.

This will strengthen and build us up on our most holy faith (Jude 1:20). As we pray in the Spirit more and more we’ll find that the fruit of the Spirit will manifest in our lives.

Imagine what life will look like when self-control is our first nature. Instead of bursting out in anger at our spouses, children or coworkers we’ll have the power to hold our tongue and wait until we’ve calmed down to speak. We’ll be able to stick to a diet because junk food won’t have the hold on us that it once did. We’ll be able to save more money because self-control will help us rein in our impulse spending.

These are just a few examples of how self-control can change our lives. It’s a simple thing, but it is powerful. I encourage you to start spending more time in God’s Word, pray in the Spirit, and ask God to cause His self-control to become your first nature.

Perfect Love Causes Fear To Lose Power

We know that the perfect love of God causes fear to lose all its power.

When we know that we are loved and cared for by the Creator of the Universe it puts our lives and our problems in the right perspective. However, fear will try to skew our vision. Fear knows that if it can draw our eyes away from the love of Jesus, it has greatly increased its chances of destroying us.

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered,’” (Romans 8:35-36)

The things listed in these verses are all tools.  Fear uses these tools to convince us that we are separated from the perfect love of God and His provision. It uses these things as distractions from the truth. Fear tries to build them up in our minds, so we’ll view them as greater than what we have in Christ. We will see our trial as our final destination and accept it as our lot in life.

Perfect Love - Photo of man readingGod’s Word teaches us to do exactly the opposite.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:2-4).

While fear wants to use tests and trials to shipwreck our lives, God will use them to strengthen us. We need to know that God does not send the trials, but He is more than capable of using them for His glory and our good.

So, it wouldn’t make sense to think that our faith would be strengthened and God would be glorified by a trial that destroys us. He would not tell us to consider it all joy when we endure trials if He did not already have a way out for us.

The only way we grow and succeed in trials is when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Perfect Love - Photo of the Cross by Aaron Burden. unsplash.com/photos/df47UDrfi8IThe only way we fail is when we take our eyes off of Him. If we allow fear to convince us that our trials is evidence of God’s absence, then they will defeat us.

God reassures us in His word that it is impossible to for these things to separate us from Him.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:37-39).

Instead of thinking that our hardships separate us from Christ, we should have faith that victory is ours.  Whatever we go through, trials or distresses, isn’t greater than our heavenly Father or His perfect love for us. So, let’s keep our eyes on Him.  Let’s keep ourselves in the love of Christ and we will always have victory.

Fear Begins As A Seed

Everything in life is a seed.

Seed of Fear - A photo by paul morris. unsplash.com/photos/c9OfrVeD_tQWhile some seeds are larger than others, it is rare that a seed takes root, grows and bears fruit in a short amount of time.  This is how fear can control us: it gets planted as a seed early in our lives; we allow it to grow up into a mindset and now it influences the way we live our lives. The Bible calls these mindsets “Strongholds”.

 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

A stronghold is a thought or way of thinking that can control our behaviors, emotions and ultimately our lives if we allow it to grow to that point.

How do we know if we’ve let fear become a stronghold?seed-of-fear-photo-of-chains

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,” (Romans 8:15a NKJV).

Fear always brings bondage. It ties us up and holds us back from what God intends for our lives. Our Heavenly Father wants us to live an abundant life of joy, prosperity and freedom. We can know what areas of our lives are controlled by fear by having an understanding of the lack of these three characteristics.

Fear will stop us from having joy in our relationships.

This happens because fear will begin to influence us to be suspicious of our spouses, friends and coworkers. Instead of enjoying the people we live and work with, we will be closed off.  We then become cautious for the purpose of protecting ourselves. What we’re really doing is allowing fear to steal the joy from our lives.

It can hold us back on the job by making us feel like we are inadequate to perform our work. This can eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy and we’ll miss out on promotions and bonuses because fear birthed a mindset of unworthiness in us.

How can we overcome this?

“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”               (2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV).

seed-of-fear-photo-of-man-arms-up-on-rock-in-front-of-waterfallWe have to stand up to the fear in our own mind. We have to know who we are and what we have in Christ. When we know these things, we will recognize when our thoughts and emotions are not in line with the Word of God. When our minds have been shaped by fear, we need to use the Word of God to reshape them.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2a)

Only the Word of God will give us the wisdom and power we need to tear down the stronghold of fear and live the abundant life Jesus bought for us.

Like I said earlier, everything in life is a seed. The fear in your life started as a seed a long time ago and grew into what it is today. The Word of God can and will do the same thing. It will start small, but eventually it will grow into an unstoppable force. It will dominate your believing, your thinking and your speaking. However, it must be planted first. I encourage you to plant the Word of God in your mind and your heart every day, and allow it to transform you.

Giving Life To Your Seed

Nobody would plant a seed without expecting something to grow.

Seed 7-26-26 001However, it would be foolish to think that the seed would produce anything without water and sunlight. The seed will die in the ground without these things.

The same way we expect to get something from the physical seeds we plant, we expect a harvest from our spiritual and relational seeds. What do we do when the harvest takes longer than we expect?

Do we give up?

No, we continue to give the seed what it needs. This takes faith, though, because you can’t see what the seed is doing underground.

This is one of the main we reasons we don’t receive our harvest; we give up. We can’t see what the seed is doing, so we think it’s not doing its job. We allow unbelief to sneak into our mind and eventually it starts coming out of our mouth.

Our words have the power to bring life to our seeds.

They also have the power cast a shadow of death over them. The decision is ours.

If we become impatient and discouraged we’ll speak words of doubt, and words of doubt are equivalent to death when it comes to our seeds.

“Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires,” (James 3:3-4).

Our tongue is the bit in the horses’ mouth and the rudder on the ship in these verses. It’s just a small part of our body, but it has great power, and we choose how to use that power. Essentially, we have the power to build our future based on the words we speak.

If we start speaking death over our seeds, then, we have made the choice to kill our own harvest.

If we speak life over them, we’ve made the choice to receive what God promised.

Don’t allow time or the doubt of other people to wear your faith down until you just give up.

Sometimes other people will want to tell you how they were in a similar situation and it didn’t work out for them, so it probably won’t work out for you either. Don’t allow their words of doubt to become your words of doubt.

Seed 7-26-26 002 Photo

Line your words up with the Word of God.

Remember, your speaking becomes God’s speaking when you’re speaking what God has spoken.

Whenever you are speaking the Word of God, you are speaking words of life. Those words will bring about our harvest. We will receive the promises of God when we are constantly speaking His Word.

Don’t give up. Don’t give doubt or fear a place. Speak the Word of God and receive what He has for you.

Strengthen Your Faith

If we’re going to stay faithful and not lose heart in following God’s plan for our lives, we’re going to need to strengthen our faith daily.

How do we strengthen our faith?

Religion wants to make you think that being a strong Christian is a complicated process with unsure results.

It isn’t.

The Word of God makes it simple.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” (Romans 10:17).

This verse isn’t telling us to hear the Word once and move on. It means that we need to continually hear the Word of God. If we’re going to stand firm in our faith and be strong (1 Corinthians 16:13) we need to hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word every day.

Whether we are paying attention or not, we are continually hearing something.

Strengthen Your Faith - Weight Sets Photo

It’s songs on the radio, words on the television.  It’s words from our friends and family and the list goes on and on.

The way continually hearing the Word of God will strengthen our faith, continually hearing the things of the world will sap our strength. We’ll slowly become more accustomed to the words of fear and doubt that the world is constantly speaking and we’ll believe them before we believe the Word of God.

None of us would consciously choose to weaken our faith. But that is what we’re doing when we are continually listening to everything on the news and social media. We’re wiring ourselves to believe what the world believes and to respond how they respond.

This is not God’s desire for us.

God wants to us to have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

We won’t experience the God-kind of life if we’re listening to the world more than God’s Word.

When we make the decision that we’re going to follow God’s plan for our lives, we’re going to face tests, trials and temptations. If the world is our source, then we are more likely to falter in the face of hard times.

However, when we are daily strengthening our faith by hearing the Word of God, we’ll be able to stand strong in our calling, even when times get hard. Our faith gives us the ability to believe that what God has promised, He is able to do (Romans 4:21). Instead of giving in to tests, trials and temptations, we will hold fast to God and His promises.

So, make it a point this week to turn off secular media and listen to sound, biblical teaching. It will strengthen your faith and prepare you for anything life tries to throw at you.

Trust in God’s Timing

perfect timing 2Walking in God’s plan for our lives means that we have to trust in His timing. The key word here is “trust”.

Paul wrote it best in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

The word “walk” in this verse doesn’t mean our physical walk. Paul is not telling us to walk around with physical eyes closed and have faith that we won’t stumble into oncoming traffic. No, our “walk” is our daily manner of living. It is the way we go about our lives. Paul is instructing us to make faith the norm in our lives.

So, to walk by faith and not by sight means that we no longer focus on the things of the world. Our focus is now set on Jesus.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,” (Hebrews 12:2).

The people of this world are focused on themselves and their circumstances. They are walking by sight. They don’t know about and don’t have access to the power of God, because they aren’t children of God. The only ability they have is the ability within themselves. So, when they are trying to solve a problem or figure out the next step in their lives, all they have is their own strength and wisdom.

That is why the world goes around stressed out and confused, because there is no true strength or wisdom outside of our Heavenly Father.

However, we are no longer like the people of this world. We, as Christians, have the amazing ability to trust God for everything in our lives.

When it seems like God is taking a long time to come through for us, we don’t need to be like the world. We don’t need to turn to our own power and wisdom in order to try and make something happen for ourselves.

We don’t have to wonder or worry about what God has planned for us or when it’s going to happen. We simply trust that God loves us and that His plans are always good. This is what it means to rest in the finished work of Christ.

If God has spoken to us about the plan for our lives, if He has promised us something, we don’t need to be concerned about when or how it will happen. We just need to have faith like we read about in Romans 4:21, “And being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Fulfilling God’s Calling

FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Originals-quoteWe’ve made it clear in the past few weeks that God has a calling for all of His children.

He made all of us originals in order to fulfill a unique calling.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Some people spend their whole lives searching for this calling. They wander through life confused or frustrated, or a combination of both, because they have yet to find their place.

We should not fall into the trap of thinking that our calling is simply our career.

In fact, what God has called us to do may not be our primary source of income. It could absolutely turn into a career, but we shouldn’t think that it could only be that.

Stay at home mothers know that raising children certainly costs more money than it earns. However, it is a high calling to raise a child that loves their heavenly Father.

One of the main things we should know in finding our calling is that it will evolve and grow over time. We’re probably not going to see it all at once.

-FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Waiting-quoteIf we sit around waiting for the one big moment where God shows us everything we’re supposed to do from now until the day we die, we could be waiting for quite some time. In order to find out what our calling, is we have to trust God. Saying that we’re waiting on an answer from Him can turn into an excuse over time.

This mindset of waiting for one big revelation from God about what we’re supposed to do will hold us back more than it will move us forward.

Rather than waiting for a detailed road map of how our calling is going to play out, we should simply take the first step of faith. We should submit our resume for the job that seems beyond our ability; apply for college; we should serve in the ministry at church that challenges us.

FULFILLING-GODS-CALLING-Step-Out-quoteHave faith in the fact that God has prepared good works for us to walk in. We don’t need to stress ourselves by not knowing what’s going to happen in five years.  Focus on what’s right in front of us. As we step out in faith, God will reveal more and more of what He has for us.

Don’t let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from starting. Don’t let not knowing where the finish line is hold you back from starting. You can be sure that if you let fear stop you at the beginning, then you’ll never see the finish.

God’s plan for you is good.

So, even if you make a mistake, the grace and wisdom of God are always available to you.  If you’re unsure of what your calling is, then ask for God’s wisdom and start taking steps of faith. He’s promised to never leave you and He’s given you His Word as a light to your path. You have an amazing destiny to fulfill and it all begins with that first step.

Expected Hope-God’s Plan

God has a plan to give you a future and a hope.

God has a plan for all of us. It is a plan with a hope, a future and an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)

We need to have faith in His plan for us. We need to know that when we follow it, it will cause us to experience all that He has created for us and bring about the best possible outcome.

However, we can get too focused on the outcome of God’s plan for us.  This will cause us to miss the importance of the process. We sometimes think we need to get to the end as quickly as possible while bypassing everything else on the way.

Desiring an instant result will make us impatient and impatience causes us to abandon the plan early.

Think of the process an apple tree goes through in order to become a mature, fruit-bearing tree. It starts off as a seed, grows into a sapling, and only after years of the roots growing deep and the branches growing strong, does it bear healthy fruit.

Like an apple tree, it is in the process that we become strong. Following God’s plan day-by-day makes us more like Christ. We have to commit to this process otherwise, we may never see the fulfillment of God’s plan for our lives.

Impatience makes us grow weary, though. We think to ourselves, “If it was going to happen, it certainly would have happened by now”.  This kind of thinking is born out of fear.  We’re afraid that God’s plan just won’t happen. We fear that He’s not working in our lives, or that He has forgotten about us. This fear makes us impatient.

If an apple tree tried to bear fruit in the first year of growth, the weight of the apples would break the small trunk of the immature tree. It has to be fully grown in order to handle the weight of the fruit it’s destined to bear.

We must also be mature in order to step into the fullness of God’s plan.

“Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in.”  Galatians 6:9

When we put our trust in God’s word and learn to keep our eyes on the path that He has laid out before us, we can stand strong against discouragement and fatigue.

Psalm 1 describes the kind of person who has faith in the Word of God: “But they delight in the law of the LordGuard Your Heart - Seek God's Plan of Hope for Your Future, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do,” (Psalm 1:2-3).

When we believe in the truth and power of God’s Word, we are like trees planted by riverbanks. We have a constant source. This is what makes us strong and prepares us to fulfill God’s plan for us.