FAITH AND FOCUS: The Potential of Faith

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-THE-PURPOSE-OF-FAITH-HEBREWS-QuoteBy faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

Our heavenly Father is a faith God.

What He sees does not affect Him.  Instead, God speaks into being what He desires.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said…” Genesis 1:1-3 (NKJV)

As soon as God started speaking the darkness dissipated and the world, and everything in it, came into being. He had no doubt that He would see what He spoke. We should notice that there’s no verse in the creation story that speaks of how surprised God was when His words actually worked. This is the kind of faith God has given us. FAITH-AND-FOCUS-THE-PURPOSE-OF-FAITH-Our-Faith-Potential-Quote

“…as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith,” Romans 12:3b (NKJV)

The faith we’ve been given isn’t  lesser, weaker or even faith of a different kind.  Our Father wants us to operate in the same power and assurance as He does. He never desires to see us strain and struggle in confusion just wishing our it would work.

However, it can seem this way when we don’t have a good understanding of what faith is, how to use it and how we can strengthen our faith.  It’s not God, or other people, or circumstances that frustrate us; we haven’t learned that our faith has the same potential as God’s faith.

When this revelation roots itself in our hearts, it will bear the fruit of victory.

Order or Chaos: Prioritize Family

Sitting beside someone’s death bed is always an honest moment. ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Prioritize-Family-Refelction-of-Jesus-Quote

They are taking stock of their life: the moments of joy, the conversations and days they wish they could have back, and everything in between. They will rarely tell you of how they wished they could go back and work longer hours or watch more of their favorite TV shows. No, they all wish for more time with their family and close friends.

Keeping Jesus at the forefront of our lives is essential for success in every other area. Our family should come right after Him. Our relationship with our family should be a reflection of our relationship with Him.

Whenever we allow something or someone else to come before our family we invite chaos into our lives and our homes.

The way this usually happens is one or both of the parents make their job a greater priority than their marriage and children. Without having to speak a word we are telling our family that they are less important.

The problem with this isn’t that we spend less time at home or miss our children’s events; it’s that we are showing our family that we value work over relationships. So, while we are verbally teaching them to live by grace instead of law, we are modeling the opposite. We’ll also show them that it’s alright to speak one way and live another.

ORDER-OR-CHAOS-Prioritize-Family-priorities-in-line-QuotePlease don’t read these words as judgment or condemnation. It is important for us to know that if we’ve placed work or anything else in front of our family that the fix isn’t difficult. We simply have to change our minds about what’s important. It just takes rearranging our priorities to line up with God’s Word. We should not take that meeting and go to our son’s soccer game instead. We should pass on that side job and take our wife on a date. Everyday we should question whether we value as our priority our jobs or our relationships and consciously choose our relationships.

As we make this part of our daily routine, we’ll see our family life flourish.

We’ll also notice that we have more favor and creativity at our jobs.  This happens because when our lives are in line with God’s order it allows His wisdom and power to move freely in our lives.  However, all of this begins by consciously choosing to keep ourselves under the authority of Jesus and prioritizing our family.  

Order or Chaos: Rescued From Darkness

Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden plunged all of creation into chaos and darkness. 

All of the systems were disrupted and mankind lost his authority over the earth. This darkness is easy to point out in certain places: the media, poverty and hunger, disease and war. However, all of these things are outward. The real darkness is the one inside.

The biggest separation is the one between man and God. The darkness we see in the world is merely a reflection of the darkness in the souls of mankind.  This was not God’s original design for us.  So, He made a way for us to get back and go beyond what He originally intended.

Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and people’s hearts.

We are born with disorder in our souls and have no way to get out of it on our own. We try to cover it or cope with it, and some people just embrace it. What we’ll find is that Jesus is the only real cure for the disconnection in our hearts. Sin broke the connection between God and man, so He sent Jesus to bring restoration.

“In other words, God was using Christ to restore His relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them,” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (GW)

God’s desire for us is to live a blessed and orderly life, and He knows that we won’t get there by ourselves.

The first step we take is asking Jesus to save us from the darkness we are born into. Before we can begin to live as God intends for us to live, we have to get out of the fallen world’s system and get into God’s kingdom.

“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves. His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven,” Colossians 1:13-14

This is the biggest step we can take to get out of chaos and darkness. We must invite the God of order to change our lives from the inside out, by asking His Son, Jesus, to come live inside us.  

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.

Abundant Life: An Abundance of Grace

Have you ever wondered if you have enough of God’s grace in your life?

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us,” Ephesians 1:7-8a (NASB)

The word “lavished” in this verse means “in abundance, to exist at hand in abundance, to make abundant or excellent”. God has given us the riches of His grace in abundance. It wasn’t just a limited amount; He gave us more than we could ever imagine.

Stop and think about that for a moment: God gave us more grace than we could ever imagine.

It’s by His grace that we are saved, blessed and favored. So, we aren’t just slightly saved or favored. God has lavished salvation and favor on us, His children.

This means we have the ability to be everything God wants us to be. We have everything we need to accomplish what God has planned for us.

If we desire to be a better husband, grace is available. It is available to us when we want a promotion. If we want to increase or improve in any area of our lives, grace is available. It’s in us in a super-abundant amount to make us excellent.

This should lead us to ask the questions: How much do I want?  How excellent do I want to be? How great do I want my life to be?

If God has made all of His grace available to us, then the answers to these questions are entirely up to us.

God will meet us exactly where we are and take us as high as we want to go. He’s not going to kick down the door and force us to live by grace. He has given us the resources we need to excel and grow in every way and He’s waiting for us to use them.

His grace invites us to new levels of life we could never experience on our own. We just have to say “yes”.

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.

Adopted by God

adopted-by-god-photo-of-baby-shoe-and-handsIf God is our Father, then that makes us His sons and daughters.

However, we weren’t naturally born into His family. He adopted us. Our being adopted was made possible by the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We are now able to find complete satisfaction and fulfillment in our Heavenly Father.

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).

However, because we were adopted and not naturally born into our heavenly family, we begin with little to no knowledge of how to be a son or daughter of God.

We don’t know how to truly have a relationship with God, or even how to pray. We don’t understand what it means to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

However, we shouldn’t feel condemned for our ignorance. God does not see us as His hopeless little children who will never understand. No, our Father sees our potential in Christ and gives us everything we need to be “more than conquerors,” (Romans 8:37).

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence,” (2 Peter 1:3-4).

adopted-by-god-photo-of-man-reading-bookIf everything pertaining to life and godliness has already been given to us, how do we begin to live as sons and daughters of God?

We need an example, a teacher, a guide. God provided this perfect example through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is not only our Savior. His life on earth served as the perfect example of how to be a Son of God.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren,” (Romans 8:29).

Jesus prayed perfect prayers. He perfectly understood His standing with His Father. Jesus perfectly operated in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus perfectly demonstrated the love of God to the world. His life is our guide to being strong, loving, confident children of God.

We do not have to live in confusion or dismay wondering how to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father. adopted-by-god-photo-of-person-learning-from-bible

We simply need to look to the words and actions of Jesus Christ in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If we have difficulty understanding God’s Word, then being in a church and following a pastor will help immensely. There are men and women all over the world who have walked the path before us who are more than willing to show us the way. Paul instructed his churches to do the same:

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ,” (I Corinthians 11:1).

Whether you’re a brand new Christian, or you’ve been one for years , you can learn to be a son or daughter of God through following Christ. You’ll find purpose, relationships and satisfaction in Him.

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.

Escape Fear and Insecurity

fear-and-insecurity-silhouette-of-manFear of other people most often reveals itself through insecurity.

Most of us know, or have known, at least one person who intimidates us. It could be someone we went to school with, a coworker, a boss, a sibling, or one of our parents. The idea of them can awaken fear in our hearts and minds. If it’s someone from our past, even the thought of them can bring back old emotions.

Being afraid of a person doesn’t always mean that we are in fear for our personal safety, although that is a possibility.

Insecurity causes us to intentionally make ourselves “smaller” around people who intimidate us. We don’t want to get in their way or offend them.  This is because we’re afraid of how they’ll react if we “step out of line” in their eyes. However, if we’re afraid to step out of line around them, doesn’t that mean we are allowing other people to set the boundaries for our lives? So, what we’re actually afraid of is their rejection.

fear-and-insecurity-photo-of-group-of-people-blurredThis fear of rejection is what causes our insecurity. We are so concerned with earning the approval of people that even the idea of someone not liking us, or even just something about us, can set our thoughts and emotions on a downward spiral. So, we mold ourselves to meet another person’s standards.

This puts us into an exhausting cycle of earning, losing and striving to regain man’s approval. We are putting ourselves under the control of other people, our own fear, and ultimately the devil, because fear originated with him.

no-fear-in-love-quoteHow do we escape this fear and insecurity?

By knowing that we are loved by our heavenly Father.

It may sound too simple, but God doesn’t make things complicated for His children.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,” (1 John 4:18a).

When we know we are loved by the Creator of the universe, approval of man begins to lose its appeal.

If you are trapped in a cycle of insecurity I encourage you to start saying “I am loved by God,” every time you feel that fear is trying to overtake you. Allow the love of God to drive out fear, so you can live in the peace and confidence that His love brings.

Where Does Anger Come From?

Where does anger come from?

Anger - Photo of Man's Fist on DeskThere is anger that comes from pride. There is righteous anger at injustices and evil, and there is anger that comes from fear.

Many times anger grows out of a fear that we are the victims of injustices.We think that people are always plotting against us, talking about us behind our back or trying to give us less than we think we deserve.

This fear stops us from being able to see the good in anything, because we’re too busy trying to find out how we’re being shortchanged.

Consider this scenario: Let’s say you’ve been waiting on a promotion at work and it finally happens. This should be cause for celebration, but when you allow this anger to control you you’ll obsess over how you should’ve been promoted months ago rather than how you are being blessed with a promotion.

The problem with this kind of anger is that we devalue the blessing of God in our lives.

A few weeks ago we talked about how Eve was deceived into believing that the way God made her wasn’t good enough. What this fear-driven anger will do is look at what God has given us and say “It’s not good enough,” or “It should’ve happened earlier,” or “It’s not the way I wanted it to go.”

It saps the possible joy out of every good situation. Our lack of joy is always everyone else’s fault because we are convinced that the entire world is against us.

One name for this kind of fear could be a victim’s mentality.

It gives us an unwillingness to take responsibility for our own lives. It makes us like wild animals backed into a corner. The irony is that we put ourselves in the corner. So, we lash out at anyone who comes close to us.

It will ultimately make us unapproachable and lonely. All the while we will be fully assured of our lack of culpability in our own negative situation.  

The cure for this is the very thing that anger robs us of: Joy.

Anger - Photo of Man watching sun burst through cloudsInstead of looking for the negative in every positive, joy will shine a light on even the smallest good thing. It will look at the darkest of situations and magnify the possibility for God’s power and love to work.

If we read that last sentence and think, “That sounds nice, but I don’t have any joy,” we’re wrong.

The Bible shows us that joy is already ours.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law,” (Galatians 5:22-23).

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior He gives us the joy of the Lord. Our part is just to let it flow out of us. We have to make a conscious decision to stop seeing what’s wrong with everything and everyone and allow joy to be the lens through which we view our lives.

I encourage you to pray and ask your Heavenly Father to help you with this. It will definitely  change your life.