Failures = Opportunities

Stop wasting time beating yourself up over past failures.FAILURES-OPPORTUNITIES-shortcomings-quote-photofromcolekeister

We don’t need to waste time looking at the weight we didn’t lose, the money we didn’t save, the books we didn’t read, etc.  We have nothing to gain by only focusing on our shortcomings and failures. Looking back is the best way to miss the new thing God is doing in front of us.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert,” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NASB).

He promises to make rivers in the deserts of our lives. He doesn’t say that He’s going to bring rain because rain is only temporary provision. A river is a consistent supply. He will bring new life to whatever was dead.

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers,” (Psalm 1:3 NASB).

FAILURES-OPPORTUNITIES-miss-new-quote-photofromunsplashsonniehiles.Our past failures aren’t just failures.

 

We should look at them as opportunities for God to bring provision and life to those situations. Just because it didn’t work out in the past doesn’t mean we should simply give up. God wants us to improve, receive promotion and enjoy this life. We all face frustration and confusion along the way. Those are the times we choose not to look back to our former ways and trust that God is making a way in our wilderness. He will show us how to navigate change and push through when things get tough.

I encourage you to look forward to the new thing God wants to do in your life.

Allow Him to bring new life to what you feel is lost or dead. You’ll see Him do amazing things not only in your life, but in the lives of those close to you. As He works in your life, it will spill over and bless others.

What Is The Church?

The basic meaning of the word “Church” in the Bible is “Gathering”.

What is the Church - Primary Purpose quote- photofromunsplashchuttersnapIt’s the gathering of God’s children. In Matthew chapter sixteen Jesus explained how He was going to establish His Church.

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it,’” Matthew 16:15-18 (NASB)

The “rock” that Jesus is building His church on is the revelation of Himself and His finished work.

The primary purpose of the Church is to know Jesus and who we are because of Him. Every good work the Church does comes from a revelation of Jesus Christ.

What-is-the-Church-Greater-quote-photofromunsplashjoshuaearle

He fed people, so we feed people. Jesus healed the sick, so we heal the sick by His power. He cared for the poor and so do we. He loved sinners and we love sinners. When we understand who Jesus is, we will do the things He did. We will truly be His Church. We will do the “greater things” that He promised we would do.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father,” John 14:12

How can we do greater things than Jesus?

How can we expand His church so that even hell can’t stand against it?

We can do these things because the same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus now lives in us. Jesus was all God and all man, but He was one. We are the Gathering of people filled with the Spirit of Christ. We are many people with the same power that Jesus had. This revelation should motivate us to know Jesus even more and do everything He’s called us to do. 

The Purpose of The Body

What is the purpose of being a part of the Body of Christ?

20171205-The-Purpose-of-the-Body-Called-To-Reach-Quote-photofromunsplashclemonojeghuoJesus clearly shared His purpose in Luke. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 (NASB)

Jesus spoke these words in the synagogue of His hometown, Nazareth. He was proclaiming His purpose to the people there. Jesus was explaining what He would be doing during His ministry on earth. He was also telling the people what His Church would be doing after His resurrection. This was the proclamation of the beginning of the work of Jesus in the earth. The purpose of the Church, the Body of Christ, is to continue that work today.

The Spirit that was upon and in Jesus now lives in us.

The anointing and gifts we’ve received from the Holy Spirit are for spreading the Kingdom of God. We are called to reach the lost people of the world with everything that God has given us.  This is the point of being in the Body of Christ, because we live in a world full of injured, blind, oppressed people who don’t know that God’s favor is one decision away.

The-Purpose-of-the-Body-Turn-To-Jesus-Quote-photofromunsplashmarkkamalovThe more people who take their place in Jesus’ Church, the quicker we can reach the world.

When we’re all running in the same direction together, doing the work that God created us to do, we will see the world turn to Jesus. We can’t legislate, force or argue people into a relationship with Jesus. We can, however, glorify God with our unique talents and that will draw people to our Father.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

Stay Connected To The Vine

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT)

These were some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples before He went to the Cross.

20171121 - Stay Connected To The Vine - stay connected quote - photofromunsplashaaronburdenHe was reminding them that He was their source of strength. If they would stay faithful in their relationship to Him, they would never run out of power or opportunities to use that power.

His promise to His disciples is eternal and applies to us today. When we walk closely with Jesus, we will have open access to everything. Without Jesus we’ll live unfruitful and unfulfilling lives. The key to staying fruitful is staying connected. 

We stay connected to Jesus when we are an active part of His body.

A hand that is disconnected from a body is powerless, and honestly, useless. A hand that is connected and working in unity with the body is a powerful tool.

The lie that so many Christians have told themselves is that they don’t need to be part of a body (church) to be fruitful in the kingdom of God. They attempt to live the Christian life alone, isolated from their brothers and sisters in Christ. This doesn’t mean that they can’t do good works or mature in their relationship with Jesus, but their separation leaves them without a support system.

We should be like branches that connect to a vine, so when we struggle and want to quit, we aren’t alone.

20171121 - Stay Connected To The Vine - find power quote - photofromunsplashtimmossholderWhen we connect, we draw strength from the vine. We can look to our right and our left and see other Christians succeeding and their testimony will encourage us. It’s easy to lose faith when we’re by ourselves, but when we surround ourselves with other believers, they can lift us back up.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT)

Connection to the Body of Christ gives us support in our time of need and a place to bear much fruit.

Let us never believe or think that we have to make it alone. We’re created to be connected. We find support in connection. We find power in connection. It’s only in Him that we’ll bear much fruit, and that will lead to satisfaction.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

20171114 - Camparision - the Thief of Joy - header - photofromunsplashnigeltadyanehondo

Comparison: The Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt.20171114 - Camparision - the Thief of Joy - negative light quote - photofromunsplashmariopurisic

It’s easier now to compare ourselves to others than it’s ever been before. All we have to do to see how we stack up against the rest of the world is pick up our phone and look at social media. We’ll see pictures and videos of the best and funniest moments of other people’s lives. If we don’t know who we are in Christ, looking into someone else’s life can lead to jealousy.  This simple act can lead to our feeling like we’re not good enough. 

Seeing how we measure up to everyone else only causes us to look at ourselves in a negative light.

We think that everyone else has it all together.  On the outside, it looks like their finances are in order, they never fight with their spouse, their children are on the “A” honor roll and they work out every day. We stop looking at God’s grace in our lives and start magnifying everything we believe is wrong with us.

Our Father did not make us to compare ourselves to others.

“We wouldn’t put ourselves in the same class with or compare ourselves to those who are bold enough to make their own recommendations. Certainly, when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they show how foolish they are.” 2 Corinthians 10:12 (GWT)
We are created to find our worth and purpose in Him, not in trying to be someone else.
20171114 - Camparision - the Thief of Joy - unique and reflect quote - photofromunsplashjohannesplenioWe are made to be a certain part of the body of Christ. If we were all the same, we wouldn’t be a whole body, making it very difficult to fulfill God’s calling here on the earth.
“How could it be a body if it only had one part? So there are many parts but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:19-20 (GWT)

We’ll stop suffering the pains of comparison when we choose instead to look at God’s grace in our lives.

The Bible defines grace as God’s unearned, unmerited favor. We can’t do anything to buy it. He gave it to us freely in His Son, Jesus Christ. Grace is also defined as our source for joy and the power of God that brings the believer into the Body of Christ without destroying that believer’s individuality.  That confirms that we are to be unique and reflect God’s love in a way that’s different from anyone else. When we make that truth part of our identity, comparison will become a thing of the past.

Living By Emotions

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-Living-By-Emotion-Father-has-Emotions-quote-photo-from-unsplashnaianwang.jpgWe live in a world where most people are run by their physical senses and their emotions.

They make decisions based on what they see and feel. Their reactions to people and situations come from their emotions. We can all relate to this kind of life.  It’s how we lived before we put our faith in Jesus.

Our heavenly Father has emotions, but He is not controlled by them.

If He were, He never would have created the universe, earth and mankind. When God first looked at the earth, the Bible says that it was “formless and void” (Genesis 1:2), or that it was in chaos and darkness. Chaos, formless, darkness and void aren’t the words that any of us would use to describe potential. We definitely wouldn’t think that they would be the precursors to creation. However, our God is a faith God.  He has always been wholly unaffected by what can be seen in the physical world.

God saw the void and spoke what He desired to see.

He did not let the void determine His desires. He knew that what was in His heart was greater than what He saw with His eyes. So, He did not speak what His eyes saw, but what His heart desired.

Living-By-Emotion-Not-ruled-by-Emotions-quote-photo-from-unsplashatharvaleleThis is a perfect picture of how our faith should work.

As sons and daughters of God, our lives should not be ruled by anything we see or feel, but by our faith in God and His Word. The people and situations around us will constantly change for better or worse and if we allow them to control us, our lives will be weak and chaotic. We need to imitate our Father and speak what we desire in our hearts, not what we see with our eyes.  

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NASB)

God’s Word has infinite ability to bring life to what’s dead, peace to our chaos and victory where we have only seen defeat. We only need to speak it in faith.

FAITH AND FOCUS: Believe and Speak

God is a faith God.

He spoke and things that never existed before were made real. We’ve seen that our faith has the same potential as God’s faith. So, why do we not always see the same results? It’s possible that we do not believe His words the same way He does. God has total confidence in the power of His words.

“The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do.” Isaiah 55:11 (NCV)

God knows that His Word will not fail. Chances are that when we speak God’s Word over a situation we allow doubt to creep in and knock us off our stance of faith. The smallest thought of doubt can unsettle our faith to the point that it will not work. Doubt can only move in our lives if we’ve left room for it.

This could be discouraging because we know that everyone battles doubt.

Every human being has to deal with weakness in some way. We might think that this means that we can never see our faith work the way God’s works. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and Jesus is our proof.

Jesus was all man and all God. This means He faced all the same weaknesses as we do, having victory over all of them, while operating in the fullness of God’s power.

“For we do not have a High Priest (Jesus Christ) who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)

When we read a verse like this, we should see possibility.

Jesus is our example, our forerunner. He came so that we could have the same kind of life He had, by the same kind of faith He has. It’s the faith He used to create the universe and everything in it. Every time He speaks, it’s released. Every time it’s released, it succeeds. This is how our Father wants our faith to operate. He showed us this desire in the words of His Son, Jesus.

“So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Have faith in God’.” Mark 11:22 (NKJV)

Jesus isn’t just telling us to have faith IN God, but to have the God-kind of faith.

Jesus would not say something like this if He knew it could never happen. He wouldn’t lead us on with puffed up words that had no backing. His words were and always will be the Word of God, so He knew they would succeed.

We should notice that Jesus did not speak these words as a suggestion or a good piece of advice. He gave them as an order, showing us that the God-kind of faith was essential to live a victorious life.

For our faith to work the way our Father’s works, we must believe His Word as He does. God knows that His Word will not fail. When we believe in the absolute authority of His Word, we will see it succeed when we speak it out loud.

FAITH AND FOCUS: Totally Dependent On God

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-Totally-Dependent-Upon-God-Dependent-QuoteFaith is being totally dependent on God.

We often hear statements like that and mentally or verbally agree without letting it truly sink into our hearts. Being totally dependent on our heavenly Father would require laying aside all of our preconceived notions about life.  It requires us to put all our confidence in Him based on what He’s said in His Word.  We would have to lose all confidence in our own ability. This kind of living is obviously foreign to our human mind, but it’s the deepest desire of our born again spirit.

When we accept the love and forgiveness that Jesus bought on the Cross, our once dead spirit is made alive in Him.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Ephesians 2:4-5 (NASB)

Our spirits are brought to life by Christ’s spirit.  He places all of His power, wisdom and desires into our spirits. The desire of our spirit is to be absolutely reliant on God. However, our flesh and mind initially fight against our spirit in this, because they are accustomed to relying on themselves.

“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 (NASB)

FAITH-AND-FOCUS-Totally-Dependent-Upon-God-Walk-by-Faith-QuoteBefore we allow Christ into our lives we are forced to depend on our own strength and our own intelligence.

So, learning to depend on Him is a process. He doesn’t get frustrated with us in this process, but He also doesn’t want us to stand still. Our Father doesn’t demand perfection, but He greatly desires progress. He wants us to take steps of trust toward Him every day.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NASB)

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.

Work or Worship?

Our main purpose is to worship God in all that we do.

WORK-OR-WORSHIP-Purpose-quoteOur worship can come in many different forms: singing, writing, how we parent our children, the way we listen to our loved ones.  God’s Word does tell us to sing songs of praise to Him, but our Father doesn’t confine worship to music. We can worship God in the way we work at our jobs, in fact, we’re instructed to do just that.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB)

We should do all our work to please God and not men.  However, we should never allow work to become our god.  This is the subtle temptation that the enemy will put before us. We spend so much time at our jobs, we can subconsciously make it the most important thing in our lives.  We can begin to think that it’s our source simply because it’s where we get our paycheck.

As sons and daughters of God, we are called to look to Jesus as our source for all things.

“After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great.’” Genesis 15:1 (AMP) WORK-OR-WORSHIP-Every-good-gift-quote

God told Abram (who would one day be renamed Abraham) that He would be his compensation. He did not say that He would make a way for him to find compensation. These words are just as true for us today. Our heavenly Father wants us to work and work well, and He will help us find the perfect job. He does not want that job to replace Him as our Lord.

Even though we get paid to spend at least forty hours of our week at our jobs, we should not see them as our provider.

Only God can provide everything we truly need.  When we look to Him as our supplier, shield and compensation, we guarantee that whatever we get will always be good.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 (NASB)