I'LL TAKE IT GOD SIZE

Have you ever been through an intense workout, and then had to stretch your sore muscles afterwards? Often times, the stretching part hurts worse than the actual workout. Why is that? Because your muscles are growing and your body is preparing to do things it’s never done before. Similarly, when you go through a period of stretching in your life, it’s because God is preparing you for new things and growing you. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for you to live a normal life; He wants you to live a God-sized life with a God-sized portion! But with that comes the inevitable stretching.

Isaiah 54:3-4 NIV says,
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” Isaiah 54:3-4 NIV

This life is but a tent, and it pales in comparison to the glory the Lord has for you. Be careful not to decorate too much, because it’s only temporary. But while you’re living here, the Lord wants to enlarge your tents and make way for all that He has here on earth for you. To enlarge your tent, you have to clear the territory and cut out the things that are blocking the way. You have to unpack the suitcases filled with where you’re at, and pack for where you’re going. If you were going on a trip somewhere with a different climate, you wouldn’t pack for the climate you live in; you would pack for the climate you’re going to. Start preparing for where you’re going! Lengthen your cords by working with and adding to what you already have. Don’t throw away what you have. God isn’t going to give you everything that you think you need to accomplish what you need to accomplish. He’s going to work with what you have. Moses was given a staff to split seas with, and David was given a stone to kill a giant with. God will take whatever you have and add Himself to increase the growth in your life. Strengthen your stakes, or in other words, your strengths. The stakes are the strength of the tent that holds it into place. God has given every person unique gifts and talents that He wants you to use to honor Him. Ask yourself what strengths you have and start strengthening them. God wants to use you in a God-sized way, but you have to make room for Him to work in your lives! Once you step into your God- given destiny, you will forget your history. The best days are ahead of you. You will not be embarrassed or humiliated, so don’t be afraid to step out. But don’t forget that stretching goes hand in hand with strengthening, and don’t confuse the stretching with the actual race. God allows you to come to a point of pain for a moment so you can complete the race set before you. The stretching is like the athlete on the sidelines, preparing for the race. You wouldn’t compete in the Olympics without going through the rigorous practice and preparation needed to excel in it. So from now on, start praising when you go through pain, because it’s all part of the plan to help prepare you for the great things God has in store for you!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: BREAKING THE CYCLE

On Sunday Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” by encouraging us to break the cycle of going from relationship to relationship living off surface level love. According to Ephesians 3:17-18, we are to be rooted and established in love so that we can have the power to grasp the never-ending love of God. We have no hope of grasping it apart from one another.


How can we be rooted and established in love if we only remain at surface level? At surface level we just have the ability to believe everyone is awesome. If we are rooted and established in love for one another, we have the honor of believing everyone is awesome in spite of their hang ups. When we love each other in spite of it all, we begin to walk in the love of Jesus. Being rooted and established in love does not happen overnight. To be rooted means you have to dig deep, and to be established means you have to have a strong foundation. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the building is; if it has a poor foundation and doesn’t have the roots to maintain the weight, it is going to fall. It’s a waste of time to build something without a foundation, just as it is when you try and go after your dreams without love and support. We were not meant to live life alone. We were meant to build each other up. Ephesians 4:16 says, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”


When we build each other up as opposed to building on our own, we give ourselves permission to operate on our strengths, while others take on our weaknesses, enabling us to carry so much more. Take Belgian horses, for example! One horse alone can carry 8,000 pounds. That’s pretty good, right? But when one horse is partnered with another horse, they can pull 24,000 pounds - three times the amount they pull on their own. When these horses begin to know each other a little bit better, they can pull four times as much: 32,000 pounds. When horses have grown up and been working together since being foals, they can pull up to 50,000 pounds! Our strength is based on the longevity of our love. How much we can carry and how far we can go is determined by how much work we put into relationships. Why settle for 8,000 pounds when we are capable of carrying 50,000?


You may be reading this thinking, “I’m fine with the 8,000 pounds. Loving people this way is too much work, and filled with too much hurt.” But is it really love if you only love someone when it’s easy? In Matthew 43, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. If we only love those who love us, we are no different than pagans. Verse 48 states, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Perfect here doesn’t mean flawless, but it means to repair and adjust. To repair and adjust means to see the needs of another and act accordingly. Each relationship in your life has a different function and reveals a different facet of God’s love. You can’t love everyone the same way. To be rooted and established, to repair and adjust all takes work, but it’s within that work that we reach our dreams. It’s within that work that we receive the love that we crave, because in loving one another we receive the revelation of how wide, long, high and deep the love of Christ is for us! Ask God to show you how to be rooted and established, and how to adjust and repair so that you can live the life you are called to live. Your dream could be one friendship away!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: WATERING THE DIRT

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” and took us on a journey through 1 Corinthians 13, which shows us the never ending love we were born to receive and give out to one another.


1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love this way:


“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”


If love consists of all these beautiful things, then why do we often see the opposite? Why have we experienced love insisting its own way and not believing, hoping, and enduring? Because it’s actually against our nature to love this way. We have been programmed since birth to live in a form of backwashed love – you love me, and then I’ll love you. Jesus had a different approach; He loved us first (1 John 4:19)! Jesus called us friends when we were enemies, and He loved us when we were at war with him. The only way for us to begin to love this way is if we tap into God’s love for us. When we begin to learn His nature and give our lives to Him, His nature becomes ours.


One of the greatest threats to experiencing God’s love and pouring it out onto others is the lie that God is mad at you. That could not be further from the truth. Jeremiah 31:3 tells us that He loves us with an everlasting love! It doesn't matter what we’ve done or what we will do; God’s love never expires. Everything He does is out of love. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” It says that those who do not love do not know God, so the best way to live out the definition of love presented in 1 Corinthians 13 is to spend time with God. Just as a hose needs to be plugged into power to release water, we need to be plugged into Him for love to pour out.


Often times we say, “I can’t love that person because…” And it’s true; we can’t love that person on our own. Love is conditional when we love in our own strength. Our love can only become unconditional when we spend time with unconditional love Himself. Why do relationships fall apart? Because people try to sustain relationships without God. Another reason why relationships fail is because people pursue the wrong kind of relationships just to get some form of connection. God has specific people in your life right now that you are called to love, and who are called to love you. Ask God to reveal those people to you. It’s time to take our hearts off the shelf and start pursuing relationships with one another again. It can be scary especially if you’ve been hurt in the past, but let His love become your shield and believe that you are worth this kind of love. A love that hopes, believes, and endures! God would not define love in such a beautiful way if He did not want us to experience it! Ask God to lavish you with His love because once that happens love will no longer come from a place of striving, but from a place of overflow!

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: FREE TO LOVE

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson started a new series on relationships called, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” revealing to us that we were created for love that has no limits, as opposed to the “You help me and I’ll help you” kind of love. Since we’ve grown accustomed to a conditional kind of love system, it’s caused us to retreat from relationship and attempt to walk out our journey with God on our own. We were never created to live in isolation. The truth is that God designed us in such a way that we cannot achieve our destiny without one another.


1 Corinthians 12:12-20 says:

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

If you’ve ever felt like no one is like you in your community, that’s actually a good thing. We were not created to function the same. Our body actually functions better because of the sum of the different parts. If our body only consisted of eyes, we wouldn’t even be alive. God actually created our differences to harmonize, not divide. Unfortunately, we’ve all been hurt by relationships that have caused us to live in a cycle of triangulation, which consists of the bad guy, the victim, and the rescuer.

The bad guy bullies and manipulates the victim, causing the victim to stay in their victimized state, which then causes the rescuer to jump in and try to fix everything. The bad guy feels such a lack of control in his own life that he feels powerful controlling the victim, and the victim finds purpose in being controlled by the bad guy. The rescuer finds purpose in meeting the needs of the victim, which may seem kind, but it’s actually depriving them of their God-given power to get out of the situation themselves. Anytime we feel powerless we are believing a lie. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” The truth is, relationships are messy and painful at times. No matter what we do we will always run into that, but God has given us all we need to love one another through it all, and remain in control of ourselves in the process. We cannot control other people, but He’s given us the power to control ourselves and to choose how we will respond to people.

The kind of relationships we are called to have are the ones where our love is tested and proven true. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses (Proverbs 27:5-6).” A lot of us enjoy relationship until it gets too real, but it’s in allowing people to speak into your life that true friendship happens. The verse above implies that flattery and surface level friendships are deceitful, but the open rebuke and the friends that are honest with us are the ones that we should trust. We were created for the kind of friendships that enable us to be all that we are called to be, not friendships that keep us in chains.

Unfortunately, the chain filled relationships have tainted our view of relationships so much so that we don’t even pursue the healthy ones, but that can all change today. We can draw a line in the sand and make the decision to stand firm in the good, the bad, and the ugly because it’s in those times that loneliness disappears, camaraderie is forged, and we begin to feel loved and known in ways that we’ve only dreamed of!

CHURCH OF POWER: WE ARE THE WAVE

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series "Church of Power" by reminding us that just as a guitar needs to be tuned after it’s been played, we need to be retuned as well. We are called to be a wave of His glory; dreaming His dreams, carrying out His vision, and speaking His word. We were never meant to live off of second hand revelation.


When we start to read His book for ourselves, we start retuning our hearts to what God actually said, and not to what people think He said. We have lost our way and have made theologies on how we feel God would want things to be, instead of going into the Word and seeing what God has destined us for. Life with Jesus is not just about getting to Heaven, but it’s about bringing Heaven to earth. Acts 2:17 states,


“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”


He wants to interact with us just as He interacted with the early church. He wants to reveal to us the things of Heaven through our eyes. That’s why there’s such an attack on the eyes of this generation. What we see becomes our reality. We must guard our eyes as we would guard a city in battle. This was true for the disciples as well. They had opposition. People tried to shut them up in ways that we can’t even fathom, but even so they did not change their focus. They saw the impossible displayed through the life of Jesus, therefore they lived in the impossible. They saw people healed through their shadows! They saw a murderous man become a Holy Spirit filled preacher, teacher and martyr.


Why then do we not see the miracles of the early church in our everyday lives? Because we’ve reduced our relationship with God to sinners saved by grace, but it’s so much more than that. It’s true we were sinners saved by grace, and we could do nothing to earn our salvation, but now we are saints born to see and experience Heaven coming to earth; demolishing strongholds of sickness, anxiety, and fear. Read the stories of the early church to see what you were created for, and ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit just as He did with those in the Upper Room so that you can begin to experience and walk in the power of the Gospel.

CHURCH OF POWER: NEW WINE

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series "Church of Power" by reminding us of our identity in Christ: as ones who are new creations, appointed and set apart for such a time as this. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Notice that God didn’t say, “I want to use you.” He said, “I have appointed you.” Often times we ask God to use us, and then wonder why we feel so used. We were never called to be used; we were called to be strategically placed for divine appointments.


In verse 6, Jeremiah responded in fear as so many of us do. He said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” God responds by saying, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” Often times we use fear as our protection, but the only thing it’s doing is keeping us from our destiny.  It may have been true that Jeremiah was too young and didn’t know how to speak, but God didn’t see that as an excuse not to appoint him. He saw it as an opportunity, just like He did with Saul who later became known as Paul.


Saul used to imprison as well as murder Christians in hopes of eradicating Christianity. When he was on his way to Damascus to continue his misguided quest, the Lord appeared to him. Acts 9:4-9 says,


“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything,”


When he got to Damascus, a disciple named Ananias prayed for him and the scales were removed from his eyes. He was then filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach the Gospel. Many people questioned him because they knew who he had been and they even plotted to kill him, but eventually they realized he was no longer that person. He had been transformed just like the water that was turned into wine in Jesus’s first miracle. You may find the first miracle of Jesus to be comical as well as puzzling, but really it was a prophetic picture of what Jesus came to do. He didn’t pour the water into the wine making it watery wine. He literally transformed the water into a new substance. He changed the water’s past, present, and future just like He did for us.


Many of us may feel like God is just trying to make us into a better version of ourselves, but He’s actually made us into something completely new. Why then do we feel like the transformation is a process, rather than a “suddenly”? Because the transformation didn’t happen in our emotions, but it happened in our spirit. Our emotions are playing catch up. Ask God to show you how He’s transformed you from water into wine, and to help you walk into the appointment that He has created you for. The fears you’ve learned along the way that you’ve used to disqualify yourself from greatness have held you back for too long. It’s time to believe that He has made you into a new creation; past, present, and future!

CHURCH OF POWER: THE CRACKED POT

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “Church of Power” by showing us that our purpose lays just as much in the journey as it does in the destination. This was proved to be true for Peter and John when they approached the lame man at the Temple gate called Beautiful:

 

Acts 3:1-12 says,

 

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

 

Notice that it was the miracle of the lame man that gave Peter the authority behind his message that day. Many people looked to Peter and John and assumed the power came from them, but Peter used this opportunity to set their eyes on the true source of power, which is Jesus! This guy had been lame for 38 years and hung out at the gate of the temple. People most likely had to step over him to get to church. How many times do we step over our purpose for the day by being too focused on our destination? And why did it take 38 years for the lame man to walk? Jesus must’ve walked by him. He was alive during this 38-year time frame. Why didn’t He just heal him earlier? Perhaps God was preparing him for this very moment. A lot of the time unanswered prayers are not actually unanswered; they are just building blocks toward the breakthrough.

 

Many times we can feel like we have to get to a certain point in our lives before we achieve our destiny. We think, “Once I get there, I’ll achieve my purpose,” when really we’ve been achieving it the whole time. Pastor Jeremy told a story about this cracked pot that an Indian man filled with water everyday. The pot could not contain the water it was originally designed to contain, but the owner of the pot decided to plant seeds along the path from the river to the destination so that the cracked pot could water the seeds. So even with a crack,the pot still had purpose. We are cracked pots. We have things in our lives that we think are disqualifying us from our destiny, when really, those are the things that are empowering us to accomplish it. That lame man was chosen to be the breakthrough Peter and John needed that day. Who knew the unseen man would be talked about for the rest of time? He was and still is a representation of God’s power. Why? Because Peter and John stepped out in faith and believed God’s power would be displayed. How often do we miss moments where God’s power can be seen because we are too afraid to step out? Be encouraged today to ask God to give you the eyes to see the opportunities set before you today and the courage to step out in the power He’s given you to display.

CHURCH OF POWER: CAUTION – GOD AT WORK

On Sunday Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “Church of Power” by showing us how the modern day church has forfeited power in the name of convenience, whereas the early church of Acts was just that - a church who acted and moved in power.

 

Jesus commanded the disciples to wait on the Holy Spirit because it was the Holy Spirit that was going to enable them to do what they were called to do. Acts 1:8 states, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” To walk in power is not some charismatic thing, it’s something that Jesus commanded us to wait for and receive so that we could be effective in our call.

 

As shown in Acts 2, the power of the Holy Spirit first came through a sound, and then a representation of that sound was seen through the speaking of other tongues. Mockers claimed that they were drunk on wine, but Peter quickly revealed that drunkenness was not the cause. What they were seeing was evidence of the prophesied outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

 

As Christians we are really good at making a sound. We shout from the rooftops, “Jesus loves you,” but when people look up to see what they’ve heard, we crouch down hoping they don’t see us. If we only become a sound and not a representation of that sound, people will mistake the sound for something else. People are done with the voice of religion telling them what they can and cannot do. They want power. That’s why films that have any supernatural element in them have sold out crowds. We were created with a hole inside of us that can only be filled is by the super God encountering the natural us.

 

How do we walk in power? By listening to that still small voice prompting us to pray for someone. When we step out in faith, we are giving the super a chance to come into the natural. When we get bored with Christianity, we’ve fallen into religion, which is form without power. Ask God to show up in your life and to rekindle the fire inside of you today!  


 

CHURCH OF POWER: THE TENSION IN THE WAITING

On Sunday Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “Church of Power” by teaching us that God is in the midst of the tension we face between when the promise is spoken and when the promise is being fulfilled. The waiting is just as important as the promise because the waiting is what leads to the fulfillment.

 

In Acts 1:4 Jesus makes a promise to the disciples: “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’” The gift he is referring to is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples inquired about the time they would receive this promise but He told them in verse 7 that they would not know the time or the date. Their only job was to wait. In a society of drive-thru windows and front of the line passes, waiting has become a hard concept for us to grasp. It can seem like a form of punishment, when in reality it’s just as much of a gift as the gift itself.  Without the process, you won’t receive the promise. If the disciples left Jerusalem before Pentecost they would have lacked the power to do what God had called them to do in the first place.

 

Often times when we can’t handle the tension, we try and manipulate the Word into our timeline and do things we were never supposed to do while we wait. Peter did this when he replaced Judas with Matthias. He ended up placing all kinds of requirements that God never issued on the one who should replace him and used earthly means (casting lots) to choose him (Acts 1:21-26).  Yes, it was prophesied that someone needed to take the place of Judas but God didn’t choose Matthias. He later chose Paul, but because Paul didn’t match their requirements they never would have chosen him. We cannot allow ourselves to continue to reduce a supernatural God to natural means. If we do, we trap ourselves in the chains of religion that Jesus died to set us free from.

 

In Isaiah 49:2 it says, “He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.” God is doing the same with us. There’s a tension that has to be created between the bow and the arrow before the arrow is released. You may feel like you are in a season of hiddenness, nowhere near the fulfillment of the promise God has given you. The truth is, the tension that you think is holding you back is actually the very thing that is going to propel you forward into the promise! The promise is worth the wait because it’s only in the waiting that we can obtain the strength to carry the weight of the promise. Don’t give up. Trust that God knows what He’s doing and lean into Him as you wait for the promises of your life to be fulfilled.

CHURCH OF POWER: NIGHTTIME PRAISE

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “Church of Power” by talking about the importance of praise. There are many things in our lives that try to steal our praise because the enemy knows that our praise is the one thing that can defeat him. Our praise is the battle cry that causes our King to come in and save the day. God inhabits our praise (Psalm 22:3). Paul and Silas encountered this as a result of a fortune-teller who would not stop following them.

 

In Acts 16:16-18 it says, “Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And he came out that very hour.”

 

Isn’t it funny that it was when they were on their way to pray that this woman started heckling them? It says that she had a spirit of divination, which comes from the word ‘pathos,’ which is where we get the word ‘python.’ The python spirit was common in the early church, much like it is today. It may seem like the woman was promoting Paul and Silas but she was actually stealing their voice. A python sucks the life out of people, and Paul knew what she was trying to do and commanded that spirit to leave her. It’s time for us to start getting annoyed at the things that try to heckle us and steal our voice. When we follow the Lord and get free from the things that ensnare us, people won’t always react well. When the masters of the slave girl saw that she could no longer bring them profit, they imprisoned Paul and Silas. People often profit off of our dysfunction because our dysfunction makes them feel better about their own. When they no longer can benefit from our chains, they will try to imprison us themselves.

 

After being beaten and put in chains, Paul and Silas have the most unexpected reaction: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’”(Acts 16:25-30).

 

Wow! What a powerful moment. In a time of complete despair, Paul and Silas decided to praise, and upon hearing their praise, God came in, which brought about the salvation of the prison guard! Some of us need to find our praise in the midst of our midnight because it’s not just about our freedom, but it’s about the freedom of those around us. In whatever situation you find yourself in, choose to praise because there’s always someone’s freedom waiting on the other side of it!

IT IS FINISHED: A TRIBE CALLED PRAISE

On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy continued our series “It Is Finished” by teaching us about the tribe called praise. Sometimes in life, there are wars we are meant to fight, but other times, there are wars that God will fight on our behalf. Our only job is to stand in praise and watch Him set ambushes against the things that oppose us. 

 

2 Chronicles 20:17 states, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” Later on, it says that Jehoshaphat appointed people to go before the army and praise the Lord. It says in verse 22, “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.”

 

Some of the things that God wants to give you, you don’t have to fight for, but you just have to receive. This is a hard concept to grasp, especially for the American church. We don’t like to stand still. We like to carry our own weight and fight for our victories, but sometimes the greatest weapon we can yield is praise. God inhabits our praise, meaning He is in our midst when we praise. When He’s in our midst, our circumstances lose power over us. When we praise, we are giving glory back to God and in reciprocation, He is giving glory back to us. That’s why the enemy tries so hard to take away our praise. He knows that praise paralyzes his attacks toward us. 

 

If you are in a battle right now, don’t be discouraged. Position yourself in a place of praise. Despite what you may think, the Lord has not left you. He always gives us a promise in the midst of our pain, but we just have to shift our focus in order to see it. We have to believe that when He said, “It is finished,” He meant it. We may not be able to see the victory that is waiting for us on the other side of our battle, but He can. He’s already seen it and has plans to prosper us in response to it. After the Lord had won the battle for the tribe of Judah, they went to collect the spoil of their enemies and they found more treasure than they could carry. The same is true for us. No matter what battle we are facing, we will come out on the other side of it with more treasure than we’ll know what to do with!

IT IS FINISHED: FROM SLAVE TO SON

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series “It Is Finished” by revealing the exchange that happened because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus died for us, He became our ransom and freed us from a life of slavery to sin and escorted us into a life of sonship. 

Near the end of Christ’s crucifixion, John 19:28-30 says, “Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

It’s worth noticing here that the Romans didn’t kill Jesus, the nails didn’t kill Jesus, but Jesus killed Jesus. It was not until He fulfilled the will of the Father and said “It is finished” that He gave up His spirit and died. “It is finished” is a verb that stands for the past, the present and the future. When Jesus said these words He said, “your past is paid for, your present is paid for, and whatever happens in the future, I’ve got your back. Don’t worry about it.”

Before Jesus, the people of God were paying the minimum payment for sin with the sacrifice of goats and calves. They knew every time they sinned, they were in need of redemption, and sacrifices were the only way to achieve that at that time. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” The sacrifice of His life was a once and for all deal. After He died and rose again we no longer had to pay for sin. He paid for it all! 

Why then do we continually try and pay for our own sin? In the church, we often times think the more we do for God the more He will love of us, but that is an absolute lie. A parent doesn’t love their child because they do something, they love them just because they are theirs! According to Galatians 4:7, we are no longer slaves, but children of God, and because we are children of God, we are also heirs. Jesus died a slave’s death so that we didn’t have to, so that “slave” would no longer be our identity. Every time we buy back into a slave mindset, we hurt the heart of God because our slave status has been exchanged for royal status!

If you still feel enslaved by the things of the past or by the mindset that you have to work for God’s love, ask Him to give you the mindset of an heir instead of a slave and to show you His love for you. It’s time to throw out the reasons why God can’t love you and ask Him about the reasons why He does!

 

IT IS FINISHED: PALM SUNDAY

On Palm Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson began our new series “It Is Finished,” and talked about the importance of Palm Sunday and letting go of the weights and sin that ensnare us. Just as in Mark 11, the donkey was found in the doorway, we often times find ourselves in the doorway of our destiny waiting for someone to untie us.

 

Hebrews 12:1-4 says,Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

We tend to carry weights and hold on to sin that Jesus already took care of. Weights are the things we’ve picked up along the way that could be, but are not necessarily sins. Yet, they ensnare us. When you are ensnared by something, it’s not a trap you’ve set yourself. It’s a trap set by someone else. Have you ever walked into the sin of others? Have you ever been offended at someone because of how they offended someone else? Have you been the result of abuse? Those are entanglements caused by others. Even though there are times where offense may be justified (and in no way do we downplay the pain of abuse), but at some point we must surrender the pain to Jesus so we can walk in freedom. Right before Jesus died he said, “It is finished,” meaning “paid in full.” He’s paid for all of our sin, pain, sickness and anxiety. Therefore, we no longer have to be mastered by it. If Jesus took care of it of it all, why do we still deal with the ramifications of things? Because we are always in the process of renewing our minds. We must ask God to teach our minds to believe His word. By holding on to the sins and the weights that Jesus died to set us free from, we are allowing the devil to win a war he’s already lost. Believe what He says and walk in freedom. It may feel like you are faking it at first, but the more you renew your mind and decide to believe His word over your emotions the more freedom you will receive. 

 

In order to get free from snares that others have set, we have to allow others to untie us. This was the case for the donkey in Mark 11:1-13:

 

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go.  When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

 

First of all, how crazy is it that the disciples just automatically went and stole the colt, no questions asked? That would be like Pastor Jeremy asking two of his staff to go steal the Toyota Prius across the street and if the cops asked them what they were doing they would say, “Pastor Jeremy needs it” and drive off. The significance of this moment for the disciples should be noted. In past situations the disciples would always question Jesus, but at this point they had seen him raise Lazarus from the dead days after his death, they had seen the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and they had seen sickness leave peoples bodies. They had seen the authority Jesus carried, so when He asked them to do something, no matter how crazy it seemed, they did it. There are things that God will call you to do that your rational mind cannot calculate or understand. 

When we read this story, we usually see ourselves in the role of the disciples, but what about the donkey? It says that they found him in a doorway. When you’re standing in a doorway, you are in the in-between. You’re not going forward and you’re not going backward; you’re just stagnant. One foot in and one foot out. How often have we felt this way regarding our destiny? As funny as it may sound, that donkey was destined to be in that doorway. He was prophesied about hundreds of years before he got there. His destiny was to carry the Lord into Jerusalem just as it was prophesied. Sometimes to get where we are going we need people to untie us so that we can move forward beyond the things that have entangled us. When the disciples began to untie the donkey some bystanders asked them why they were untying him. The same thing happens to us when we try and walk out our destiny. People start asking, “Why are you doing that?” They try to keep us tied to the in-between. Allow yourself to be untied by people whose goal is to propel you into your destiny. When we live a life untied, we walk out the destiny of God and fulfill prophesies as we do it. 

One of God’s main goals for us is that we would bear fruit. All of this was happening in Bethpage, meaning “land of unripe fruit” which is in contrast with Bethany, which means “ripe fruit.” Later on in Mark 11:12-14 it says, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”

Later on, they go back by the fig tree and it had shriveled up. Figs grow on palm trees and unlike other trees, fig trees bear fruit before the leaves are produced so when you see leaves, fruit is expected. Jesus didn’t curse the tree because it was barren. He cursed it because it was faking. It looked like it should be bearing fruit, but it wasn’t. This was just before he went into the temple and saw people using it to sell animals for sacrifices. He wasn’t concerned about things being sold in the temple; he was concerned about the hearts of the people. This was symbolic of the fact that he wasn’t satisfied with the laying down of leaves without the fruit because one day the people are laying down leaves yelling “Hosanna,” and the next they are yelling “Crucify Him!” He doesn’t want the flattery of the leaves; He wants the fruit of our lives. 

Allow those around you to untie you and cover you with their love just as the donkey was covered with the disciples’ cloaks. You were never designed to walk this journey alone. Even if you think you are alone, you’re not. We are surrounded by a great a cloud of witnesses watching us glorify Jesus with our lives. Jesus’ death and resurrection enabled us to walk in complete freedom and bear fruit in every season. Only the facade of shame can keep you from your destiny because shame has been defeated. Ask the Lord to match your thoughts with His thoughts and to surround you with people who will catapult you into who you are called to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEED THE MONSTER PART 5: THE UNGRATEFUL MONSTER

On Sunday Pastor Christy Johnson continued our Feed The Monster series by talking about the Ungrateful Monster. We feed this monster because of the habits that we have created in our lives. More often than not, we are living in answered prayers and don’t even realize it. We can be so blinded by how we want God to move in our lives that we don’t see how He is moving in our lives. When we blind ourselves from seeing God’s provision we can begin to think that our blessings have come through our own strength, when in reality, every blessing comes from Him.

 

In Deuteronomy 8:7-18, Moses reminded the Israelites of the importance of remembering where your blessings come from:

 

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

 

Moses brought this up because the Israelites had a habit of complaining. God was fulfilling every need they had, but because it wasn’t in the way that they wanted it, they complained. Their preferences blinded them from seeing God’s provision. Our habits determine the perspective that we have about life. Joy, just like negativity, is produced by the habits that we build our life upon. If you have a habit of complaining, you will feel hopeless in your circumstance, but if you have a habit of gratefulness, your life will be filled with hope.

 

Gratefulness is not instinctive. It’s something you have to learn and grow in. You didn’t grow up knowing when you were supposed to say, “Thank you.” You were taught it. Brenè Brown explains it perfectly, “Gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works. It’s not alive.” Gratefulness is not just a posture of the heart. It’s an action that you take. Just as Moses told the Israelites to thank God for the land He had given them, we need to thank God for everything He’s given us. We need to thank Him for the clothes on our back, the money we have in our pockets, and the food He puts on our table, regardless if we have the clothes we want, the amount of money we think we should have, or food from a 5-star restaurant. We must develop habits of gratefulness, or just like the Israelites, we will blind ourselves from His provision.

 

We must remember where we’ve come from and who got us to where we are today. If we don’t, we can become arrogant and cocky when it comes to the blessings of God. We can become entitled and begin to think that we deserve more than what we’ve got. The truth is, we don’t deserve anything, yet Jesus gave us everything. If we allow ourselves to see that, we will live a life of abundance instead of lack.

 

David understood this principle. In Psalm 23 he says, “ The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

Even though there were times when David had to walk through the darkest valley, he remained grateful. He believed that no matter what circumstance life brought Him, God was leading him and providing for him. God does the same for you. Just as David described, God will prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies. The things that conspire against you to try to destroy your life are the very things that are going to feed you to go into where God has called you to go. His goodness and love are chasing you down. No matter what you are facing, believe that and declare the blessings that you are living in. It’s when you remember all that He has done that your cup overflows!

 

FEED THE MONSTER PART 4: THE UNDISCIPLINED MONSTER

On Sunday, Pastor Christy Johnson continued our Feed The Monster series by exploring the Undisciplined Monster. Often times we talk about the obvious shortcomings in our lives while neglecting the ones that determine the longevity of our lives: the ones beneath the surface.

 

Have you ever become roommates with someone who you thought you knew fairly well, but when you moved in, you realized you didn’t know them as well as you thought? That’s because you are beginning to see what’s beneath the surface. We all have character flaws that need to be worked on. James 1:22 states, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” In order for us to walk in the destiny God has for us, we have to be disciplined enough to do what it says. What is the point of having faith if we don’t activate it?

 

Matthew 7:24-29 says, “‘Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.’ When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”

 

If we listen and follow the Word, we will withstand any storm, but if we just listen and don’t follow through with action, storms will easily shake us. It takes discipline to live this way, just as it takes discipline to build a house. The man who built the house on solid rock didn’t just see a rock and build on it. He had to dig and find the rock. He had to go beyond the sand and find the foundation.

 

Years ago, on Christmas Eve, a family had gone to sleep in their beautiful home, which seemed to be built on a solid foundation, but woke up to the startling feeling of their home crashing into a sink hole beneath them. Thankfully, the family survived, but the point is that things may seem beautiful and withstanding on the outside but can be crumbling underneath. God wants to dig out the things in our lives that are shaky. He wants to dig out unforgiveness, offense, flakiness, inconsistency or anything that does not match up with His promises. We are meant to live nothing short of a victorious life!

 

Our world is trying to make everything as easy as a microwave oven, but if we circumvent the process to the promise, we will not be able to sustain the promise when it is given to us. When we find ourselves with a shovel, asking us to dig deep and find a foundation, we can’t resist it; we need to start digging! God does not give us a shovel to punish us. He gives it to us so that we can become all that He’s called us to be. He gives it to us so the dreams in our hearts can become a reality! Galatians 6:9 says it perfectly, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Allow the digging of God’s Word to create a firm foundation under your feet, so that you will never be shaken. You were meant to be unshakeable, disciplined in His ways!

FEED THE MONSTER PART 3: THE MONSTERS OF MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIPS

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Tom Smith from The House Modesto joined us for part 3 of our series “Feed The Monster: The Monsters of Marriage and Relationships.” Pastor Tom revealed to us why Paul warned us in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that “…those who marry will face many troubles in this life…” Most likely that is not the verse you want quoted on your wedding day. No one wants to receive this kind of word over his or her marriage. So why did Paul even mention it? If marriage was God’s idea (Genesis 2:18) then shouldn’t it be free of trouble?

The truth is, men and women have many differences. Therefore, becoming one through marriage takes time and dedication. Not only do men and women have distinct differences, but we are also in a constant state of change. How marriage worked in the 1950s is drastically different from how marriage works today. The advice used to be things such as, “When your man gets home, listen and respond to his needs,” whereas today it’s, “Listen to him, but don’t let him have the last word.” Last words become terminal words. Last words like, “I wish I never married you,” or “I’ll never forgive you for this,” are terminal and can lead to divorce. Proverbs 25:11 states, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” One of the biggest differences between men and women is the way they communicate. It’s important to use words that invite communication such as, “I wonder if…” or “I hope we can…” The truth is, men and women are not mind readers. We must communicate openly in order for relationships to thrive.

The way men and women’s bodies function are significantly different from one another. A few of those differences are seen in their muscle mass as well as their brain function. A woman’s body is generally 20 percent muscle and a man’s body is generally 40 percent muscle. A woman thinks bilaterally, meaning she can access both sides of the brain simultaneously, whereas a man can only access one side of the brain at a time. Women tend to access the right side of the brain whereas men tend to access the left side of the brain. The right side is the emotional side of the brain and the left side is the factual side of the brain. Men speak the language of the head (facts) while women speak the language of the heart (emotions).  That’s why children tend to run to their mothers when they are hurt instead of their fathers.  Women are more nurturing and access the emotional part of their brain, causing them to comfort the child. Men will usually assess the facts of the situation and lecture their children on why they got hurt in the first place and how to stop it from happening again.

Another reason why Paul decided to warn us about the troubles of relationships is because men and women are motivated by and find significance in different things. Generally, men are motivated by praise and find significance in what they do, whereas women generally are motivated by security and find significance in maintaining the home. Ladies, if you want your husband to take out the trash, don’t nag him to do it. Let him see for himself that it needs to be taken out and then praise him when he takes it out. If the end result of taking out the trash is praise, then he will be motivated to take it out again and again. Men, if your wife feels secure (loved, valued, safe) with you, she will do anything for you.

Another cause for trouble in relationships is the pain of the past. When you get married, the pain of the past does not just disappear. Whatever you’ve experienced, good or bad, your spirit has also experienced. So, when you put both spirits together and haven’t dealt with your issues prior to marriage, it can cause some problems. The good news is that Jesus came to set us free and doesn’t want us to carry the burdens of our past.

Women often struggle with pain of the past even after God has forgiven them and they’ve forgiven those who have hurt them. Why? Because they don’t understand what the enemy has sown in their lives, and because women are nurturers at heart they often times nurture things that need to be neutered.  Matthew 13:24-25 explains the scenario perfectly: “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.” The enemy has sowed tares in our hearts throughout our entire lives and it’s time to cut those things off. We can no longer nurture the things of our past because it’s not what we were created for.

1 Peter 5:6-7 states, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” God invites us to cast our cares on him, to throw down the things that we care about. “Care” in the Greek means, “the things that you are anxious and concerned about.” You are so valuable to God that he wants you to throw down things that make you anxious, but you have to choose to throw it down. God has no problem in making the things that are bothering you leave you alone. His problem is getting you to throw them down. When we surrender the pain of our past to God instead of nurturing it, the enemy loses his authority to taunt us with it.

When we surrendered our lives to Jesus, we became new and we were seen without blemish. We must do the same with our marriages. If we surrender our marriages to Jesus we allow Him to renew our marriage spirit. What we came in with can be made new. God cares about us so much that he doesn’t see us in our mess. He’s sees us in our freedom and will do anything for us to walk in it. In fact, He’s already done everything, and now is the time to receive it!

FEED THE MONSTER PART 2: ANGRY MONSTER

This past Sunday Pastor Christy Johnson shared part two of the series “Feed
The Monster.” She explored the “angry monster” and its three parts: Physical Rage,
Verbal Rage and Emotional Rage.

Underneath all the anger that we experience is the need to control. We may
try to achieve that by slamming doors, slamming people with unkind words, or
shutting down, completely cutting ourselves off from anything positive or negative.
We learn how to process our emotions from the environment we grew up in. The
benchmark that our parents set for us is the benchmark we will imitate in our lives.
God gave us the ability to have emotions. He’s not overwhelmed by them or
disappointed when we express them. It’s how we express them that makes all the
difference. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and sin not.” So, being angry is not a sin
by itself but becomes a sin when we lose control of it and let it control us.

One of the side effects of not being able to control your anger is physical rage.
We’ve probably all slammed a door or two, or we may have even thrown things
across the room. Doing an act like this may make us feel like we are in control for a
second, but the reality is, we are completely out of control if we can’t manage our
emotions.

Another symptom that may occur if we let our anger get the best of us is
verbal rage. This isn’t just screaming at people, but it’s when you strip them of their
dignity and use their vulnerability against them. The rage is actually the force
behind the point you’re trying to make. You can be right about the point you are
trying to make in the moment but be wrong about the anger. Anger completely
dismisses and takes the place of your point. If you communicate with people angrily,
all they are going to pay attention to is the anger, and your point will be lost.

Your words can wound deeply. Your tongue can be a deadly concealed
weapon if you choose to use it in that manner. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of
the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” If our
words can wound deeply, then they can also heal deeply. Why is it so easy for us to
lean towards the negative when we have loads of compliments floating through our
minds? What if we said out loud the positive things we think about people? The
strength our relationships could have if we communicated from that place would be
incredible.

According to James 3:3-5 (MSG) says, “A bit in the mouth of a horse controls
the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets
a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of
no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!” The bit in the
mouth of the horse, which is considerably smaller than the horse itself, controls the
direction in which the horse goes, just like the words on our tongue. The words we
speak over our lives determine the direction that we will go. The words that we
have spoken are why we are the way we are and why we are where we are. If what
you want is different than what you have, ask yourself, “What have I been
speaking?” If you declare the negative you will get the negative, but if you declare
the positive, you will get the positive in return.
In James 3:6 our mouths are described as a forest fire. You cannot reverse the
affects of a forest fire just like you cannot reverse the affects of your words. You can
apologize but the scars are still there.

Emotional rage is another form of anger that is out of control. Emotional rage
is when you completely shut down instead of communicate what you are frustrated
about. When you shut down you are shutting yourself off from experiencing the
good and the bad. You can’t have some of your emotions and not others. Anger has
to be managed, not muted. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says that “…anger lodges in the heart of
fools.” Heart issues are so hard to get rid of because when you’ve given something a
license, you can’t confiscate the weapon because you’ve given it a license. If you’ve
given yourself over to anger and give yourself excuses to stay where you are, it will
continue to rule your life. Thankfully, Jesus came to set us free! Ask Him to help you
navigate and manage your anger in a healthy way. Change the course of your life by
using your words in a positive way. Know that when you choose to let go of excuses
you give yourself to remain the way you have been, you are on the road to freedom!
It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, and nothing is impossible with Him.

FEED THE MONSTER: FLESH VS. SPIRIT

Pastor Christy Johnson started a new series on Sunday called “Feed The Monster.”
She began to explore Galatians 5 and showed us what it means to walk in the Spirit
as opposed to walking in the flesh (the monster).

Despite the fact that our flesh and our spirit are constantly at odds with each
other, we are called to live by the Spirit and to live in freedom. Galatians 5:1 states,
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let
yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” If freedom is not evident in our
lives, then Jesus died in vein.

Paul states in Galatians 5:13 that we were called to be free and to not use our
freedom to indulge in the flesh but to serve one another in love. Why then do we let
sin rule over us? His yoke is easy and His burden is light. If we are not walking in
freedom, it’s by choice, not circumstance. It doesn’t matter what cards life has dealt
us; we have no excuse not to believe that we can get out of the sin that entangles us.

In everything we do we produce either the fruit of the Spirit, which is love,
joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,
or we produce the fruit of the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,
dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

We face the tension between living by the Spirit or by the flesh everyday. For
example, when someone cuts us off when we are driving on the freeway, we have
the choice to respond in anger or gentleness. It’s a process of choices that lead us to
living by the flesh or by the Spirit. For example, we don’t just become addicted to
pornography overnight. You may think one image here and there won’t affect you,
but what you feed, you empower. The more you give into “the monster,” the more
control it has over you. The opposite is true as well. Every time you starve the flesh,
you empower the Spirit.

There’s no doubt that we will be tempted with sin. Even Jesus was tempted
(Matthew 4:1-11)! Don’t shame yourself when the monster knocks at your door. Be
ready with the word of Truth. In order to live by the Spirit, it is vital to know what
God thinks about you and the promises He has spoken over your life. Simply spend
time in His presence and read His word. What you believe about yourself
determines the environment that you live in.

You may be thinking, “Well, what does it matter? My sin only affects me.” Not
according to Galatians 5:15. In the Good News Translation it compares living in the
flesh to living like wild animals: “But if you act like wild animals, hurting and
harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another.”
Living by the flesh not only destroys you but those around you. Paul warns us that if
we decide to live by the flesh we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. We must take
control over the monster that taunts us and believe without a shadow of a doubt
that Jesus came to set us free and has empowered us to live a Spirit led life!