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Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

How does one go about constructing his or her spiritual goals? It’s an important question as we discuss building a spiritual life plan. Only after we’ve addressed our limiting beliefs and worked to complete our past, will it be appropriate to look toward the future. Setting our spiritual goals is an exercise where we actually commit the thoughts inside our head to paper and devise an action plan on how to achieve the spiritual progress we all want to make. I’m sure you’re like me. When you begin to consider the magnitude of God’s grace and mercy that has been personally demonstrated on your behalf, it moves you not only to thankfulness but to action. Paul describes how God was rich in mercy and moved with great love and has given us the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2.4, 7. You’ve been given the freedom to launch forward in faith. Gratitude for outrageous abundance takes away the fear of failure and discontent. It creates a path toward success, joy, and fulfillment.

Since we have no fear of failure (Romans 8.1), we can move from a position of trust. When failure comes we get back up and keep going. We can take risks for God and get outside our comfort zone. This is where the real growth happens. If you are out to accomplish significant things in your life, you are going to be spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone. You can either be comfortable and stagnate or stretch yourself — become uncomfortable — and grow. You may think that comfort leads to happiness. It doesn’t. Happiness comes from growth and feeling like you are making progress (Michael Hyatt). As you set your goals, remember that this is not just about what you accomplish. It’s not just about the destination. It is about who and what you become. Goals are about growing and also about the journey along the way.

What are some areas of your spiritual life where you need to stretch yourself? Is it in the area of self-control? Hospitality? Managing your tongue? Reorienting the way you look at people who hold different perspectives? Getting control of your finances? Conquering your bad habits? Praying every day? The list could go on and on. Your stretch goals will look different from mine and mine from yours, but everyone of us have areas where we need to really push ourselves. 

Here are four recommendations from Michael Hyatt (Your Best Year Ever) on setting your stretch-goals and embracing risk: 1) Be sure to see the value. Getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing. See Ephesians 3.20-21. 2) When you get going on the journey toward your goals, discomfort will come. Embrace it. You have to go through the realm of discomfort to get what you want in life. 3) Push through your fears. The ability to do this is often the only thing that separates those who succeed from those who don’t. And finally, 4) don’t overthink it. When you set a stretch goal, you may not be able to see the entire path to the destination. All you really need is clarity for the next step. When you get that, take it in faith believing you will be given the light you need to take the next one.

No matter where you are on the spiritual path and how long you’ve been on the journey to heaven, it is always good to have a plan for spiritual growth. What is your plan? How will you demonstrate your thankfulness and trust in God?

— Matthew Allen

Surviving Your Past

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Surviving Your Past

If you could return to a previous time and get a chance for a “do-over,” what would you change? When asked, most people would like to change their past in some way. Maybe it would involve altering various decisions and choices, that we now know were a mistake. Maybe we would add some opportunities, eliminate tragedies, reduce hardships, or even remove a disease or death. Maybe we would change the way we were raised and the bad habits we’ve picked up along the way. The list of ways people would change the past could go on and on.

None of us can change our past, however. Running or hiding our past is not productive. Denying or fantasizing about it can be harmful. So how do we deal with it?

We need to destroy the burden we carry. You cannot do that by yourself. To experience success in burden-killing, you have to hand them off to the one who created you and sustains you: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, Matthew 11.28-30. In his first epistle, Peter writes: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you, 1 Peter 5.6-7. You can’t carry your burdens by yourself and be effective in the kingdom.

We must accept and trust forgiveness. It is impossible to survive your past if you are chained in the slavery of guilt. Your guilt has been designed by God to move you to action, not to drive you to inaction and misery. Have the courage to make things right (Luke 15.11-23) and when forgiveness is received accept it, learn from your actions, and move on. David Chadwell has written, “The fascinating thing about forgiveness is that you will not forgive yourself until you accept and trust God’s forgiveness.” For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more, Hebrews 8.12. This promise is real.

We must be liberated from the person created by the past. The horrible thing about being enslaved to the past is that we often keep living and acting like the person of the past. God has saved you to give you the opportunity to escape the old mentalities and behaviors. By giving you salvation, God’s intent is to change you, which begins with the renewing of your mind, Romans 12.2. This leads to fruit being born out in your actions, Colossians 3.9b-10.

Chadwell writes, “God says, 'I am the God of your past, the God of your present, and the God of your future. If you allow me to be your God, I can recreate you. I can make you a new person with a new life and a new future.' God can do it. That is not the issue. The issue is this: do you believe that God can do it?”

The Liberating Truth God Has Created For You

Saturday, February 02, 2019

I recently came across a transcript of a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached during September 1956 in Birmingham, AL. King was 27. The Stanford University archive where I found his material says the Birmingham bus boycott had been going on for about 10 months. Pressure was beginning to mount. Critics charged that King was asking for too much and stirring up unnecessary trouble. Blacks believed that white people would never change and that the inherent racism in the state’s laws would perpetually remain in place. It would probably be easier to, …just give up

King appealed on his listeners to draw from their resources of strength and hope. He says, “And we can cry out to the nation, ‘We can do it because we know that as we walk, God walks with us.’” For King, there was no other choice but to reject the critics’ beliefs as untrue. Instead of limiting himself to what the majority believed, he chose to govern his life by the liberating truths that said change was possible, the time was urgent, and his people could experiencea better future.

While not yet complete, King’s vision has moved toward reality in our nation. Our country has certainly been blessed because of his resolve and courage. This would have never come about had King limited himself to the idea that things could never change.

What thoughts do you have that are holding you back? What challenges do you face in life that you have or are about to give up on, thinking your situation will never change? How often do you tell yourself that you’re just different — that hardly anything ever works out right for you — while everyone else continually enjoys success? Do you ever think that your circumstances will prevent you from making real, lasting improvement? In many cases, our self-talk simply reinforces outright lies or half-truths about who we are and what we can do.

Who will you listen to: God or your own self-talk?

What you think matters. How you look at the world, others, and yourself is vitally important. For as one thinks within himself, so he is, Proverbs 23.7. Christians enjoy a great blessing in that they have been recreated, 2 Corinthians 5.17. You have a new identity, Romans 8.16. And you are an active participant in the process of allowing God to transformyour mind, Romans 12.2, through the word of God, Colossians 3.16. Now, you live with power … the same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides within you and is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that (you)ask or think,Ephesians 3.20. 

This is the liberating truth that God has created for you. Listen to it, repeat it to yourself often, and live by it. When you do, you’ll not only be a blessing to yourself, but others as well. He who believes in Me, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water, John 7.38.

The Waters Will Not Transgress His Command

Monday, January 28, 2019

In today’s sermon, I will point to a very interesting passage that talks about the boundary of the sea being set by God: I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it, Jeremiah 5.22. This is not the only passage that speaks on this matter.

  • Psalm 104:9: You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. This references God’s work at creation, Genesis 1.9-10. The same is true for Solomon’s writing in:
  • Proverbs 8.28b-29: He established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
  • Job 38.8-11: Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

These passages represent the Biblical worldview when it comes to the matter of the sea and where it will be. God has fixed its position and we have no power to change it. Period.

While no Christian would ever condone pollution or abuse of God’s creation, we need to see the godlessness that is rooted in much of modern-day environmentalism. The idea that humans possess the kind of power necessary to destroy the planet is presumptuous and the height of selfish pride and exaltation. We are not the final authority. The earth does not belong to us: The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, Psalm 24.1. We are simply stewards of the planet. We are to work it and keep it, Genesis 2.15, and God brought us into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and good things, Jeremiah 2.7. Let’s be good citizens and stewards of God’s bountiful blessings.

But let us also rest in the assurance of God. Our world will never again be destroyed by water: Genesis 9.11, 15. The time and occasion of the earth’s destruction will be made only at God’s command, Matthew 24.36, and not anyone else’s, not even Jesus. When our Lord does return, the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, 2 Peter 3.10. When that day occurs, we’ll meet God and give an account for the deeds done in the body. Are you ready for that day?

— Matthew Allen

The Waters Will Not Transgress His Command

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Waters Will Not Transgress His Command

In Sunday's sermon, I will point to a very interesting passage that talks about the boundary of the sea being set by God: I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it, Jeremiah 5.22. This is not the only passage that speaks on this matter. 

  • Psalm 104:9: You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. This references God’s work at creation, Genesis 1.9-10. The same is true for Solomon’s writing in:
  • Proverbs 8.28b-29: He established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
  • Job 38.8-11: Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

These passages represent the Biblical worldview when it comes to the matter of the sea and where it will be. God has fixed its position and we have no power to change it. Period. 

While no Christian would ever condone pollution or abuse of God’s creation, we need to see the godlessness that is rooted in much of modern-day environmentalism. The idea that humans possess the kind of power necessary to destroy the planet is presumptuous and the height of selfish pride and exaltation. We are not the final authority. The earth does not belong to us: The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, Psalm 24.1. We are simply stewards of the planet. We are to work it and keep it, Genesis 2.15, and God brought us into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and good things, Jeremiah 2.7. Let’s be good citizens and stewards of God’s bountiful blessings.

But let us also rest in the assurance of God. Our world will never again be destroyed by water: Genesis 9.11, 15. The time and occasion of the earth’s destruction will be made only at God’s command, Matthew 24.36, and not anyone else’s, not even Jesus. When our Lord does return, the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, 2 Peter 3.10. When that day occurs, we’ll meet God and give an account for the deeds done in the body. Are you ready for that day?

— Matthew Allen 

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