#VICTORY

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When you think about the word “victory,” what do you think about? Is it a word that encourages you, or a word that you cannot comprehend? Does it mean the battle is won, or the battle is ongoing? According to Siri, (iPhone people know what I’m talking about), victory is “a successful ending of a struggle or a contest.” Webster iwo_jima1Dictionary puts it this way: victory is “the act of defeating an opponent or enemy.”

Victory is a noun that has a strong, rock-solid backbone. When we BELIEVE in victory, then the defeat of the “enemy” or “contest” is all the more glorifying. The thing is, as humans or sinners, we can NEVER reach such victory without ONE PERSON, and his name is Jesus.

Jesus is a man without fault or blemish. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he walked the earth to serve US. He is the only man who could walk into the manmade tents without fault, and give a sacrifice so much GREATER than animals or incense: Himself. The book of Hebrews talks about just that, Jesus being a sacrifice who is so much greater than ANYTHING we can do or give, stating this:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

(Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)

With that sacrifice came a VICTORY that we need to BELIEVE in. What Jesus did on the cross for us was not just for that generation, but for EVERY generation. Victory is found in people who believe these two simple truths:

1) Jesus WON the battle for ME…

We must believe that the pure and spotless lamb came to us, walked this Earth with all the battles we have faced, and died without a sin on His shoulders. He took it upon Himself to die for us, the sinners, because we NEED his redemptive grace everyday. The battle rages DAILY, but the war is ALREADY won. This does not mean that we get to sin everyday and give in to the enemy, but to look toward Him for strength, guidance and grace.

 2) Victory is found, and is NOT LOST…

If you are at the point in life where the word victory does not mean anything, but is just a word, then you need to find it again. Victory is NOT lost, but sometimes it’s simply harder to find. Christ, who won the battle, who won the war, has already won and we need to keep our EYES on Him and the “victory flag” that He waves, called the Word. Read it, and victory is FOUND once again.

Let the word, “Victory” be not a word that just is a word, but let it bring LIFE and ENCOURAGMENT. Even though the wars rage on daily, Christ has already won the war.

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Why Churches NEED a Young Adults Ministry….

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What is going on?   

Back in my youth group days, I always wondered what I could be a part of in the church once I graduated. The truth was, there was nothing. The majority of churches across America have not dove into ministry for young adults or found a place in their church for the 18-and-graduated to around age 28.

After searching the web, I found some staggering statistics about young adults and the church. Firstly, 70% of young adults drop out of church. Many of them say they would not have left if:

  1. The church helped guide life decisions
  2. Parents were still married and went to churchya image
  3. Sermons were relevant to their life
  4. An adult in the church poured into them in a significant way to impact them spiritually and personally

These statistics should take your breath away. A young adults ministry is so important because many churches are not reaching out to this age group. What is there for young adults to do except give into temptation and join in with the ways of the world?

So what does a YOUNG ADULT ministry do?!

1) A place to call their OWN…

People like to have ownership or a place away from home to call theirs and that is exactly what this ministry provides. Young adults need a place they can go hang out and connect with people. A place where they can be completely themselves and not have to worry about what others may think about them. They need a place with a positive atmosphere. Granted, there will be spurts of drama and people not liking others, but that is beside the point. The point is this: they get to choose how much they DIVE IN so they can get A LOT OUT OF IT. However, if nothing is there for them to dive into, then there is nothing for them to call their own.

2) Getting CONNECTED…

 Getting connected into a new age group is a tough ride, but is necessary. Connecting young adults to the events that are going on and to others is essential to keeping them around. People will stop coming if they do not have anyone one there that wants them there, or likes them. Young adults need to connect with others to invite opportunity for friendship to take root.

3) Keeping a Relevant Message and Events…

One of the top reason young adults drop out or stop attending church is due to the fact that their leader or pastor was not doing anything relevant to them. Whether they were not doing anything relevant to their daily lives or where not providing events relevant in this day and age, being relevant to the crowd that we are serving is a big part of keeping that age group in or out of the church. While the particular demographic you are serving depends on which part of the United States you are in, it is the young adult leader’s job to find out what is relevant to them or not. How, one may ask? Intrude their lives by spending time with them: to see their likes and dislikes, and what is “hip” or not. Bringing the needs of the young adults out and serving them in those ways will plant seeds of growth and of enjoyment.

Why DID I just read this???

You read this because the truth is that if churches continue to neglect the young adult age group, the numbers of church dropouts will rise. It is not fun hearing the blunt truth sometimes, but the truth is right there. Young adults are in NEED of attention because they are being lost to the world. It is NOT about us, it is about bringing people to JESUS and that is exactly what a young adults ministry is – connecting people with people and showing them the love of Christ.

W (minus “W”) JD: What Jesus DID

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Have you ever asked yourself the question, “WWJD?” Well for all of you slow pokes out there, it means, “What would Jesus do?” It has become the question many people ask themselves when facing a tough trial or situation, and it points them to the one source that can show what He would have done by going to the Scriptures. But have you ever really asked yourself what Jesus DID?

Many Christians, even myself, ask ourselves that question and search through scripture and then answer it with, “Jesus was God in the flesh, and was perfect so He did not have any struggles…” That, my friends, is a lie. Jesus struggled in this world as much as we do. In Hebrew 2:14-18 it reads:

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, keep-calm-and-wwjd-2that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV)

Jesus was as much man, as he was God. And Jesus did just as he instructed us to do, pick up our crosses daily. By doing that we are denying ourselves and looking toward the cross that Jesus died on for us. Jesus was not a spotless lamb and the sinless Son of Man, because he could come to Earth and walk through it without being tempted. Jesus was tempted, but it is not for the fact that he WAS tempted, it was for what he did daily to combat it. PICKED UP his cross. DENIED himself.

Let not the question, “WWJD,” lead you to the Scriptures to have the enemy attack you with the fact that Jesus was God in flesh. But let you run to the Scriptures to see all that Jesus was tempted with, and see what HE DID to combat them. Let us be led to PICK UP our crosses, and DENY OURSELVES so Jesus and the cross may be exalted.

Promise Reigns in Hopeless Times & Situations (Judges 13)

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ImageHas a person ever promised you something, like a candy bar or a coffee? Or have adults ever promised you something, like money or to go somewhere? Better yet, has God ever promised you something, like to be something or do something incredible? Have you ever felt that discouragement when that something just seems to NEVER be coming, when in reality God is GROWING you to make you STRONGER for when HE PUTS you in that position. God’s promises are NEVER FAILING, and if we have the patience or the will, you WILL see them come to pass.

In Judges 13, we read the start of how Samson came to be by the interesting promised filled story of his father and mother. Judges 13:1-7 reads:

“And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”” (Judges 13:1-7, emphasis on verse 1)

God is PROMISING something, when God SHOULD be PUNISHING. If you look closely at verse one of this chapter, God is not very happy with Israel and gives them over to the Philistines, but yet God promises a barren wife and her husband a son. Out of something that is RUINED, and lost of HOPE comes a slim  line of hope, through the ONE who SAVES.

This promise is a promise that makes Manoah, the father, seek the Lord and seek guidance for he believes that the Father can, but Manoah wants to do it right. Through Judges 13, the reader would go through two paragraphs of circumstances, where Manoah sought out the Lord for guidance, and the Lord came to speak more of the promise.

1. Seek The Lord, When Promises are made Between YOU & GOD…. (Judges 8-20)

Manoah and his barren wife were promised a son, which was only possible if the Lord blessed them with it so the only thing they could do is BELIEVE and SEEK. God is a God that knows what you are going through and what is really on your heart, so do not think you are hiding anything from God. Tell God about your disbelief of the PROMISE He made you, tell Him about your anger of why it has not come, and tell Him your frustration about where you currently are in life. Because you are not telling it to God does not mean He does not know.

Manoah and his wife sought out the Lord for guidance and understanding about where they would have to go from here, they DID NOT mope about the time it WOULD TAKE FOR THE SON TO COME. Through there seeking, they found God and GREW in there KNOWING OF HIM, instead of there defeat in the frustration it is not happening there way.

2. Through the SEEKING OF THE LORD in a RUINED time, the Lord PROMISE PREVAILED & HOPE CONQUERED… (Judges 13:21-25)

“21 The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” 24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (Judges 13:21-25, emphasis added in verse 23)

“But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”” (Judges 13:23) That verse brings to life the heart of the message, that when God wants to REIGN PROMISES in our lives, we will GROW CLOSER to Him like never before. Manoah and his wife saw a situation that had NO HOPE, to seeing the GLORY of GOD, to seeing THE HOPE RESTORED and the PROMISE REIGN. When God promises His people something it is not just for Him, but it is for the growing of ourselves included. Samson is going to be a historic figure, but Manoah and his wife do not know that, because all they know is the promise of God. And that is what THEY LIVE OFF OF.

If you read this message and get nothing from it, GET THIS: God knows what He is doing, and ALL His promises will come to LIFE, but SEEK HIM until they do. Do not be caught up in the frustration, bitterness, or anger because you do not understand why you are not there yet. But be CAUGHT UP in the PRESENCE OF GOD growing in what He is teaching you now, to become that person He is calling you TO BE!

Making of Idols (Mark 7:6-13)

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How many things in your life have you went to before you went to the LORD? How many people do you say, “they make me better, and I rely on them to make me better?” How many things do we convert to IDOLS because we do not see them as that, until God convicts them that they are such things?

Idols are things or objects or even traditions that we, as humans, tend to RUN TO to make us better, or to put in place of God. This is meaning that we run to them to fix our problems, to make us a better person than we are, or make us feel good about ourselves. Idols are so easy to let into our lives, and then when we do the enemy has a foothold to our lives, this is why they are so pivotal to realize what actions we are taking or what things we are living for or running to. The things that we run to, besides the Lord, or that we rely on, are ALWAYS the IDOLS that we have built into our lives.

The Pharisees and the Scribes ran to there TRADITIONS and RULES OF THERE ELDERS, instead of running to the LORD’S COMMANDMENTS. In Mark 7, we get to see what exactly Jesus thinks about having things in our lives that we LIVE ON or RUN TO instead of HIM…

“6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”” (Mark 7:6-13)

Jesus is staying two things here:

1. Stop Running to Things that ARE NOT ME

Idols have a way to make it into our lives or things that are good to us have a way to become something that we start idolizing, and we stop TENDING to the LORD who wants ALL OF US. There is NOTHING in this world that can OUT DUE or OUT PROVE the LOVE OR PRESENCE OF GOD, the reason being is that the LORD is EVERLASTING and this WORLD IS TEMPORARY. Stop serving the TEMPORARY and SERVE the ETERNAL. I am not saying that you can not have people that you go to for Godly advice, or encouragement through a trial that you may be facing. I am saying DO NOT RELY on that person to make you HAPPY or GIVE YOU JOY. FIX YOUR PROBLEM or MAKE YOU A BETTER YOU. That is when you have taken what is GOOD and turned it into something that you PUT IN PLACE OF GOD.

2. TEND what the WORD says, and NOT what the WORLD tempts

The world that is filled with all temporary things has a lot of stuff that the enemy will use to make you temporarily happy or filled with joy, because that is EXACTLY what the Enemy wants to do. But the truth is, that TEMPORARY happiness that the World is not as good or as gratifying as the ETERNAL JOY we get in JESUS or the WORD. So in ALL things, tend to the Word daily. Let it not be something that you read and check off, but let it be something that we RUN TO, SERVE, and MEDITATE ON. Because the only way to keep from idolizing things that are temporary is by FILLING THE TIME WITH SERVING AND RUNNING TOWARD THE LORD.

Dive Deeper: A Miracle that Joins Faith and Fear

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Throughout the Gospels, we as readers see miracle after miracle that Jesus performs to the crowds and to bring the Lord glory throughout the nations. These miracles are often times just seen as an event that happened, and lets praise God for it, then move on. Do you ever read deeper into the lesson that could be gained from the miracles that Jesus performed throughout His ministry years? There are deeper aspects to the working of the Lord that many times get passed over by in the Scriptures, because of the constant miracles that are happening throughout the Gospels. But, if all we do is look at the surface of something, then all we are ever going to get is surface leveled feeding from the Lord, but if we take the time to dive deeper and develop all that the Lord was doing then we can get the FULL FEEDING that the LORD wants to give us.

That is exactly what happened to me when reading over the miracle in Mark 5, I was reading over it and it just seemed like another miracle to me that would bring me to praise Jesus for all that He is capable of doing. But when I took it a step further, I saw a whole new lesson that could be gained from this amazing miracle.. Take a read at Mark 5:28-34:

28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:28-34)

This woman was a battling something that was a CONSTANT struggle in her life, and she had the FAITH to know what the Lord’s power could do for her. So BY FAITH this woman went and touched Jesus’s garments to be healed of this disease that she has had for years, and because of HER FAITH she was HEALED. Faith is something that is something that needs to be built upon and acted upon throughout our day to day lives. If all we do is live in according to the Word and the Spirit of God without faith, then what are we really living by or for? Faith is built through people stepping out in belief knowing that the LORD is going to COME THROUGH. This woman ONLY had HER FAITH that drove her to step out and see if a healing may occur, but BECAUSE SHE STEPPED OUT, she WAS HEALED.

Faith in Jesus is something that EVERY believer needs to be driven by, and walk in, but we also develop a FEAR of the LORD. Just as verse 33 states after Jesus felt that some of the healing power was released from him, it states, “But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” As fear can lead people to faith, faith can lead us to healthy fear of the Lord. This woman was just HEALED of a disease that she has been battling for years, and once she got healed, it showed Jesus for who JESUS really IS. Jesus is a gracious and caring person but Jesus is also part of God and God is ALMIGHTY and SOVEREIGN over ALL NATIONS AND PEOPLE. Believers tend to lose sight that we should not just love God, but that we should also FEAR THE LORD. A healthy fear of the Lord, is to be driven to SERVE the Lord and know that the Lord is Lord, He is your Father, and He is going to DISCIPLINE HIS CHILDREN. We as children do not want to upset or disrupt our Father in the things He does or reck something of His, and that is why we are DRIVEN in the FEAR OF HIM to SERVE HIM WITH FAITH that HE is going to PROSPER.

“For the Lordthe Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.” (Psalm 47:2)

Faith is something that we can be DRIVEN BY, but the FEAR of the LORD is something that WE COME TO LIVE BY because as we live for the Lord, we come TO SEE HIM for WHO HE IS. 

King Belshazzar Knew, and Still Followed

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Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. (Daniel 5:17-23)

Have you either walked down a path or through a door that did not lead anywhere but frustration and failure? But a door that every time it comes open you find yourself walking through? The door of pride? The door of porn? The door of going to far with your significant other? There are many other doors but those are only a few, but these doors that we tend to find failure behind we often find our selves coming back to.

Above you read a passage about how King Belshazzar knew about the PRIDEFUL legacy that his father, King Nebuchadnezzar had, which then ended in an humbling of the heart by the Lord. Belshazzar knew these things and the doors that lead to failure for his father, but HE STILL walked the same path as his father. Daniel opens his eyes to this in the beginning of the interpretation of the handwriting on the King’s wall, saying basically this, “what person or God are you following? Are you following the steps and legacy of your father who worshipped idols and became to proud for his own good? Or are you following a God, who GIVES you BREATH of LIFE and who LEADS to SUCCESS in HIM?”

The hard truth to all of this, is that we are King Belshazzar in many ways than not. Personally, I find myself running to the same doors that only lead to sin and death, and an avenue for the enemy to attack. It is not healthy and I do not know why I do it but this is the truth of the matter it DOES NOT DO ANY GOOD! So how do we stop running to the doors that are appetizing deceiving?

1. Worship God WHOLE-FULLY….

Daniel is a prime example of what this means to serve God whole-fully. By reading through Daniel, you will see a man that in EVERY situation good or bad, easy or hard will seek the Lord through it all. He will NOT MOVE until the Lord speaks to him in a way that will move him away from the wrong “doors.”

2. Watch the doors that you walk through or others, and KNOW if they HONOR God or DISHONOR Him…

Belshazzar knew exactly that the path he was walking through or going down was a path that lead no where good, because it was the same dishonoring path as his fathers. Everyone around you on a daily basis walks through doors that will either lead to death or life, if we watch there footsteps and not follow right away, we will learn what to do or not. The enemy is going to make doors that are deceivingly appetizing to you but lead no where, and they might be the same door that someone close to you went through too, lets not be BLIND to what is GOING ON AROUND US and FOLLOW the RIGHT LEGACIES.

This world is going to bring on doors that you get to choose to walk through or not, some leading to death and some leading to life. Some honoring the Lord greatly and some not honoring to God at all, but if you learn from your MISTAKES and FOLLOW the RIGHT legacies, God will show you the right paths. Do not walk through doors that just look pretty and appetizing to the eye, but walk through the doors that will bring you happiness, and honor to the God we serve.