Monday, March 19, 2012

Available, But Not Automatic, Part 5

There is this thing on the inside of you and me. It’s a tension between potential and problems. On one side of the bar we have this great potential that God has placed in side of us. Boundless potential. Unlimited potential. There’s potential on the inside of you that you can’t even imagine, that you’ve never dreamed of. Do you realize that? Don’t just be satisfied—I know we’re called to be content no matter what state we’re in—but don’t think that’s all that there is.

On one side of the scale is our potential, and on the other side we find our problems. And many times we’re more focused on our problems than our potential. I believe that every believer has a hunger on the inside of them to maximize the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has placed inside of him or her. The challenge, and I believe we’re all alike in this, is that we get caught up in an undertow, or a rip current of life that pulls away from our potential and really from being 100% obedient to God. It pulls us away from doing many of the things that God wants us to do, have, and experience. It’s because we get focused on our problems. I do it.  And let me tell you, “I’ve gotten my rebuke from God, and if I’ve got mine, you’re going to get yours,” as Bishop Jakes says. When I’m focused on the problem and not God’s purpose, then we’re not allowing God to fix this. Sometimes it’s like I have Laurel and Hardy working on the inside of me, “That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”

But we get caught up in the problems and here’s one of the great challenges. You know, we face this seemingly never-ending onslaught of problems and of difficult choices, which brings us right back to point number one. It’s so easy to get focused on the problems that we oftentimes miss our potential. NOTHING can rob us of our God-given potential like focusing on the problems of daily living. And we often make choices based on the level of risk, don’t we? I do. I weigh things out. I am a man who likes my options. When someone wants me to make a decision, I’ll ask, “What are my options?” With God we have options: Do it or disobey. Do it or don’t. Oftentimes we make our choices based upon the level of risk.

I believe that God desires each and every one of us to reach our full potential and live an abundant life. That is why Jesus came according to John 10:10. And this potential does not exist merely on our human ability. There is the “God factor.” God places greater potential, greater direction, and greater calling in us than what can be seen by the natural eye. And the truth is that God—particularly in this church—is calling us to be “risk takers.” What are we supposed to do when the right choice involves a higher degree of apparent risk? So many are willing to settle for security and comfort, for the comfort that the world and worldly churches have to offer. But I’m here today to make a declaration, and it is this: A disciple, by nature, is a risk taker. If we’re not willing to take risks, then we ought not wear the title of disciple of Christ. How do you think those first disciples felt when Jesus said, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons!” Yet they were willing to overcome their own insecurities, flesh, and mental attitudes and take risks in order to expand the Kingdom of God.

Think about Paul. I was reading about him again in Acts 16. When he cast the demon out of the soothsayer girl, that was a tremendous risk for him, and it got him arrested, but he did it anyway. I believe for those who are willing to obey the Lord, risks become a place of refuge, because it is through those risks that we are able to find ourselves under the shadow of the Almighty. And it’s time to give attention—not to God’s absence—but to God’s authority in our lives. God’s calling you; His calling is already upon you, and that doesn’t mean to go try and get fired from your job for preaching the Gospel. Don’t do that. God does not bless that; He blesses obedience. Just because the world calls you crazy, doesn’t mean that it’s so.  

God is calling us to take some significant risks. I know that God has called this church to do great exploits for His kingdom. We’re going to get criticized; we’re going to be challenged; there are going to be obstacles. But God is not absent; He is a very present help in our time of need. And if we would be willing to step out and take the risk, then we will see the hand of the Lord move. We will see the salvation of our God demonstrated in ways we’ve never seen before. I believe the best is yet to come! I believe that with all my heart. That’s what I’m investing my life in. I’ve lived long enough to know that sometimes you have to go through some stuff to get to the end . . . to get to the fruit, and we’re getting there because THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

~ pg

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Available, But Not Automatic, Part 4

This is Part 4 of “Available, But Not Automatic,” a blog series based upon a message I shared a couple of months ago regarding the blessings of God. We’re going to pick up right where we left off. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Oftentimes I believe that we neglect the gifts of God, the inheritance that is ours, and what God has put in us for HIS glory. So often we want the glory, and we’re afraid to take the risk because we won’t look good if things don’t go the way that we think they should.

One of the things we’re going to be doing here at CCC is something called “Firestarters.” We’ve invited the church to come and take classes. It’s really less about the teaching, although there is an element of that, it’s a class designed to impart into and release believers to do the work of the ministry, which is not simply feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. Those certainly are important and valid ministries, but the main focus will be to impart and release. Why? Because God wants to speak to people at your workplace, and He wants to use you as a prophetic voice. My friend, do not be so afraid.

It doesn’t mean that you have to stand in the office hallway and say, “Thus saith the Lord!” My goodness. I can walk into a place of business and there might be some young person there; I don’t have to make a big scene, I don’t even have to say, “The Lawd.” I’ve walked up to people and very quietly and gently and said, “You know, I feel like God has spoken to me about you and that He loves you very much, and He wants you to come back to Him.” I’ve seen people just fall apart and start confessing, “Ooohhh, I’ve walked away from Him; my life’s a mess.”  And I’m like, “I don’t want you to get fired here; I’m just giving you a word that God spoke to me.”

Is that less prophetic than someone standing up here and saying, “The Lord says,” and going into our whole religious thing? God wants to use you to speak prophetically, to heal the sick, and to set people free. Now, you may or may not do it the way that I do it. You don’t have to blow on people for them to be healed. I only do that once in a while and as the Lord leads. I don’t know why. Don’t ask. Why did Jesus rub spit into a blind man’s eye? I don’t know. That makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m pretty sure He was hearing from the Spirit. The point is though that serving God doesn’t always have to mean creating a scene.

Yes, it does mean that there’s going to be some tension regarding what we consider to be risks and being obedient. Isn’t it amazing that serving God involves the element of risk? You say, “Is that a valid point?” I want you to think about the issue of risk. We could go down through the Bible from Father Abraham to Joshua and beyond.

God speaks to Abraham. Get up and leave the place where you are to the place where I’ll show you. Was there a risk involved? Abraham was settled, established, and rich. How about Joshua going into Jericho and getting the armies ready? God said, “I want you to circle around it for a week and at the end of the week I want you to circle it seven times, and then I want you to shout.” The enemy was up on the walls of the city. Do you think that Joshua thought that there was risk involved? Come on, these people were human. But obeying God overpowered the element of risk that was in their hearts or minds. They were willing to go out on a limb to serve the Lord. I could go on and on with Jehoshaphat, David, Daniel, Esther, Ruth, etc. Think of Peter and the one-word command he received, “Come.”

See, we don’t like those; we like explanations. And we think that we are worthy of explanations. Sometimes God will give us a one-word command, and we get upset because He doesn’t explain it to us. When He spoke to Peter to get out of the boat, He didn’t explain. He gave him one word: COME! And He didn’t say it again. We want Him to say it again and again and again and then we get really agitated when He quits speaking to us. And God’s attitude must be, “I’ve told you what to do.” 

Have you ever walked around with that thing on the inside of you knowing what you were supposed to do but didn’t do it because you were afraid? I have! And then it’s like, “Oh God, just give me a word.” And He says, “I already did.” “But God if you could just show me, just tell me.” He gave Peter a one-word command, “Come.” Peter sometimes takes a lot of flack for sinking, but at least he got out of the boat unlike a lot of us today.

I think sometimes it’s foolish for us to think that God owes us an explanation when He’s already given us a command. “Do something.” He’s told us to do something, and we’re not doing it, and we want to play multiple choice; we want options. There are options with God. It goes like this: obey or disobey. Choose this day whom you will serve. Will you serve God, or will you serve your own interests? Will you heed the voice of God, or will you heed the voice of fear?

Listen to me. It is not up to you to heal anybody. Stop worrying about your reputation, and you definitely need not worry about God’s. He’s very secure in who He is. If we’re going to get really serious about revival—whatever that looks like in your mind—we’re going to have to lay aside our own reputations and simply follow God’s command. I believe that this common struggle is one of the reasons why revival tarries in the land.

I’ll pick up with the end of this series in our next blog. Be sure to join us next Wednesday night, March 14th, at 6:30 PM for “The Starting Line” classes. In addition to featuring “Firestarters,” we will also be offering exciting classes on “Family and Marriage” and “Apologetics.”

Get ready to be fired up!

~ pg