Monday, June 25, 2012

Standing on God's Promises

Let's look at Ephesians 6:13 and see how it relates to "Standing on God's Promises." I believe that God has promises that are specific and pertinent to every one of our lives. God has a promise for you! God has a promise that is relative to where you are, what you're doing, what you're facing, what you're going through, and the sum total of your experiences. God's promises can be found in Scripture.

We're going to talk about standing on His promises. "Stand" and "promise" are the two keywords we're focusing on. Ephesians 6:13 says,

"Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

This was actually a military term back in the day that literally meant, "Having conquered, be prepared to conquer again." Having done all to stand, STAND!

Now let's look at the book of Hebrews and see what it has to say about standing on the promises of God. Presumably, it is Paul who wrote this passage although no authorship can be firmly attributed to anyone. Most scholars believe that it was the Apostle Paul.

"Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward." (Hebrews 10:35)

According to this passage of Scripture, what has great reward? Confidence has great reward! Therefore, the writer says, don't throw it away; don't cast it away; don't just throw it off in the corner. Your confidence has great reward. What you place your confidence in is going to determine your level of success in this thing called life. The writer goes on in verse 36 to say, "For you have need of endurance." He's talking to you and me. We have need of endurance!

Endurance literally means, "patience, steadfastness." I have need of patience; we all have need for it! However, don't believe the Christian goobly-gob that says, "I prayed for patience, and God gave me tribulation." That thought process sells bumper stickers, but it's not biblical. Okay? Don't even confess that kind of stuff over your life! There's nothing biblical about it.

We all have need of patience . . . some of us, like myself, perhaps more so than others. I have good news though. As I'm approaching sixty-years old, I've learned to be much more patient. I've learned its great value. This is an important thing! And I had to LEARN it, especially since I've been impetuous, spontaneous, and had a, "Let's go, we have to do it now," attitude all of my life. There's just one problem with spontaneous decisiveness. A lot of times it can lead to wrong decisions.

Another definition for patience in my life is this: "Honor the process." Whatever is going on in your life right now, it is part of the process. Honor it without complaining or murmuring. It could be the devil in the works, but it's doubtful. Everything is not the devil. Every trial and tribulation is not the devil. And what we need to learn is to be patient. We have need of endurance.

Now look at the rest of verse 36: "You have need of endurance so that AFTER you have done the will of God, you may receive (experience or appropriate) the promise! In other words, we can back this up, turn it around, and repeat it backwards, "You will receive the promise after you have done the will of God; therefore, you need endurance." Do you see that? We all think that we just walk in to the Promised Land, and voila, we experience everything that God has for us. Granted, we have crossed over and everything that God has IS available to us. That doesn't mean we get it all at one time though. After we have done the will of God, we receive and/or experience the promise of God. That's what it says in His Word, so let's stand on it!

~ pg

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dreaming with God, Part 6

We’ve been talking about dreaming with God and how God could inspire us in ways that would indeed make us world changers. Some of you are probably sitting there asking yourself, “What could I possibly do that could change the world?” I DON’T KNOW! What COULD you possibly do??? What is within the realm of possibility? You answer that. Did the little sleeve on a coffee cup change the world? Yes, it actually did! It kept a lot of people from burning their fingers and probably avoided a lot of lawsuits. See, we always spiritualize, and that doesn’t seem very spiritual, does it?

What did Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have when they started? Steve had been adopted and given away by his parents, but he sure had a lot of vision. Did he change the world? Yes, yes, he did. It’s not too late for you. But there are some things you need to avoid. You need to ask yourself, “What does my dream life look like?” Do you know? Have you written a life plan? If you don’t do this stuff, then nobody else can help you. I know what I want to be doing when I’m ninety-six years old. I have it written down and carry it with me most of the time. I pull it out every once in a while to remind myself and to see if I’m tracking.

You know what will get you off track more than anything? It’s other people, so be careful. Many times God reveals His will little by little and in the form of dreams. Initially, we probably will not understand the full implication of a dream or series of dreams. Think of Peter when he got that vision of the sheet coming down in Acts 10 and the house of Cornelius experience. He didn’t comprehend everything immediately. You may not comprehend all of it right away either, and that’s okay. I didn’t fully grasp why God was showing me a sea of black Haitian faces, and in my dreams I was preaching to them, and I wasn’t even a preacher! I couldn’t comprehend that. In my heart I was saying, “God, I’m a carpenter; I’m a builder. I’ll go build a building.”

What hinders our dreams? There are five things that I’ll mention. The first is a lack of knowledge. Quite often it is a lack of knowledge regarding who God is, who you are, who you are in Christ, and who Christ is in you. You have to expand your knowledge, and the way that you do that is through a study of the Word.  

Number two is a particular hindrance common to the American lifestyle: our slavery to comfort. We’ve become a slave to comfort and our present lifestyle. It’s our security.

Thirdly, and these are obviously not in order of importance, is “fear.” That’s one thing that really hinders us from fulfilling our dreams and from thinking big. I’m not saying this boastfully, I just want you to get a taste of what I’m trying to share here, I believe that God wants my wife and I to be people of tremendous influence . . . wealth and influence. I believe that, and I don’t have any problem with it. I also believe that He had to get us to experience a lot of the “things” so that we can honestly say that we’re not attached to the things. They’re not an entanglement. We live in a nice house and drive a nice car. We’ve had money; we now know how to handle it even better so that when we have millions, we will be better stewards of it. Ten or fifteen years ago, we probably wouldn’t have been as good of stewards of it as we are today!

I intend to handle millions for the Kingdom of God. I intend for the sphere of influence for my life to increase over the years, not decrease! Is your sphere of influence increasing or decreasing? If it’s decreasing, then your thinking is shrinking! That happens quite often as we get older, but it certainly doesn’t have to, and many times we call that “simplicity.” No, that’s not always simplicity . . . sometimes it’s stupidity.

Number four is a sick heart. A sick heart will keep you from dreaming big dreams, and it will certainly keep you from fulfilling them. You always need to monitor your heart and ask yourself, “How is my heart?” This is not about this person or that person. This is not about my relationship with anybody in particular or about someone loving me. This is about what’s in MY heart. How does my heart feel towards you and towards other people? Is there anybody with whom I have aught in my heart? I can usually tell straightaway if someone has an offense towards me, even if they don’t think it’s showing; I can get around people and see it and feel it.

We try to cover what’s in our hearts, and we cover it and cover it and cover it, and we wonder why we’re not getting to where we feel God wants us to be. And the answer really is inside of us. It’s NOT everybody else, my friend; there are actually people around you who would help. So how is your heart? We need to stop trying to judge someone else’s!

Many times, and this is number five, we are manipulated by the needs of other people, and we allow this to govern our decisions. It’s like, “You can’t go to the mission field, what about your family back home?” I used to hear stuff like that all the time. “What about this, what about that”? We become manipulated by these things. Jesus said, “You’re always going to have the poor among you,” and what He is really saying here is that there are always going to be needs around you and those who are needy.

There used to be a guy in church who would say, “The need is the call.” No, the need isn’t the call. I would sometimes correct him and say, “There will always be needs all around you, and if you try to fulfill every need, you’ll wear yourself out.” You’re not here to fulfill every need, and you’re not here to be manipulated by needs. You ARE here to determine what is the will of God. There are needs for you to meet, yes. You pour yourself into those things that God has called you to do and then do them with the highest degree of excellence and energy that you can. But it doesn’t mean that you can be everything to everybody, because you can’t. So stop trying. Stop being manipulated. Stop letting that govern your decisions. Stop allowing it to restrict your dreams.

I call upon you in the name of Jesus to dream the impossible dreams. Dream it! Stop being afraid. Stop being discouraged by your own past, apparent failures. Stop it!

Anybody know where Putt Putt golf came from? It came from Don Clayton right here in Fayetteville. I can go to China, and they play Putt Putt golf, man. You can travel to most places in the world, and they’re playing Putt Putt golf. Where’d they get that? They got it from Don Clayton, a good Christian man, in Fayetteville, NC. Can you imagine having a vision for Putt Putt golf? See, some of those ideas you get, they’re not wild to God. He’s like, “Come on, come on, come on, keep dreaming, keep dreaming!” But you have to be willing to see the dream come to pass incrementally. It doesn’t all happen at one time. Before I could preach to the masses in Haiti, God had to get me to Haiti! What did He use to get me there? Building a building. Who would have thought, huh?

I want to pray with you. Father, we thank You, in Jesus’ name, that You’ve given us the opportunity to dream dreams and that when we do so, we dream as God sees: BIG DREAMS! I pray that for everyone reading this right now, BIG DREAMS! Yes, dreams beyond the realm of possibility. So big that only You could bring it to pass. So big that only You could inspire it. I pray for big dreams that will impact the lives of great numbers of other people, whether in the form of inventions, business ideas, or whatever You will, Lord. God, I think of the people who have even came up with Facebook or Google or Yahoo; they just had a dream, and they went for it and it worked! May we not grow so secure in our present lifestyle that we’re insecure in stepping out and doing something bold, fresh, and different. Every one of us needs that. So Lord, give us the dream, give us the strategy, give us the plan, and give us the faith to fulfill it in Jesus’ name.

~ pg