34: Freed

In our journey in freedom, we will be tempted to return to the place we have been. There will be moments where it feels like we cannot endure what is happening to us. Many will feel alone in their situation not reaching out to anyone else and keep their struggle to themselves. When we do this, we lock ourselves in our own prison. We were never meant to do this alone.

 

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

To think that what your going through is unique and unlike anything else anyone has struggled with is a lie from the enemy. He wants you to dwell on it so much that you get in a deep depression becoming ineffective to fulfil the mission. There are those in the church who show up but haven’t shown up in years. They believe if the people knew what they were going through they would be kicked out and shunned. No one understands what they are going through, yet they remain in hopes that one day the problem will just go away.

 

This is a roadblock we put in our own way that keeps us from experience what God has for us. We need to open up to ourselves and others. When we freely let what is happening to us out and share it with others who follow the same God we can experience a freedom from our pain. Only then can we see that we are not the only one who has experienced this, the weight that has been on our shoulders will be lifted and we can begin to experience freedom.

 

God promises that we can overcome temptation. He promises that He is faithful. We can trust that God’s promises are true. I strong way to endure temptation is to partner with other believers. They will stand by us and help us as they have experienced many of the same things we are going through.

 

Father, thank you for your promise that we can overcome the temptations that come our way. For those struggling with revealing their sins and asking for help, I pray that they overcome this fear and put their trust in you. Help us to fulfil the mission of reaching the lost, let them see that there is hope in you. Let our community of believers be an example of your love for us. Amen

 

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Day 49: 50 Days All In

If you have asked yourself can I be a solo Christian, someone who can do it on their own not needing a church family to connect with, I would recommend studying the verse today. There are many men and women who have this attitude that the church is corrupt and broken, a place of hypocrites and vagabonds. I can make it better on my own they say, I can read books and watch or listen to various preachers. I don’t need to be associated with any group of believers, they will only drag me down. As we come to a close in our study of being all in what did Jesus have to say about going it alone.
 
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
John 17:20-23 NLT
This just isn’t something the church made up to keep people in the seats and shelling out cash. We are called into the family of God. Jesus in this passage asks his Father to help us be one with each other. Other times he calls us the body, a group who are dependant on each of them, supporting each other and are essential for functionality. We don’t live in a reality of the Adams Family where Thing (a lone hand) can run around independently and survive. In reality, a hand cut off will drain of life and die.
Separating yourself from the church family will cause you to lose focus and purpose. You see this all the time when students who come from Christian homes with Christian values go off to university and don’t quickly plug into a Christ believing church. Their values and purpose get distorted by the adopted school family they replace Christ with. We wonder why they have fallen away. Churches that are located near Colleges and Universities need to be there with open arms to these students.
So maybe you feel your church is dysfunctional and you are ready to leave, maybe you need to realize that the grass isn’t always greener. I challenge you to not give up. Don’t abandon the family, invest in it. Work towards the health, fight for the family. Take some time to self-evaluate and see what you are doing in the church, are you part of the problem or part of the solution. Don’t give in to the temptation to walk away from the problem, tackle it with prayer and communication. Pray that church becomes effective in the mission of reaching others. Be positive about your church, build it up. Love your family. Being in an all in relationship with God means being part of a family of believers. You cannot avoid it.
Father, too many Christians are dissatisfied with their church family. I pray that we start loving it and building it up. I ask that we start working harder at the mission of reaching others. I thank you for what you are doing, thank you for the dreams and visions you are giving the leadership of your church, I pray for workers and warriors who will work to fulfil these dreams and visions. Let us as a church become more effective in sharing your love to others as they matter to you so they should matter to us. We want an all in relationship with you, make us stronger in this resolve. Amen
 
 
 

Day 48: 50 Days All In

To live an all I relationship with God is not meant to be a solo mission. We are communal people by the way we were created. God in His infinite wisdom knew we would be lonely and gave Adam a family in Eve. We need to have friends as close as family who can be there to help us in the good times and the bad. Those who think they can live alone eventually realize that they need some companionship. When you create close bonds with other believers it strengthens your all in relationship with God as well. God can and will speak to you through these bonds.
 
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
Proverbs 17:17 NLT
Do you have a loyal friend? Someone who is close as a brother or sister? A friend who will call you out when you are doing things that are going against what you believe? What you don’t need is a friend who is always joining you in your failings. Sure, they are loyal and are there by your side, but if they are unable to see the end of the cliff both of you will fall. You need a friend who will build you up in your faith and vice versa. One who will always be watching your back and never have to worry that you got theirs.
But if my friend tells me I was sinning who are they to judge me? You must give them the right to hold you accountable for your actions. This is a hard thing to do but if you honestly hand over this to your friend, they will most likely do the same for you. Then together you can safely watch each others backs without fear of turning on each other.
 
If you don’t have someone like that in your life, maybe it is time to find someone or a small group of friends. It will take some time to build that trust, but it will be more beneficial in the end. You will most likely find someone like this in your church. You need to be involved in a local family of believers, not just attending on Sundays but investing in the growth of the family. When you invest your time, money and energy you will find that there are others who are looking for brothers and sisters to be accountable to. You can’t do this alone, that’s not how we were created.
Father, we are never meant to go this journey alone. Thank you for giving us loyal friends to help us along this journey. Help us to dig into our local church, investing our time, money and energy. Strengthen us to create the bonds that will keep us accountable to one another. Build us up so we can lift each other up when needed. Holy Spirit we thank you for your guidance. Keep working in our lives. Build in us an all in relationship. Amen
 
 
Check Back 5 March 18 for a brand new series 50 Days Freed. If you need to experience freedom in your life and there is something I can focus on, please msg me or comment. 

Day 27: 50 Days All In

People over the years have come to believe that the “grass is greener on the other side” when it comes to problems in their church. They feel that if things aren’t going their way or they don’t like what’s happening well the church across town does things better and will welcome them with open arms. Jumping from one church to another may feel like the right thing to do but if we want to have an all in relationship with God we need to be rooted in a family of believers, this can’t be done if you are uprooted every other month or year.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 NLT
We all know the truth that it isn’t always greener, yet we have convinced ourselves that what we have is so damaged that nothing can be done to fix it. The grass may be greener on the other side, yet it may be artificial grass. No roots and what you see is what you get. Once you get there you may feel fine, but then pull back a seam and realize that under the turf they were no different than the church you left.
All churches are filled with imperfect people with imperfect problems. Every church has people quick to anger, bad decisions being made (in your opinion or otherwise), slow to forgive and broken. No church in itself can meet all your needs as they are imperfect. The one we serve is perfect. The one we go to church to worship is perfect. If he is the focus and driving forces behind your church, then that’s what matters.
Grass grows where it is watered. The grass is greenest when it is maintained. If members of the church (not visitors but regulars) are working to maintain the grass then the other side won’t look inviting anymore. Are you invested in your church? Don’t like something pray about it, support it anyways, ask God to use it despite your view on it. A church that is growing in Jesus, will show its fruit by having new people coming and people giving their hearts to Jesus.
Are you watering your grass? Or are you complaining about it? Find your church’s mission and vision statement, make that your prayer. Work with others in your church family to work towards fulfilling the purpose of the church, reaching those in need. Let’s do something and our all in relationship with God will grow much fruit.
Jesus, so many of us find it easy to complain. I pray that we start to turn our complaints into action. Let us start building up, maintaining, working and watering our church so that it becomes vibrant and alive. Let us be effective in reaching others for you. The people who are lost matter to you, so they matter to me. Amen
 

Day 37: 50 Days of Passion

When our prayers move away from me to we, and we focus on the mission of reaching he lost, then we will see passion reignited in our hearts and our churches. Church families can be caught up with ensuring they are getting fed they forget that the church is a soup kitchen where we are the workers whose aim is to feed those who are hungry. We do need to be united as a family and open to creating a bond that is attractive to those who see it. They want what we have, Jesus living in our everyday lives.

 

 

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

 

I wonder how a Sunday morning would go over if the Pastor opened the service by instead of asking the congregation to shake hands, he asked them to turn to one another, confess their sins from the week and pray with one another. I think there would be a few shocked faces and maybe even an uproar from some. But imagine with me if this became common practice in the church.

 

If every Sunday before church the saints met and confessed with one another, prayed before the Sunday service, healing would begin to take place. Then true worship would arise from the followers in attendance producing wonderful results. All to often we wait until the end of a service to confess our sins, maybe after the Pastor has preached a sermon that cut us right to the heart. But if we have already laid our sins at the Fathers feet, we could be prepared to receive so much more.

 

This is one reason I believe in pre-service prayer. Now understand I said believe, not practice, I confess I sometimes barely get to church on time, no excuses. But If I truly and honestly want to see God move in the service among his people and to see the lost who may be attendance changed then I need to start changing my habits. You may say “well I pray at home in the morning before church” that’s great. But there is power in the gathering of the saints with one unity purposefully praying for the move of God. Awesome things will start to happen, people WILL be healed, people WILL be saved, prayers WILL be answered, hardships WILL be overcome, needs WILL be met. Will you gather with others, openly confess your failures and sins, and pray that God will work in your Church, community and city?

 

Jesus, we ask you to forgive our sins. Give us an openness to declare and confess our sins to others, not to create stories to gossip about but so others can pray for us and help us overcome the weakness that we struggle with. Use them to build us up. Jesus we want to see your power move through our communities, city and churches. Motivate your people to take time not only in private prayer but in pray as a family. The people of this world matter to you, so they matter to us. Amen

Day 8: 50 Days of Passion

We have people in life that just don’t like us. They don’t like the look of us, the way we act or what we believe. They are either jealous or for some reason we have just never connected. This can happen in your church, this can happen with other believers, this can happen to us.

 

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, Philippians 1:15-18

 

Paul wasn’t in total isolation when he was in jail. From accounts he wasn’t a considered a dangerous criminal and most likely had visitors or at least letters telling him the churches and places he had been. How else would he have heard of those teaching out of envy and rivalry?

Human nature has become a lifestyle where you have to outdo the other person to get a head. This thought pattern creates that envy and rivalry that Paul is talking about here. If their church has 100 seats, mine will have 200. If they send money to missions will send more. There bringing in this special speaker, will bring this better one.

Paul here takes a different view on it, he almost shrugs it off and says ‘whatever’. He knows that at least at the end of the day Christ is being preached. What could Paul do to change the motives of man? That change is something the Holy Spirit can do but not us.

So, we see Paul here telling us to rejoice that Christ is being preached. Not to get caught up in trying to fix their issues. All to often we get caught up in trying to fix their issues, point out their problems, spend hours talking about it or joining them by ‘fighting’ back. Maybe instead of doing all this we need to take an approach like Paul. Rejoice.

We need to rejoice when other churches are reaching the lost, we need to rejoice an be encouraged that no matter the motives Christ is preached. Pray for those churches that God will keep working in them. He will show them the change they need, not our job to fix them.

Do you want to see your passion flourish? Start praying for the whole Church. We are the body of Christ; all parts are important. Let’s pray that God is preached in the whole body.

Father, we pray today for the Whole body of believers. God we have separated into different circles of believers but we all belong to your Church. Although we may have different viewpoints we pray that they be continuing to preach the love of Christ. Help us not to get caught up in pettiness and become more loving to all our family, rejoicing when Christ is preached and people saved. Ignite our passion help us to grow in you, Amen

Day 5: 50 Days of Impact

As we open the letters in the New Testament we are reading the mail of the early church. So much of what was written impacts pour walk as believers as the early church and the church today are dealing with very similar challenges.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

Romans 1:8-12 NKJV

 

As I was reading this morning I was debating on what to ask about. I thought about using the second half of Romans, But I didn’t feel that was needed today.

 

Today the question I feel I want to ask is this. What are you currently doing to spread the hope of Christ?

 

Paul had a desire to share the love of Christ to the world. He traveled and spread letters all over the known world. His words are now forever with us as part of the bible. He went to jail, eventually was killed, but through that all his sole desire was kingdom building, individually and the Church.

 

People around me know my faith, more from word of mouth then from me. I am open to talk about it to them if they ask, but am I too quiet in the faith. My actions speak louder then words, but eventually I do need to speak and share.

 

Are we building each other up on prayer? Are we encouraging one another enough? Are we asking or challenging our brothers and sisters in the faith about what they are doing to reach the lost? If not then we need to change our mindset. We joke together and talk about so much stuff and avoid what really matters. We can build each other up and share tools to reach the lost. This is what the family of God is all about.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for equipping us. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us to listen to his guidance. Help us to listen to each other and be willing to ask each other the tough questions. This world needs you now just as much as ever, and people won’t just come unless someone tells them. Help us be a people who are willing to share the love that you have given us. Don’t let us hoard your salvation. Amen