Saturday, February 27, 2016

Just a Stick?

Read Exodus 4:1-20
What resources do you have available to you right now?  My grandmother used to say, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”  What is in your hand right now?  What talent and resources can you put to use immediately for God’s purpose?  In this story Moses had a rod in his hand.  There was nothing special about this particular rod, it was just a rod (a stick).  But a rod, a simple stick, was what Moses had in his hand at that moment.  God didn’t ask Moses to go out and get something that He could work with, He didn’t ask Moses to find something useful, God used what was in Moses’s hand.
All of us could probably make a pretty good sized list of all the things that we do not have: I don’t have a lot of money, I don’t have a fancy degree from a prestigious university, and I don’t have a high social standing.  The list of the things that we do not have can be rather exhaustive, but God never asks what we don’t have.  God uses what’s in our hands, even though it may seem useless to us at the time, He uses what we have right now to accomplish His purpose.  What we have may seem small, it may seem weak and insignificant, but this is an intentional strategy of God.  Paul said, "His power is perfected in weakness."  It is when we surrender what is in our hands that He takes what is offered in surrender and links them with His power and anointing to accomplish His will and glorify His name.
I Corinthians 1:26-29
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.”
It is not about the stick; our ability, our knowledge, our talent, our comeliness, or our wealth, but what matters most is whose hand is wielding the stick.  Our stick represents the parts of our life that we have surrendered to God.  When God’s in something, it will confound us. Moses fled from before his rod when it turned into a serpent.  The anointing is the supernatural power of God operating through the natural to produce results that are humanly impossible.
We need more of God in our stick.  The greatest need today is more of God in our song, more of God in our preaching, more of God in our marriage, and more of God in our business.  When the power of God’s Holy Spirit gets in something, it changes the very nature of it.
When God’s Spirit touched an ordinary rock it caused a river of water to flow from it that quenched the thirst of more than a million thirsty people.  God’s Spirit got into a donkey and it spoke and rebuked a rebellious prophet.  God touched a small pot of oil and it to multiplied until it met every need and provided an abundant overflow.  God’s Spirit got into a box, and they called it the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark was made of wood and then covered with Gold.  This is symbolic of what happens when the ordinary meets the extraordinary.  Even though the outside of the tabernacle was covered in badger skin the inside was covered in Gold.
Today God has chosen to place His presence and glory in human tents; our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  II Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
Moses’s rod symbolizes something that is weak, it has no life or energy of its own, and its effectiveness was dependent upon what the natural human power of Moses enabled it to do, until the power of God got in it.  In the same manner we are weak, we have no life or strength or power of our own, just like the rod.  It is only as we surrender ourselves to God that His power will be poured into our weak human bodies and His glory will be manifested through us.
Too many times we are unwilling to surrender what we have.  We want to hold on to what we know, what we understand, what we are comfortable with, what we have leaned upon and had control of for so long.  God wants to give us something new, He wants to give us something greater, but first we have to be willing to let go of what’s in our hand.  We need to trust God with our stick.
Before God could cause Abraham’s seed to be a blessing to all nations of the earth, He asked Abraham for his seed back.  Abraham surrendered his seed to God, Isaac, and through that seed God sent Jesus and blessed everyone who trusts in His name.
The rod of Moses became the rod of God, the seed of Abraham became the seed of God, and whatever you surrender to God, God will make His own.  Just like the rock in the wilderness if we surrender our lives and talent to God, He will cause rivers of living water to flow from within us to bless a thirsty world.
It’s time to dig up that hidden talent and put it in the master’s hands.  After all, look what God did with a stick.
Image result for the power of the holy spirit

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bologna or Prime Rib?

John 5:1-5

“Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days.  Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches.  Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.  One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! Waiting for the moving of the water.”

There are a lot of God’s children who, spiritually speaking, are on the porch.  They are not doing anything to enter into the presence of God. They are sitting back waiting for instant healing, instant financial blessing, and instant spiritual transformation.  They watch while others enter into the blessings and presence the Lord, they judge the worship of others, and criticize the leadership of their pastors.  They know “how it should be done,” meantime they stuck in a state of spiritual mediocrity because they are not doing nothing to move closer to the presence of God that can bring them true healing and power.  They are stuck on the porch.

My experience is that porches tend to be gathering places for the sick and impotent.   My grandmother used to tell me, all the time, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  I have learned through the years that grandma, like usual, was right on the money.  If some people didn’t have their sicknesses, their financial problems, and rocky relationships with others, they wouldn’t have anything to talk about.

Here is a spiritual principle that I have come to understand, there’s no healing on the porch:

Do you want to be healed?  It’s a simple enough question, but you have to decide how you will respond to it.  Are you willing to get off the porch?  Are you willing to stop associating with those who can’t help you because they continue to accommodate your lukewarm approach to your relationship with God? Are you tired of relying on man’s help to move you closer to the power of God’s presence?

One of the greatest excuses of those on the porch, “I don’t have any one to give it to me, if they would bring it to me, I would take it.  This is one of worst hindrances to receiving the power available to all believers through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This attitude that some is better than none, “I’m saved and that’s good enough for me.”  

What a weak way to live!  It’s like saying I’d rather have a bologna sandwich when you could have prime rib.  It produces a spirit of indifference and insincerity.  No one would rather have less when more is available, some are just too lazy to get off the porch!  They want the blessing of grapes; they just don't want to fight the giants.

There is a dimension of God’s presence and power that will never be experienced by these people.  This glory is reserved for those who are willing to do whatever it takes to get off the porch and into His presence.  A power that only comes to those who run after the presence of God with a spirit of urgency.  A power that is reserved for those who, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."

"There is a season for everything and a time to every purpose under heaven," but do not miss what I’m saying: seasons change!  "Mourning lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning!"   Hear what I am saying to you!  Your window of opportunity to respond to the presence of His Holy Spirit may pass you by if you remain on the porch!

If we are not spiritually in tune with God, we can miss the greatest seasons of visitation that the church has ever known.  There comes a time when singing about it isn’t enough, when preaching about it isn’t enough, and when shouting about it isn’t enough unless we step off the porch! We can shout and dance and preach about all the great things God has done, and never touch what He is doing right now!  I want you to notice that the man was healed, and he took up his mat, "still waiting for the water to be stirred." 

God doesn't always manifest himself the way He has in the past, it doesn't always happen the way we expect it to happen, but if we are willing to step into His presence, His power always manifests with life changing transformation.  We will never come away from the presence of God empty and impotent.  We can stay on the porch and talk about all the great revivals of the past, and how God manifested his glory, or we can get off the porch and step into His power!  Jesus said: "The words that I speak unto you are spirit and they are life." 

There is power in His presence, saving power, healing power, and transforming power.  But you’ve got to be willing to be changed, and you’ve got to be willing to put forth the effort to get off the porch.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Not Over!

 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV)

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Verse seven sounds a note of victory in my spirit and I can recall, what I call companion verses, that accompany it elsewhere in the Word:

1 John 4:4(NKJV)

4 you are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Philippians 4:13(NIV) 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
If you live long enough you will eventually discover that life is not always fair and bad things happen to everyone regardless of how “good” you are.  Sometimes God’s children face financial trials, they get sick, they struggle with personal battles in their marriages, in their minds, in their flesh, and their appetites.  The Apostle Paul said: I have been troubled on every side, and perplexed, persecuted and knocked down, but he also says: not distressed, not in despair, not forsaken, not destroyed.

I want to tell somebody today: It doesn’t matter what the enemy is telling you, or what you’re struggling with, the Bible says that no weapon that is formed against you shall be able to prosper. God never promised that Satan would never form weapons against you, or that he would never launch them at you, or that they would never touch you, but He promise that they "shall not prosper!"

What His word says is…”all things work together for them who love the lord and are called according to His purpose!”

No matter how spiritual you are, at some point life is going to deal you an unexpected blow.  The good news is that although we will all encounter these unexpected attacks, problems, and circumstances, we have a promise:

Revelation 12:11 
“And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.”

I am talking to somebody today who has been knocked down.   life has thrown you an unexpected curve ball and has left you flatfooted in the batter's box: a divorce, sickness, financial burdens, a child on drugs, maybe you lost your job.  I'm talking to a pastor today: your church released you, your dreams of ministry have been crushed.  It may be a thousand different things, but you weren’t expecting it and it hurts, your life has been thrown into a tail spin.  You’ve been sucker punched in the gut and you're gasping to regain your breath.

When I was a kid I was climbing on the garage roof and my grandmother called me, I quickly jumped off the roof because I didn’t want grandma to catch me upon the roof.  Unfortunately I didn’t land on my feet, I landed on my back and it knocked the breath out of me. I could not breathe, I thought I was going to die. That was over thirty five years ago and obviously I’m still here and it didn’t kill me.
Since that time life has thrown me some unexpected curve balls and there have been times when the circumstances of life have knocked the breath out of me spiritually has spiritually, but it didn’t kill me.

Paul had a similar experience:

Acts 14:19-20 

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having (stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead). Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, (he rose up), and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.”

They thought Paul was dead, but they just knocked the breath out of him. I’m talking to somebody today who has taken a hard hit, and there’s no denying it, you’re hurting, you’ve been knocked down, it’s knocked the breath out of you, and you’re feeling hopeless.
Listen to me!  You’re still here, it hasn’t killed you!  Yes, it may have knocked you off your feet but you can turn it around because when you get knocked off your feet, you’re closer to your knees and when we hit our knees we touch heaven, and when we touch heaven hell trembles!

I want to tell somebody: You may have lost a round, but this fight is fixed! Before you ever stepped into the ring the outcome was determined!

I cannot say that I will never be knocked down, I cannot say that I will never be caught off guard, I cannot say that I will never be troubled or perplexed or even feel forsaken, but I can say, "I’m going to make it!"

I can say, "Nothing shall separate me from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I can say, "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day." 

And I can say, "I know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
As my pastor preached last year in a very powerful message, if we remain in Him, the Lord will turn life’s monsters into miracles.  Trust in Him and remember that the best is yet to come and this current set back, is just a setup, for a comeback.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

I See Grapes, Not Giants

Numbers 13:28

“Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.”

This past Sunday our pastor preached a sermon in the evening service titled, “I Don’t See No Giants.”  The main point of the sermon was that we have to stop focusing on the giants and start focusing on the grapes.  I think that we often have a tendency to be like the spies who returned from the promised land. They had seen that what God had told them about the land flowing with milk and honey was true, they brought back a bunch of grapes that required two men to carry them, and yet they still brought forth what the Bible calls and “evil report.”

How many times have we seen the Lord do amazing things, how many times have we seen Him perform signs and wonders, heal the sick, draw the prodigal back home, provide finances for someone in need, and yet when we are faced with a challenge we cannot believe that he will come through again.

All 12 spies returned and announced that the promised land was truly a land flowing with milk and honey, and here is some of the fruit.  They had all been in Egypt and seen the hand of God deliver them from bondage, saw Him part the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land, eaten of the manna and drank the water that He provided in the dessert, and yet 10 of them just can’t bring themselves to see God conquering giants, Hmmm.

I studied this passage this week, because I am facing a giant in my life at the moment, and I noticed the problem, it was one word: even though they said that it was indeed a land of milk and honey, and they had the fruit to prove it, this one word was their downfall – “BUT”

But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim[a] clans.” (CEV)

That little three-letter word has robbed millions of their faith, stolen their health, snatched their dreams, kept them from their miracle, and slammed the door shut on the promises of God.  I know God can heal, but… I know God can deliver, but… I know God can save, but… I know God can open the door, but… I know God can, but… How many times have we stood at the edge of what God has promised us and failed to take possession of it just because we didn’t believe God was able?  Every time you add a “but” to the promises of God, you limit God and disqualify yourself from His promise.

Giants are employed by the devil to resist you, frustrate you, and steal the promises of God for your life. There are all kinds of giants: fear, sickness, debt, family problems, and the list goes on and on. But whatever name you put on them, the devil’s mission is to keep you out of your blessing, and to keep you from enjoying the promises of God for your life.

I learned an important lesson Sunday night: in life you are either going to have giants or grapes, but you can't have both.  Either the sight of giants will drive your thoughts, capture your attention, decide your actions, and control your life or an appetite for grapes will.  And, if you are motivated and energized and driven by the grapes, then the giants won’t be any problem.  But if you are controlled, manipulated, and dominated by the giants, then you will never taste the grapes.

I can’t remember a message in thirty years as a minister of the gospel, that has impacted my thinking and motivated me to change the way I see the struggles I face in life, as much as my pastor’s message this past Sunday evening.  God has given us great and precious promises and they are ours to inherit or forfeit based on our faith.  I have decided that I will become, through the anointing and power of the Holy Ghost, a giant-killing, grape-grabbing, overcoming child of the living God.  The grapes are mine, God promised them to me and Jesus paid for them.  I am not a trespasser, the giants are the trespassers and it is time to serve an eviction notice to the uncircumcised Philistines that are trying to steal my inheritance.

Special Thanks to:

Pastor Shane Giadrosich – First Pentecostal Church of Richton, MS