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At Christmas time, we always hear that we should be more generous. The holidays are about giving, not receiving. And that attitude comes from Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus displayed incredible generosity while He was here on the Earth. But it’s not just His actions that matter, but the heart He has for all of humanity.

Even before time began, Jesus decided that He would go on a rescue mission for humanity. He knew that humans would sin and that our sin would cause a separation between us and God. None of us deserve the gift of eternal life that He offers us, but Jesus’ heart, His attitude towards us, was one of love and mercy.

Like Jesus, when we give, it shouldn’t be out of compulsion or because we feel like we have to. When we give, it should be out of our heart. It’s who we are. We are excited that we get to give! By taking on the attitude of Jesus and looking upon humanity with love, we will begin to see opportunities to be generous everywhere we go.

There is nothing we can give to God that will equal the gift He gives us. He knew from the beginning that we would never be able to make it up to Him. And as the Church, God’s representatives here on Earth, we should be willing to be generous towards those who won’t give anything in return, or who are unable to give anything back to us.

When we have a heart to see people turn away from their old ways and to the King of kings and the Lord of lords, we will begin to take on the attitude of Christ and give generously in His name. Christmas doesn’t have to be the only season of giving in our lives. We can make every day about giving generously when we take on the attitude that Christ had of contributing rather than taking.

Christ is calling His Church to have a heart that reflects His majesty, and that includes being generous in all ways. Giving like God is not based on status. He gives us amazing, amazing things even though we can never give Him anything of equal value in return; we can’t outgive God! Giving with the same heart as Christ is about giving to people who can only receive, and doing so with a heart to see them come to believe in Christ and enter into His eternal Kingdom.

Watch the teaching.

No Room Situations

Mark 2:1-12—When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

Our God is a master at taking no room situations and turning them into a way for Him to show the world who He is. In this story in Mark 2, there was no room for this group of friends inside the house. When Israel was fleeing from the Egyptian army, their backs were pressed against the Red Sea. There was nowhere for them to go, but God showed up and provided a way of escape for them. And before Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph tried to stay at an inn, but there was no room for them there.

When people look at our lives, do they see no room situations? If you are a child of God, that means He has influenced you in a powerful, life-changing way. This isn’t something we can do on our own. The friends of the paralyzed man got their friend to the feet of Jesus, but Jesus used the situation to do something physical in order to teach a spiritual truth.

Jesus healed the paralyzed man physically so that he could walk again, and the onlookers were astonished. But when he forgave the man of his sins, they questioned Jesus’ authority. This story isn’t about someone who couldn’t walk being healed; it’s about the man’s faith connecting with Jesus’ forgiveness. Our faith in the forgiveness we receive from Jesus changes the way we walk in our lives.

God doesn’t want us to just be forgiven and then come to heaven one day. He wants to do something in you so that those around you will look at your life and praise your heavenly Father. Your life shouldn’t be riddled with no room situations! The purpose of everything God does is for others to be astonished and understand who He is and what He can do in their lives.

Jesus wants His followers to be the ones swimming upstream when the current is flowing strong downstream. Display the hope of an eternity with the Creator to those around you. Change the world by allowing the Spirit of God to purge things out of you and do amazing things in and through you.

Watch the teaching here.

Soak It Up

God’s design for your life is for you to permeate the Earth with His presence by pouring out his love on everyone around you. But, you can’t do that unless you are constantly soaking up who Jesus is.

Hebrews 6:1-3—So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

The author of Hebrews was striving to explain that Jesus is far greater than any angel, that He is greater than their leader Moses, and that He is greater than any of their priests. Many of us today think of Jesus only as our Savior, and while it’s true that He saves us, He does so much more than that.

Until we soak in the fullness of who Christ is, it’s hard to experience all of the blessings that God wants to pour on us. Jesus is not only our Savior, but also the Lord, or leader, over our entire life.

He is our King, who has the authority to give us a significant purpose and call us to fulfill our destiny in Him. Kings are unique because they don’t let you just exist. No, kings will appoint you to an assignment within their kingdom, and that’s exactly what God has done for you. When God created you, He had a special plan in mind just for you; all you have to do is be willing to accept the calling He has placed on your life.

Jesus is also our priest. In the Old Testament, priests were the ones who offered sacrifices and appeared to God on behalf of the rest of the people. Jesus is our advocate, appearing before God as a perfect sacrifice and appealing to Him on our behalf.

When the writer of Hebrews wrote the passage above, he wanted his readers to move past the things they already knew, and start applying those things to their lives. That’s what soaking up who Jesus is means—it’s being able to take what God has said into your life, and utilize it every day. Soak up every aspect of who Jesus is—He’s not only your Savior, but your Lord, King, and Priest.

Watch my full teaching “Stay Sharp”.

Bury Your Shackles

The book of Exodus tells us how the Israelites, the people of God, escaped from hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt. God raised up a special leader named Moses, who guided the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, a place of abundant life. Moses talked with Pharaoh, the leader of the nation of Egypt, and it took God sending ten plagues on the land before Pharaoh agreed to let Israel leave.

After they left, Pharaoh changed his mind, and sent down his army to chase the Israelites down. The Israelites were following Moses’ lead as he followed God. Eventually, they ended up facing the waters of the Red Sea on one side, and the Egyptians chasing them on the other. Their backs were against the wall, and it seemed like there was no way out.

But Moses trusted God to rescue them from the Egyptians, and God split the waters in half, so the entire nation of Israel could cross the Red Sea safely. When they were all on the other side, God released the waters, drowning the Egyptians who had followed the Israelites into the water. The ones who had held them captive were swallowed up, and the Israelites, now safe from those who had held them in bondage, praised God.

Today, we have baptism as a way to symbolically show that we are following Christ into His death, and allowing Him to resurrect us into new life. We show that we are dying to the slavery in our past, burying the shackles that have held us back, and that we have been made new in Christ.

Through Christ, the old is behind us and we can live a new life in Him. Imagine the shackles coming off as He rescues you from what has been holding you captive: addictions, unforgiveness, hatred, worry, bitterness, envy…Christ can save you from everything that is keeping you from living the life He intends for you to live. That doesn’t mean your life will be perfect, but that you can have joy no matter the circumstances or obstacles that are thrown at you.

Baptismal waters have no power, but the One who brings you up out of the water has power that can’t be measured. He calls us out of bondage, out of slavery, to a life of abundance. All it takes is us placing our faith and trust in Him to save us from all of our misses and allowing Him to transform us into new creations.

Heart for the House

God should be the most spectacular being in any community. And He wants to use you and the gifts He’s given you so that you can help that happen in your neighborhood, your workplace, your school. At Barefoot Church, we want you to live you, the God-given you. God has put so much into our hands, and we need to use them to the best of our ability to glorify Him throughout the whole Earth.

Know that you are accepted by God where you are right now. He doesn’t expect you to try and get your life all lined up on your own, before coming to Him. You don’t have to prove anything to Him. He already knows everything about you, and He sent His Son, Jesus, to come to Earth and die on the cross so that you can be in a right relationship with Him. When our identity is found in our faith in Jesus, we don’t have to worry about our security.

You are highly valued by your Creator, and He has given you special gifts, talents, and resources to use for His purpose in this world. Nothing about you is insignificant to God. We are made in His image! And He has called all of us to be a part of His unique plan for our lives.

Your job is to allow yourself to be equipped by the Holy Spirit to do those unique things. When you come to Christ, you become a part of His Church, the people of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Church to challenge you to never accept an ordinary life. Don’t allow yourself to be a spectator, always watching the game from the sidelines. Live out who God says you are. He will equip you if you will listen to His discipline. He will help us change to become more like Christ when we are willing. Let Him move some things out of your life so that He can move in your life.

What matters most is the heart with which you do things. Have a heart for God and expanding His Kingdom, and display that heart to the world. Fulfill the calling He has placed on your life with excellence. Live out who He says you are in everything that you do.

The Curtain

Matthew 27:51—At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The Temple’s curtain (sometimes called a veil) separated the room which had the presence of God in it from the rest of the Temple. Only certain priests were allowed to enter this room on certain days of the year, and in order to do so, they had to wash themselves in a particular way and perform special animal sacrifices. Then, the priest would be allowed to go in the room and experience the presence of God

But, at the moment Jesus died on the cross, the curtain separating this room from everybody else was ripped apart. This sacred place in the Temple was now accessible to all people.

In Psalm 23:6, David wrote, “And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” David knew what it meant to enter into God’s presence. God’s house is open to everyone; we just have to know about the custom door it has. That door has a name, and the name is Jesus. When Jesus died, the curtain separating the part of the Temple housing the presence of God was torn. Jesus came to give us full access to God, our Creator.

Jesus’ purpose while He was here on Earth wasn’t just to die and forgive us of our sins. It was to allow us to experience God by offering us the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him. If we want to get to God, all we have to do is go through Jesus, our mediator.

Hebrews 10:21-22–“…since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”

The door into God’s house isn’t closed. Remember, the curtain was torn. There is no other way to find God except through Jesus. But He doesn’t expect us to work for the access to God He gives. There is nothing we can do to earn the right to walk through the door. Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross because He lived a perfect life. And because He lived that perfect life, He is able to forgive all of us of our misses in life. When we accept that gift of grace—unmerited favor—we become a part of God’s family, able to access Him whenever we want and experience His presence.

Mind Monsters

In the Old Testament, anointing was a symbolic way of showing blessing, empowerment, and protection over someone. People were anointed when they had been chosen by God for a special task. For example, David was anointed when God said that he was going to be the king of Israel.

At certain times of the year, insects like gnats would attack the vulnerable sheep. Gnats travel in swarms and the more you sweat, the more they swarm. A shepherd’s flock would be terrorized by these small creatures flying around their faces, laying eggs in their ears, and giving them diseases. Sometimes it would just be annoying to the sheep, but other times, the sheep would be driven crazy and commit suicide because of the monsters around them.

But, the shepherd would create a special mixture of oil and ointment, and when he rubbed it into the sheep’s wool, the insects would stay away. The word “anoint” means to rub or smear. In an anointing like David had, the oil had no power. But it symbolized that God is protecting, blessing, and empowering that person.

The shepherd’s oil mixture would keep the monsters away that would destroy the sheep’s life. And God offers us oil that He can smear over us to protect us from the mind monsters.

We have the choice to either let the mind monsters or the Master’s medicine control our soul. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

What we put in our minds determines the track our soul runs down. Our thoughts are a lot like trains—they always take us somewhere. You wouldn’t get on a train without knowing the destination. You have the opportunity to not buy the ticket to where your thoughts want to take you. Mind monsters will tell you to just let the train of your thoughts take you wherever it goes. But if you don’t take control of your thoughts with God’s power, it’s like getting on a train without knowing where it’s headed.

It’s a constant battle when it comes to our thoughts. They’re always with us, and so we have to accept God’s gift of oil, His medicine, so that we can have soul control. If we don’t, we’ll act on what our flesh feels is best instead of what our all-powerful, all-knowing God says is best.

Watch my full teaching on Mind Monsters.

Prize Eyes

No athlete sets a world record, makes it to the Olympics, or wins a national title without daily discipline. They don’t expect to wake up one day and suddenly win the big prize. Instead, they train for years, living with prize eyes to focus themselves on what they want to accomplish.

In Philippians 3:14, Paul wrote, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” On the cross, Jesus proposed to the human race with His gift of grace and forgiveness. And when we accept that proposal, our ultimate focus should change. We have been given a different vision for our life. Instead of focusing on the here and now, we need to gain some prize eyes that are always looking towards the future.

After a proposal comes a wedding. One day, Christ, the groom, will return and be reunited with His bride, the Church—the people of God. Right now, we live in between the proposal and the wedding. We are in a time of preparation, a time when we need to be getting ourselves ready for that day. And like an athlete prepares to win the big prize, we need to be preparing for Christ’s return.

John 16:13-14—When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

God hasn’t left us on our own to figure out how to live in this preparation period. He has given all followers of Christ the gift of the Holy Spirit, who will help us like a personal trainer would. Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “…God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” People who live with prize eyes will see the value that comes with daily discipline, even when it’s difficult. They know that if they truly value the future, they will also value the discipline that prepares us for the future.

The Holy Spirit will help us in disciplining every area of our lives, from our character to the gifts and talents God has given us to the vision we have for ourselves. We should not stay the same, but always be growing in the grace that God has given us. It won’t always be easy, but by submitting to the Holy Spirit’s training, we will see ourselves growing stronger as we prepare for the future.

The Shepherd

Psalm 23:1, 4—The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

The rod and staff that a shepherd would carry were like extensions of their arm. They were tools that shepherds needed to use every day to protect, guide, and care for their sheep. In Psalm 23, David calls the Lord his shepherd, and in John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. Jesus is our shepherd as we walk through our daily lives, and He uses His rod and staff to help us live out our God-given purpose.

A shepherd’s staff was shaped like a hook, so that if one of his sheep began to wander, the shepherd could guide that sheep back to the rest of the flock. And just like a shepherd would draw their sheep back to the flock, God draws us to Himself so that He can begin to guide us in the right way to go. God’s spirit coaches our spirits, so that our souls are changed in spite of whatever circumstances may be surrounding us.

The rod that a shepherd would use, on the other hand, was for protecting, correcting, and inspecting. It was basically a wooden bat with spikes on the end and could be used to protect the flock from predators. With a rod, the shepherd was very powerful. But besides protecting his sheep from outside animals, the shepherd could also use his rod to prod sheep in loving discipline, and as a comb to check his flock’s wool for parasites and other things that could make them sick.

The rod that God uses is His Word, which He has given us to guide us through our daily lives. When we absorb what it says—that means not just reading the Bible, but letting it soak in and applying it to our lives—we will move forward through the dark valleys of our lives. The Bible can be used to protect us from harmful influences, help us live more like God designed us to live by correcting us when we go off on our own, and can shine a light on the parts of our lives that need to be removed or changed.

If we want to live holistically—if we want to live a more well-rounded life—then we have to take a holistic approach to God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Every word of the Bible is useful and relevant to our lives today.

Allow God, the Good Shepherd, to guide your life with His rod and staff, so that you can be everything He has created you to be. Let His Word guide, protect, and correct you as you go about your daily routine. Remember that God has already won, so if you’re on His team, you’re on the winning side, no matter the circumstances.

Hear more about the Good Shephard in my latest message, From Wanting to Winning.

Your Reflection

When you buy a product that you see in an advertisement, you expect the product to live up to the expectations set by the ad, right? If you’re at a nice restaurant and the menu shows a picture of a juicy steak, but you end up with a piece of steak that’s dry and tough to chew, you’re going to be disappointed. The advertisement failed to reflect the true nature of what you were going to get. But if you get a meal that lives up to your expectations, you’ll be excited and want to go to that restaurant more often.

 

Now look at your own life. What is it that you’re reflecting? The people around you—those in your neighborhood, your workplace, your home, your school—can tell what your heart is connected to by just looking at your life.

 

Titus 2:11-14—For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

 

Lots of people have been disappointed by the reflections that followers of Christ have displayed of God. As the Church we’re supposed to be the people of God, living with valor and righteousness and looking to the future with hope and faith, so that when people look at our lives, they see a reflection of their Creator.

 

Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is something you can see—it has substance. If you look at someone’s life, you can see what they put their faith in. Faith moves us toward action, so we will act upon whatever we place our faith in.

 

But if what we have faith in isn’t Christ, we will always be disappointed. No one and nothing can live up to our expectations besides Him. If your highest hope is in the relationship that you’re in right now, and it goes bad, then everything around you will feel like it’s crashing down, because you’ve put your hope in something that can’t bring you lasting joy. If your hope is in your money, and you lose it all, where will you be left? Even our physical bodies will be over one day, but God offers us a new heavenly body.

 

Hope alone won’t move us towards the purpose that God has for us. We have to actively, intentionally, put our faith in the future. Revelation 22:12-14 says, “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life.” Here “those who wash their robes’ means those who have been washed in the blood of Christ’s sacrifice—those who have accepted the proposal of grace He made on the cross.

 

Anyone can accept this gift from Jesus, and those of us who do can have faith in the fulfillment of these promises that God has made, because no matter how difficult or bad things get here on the Earth, we have an eternity to look forward to with the Creator of the universe.  Put your faith and hope in what’s still yet to come instead of what currently is.

Watch my teaching “The Reflection of Your Connection”.