Aha! Moment

In the past few years, scientists have created a pair of glasses called Enchroma glasses that can help some colorblind people experience colors they have never seen before. There are many videos of people putting these glasses on and reacting in wonder, and experiencing all kinds of emotions as they see the world in a new way. They are in shock of what they can now see.

Maybe some of us are colorblind towards life—we’ve lost out wonder for God. But when we seek God, we can begin to see the world in full color the way it is meant to be.

Jesus came to help us see our circumstances and experiences through a new lens. He gives us aha! moments. “Aha, that’s what you meant! I can see it now!” Life becomes alive and vivid, and we can take everything life throws at us with strength and courage–even the most difficult obstacles thrown our way.

In Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus says a lot of things that seem strange at first. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” But we usually don’t think of those who are poor as being blessed. “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” All of us will lose someone close to us in our lives, but Jesus wants us to remember that life’s not over yet.

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.” None of that seems enjoyable, but Jesus says God blesses us for it! And He even takes it a step further in the next verse: “Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”

What He’s saying seems ridiculous. Be happy that people mock us and lie about us? Be glad when we are persecuted for following Jesus? But it’s all about looking at life with a different angle, a new lens. When difficult circumstances come into our lives, we need to depend on God. Don’t let yourself lose the wonder of God in your life. Remember that with Him, our future is bright.

Watch my full teaching titled “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”.

Expressions

We tend to gravitate toward people who have the same interests as us. And if you spend enough time around those people, you’ll start to act and dress like them. Your greatest expressions come from the greatest influences in your life and the experiences you have. Depending on who and what you surround yourself with, your expressions will change.

1 John 4:10-12—This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

We are on Earth to be expressions of God. We are His masterpieces that paint His presence all around the world. From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to express Himself by influencing our lives. All through the Bible we see God telling His people to be fruitful and multiply, to permeate Earth with His glory and power. He blesses us so that we can also be a blessing to others.

When we come to Jesus through our faith and put all of our trust in Him, something changes in our lives. We aren’t influenced by the same things anymore. Any of us can fake it temporarily, but to consistently express who God is, we have to be in a relationship with Him and allow Him to be the greatest influence in our lives.

Ephesians 3:10-12—God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

We’re not just a display for the people we know and see all the time—the Bible says God puts us on display to the spiritual rulers and authorities that we can’t see. We can be confident in our faith in Jesus because He is more powerful than death itself. On every day and in every decision that you make, ask yourself what the greatest experiences and influences in your life are. Be the Church; be an amazing display of God’s love, power, and glory to the world.

Endurance

When athletes train for endurance, they don’t just go until they start to feel tired. They keep on going, pushing themselves to get stronger. They train their bodies to endure.

Endurance doesn’t mean much of anything if we’re not under pressure. It’s not built on the mountaintop, but in the valleys—in the low points of our lives. It’s easy to keep going when you have it all together. It’s another to press on when things are difficult.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” Salvation is a gift; it’s not dependent on what we do. Jesus forgives all who come to Him by faith. But that’s not where our journey has to end. If we stop at forgiveness and never do anything else with our lives, we miss the opportunity to receive amazing rewards in eternity.

In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the time when He will come back to Earth. Matthew 24:42 -44 says, “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” We don’t want to become complacent and be caught off guard when Jesus returns. In games like basketball, the players know that eventually, the final buzzer will sound and the game will end.

Jesus tells us that there will be a final buzzer—when we give an account for what we did on Earth, what will we tell Him about the opportunities He gave us? God has entrusted each of us with certain abilities, resources, talents, and opportunities to use for building up His Kingdom on Earth while we wait for Jesus’ return. Don’t sit and watch the time tick away. Pick up your ball and try and score some points for your team while you have the opportunity.

Jesus is coming back, so get ready. Stay alert. Build your endurance so you have the strength to play through the whole game and put some points on the scoreboard. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so do everything you can today to grow the Kingdom of God.

Watch the teaching “Shoot Don’t Sit”.

Get in Position

“There’s not enough time in the day.” “I wish I could turn back the clock.” Sometimes, time feels like it’s dragging on and on, and often, we pray to ask God to give us more time. But God doesn’t work on our schedule.

Joshua 10:7-13—So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.

On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

Joshua’s prayer wasn’t about time. He didn’t ask God to freeze time and give the Israelites more time to prepare for the battle. Joshua asked God to let the sun stand still in the east, so that it would shine in their enemies’ eyes in the west. It was a prayer of position.

It’s easy to think that if we just had more time, we could do so much more, and win every battle that we face. But God isn’t on our timeline. He knows His purpose for us; our job is to get focused on our position in the battle, rather than try to change the condition of the battle.

People often want to jump ship when the conditions become unfavorable; many people think that once they become a Christian, everything will be perfect for them all the time. But Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have difficulties in this life. God’s will is for you to keep pressing on through the pain and the challenges, not to switch paths once you hit some resistance.

The battle isn’t the problem—someone can always through punches at you. We need to make sure that our hearts are in the right position to take on the battle. Be audacious enough to move to the position God wants you in. When we walk in our God-given position, we ready ourselves to face any of life’s conditions.

Watch the full teaching Sun Stand Still.

Dark Moments

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of the dark. And that’s a pretty common fear, right? When you’re in the dark, you can’t see what’s right in front of you, so your imagination runs wild. There are monsters in your closet, or under your bed, or hiding in the shadows. Hearing a noise in the dark would make me retreat under my covers until morning came.

We all have dark moments in life that threaten to stalemate us. These dark moments can cause all different kinds of emotions in our lives. Sometimes they cause us to become fearful of moving forward. A dark moment might cause insecurity—maybe someone said something about us that’s made us forget who God says we are.

Dark moments might make us isolate ourselves from everyone else, or stir up bitterness in our hearts. Perhaps we feel shameful of something in our past. Or maybe we’ve experienced failure and are afraid to try again.

Look at your own life today and figure out what dark moments cause in you. Be honest with yourself, because the enemy uses that to keep you right where you are. He doesn’t want you moving forward, but instead wants you stalemated.

Darkness can be an enemy of our soul, but it can also set us up for what’s coming. After a long day of working hard, the dark helps you get to sleep so that you can wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, alert and ready to take on obstacles and challenges.

For three hours on the day that Jesus was crucified, Luke 23:44 says, “darkness fell across the whole land”. The next verse says, “The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.”

In the middle of the day, the land became like night. Darkness seemed to be taking over, but God was working even in the dark. The curtain separated the presence of God on Earth from almost everybody—no one was allowed to go behind the curtain unless they had gone through a detailed cleansing ceremony. By tearing the curtain, God opened up access to Himself for all of humanity.

Jesus knew that darkness didn’t rule Him. In Luke 23:46, He shouted His last words: “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” Jesus knew He would rise, and that a new day was coming.  Death, darkness, sin, and the grave don’t win because Jesus has already defeated all of them. He rose from the grave to illuminate the path for all who will trust in Him. God is with us, before us, and behind us.

There will be battles, but remember that God rules over the dark. If you don’t trust Him in the dark, you can’t walk with Him in the light. And if you’ve trusted in Him, it is impossible for you to walk in spiritual darkness any longer. Trust Christ to lead you into the light. Allow Him to guide the rest of your life so that you can be all God created you to be.

Get an Empty Cup

Have you ever ordered a drink at a restaurant and taken a sip only to find out it’s not the drink you were expecting? When you order fresh, hot coffee but get something lukewarm that’s been sitting in the machine for three days, it’s terrible! If you’re expecting sweet tea but get iced tea instead, you get upset! So you let the waiter know and request a brand-new drink.

But what would you do if you gave that lukewarm coffee to your waiter and watched as he topped the same drink off with fresh coffee? You’d say no—get rid of the old drink with the grounds floating around in it, get me a freshly washed cup, and pour in the good stuff!

Psalm 23:5-6 says, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” David saw his cup overflowing with blessings, and that is what we should desire. But a lot of us make the same mistake as the waiter who just tops off the cup of bad coffee—we ask God to top off our life with blessings, but we want to keep all the bad stuff in our lives, too.

God wants to fill your cup with amazing blessings, but so many of us want to hold on to the sin in our lives. We just want to be topped off with a little bit of God.

In Matthew 26, Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane before He was betrayed by Judas. He said in verses 40-42, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine…My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” Jesus knew that for us to receive new, empty cups to be filled with God’s blessings, He would have to drink all of the dirt, sediment, and junk that filled the old cups.

Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath so that you and I don’t have to. He knew that when He did, humanity would have the opportunity to have a restored relationship with God, and could be filled with His Spirit. And Jesus didn’t just cover up our sin—He drank the whole cup. He took it away and offers us a brand-new cup. Our lives overflow with blessings when we understand the power of God’s love.

So many of us want God to just top our lives off with His blessings, but He will never just top it off—He wants to completely fill your life with His blessing. Realize that for this to happen, God has to empty your cup first. Give Him the control of your life, and let Him help you get rid of all the junk in your life. Then, watch as your life begins to overflow with the blessing of God.

God’s Attributes

Revelation 4:1-8—After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

In Revelation 4, Jesus’ disciple John was seeing a vision into the throne room of God. The four living creatures he described all represent different attributes of God. And as God’s representatives on Earth, we need to know these attributes so that we can take them and reflect them to the rest of the world. By reflecting God to others, we can help them have a hunger to meet Him for themselves.

The lion represents God’s majesty and courage. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” In Joshua 1:9, God said, “This is my command—be strong and courageous!”

It takes courage to go against the culture. Sometimes the pushback can be so strong that it seems overwhelming. But draw courage from your faith—put on the armor of God in Ephesians 6 so that you will be ready to take on the devil no matter the tactics he uses. Have the courage to walk in the promises of God.

Oxen are animals of labor, strength, and service. All throughout the Bible God’s people are called to serve, and we as the Church are no different. In Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others…” Remember that before we even knew His name, Jesus first served us. Take what He has already given to you and use it to serve others.

Many scholars say that the face of the man represents the intelligence of God. He is omniscient, which means all-knowing—there is nothing we can hide from Him. There are no secrets with God! He knows more about you than you know about yourself. No matter what, He loves you and wants you to be a part of His Kingdom.

The eagle shows God’s leadership. Eagles are focused and committed—they mate for life. They are gentle with their young but also challenge them at the same time. Especially in times when people are searching for hope and life, we as the Church need to be an eagle in our community.

Keys to the Kingdom

If you have just met somebody, are you going to pull out your keys and show them the key to your safe? Of course not! You’d be afraid that they might use that knowledge to steal some of your most precious belongings.

Our enemy is like that—He keeps things from us because He is afraid of us finding the keys to God’s Kingdom. The devil knows that God offers us keys to unlock the future of God’s purpose for our lives, and it terrifies him. But Jesus came from heaven into the darkness of Earth and exposed everything the enemy is trying to keep from us.

If you’ve ever misplaced your keys, you know how important they are in our lives! A key can be very rewarding, but if you don’t know what it unlocks or how to use it, you’ll just end up frustrated. That is what has happened to many of us—we don’t understand the life that Christ offers us or the purpose of that life. Once we trust in who Christ is, we are adopted into the family of God to be Kingdom kids, and are given a set of Kingdom keys. And parents who give their children keys expect responsibility.

Matthew 23:13 says, “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” Here, Jesus was showing how not to use the keys He gives. We aren’t intended to use the keys to exclude other people—there is room in heaven for everyone. Instead, we are to use our keys to invite other people over so they can experience the generosity God has shown to us.

Acts 15:19, Paul was talking to Jewish leaders when he said, “…my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Paul wanted them to break down the barriers that kept people from meeting God and receiving their Kingdom keys, the most powerful set of keys in the universe! In Our assignment is the same today—don’t hold people back, but instead do everything you can to ensure there is nothing standing in the way of anyone hearing the Good News and getting their keys.

Watch my full teaching on Grace.

Losing Control

We don’t like the word “submission,” do we? In America, we’re raised around the words “free” and “independent.” We don’t like to be told what we can and can’t do! We have a submission problem, and that’s very hard for grace to break out of us. It’s part of why the world is in the condition it’s in right now—we are all so strong-willed and determined to do things our own way. But God wants to work things out of us through our submission to His will, so that He replace them with better things.

Submission feels like we’re losing control, but that’s the point. It’s aligning yourself back with God and letting Him lead you in your journey through life so that He can show you what is best for you. Remember, God knows the whole story—He sees the big picture when we can only see what’s in front of us. He won’t lead us astray.

If you want to be all that God has created you to be, and do all of the incredible things He has planned for you to do, you have to totally submit yourself to Him. Ephesians 3:16 says, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” Let God’s amazing, unlimited, eternal grace lead your faith, and ask Him to help you learn to submit. It’s not easy because it goes against everything our flesh wants: control over our lives. But let your faith follow God’s grace, and allow Him to empower you with the strength you need.

In Ephesians 5:21, Paul says, “…submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submit to those who are in authority above you, and when you’re given the opportunity to lead, follow God’s example and lead with love and grace. Learn from and listen to the people around you. There are things you can learn from those older than you, and there are things you can learn from those younger than you. You can learn from them no matter their age, gender, skin color, nationality, social status, financial background—we’re all in this together. The Church is God’s set apart people—we are to function as a single unit, unified and working together for His purpose.

Watch my teaching on Grace.

Make the Connection

Ephesians 3:20—Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Have you ever been on a plane that landed late, and then had to run through the airport to reach your connecting flight? Or maybe you’ve been hooking up a trailer to your vehicle, and had to make sure the connection is locked down and tight so that you won’t wreck. A bad Internet connection won’t allow you to open pages or download files that you need. Connections are important because they help us reach our destination.

It’s through connections that God is working. If we want to see Him do more than we could ever ask for or imagine, we have to make a connection. Ephesians 2: 4-6 says, “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

So many of us try to connect our faith, but we miss the mark. Instead of putting our faith in God, we end up putting it in our spouse, job, kids, nationality, skin color, language, or even our self. Sometimes we put our faith in doing good deeds, going to church, and reading the Bible. But we can’t make up for our sins by doing good things because God isn’t pleased by the things we do. We can only please Him by taking our faith and connecting it to God’s unmerited favor—His grace.

Be honest with yourself and ask what your faith is in. Is it in something you are, have, or do? Or is your faith in the risen Savior named Jesus, who came to save your life by grace and change you forever? Make the connection with your faith. Appropriate your faith in God’s grace, because it’s the greatest opportunity of your entire life.