Ordinary People

I want to encourage you today. God made you and He made today. Therefore He has something incredible for you today. Jesus said Himself, "The things that are impossible with people are possible with God." Expect the impossible to become possible today with God. Expect this every day!

God is supernatural. But He is supernatural through ordinary people like you and me. He hasn't changed through the centuries. He is just as powerful as He was through the early church. Simply expect Him to be supernatural through you today. Expect Him to touch someone through you today!

Positive + Or Negative -

It's always good to have a positive attitude. Even today, as you live your life and work your work, the best attitude is a positive one. However, a positive attitude that is not based on God's Word is nothing more than positive thinking. The problem here is that positive thinking alone has no root, and is easily influenced by circumstances, good or bad.

A positive attitude born of the Word of God is rooted in the Word of God. When adversity or discontentment comes, specific Scriptures come to mind we can stand on and even do battle with amidst the circumstances. Standing on God's Word produces a positive attitude because God's Word is positive.

You probably know this, but for most folks it is much easier to be negative than positive. It's always easier to relax and flow with the negative circumstances. It's harder to stand against the flow. But standing against the flow produces results that transcend the circumstances! Anyone can be negative! But it takes much more to be positive. And again, the results are worth it. I love this truly significant verse from Proverbs 18: 21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." We can speak death or we can speak life. Death propagates the negative circumstances. Life, on the other hand, changes the circumstances.

If you want to speak positive things, you must fill your heart with the Word of God which is positive. So if you want to speak the Word in the midst of your circumstances in order to NOT flow with the circumstances...you must fill your heart with the Word of God. Because, "The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart." (See Matthew 12: 43)

Let me challenge you this very day! Determine now that TODAY you will speak positively based on the Word of God in your heart. Determine that you will not flow with the river of negativity that flows from the mouth of disgruntled coworkers. Determine NOW that you will take along with you a positive attitude, anchored in the Word, wherever you go...from here on out. Then watch your circumstances and your attitude change!


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Approaching God's Throne In Corporate Worship

Have you ever wondered what corporate worship is all about? Why do we sing at church? Why do people play musical instruments during a church gathering? Some might say, "Well...it's because that's just what you do in church? You sing and play instruments." Others might say, "Well...that song service (I despise that term) is to fill some space before the preacher comes to preach." And here's the classic one, "It's to prepare our hearts to receive the Word of God." While that last one can be true, we must remember, Jesus prepared your heart to receive the Word of God the moment you received Him into your heart. And by feeding regularly on His Word (at any time), we actually prepare our hearts to worship Him more effectively!

You and I are actually created to worship God. I once heard someone say the center of heaven will not be the pulpit. Instead, it is the throne of God. I agree with that. Even today God is the center of all His creation, and He is worthy of our worship...now. I am a minister of the Word of God. I love to preach and teach the Word. It is my calling in life. But when I get to heaven, I probably won't be preaching and teaching the Word of God. I will be worshiping the King of Kings. As a matter of fact, I will be worshiping Him forever and ever and ever. Yes, you and I will still be learning because we can sit at His feet for 10 or 20 thousand years at a time! He is the Word, and so very worthy of our eternal worship!

A
scribe once asked Jesus, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus' response was, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord; and you shall worship the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." (Mark 12: 29-30) According to Paul there is only one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. (See Ephesians 4) Paul tells us also in Romans 4 that even though we are many members, with different functions, we are ONE body, the body of Christ. Worshiping corporately brings the members together to worship God in one voice. Why? Because we are one body of Christ. If you've ever experienced the unity that comes during powerful, Spirit-led corporate worship, you know what a wonderful experience it is. Not only is it wonderful, it is very powerful because Jesus is intensely glorified.

I am not trying to be critical, but I think many churches are not realizing the "why" of our corporate worship. Understanding there is a protocol for worship or approaching God's throne is crucial. Here's a good example. If you wanted to visit the President of the United States you wouldn't just drive up to the White House, park near the front door, walk in, approach the Oval Office, open the door, and say, "Hey Mr. Prez! Got a couple of minutes?" No. If you are granted time with the POTUS, you go through a very scrutinized protocol to end up in his presence. Approaching God may be a bit different from approaching the POTUS, but there is a protocol we must understand.

The Psalmist said, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." (Psalm 100: 4) Did you know that entering His presence in corporate worship begins with being thankful? We must be thankful that we can enter in. We must be grateful for who He is and what He has done for us. As we are thankful, we move into the courts of His presence. This is closer to Him. Through praise we declare who He is and the great works He has done. Our God is so extremely good that we could praise Him, non-stop, from now throughout eternity.

From a technical sense, it's easier to praise God with songs of praise. The psalms are full of them. Psalms 120 - 134 have been given the title "Songs of Ascent". It is believed by many scholars that these songs were sung by worshipers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the 3 yearly appointed festivals. Others think they were sung by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem. Either way, both are beautiful types and shadows of ascending to the courts of God's presence with praise. It is not that we have to sing these same psalms, but it's the principle we must realize. Again, praise songs are songs that declare the great feats God has accomplished, or will accomplish. Praise songs are declarations of faith. They can be declared to others as well as to God Himself. I'll explain this later, but praise songs should typically be faster, up tempo songs.

Quite frankly, we can praise anyone for doing good things. But only God can be worshiped in Spirit and truth. Only God can be given our total surrender. Only our Lord and King can be adored simply for who He is. This is the heart of worship.

At some point the praise should move out of His courts into the most holy place of His presence. Many corporate gatherings never get this far because they simply don't allow the time for this to happen. But this is why we exist....even here on this planet. We don't wait until we get to heaven to start worshiping our King. We must be taught, then encouraged to do so even from a babe in Christ! As we enter corporately into His most holy place, we find it is a place in which His Spirit is manifested in supernatural, life-changing ways.

I said before that praise songs should typically be faster songs, and from my experience we should begin with them. The reason for this is the faster celebratory songs tend to focus the attention of everyone on one thing...Jesus. A group gathering for corporate worship is made up of individuals from different walks of life. Believe me, not every mind is on Jesus when they arrive for worship. These songs gather the folks together as a call to worship. When the majority of the gathering has set their attention on Jesus, the Holy Spirit will lead us deeper into God's holy presence as we offer songs that enhance more intimate worship.

There has been a strong move among many Spirit-filled church gatherings to sing only intimate style ballads during praise and worship. The Holy Spirit has been faithful as always to inspire people to write powerfully anointed songs  born out of times of intimacy with Jesus. This is awesome. However, many worshipers who gather to worship have not been as intimate with God during the week. As they come in to worship, their focus is spread among the many activities and challenges of the day or week. They need the "call to worship", faster, praise songs to draw their attention to the King. To bypass this part of the process usually causes some to go through the motions of intimate worship instead of being truly led into God's presence through the protocol of approaching His throne. Never forget, lives are changed before His throne, in the presence of the King of Kings.

The Bible gives us our protocol for corporate worship, which applies to individual worship as well. However, we should never be legalistic about the protocol. Knowing the protocol simply gives us an understanding of approaching God's throne in worship. Anytime we gather for corporate worship, it should be with the mind that Holy Spirit has His way. He is here to lead and guide us into the truth. He is in our midst to glorify Jesus, our King. After all, that's what worship is all about...glorifying Him.

Holy Spirit Baptism

What I am about to share will sound a bit different; but I am convinced it is the truth. I want to share two crucial factors to God's ingenious plan to reach mankind with His love and salvation. The first one you have heard of. We call it the Gospel of Salvation, or  the Gospel of Jesus. Of course we know this factor as God so loving the world, that He gave His only Son, Jesus; that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but instead have eternal life. (See John 3: 16). We have taken the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, and Mark 16 and labeled them the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul says the more we hear of this good news of God's salvation, the greater our faith to receive His work on the cross. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10: 17)

The second factor, and the one you may not have heard presented as I am about to, is Luke's account of the Great Commission. Yes, Luke provides us with the most complete account of what we call the Great Commission. "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24: 46-49) This second factor in God reaching humanity is the "clothing of man with power from on high"; also known as the "baptism of the Holy Spirit".

Let me put it another way. There were two parts to God's saving of mankind. One is the fact that Jesus LEFT His glory, became a human, took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, died, and  rose three days later destroying sin's dictatorship over mankind. The second is the fact that Jesus RETURNED to the Father, His name exalted above every name. By virtue of His RETURN to heaven, He sent forth the promise of the Father, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though His disciples were very disappointed when Jesus began to speak of His departure to the Father, He was still driven to return to heaven to send forth the promise, the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew it was better that He go away. Driven by His love for us, He departed and poured forth "the promise" and made Him available to whoever would call upon Him.

Just as we receive Jesus into our hearts by faith, we also subsequently receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith. Jesus clearly told His disciples to preach the Gospel beginning at Jerusalem. But in Luke 24 He tells them to "...stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Please understand, God is a supernatural God. He does supernatural things through people like you and me. He does it through and by His Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is God's Spirit (and He is) then He too is extremely supernatural. Quite frankly, what the church needs more than anything today is that missing element of God's supernatural power in and upon her. There's nothing ordinary about God and His Holy Spirit. Thus, there is nothing ordinary about God's people, His church. His church is not an organization. It is not simply a gathering. His church is His blood-purchased, Spirit-empowered people in the earth. His church is the vessel through which Jesus lives and performs the same works He did when He was here 2000 years ago. That hasn't changed.

Luke also wrote the book of Acts. Listen to his account of Jesus' final words before returning to the Father. "...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1: 8) Jesus is not referring to salvation. He is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit enduing those who are Jesus' followers. He makes it clear that in order to be a witness to the remotest part of the earth we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. I personally believe that in order to effectively carry out the Great Commission, one must be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2: 1-4 describes the event in which the promise of the Father was poured forth. The disciples had been hiding in fear of being arrested by the religious authorities (for being followers of Jesus). But after they were filled with the Holy Spirit they were compelled out into the streets praising and worshiping God! Others who were gathered from all over the world for the Feast of Pentecost heard them praising God in their own native tongue! This was supernatural! From that point on the disciples proclaimed Jesus with extreme, supernatural boldness. No more cowering for fear of being arrested. Instead signs, wonders, and miracles followed the disciples as they boldly witnessed about Jesus.

What caused the disciples to change from being afraid to be seen to boldly proclaiming Jesus? What was it that motivated them to serve and proclaim Jesus...even unto death? Certainly it was their love for Him. But it was also the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was the "empowering from heaven" with signs, wonders, and miracles following. The early church didn't move in power because they were the early church. No, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. He hasn't changed. He's the same today as He was then. He hasn't left us. He's here because Jesus left and returned to the Father. He's here because Jesus sent Him forth upon His return to the Father. "Peter said to them, 'Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." (Acts 2: 38-39)

Who Am I REALLY?

Often we get it mixed up. We tend to believe we are not what God wants us to be based on our performance, in our walk with Him. We don't seem to measure up to what we assume God's standard for our existence is. Yes, God has a standard of performance for those who have committed to following after Him. It is the Word of God. But His Word tells us who and what we are, not based on performance, but on His infinite grace. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Corinthians 15: 10)

If we understand first who and what we are, and that who and what we are is determined by God (not us), then what we do for Him will be done for Him with our eyes on Him, not on ourselves. Grace is what made Paul who and what He was, in spite of His horrible past. Paul realized that even the labor he performed was not Him, but God's grace with Him. In other words, he couldn't do what he did without God's grace extended to him. Understanding this empowered Paul to keep His eyes on Jesus, even when his past was thrown up to him by the devil, people, and even himself. 

Grace is unmerited favor. Grace cannot be earned. Grace is imparted by a loving, forgiving God. Grace is powered by God's infinite love for you, me, and all of mankind. 

In order to fully understand Paul's statement in the above verse, we must understand his circumstances. "For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Corinthians 15: 9). Paul struggled with the fact that he once persecuted and ravaged the very church he now served. He was a pretty bad dude to the early church, dragging folks from their homes, putting some in jail, and more than likely, putting some to death. Paul stood by approving the stoning of Christianity's first martyr, Stephen. It would be impossible for him not to regret what he had done.

Paul knew what he had done. But listen carefully. Paul also knew what Jesus has done! You and I obviously know what we have done in our pasts. We know what we struggle with today. And like Paul, we must know and understand what Jesus has done for us. He took our sins upon Himself and died to them. The second our relationship with Him began, we died to all of our sins. He did it, not you and me. Also, the second we began our walk with Jesus, we began to live for Him. Because Jesus didn't just die to our sins and stay in the grave. No, three days later He rose out of the grave in supernatural, resurrection power. So now we live with Him, in victory over our past and present struggles! He did it. Grace. Because of grace, your past and your present will never ever determine who and what you are in God's eyes. His grace is more than enough, and by His grace you are what you are!

When people understand this, it gives them the power to overcome their struggles. Listen, you'll never be perfect in your own eyes. But it's not up to you to determine who and what you are. You'll never be perfect in other's eyes. It's not up to them either. By the grace of God, you are what you are. Nothing will ever change that, not even your past or present short-comings.

Perhaps you feel you've thwarted God's plan for your life because of your past. Perhaps you feel God is done with you because you struggle today with things from your past. Know that "...the gifts and calling of God irrevocable." (Romans 11: 29) How could this be? Because it's not by you, but by the grace of God that you are what your are. And because, "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5: 17) This is grace. All God. Zero you and me.

And finally, if by God's grace, you are what you are, you need to start calling yourself what you really are: a man of God, a woman of God, a child of God, a new creation in Christ, etc. Thank God continuously for who and what He has made you to be. When the enemy comes to you and begins accusing you of who you were and what you did, remind him that by the grace of God, you ARE what you ARE. That's who you really are, and that's what really matters.

Even On Monday

It's a great day to live for Jesus. While most people moan and groan that today is Monday, why not treat today according to the fact that you are just as saved today as any day? The "day" doesn't determine your joy, the truth does. And the truth is, that if Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you are more than a conqueror through Him (even on Monday).

And another thing, the "day" doesn't determine whether God's Word is true and powerful or not. What God's Word says about you on Friday is the same even on Monday! "Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89) Yes, today is Monday. And today God's Word says that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. (See Philippians 4:13.) The fact that the full workweek is ahead of you truthfully has NO effect on the power of God in you. The workweek ahead is actually a tank-load of opportunities for you to demonstrate the power of God as He loves others through you (beginning even on Monday).

Let me ask you, what will you do today because it is Monday? How about speaking to the mountain that seems to be holding you back (just because it's Monday). How about deliberately seeking out someone to bless in some way on this Monday. Maybe your co-worker is down today because it is Monday. How about an encouraging word for them today that will change their day (even on Monday).

We followers of Jesus Christ can be powerful instruments in His hand today if we simply realize how blessed we are today, even on Monday. Think about that. But don't think too long, because this Monday will forever be gone soon.