FROM SPIN CYCLE TO RINSE CYCLE

Have you ever said or heard someone say, "I need a vacation from my vacation."

That tells us one thing.  We don't know how to rest well! 

I don't think as believers we truly understand the concept of REST and the Sabbath!  In Genesis 2:2-3 it said that God completed His work in six days and He rested on the seventh day.

God did not rest as one who is weary, but as one who was well pleased.

Archibald Hart in his book on Adrenaline and Stress made this statement.  

" People in a hurry don't allow time for their complex minds to become revitalized.  So they accelerate the wear and tear on their bodies.  THERE IS NO TIME FOR CONTEMPLATION!

Since God didn't rest as one who was weary what did He do?  He contemplated.  He saw what he created and He was well pleased.  But God didn't just contemplate on the seventh day. He contemplated on the second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day.  On each day after creating something God SAW that IT WAS GOOD!  On the sixth day He SAW that it was VERY GOOD!

Then He SAW something that wasn't good.  He SAW that Adam was alone. So He brought the animals to Adam to SEE what he would call them.  Then he SAW that among the animals there was not a helpmate suitable for Adam.

God had a regular rhythm of contemplation.  In fact when He told His people to work six days and rest on the seventh day He told them to CONTEMPLATE on the seventh day!  

Deuteronomy 5:13-15  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. 

Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Rest involves the mental as much as it does the physical.  

Our struggle as believers is that we constantly have UNHEALTHY contemplation.  All you have to do is drive on Woodruff Road for some UNHEALTHY contemplation. 

SO WHAT DOES HEALTHY CONTEMPLATION LOOK LIKE?

The best way to have HEALTHY CONTEMPLATION is to think God's thoughts. Ask yourself these questions?

  • What does God think about my spouse?
  • What does God think about my boss?
  • What does God think about my co-worker?
  • What does God think about my circumstance?
  • What does God think about my spiritual development?

The only way to think GOD THOUGHTS is to think about what GOD THINKS!

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Rest is not just physical. It is mental as well. That's why...

  • Even when we do take a day of rest we still find ourselves stressed at the end of the day.
  • Even when we do take a day of rest we still are full of anxiety at the end of the day.
  • Even when we do take a day of rest we are still discouraged at the end of the day.
  • Even when we do take a vacation we need a vacation from our vacation.

Why?  Because rest is all about the mental as well as the physical.  The only way to get mental rest is to be sure we are thinking what God thinks.  

  • Do you want to have peace instead of anxiety?
  • Do you have joy instead of discouragement?

The only way to have peace and joy is to think what God thinks.  Isaiah 26:3-4 puts it best.  

You will keep him or her in PERFECT PEACE whose MIND is STAYED on THEE!

Our mind is in a constant spin cycle thinking all kinds of thoughts.  The problem is most of those thoughts are not God thoughts.

My encouragement to all of us is do develop a healthy rhythm of contemplation. Intentionally think God thoughts. Wake up a little earlier each day and spend fifteen minutes thinking God thoughts.  When you go to bed spend another fifteen minutes thinking God thoughts. And on your Sabbath day spend more time thinking God thoughts. 

Before you know it you'll find yourself going from the SPIN CYCLE to the RINSE CYCLE! 

The key to rest is developing a healthy habit of thinking God thoughts as you rest physically and that must be a daily habit.

 

IT'S LAB TIME

Websters dictionary defines laboratory as any place, situation, set of conditions, or the like, conducive to experimentation, investigation, observation, etc.

In the book of Luke we see Jesus saying things to the disciples and as soon as he tells them the disciples find themselves in situations or conditions where they have to live well into their faith. In other words they immediately find themselves in a LAB!

In Luke 9:1  Jesus gave the Twelve power and authority over demons and to cure diseases. Then he told them to go announce and preach the kingdom of God and to bring healing.

In Luke 9:3 Jesus tells them when they go out not to take anything with them.  I mean nothing.  Don't take your walking stick, your wallet.  Don't take any food.  Don't even take any extra clothes.

In Luke 9:5 he tells them whenever they go anywhere to preach the gospel and people do not receive, don't welcome you to shake off the dust from their feet.  In other words just move onto the next village. 

As soon as Jesus tells them these things they find themselves in a lab. 

FIRST THING JESUS SAYS IS GO PREACH AND HEAL. 

LAB #1 They went out and preached and came back and reported to Jesus all the things that they had experienced. Whoo hoo! How exciting is that? This experience had to build up their confidence.

LAB #2 Jesus comes down from having a conversation with Elijah and Moses and is approached by a father who has a son that is possessed by a devil. He convulses and foams at the mouth. He says to Jesus, "I implored your disciples to drive it out AND THEY COULD NOT."  Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit and the boy is healed.

LAB #3 Jesus and the disciples go to Bethsaida.  The crowds follow them, Jesus welcomed them, talked to them about the kingdom of God and healed those who need restoration and health.  While this is occurring the disciples are observing.

SECOND THING JESUS TELLS THEM WHEN THEY GO OUT IS NOT TO TAKE ANYTHING WITH THEM.  

LAB #4   While they are in Bethsaida the disciples bring to Jesus' attention that the people needed to be sent away so they could eat and find lodging for the night.  Jesus said, "You feed them."  All they had were 5 loaves and two fish.  By the time Jesus blesses the food, feeds over 5,000 people they have 12 shrimp baskets left over. Hmm! 12 shrimp baskets. Who do you think the 12 shrimp baskets were for?  Can you say lab? Sure, Jesus provided a miracle for the people, but I think this was a lab for the disciples.  I think it was Jesus' way of teaching them while you are going from village to village I want you totally dependent on me for your provision.

THIRD THING JESUS TELLS THEM TO DO IS WHEN THEY GO TO A VILLAGE AND THEY AREN'T WELCOME TO MOVE ONTO THE NEXT VILLAGE

LAB #5 Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for it was time for the Son of man to be delivered into the hands of men.  I love this!  He sent some of the disciples ahead of him to a Samaritan village to make arrangements to spend the night.  Believe it or not the people did not welcome them! The Amplified bible says the people would not welcome, receive or accept them.  Can you say lab? What did Jesus say earlier?  When you walk into a village and they do not receive you shake the dust off your feet and move onto the next village.  Look what James and John some of his closest disciples say, "Jesus, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them." They totally missed an opportunity to live well into their faith. Jesus responds to them, "You do not know what spirit you are."  Then it says, and they went to another village!

We are finishing up a series on the book of James.  James tells us to count it all joy in VARIOUS KINDS OF TRIALS. Many of our people are gong through their own personal trials.  it doesn't seem to be any different for us a a church. Can you say lab? 

This past week I received a call from one of the employees at the Ray.  She notified me that the people installing the new gym floor were being sent home.  The reason was that there was water under the gym floor and they had to get that problem solved before they could install the floor. The challenging thing is they have no timeline as to when the problem will be solved. This means we will have our services upstairs and moving our Freedom kids to a different location in the building.  That was a little unsettling for our kids last week. 

When the disciples could not heal the boy they had an opportunity to live well into their faith.  When Jesus tells the disciples to go from village to village and not to take any money or food with them they had an opportunity to live well into their faith.  When they were not received at the Samaritan village they had an opportunity to live well into their faith.  Some times they lived well and  some times they didn't.

We find ourselves as a church at a place where we have an opportunity to live well into our faith.  We find ourselves at a place where we choose to live totally dependent on God to meet our needs.  

What we are experiencing is just a "blip" in the journey of life.  Let's totally rely on God, count it all joy in our trials and live well into our faith.

 

 

IS YOUR HAIR ON FIRE?

Seems like everybody's hair is on fire these days. People are becoming angrier and angrier.  Not just outside the church, but inside the church. Not just unbelievers, but believers. What are we as believers suppose to do with anger? We are taught how to manage our anger, but scripture tells us to put anger away. 

This past Sunday we invited Brian Onken of The River Upstate to Freedom Church to speak on the topic of anger. If you did not make it then you missed the best message I have ever heard on how to put away anger.   Here are some of the quotes from his message.

Rejoicing in the midst of trials is an indicator that we are living well into our faith.

There is one indicator that James weaves throughout his letter that is an indicator that you are not vigorously living well into your faith as well as you could - anger.

But I don't have full blown anger, I'm just a little peeved, frustrated, upset.

There are books in the Christian world on managing your anger.  There are churches that hold anger management classes.  That would be like having an adultery management class.  As long as we find the right way to manage and express those urges it will be ok. 

Anger is evidence that you’re living naturally.  Anger is suppose to be put away yet we try to manage anger thinking that this is a healthy thing. 

James writes, "What’s the cause of quarrels and what’s the cause of fights among you?"  Wouldn’t it be great to know that answer?

It’s like the dashboard light that comes on in your car. You’re driving in your car and the light comes on.  That’s not just a random event.  The light is calling your attention to something.  You shouldn’t tape over the brake light if it bothers you.  You should be going, “Oh, that’s an indicator that something is out of wack.”

When anger comes up in your soul even if it is a low level anger that is an indicator that something isn’t right. You’ve got a goal. Someone gets in the way of your goal.  The source is in you.  We take our anger out on that person who gets in your way of our goal. 

Anger is an indicator that I’m living for a goal that Christ doesn’t necessarily guarantee me to achieve. 

James says it is the passions in us.  What he is trying to tell us is that maybe our problem is what we want, what’s in you, what you desire, what you are going after. 

I tend to go for things that I think I need, the things that I desire, the things that I want.  I’m not looking for the Father to provide them. I’m looking for you to either help me get there or for you to get out of the way so I can get there. 

If I'm going after something that God intends for me and God wants for me then no one can get in the way of it. 

My anger, your anger is the emotional warning light that comes into our souls that indicates that I’m living for my own desires.

My goal is not to get Chris (Brian's son) in the bed by 8:00. My goal is to help Chris understand how life happens.  My goal is to teach you rather than trying to get you to do what I want you to do. 

Ask for goal replacement therapy. 

When you realize you there is anger, that my anger has everything to do with me then I must be living for something that God doesn't guarantee for me. I’m not dependent on the Father.  I’m dependent on somebody else and they are not falling in line. 

Lord there must be a different goal that you have in mind for me

Again, this is probably the best message I've ever heard on the topic of anger.

  • My encouragement to those who heard the message. Listen to it over and over again!
  • My encouragement to those who didn't hear the message. Listen to the message by clicking the link below.
  • My encouragement to those who know of someone who has some anger issues. Send them this blog post.
  • My encouragement for those who want to attend Brian's class on the topic of anger scheduled for Thursday, July 12th from 6:30 - 8:30  Go to https://www.theriverupstate.org/course/dont-manage-your-anger/ to sign up for the class.
  • My encouragement to those who sign up for the class.  Take someone with you.

Want to be set free from anger?  Scripture says if you know the truth then the truth will set you free!

A MOTHER'S DAY MESSAGE FOR EVERYONE

Imagine for a moment that you are Moses and God has just informed you that you will not be going into the Promise Land.  You are standing before the people and this is your last opportunity to speak to them.  What would you say?

There are four pivotal elements that Moses gives to the people that enable them to possess the land God is giving them.

Deuteronomy 4:1-2  Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach YOU. Follow them so that YOU MAY LIVE and YOU MAY GO IN and YOU MAY TAKE POSSESSION of the land the Lord, The God of your ancestors is giving YOU.

PIVOTAL ELEMENT #1  - God has a path for your life.

As parents, as grandparents and as church leaders we have to be sure our children, our grandchildren and the next generation know that God has a path for their life.   It is something we need to be sure we emphasize over and over again.

Deuteronomy 4:3 You saw with your eyes what the Lord did at Baal Peor.  The Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, but all of you who HELD FAST TO THE LORD YOUR GOD are still alive today.

PIVOTAL ELEMENT #2 - Hold Fast To The Lord

What is Moses communicating here?  "Hey, some of the people that started out with you didn't make it this far.  There were some of your friends who were on the same path with you, but when times got tough they didn't hold fast to the Lord."

We must prepare our children, grandchildren and the next generation as we are on the path that God has for us there will be right turns, left turns and U-turns.  There will be times that we take one step forward and two steps back.  It is during those times that we must be sure that our faith is in God. We have to know that we know that although it doesn't seem like you are making progress God will take you to your destination.  It may mean going around the mountain just one more time. 

Deuteronomy 4:5-6 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that YOU may follow them in the land YOU are entering to take possession of it. YOU OBSERVE THEM CAREFULLY, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations. 

PIVOITAL ELEMENT #3 - Observe Carefully The Things You Have Been Taught

When they went into the land God had given them they still had to take possession.  They still had to do the things they were taught. Notice that Moses said it will show your wisdom.  Wisdom is the application of the things you are taught.

When our kids were growing up we would give them instructions.  Whenever they wouldn't follow the instructions we would ask them a question.  Is that a wise decision or a foolish decision? They must have heard that question a million times.  Our goal was that when they became older this question would echo in their hearts.  It would be a guiding force for them living a life of wisdom.

We must encourage our children, grandchildren and the next generation to carefully observe the things they are taught.

Deuteronomy 4:7 Only be careful, and watch  yourselves closely so that  you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.

PIVOTAL ELEMENT #4 - Don't Forget The Things You Have Seen God Do

The people had seen God do some incredible things.  He fed them manna supernaturally.  He fed them quail supernaturally.  He led them in a cloud by day and a fire by night.  He parted the Red Sea when their backs were up against the wall.  God told them to always tell their kids all the things that God had done for them.

We must teach our children, grandchildren and the next generation to remember the times God shows up and shows out when life takes the right turns, left turns and u-turns.

When David and his men returned to Ziklag after war they find that their wives and children had been taken.  The city was burned down.  It said David and his men cried until they could cry no more. Then David encouraged himself in the Lord.  My guess is that David reminded himself of all the times God showed up and showed out.  He got up, took some men with him and got their wives and children back.

Deuteronomy 4:10-13 Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when He said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that THEY may learn to revere me.  YOU came near and YOU stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with back clouds and deep darkness.  Then the Lord spoke to YOU out of the fire. YOU heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to YOU His covenant.

PIVOTAL ELEMENT #5 - Teach Them To Hear God's Voice For Themselves

There was a time when the people were so afraid of God they told Moses to listen to God and then come and tell them what He said.  Once Moses told them what God said they would obey Him.  How many of us know that didn't work at all.  They often found themselves doing the opposite of what God told Moses.

One of the greatest things we can do as parents, grandparents and church leaders is to teach our children, grandchildren and our church family how to hear God for themselves.

I think Moses knew this was his last opportunity.  He knew in order for the people to go possess the territory that God had given to them that these were five elements  he wanted them to remember. 

Our children are grown and now have families of their own.  Their spouses have a heart to love God and serve God just as they do.  They did very well in choosing their spouse. We are blessed beyond measure.

As I look back these are the five elements that have played a part in them possessing the territory the God is giving them.

I encourage you to keep these five elements before you. If you are a parent, grandparent or church leader they are critical in their ability to go possess the land God has given them.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9  And these words that I command YOU today shall be on YOUR heart.  YOU shall teach them diligently to YOUR children.

HOW DO WE KNOW IF OUR FAITH IS IN GOD?

As we near the end of our series on the book of James I was asking God to help me to "connect some of the dots" of all the things James writes about.  

He covers a lot of territory in his letter to those believers who are facing persecution.

  • Count it all joy
  • Ask for wisdom
  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger
  • Don't show partiality
  • Don't just listen to God's Word, but do what it says
  • Control your tongue
  • Show your faith by your actions
  • Draw close to God

Looking at the list may seem random, but if we look a little more closely to what James says it might make more sense. James tells us when we aren't living joyously into a trial we should ask for wisdom, but the next thing he says hopefully is what connects all these "random" things together. 

James 1:5-6  If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.

That's what did it for me. "When you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God." Faith is the key to living well into our trials. James begins writing about things that are symptoms of NOT having faith in God.  

How do we know if our faith is in God?  Are you angry?

James tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.

The reason I get angry is because I don't get what I want.

James 4:1-3 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Can you imagine?  These believers are so angry with each other for not getting what they want they scheme and even go as far as killing someone to get it.  If that is the case who is their source?  They are!

Since God is not doing such a good job of getting them what they want then they must give him a helping hand.  Their faith is more in their own ability than it is in God.

How do we know if our faith is in God?  Do you show partiality?

James 2:1 My dear brothers and sister, how can you CLAIM TO HAVE FAITH IN OUR GLORIOUS LORD JESUS CHRIST if you favor some people over others? 

Poor people were coming into the church and given a seat on the back row. Rich people were coming into the church and they were getting a seat on the front row.  What was going on there? They were looking to the rich people to help meet their needs. The rich people were their source not God.

How do we know if our faith is in God?  WORKS, WORKS, WORKS!

James 2:14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you SAY YOU HAVE FAITH, but don't show it by your actions. 

Someone said to me recently "A Saved Faith is a Serving Faith." What he was saying is there is a natural flow of wanting to serve others when we experience the love of God through salvation. It's our serving that puts on display our faith in God.

How do we know if our faith is in God? WORDS, WORDS, WORDS!

James 3:7 No man can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing are pouring out of the same mouth. Surely my brothers and sisters this is not right. 

Words are symptoms of what is in our hearts. If we are using our words to tear people down to make us feel better about ourselves then we have an identity problem.  We don't know who we are IN CHRIST! That shows we don't have faith that we are who God says we are.

How do we know if our faith is in God?  Are you full of selfish ambition and jealousy?

James 3:13-18  Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth....For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Sounds like ambition was getting the best of them.  They were jealous of what the other person had and fighting to get it. Sounds like they had become their own source. I'm going to get what's mine.

If you are jealous of what another person has and willing to fight to get it then that shows no faith in God at all. 

Bottom line is it is our FAITH IN GOD that helps us live joyously into a trial or our LACK OF FAITH IN GOD that will be our downfall.  Just be aware of these symptoms.  

  • getting angry
  • favoring some people over others
  • not serving
  • tearing people down with our words
  • and fighting to get what's mine

Recognizing these symptoms will communicate to us if our faith is in God.