Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

The word Thanksgiving or Thanks is an interesting word in Scripture. In Greek it is the word: Eucharist. Eu in Greek is an adjective meaning good, and charis is the Greek word for grace. So it literally means good grace. Or: declaring God’s grace as good. We might just say it is: giving of thanks to God for His good grace. Some have made this a ritual, a sacrament to remember Jesus’ death on the cross. But it is far greater than a single event, as great as that single event was, it is the life that resulted from what Jesus did. It is the unexplainable goodness of God in behalf of His children.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor—the undeserved, unachieved, freely given blessing of His goodness to us.

It is God giving us what we don’t deserve—the blessings of favor.

Gen 6:8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Exo 33:16-17  "For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" The LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name."

Psa 30:5  For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime…

Psa 30:7  O LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong…

Psa 89:17  For You are the glory of our strength, And by Your favor our horn is exalted.  Horn – our reputation.

Psa 90:17  Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Psa 119:58  I sought Your favor with all my heart; Be gracious to me according to Your word. Favor is the promise of God working in our lives.

The favor of God, God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, becomes the source of our thanksgiving. The focus of our thanks is on what He has done in us and through us. How He has shown Himself faithful and accomplished good things on our behalf.

George Washington gave us Thanksgiving as a day to remember our blessings. Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

He went on to mention God’s name 16 times in this proclamation. He had the right spirit to direct us to know who it was who deserved our thanks.

But never was thanksgiving intended to be a single day of the year when we concentrate on what we’re thankful for. We are to live as thankful people.

It affects us, personally:

Php 4:6-7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer – connecting with God – continuous connection – constant communication
Supplication – Supplicate: to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly. It is connecting our need with God

The promise is Peace. Not the answer. Peace comes when we know God has heard us.

It affects others: 2Co 9:10-15  Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

What gift? The gift of His favor, the work He does in us and through us, simply because He is God and we are His children.

This church is a gift of God’s grace, an expression of His favor. I pull into the parking lot and I see the blessings of God every day. I feel God’s embrace through those with the ministry of hugging. I look out on a crowd of people who fill this place every week and I see the blessings of God each Sunday. I listen to our band and I hear the wonder of God in music. I watch you interact and spread the love and I see God smiling on us. I notice how many are participating in Bible Study groups and Home Groups and I enjoy sensing God’s delight. I read of what is happening through our missions’ partners and I sense God’s hand touching people all over the world through us. I stand in this pulpit and am confident God is speaking to us all and I feel His pleasure.

The Bible speaks of enjoying times of refreshing from the Lord. We are in that time of refreshing. We are in special days. What this church has is rare. It is the exception to the rules of how you do church. God is pouring out His favor and we give Him thanks.

Now, when God works in a church, He is typically working through the people He has brought together. I would like to recognize some of those people and have you join me in thanking God for how what He doing at North Shore Church.

Ministry List 2017

1.       North Shore Church is an incredible church.
2.      The head of this church is the Lord Himself.
3.      He is good and His goodness is seen in every facet of who we are and what we do as a church.
4.      He is blessing this church beyond anything we deserve.
5.      Thank you, Lord, for the incredible gift of Your favor!

Give thanks: For our families and friends – may they see You through me
            For our health, wealth and wellbeing – regardless of what’s going on
            For our church and what God has planned for our future
            For knowing me, loving me and for the plans You have for my life

            For giving me the favor that comes from belonging to You

Monday, November 20, 2017

1 John Pt. 7 -- Greater

The world God created is both physical and spiritual. He governs both by Laws. There are physical laws as well as spiritual laws. Throughout the years, brilliant and inspired men have discovered many of those laws and designed theories and principles that explain how those laws operate.

Sir Isaac Newton realized there was a force that caused apples to accelerate when they fell to the ground. That force he called gravity – the heaviness. No one ever questioned why apples fell down instead of fly upwards. It was just the way it was. And until Newton, no one ever calculated the speed at which apples fall to determine the amount of force gravity is exerting.

This force pulls things down. It’s the reason we when we jump up we come back down instead of fly off the planet. So the expression was coined: what goes up will come down.

But what about birds? Don’t they know the law? Why does it seem they aren’t affected by it? Or an airplane that by weight isn’t going anywhere but, can, by another law, not only get off the ground but fly all over the world. Neither bird nor plane has cancelled the law of gravity. But they have overcome it, by countering it with another law – the Law of Aerodynamics. Through speed and wing shape, thrust and lift they overcome gravity.

At the same time, there are laws that govern the spiritual life on this world.

Go back to the beginning: When God made the world He made a specific declaration over what He had made. He said: It is good. But to demonstrate this good He included the opportunity for contrast. How do we know it’s good unless we have something to compare it to?

Within that good of creation was fellowship with God, the privilege of walking with Him in the cool of the day in the Garden. But wanting that privilege to be something desired rather than just expected, He added the opportunity for temptation. The apple was an invitation to remain in fellowship or to choose to walk away. Into the good world God gave mankind free will.

Free will now produce a spiritual tension pulling us in two directions—between God’s good and man’s choice. This was God’s idea. It didn’t just happen, nor was it an accident. It was anticipated and prepared for.

Back up a bit more: Satan was created as an Arch Angel. He did not exist before God spoke him and all those like him into existence. He was created to serve the purposes of God. But he also was given the ability to rebel. So when he found the apple of desire, he bit.

How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.  'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities? (Isa 14:12-16)

Satan rose up against God, challenging God’s authority to rule, lost his heavenly position and became the devil. And from his very name devil or the evil one, Evil spread from him to possess the world.

Adam and Eve bit second: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Gen 3:1-7)

Adam and Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation, which included challenging God’s right to rule their lives and therefore lost the Garden.

God’s good creation was now a fallen world populated by fallen mankind. Evil had introduced sin, built a stronghold in the hearts of men and would now expand its tactics to steal, kill and destroy all people by distracting them from God’s best.

John said: Jn 2:13  I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
1Jn 2:14  I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
1Jn 2:15  Do not love the world nor the things in the world. [what world is he talking about? God’s perfect world or the fallen world Satan has damaged] If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

John is talking about deciding. By showing the fallen world in contrast with God’s intended world, He asks: Which world do you wish to live in? The perfect world as God designed that includes fellowship with Him, or the fallen world Satan has counterfeited? Two worlds but which will be our home?
When Jesus prayed for His followers, including those who would become followers—us, He said: I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  (John 17:15-17)

In simple terms, we are in the world but not of the world. He explains this in terms of growth:

·         Children – new believers, newly born again ones. Learning the ABC’s of forgiveness and relationship.
·         Young men – maturing believers who have entered into the struggle for the quality of spiritual life. (It is the young men who go to war.) They are engaged in the battle to defeat Satan’s influence on their lives.
·         Fathers – Older believers, who’ve been through the war and now live in the peace which comes from having defeated the enemy.

The children are learning the promises.
The young men are testing the promises.
The old men are living by the results of the promises.
·         Each is progressing in their faith, growing in their understanding of their privileges as Believers.
·         Growing toward God and away from the Evil.
·         The recognize it, respond to it, resist it. They overcome.

Paul discovered the spiritual Laws governing this life. For though I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:22-25)

My physical body seeks to be governed by the influence of the fallen world. But my spirit wants fellowship with the Father.

White dog/black dog – which do I want to win? It comes down to which choice holds the higher value for me.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

Storing up means collecting that which I consider important.
·         My Mom was a hoarder, yet in that hoarding she had collected some things of greater value that she considered her treasures.
What’s important to me holds my attention—whatever I treasure holds my focus.

Where’s our focus? Is it wrapped up in what I gain from the physical world? From which do I seek my answers? Do I look up or down? Why does that matter?

…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:10-21) Which holds the greater value, attraction, influence, desire?

John gives us the answer as a truth: 1Jn 4:4  Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Greater in:
·         Power – Satan doesn’t have God’s power
·         Knowledge – Satan doesn’t have God’s insight
·         Wisdom – Satan doesn’t care what’s best
·         Presence – Satan isn’t everywhere at all times
·         Goodness – Satan is evil and bent on stealing, killing and destroying
·         Acceptance – Satan is the one who condemns

A truth is a true statement whether we accept it or not. A principle is a truth that we make a building block of our lives, a fact added into the structure of who we are. We take a truth and apply it to our lives. So how do we take a truth and make a principle out of it?

We frame it into an if/then. If this is true, then this is true, or if this is true, this cannot be true.

If God is greater than Satan, then how shall I live?
·         I will demonstrate confidence in God’s abilities.
·         I will exert faith to trust Him in all areas of my life.
·         I will make my decisions on what He says is right or wrong.
·         I will measure my effectiveness as a man, woman, parent, grandparent by the standard He sets.
·         HI will I conduct myself during my stay upon this earth looking to Him for my answers.
·         I will refuse to submit to Satan’s attempts to minimize God’s importance in my life.
·         I will reject his counterfeit life.
·         I will resist the urges to choose evil over good.
·         I will choose God as ruler of my life.

Then ask myself: God is greater than what?
·         Our enemy
·         Our fears
·         Our failures
·         Our faithlessness
·         Our disappointments
·         Our struggles
·         Our addiction
·         Our afflictions
·         Our illnesses
·         Our loses
·         Our death
·         Our heartbreaks
·         Our defeats

We live in a fallen world, governed by the law of evil leading to sin and death. But we are not of that world. We live in the Kingdom of the One greater than the one who is in the world. Though affected by the laws of the evil one, we overcome by the power of the Laws of our God. One law pulling us down, the other lifting us up to soar on wings like eagles,

1.       Free will indicates God wants fellowship with us by desire not obligation.
2.      By giving us free will, God never leaves us without a choice.
3.      Within that freedom to choose are good choices and bad choices.
4.      God has designed us to seek the good choices even while Satan tempts us with counterfeits.

5.      Until we resolve that God’s choices are best, we will be suspended in the space between whether we will live in the world or of the world.

Monday, November 13, 2017

1 John Pt 6 -- Security

1Jn 3:13  Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.
1Jn 3:14  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.
1Jn 3:15  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1Jn 3:16  We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

There was a time when hatred was merely a strong emotional dislike toward something or someone. We could use the word in a thousand different contexts that presented no threat or action coming from our hatred. It was merely a strong opinion of preference.

Now the word is a reason, a motive that drives death and destruction. After an event, we await the results of an investigation to find out what the person hated enough to commit their crimes. What drove them to this? Who do they represent?

We now have hate crimes – those targeting a race or lifestyle, nowadays, even a political position.

Right about now a week ago, a man was at a Valero station, waiting for the moment he would enter a church with the intentions of killing everyone inside. What was going through his mind? We found out he had domestic issues with his mother-in-law who went to that church. Domestic issues? How do domestic issues develop into such hatred to kill?

Usually, the goal of isolated shootings, or bombings, or knifings, or flying airplanes into buildings is to punish someone or something they hate.

They hate because of what someone did to them. Which is a personal vendetta?
They hate because of what someone represents. Which is a social, religious or cultural insult.
They hate because someone stands for something they cannot tolerate.

Hate is driven by the larger and more complex word – EVIL.

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

Hate stems from comparison.
Hate grows from contrast.
But hate tells a broader story.

Hatred is an issue of a damaged heart.

The heart drives the life.
Pro_4:23  Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
Pro_27:19  As in water, face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.

Jer_17:9  The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Pro_6:18  There is a heart that devises wicked plans, and Feet that run rapidly to evil,
Rom_1:21  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
In that darkness dwells an enemy who will take this weak and evil heart and use it to his goal of stealing, killing and destroying.
Mat_15:18  "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. Insults, demeaning, slander.
Mat_15:19  "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

How do you fix this damaged heart that is driving them to do evil?

Legislate morality – making laws to make people make moral decisions.
How do you make hate filled people not kill people? Make a law against it. And that will make them make the moral decision not to kill?

People texting while driving is a critical problem. To deal with it a law is made that it is illegal to do so. Has that stopped anyone?

Restrictions have always seemed to be the preventative solution. But the courts are full of cases and prisons are full of people who ignored the restrictions.

Or take away the mechanism of their hatred.
Just take away all things evil people have used to steal, kill and destroy:  airplane, fertilizer and diesel fuel, Bombs hidden in backpacks, Pressure cookers filled with shrapnel, guns, Knives, Home Depot rental trucks.
            Hatred always finds a way

What is the hatred fueled by?
Some mental instability
Lack of restraint – nothing stopping them
Dealing with people whose:
                                    Conscience is seared. No check or guilt in their hatred.
                                    Serial killers lack empathy – the driving force of humanity.
                        Animals kill unemotionally
These people have disintegrated to the mindset of animals.
Radicalized – under the influence of others
                        Some have lived their lifetime being taught the hatred of others
TV, movies, songs, portraying what makes evil seem normal activity
                        Killing games
Rage – what fills your bucket is what’s going to spill out.
Impulses – desires waiting for an opportunity
Without control impulses lead to planned events.
                        Lust – assaults, attacks, inappropriate behavior, even rape
                        Greed/envy – theft, looting
                        Hate - murder
            Hurt people hurt people.

What do you do to prevent this from happening again? In reality not much.
            Avoid places where these things have happened:
Movie theaters, schools, churches, concerts, tall buildings, office complexes, marathons, sidewalks.

What do you do to protect yourself and your family? Do the best you can.
            Become aware. Be ready to act.

We’re working on a security plan.
We have members who carry concealed weapons or have them in their cars.
You have a pastor and other church members who will give their lives to save yours.
1Jn 3:16  We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Church in Sutherland Springs wouldn’t allow guns to be carried into their building.
That is now a hot topic on the internet. Reality: our days of church being a sanctuary are over.
            Like roaches – evil will find a way inside.

Issue over prayer – What good does it do?
One celeb ridiculed a politician for requesting prayers. Celeb caught flack and said he meant instead of doing something tangible – gun control

Gun control will stop evil? Are you serious?

How do you control guns? The guns don’t need controlling. Doing the job of vetting may help to keep guns away from some who have no business owning a gun, but anyone who wants a gun can get a gun—legally or illegally.

The control has to start in the heart.

The bigger question is: How do you prevent evil from taking over a heart on any level?

Jer_4:14  Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem, That you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts Lodge within you?

Eze_36:26  "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Why would we need a new heart? The old one is bent on its own desires.

Hos_11:7  So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, None at all exalts Him.

How do we get a new heart?
Rom_10:9  that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Then live with confidence God holds us through whatever happens in this life. The only secure place we can be in in His hands.

Joh 10:27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Joh_14:1  "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going."

Missionary and wife returning to US. We’re not home yet.

Things are going to happen that hurt us or those we love. We are not immune or protected from bad things happening. Cancer, car wrecks, heart attacks, broken bones, catastrophic illness. War, terrorists, madmen dictators or people so filled with hate they want to take our lives.

So what do we cling to?

Joh_14:27  Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Php 4:6-8  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

1.       We live in a troubled world.
2.      We can live in fear and paranoia or faith and peace.
3.      As Children of God, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

4.      Our ultimate security is in Him.

Monday, November 6, 2017

1 John Pt 5 - Your Core Belief

When we were kids, everything we did was a game. When we finished an apple we’d yell: apple core, Baltimore, who’s your friend…whoever was named got the apple core thrown at them. We required much less to entertain ourselves back then.

The apple grows from the inside out. The central motor of that growth is its core. The core sustains the development of the apple and contains the seeds which can reproduce another tree. The core is vital to the life within the apple.

In 1975 we had the World’s Strongest Man come to our church in Rusk, Texas. To demonstrate his strength, Paul Anderson tore a phone book apart, which in Rusk, only had 23 pages. More convincingly, He got underneath a table with half a dozen students sitting on top and lifted it off the ground. He wasn’t chiseled like muscle men today. Instead, he was a short, round man. But he said what looks like fat was actually muscle. He pointed at his gut and said, “To be as strong as I am you have to have massive stomach muscles.” Today, that’s called your core.

Your core is your midsection and it involves all your muscles in that area including the front, back and sides.

Think of your core as the central link in a chain connecting the other parts of your body.
Reaching for a cup of coffee, getting out of a chair, picking up a shoe, brushing your teeth all begin with the muscles in your core. Swinging a club, casting a lure, running a race, swimming a lap, lying about how good we used to be. All movement goes through the core. Your core is vital to the life within your body.

There are also CORE values. The basic statements of what you believe and how you operate. Companies print these to remind their employees this is who we are. These are the essential expectations and responsibilities the public can count on. What that company does comes out of who they are.

Chick-Fil-A is known for their commitment to service. When you thank them for serving you, they return with “My pleasure.” That response flows from Chick-Fil-A’s CORE value: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Well, what is a Believer’s core value: 1Jn 5:1  Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God...

Being born of God is a designation for salvation. Jesus used the same idea when He spoke with Nicodemus in Jn 3: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' (Jn 3:5-7)

But John wasn’t telling them how to be saved. He’s writing to those who have already been saved, crossed the line of decision, gone from darkness to light, death to life.

They believed Jesus was the Christ – Messiah, Anointed One, the Promise of God. Wrapped in that belief was their salvation, their life, their future, their hope. It was an all-in belief.

In John’s day, your beliefs defined you. Beliefs separated you from everyone else and collected you into a group with like-minded people. If you were a Pagan, you announced your position and lived as a Pagan. If you were a Jew, you announced your position and lived as a Jew. Those were the two standard groupings for religious people.

It was like the duck. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, then it must be a duck. Beliefs were worn and much as possessed. A Pagan looked and acted like a Pagan. A Jew looked and acted like a Jew. It was not hard to tell them apart.

Now we have a new group identified as Christians—Christ Ones—People of faith who are now defined by a single belief in who Jesus is. But more than just professing their beliefs, they wore those beliefs. Their belief didn’t simply change the way they thought about life, they were immersed into a brand new life and new lifestyle.

This single statement was their Core Belief out from which all else in their lives would flow. If Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, the Lord, and I declare Him so in my life, my whole life would now reflect that belief, giving Him room to influence every facet of my life.

When they said Jesus was the Christ of God, they were making a statement about God, Jesus and themselves that no one else could make. This specific belief was not an add-on but a life-transforming commitment. They thought differently. They lived differently.

CS Lewis “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” 

He is who He is or He is not. He is Lord or He is not.

If I declare Him Lord of my life, as the core belief upon which all that I am is then defined, how do I then live? Just like the core of the apple, the core of your body or the core values of Chick-Fil-A, everything I am and do comes from that vital core belief.

We have no choice of the family we’re born into. We just have to take what we get. But in being born again, we are now part of a new family and get the advantage of belonging to the Lord who created life itself. The One who even the wind and storms obey, now has power in our lives.

1Jn 5:4  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
1Jn 5:5  Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

John promises that overcoming the world is doable for those within the family of God because, by believing Jesus is the Christ of God we get to transfer that belief into faith. So that from our core belief we have a response to whatever we face.

When I go through trials, struggles, disappointments, discouragements, pain, terror, loss, fear…things that might so dominate my life that they can oppress me, paralyze me, change me…my belief in Jesus as Lord can lift those burdens.

Faith is the acting out our beliefs. From what we believe come our actions of belief.

1Jn 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

From worldly thoughts come worldly desires. From worldly desires come worldly actions. Worldly actions result in a life overcome by anxiety. Anxiety steals our peace.

But what did Jesus promise? Joh 14:27  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

The world tries to overcome us, take away our peace and leave us with a defeated life. But Jesus promised: Joh 16:33  "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Where’s the connection? 1Jn 4:4  You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [the false things in life, things urging us to deny our belief in who Jesus is]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”

By His presence in our lives, He brings His power to overcome into our situations. Because He lives, we live. Because He rose, we can rise. Because He overcame, we overcome.

Belief in Jesus as the Christ of God living in our lives, places us into the unique category of benefits to those who belong to God. We don’t have to submit to the world’s anxiety and despair.

Does the Jesus you believe in have power like that in your life? Is He the same Lord who calmed the storms, commanded the winds, stopped the rain?

1Jn 5:9  If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.
1Jn 5:11  And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1Jn 5:12  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

What is the life we have? The specific life full of the promises of God given to us when we became children of God when we confessed that Jesus is our Lord.
·         Guilt – forgiveness
·         Condemnation – freedom
·         Rejection – compassion
·         Fear – Perfect love
·         Grief – comfort
·         Loneliness – companionship
·         Lostness – direction
·         Defeat – victory
·         Doubt – faith
·         Anxiety – peace

Can you imagine what life would be like without Him?

We all come to Jesus with baggage. Things that have messed us up or misshaped our thinking.
·         Our religious upbringing
·         Our life experiences
·         Our education
·         Our network of friends and influencers
·         Our DNA

Whenever our baggage interferes with a clear picture of who Jesus is and what He can do, our lives are minimized and we are prime targets for being overcome. A great exercise to strengthening our Core involves lifting those bags and chunking them as far away as possible.

1.       We are what we believe, which makes having the right belief essential.
2.      We can sincerely believe the wrong the things.
3.      Wrong beliefs are not able to produce right results.
4.      If we believe Jesus is Lord of all, our whole life comes under His rule.

5.      Within His rule all the promises of God are YES!