bold…

here are the slides from today –> Which Kingdom 2

What we experienced this morning was an obedient, bold act by a man struggling through a very difficult time.  That wasn’t easy.  I know it was very hard for him to walk into that room knowing what was about to happen.  But … he did it.

He was willing to sacrifice himself on the hope that we were listening.  It was a warning to all of us.  WAKE UP.  This stuff is real and it is dangerous and it carries consequences WAY beyond the moment.  Perhaps there was just one man sitting there this morning wondering if his marriage was going to make it, wondering if that woman at work was worth pursuing a bit more, wondering if the grass would indeed be greener on the other side.  We pray that this man heard the testimony this morning and it woke him up.

If that happened, this man’s sacrifice was completely worth his pain.

This is the power of a testimony.  I hope you heard in his story, not only the pursuit of evil against him but way more importantly, how God is pursuing him.  Through his father’s words in a dream to his friend who hand delivered him to Manschool to your support in the safety of that room, this man is being pursued by the Father.

So are you.

The two questions for all of us is “whose voice are you listening to?” and “which kingdom are you going to serve?”  If your pursuit today is all about you, your pleasures, your needs, your right to be happy then you will curve inward and consume like a locust and the enemy has you.  And you will be in a prison of your own making.

On the other hand, if you see that life isn’t all about you, that there is a Kingdom of Glory we serve, a divine calling we all have as believers that has zero to do with self and is all about giving us away in the service of others, then you will curve outward and live excurvatus.  And you will experience freedom you could have never imagined and the abundant life Jesus proclaimed.

which kingdom are you going to serve?

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how much am I willing to give up?

“This is what the Lord says, ‘On the day that I cleanse you from your sins, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and waste places to be rebuilt.  The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by…”

Observation – when your life is apart from God and the addictions have control, those that “pass by” will clearly see the desolation.  A man that is addicted to booze or addicted to self or addicted to finding pleasure … all those around him … know it…

But God will cause those waste places to be rebuilt … “They (those that pass by) will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, ruined places are now fortified and inhabited.”

Observation – when a man truly changes, when he hits the bottom and realizes consuming life for his own gratification is destroying him and those around him, when surrenders control of his life totally to God, he will flourish like the garden of Eden.  From a smoldering pile of ruin that no one wants to be around to a lush, fragrant garden that others are drawn to…

“Then those around you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I, the Lord, have spoken it and will do it.”  Ezekiel 36:33-36

Observation – a man that surrenders authority of his life to the Lord and walks it out daily in utter dependence on God for his needs and not the things of this world, that man will amaze.  That man will shock those that had previously observed him.  That man will transform from a mess to a miracle and all those around him will see it and know that only God could have done this.  That man … will become a hugely powerful testimony of, “just look at what God has in my life.”

So maybe you’ve screwed your life up.  Maybe, it is a complete, royal mess.  Maybe you’ll never get back those that you lost.  But don’t you believe for a minute that God is done with you and that your life can never have meaning.  The bigger the mess, the bigger the miracle.  God can do a miraculous work in your life starting right now, right this very instant.

All you have to do is let go.  Let go of “me”.  Let go of getting my way, controlling my outcomes, managing my reputation, making all the money I possibly can, going day to day looking for the next hit of self-indulgence, letting go of the need for approval from others, letting go of getting even or proving I am right.

All you have to do is surrender your life – all of it, every nook and cranny – to God.  Initial salvation, sure, I’m talking about that but I sense this goes way beyond that.  I’m talking to the man that has “always” been a Christian – the going to church, being good, never cheat on my wife kind of man.  I’m saying there is more.  More to give up to God.  More closed doors open to him, more territory to give him.

I loved you enough to give it all for you.  How much will you give for me?  How much of your life are you willing to give up to Me?

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controlled burns (addiction 4)

here are the slides from today … Goliath 14 – addiction (2)

We’ve been repeating this same question, “Lord, where am I weak?”  Today, we tweaked it to, “Lord, show me where I am giving the enemy an opening”.

And that’s the thing, these addictions we dance with are openings.  They are an invitation, an open door that your enemy will exploit.  Not “might” … but “will”.  He is crafty, he is cunning, he studies you, knows your weaknesses and he will exploit the openings you give him.  Make no mistake about this.  You’re playing with fire.  Literally.

If you have a family history of alcoholism, you’re playing with fire drinking on a regular basis.  If you know you have an issue with lust/temptation/other women, you are foolish to play around with pornography.  And let me say this for all of us, whether lust is an issue or not, pornography must be a “no go” area for all of us.  A man that says, “I don’t struggle with lust so I can take a peak at porn” is being foolish.  Maybe you didn’t have an issue but when you opened that door to take a peak, you invited the destroyer into your soul.

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My actions, my steps, my decisions in these areas … they are giving Satan dominion over my life.  Rather than giving God dominion over all my life, I am, instead, giving these areas over to my enemy.  I’m inviting him in and just asking for trouble.  He will gladly oblige my foolishness.

We’ve all done it.  Adam & Eve did it.  They gave the enemy dominion.  But that isn’t final.  As we’ve learned this entire series on Goliath Must Fall, Christ defeated Goliath. The Cross marked the turning point in the story, it marked the death of Satan.  His end is assured yet even though he is on his way to ultimate destruction, he is “dead but still quite deadly”.  He knows the end game.  He knows what Jesus did that resurrection day and so he is raging against humanity to strike as many blows at his ultimate enemy, God.

Scripture warns, “Don’t give the enemy a foothold”.  You have a territory God has entrusted to you.  Don’t invite the enemy in.  Don’t give him a seat at your table.  He’s a destroyer.  These addictions are very serious things – we don’t mean to make light of any of this.  If you struggle with pornography or lust or alcohol, that is real and powerful and it will be a battle to beat it.  But, it can be defeated.  Satan doesn’t have dominion over everything.  Jesus does.  Death holds no sting.  You can claim victory over the power of these addictions in Jesus name.  You can take back your territory, your Promised Land.  You can show the enemy the door and lock it behind him.  In Jesus’ name.

We talked this morning about controlled burns and how critical they are to maintain the health of a forest.  If left unchecked, small weeds in a forest become 30 foot tall briers.  Sweet gum trees pop up and multiply like rabbits.  A dense undergrowth grows.  If left unchecked, a non-managed forest becomes a disaster just waiting to happen.  The undergrowth grows, dead trees fall, the pines start to struggle and the forest is one lightning strike away from a devastating forest fire.  So, you manage the forest via regular “controlled burns”.  You burn out the undergrowth.  Get it out before it becomes a real problem.  Deal with it.  It’s messy.  It’s dirty.  It isn’t pleasant but there is reward on the other side = you get a healthier forest and bigger pines.  Growth comes after the burn.  (COME NEXT WEEK – we’re going to talk about that exact point)

controlled burn

You see the charred ground left behind from the fire.  But that’s healthy.  It promotes healthy growth and it is fuel for the future growth of the pines.

And so, the analogy for us is this … we’ve all got areas in our lives that are small problems today.  They are private things.  Things I believe I have under control.  Little things that “everyone does”“Healthy desires that all red-blooded men have”.  These are things we justify.  Things we rationalize.  And at their base stage, they are relatively harmless – or so they appear.  These things that we cordon off from God and don’t give him access to, they are areas of the forest untended and that’s where a real problem with devastating implications lurk.

Bill Gaddy gave a beautiful testimony to this exact thing this morning.  He had a private area of his life that started small and grew into a situation that erupted into a forest fire with collateral damage way beyond himself.  He begged us to not repeat his mistake – that if you have an area you struggle with, confess it, bring it out into the light, share it with other men you can trust.  Admit you have a problem.  Face it.  Deal with it now before it grows into a disaster.

These giants in our lives, they can go down.  They must fall.  They taunt us and tell us, “you’re never going to beat this, you’ll never be anything more than this addiction.”  That isn’t the case.  Goliath can go down.  You can’t take him down alone.  Only Jesus can but you’ve got to take the first step to surrender your life, give up these “private” areas, and give Jesus dominion over all your life – over your sex life, over your desires, over what you eat and drink and what you watch in entertainment.

Jesus wants to know how much of your life you’re willing to give Him.  He gave it ALL for you.  How much will you give Him?

addictions5

Signs… (addiction 4)

Listen, I know this is hard stuff to hear.  It’s hard for me.  This morning, there was a fog over the room.  A malaise, heaviness.  Why is that?  Why is this so hard to hear, so hard to fight through, so hard to face?  Because you live in a world a war and you have two enemies fighting you on this.  Satan doesn’t want you dealing with your addictions and your flesh is going to fight you at every step along the way.  But Jesus is triumphant.  He walked out of the tomb and, as a believer, He is restoring you.

So why fight it?  Because these things limit you.  They limit all you can accomplish and all you can enjoy as a son of God.  He has so much more He wants for you but you’re going to have to give some things up.  Abraham was asked to give up his one and only son, Isaac – to sacrifice him on an alter.  Abraham was obedient to the end and did exactly what God asked of him.  God stopped him and a ram was offered up as a substitute for Isaac … but … Abraham was willing.  He was willing to give it all up.  And because of his obedience and his faith, God said this to him, “Because you have not withheld your only son, I will multiply your descendants as the stars of Heaven.”  (Gen 22)

There is nothing wrong with the beauty of Eve.  To delight and enjoy in the beauty of your wife, that’s a good thing.  A fine meal, a great hobby, the glorious beauty of nature, a sunset, time alone in the woods … all these things are good things.  Sex within the confines of a marriage, what a wonderful gift that is!  The things themselves are fine, it’s what we do with them that can be the problem.  We can easily take a good thing, distort it and make it “the thing”.   Stay with me on this…

I read this morning from Paul David Tripp’s excellent devotional “New Morning Mercies” … he gave an example of a family trip to Disney World and he wonders what it would be like to stop at the “Disney 120 miles” sign along the Interstate.  Would that suffice for the real thing?  He says we do this all the time …

“There is one thing that you know for sure – the sign is not the thing.  The sign was created to point you to the thing.  The sign cannot give you what the thing can deliver. The sign can only point you to where the thing can be found.  So it is with the physical glories of creation.  Here’s what you need to know – only two types of glory exist – sign glory and ultimate glory.  Sign glory is all the wondrous display of sights, sounds, colors, textures, tastes, smells and experiences of the physical world that God created.  These glories were not designed to satisfy your heart.  They were not made to give you contentment, peace, meaning and purpose.  They have no capacity to give you life.  Earth will never be your savior.  Rather, all of creation was designed to be one big sign that points you to the One of ultimate glory who alone has the power to give you life and to satisfy your heart.  God alone is able to give you life.  He alone is able to give rest to your searching heart.  He designed his world to point to him, not to replace him.  (read Psalm 19)

Where will you look for life today?  Will you live like the father having his vacation next to the “Disney 120 miles” sign along the highway or will you run to where the sign points?  It really is true that your heart will only be satisfied when it finds its satisfaction in Him.”

And to the point above about all these worldly pleasures we can enjoy, too many of us have turned to them for life.  I may not officially be an addict to booze – or – to sex – or – to lust – or – to the need for approval from others – or – to money/success – or – to control.  I may not be “addicted” to these but am I relying upon them?  Depending on them?  Are they (or others) what provides me relief from a long week at work?  Do I hit one or more of them from time to time when I need to draw upon something to sustain me?

We get into trouble when we shift our focus on these things and we start needing them as our life source.  We get into trouble if we find ourselves, more and more, needing to be entertained by these things.  As the pressure mounts, as the bills come, as the demands at work grow, as my family needs more and more of me … what am I drawing upon for “life”?  

I’ve asked you to ask yourself and the Father, “Where am I weak?”  Yes, do that.  But also, how about, “On what am I dependent?” and “What do I draw upon for life?”

I’ll just pause here and leave you with this one thought…

addictions4

 

“It” has to go. (addiction must fall 3)

How are you doing with this?  Did you read the last post?  At Manschool when it started getting ramped up a bit, what did you do?  Zone out?  Dismiss it as “I don’t have a problem with this…”

Yes you do.  Sorry for the smack in the face, but … you do.  I do.  We all do.  We love self WAY too much.  Life is all about us.  We picked that up from Adam & Eve.  Thanks for that.

You have an addiction problem in your life.  At a minimum, as men, we’re all addicts to some degree to beauty, sex and the lure of Eve.  God gives us desires, yes, that’s true but we’ve twisted those desires to where they’re distorted and instead of being about her and her beauty, it’s all about us.  My needs.  My desires.  My lusts.  My satisfaction.  But for most of us, it goes way beyond that.  There are pockets of weakness in our lives of addiction that are taking a toll on us and all those we love around us.  It can be anger, control, success, money, sex, acceptance, approval of others, physical appearance, toys, pornography, alcohol, drugs … you name it.  Whatever the case may be, you’ve got some form of this rolling around in your life and it’s become a Goliath that taunts you and lies to you, telling you that “you’ll never be anything more than this addiction.”

Pay attention to this.  Read it several times …

“Most have no idea the warfare and seduction Satan wages against leaders and potential leaders.  He is relentless, he is patient.  He studies our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  He stalks our families.  He’s methodical.  Masterful at timing.  And if you’re laughing at this, he is laughing at you.

Leaders that are too sophisticated to reckon with the biblical realities of spiritual warfare will be eaten alive.  No leader gets away with secret sin and duplicity.  It’s always a matter of time.  God doesn’t play favorites.  Christ is serious about His church.  Repent.  Seek help.  Be restored.”

Beth Moore hits the nail on the head.  Maybe she’s talking about our President.  Maybe its a pastor.  Or a Senator.  Perhaps… it is about you and I.  You, my brother, are a leader.  You lead your home.  YOU are responsible for the spiritual leadership of the home.  Not your wife.  Don’t default it to her.  No, it’s on you.

It is time for “it” to stop.  Whatever “it” you have that is weighing you down and tormenting you and lying to you, it’s time for “it” to go.  Time for “it” to go into the fire. God wants to restore you.  He has so, so, so much “MORE” for you.  But you’ve got to be willing to give some things up.  The limiters in your life have to go.  Will it be easy?  No but what did you expect following Jesus?  It will take courage but there is great freedom on the other side.  So, I ask you…

What are you willing to throw in the fire and bury to never go back to again?

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Why your Goliath … must fall

Remember…

“God has not given me a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and of sound judgment”.  2 Timothy 1:7

“Courage is looking fear in the eye and saying, “Get out of my way, I’ve got something to do”

“My prayer is when I die, that all hell rejoices that I am out of the fight”.  CS Lewis

A snake can be dead but still be deadly.  Satan has been defeated but even though he has been defeated, he still has power to do damage if we put ourselves in a vulnerable position i.e. if we make a misstep.

Jimmy Evans said it last week – the roaring lion is trying to produce in you a mistake that will then give him an opportunity.

He’s just trying to get you to take the bait.

If there is a giant in your life that demoralizes you and steals God’s glory from your life addiction, rejection, fear, comfort, needing approval of others God wants that giant to fall.  Jesus has defeated the giants and He opens a way for us to walk in victory and freedom.

The things that demoralize us – “I will always be a failure” – they steal our joy and more importantly, they rob God’s glory in my life by preventing me from being all God created me to be.

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Anyone who has been taught, “come to God and it will be smooth sailing” has been told a lie.  The people of God left bondage, the Red Sea parted and later, they crossed over a dry Jordan river to enter the Promised Land.  They saw the 7-story walls of Jericho fall but guess what?  The next day? Another city to conquer.  Another giant.  Another adversary.  Every day was another day to remember God’s faithful deliverance over past giants and to trust him into the days forward.

Just because we’re in Christ doesn’t mean we’re not in a battle.  You get into a season and things are going pretty well and you turn a corner and boom, anxiety is standing there 45-feet tall.  Where did that come from?

Even though we have the power of Jesus, we can still be paralyzed by our giants.  We talked about fear last week. It can be debilitating.  Goliath taunted them for 40 days and 40 nights.  In reality, Goliath was taunting their God.  When we are demoralized, we can’t be all God intends for us to be.

2 big ideas …

First, Jesus is David in this story.  It isn’t us.  It’s not about us rising up, it is about Christ.  The story sets up an even greater battle than shepherd boy vs. giant.  It is the ultimate battle where Jesus takes on death, hell and sin.

David steps up.  David knew Goliath had to fall not just so the people can be free, but that God can get the glory He deserves.  An angry person cannot stop his anger.  Christ can.  Transformation can come if we step back and let Jesus work.  The glory points to Him, not us.

Second, David wasn’t just motivated by his safety and freedom.  What motivated him was the glory and fame of God.  Even as a boy, David would play his instrument and worship God.  He had a special relationship with God, “Who am I when I consider the works you have done?”

He knew God’s power could take down the giant – “You come at me with a spear, a javelin and a sword but I come at you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel whom you have taunted.”  1 Samuel 17:45

What switched in David was he saw it was his God being taunted.  He fought for God’s glory. Unless this happens in us, we’re never going to be truly free of these giants that intimidate and demoralize us.

We accommodate things that kill us and kill those around us.  We stunt our growth and we’ll never fully become what God wants us to become.  It must shift from “yes, I want to be free” but also, “I want God to get all the glory”.  I didn’t beat this giant in my life, God did.  I didn’t overcome this addiction by my power, but God did it by His power.

How do these giants come down?

A shift of focus.  What our eyes see, directs our mouths.  They saw giants and said “fear”.  David saw the power of God and went on the offensive.  We spend too much time worshiping the giants in our lives i.e. talking about how much power they have… “Sally’s anxiety. John’s anger, Dad’s alcoholism” – we end up worshiping them, talking them up, giving power to them.  If we live with our giant and his foot planted on our neck, the people around us won’t see God in our lives.

We need to shift our focus from the size of the giant to the power of the Lord.  I’m not going to fix it anyway.  Only God.  I need to stop believing in the power of my giants and to start believing the power of the Lord God Almighty who can break every chain.

We don’t seek to minimize the crippling, debilitating effects of our giants – but – we have a choice to make … will I lift my eyes up higher than 9 feet?

9 feet?  Sure, that’s big but I’ve come to know a God WAY bigger than that!  “Hey giant, sure you’re big but I’m coming at you with the name of the Lord God Almighty and you’re going down”.

Exposing the roaring lion of fear

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you.”   Luke 10:19

We have authority over him.

1 Peter – he prowls around seeking who he may devour – “may” not “can”. i.e. we’ve given him permission, an opening.

60% of believers don’t believe in the enemy – they have no grasp they’re being stalked.

Be sober, be alert … means stay disciplined.  The areas I let get out of control, are the areas where the attack will come.  He’s your adversary whether you like it or not.

He’s active. He’s coming to your territory trying to produce in you a mistake that will then give him an opportunity.  Do I fear him?  No.  But I should understand him.

Lions are nocturnal – you’re safe in the day but not at night.  It’s dangerous at night.  Darkness is the devil’s domain.  You’re safe in the light.  Sin is his domain and you can’t cast him off it.

Ephesians 5:9-15 (Instructions for believers)“Walk as children of light – for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.  Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them.  For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.  Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is the light.  Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”

Where two or more are gathered in His name, there Christ shall also be – i.e. don’t be a lone ranger.  Surround yourself with Godly people.  The devil will come at you but he won’t see you, he’ll see Jesus because they are in the spiritual realm.

You’re safe in Christian fellowship.  Satan is trying to provoke you to break off on your own.  Lions don’t attack the herd, they intimidate to try to get a weak one to break off alone.

Lions are territorial – don’t run from lions, they’ll kill you.  The purpose of the roar is to intimidate you so you’ll run away from his territory.

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  There is good fear – see a rattlesnake and fear appears, you heed the warning and move away and the fear subsides.  That fear is temporary, protective and circumstantial.  It comes, it goes, it protects you.

Bad fear is chronic and debilitating – that is not from God.  It is a controlling spirit by the devil to keep us off our promised land.  It’s not my emotion.  It’s a demonic spirit trying to keep me off what God has promised me.  Once I stop dealing with fear as my emotion and my weakness and I begin to understand that is a separate identity from me, I can begin to take authority over it.  It comes saying “you’re going to fail, you’re going to embarrass yourself…” it tries to intimidate.

So, when that spirit of fear comes, what are we to do?

“I bind you spirit of fear in the name of Jesus and every lie you’re telling me.  You’re a demon spirit and you’re on my territory.  You’re standing on my promised land.  Not only am I not going to give you this land, I’m taking it back from you.”

You have a promised land.  It is a God-given destiny and as sure as you have that destiny, there is an enemy standing on your land roaring at you, screaming, “you’re not good enough, smart enough … who do you think you are?”  He’s stealthy.  He implants this fear but doesn’t tell us it is him – he makes us think it is us.  I’m fearful of people, I’m fearful of failure, I’m fearful of what other people think, I’m fearful of rejection”NO, you are NOT.  God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.  It’s an add-on from the devil to try to control you.

It is time to expose the roaring lion and understand what he is up to. It’s time to take our land back. We have authority over him. Don’t run. Attack him. Run to the roar. He’s already been defeated. Kick him off your promised land and live your life as God intended you to live. Make a stand against a spirit of fear.

Prayer to break the power of fear …

“In the name of Jesus, I don’t have fear.  I’m not going to run from you.  I’m taking my territory back from you right now.  You’re standing on my promised land and I won’t rest until I have it back and you’re gone.  I bind your voice.  I bind your lies.  I bind your influence and in their place, I pray for a spirit of love, of power, and of sound mind.  God give me a spirit of love.  I want to be motivated by love, power and your wisdom.  I declare victory right now.  The devil will not devour me.  I’m the child of Almighty God.  I’m invested with divine authority and wherever I go, you go with me Lord Jesus.  Help me fulfill my perfect destiny in You. From today forward, when I hear that roar, I will run toward it and take authority over it and claim my promised land in Jesus name.”