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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Five Simple Steps to Discover God’s Plans for You

The very title, “Five Simple Steps to Discover God’s Plans for You,” likely has some of you already objecting. “You’ve got to be kidding! Simple? Discovering God’s plans?” Others of you are already thinking about your own questions:
  • Who should I marry?
  • Should I go back to school?
  • Is this the place where God wants me to serve?
  • Should I start my own business?
  • Should I homeschool my kids?
  • When should I buy a home?
  • When should I retire?
  • Where is God calling me?
  • Is this job a dead-end?
  • What’s the next step in my life?
  • Which church should I attend?
  • Am I really on track with God’s will for my life?
Does “Five Steps” sound too simplistic? Maybe. Is it possible we sometimes complicate God’s will or God’s plans for our lives? How do we figure out those plans? Just what are those plans? 
God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 gives us a clue: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)
Two Things to Believe
From that verse we can believe two things:
  1. God’s plans are always good (not harmful to us).
  2. God’s plans are always designed to bring us good (hope and a future).
But how do we handle the big decisions in life? How do we know if we’re making the ones that will bring good for us?
The Five Simple Steps
Here are five simple steps that might help. They’re not exclusive, and may appear too simple for you. But I believe they work:
  • ASK. You want wisdom? James 1:5-6 says to ask God for it. But believe God will give it to you. Most of us have a tendency to figure things out on our own. God is saying, “Hello, I’m here. I made you. Trust me.”
  • BE FAITHFUL WHERE YOU ARE. God will not give you greater opportunities or responsibilities if you aren’t faithful with what He’s already entrusted you in the smaller areas of your life (See Matthew 25:21). Serve Him cheerfully, gratefully, faithfully, wherever you are, no matter what your lot in life may be right now.
  • LISTEN. Continue to study and pray (and even fast), watching for insights from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Other trusted believers can help balance your perspective. But in the end, God and His Word never change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). God will not “tell” you to do something that is against His righteous character or contrary to the principles in His Word. His Word is powerful, bringing instruction, correction, training, and equipping us thoroughly “for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Trying to make decisions without consulting God or His Word is like trying to find our way through a dark tunnel without a flashlight.
  • WAIT. Waiting is not always easy. Sometimes God gives you more than one good choice. That happened to us one year when two churches were interested in my husband coming to serve as a new staff member. Both churches seemed like possible fits. We considered both, but had no answers. So we waited and prayed. Before we had to make a decision, God had eliminated one and cleared the way for the other.    
However, another time earlier in his life, Larry faced two good decisions. Both seemed great choices: attend college or serve in a missionary program for two years first. He ultimately decided God would have been pleased with either choice. So he ultimately chose one with confidence

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Joel Osteen: 7 Keys to Successful Public Speaking

Whether you are a religious person or not, there is no denying that Osteen is an influential speaker and that he has something to teach anyone who wants to improve his or her public speaking skills.  Here are the 7 keys that make Osteen a popular communicator.
Introduce a theme. Osteen always introduces a theme at the beginning of his presentation.  He will begin his remarks by saying, “I want to talk to you today about staying passionate about life,” or “I want to talk you to about having a big vision for your life.”  Introducing a theme gives your audience a roadmap.  Make sure your stories, anecdotes or examples tie back to your main theme.
Tell stories. Osteen fills his sermons with personal stories.  Some are simple anecdotes about something that happened to him, his wife or his kids.  Many are stories of friends, people he’s met, or churchgoers in the congregation.  Our brains are not programmed for abstract thoughts.  Tell personal stories to connect with your audience.
Use humor, sparingly. Osteen starts each sermon with a joke or a humorous observation.  I never recommend starting a sales presentation with a joke because it will often land flat.  Osteen has years of practice and his congregation expects him to start with a joke but I don’t recommend it for everyone.  However, humor is important.  It’s perfectly acceptable and even welcome to take yourself lightly during a presentation.  Osteen’s sermons are delivered live and edited before broadcast.  I once saw a live sermon and, as every speaker does, Osteen make mistakes.  But he doesn’t let those mistakes derail the rest of his presentation.  In fact he makes light of it.  “As it says in Corinthians…” he once started a sentence before pausing. “Well, you know what it says in Corinithians,” he quipped when he forgot what he was going to say next.  The audience laughed, Osteen smiled and just kept going.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Use parallel sentence structure. Writing or speaking in parallel sentences is a rhetorical device that you will hear in most great speeches or presentations.  For example, Osteen recently said, “Once you know you’re a ‘no lack’ person, you won’t run from your enemies, you’ll run to your enemies. You won’t run away from college, thinking it’s too hard, you’ll run to it knowing that you’re well able.  You won’t run away from that management position, thinking that you’re not qualified, you’ll run to it knowing that you’re well equipped.”  Consider using parallel construction somewhere in your presentation.  It’s a memorable way to get your message across.
Practice well ahead of time. I’ve heard Osteen say that he prepares for five days ahead of each sermon.  That means he begins to prepare, write, and rehearse on a Wednesday for the following Sunday’s sermon.  He’ll spend hours for each 30-minute presentation and he starts fresh every week.  Whenever you see a leader who communicates so well it looks “effortless,” know that there’s a lot of practice that went into it.
Avoid notes. Osteen’s preparation shows because he rarely speaks from notes, although he does have notes.  The notes are placed discreetly on his lectern.  He always speaks in front of the lectern or next to it.  As he moves to another part of the stage, Osteen glances at his notes, makes eye contact and continues talking.  Don’t break eye contact with the audience by speaking from notes.  Give yourself enough time to practice so you can deliver your message with confidence.
Inspire your audience. Osteen’s message is always positive and inspiring (to the dismay of some of his critics).  I think whether you’re a religious person or not, inspiration is very important in presentations and communications.  Many people are uninspired, demoralized, and discouraged.  They are looking for someone to believe in.  As a leader of a congregation or of a business, people are looking to you for inspiration.  Leave them on a positive note.
Osteen didn’t start out as a confident speaker.  In fact he didn’t want anything to do with preaching and was perfectly content behind the scenes at his father’s church.  Once he decided to preach he was a nervous wreck, tellingOprah Winfrey that the week before his first sermon was the worst week of his life.  He got through the first sermon and has worked on his skill every week since.  Becoming a great communicator is no longer a skill that’s just nice to have.  It’s essential for success in any field.

Monday, February 11, 2013



1 Thess 5:12.13 “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other”.

Vs 12 - respect - To hold with favour/give due recognition.
- work hard among you - Paul implies that the work of a pastor / elder / church leader is hard work.
- over you in the lord – The work of church leaders include ruling, overseeing and watching over the flock (shepherding them).
- who admonish you – Leaders have to counsel the flock (admonish – to warn / caution / reprove gently)

Vs 13 - Hold them in the highest regard in love - Not for their high position but in
appreciation for their work [Note: An elder or pastor is also a brother (see Matt 23:8-12) but has to be held in the highest regard because of the awesome responsibility associated with the office to which God has called him]. Pastors, Elders and other leaders have to teach, preach, visit the sheep, administer, pray for the sick, encourage, restore, bring reconciliation, overseer, shepherd etc..

- live in peace with each other - Right relationships between leaders and those
who are under them are encouraged.


Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

2.1) Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you - recall the blessings
that have come to you under the ministry of the leaders. “Remember the hand that feeds you.” Don’t turn against the leaders when you disagree with them with regard to some plan or programme. Don’t criticize, ridicule or reject them. It is said that dogs are sometimes better than people at “remembering the hand that feeds you.” (oops !).

2.2) Consider the outcome of their way of life - Look back on the outcome of their way of life and the good that it has done for your own life.

2.3) imitate their faith - 1 Cor 4:15-17 (Paul’s example): “… I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

3 John 11 “Do not imitate what is evil but
what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”


(What the leaders are, the people will also be).


Hebrews 13:17,18 “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 18 Pray for us.”

3.1) Obey your leaders

(i) The church is a THEOCRACY, which means that the government of God prevails i.e. the elders rule under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The church is not a democracy where everyone has a say in how the church is to be governed. The pastors (who are normally also ordained elders) and the other elders form the Governing Body at Cornerstone. This is the highest ruling body at Cornerstone, and is, we believe, in line with God’s Word. We must obey the leadership who has been ordained by God. If the leadership does not exercise the ministry to which God has called them, i.e. to rule (amongst other things), we will have “every man doing that which is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

(ii) Congregation members must take heed to the counsel given by the leaders because “they keep watch over you as men who must give an account”. (3 John vs 4 “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” The greatest sorrow of any Christian leader must be to see those whom he leads growing further away from God.)

3.2) submit to their authority - SUBMISSION IS OBEDIENCE. Dictatorial leadership
(as in the case of Diotrephus above) is not condoned by this command but respect for authority, orderliness and discipline in the church are taught throughout the New Testament. (Don’t think yourself too wise to take counsel from the elders).

3.3) they keep watch over you as men who must give an account – Each believer has the responsibility to strengthen other believers. This is especially true of those who shepherd the flock.

3.4) a joy and not a burden - A joyful elder will be of benefit to God’s people. (cf vs.17 “ advantage to you”)

3.5) “Pray for us” (i) “This is one part of the duty which people owe to their ministers. Ministers need the prayers of their people; and the more earnestly the people pray for their ministers, the more benefit they may expect to reap from their ministry.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).


4.1) Go to him as a brother (Matt 18:15-17) eg. Paul to Peter

4.2) An accusation against an elder can only be brought to the rest of the church leadership on the basis of two or three witnesses.
1 Tim 5:19: “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.”


5.1) 1 Tim 5:17-18: ‘The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18. For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the corn,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”’

5.2) Gal 6:6 (NIV): “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”
Gal 6:6 (Amplified Bible): “Let him who receives instruction in the word [of God] share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his support].”

(Compare Gal 6:6 to 1 Tim 5:17 above – the elders … worthy of double honour … especially … preaching and teaching).

N.B. The above scriptures would normally refer to “full-time” ministers who “should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor 9:14 – see 5.3 below)..

5.3) 1 Cor 9:7-14 Sowing and reaping by ministers of the gospel..


6.1) 1 Samuel 26:9-11 (David concerning Saul) ‘But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord Himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. …”’ (See also 1 Sam 24:6, 10). (Elders are anointed and appointed by the Holy Spirit [Acts 20:28]).

6.2) Numbers 12:1-15 Miriam and Aaron challenging the leadership of Moses.

(1 Sam 15:22) “Rebellion is like the sin of divination.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Introduction: A visiting preacher to a small country church delivered a sermon on "Gratitude." At the conclusion of the sermon, when an offering was to be taken up for him, he said, "And remember, however small the gift, always be grateful and thankful to the Lord."
Well, the offering was taken up, using the preacher's hat as a 'collection plate.' When the hat came back to him, the preacher looked inside: It was empty!

Seeing this, the congregation watched carefully to see if he would practice the words about "gratitude" which he'd just preached.
He thought for a moment, then prayed, "Dear Lord, I thank thee that I got my hat back!" (from esteeple website)
Transition: Being a thankful person is not always easy. As a matter of fact, it is contrary to our fallen nature and requires that we live out of the resources that Christ gives us.
TEXT: Colossians 3:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Transition: In the passage we just read, I desire to call your attention to verse 15. Notice that it begins with the word "And" which connects it to what is already been said about putting on love. But it also indicates that what follows is seen as having it's own characteristic. Verse 15 has three components. It talks about the peace of God, it talks about being part of the body, and it talks about being thankful. I believe that all these truths are connected. So, as we go into this holiday week called "Thanksgiving", let me share with you three reasons from this text that we need to be thankful.


Peace and ingratitude cannot sleep in the same bed together, nor do they fellowship in the same soul. There is something about the nature of ingratitude that keeps a person from being filled with the peace of God.
We are told that peace is to rule in our hearts. The word "rule" in this verse means to serve as an umpire. The Holy Spirit cannot release peace to us when we are living out of bounds. And the land of ingratitude is definitely outside the boundaries of God's will for us. There are no benefits that come with ingratitude.
Do you enjoy hanging out with someone who is always demonstrating how ungrateful they are? They are always negative? Always pointing out what is wrong with everyone else but never see it in their own lives? I would venture to say that none of us here would deliberately choose such a person for our friend. Neither does the Holy Spirit.
If you think about it, when we are being ungrateful, it is a sure sign that we are not at peace with our place in the world. We are not at peace with how God is caring for us. We are not at peace with our "lot" in life.
Paul writes that collectively we are called to a life of peace and to live in unity as a body. As I just mentioned, we find it difficult walking in unity with people who are ungrateful.
Think about it. If God can't please someone, then how can we? How can thankful people and unthankful people really walk in unity and agreement and serve the purposes of God together.


We will live with one of two orientations in our lives: We will be focusing on God's goodness, blessings, and all that He has done for us. OR, we will be constantly complaining about what has not yet happened, what He has not done yet, or what others are not doing, or what the government is not doing, and on and on it goes. And most people who live this way, seldom see their own irresponsibility or need to change.
In Romans 1:21, Paul writes about how the lost world has turned away from God and have gone into foolishness and darkness. One of the things he mentions that is part of their make up in denying God he states in three simple words, "nor were thankful."
Being unthankful leads us into foolishness and darkness.
Can we take some hard facts here? If we are not a thankful people, we are a foolish people. If we are not a thankful people, we are not choosing light but darkenss. Ingratitude indicates that some darkness has taken root in our hearts and leading us into foolish thinking and living.
How many church issues and problems may very well be solved if we just became more thankful for what we do have, for what God is doing?
ILLUS-This reminds me of one of Aesop's Fables about a Father and his sons.
A Father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it.
He next opened the bundle, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons’ hands, upon which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”
Being thankful helps us to "stick" together and therefore accomplish more together than we could apart. God has called us together and one of the ways we stay together is to be thankful always!
Paul tags two little but powerful words to the end of verse 15. BE THANKFUL! It is not a suggestion he is making. It is a charge to live a thankful life.
Being thankful means that we are full of thanksgiving. There is always something to thank God for in every situation. Notice I said you can thank God regardless of the situation. I did not say you had to be thankful for the situation, but you can still thank God in the situation. May I remind you of what some unknown soul once said,
"Do not grumble because you do not get what you want; be thankful you do not get what you deserve!"
Ah, this is so true isn't it? What God has already done should suffice us to be grateful for eternity.
If a recording angel has been following you around for the last month recording every word you have spoken, every thought you have thought, and interpreted every bodily response to every situation you have encountered, would such a record convince a jury that you truly a person who lives a life filled with thanksgiving? Or would you be convicted of being an ungrateful person?
An even harder question is: What is my first response when faced with difficulty? Am I thankful or unthankful? May God help us to get to the place where we quickly go vertical and thank God for what we do have instead of what we don't. How that would help us to see that God is still in charge and will take care of us.
ILLUS- A lawyer had successfully handled a difficult law case for a wealthy friend. Following the happy outcome of the case, the friend and client called on the lawyer, expressed his appreciation of his work and handed him a handsome Moroccan leather wallet.
The lawyer looked at the wallet in astonishment and handed it back with a sharp reminder that a wallet could not possibly compensate him for his services. "My fee for that work," acidly snapped the attorney, "is five hundred dollars."
The client opened the wallet, removed a one-thousand dollar bill, replaced it with a five-hundred dollar bill and handed it back to the lawyer with a smile.
Conclusion: How many blessings we forfeit because our hearts are not right…we are not thankful to God. Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." It is God's will for us to be thankful. It is one of the ways, that we can glorify God in our lives.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Pastor Tom and I want to talk to you about, How does God test our faith?

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 "According to your faith it will be done unto you." That’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible. What are you expecting God to do in your life? This is the law that God has established. It’s called the Law of Expectation. The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life. We tend to see what we expect to see. We tend to hear what we expect to hear. We tend to feel the way we expect to feel. We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish. This is the law of faith. God says you get to choose. Because "According to your faith it will be done unto you."

Another important verse on faith in the Bible is Hebrews 11:6. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." How many of you are parents? How many of you are pleased when your children trust you? God is the same way. God is our heavenly Father and God is pleased when we trust Him. That’s why the Bible says without faith it’s impossible to please God.

You can obey God. You can do the right thing and still not be pleasing God because you’re not doing it in faith. So it’s important to learn how to live expectantly as you learn to live by faith.

"Whatever is not of faith," the Bible says in Romans 14, "is sin."

Because that’s true we need to talk tonight about how do we grow in our faith. In Luke 17:5 the apostle said to Jesus, "Lord increase our faith." How do you do that? I’d like to have more faith. I know you’d like to have more faith. If that’s what pleases God then I want to have more of it. The question is how? If faith is what makes my life rewarding and fulfilling and confident how does God build my faith?

Let me ask you this: do you take vitamins for it? No. Is there some kind of therapy you go through to have your faith built? No. Is there some seminar that’s going to build your faith? No, not really.

Here’s the secret. And it’s not really something you’re real excited about when you first hear it. But the truth is God builds your faith and my faith by testing it. He builds our faith by putting it to the test, by trying it. Faith is like a muscle and when it’s stretched and it’s pulled then it develops. When you test your muscles against weights then your muscles develop. And your faith develops as it is tested.

You don’t develop your faith just setting on your blessed assurance in church. James 1:3 says this "The testing of your faith [circle this] develops perseverance [circle "develops perseverance"] so that you may be mature and complete." He says the purpose of these tests is that our faith, our perseverance will grow and will be mature and complete.

Job says the same thing speaking from experience in Job 7:17-18 "What is man that You make so much of him and that You give him so much attention and that You examine him every morning and test him every moment." Circle "test him." Did you realize that God is testing you every moment of your life? In the Purpose Driven Life book I talk about how life is a test and it is temporary assignment and it’s a trust. These are the facts of life. Every moment of the day your faith is being

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sermon Series of Alan Carr

Sermon Series


How to win over your problems - by Alan Carr

How To Get Past Your Jordan
Joshua 3:1-6; 14-17
Intro: Because of their unbelief, Israel was sentenced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Those years have now expired and the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan Land. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. However, before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle: the Jordan River. Normally, this would not have presented much of a problem, since the Jordan was only 100 feet wide at Gilgal where they crossed. However, it seems that God always does things in such a way that no man can boast of having done them on their own. This crossing would be no exception. You see, God brought them to the Jordan River at the time of harvest, 4:15. Those who have been there during the harvest time tell us that the Jordan swells to an impassable width of over 1 mile! It was over 50 times wider than it normally would have been when Israel arrived. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help.
My friends, we each have Jordans that we face from time to time! When we look at the obstacles that stand between us and spiritual victory in our own Canaan, we may feel that we will never be able to enter our Canaan of victory and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised His followers. Well, it is true that I do not know what kind of obstacles that you face in your life, I do a God Who specializes in overcoming the overwhelming and in leading His children to victory.
This morning, I would like for us to look into this account of Israel as they got past their Jordan. As we do, I would like to offer you some hope as well. You see, the things that worked for them over 3000 years ago will still work for you and me today. Allow me to show you from chapters 3 and 4 of Joshua How To Get Past Your Jordan. There are 3 steps that we must take to guarantee that we will be able to get past that obstacle that blocks our way and enter our Canaan. Let me share these steps with you this morning.

A. V. 3-4 It Involved A Challenge - When it came time for the people to move forward to cross Jordan, God has a message that they needed to hear. In the words they heard, they were challenged to do three very important things. These things were designed to help them follow the Lord better. These are the same things that we need to hear this morning that will help up to follow the Lord better as well.
1. Watch God - Notice that the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned some 7 times in chapter 3. The Ark, you may remember, was that special piece of Tabernacle furniture that symbolized the presence and power of God. When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, the glory of God rested upon it and it was the dwelling place of God. To Israel, it represented God's presence in the midst of His people. In other words, when God moved, they were to move. When God stopped they were to do the same.
(Ill. There is a valuable spiritual lesson in this passage for you and me. We would do well, when we face times of crisis, or when we need direction in life to learn to be sensitive to the movement of the Lord in and around us. It is a fact that God loves you and that He will show you what He is doing, John 5:19-20. If you will watch Him, He will teach you how to live day by day.)
2. Follow God - When they saw the Ark of the Covenant move, they were to "leave your place, and go after it" Not only were they to watch God, they were to move when He did. They were to pursue God!
(Ill. Again, the lesson for the believer is that it isn't enough to know what God is doing, there comes a time when you must "leave you place and go after Him." This may require us to leave our comfort zone! Israel was about to follow the Ark through a river that was over 1 mile wide! That couldn't have been easy, but it was still necessary and right! Folk, following God may not be the easiest thing you will ever do, but it will be the best thing you ever do. If you ever expect to get past your obstacles and enter your Canaan, you must learn to follow God.)
3. Honor God - Notice that the Israelites are told to stay at least 3000 feet behind the Ark. This was so that they could easily see what was happening ahead of them. Another reason is that the Lord wanted no one but the Levites near the Ark. To get too close would have meant death.
(Ill. Again, there is a lesson here for us as well. We must never be guilty of treating God like is one of our buddies. There must always be a holy reverence and a fear of the Lord in our hearts. God help us that we never allow a spirit of familiarity cheapen or walk with the Lord. Regardless of what we go through with holy, righteous God and we are still nothing but sinners saved by His marvelous grace.)
(Ill. Simply put, these three things are most easily accomplished by learning to walk in the Spirit. That is, learning to give control of your life to the Spirit of God and to follow God as He leads through His Word and through prayer. It may not always be easy, but I can promise you that if you will follow, He will certainly lead!)
B. V. 5 It Involved A Command - Next, the people were told to "sanctify yourselves." This referred to being sure they were as clean and holy s possible. They were to put away anything that was displeasing to the Lord. They were to examine themselves and get ready for the Lord to do something great for them.
(If you and I ever expect to get past the Jordan's that arise in our lives, we are going to have to learn that one of the first things we must do is examine our lives to make sure they are as clean as possible. May the Lord help us to realize that many of the things that happen in our lives that prevent us from walking in Christian victory are the results of our sin and the Lord's chastisement, Gal. 6:9; Heb. 12:6-11. Christian, is everything in your life just as the Lord would have it to be? Remember, there is forgiveness in confessing our sins to the Lord - I John 1:9)
C. V. 9-13 It Involved A Commitment - This message to the Israelites reminded them that getting across the Jordan did not rest on their shoulders, but on the Lord's. It was His plan to get them over and it was His problem. In these verses, He makes them a promise and tells them that He will bring them through in a powerful fashion. God, here, commits Himself to bringing his people across their Jordan! All that was required of Israel was that they trust God!
(Ill. May I remind you that things have not changed one bit? If God could be trusted in those days to keep His promises, then He can still be trusted today! Often, we are unable to get past the obstacles in our lives because we live a life that exhibits a deep lack of faith in the promises of God! How do I know? Because of the worry and doubt that marks the lives of the people of God.
1. We worry over tomorrow, yet the Lord has said - Matt. 6:34.
2. We worry over material things, yet the Lord has promised - Matt. 6:25-33; Phil. 4:19.
3. We worry about facing various things in life, yet the Lord has promised - Heb. 13:5
4. We worry over so many things, yet the Lord tells us that all of our worry is sin and that our duty is to trust Him - Phil. 4:6-7.
5. The bottom line is this: Jesus is all-powerful, He is all-knowing and He is all-present. He knows what you are going through. He knows everything there is to know about it. He even knows more about it than you do! Here is what He says to you: "The just shall life by faith", Rom. 1:17; "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin", Rom 14:23; "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith", Matt. 8:26.
(Ill. What He says to us is that He is the Lord and that He is greater than any problem we have ever or will ever face in life. His desire is that we simply learn to take Him at His Word and trust Him. We need to remember that what the Lord has promised to do, He will do, Rom, 4:21)
That is the message, let us take it to heart!
I. We Need To Examine A Message
A. V. 15b There Was A Problem - As I mentioned in the introduction, the children of Israel were facing a big problem. The river was over 1 mile wide and there were 2 million people who had to cross, and yet the Lord wanted them to go over. They couldn't build a bridge, there wasn't enough time or materials. They couldn't transport everyone over in boats, there were no boats and they would have ben sitting ducks for their enemies. There was only one way around their problem and that was through it!
(Ill. Have you ever sized up your problem and thought about how big it was? Maybe you looked at it and concluded, "There is no way around, through, over or past this problem." I suppose we have all been like the 10 spies that returned from spying out the land of Canaan with Caleb and Joshua. We have sized up our problem and think that it is more than we can ever face, Num, 13:31-33. Our problem was the same one we always have when we face a difficult situation: we forget about God! Where we see only problems, God sees only solutions. Where we look at things and say, "There's no way!" God looks at the problem and says, "Follow me, I have a plan!"
B. V. 15 There Was A Plan - The plan was this, God said, "When the feet of the priests enter Jordan, I am going to part the waters and lead you through on the dry ground!" There was a catch in this plan and it was that the waters would not part until the priests who were carrying the Ark stepped into the water. In other words, it took a step of faith, whereby the people obediently followed the Lord for them to see the miracle come to pass.
(Ill. What a lesson for you and me. Too often, we want the Lord just to fix everything in our lives for us. We don't want to have to make any decisions nor do we want to have to exercise our faith in Him. We just want Him to do it and that will be the end of it. However, most of the time, God will require us to take steps of faith in order that we might see our Jordan parted. God had a plan, but for this plan to work, it required faith on the part of His people! The same is true for you and me! As long as we are trying to solve our own problems we are not walking in faith. It is when we turn loose of the reigns of the problem, step away from it and let the Lord have it that we will see it taken care of for His glory. It never is about what we can do, it is always about what the Lord is able to do, Eph. 3:20!)
C. V. 16-17 There Was A Performance - When the priests stepped into that raging river, it parted and God opened a path of dry ground through the waters for His people. By the way, verse 16 says that the waters backed up to the City of Adam. This is some 20 miles north of where the children of Israel were crossing. God made them a path through the water that was more than adequate for His people to get through.
(Ill. We need to remember that faith honors God and God honors faith! When He does it, it won't just be patched up and ready to fall apart again, it will be done right and it will be done forever. Folks, I want to encourage you this morning by reminding you that this God Who did this great thing for Israel is still the same God we are serving this morning! What He did them, He can do now. He was ABLE all the way through the Bible, and He is still ABLE today! Regardless of the circumstances, He is still God and He still can! Ill. The question that plagued the Jews, Psa. 78:19. God can! Just ask, Noah, Moses, Daniel, the 3 Hebrews, a widow down in Zarephath, the Disciples on a little ship, and Saul of Tarsus. Just look back over your own life. How many times has the Lord opened your Jordan already? He is all we need! He is still the same miracle working God that He always had been. Learn to expect miracles when you are dealing with God!)
I. We Need To Examine A Message
II. We Need To Expect A Miracle
(Ill. When all the people had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes to get a rock from the midst of Jordan and build a memorial on the Canaan side. That memorial is worth taking a look at this morning!)
A. V, 6-7; 21-24 The Purpose Of The Memorial - These verses tell us that the purpose of the memorial was to remind successive generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people. That memorial would be an important landmark to those who would come after.
(Ill. By the same token, we need some memorials in our lives as well. However, we must use caution, we do no want to embalm the past and by doing so cripple the future. Many churches have done that and are suffering as a result. What we do want to do, however, is remember the things the Lord has done for us so that we can tell others about them and so that when we come that way again, we will remember that the Lord was faithful in that day and that He will be faithful in this day as well. Never forget what the Lord has done for you in your yesterdays. It is those yesterday experiences that will tide you over when the trials of today and tomorrow arise in your life!)
B. V. 9, 20 The Picture In The Memorial - Ill. It is interesting to notice that Joshua constructed 2 monuments. One on the bank and one in the river. These 2 memorials served 2 different purposes. Notice what they were.
1. V. 20 A Picture Of The Faithfulness Of God - The one on the bak of Jordan stood as a testimony to the faithfulness of God as I have just mentioned. It was there to remind others of what the Lord had done and of what He could do. Again, we need to remember the faithfulness of God in the past. It will help us cross the Jordan we face today.
2. V. 9 A Picture Of The Faith Of The People - Now, what about the rock pile in the river? No one could see it but God! It stood as a monument to the faith of the people! You see, when you face a time of trial, others are often guilty of misjudging your motives and actions, however, only God knows the truth about your heart. Even though Israel couldn't see it, they knew the monument was there! They remembered that they had believed God then and it had worked. This was a monument in their hearts.
(Ill. We need that same kind of monument as well. As I said, too often we are misjudged by others in our times of trial, but God alone knows you heart. When you have trusted Him and He has brought you through, never forget it! Build that monument in your heart, where only God can see it, and where you wil never forget it and when the tough time comes again, and it will, look at that monument of His faithfulness and of your faith and know that what worked before will work again. God will bring you through your Jordan!)
Conc: Some of you are facing troubled waters this morning. I want you to know you can cross over. I invite you to come before the Lord this morning. Tell Him about the Jordan you are facing and allow Him to get you past it today. There is a place of victory where you can shout in spite of your troubles. The first step in getting there is dealing with what is keeping you out: your Jordan. It may sin, it may be some person, it may be some trial, but whatever it is, God is greater than it is. Come and let Him take care of it for you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rick Warren: Every Pastor Needs A Mentor

Every pastor needs a mentor. No matter what stage you are in your ministry, you need someone to coach you. All sorts of organizations use the mentoring process to make people better at what they do. In medicine, doctors mentor younger doctors. In music, musicians mentor other musicians. Why? It works. We learn best when we have people who can speak into our lives and ministry. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life.”
I will always need a coach – no matter how old I get or how successful I become. Lebron James is one of the best basketball players on the planet. He still needs a coach. You will never get to a point in your life when you can say, “I’ve learned it all. I don’t need anybody else to help me.”
A mentor brings out the best in you in three areas: your roles, your goals, and your soul. Mentors give us perspective. They help us look at ourselves and our ministry from the outside. We don’t always see what we’re doing outside of our own perspective. We see from our own limited focus. We need somebody else in our life to say, “Have you thought about…? What about this? What about that?”
Saddleback would not be where it is today without men who’ve poured their lives into me – people who’ve made me look at my ministry in a different light. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisors they succeed.” What God has done through Saddleback over the past 30 years hasn’t happened because I’m smart. It’s because I’ve had great mentors and advisors. They are people I’ve bounced ideas off of and gotten feedback from.
What do you look for in a mentor? Let me suggest three qualities –
1. Someone who has the character and values you admire. You want to find a mentor who is the kind of person you want to be.
2. Someone with the skills and experience you want. Look for another pastor who has the particular ministry skills you want to improve upon. Maybe it’s preaching. Maybe it’s leadership. Maybe it’s a pastor who has successfully navigated through a building campaign. Find someone who is good at something you want to be good at.
3. Someone you trust. If you don’t trust your mentor, you’re not going to learn anything from him. Just because a mentor has a lot of knowledge doesn’t mean you’ll click with him. To make a good mentoring experience, in time you’ll need to be able to open up to the person you choose.
Ask good questions. Once you pick the right mentor, you’ll need to make the most of the time you have with that person. Neither you nor your mentor have unlimited time. What can you do to maximize your time with your mentor? Ask questions. Before you meet with your mentor, spend some time thinking about questions you want to ask. Think about what issues you’re dealing with in your ministry. Think about what areas of your mentor’s ministry you’d like to learn from. Be specific.

One of my mentors was a guy named Billy, who had a mentor himself. Billy went to a large church in Texas and put himself under the pastor. At the end of six months, Billy went to him and said, “I’ve watched your teaching for six months and I’ve never heard you preach a dud. God speaks through everything you teach. Every time you teach there’s power, practical information, and good insight. I would like to know how you stay fresh. What’s your secret?”
The man told Billy, “About 35 to 40 years ago, I made a commitment to stay fresh, so I could feed other people. To do that, I read through the New Testament once a week.” Billy sat there dumbfounded, trying to think up an intelligent follow-up question to ask. “What translation do you read it in?” Billy asked. The Texas pastor said, “Usually in the original Greek.”
Billy later told me that he could have been with the guy for five or six years and never found out the secret to his freshness and spiritual depth if he hadn’t asked the question. Anyone – at any time – can be a mentor if you learn to ask questions. Everyone has a reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experience they can share. A wise person will learn to draw them out.
If I were to sit down with you, I’d learn some things that would make me a better pastor. I’m sure of it. You’ve had experiences that I haven’t had – and vice versa. Be prepared with standard questions to ask every time you get around someone you might learn from. Questions like –
  • How do you handle stress?
  • What have been the greatest successes in your life?
  • What were the causes of those successes?
  • What were the greatest failures in your life?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over?
  • What kind of books do you read?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • How do you manage your money?
  • What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned?
  • What have been the greatest surprises in your life?
Successful people give off clues. Look for those clues. Pull them out and learn from them

Joel osteen: Refuse to worry Video Sermon

Video Sermon of Joel Osteen: Refuse To Worry

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How To Encourage Yourself

Do you want to be successful?
You’ve got to learn how to encourage yourself.
Because there are days when you won’t receive any encouragement from anyone else, you’ve got to do it yourself.
There’s this one passage in the Bible that I love so much. It says, David encouraged himself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)
Let me tell you the Bible story behind this verse.
David and his men—600 of them—went away to work and left their wives and children in their camp called Ziklag. Three days later, tragedy struck. The Amalekites, sworn enemies of Israel, attacked and burned the entire village to the ground—and taking all the women and children with them as slaves.
When David and his men arrived, the Bible says his men “wept until they could weep no more.” Can you imagine 600 men crying at the loss of their wives and children? Can you imagine 600 men weeping over a pile of burning rubble that was once their home?
You think that was bad? It got worse. The Bible says that these men—once upon a time fiercely loyal to David—wanted now to stone David to death. 
I’ve noticed that when things go wrong, human beings want to look for someone to blame. We always want to look for a scapegoat to vent our rage.
Imagine you were David.
You just lost your family. Your kids were taken away from you. Your home is now but ashes under your feet. You now own nothing except the clothes that you’re wearing. And the friends that you thought were friends now want to kill you. 
This is what you call an Impossible situation. 
In other words, it’s a Ziklag…
Are You Going Through A Ziklag?
Are you going through an Impossible situation?
Then you’re going through Ziklag right now. 
Perhaps you lost your job.  Perhaps you lost your possessions. Perhaps you lost your friends. Perhaps you lost a loved one. 
In Ziklag, you have a choice: You can do what the 600 soldiers of David did or you can do what David did.
The 600 men wept and found someone to blame. (Because hurt people hurt people.)
But I love what David did. In the midst of an impossible situation, he did the impossible. What was that? The Bible said, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”
Let me explain what that meant…
Getting Encouragement From Within
Normally, we get encouragement from people around us. 
And rightly so. Because we’re the Body of Christ.
When I feel burdened, the first person I go to is my best friend—who happens to be my wife Marowe.  She’s not a preacher. If given a choice not to shop for a year—or to speak in public—she’d choose not to shop for a year. (Okay, maybe one week…) But she’s my encourager. She’s the builder of my faith. When I tell her my burdens, she doesn’t even say anything. She just listens—and I feel my burdens are lifted up from my shoulders.
And I’m spoiled. God gave me the most fantastic friends on planet earth.  They’re my Super Friends, my Avengers Team. When I’m going through my struggles, I share it with them—and when I do—I don’t feel alone anymore.
But I believe there are times when we go through Ziklag. Ziklag is a place where even the family and friends that we depend on aren’t there. Perhaps because they’re busy. Or because they’re faraway. Or because they themselves are going through some struggle—and they’re not there for us.
And that’s where you have to learn how to go to God directly.
Ziklag is the place where your relationship with God goes to a whole new level.
Ziklag Is A Furnace…
Let me warn you…
Ziklag is a burial place and a birthplace. It’s where boys are buried and kings are born.
Ziklag is a furnace. If you are made of wood, you will be pulverized. If you are made of gold, you will be purified.
Ziklag is a rock. You can be crushed under the weight of the rock or you can stand on top of the height of the rock—and see the world in a whole new perspective.
Ziklag is a sword. It can kill or it can cut. It can kill your soul or it can cut the cancer in your soul.
In Ziklag, David had to learn a very important life skill, a life skill you need to win permanent victory: You need to learn how to encourage yourself in the Lord. Do not wait for others to encourage you. Do not wait for your spouse to encourage you. Do not wait for your friends to encourage you. Do not wait for your leaders to encourage you. You need to learn how to encourage yourself in the Lord.
How To Encourage Yourself
       I don’t know what David did specifically. The Bible doesn’t say what he did. 
But I have a guess.
Because I’ve been through Ziklag many times. And I know how I encouraged myself. 
I believe David went back into his own history to remember those special times when he saw God intervene in his life. Like when God rescued him from the bear and the lion. Or when God rescued him from Goliath with a stone and a slingshot.
       I have those special stories too. I dig deep and remember them….
       Like the day God called me to preach when I was twelve…
       Or the day God rescued me from my addictions…
       I even remember the small miracles in my life.
       Let me tell you one of them…
Recall God’s Interventions
       Twenty-five years ago, I attended a graduation ceremony in PICC. Not as a preacher but as a photographer. My cousin was graduating and I volunteered to take his pictures. To do that, I borrowed a friend’s expensive camera, complete with a long lens that the paparazzi use. I went up in the balcony and took lots of photos.
       It was a long graduation ceremony.
By the time it was over, it was evening.
After the ceremony, I congratulated my cousin and walked back to my borrowed car. (Borrowed camera, borrowed car… You get the picture how poor I was then?) But when I rode the car, I noticed that my bag was light. I looked inside it. To my horror, I saw that the long lens was gone!
       I knew that long lens was expensive—more expensive than the camera itself. And I was a poor missionary. I stepped out of the car and looked back at gigantic PICC. Where will I look?
       I remember praying, “Oh God, you’ve got to help me!” Immediately, I felt peace. I knew God was in charge.
       I walked back to the building, taking a shortcut through the grass. Picture this: I was walking on grass in the dark. And that was when I felt an inner nudge to stop walking. 
       And I did. At that exact spot, I felt the same nudge to bend over and reach down. In that darkness, I stooped down and held something round. I lifted it up—it was the camera lens!
       The grounds of PICC are massive and covered with darkness. It was literally like finding a pin in a haystack.
I remember that day and tell myself, “If God guides me for a something as small as a camera lens, I believe God will guide me for the bigger things in my life.”
God allows Mt. Tabor experiences in our lives to ready us for Mt. Calvary experiences. In Mt. Tabor, Jesus showed Himself with brilliant light beside Moses and Elijah to Peter, James, and John—because he knew that in a few days, they’ll experience the horrific sight of him hanging on a criminal’s cross. When they start doubting, “Did I follow the wrong guy?” they can look back that once upon a time, they saw a glorious Jesus.
Which reminds me of a very important point in the story of David and Ziklag…
God Will Return What Was Stolen From You
David wasn’t only seeking for Encouragement. He was also seeking for Enlightenment. He asked God, “Can I pursue the Amalekites? Can I overtake them?”
God told David, “Pursue the Amalekites. You shall be able to overtake them.” So David rallied his men and they chased after the Amalekites. They found them in the middle of a party, drunk and distracted. They attacked them, defeated them, and took back their wives and children. They also brought home the spoils of war—the wealth of their enemy.
When you experience loss, I believe that if you “encourage yourself in the Lord”, you’ll experience what David experienced: God returned to him what was stolen—plus interest!
What kind of interest? The Old Testament says that the thief, once caught, should return seven times what he has stolen. (Proverbs 6:30-31) 
Have you lost anything? 
Whenever I lose money in business, I ask God to return it to me sevenfold. It happens.
If you go to the courthouse of men, they may punish the thief and ask him to return what he has stolen. But if you go to the courthouse of God, claim in faith that God Himself will see to it that what was stolen from you shall be returned sevenfold.
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one. Perhaps a parent just passed away. Perhaps you experienced a miscarriage. And there’s a deep wound in your heart. Believe me, God will not only return this person to you sevenfold, but eternal-fold. Be patient. In Heaven, you’ll be reunited with your loved one forever and ever and ever…