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POWER: THE SECRETS TO LIVING A POWERFUL LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POWER:

THE SECRETS TO LIVING A POWERFUL LIFE

 

Copyright 2015 IMPACT195 School of Ministry

 

 

 

Copyright Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

POWER TO LOVE

POWER THROUGH SUBMISSION TO GOD

POWER OVER THE PAST

POWER TO CHANGE

POWER TO BE SUCCESSFUL

POWER TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE

POWER OF CHOICE

OTHER BOOKS

STAY CONNECTED

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The enemy wants to keep us un-empowered and in the dark but Jesus has promised his children an abundant life. Not the kind of life where one simply gets by, but the kind of life that thrives and is filled with vitality.

 

If you want more vitality or need to be spiritually recharged, this eBook is for you. Gifted Pastor’s like Miles McPherson, George Clerie, Nathan Elson, and Scott Wessell have come together to unpack the key principles and practices to living a life of POWER.  Some of the topics covered in this eBook are:

 

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p<>{color:#000;}. Getting Power over your past

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p<>{color:#000;}. The Power to change

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p<>{color:#000;}. Making Powerful choices

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p<>{color:#000;}. The Power to be successful 

 

God makes his abundant power available to you, our prayer is that through these powerful teachings you will be equipped to live a more powerful life.

POWER TO LOVE: By Pastor Scott Wessell

In Mark 12, a bunch of religious leaders have approached Jesus to try and deceive Him. Verses 28-31 says, Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

These two commandments are inseparable. They’re not meant to be taken as two separate commandments. You can’t love God if you don’t love others.

 

Do you ever feel inadequate in your ability to love God? Do you ever feel inadequate in your ability to love other people?

 

I had a hard time loving God and loving people for the longest time. I was raised with a former Marine Corp drill instructor as a stepfather. He was extremely violent and abusive. I got boot camp growing up. I lived it. Whenever I messed up, he would explode with anger, back hand me, and throw me against walls. He grabbed me by the throat, picked me up off the ground, and choked me a couple of times. His favorite line to me was, “You better pray to God that you have a strong back, because the only thing you’re ever going to be good for is digging ditches,” and then he’d hit me. After all of that, I would sit on my bed crying. He’d come in and he would be extremely remorseful, put his arm around me, apologize that he got out of control, and everything would be good again.

 

What I didn’t realize at the time is that my stepfather was teaching me, not just lessons between my relationship with him, but I was also learning what I thought God was like. When I got saved, my view of God was exactly the way I viewed my stepdad. Whenever I screwed up, I believed that I deserved to be punished, and if I didn’t get punished, then we couldn’t re-establish the relationship. But God wasn’t on the same page as me, so He wouldn’t punish me. Instead, I punished myself. I made myself a whip and I would whip my back until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’d whip myself until I had welts and then I’d ask Him, “Now can you love me again? Now can you accept me back?”

 

I’m a little bit over the top, but almost everyone does something similar. Some people starve themselves and some people cut themselves. Or you may work yourself up into a nice depression, or tell yourself, I’m stupid. I’m an idiot. You may just sulk in your funk for long enough and then think, Okay God, now are we good again?

 

I had the impression that when I didn’t love God enough, I needed to be punished, but it just didn’t spill out into that. It was even in my relationships with others. In ninth grade, I learned that I had a learning disability. I was two years behind on my ability to read and four years behind on my ability to do math. I think the only person I ever really loved at that point was my mom. When I approached love with everybody else, my cry was, I need you to tell me I’m not screwed up. I’m not stupid, am I? I have value. Please let me know I have value. We have these misconceptions about God’s love and it makes it hard for us to actually love God. We’ve been broken, we’ve been hurt, we’ve been injured, and it makes it really hard to love other people.

 

One of the things we were told in Christian groups all the time is if you’re having trouble loving other people, what you would need to learn first is to love yourself. I tried that. It didn’t work out well. Dallas Willard, a great philosopher said, “The most powerful ideas are ideas that don’t have to justify themselves.” Ideas come along every once in awhile and they seem so right. They resonate with you, but you never actually stop to question if the idea is even valid or biblical. It just feels good. You may think, If nobody else is loving me then I should be the one to do it, but there’s a couple problems with that idea.

 

The first problem is found in 2 Timothy 3:1, which says, “But know this, in the last days perilous times will come. People will be lovers of themselves…” What makes the end times dangerous is what’s listed in this passage doesn’t describe the world, but it describes the church. That’s why it’s dangerous. Realize that self-love is never encouraged in the Bible. The second reason why you can’t find power to love by looking at yourself is an even greater reason. Where does love come from and how do we know what love is?

 

1 John 4 say, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and every one who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.” So, what is God? God is love. Love is not something God does. It’s something God is. It’s a fundamental part of his nature and being. Verse 10 says, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” What is the example of what love is? Not that you loved him. Your love for God is not the example. It’s that He loved you. Why do we love God? Verse 19 says, “Because he loved us first.” So God is Love. Love is about God loving us, not us loving him. We can have the capacity to love, because God loved us first.

 

What do those verses tell you about love and where it comes from? Everything starts with God’s love. If you don’t get that, you won’t get anything. God is the source of all love. God is not only the source of love, He’s the source of your understanding of what love is. We would have no concept of what love is if it was not for Him showing it to us.

 

The trap that we sometimes fall into is we put ourselves at the starting place. We think that if we’re having an issue with loving others, we need to love ourselves. We should be cautious with any philosophy or idea that puts us at the starting place. Any thought, any idea, no matter how warm and fuzzy it makes you feel on the inside, if you are the starting point, it’s dangerous. When you’re the starting point, you’re also the ending point and that’s a very short trip. You’re the beginning, you’re the end, and you’re everything. You’re alpha and omega to yourself. Even more than that, when you put yourself as the starting place, you are taking the place that actually only God holds. That’s His position. From God emanates everything.

 

In 2 Corinthians it says, “we are not sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as from ourselves, but our sufficiency is in Him.” When you’re looking to yourself, it’s an empty well. God’s love is the reality that we should build our entire life on. If you really think about it, God’s love is the greatest reality for us. His love is more real, more substantial than the very chair you sit on. His love created the world, His love created you, and His love is the anchor of your entire life.

 

Another way to put it is that you and I can only express that which we experience. Humans can only express what we experience. For example, in art you don’t actually create anything new. You only rearrange things that already exist into new patters and new shapes. It can move you, but you’re not actually creating anything new. You’re just taking what you have already experienced and you’re expressing it in a new way. We only have the capacity to express the things that we have experienced.

 

What does that mean? If you’re not experiencing God’s love in a consistent and profound way, what you are going to express is the love you have already experienced from your parents, from your exes, and from your friends. For some of you, that was absolutely horrible. You’re screwed up and you’re currently screwing up your relationships. This is the only way you know how to love. Even when you know you’re not showing love, you come to realize that you just can’t stop expressing your love this way. Even the best parent’s love does not compare to God’s love. You might have a healthy love, but it’s still a human love that you’re expressing. An extraordinary love comes from an extraordinary experience of God’s love. If you want to have an extraordinary love for God and for others, it comes from experiencing His love in extraordinary ways.

 

Life is not about being better. It’s about experiencing God better. That’s all he wants as a Father. He doesn’t want well-behaved children. He wants children that embrace Him and enjoy Him for who He is.

 

What should your experience of God’s love look like? 1 Corinthians 13 has a great definition of love. This is the kind of experience you should have of God’s love.

 

The very first thing is that “Love is patient.” The real word that accurately describes this is that it suffers long. God, in His love, suffers. What does He suffer? He suffers your insults. He suffers your injuries. He suffers your lack of ability to portray Him to your friends. He suffers constantly. You and I are constantly spitting in God’s face, injuring Him, sinning against him, giving Him a bad name at work. What it means for God to suffer long is that He takes all of those injuries and insults without thought of revenge. He just absorbs it. To get an idea of God suffering long, think about a dog. It’s super kind and friendly, and there are toddlers yanking on its ears, slapping it, yanking its tail, screaming at it, getting on it and jumping up and down. What does the well-mannered, very calm dog do? He just lies there. He might roll over, but he just takes it. Doesn’t get upset. Doesn’t snap. Doesn’t try to move away. It just absorbs. God, in His love, suffers long. He just absorbs all of your insults, all of the injuries that you give to him.

 

What’s better is the second word. When you pair these two together, your brain is going to melt out of your ears. The second one is that he is also kind. Kindness is blessing someone without thought of repayment. A little boy scout taking an old lady across the street would be a kind deed. If he took her half way across the street and then said, “It’s $20 to get the other half of the way,” that stops being kind. He’s actually looking for something. Kindness says, I just want to bless you and I don’t want you to give me anything back in return. Not only is God, in His love, long-suffering, but, at the same time, He’s looking for ways to bless us.

 

Another way that love is described is that it “does not parade itself.” Have you seen a parade? Would you volunteer to be in a parade if nobody was watching? The point of a parade is to be the center of attention. God, in His love, does not parade Himself. The God of the universe, the center of the universe, doesn’t require to be the center of attention. You know who gets to be the center of attention in your relationship with Him? You. If you don’t believe me, who are all your prayers about?

 

I have two kids. When they’re infants, all they do is poop, eat, sleep, and scream. I am the head of my house. I am the one that puts a roof over my child’s head. I am the one that gives him sustenance. I am the one that pays for diapers. I am the head and I could go home and say, “Aiden, you need to respect me for who I am. You are alive because I choose to feed you. You better recognize that,” but I don’t do that. You know what I do? I am the head of the house, but I am delighted to make him the center of attention. It brings me great joy to lavish all of my attention on him. When he cries or when he babbles, the whole house stops. In the same way, God is not demanding attention from you, but He wants to lavish it on you. He wants you to be the center of His attention. Is this the kind of love you’re experiencing?

 

Another way love is defined is it “is not provoked.” That’s a simple one. That simply means that God is not mad at you. He’s not irritated with you. He’s not mildly disappointed. God has no ill feelings for you. Zero. Zip. Zilch. All of his anger, all of His wrath, all of everything He felt regarding how screwed up you were and are and will be, He spent on Jesus. He poured it all out. He has no more wrath. He has no more anger. It’s all gone. He has no bad feelings towards you. Even beyond that, He is not even disappointed at you. In order to disappoint, you act contrary to someone’s expectations. You act exactly the way God expects you to act. With every sin, every triumph, all your good, all your bad, all of your everything, you act exactly the way He expects. He doesn’t say, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t see that one coming. Man, if I’d have known that, I would have put that one on the cross too, but that was 2,000 years ago. You’re just going to have to suffer through this one.” God isn’t freaking out. God already knows. He harbors no negative feelings towards you. Is that the kind of love you experience?

 

Love also has “no record of wrongs”. God carries no list of your failures. God has removed all of your screw-ups and moved them out of his sight, out of his field of vision. God has no list of your wrongs. When you screw up, He doesn’t take them out. If there is a list of your wrongs, you are the only one in possession of that. If there is a list of wrongs, you’re the only one keeping that record. God has none. Is that your experience of His love?

 

Is your life organized to experience God’s love? If you’re not regularly experiencing God’s love, then the answer is no. If you’re not experiencing it in a profound way on a regular basis, your life is not organized to experience it. If you experience that kind of love from God, it’s pretty easy to love Him back. It’s not a big effort. It just comes naturally. When you experience that kind of love from God, it starts seeping out of your life and into other people’s lives. When you realize the abundant grace that has been given to you, it just begins oozing out of you and into other people. The power to love doesn’t come from us. The reality is, if love is truly the greatest commandment, and if God’s love is truly the reality that we should build our entire lives on, then things need to change in our lives. We need to start making room for God.

 

If nothing happened in your life for the next ten years, would you be excited about that? Realize that if the answer is “no”, things need to change. You can’t get a different result by doing the same things. To say it another way, you can’t get out of a problem with the same mindset that got you into the problem. You can’t get out of the problem with the same approach to life that got you there in the first place. That will just dig you deeper.

 

You may be at a crossroads today and He has brought you here not just to be refreshed, but because you need to make a decision. The choice you make with the Lord will determine the next ten years of your life. Make the choice to have a greater experience with God. The reality is if you could do it all by yourself, you would have already. You need people to help you. That’s how God designed us to function.

 

PRAYER: Father, I desire more. I want to experience that perfect love that you have, not the messed up love that I’ve learned from life. I ask that you would reveal it to me. I ask that your Holy Spirit would come and just explode in my heart, explode in my head, and reveal that great and extraordinary love that You have for me, Lord. I pray that You would draw me through an ever deepening sense and awe of Your great love for me. Amen.

 

 

If you enjoyed reading Pastor Scott’s teaching on the Power To Love, you might want to sign up to receive his free weekly video devotional, 95 Seconds to Impact. To check out the lasts devo or to sign up to receive them emailed to you weekly, click on the link below.

>>>Pastor Scott’s Weekly Devotional<<<

POWER THROUGH SUBMISSION: By Pastor Miles McPherson

God wants to deliver you from a lie and get you where He wants you to be, and He’s going to do it through His power. How do you secure God’s power through submitting to God? A lot of times we make our walk with God very complicated.

 

You probably learn nothing about the people you know through reading a book. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the book. You should read the book, but you don’t want to miss the relationship. You don’t want to miss hearing what God says to you and see what He’s showing you. Seeing what He’s doing, being in His presence, led by His presence, because in the end, when you get all the information, God’s going to put that information in your heart, chew it up, spit it out and He’s going to say, “Here’s what I want you to be. Here’s what I want you to do.”

 

The bottom line is, God has a mission. It’s very simple to restore the kingdom of God. In Matthew 6 it says, “Our Father, Who art in heaven…. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He wants you to ask the Lord to usher in the kingdom of heaven on earth. That’s what He says. It’s simple. That’s his mission. He wants to bring everything into alignment with the kingdom of heaven.

 

You don’t really have to figure too much out. He’s already told you what he wants you to do. He wants your body to be the kingdom of heaven, your relationships with your friends or people who don’t like you. He wants how you use your money, how you use your words, how you use your tone, how you use your attitude to align with the kingdom of heaven. You don’t need to pray about that. That’s just a fact.

 

Every time you walk into a situation, the first thing you could ask yourself is: What is in alignment with the kingdom of heaven? If you see someone who is hungry on the street, God wants to feed Him. Now whether He wants you to do it or not is another story, but He wants to align things with the kingdom of heaven. That’s His mission. God is going to achieve His mission His way. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor My way your way,’ says the Lord, ‘for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” He is not going to fulfill his plan in your life like anybody else’s life. You can learn from other people’s paths, but God is going to do something different in your life. He’s going to bring your life into alignment with the kingdom and work through you in a way that He hasn’t done anybody else. Why? Because you’re one of a kind. You are not like anybody else. God made every single one of us unique and He made us to stand out, yet we spend so much time trying to fit in.

 

When we started our church, I came out of Horizon, and I said, “Lord, I don’t want to have it predetermined where I’m supposed to be. The slate’s clean. Where do you want me to go? What do you want to do? Let’s do a new thing, whatever you want to do. I have a lot of ideas, but in the end, my God, what do you want to do?”

 

God’s going to do things His way, through His type of people, those who have surrendered to His plan. If you surrender your life to God’s plan to bring this world into alignment with the kingdom of heaven, you will have His power. It’s that simple. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, looking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him”. If you say, “Lord, I just want to do what You want me to do. I want to love You with all my heart and I want to fulfill Your plan for Your glory,” He will give you His power.

 

He will tell you when to pray. He will tell you how to pray. He will tell you when to be quiet. He will tell you whether to go to small group or not. He’ll tell you which church to go to and wherever He sends you. If you just keep asking God that, if you keep telling God, “I want to fulfill Your plan. I want to be in the middle of Your will,” He will put you there.

 

Power is the ability to do. God has the ability to do anything. When you ask God for power, you are asking God for the ability to do.

 

There are different types of power. There’s natural power: physical power, economic power, social power, political power, military power. Then, there’s spiritual power. What is spiritual power? The ability to do in the spiritual realm.

 

The military have the ability to do militarily. When you have money in your pocket, you have the ability to do with finances. When you have political power, you have the ability to do with politics. When you have spiritual power, you have the ability to do on the spiritual level. Spiritual power is superior to all natural power combined. God is going to achieve His goal through spiritual power. Spiritual power can work any way that God wants it to work. His ways are not our ways. God can turn political power in His favor. He can turn economic power in His favor. He can turn physical power in His favor. He can change your health and fix your body. God can say, “I have spiritual power. I have a person who is aligned with My eternal purpose. They have submitted their heart to My will fulfilling My kingdom. I’m going to dispense to them the ability to do on a spiritual level. They have no economic power, they have no political power, they have no social power, they have no military power.” That was Jesus.

 

Jesus stood in front of Pontius Pilate and Pontius Pilate said he could kill Him. Jesus said, The only power you have is what my Father gave you. I got power above that. You can kill me, but My Father has power to undo anything your power has the power to do. He basically was saying that Pontius Pilate had no power because the power he had was miniscule to the power God has. The power that God gives you when you align yourself with His purpose is superior to all power. You have access to power superior to all other power and all you have to do is submit yourself to God’s plan.

 

You have to always remember it’s not about you. You say, For Your glory God, I’m going to trust Your power will move through all the distracting powers of the world that are in front of me. I’m seeing political power, I’m seeing economic power. I’m seeing Hollywood power, and I don’t know how little old me is going to cause change. God says, I’ll take care of that. I have spiritual power.

 

What is authority? So if power is the ability to do, authority is the license to do it. In other words, I can have power, but not the authority to use the power. My son has an automatic rifle 15. He’s a police officer here in San Diego and I always joke with him. I say, “Let’s go to a park and shoot your gun.” He says, “Yeah dad, okay. Right, you’ll be in jail. I’ll lose my job and we’ll both be in a lot of trouble.” If I have the gun in my hand, I have the power to use it, but I don’t have the authority to do it.

 

In Matthew 20:18, Jesus said “All authority has been given to Me.” He recognizes that He has the power, but He also has the authority to exercise that power in heaven and earth: in the spiritual realm and the natural realm. God wants to give that authority to you. When you are submitted to His plan, He will give you the ability to do and the authority to use the ability to do that you need. Why? Because it’s His plan and if you in your mind can get past being distracted with the natural powers of the world and realize you have superior power, then you’re going to have the faith to exercise the power in your life.

 

Let’s say the kingdom of God is that which is aligned with the character and heart of God. Imagine if everything in your life was perfectly in line with the heart and character of God. Imagine if every relationship you had was perfectly aligned with the heart and character of God. That’s the kingdom of God. When you go to heaven, you’re going to be in a place where everything is aligned with the character and heart of God. When you go to heaven, everything is equal and congruent with God’s heart.

 

The purpose of God’s power is to align things with the kingdom of heaven.

 

God is going to exercise His power and authority to bring things into alignment with the kingdom of heaven. It’s all about what God wants. You may have an agenda. You have a ministry idea. That’s all great and fine. Throw it in the trash. What I mean by that, is it’s all good and nice that you have an idea, but what you want to say is, “God this is my idea, but I know you’ve got a better idea, so what do You want? God, what do You want to do in my life?” because God will always have a better idea. Now, He may have given you a hint and that’s fine, but in the end you have to constantly be listening to God, so He can tell you to go left, tell you to go right, tell you to stop, go fast forward.

 

If you do that in relationship with Him, He will guide and direct you and you will see His power working in three places. One, His power is going to work in you. He’s going to start to change the way you think, the way you look, the way you perceive. His power is going to change the way you feel and the way you respond. You’re going to see God’s power working in you and you’re going to see God’s power working through you. He’s going to start to impact other people supernaturally through your life.

 

Jesus said in John 10:37, “ If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me.” In other words, If You don’t feel supernatural power through Me, don’t believe Me. This is why you want to be real careful not to rely just on information. You want to be aligned with the presence of God in your life, because a lot of people have information and no presence. You should ask yourself on a regular basis, What is God changing in my life? If He’s not changing you, then either you’re not noticing it or maybe you’re not allowing Him access to your heart. God is perfect. We’re imperfect and when imperfect touches the Perfect, the only result is that you have to change. You can’t touch God and not change.

 

So, He’s going to do something in you, He’s going to do something through you, and then God’s power is going to be exercised on your behalf. What does that mean? When Moses went to Pharaoh, not only did God change Moses, not only did God work through Moses, but He worked on Moses’ behalf in the hearts of other people.

 

PRAYER: Lord, thank you so much. I pray for Your power. I pray that I would align my intent, the purposes of my heart to be aligned with the kingdom of heaven. I pray that I would constantly want to think in alignment with Your heart and character, that I would want to desire things that You want me to desire, that I would want to do the things that You want me to do, that I would want to accomplish the things You want me to accomplish. May that be the intent in my heart and may I willingly and intentionally submit myself to fulfill Your mission on earth and allow You to take care of the rest. May Your ability to do flow through my life. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

You were made for more! God created you for a purpose, come discover what that purpose is!

Rock Church’s School of Ministry, IMPACT195 is hosting an open house event about how to discover your purpose September 22-25th. Some of the Rock’s most gifted preachers (Pastors Ricky Page, George Clerie, Mingo Palacios, Mickey Stonier and more) will be teaching on how to discover and walk in your God sized purpose. For more information on the event, click on the link below.

>>>DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE<<<

 

 

POWER OVER THE PAST: By Pastor Scott Wessell

In the book of Philippians, Paul is at the end of his career so to speak. He is in the very last part of his life, and he has been sent to Rome as a prisoner and is on trial. In prisons at the time, you had to clothe and feed yourself, so you were dependent on friends and family to feed you and clothe you.

 

In Rome during this time, they thought it was okay to do stuff like take Christians, put them in tar, tie them to poles, and light them on fire as candles for their dinner parties. This was part of just having fun. It happened in the Coliseum for entertainment. Wild dogs would tear people apart. People would go and watch to cheer it on. They were awed by all standards extraordinarily inhumane. At the time, Romans thought that the prison system was inhumane. It was a barbaric, cruel existence. If a person that lights people on fire to light their dinner parties thinks something is inhumane, what do you think we would consider it? This is when Paul writes Philippians.

 

Philippians 1:12-18 says, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

 

Paul is in prison and in chains. That’s actually one of the things that he repeats three times in this little paragraph. What are chains? A chain in this sense is something that confines you, something that restricts you in some way. It doesn’t give you freedom of movement. It’s meant to hold you in one place. There is a whole mess of different types of chains. Paul’s chains are the physical types. What are some other types of chains in life?

 

Other types of chains are things that restrict and restrain you like fear and attitudes. Attitudes can be a type of chain in your life. Your relationships can be a type of chain in your life. Debt can be a type of chain. Circumstances and sin can be a type of chain in your life. The past is one of the biggest chains that people have, something that confines and restricts them through their life.

 

A highly abusive, very angry stepfather who was a former Marine Corps drill instructor raised me. He was explosively angry and violent. One of his favorite things to say was, “You better pray to God that you have a good strong back, because the only thing you’ll ever be good for in life is digging ditches.” He would say this in between backhands. Then, school confirmed that I was an idiot. They tested me and I had a learning disability. My family was telling me I was an idiot and school said, “Yes, your family is correct. You are an idiot.” It messed me up inside and I began to see myself as worthless.

 

I actually gave myself a name. I gave myself an identity. I named myself “Stained” because that’s what I was. I named myself “Stained’ because I thought I was mostly okay, but something was wrong with me. I was like the jeans you get at Marshall’s. You think they’re good until you take them home and then you notice there are some odd things about those jeans. One pocket is a little higher than the other; the one seam just goes straight and the other seam kind of curves around your leg. It’s not quite right. That’s how I felt, like I was just in the reject pile and whenever I was in the throes of my brokenness, I’d actually take black and yellow marker and write on my arm “Stained”, because that’s what I was. I deserved to be Stained because I was stained.

 

I walked through life defeated for a long time. I thought, I’ll choose to be a failure instead of letting failure be put on me. If you’re anything like me, you can relate. When bad stuff happens to us in the past, the past can sometimes become a prison. The past becomes a prison that you’re living in in the present and your present actually just begins to be a reaction to your past. The choices you make aren’t really the choices you’re making. You’re just reacting to the pain of your past. You see this all the time. You may be attracted to people you know are bad for you and it’s the same kind of person. You’re just sure you’re a serial dater of the same person and you know it’s always going to be bad. It’s your past informing you that that’s the kind of person you should be going out with.

 

Something bad may have happened to you in the past and now you let fear of bad things that happened to you in the past dictate your decisions. Whenever we have difficulties in our past, it’s where all of our insecurities come from. You have wounds from your past and it’s not that they can’t heal. It’s that you keep ripping the scab off. You may relive your worst day on a regular basis. The cause of this is mistrust. Whenever there’s negative stuff that happens to the past we react. We create coping mechanisms relationally in one of three ways.

 

The first thing that we do is we become strong and indifferent. You learned that you can’t trust people and so you’ll never show weakness. You always have to be the strong one. You never ask for help even if it kills you. If you have to walk seventeen miles to the gas station, you’ll do that instead of call a friend for help. The only person you believe you can trust is yourself and you have become an island, but it’s a very, very lonely island of one.

 

The second way that we sometimes react is we become clingy and needy. You’re desperate for other people to validate you by showing that they care for you and that they’re compassionate towards you. You’re always in a relationship. You just jump from relationship to relationship to relationship, desperate for somebody to affirm you. You feel like people never give you enough. They give you stuff, but then you start questioning, What do they really mean by that? They gave me a compliment, but was that really a compliment? I mean, why didn’t they just say half the compliment. Why didn’t they use two sentences instead of one? Your very behavior is interfering with your ability to get what you want.

 

The third type of people, I call the schizophrenics. They’re both strong and needy. They have a desperate need for others, but the closeness scares them to death. They’re the ones that think, Get closer, get closer…whoa, whoa, whoa! Why are you that close? Get back! Move back….Where you going? Get closer. I need more closeness….Whoa, whoa, whoa. This is scaring me. Slow down. Can you take a step back? Why are you walking away? Get closer! You’re just a constant yo-yo with people.

 

Here’s the great news. Your present does not have to be a reaction to your past. Philippians 1:12-14 says, “The things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.” Realize that Paul has suffered some extraordinary things.

 

In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul gives us a list of what he’s gone through: “In stripes [that means whippings] above measure.” That means more than he can count. He’s been whipped more times than he can count. “In prisons more frequently, in deaths often.” He’s in fear of his life. People are trying to kill him on a regular basis. “From the Jews, five times I received forty stripes minus one.” Forty stripes was considered a death sentence. That’s why they do minus one. Jesus got it once. Paul got it five times. Imagine what that man’s back looked like. It’s probably just one big scar. Five times he received that. “Three times I was beaten with rods and one time I was stoned.” People took rocks and threw them at him until he appeared to them as if he was dead. He says in Philippians 1:18, “in this I rejoice and yet will rejoice”. What does it mean to rejoice? It means that he keeps having this deep inner sense of well-being and happiness. It just keeps welling up in him over and over and over. Why? The reason is so that it has “become evident to the whole palace guard and to the rest that my chains are in Christ”.

 

The chains are not gone. His chains are very real, but what is everybody seeing? They are seeing Jesus! He rejoices because his chains are actually letting people see Jesus. He has this deep sense of well-being because people see Jesus in it, but it’s better. He said “and most of the brethren in the Lord having become confident in my chains are much more bold to speak the word without fear”. So, not only are his chains the thing that are letting people see Jesus, but his chains are giving other people boldness to share Jesus. His chains are actually inspiring people to share Jesus.

 

In verse 15 he says, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will. The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely supposing, desiring, trying to add affliction to my chains”. What are these people trying to do? They’re preaching Jesus in order to do what? They want Paul to suffer more. Verse 18 he says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

 

One of the reasons why he’s got such a great attitude is because even those that hate him and are trying to inflict more damage on him are sharing Jesus. The people that are trying to hurt him more are actually helping him reveal Jesus even more. This is why Paul rejoices. His chains let people see Jesus. He’s sharing that Caesar’s top-notch guards are beginning to realize something: Jesus. And he’s inspiring other people to preach Jesus.

 

How is Paul able to do this? Paul was not looking for good circumstances. He was looking for God to come out of his circumstances. What are you looking for?

 

Think about your past. Are you wishing God had given you better circumstances? Here’s a hard, yet freeing truth: God does not want you to be free from your past. He wants you to get fruit from your past. Your past is what it is. Wishing for a new one on a regular basis just wastes your energy and your time and it keeps you in your prison.

 

If your asking “Why” questions in your life, God will rarely ever answer a why question, so stop asking him. Don’t ask, “Why?” ask, “What’s next?”

 

You can’t choose where you came from, but you can choose where you’re going. Some people waste so much of their energy trying to fix something that they can’t ever change. Don’t look for freedom. Look for fruit, because God is a God of redemption. Let Him redeem your past and let other people start seeing Jesus in it. You can either experience the pain of your past or you can experience God’s power in your present.

 

God has done a great work and now He actually uses me to bring that same redemption to other people. He uses my past to show other people that God does actually hear and bring about redemption in people’s lives. Just like Jesus, I am a wounded healer. God doesn’t use me in spite of my wounds. He doesn’t use me in spite of my past. He uses me because of my past. My past has shaped me into the vessel that brings God glory and you can either spend tons of time asking God, “Why?” or He can begin to use that stuff to start letting people see Jesus. For some, the past only hurts, but there’s something more than just pain. It still hurts, but something greater than pain accompanies it.

 

For the vast majority of us, it’s not like a lightening strike. It’s more like a slow moving mudslide. The water starts coming and it all starts happening under the surface. The ground begins to get saturated and at first you don’t even see anything. You don’t see any change. There’s nothing happening on the surface, but then things start slowly shifting little bit by little bit and eventually gravity starts taking a greater hold. Then, before you know it, a mountain has been moved. That’s how God moves these mountains. It’s not a fast process. It’s a slow process, but it’s a process that can move a mountain, not just light a spark.

 

God is calling you to learn how to be a wounded healer, just like Jesus was. Believers often times act as hopeless as the world, but the reality is, we’ve got access to something glorious. He can use your brokenness to bring healing to the truly hopeless.

 

Paul’s attitude caused others to see Jesus. What does your attitude cause people to see? What does your attitude about your past cause other people to see? Paul’s perspective inspired other people to preach Jesus. What does your perspective inspire people to do? Realize you’re inspiring people to do something. Paul’s whole life, even his painful past, preached Jesus. What is your life preaching?

 

PRAYER: Father, I ask that your Spirit would come through my life like a wrecking ball. Father, I pray that all of the hurt, all of the injuries that others in life inflicted on me, that You begin to comfort me. I pray You begin to restore my soul in a way that I’ve never experienced, Father, and that you would cause my past to have more than just pain. I pray that You would give me the perspective to be able to glorify You with it, Lord. I pray that you would give me the ability to become a wounded healer, that my pain would bring healing and hope to countless others, Lord. I ask that you glorify yourself greatly in my life. I ask that you would glorify yourself greatly in my worship. Amen.

POWER TO CHANGE: By Pastor George Clerie

If you want to have your life transformed, it requires a complete and absolute surrender to the only One who has power to transform you and that’s God. This is not about your power for change, but God’s power to transform you and how you can purposefully rely upon the power of God and see remarkable results happen in your life. God guarantees your transformation if you will surrender yourself to him. He is absolutely convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he has the power to transform your life radically and quickly.

 

Ephesians 3:14 – 21 says, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may well in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Paul starts off this verse with, “For this reason.” What’s the reason for this passage? Contextually, even though you were hopelessly separated from God, Jesus brought you near to God by His blood. Before Jesus died on the cross, there was no opportunity to even get close to having a relationship with God. We used to be hopelessly separated from the life of God. Jesus brought us near by dying on the cross, but just Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t get you reconciled to God. It only brings you near and gives you an opportunity. It brings us near and when we put our faith in Him, Paul says He reconciles us back to God. He makes the relationship right with God and when we put our faith in His death on the cross, God also then makes us members of His household. Not only are you not going to hell forever, but you are also getting adopted into God’s family forever.

 

Do you know how cool it is to be a part of God’s family? We don’t know what it’s like to have a perfect dad. No matter how good your dad was, he wasn’t God. God is your perfect heavenly Father. In order to know how He treats you, look at how he treats Jesus. How good of a relationship do they have, the Father and Jesus? How accepted is Jesus by the Father? You’re that accepted. How much affection does the Father feel for his Son? God has an infinite affection for you in Christ. God has perfect acceptance for you in Christ. We’re adopted into God’s family. Paul says that the Holy Spirit gives us access to God. So it’s not as if you’re part of the family, but you only have visitation rights every third Thursday or every other month. No! You’ve got absolute and constant access to the Father by the Spirit. Now, here on earth, Paul says, “you are being built together with all the saints into a dwelling place of God by His Spirit.”

 

Together as a community, God’s intention for us here on earth is that we would be a dwelling place for Him in this world, where other people can come and experience the reality of who He is. God’s intention for us is that we would be a dwelling place, that His presence would be tangibly, palpably, regularly felt by everyone who comes into contact with us. For this reason, because you are intended and God is working towards making you an expression of the reality of who He is in this world, Paul says he is going to pray for you and pray for some very specific things. He says, “For this reason, I bow my knee to the Father from whom every family in heaven on earth is named.”

 

The Greek word for Father is pater. The Greek word for family is patera. So, the word family is actually derived from the word Father. When Paul says, “every family is named after the Father,” it literally has it’s etymology in the word Father. God is setting up a pattern. So, the family derives its identity from the Father. You and I received our sense of identify from our fathers: the way they treated us, the way they talked to us, and what they told us we were worth or capable of. That’s why we all have daddy issues. We don’t have mommy issues. We’ve got daddy issues for the most part. Moms give you your sense of well being if they nurture you and care for you. Fathers give you your sense of identity. Realize, when you have kids, you will confer upon them the identity that they will carry into their adulthood and live out the rest of their lives.

 

I have a really sad story about my cousin. My uncle used to refer to him as stupid. He would say, “Hey Stupid, pick up your shoes,” or “Hey Stupid, take out the trash.” Guess how he grew up? Acting stupid, because that was the identity that was spoken into his life growing up. God is speaking a much better identity over you.

 

Paul is saying that he’s praying to the Father from whom you’re getting your very identity. Your very sense of who you are is going to come from your relationship with the Father, so stakes are high. Your relationship with God is going to determine how you live out your life here on earth. If it’s a good relationship, you’ll have good working out of that identity. If it’s a neglected relationship on our part, it makes it difficult to live out His intended purpose for us.

 

Paul says he’s going to pray to the Father that he would give you something. Realize that God is a Giver. The Father is a Giver and he wants to give you something. In Ephesians 3:16, it says He is going to give “according to the riches of his glory.” How much glory does God have? How rich is he? Realize that God is giving to you, not according to your merit. He’s not going to give you something according to how good you’ve been. God doesn’t give based on our merit. If God were to give us what we deserve, where would we all be right now? I always tell my kids to be thankful life isn’t fair, because if life were fair, we’d all be in hell right now. That’s fair! God is not giving us what’s fair or what we deserve. He is giving us something, not according to our goodness, but according to His riches and glory, which is an infinite storehouse that he’s drawing from.

 

God wants to give you, out of the riches of who He is, His own power to strengthen you. The word power in the Greek is where we get our word dynamite. It is this explosive power, this effective, active, proactive power. When you think of dynamite, do you think of something passive? No! God said the kind of power He wants to strengthen you with is a very active power. Notice where God wants to strengthen us: the inner man, not your abs, not your buns of steel. God wants to give us an inner power: that’s His power. It’s through His Spirit. What is important to grasp is that there is no strength to be found in finances. There is no strength to be found in career or fame or friendships. None of those things are going to give you the power that God is intending for your life. This is something that comes from His Spirit. It’s spiritually acquired. Think about all the things that we spend a lifetime trying to acquire. Have you ever made it an objective to acquire the inner power of God in your life through His Spirit?

 

Isn’t it crazy? We spend a minimum of twelve years learning how to earn a living. Yet how much time devoted to study does the average person give to be transformed? When I do premarital counseling with the couples that I’m planning on doing their wedding, I say, “Okay, we ought to meet at least eight to ten times.” Their response is, “Whoa, that’s a whole lot,” and I say, “No, that’ll get you through the first year without a divorce. You’re going to have to come back for regular maintenance.” This is the most difficult, challenging life-defining relationship people have and most people spend more time planning for the party that they’re going to have than the life they’re going to have. We do the same thing in our spiritual life. Do you realize that your relationship with God determines everything? It determines your career and your work life. It determines your spiritual and mental health. It determines your physical health.

 

Research is clearly showing that if you’ve had certain adverse experiences like abuse, neglect, divorce, death of a parent or a loved one as a child, you are twelve times more likely to commit suicide than somebody who hasn’t. You are 3.5 times more likely to die of a heart attack. You’re four times more likely to develop lung cancer. The research is showing that these adverse childhood experiences affect your physical health. If Jesus has not renewed your mind and transformed your psyche and the damage those adverse childhood experiences are having on you, your life expectancy is about twenty years less than someone who grows up in a great home. So, your relationship with God absolutely affects your physical health, because he will renew your mind and reverse the negative impact of those adverse childhood experiences.

 

This is the power of a transformed life. This is why it’s so critical and so absolutely essential that we put first things first and realize that our relationship with God needs to be our absolute number one priority, because everything else cascades from that. It is not something that I take care of on the weekends. How healthy would you be if you only worked out for thirty minutes once a week and then sat on the couch and ate junk food? How many Christians with all the junk that is coming into their life are trying to counteract that with thirty minutes of Bible teaching a week, if they go every week?

 

My heart breaks for you that you would grab this concept that your relationship with God has to be the most important thing that you invest in, because it absolutely affects everything else. It’ll affect your marriage, it’ll affect the way you parent, it’ll affect your finances, it’ll affect your work ethic, it’ll affect your relationships, your friendships, your free time, your happiness, your joy, your peace, it’ll reduce your stress levels, it’ll take away your anxiety. It is absolutely, critically important for everything else in life.

 

Paul says he’s praying that you will be strengthened in the most important way, in your inner being that Christ will dwell in your hearts. What are we being built into? A dwelling place of God by the Spirit. The word ‘dwelling in’ means to settle down and be at home in. Paul says that Christ needs to settle down and be at home in your heart. The reality is we’re working overtime to make Him feel uncomfortable with our lifestyle and our choices. Does Jesus enjoy your media selections? Is His playlist your playlist? Is His favorite show your favorite show? Does He play your video games? How about your attitude towards your coworkers? Does He share those? How about towards your family members? Does Jesus share the same level of unforgiveness that you share for past hurts?

 

This is where it takes supernatural inner strength to start living a life that Jesus is at home with. That’s going to take some supernatural power. You don’t have the power to stop doing those things. You don’t have the power to change those inner motives. You don’t have the power to let go of those hurts. You need to be strengthened with supernatural power in the inner man so that you can start doing the things that make Christ settle down and be at home in your life.

 

When Christ is dwelling in my heart by faith, it causes something else. It causes me to be rooted and grounded in love. What’s the difference between rooted and grounded? Have you ever seen someone that takes an avocado seed and sticks it halfway in a jar of water? It’s got little roots that are coming out in the water. Anybody ever have a potted plant? Does it have roots? It’s got roots, but is it grounded? No, you can yank it out of the pot pretty easily.

 

Go outside and try to yank up a tree that you can’t get your arms around. What is that tree? It is rooted, but it is also grounded. When Christ is dwelling in my heart by faith and when God strengthens me with power to do the things that make Christ at home in my life, it roots me and grounds me in love. In other words, love becomes the foundation and the focus of everything that I do in my life. When God’s power is strengthening me to do only those things that Christ is at home with, I will not do anything that isn’t loving. I will only do things that are loving, because that is what Christ is comfortable with.

 

This regenerated person cannot love the things God hates. When God’s power is at work in your life, you can no longer love the things that God hates. It starts to transform you. It starts to change you. A lot of times our Christian life is like a New Year’s resolution. We say, “I promise God, I’m never going to do that again. I’m sorry for lying by saying that.” The only thing that I will prove by promising God that I will never do something again in my own strength is that I don’t have any strength. That is the only thing I will prove to God.

 

We have lost sight in the church today what repentance is all about. Repentance isn’t a one-time thing. The more mature you become, the more you realize repentance is a moment-by-moment thing. If I am turning my back towards God and He alone is holy and perfect, what must I constantly be doing? Turning, focusing, and realigning myself with Him and who He is. It isn’t like God gives you a Lithium battery. I’m all charged up. I’m good to go for the week. I’ll see you later God. I’ll come to church, I’ll get recharged, and I’ll get the power of God in me to carry me through another week. No! You’re more like a wire. It only flows through and once it’s out, it’s gone. So what do you have to do? You need to stay connected and that’s what repentance is. God I want to stay connected to Your heart. I want my heart constantly being renewed, my mind constantly being renewed, my thoughts constantly being checked. It’s a constant orientation of my life towards God. It’s why Jesus told us to remain in His love, abide in Him, and stay connected. The challenge is that we have become so accustomed to the values of this world that we don’t know when we’re disconnected anymore.

 

So, when love is the whole focus and foundation of your life, it causes something amazing. It enables us to comprehend something we could not grasp before and that is the width, the length, the depth, and the height of the love of Christ. I begin to experience God’s love both to me and through me in a way that I was unable to experience before.

 

As that begins to happen, I become filled with all the fullness of God. What was the purpose of my life here on earth? That God would build me into a dwelling place here on earth. Life isn’t about sinning less. It’s about loving more. It’s about being filled and overflowing.

 

Picture a sponge in your mind. Imagine a pier and you’re setting that sponge on the railing and it’s going sit there in the hot sun for months. How dry is that sponge going to be? Now, what was it designed for? To be filled, to absorb something, but it’s not experiencing that. It’s so dry that when a seagull comes and poops on it, it’ll drink it in. Some of us are so dry spiritually, when the devil comes and poops on you through drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, pornography, violent video games, and media, you just drink it in because you are so dry in your soul that you’ll take anything. But one day, a sponge savior comes along and picks up that poor poopy dried up sponge and tosses it in the ocean. What happens the second that sponge hits the water?

 

As you begin to soak in the love of God, you begin to be filled with it. It starts to wash out all the poop that you’d been drinking. It starts to clean out all that junk from years and years and you began to realize how foul what you had been ingesting was. You didn’t know it before. You didn’t realize how foul that actually was, but the more you become aware of the life giving water that you were designed to absorb, the more you start repenting when you see seagulls coming. You don’t want anything to do with that anymore because you are soaking into your soul what you were created to ingest.

 

Now, after awhile of floating on the surface, the Savior comes along and pulls you down deeper. What happens is the pressure starts to increase. It starts actually forcing more water into the sponge than the sponge can naturally absorb. As the sponge goes deeper, it will become what we call super saturated, and when that sponge comes back up to the surface, what will it do? It will over flow with what it is super saturated with. As God draws us deeper into a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit pushes more love into your life than you can contain and what happens when you’re out amongst other people? You begin to overflow with the love of God. It starts pouring effortlessly out of your life. You start to become an experience center for the love of God.

 

The power of God will strengthen you to do the things that cause Christ to be at home in your heart so that as you are doing those things, you will begin to be rooted and grounded in love, and as you are experiencing the love of God coming to you and moving through you, you will begin to grasp how vast and endless God’s love is for you and for other people. It’s not about you trying to sin less. It’s about God causing His love to come powerfully out of you more.

 

We have to acknowledge our absolute sinfulness. We want to think better of ourselves than is actually real. We need to come to grips with the fact that we’re a mess. There is nothing you can do to improve. We often make the mistake that we’re trying to fake it as Christians instead of being honest that we desperately need God. Maturity in Christ is not moving out of desperate. It’s moving deeper into desperateness.

 

I am more convinced than I have ever been in my entire life that I need Jesus every minute of every day. I used to think I was good. I grew up in a Christian home, didn’t struggle with a whole lot, never did drugs, never smoked, didn’t steal or kill or do anything like that. I thought I was good until God started revealing my motives, until God started revealing my pride, until God started showing me how much I was leaning and depending on my upbringing, and on my ability to do church.

 

The ability to fake it as a Christian is no indicator of God’s power in my life that allows me to love. I recognize now that only He can help me love people. Only He can help me be more patient with my kids. Only He can help me be more present for my family. Only He can give me more compassion for the suffering in the world. We have to come to that place where we’re recognizing it, acknowledging that we need God’s help. We’re not getting any better and we’re not going to get any better. The only thing that makes my life better is that I rely on Him more regularly and more completely.

 

Do you believe that God has the power to let you love like He loves? If you believe it, ask for it. That’s going to be more pleasing to God than any amount of sacrifice. There is no amount of ministry and service and sacrifice that will compensate for you not loving someone in your life. You can’t make up for that one. “You cannot,” Jesus said, “hate your brother who you see and claim that you love Me.” Just picking one person to love and asking God to strengthen you to do so, means more than giving away all of your money to the poor. You can give away all your money to the poor. You can offer your own body to be burned, and have it profit you nothing if you have no love.

 

We need the supernatural power of God to transform our life and we need to stop excusing and justifying our lack of love towards other people. It is inexcusable, because God has all the power to transform you. He’s willing to give it freely according to His riches and glory. Once you’ve asked for the power, you’ve got to step out in faith to do what you believe God has empowered you to do. It’s not enough just to pray for it, because the Bible says that faith without works is dead. This is the power of a transformed life. This is the definition of a Spirit-empowered person. The real miracle is going to be you loving like Jesus loves. Let the pressure increase in your life so that His love can super saturate every fiber of your being and at the end of it you truly would be a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

 

PRAYER: Father, I pray that you would take the Scriptures and You would embed them deep in my heart and that You truly would enable me to grasp the reality of it. I know I can’t get my arms around the vastness of Your love, but would You throw me into the ocean of it and with Your love grip me. Would it overwhelm, consume, super saturate, and fill me to over flowing. I pray that I make it practical this week by applying it to a relationship I actually have. Would You empower me. We trust you for it. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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POWER TO BE SUCCESSFUL: By Pastor Scott Wessell

I’ve been doing discipleship for about ten years now. I have the best job on the earth. I am convinced of it. I get to see God radically transform people on a daily basis.

 

God has made His power available to His children in several different areas of our life. One of these areas is in the area of success. What is true success and how do you actually achieve it? For all of us, we’ve got different ideas of what success actually looks like. At one time, I thought I had achieved some success. I was in a place where I had a sales job and was making about $60,000 a year plus bonuses, working about four hours a day mostly from home. The early part of my life had a lot of struggle, so once I hit this season of my life, I thought, Oh, this is good. This is what life is supposed to be like. A lot of us have the same concept and we spend so much time trying to achieve it.

 

Luke 12:13-21 says, “Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge and arbitrator over you?’ And He said to them, ‘Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’ Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentiful. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool, this night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

 

So, someone from the crowd cries out. His dad died and he is being greedy. He basically says, “My brother is interfering with my greed. Tell him to cut the bolt off his wallet and give me what’s rightfully mine!” Jesus’s answer is: “Hold on. I am not a judge. I’m not a mediator. I didn’t come here to help you settle your financial disputes with your brothers.” In verse 15, He tells them to take heed. He tells everybody to beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.

 

Take heed and beware of covetousness.” This is the very first thing He says right before he starts talking about the rich fool. Right before Jesus tells that story, He says what? “Beware of covetousness.” We have renamed certain sins as success. If most people look at that rich young ruler, and take away what God said, they would think he was really successful. The thoughts could be, I kind of want that kind of life. I would like to not be in need all the time; I would like to not have to wonder where my rent is going to be. I want a nice retirement. I want a really nice 401K. I want to be able to just relax in life. That would be awesome. That would be success. What does Jesus call that? Covetousness. Jesus actually calls something that we would describe as success, a sin.

 

God always talks about being content with what you have. We live in a society that covets and in a society where we call those that covet “successful”. Our society has this mentality of materialism, to acquire and buy. The iWatch is coming out. You have a perfectly good watch already. You probably have four or five of them, but you may think, I need that one. I need the latest gadget. Yeah, my iPhone already works fine, but I need the new one. Our society is materialistically driven and those that amass enough materials, what do we call them? Successful. Man, that person has a really nice car. That person has a really nice house. That person has a really nice bank account. They’re so successful. They’ve accumulated so many new toys.

 

The Bible also tells us to serve one another. It tells us that the greatest in the kingdom would be those that serve. Having stuff or having a position isn’t wrong, but we often classify sin as success. It’s what Jesus points out straight away. What does the rich guy say once he realizes he’s got more than enough? I got everything I need. I’ve made it. I’ve finally arrived in life. I’ve finally made it. This is awesome. I’ve worked hard. I’ve been wise with my investments. I have a great 401K. I’ve built a great life for myself. I can finally relax. There’s not much difference between his mindset and the American mindset. This is the American dream he’s talking about. So he says, Yes, I’ve finally achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve. But, God says He’s a fool. He says, You spent all your time building all the wrong things in your life. You spent your whole life building all of this stuff and they were all the wrong things to build. Now everything you achieved, you will not be able to enjoy. They’re going to be given to somebody else. That’s why he’s a fool.

 

That’s a theme in Jesus’ parables: what you have will be taken from you and given to someone else. That’s what He tells this rich man: that he did not use his life in the way he should have, so whatever he did achieve, God is going to give to somebody else who will absolutely use it correctly.

 

What are we all supposed to learn from this story? In verse 21, it says that anyone who is not rich towards God is a fool. Anybody who is trying to lay a treasure for himself, and they want to be rich for himself, is a fool. You cannot be rich for yourself and rich towards God. There are two different types of success according to this parable: worldly success and God’s version of success. The reality is, if you are not successful in the right way, you are actually bankrupt. If you choose the wrong definition in life, you’re bankrupt and you’re totally deceived about it.

 

In Revelation, Jesus says, “You say that you’re rich and you have no needs, but you don’t even realize that you’re blind, naked, poor, and miserable. You’re totally deceived to your true state.” Those that adopt the world’s perspective on success are bankrupt and they’re totally deceived. They are totally unable to see their true state.

 

So, what is success not? What success is not, according to God, is wealth or prosperity. You can be rich and be an absolute failure. You can be poor and be absolutely successful. Success is not power or influence. It’s not the ability to be in charge. It’s not the ability to influence people. It’s not how many followers you have on Twitter. It’s not how many friends you have on Facebook. That doesn’t make you successful.

 

Success is not happiness. Success is not having an inner state of well-being. You can be happy and seek happiness, yet be a total failure in God’s eyes. Having a good family is not necessarily successful. You can have a great family and still be a failure in God’s economy.

 

There are all these things we think success is, but the reality is you can abandon true riches and just pursue the fools gold. You can have absolutely everything in life. You can have an amazing family, have an amazing career, you could have absolutely every dream of yours come true, and you can still be a failure. If you’re not actually pursuing true riches, all that stuff is just fool’s gold. It’s shiny and pretty, but it’s worthless in the end.

 

The sad thing is that the rich young fool here really wasted his life. Do you want to get to the end of your life and realize that you’ve wasted it? You may be in a job you hate and you’ve been in that job you hate for a long, long time, and you’re just trying to stick it out until retirement. You’re giving the best of yourself to a company that isn’t even loyal to you.

 

When I had my job, I started realizing that I should be happy, but something started nagging deep inside. There’s something missing. There has to be more than just me making the shareholders happy. It just kept growing and kept growing and kept growing. I tried to buy more toys. I thought, Oh you know what I need? I need another guitar. That’s what will get rid of this nagging feeling. What I need is just another diversion. But eventually, it got so bad that I couldn’t ignore it.

 

About that time, I heard about this discipleship school called Horizon School of Evangelism and I came to it just to see what it was all about. The Lord began to speak to me and to say this is what I had been missing. My response to God was, You don’t understand. This isn’t what I want to be missing. I want to just be missing more of a nice job. Don’t You realize, God, what it would cost me in order to walk that path that You’re putting in front of me? Yet, deep inside, my heart was saying, This is what I was created for. I wasn’t created to have a cushy life and make other people money. I was created to change lives.

 

Eventually, I quit my wonderful job and enrolled in the school. That was about ten years ago and now I have the best job in the world. I’m doing what God created me to do. There’s not a day that goes by in which I regret that decision. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t make the decision sooner, because He was tugging for a while and I was resisting for a while.

 

There’s a man I serve with named Frederick Clerie. He is super successful. He was the vice president of Bayer North America and Europe. It’s a medical company. He ran all of the operations for North America, including Canada. He got bonuses bigger than me and my wife’s paychecks combined in a year. He was rolling in dough. Everybody would look at him and think, That is what I want. Lord Jesus, please give me a job at Bayer. Frederick Clerie said, “I spent my whole life climbing a ladder and when I got to the top, I realized that I had leaned it against the wrong building.” What ladder are you climbing up? You’ve got a ladder you’re climbing. What building is it leaning against? Everybody wants to do something significant in his or her life. We all want to know that our life mattered, that it made a difference, and if you really want to have a life of significance, you need the right definition of success. Otherwise you’re going to end up like the rich young fool and waste your life.

 

Realize that God has created you for much, much more; more than you’re currently doing and more than you even think is capable. He created you, hand crafted you, and breathed His power and His Spirit into you and He wants to use you to literally transform the world around you. He wants your experience when you go to heaven to be received by countless souls that are thankful for your existence that say, “Thank you so much. You’re the reason why I’m here.” That’s what’s possible for all of us. That’s what He wants for all of us. So the question is: How do you not waste your life? How do you get the right definition?

 

Luke 12:22 says,

 

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouses nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to your stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and then tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

 

The first thing He says is not to worry, because you should be rich towards God and not towards yourself. It’s not necessarily anxiety. It’s more that idea of fixating on something, having your mind occupied with something heavier. Your energy, your emotions, your mind, everything fixating on this one thing. What’s occupying your mind today?

 

Jesus says that your life is more than all of the things that normally consume our time. Think about all the things that consume our mental energy and our emotional energy. We are so sucked up in all these things. The things that consume us the most are the smallest parts of life. Think about your job. How often does it consume your entire life, in such a way that you no longer sit around and talk to your wife about how her day was?

 

We have a tendency to get sucked in to worrying about the smallest things of life, the things that have the least amount of importance. Jesus says that life is more than those things you typically concern yourselves with. Those things are like a rocking chair. They give you something to do, but they don’t take you anywhere. They occupy your time, but they don’t move you forward in life. He talks about the birds and he talks about lilies, saying God supplies everything. He supplies the birds and the flowers needs, so how much more will He supply His children’s needs? If He hooks up birds on a regular basis, do you think He’s not going to hook up His child?

 

Why do we seek the wrong kind of success? What does Jesus call it? He says “O you of little faith.” The reason why we seek the wrong type of success is lack of faith. It’s a lack of faith in God and His promises. He says that the nations seek after these things. When He says ‘nations’, He’s not just talking about nations; He’s talking about pagans, the people going to hell. So the people that are going to hell have this mindset. This is what they’re chasing after. This is what they’re looking for. You should be looking for something different. Jesus is saying that our life goals, our life ambitions should look significantly different than the people who are on the path to hell. If it doesn’t, you know what he says? “You fool, why do you have such little faith?”

 

Think about how you use your finances, your goals with your finances. Are your finances different than people that are going to burn in hell for eternity? If I looked at your bank records and compared them to your buddy’s bank account who gets wasted every night, are they very different? How about your dreams, your aspirations, and what you want to do with your life? Are they different than the people of the world? How about what you want to do when you retire? What does your retirement look like? Is it you cruising around in an RV just like everybody else? Your retirement ideas should look different than the people who are going to hell. What about your free time? Are you spending your free time differently than the people that are pagans? Jesus is saying that we should be occupied with an approach to life that is very different than everybody else around you. The truth is, if there’s not much difference, then you’re occupied with the same stuff they are.

 

His solution is to seek first the kingdom of God. That’s true success. Seeking God’s kingdom first is true success. Seeking anything else first is failure. Seeking anything besides God’s kingdom first, is failure. That includes our own kingdom. If we put our kingdom before God’s, we are not successful.

 

In 1 Corinthians 3, it says, “Now if any one builds on this foundation…” Jesus is the foundation. We all have a foundation and we all get to build on that foundation. “…with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear for the Day will declare it.” That Day means judgment. We all stand before a judgment throne, even us believers. We stand before the white throne of judgment where our choices in life get evaluated as believers. It will become clear on that day because “it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work…” At the end of time, Jesus sits on a white throne of judgment and your life that you have built on the foundation of Him will be tested by fire and it will be revealed who has built with precious materials, i.e. seeking his kingdom first, and who has built out of perishable materials, straw and hay and wood. “If any one’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” So, if you build the foundation of your life on Jesus, what you build is eternal in nature, and you will be rewarded for it. “If any one’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but himself will be saved.”

 

We all have this big heap of stuff that we’ve built our lives on and we will all walk through the fire with it. Some of us will come out the other side a little smaller because all of us throw wood in there, but some of us will walk through the fire and there will be nothing. You will get to go to heaven, but the smell of smoke is on you. To be successful, you need to build your life with eternal things. What kind of life have you been building? Is it more of wood, hay and stubble or is it more of gold and precious stuff?

 

We have this idea in life that life is about the journey, not the destination. Life is not about the journey. It is about where you end up. It is about how you get there. It’s all about the destination.

 

When I started feeling that dissatisfaction, I wrestled, but eventually I left it all to seek God’s kingdom and to put His kingdom first. God is calling you to be truly successful. God is calling you to give up your kingdom, and give up whatever you’re building. If you’ve leaned your ladder against the wrong thing, it’s time to walk away and climb back down and lean it against a different building. An extraordinary thing about Frederick is he is now the overseer of a mission’s base in Haiti. He’s adopted a village and in just a few short years, the people that would have to walk five miles to get water to bring back home bad water, in a few short years, Frederick and the city that he has adopted have been digging clean well water. The child mortality rate has dropped, but even more than that, he’s opened up an orphanage. They actually save babies that are thrown away. Fredrick has climbed a new ladder and he is saving babies that were thrown away. He’s transforming the lives of countless children who would be living on the streets, but are now getting a good family and a good education and the love of the Lord.

 

If God is tugging in any tiny way, take a step of faith. Don’t keep living foolishly. Let him build something glorious out of your life.

 

PRAYER: Father, I ask that you would please explode Your spirit in my heart, that you would allow all of me to let go of the things that I worry about that are not of Your kingdom. May You help me let go of some of my plans that I’ve been committed to for years in order to take up Your plans and build something glorious. I ask that you glorify Yourself in my life. Amen.

 

 

If you’ve been enjoying reading these teachings from the Rock Church’s Pastors and would like more resources by them, you can listen to some of their teachings online at the Rock’s School of Ministry, IMPACT195, by clicking the link below.

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POWER TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE: By Pastor Nathan Elson

My daughter’s name is Emmalina and she's nine years old. What's most remarkable about her is her ability to follow God in her life. She decided one day that she wanted to write a devotional for her friends. So she came home one day with this little book and said, "Hey dad, look what I did." I took it and I sent it to Amazon. They actually decided to publish her book and 50% of all proceeds will go to an orphanage in Haiti.

 

If my nine-year-old daughter can follow God’s prompting, what’s stopping you from making the same decision to follow God in your life? A nine-year-old girl followed God, wrote something that was published, and it’s going to bless children, not just people who read it and parents who buy it for their kids, but also the orphanage in Haiti. If she can do that and she’s nine, what’s stopping you?

 

There’s not a word in the New Testament that isn’t either a direct reflection or a response to or the continuation of or the fulfillment of what’s talked about in the Old Testament. There is not a word that Christ spoke, not a word that was written by any of the authors of the Gospels, not any of the prophecy that is spoken about in Revelation, and not a single word that Paul wrote that is currently in our Bible that is not a direct reflection of the Old Testament.

 

The way I describe Solomon to most people is if you take Warren Buffet, because he was rich, and Stephen Hawking, because he was ridiculously smart, and Justin Timberlake, because he’s really good with women, and you put them all into one human being, that’s maybe what you’ll get with King Solomon. When Solomon became king, God Himself told Solomon, “I’ll grant you one wish, one desire and anything you can possibly think of, and I’ll give it to you.” Solomon asked for wisdom. Now Solomon, like most of us, had that wisdom and did very bad things with it.

 

What’s great about the Book of Proverbs is it’s kind of like he’s at the end of his life, when he’s seen and done everything, he’s had all the possessions in the world, he’s done all the things in the world that normally you’d want to do, he’s had all the power, all the riches, all the glory. He had all those things. He wrote the Book of Proverbs as he was reflecting upon those. He also wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes around the same time, but what’s amazing about the Book of Proverbs is it’s not the wisdom of a young man. It’s the wisdom of a man who has done more in his life than any of us would ever do. In fact, Solomon probably did more than all of us combined. So it’s wisdom that we should listen to, but what I really love about it, is that it echoes and is echoed by Christ when Christ talks about wisdom in the New Testament.

 

It says in Proverbs 3:1-8,

 

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

 

I have this theory that there are only five things in all of creation that we as individuals have control over. Think about everything there is in the entire universe, and there are only five things that we, as individuals, have control over.

 

The first one is what we wear. Now you may have limited options, but you’ve got to wake up every morning and decide what you’re going to wear. The second thing that we have choice over is what we eat and drink. Again we may have limited options, but if you go to a restaurant, you choose from a menu. You open up the fridge at home and if you’ve got something that you like, you eat it. If you don’t, you go to the store. The third thing you have the choice of is who you’re going to spend time with. You choose who you spend time with when you’re at work, you choose who you’re going to spend time with when you’re at home, and you choose who you’re going to spend time with wherever you go. Again your choices may be limited, but you have the choice. The fourth thing you have control over is what is about to influence you: what you read, what you listen to, what you watch on TV, the billboards you pay attention to as you’re driving down the road, the radio station you listen to in the car, which gossip you listen to at work. All those things you have control over. The final thing you have control over and the one that’s most important is you can control how you react to situations.

 

We cannot control our emotions though. The way I can describe to a lot of people what I mean about emotions is that in Star Wars, the Jedi control their emotions. In fact, they’re taught to control their emotions and not to feel, whereas Darth Vader in the part that was called “The Sith”, became slaves to their emotions. So they give in to their hate and their anger. But God wants us to be in the middle. He wants us to experience our emotions, but he wants us to react the way He would react, not the way we would.

 

I was the Pastor of our church and I oversaw Sundays. For two years, I was responsible for every Service that was done on Sundays at The Rock Church. I oversaw about a third of the staff and about 2/3 of the work product of the church going into Sundays. It was an important job.

 

About three weeks ago, I resigned. I didn’t resign because I had to. I didn’t resign because I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t resign because I didn’t do a good job. I resigned because that’s what God wanted for me. You see, the situation got to the point where I was a pastor first. My job was not to be a pastor. My job was to run Sundays and I got to be a pastor as well. So before I came to the Rock Church, I was what they call a bi-vocational pastor.

 

My identity wasn’t in the job that I had. It was in who God created me to be. My identity wasn’t in the fact that I had this really important role in one of the largest churches in the United States. My identity was in the fact that God called me to be His child first, a husband second, a father third, and a pastor fourth. My identity is in Him, not what He asks me to do. I moved my family 2,000 miles from the northwest corner of Washington state to come take this job and I literally knew no one in the church. I hadn’t even met Pastor Miles when I got here for my first day of work.

 

What I realized over the past few months is that the job started to encroach upon my identity. My identity became all the people I had influence over and not in who God created me to be and who He asked me to become. No one perceived it. I just knew it in my heart. As a pastor, I spent two years pouring into the six people who reported directly to me and I oversaw the worship department. I oversaw production, events, creative, marketing communications team, and I oversaw all the content. I needed to get back to following God and back to my identity as being who I was and it all came to a point when I decided I could just choose to follow God.

 

The decision wasn’t, I’m going to leave our church and go to something else. The decision was, If I leave, I’ve got nothing to go to. I’ve got no way to pay my bills. I have no idea what my next job is going to be. I have no concept in my mind of what’s next for me. I was given this choice and the choice I was given was to try to control my situation or give control of my situation to God. I could try to fight for my job and justify my importance, or trust God. If I didn’t choose to trust God, I’d have to go back on promises and commitments I made just so I could be secure.

 

One night, my wife and I talked. I sat there crying saying, “Oh Lord, what am I going to do,” and she encourages me, “Just quit. God’s got us. We’ve been through worse. Just do it. It’s the right thing.” I said, “Are you kidding me?” and she said, “No, we’ll be fine. We’ll figure it out.” The day before I had to make the decision, not knowing I was going to have to make the decision, my wife and I took all of our savings and paid cash for a trip to the Philippines to go visit her family. So, not only was it a decision in which I didn’t have a job anymore. It was, We’ve got no savings, but my wife still said, “We’ll be fine. We’ll still go to the Philippines. We’ll figure it out. God’s going to provide for us.”

 

There are people that have these types of decisions every day. Maybe not to the same extent as mine. All of us are faced with decisions where we can try to control our universe or we can give up that control to God. All of us are asked on a continual basis to choose Him over the world or choose Him over ourselves or choose Him over that person, that place, that thing, that opportunity; to choose Him, not us.

 

God is so much bigger than we can possibly imagine. He created everything. This is the God who with His very words He spoke and creation came about. This is the same God who created man. This is the same God whose very own words in the Book of Job asks Job, “Did you create the pillars of the earth? Did you create the foundation of existence? No, I did.” This is the same God who ultimately wins. This is the same God, despite his enormity, knows your name, knows your struggle, and loves you so much that He gave His own son, became a man himself and died for you so that you can be connected to Him.

 

The choice was to follow God. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ll be honest with you. Making the choice I made wasn’t fun. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t like it. I had a cool job, but it was the right thing to do and it wasn’t the right thing to do for any other reason than it was God’s thing to do.

 

You have decisions you’re making. I beg you to do the right thing. Not because of any other reason than it is the right thing. In my case I listened to God.

 

In Proverbs 3, it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding and always acknowledge him and He will make your path straight”. So the first thing that God says is “do not forget my teachings and remember my commandments”. The second thing He says is, “Trust in Me because I’ll make your path straight,” but he doesn’t end there. He gives us a third thing and that’s to fear God. It says in verse 7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes, but fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” One of the most important things that we miss here in Christianity in the United States is this idea of fearing God. This isn’t fearing God in the sense of trembling and being afraid. This is fearing God in the sense of understanding how big and enormous He is and the fact that you’re not.

 

Standing before God in this knowing that I was about to do a very illogical thing by the world’s standards, I was declaring, “God, You are God, and I’m not.” That’s enough. There’s a promise that comes along with this and that’s in Proverbs 3:8. It says, “There will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

 

In the Old Testament, bones coming to life is a metaphor for spiritual awakening and spiritual renewal. It’s a represents deep down inside of our bodies being restored spiritually. It’s a metaphor that’s shared here in the Book of Solomon. The promise is, if you listen to God, if you trust God and if you fear God, you will be refreshed in your spirit.

 

I had a job of influence, but ultimately God’s bigger than that. My daughter would never have been published if I still had my job at our church. I was busy all the time, so one of the first things I did when I didn’t have to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and go into The Rock Church, is my daughter brought her book to me and said, “Dad, look what I did at school,” and I said, “Hey, I’ve got some time. Let’s work on it and see if you can get published,” and it happened.

 

Seeing my daughter using her gifting to follow God is much more important than the significance I felt running Sundays at The Rock Church. You may have no concept of what God has for you, or have no idea how much better it’s going to be, but God’s promises are true. It’s not enough to listen to God. It’s not enough to just trust God and it’s not enough to just fear God. You have to do all those things, and God’s promises stand true. The promise is if you do that you will have refreshment in your soul and your body will be healed. I got to pour into my daughter and see her dream come true at a young age. We got an email from Amazon asking when the next volume is going be ready. In about a week, there will be two books out there that she wrote.

 

My point is simple. What in your life are you trying to control that you shouldn’t be? What circumstance are you worried about? What decision are you laboring over? What relationship that you know you need to end are you holding onto? What habits from the past? What sin has taken root in your life? What is there that you’re allowing to either control you or you are trying to control, but all you need to do is to listen, trust, fear, and give it to God and let him control it? The power of God’s control in our life doesn’t have to be huge and transformative. It can be as simple as finding two hours in a day that you didn’t have before to help your daughter with something that she really cared about.

 

I believe that you already know the answer and I believe you may be just trying to control things and make excuses. In Galatians 6:7 it says this:

 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh, will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit, will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do grow weary.

 

Paul’s word in Galatians echo Solomon’s words to his son. Paul is telling us God is to be feared. He is not to be mocked and that if we pour into what God has for us, we will reap a harvest.

 

My prayer is that we don’t try to control our circumstances, we don’t let our circumstances control us, but that we do what God is asking us to do: listen to Him, trust Him, and fear Him. If we do not grow weary, if we do not give up, we will see a blessing at the end: the restoration of our souls and blessings that we can’t imagine.

 

Now my story isn’t just that I’m no longer with The Rock Church, but I am no longer on staff at The Rock Church. I no longer get paid to be there anymore, but I’m still a pastor at The Rock Church. When I transitioned out, I asked if I could remain on the pastoral staff and they said yes. I don’t have to get paid to follow God’s calling. I’m going to be whom God called me to be wherever He has me, not because someone gave me a dollar to go do it. You are who God created you to be and you’re either going to be that or you’re not. Go follow God.

 

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for this time. I pray that all things in my life, not just the big things which are easy to do, but the small things which are hard to do, that I listen, I trust and I fear you so that I can see your blessing, have my body healed, and my spirit restored. I need clarity, strength, and whatever it is to push me down the next step. I pray that that happens today. I thank you so much for giving Your Son, Christ, to be my Savior and to give me the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter and Guide. I pray that I move forward regardless of decisions I have to make, that I am exactly who you created me to be. Lord, I praise you and I thank you. I give you all the glory. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Do you know your role within the body of Christ?

One of the factors to discover your God given purpose is to know what role you were created for. IMPACT195 School of Ministry has made a free assessment that you can take to discover what role God created you to fulfill within his church. Click on the link below to take your free assessment.

>>FREE PURPOSE ASSESSMENT<<

 

 

 

POWER OF CHOICE: By Pastor Scott Wessell

God has stamped His image into us and there’s one part of His image in us that separates us from everything else that is created: choice.

 

He gave you and I the ability to choose and if you think about it, choices are ambiguous. That means they’re everywhere. Life is made up of a series of choices. You’re here today because of choices that you made. Some of them were choices you made years ago that put you on a path to bring you here today. Some of our choices release God’s power into our life. They release God’s power in that when we make choices they are congruent, or in line with, how God designed life.

 

There is a pattern to life. If your choices are in line with how God designed it to work, then that brings you into a greater experience of God’s designed blessing for you. God is a God of blessing and He created life to be a blessing. When we make choices that are in line with that blessing, we experience greater power because things work the way they’re supposed to work. We can also make choices that actually rob us of God’s power in our lives. We make choices that are incongruent with how God made life work. We forsake the benefits that God has made available. God doesn’t withhold His power, His benefits, or His blessings. It’s more like He sets a table and we get to choose to sit at the table and partake, or we get to choose to do something else.

 

I’ve got two children. Aiden is now old enough to desire to play with his toys instead of eating dinner. He started coming to the dinner table for about two seconds. He’d say, “I’m not hungry,” take one bite and then, “I want to go back and play with my trucks.” When it was bedtime he would tell us, “I’m hungry.” So, we would feed him. It became this pattern until we caught on to his little game. So, we told him, “Aiden, this is when Mommy and Daddy sit down to eat. We all sit down at the dinner table. When Mommy and Daddy get up from the dinner table, all of the food is put away. There will be nothing else served for the rest of the night. If you choose to eat, awesome! If you don’t want to eat dinner, that means you go to sleep hungry.” It only took twice.

 

God is a lot like that. He’s designed life and He sets this table for us and we are free to sit down and eat as much as we want, but if we prefer to just go play with our toys, then that means that we are rejecting His blessings. God is not like a vending machine where if you do the right things the blessings come out. His blessings are offered constantly and we get to accept them and walk in them or we get to make choices that cause us to walk away from the table.

 

In 1 Samuel 15, we see a man who made choices that did not release God’s power into his life, but choices that robbed God’s power from his life.

 

1 Samuel 15:1-2 says,

 

Samuel also said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore heed the words of the voice of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt”

 

The Israelites are wandering in the desert. They’re trying to get to the Promised Land. The Amalekites actually ambushed and attacked them. Verse 3 says,

 

Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

 

God is a God of justice. He has allowed those nations, and given them every chance possible to repent, but there comes a time when not in just nations’ lives, but in people’s lives where you’ve ran out of all your chances. Your heart is so hard that it’s time for God to come in and judge. Love without justice is a perversion. If there is no justice in love, it is not love.

 

He’s asking them to go and be His arm of justice. God gives Saul a mission. He has appointed him as king. His mission is to go be His arm of justice. God has also given all of us a mission. Are you wondering what your purpose in life is? God has called you so that the lost would be saved and that the saved would be more like Jesus. That’s your mission: save the lost and disciple the saved. What that looks like is different depending on your context and on your skills, but your mission in life is that simple. In verses 7-8, it says, “And Saul attacked the Amalekites….He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.” How can you say he utterly destroyed all the people when he spared one? What was he told to do? Utterly destroy. What has he done? Partially destroyed. He spared the king.

 

Verse 9 says, “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” In this verse, who are the people that are named that are spared? They only do half of what God had asked them to do. God told them to destroy everything and leave nothing left alive. They destroyed a lot, but they did not destroy everything. They chose to only do part of what God told them, only that which they agreed with. They only destroyed the things they considered worthless, but the things that looked good to them, they thought, “I’m not sure. I don’t see how God could want me to kill this. It’s good. It’s perfectly fine.” It didn’t make sense to them to destroy everything that they considered good. A choice based off of what you think is right and not what God thinks is right is an unempowered choice. If you’re not actually fulfilling all that God calls you to, even the parts that don’t make sense, it’s an unempowered choice.

 

Some of us have been working on our dreams for years and years, and when God calls us to certain things, we’re okay with sacrificing some of the stuff in our lives, but often times we’re not okay with sacrificing our dreams, especially ones we’re emotionally committed to. Sometimes God gives us big dreams and talents, not to use, but to sacrifice and to worship Him. Sometimes, God gives us stuff not to use, but to lie on the altar and say, “Even this is not more valuable than You.” I think one of the reasons why we’re so hesitant to put our dreams on the altar is because we’re not sure God has actually promised that to us.

 

Saul and the people just obeyed what made sense to them. Verse 10-11 says

 

Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried to the LORD all night.

 

Halfhearted obedience is disobedience. If you do half of what the Lord calls you to, you might as well do nothing. If you’re only going to halfway obey him, just don’t obey him at all, because it’s going to be easier and you’re going to have more fun in the moment. God’s view is that it’s equal to not doing anything at all.

 

Your mom lied to you. It’s not the thought that counts. Imagine it’s your 20th anniversary. Your husband comes home, sits on the couch, turns on the TV and suddenly he remembers, “Oh yeah, I was totally meaning to do something for you. I was thinking about it all day long. I just didn’t get around to it.” Does the thought really count?

 

If you say, “God you can have everything, except,” that except moves you away from His dinner table, not closer. So verse 12 says, “So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, ‘Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself.’” What? That’s right. It means what it says. He actually went and he was so proud of himself that he wanted to build something so that everybody would know how amazing his attack was. Saul sees his choice as something to celebrate. The thing is, we’re not much different. God is calling you to something. It may be to the mission field or it may be out of a job and starting a ministry. What happens all the time is we know God is calling us to something and then that amazing job, or that amazing opportunity comes up and we choose to not do what we know God is calling us to do.

 

1 Samuel 15:13-15:

 

Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”

 

He’s disassociating himself from his bad choices and he’s associating himself with his good choices. Then Samuel tells Saul to shut up. Verse 16-17:

 

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.” So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil and do evil in the sight of the LORD?”

 

In essence, Samuel’s saying, “God gave you so much more than you ever thought you deserved. He gave you so much more than you could ever ask for. Why were you being greedy? Why were you not satisfied? God anointed you king over all of his people. Wasn’t that enough? Why did you let your greed get a hold of you?” Verse 20:

 

And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.”

 

Now Saul is justifying his excuse as something that honors God. We do the same thing all the time. God calls us to something and we excuse our disobedience saying, "The reason why I'm not following God's call is because I just I think I should be building the kingdom by having a good job and giving." Don't say you have an alternative plan to God's plan and say that you’re just going to help the church with funds when the reality is you are going to spend 98% on yourself.

 

1 Samuel 15:22 says, “So Samuel said, ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?’” Does sacrificing and giving God stuff make Him as delighted as actually listening to him? He goes on to say, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” It makes Him happier when His children listen than when His children give Him gifts.

 

There are no gray areas in what God has called us to do. The choice that will actually release God’s power in your life is to choose to fulfill your mission. If you want to see God’s power in your life like you’ve never seen it before, start fulfilling your mission. Having more of God’s power is not a complicated thing. It’s about the lifestyle you live. If we don’t have His mission, we cannot be like Christ. Jesus didn’t love just for the sake of being loving. His love was not the end; it was the means by which He came as the perfect sacrifice to save the world. If you don’t have the same mission as Jesus, it doesn’t matter how loving, how humble, or how longsuffering you are. If you don’t have His mission, you are not like Christ.

 

In verse 23, Samuel says, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” Saul had a choice. He could do what released God’s power into his life or he could do what would force him to strive in his own effort. He made the choice to strive in his own effort and from there on out, Saul’s life was just one slow train wreck. He loses his mind. He loses his children. He loses his kingdom and he loses his life. It’s just one long, slow spiral down. Does that describe your life? Is it a slow train wreck? If that’s you, whatever He tells you to do, obey. If not, you’re setting yourself up for another train wreck.

 

The reality is God doesn’t fund a selfish life. He doesn’t fund it with His power. If you want to live your life on your terms, you have to be the one that pays for it. You have to be the one that supplies the energy to keep it going. In verse 24, it says, “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned.’” He’s now admitting it. When does he admit it? After the consequences have been issued. Sometimes God gives us opportunities to change the direction in our life long before the consequences are issued. Some of us are too stubborn to listen. Saul continues, “because I feared the people and obeyed their voice”. The reason we don’t make powerful choices in life is fear.

 

Another thing is finances. Finances freak us out when God calls us to stuff that doesn’t pay. God rewards faith, not financial planning. I have yet to see God not provide for people who genuinely engage Him in faith. Not having money for whatever God is calling to you is a cop out. You’re just fearful that He won’t provide for you, but how do you know He won’t provide for you? You don’t! You need to step out. God is like a father in a swimming pool and on the edge is his little boy. He is saying, “Come on! Jump and I’m going to catch you.” But the kid says, “Oh I’m scared. Prove to me that you’ll catch me and then I’ll jump” and the dad says, “Okay, I’ve got this great idea. Are you ready? You jump and I will prove that I will catch you by catching you.” The child’s response is “No, you have to prove that you’ll catch me first” and the dad says, “I can’t prove that I’ll catch you if you refuse to put yourself in a position to be caught. I can pick you up and put you in the pool. That’s very different than catching.” You have to jump first. When you jump, He will catch.

 

Another one that we’re really scared of is our job. “My job just won’t let me. My job won’t give me the time off God. Sorry.” How do you know? Have you asked? Proverbs says that God churns the king’s heart like water in his hand and directs it wherever He wants. Just knock. Just ask.

 

Sometimes, we are fearful, because whatever God’s calling us to we know our family is going to be upset. Only you have to give an answer to God for the choices you make. Ultimately you have to answer and you have to be okay with the answer that you give to God.

 

Some people say, “God, it’s just not the right time.” Don’t assume a door is closed unless you try it first. God gives and brings opportunities to us all the time. Opportunities are like trains in third world countries. In third world countries, you never really know when the train is going to come. It’s completely unreliable and when a train pulls in, you know what you do in a third world country? Even if it’s not going where you want to go, you get on. Do you know why? It could be days, it could be hours before the next train comes. Don’t think that God continually gives you the same offer over and over. His offers have a shelf life. If God’s calling you to something, just jump on the train. Let God take you on an amazing ride, because you will never be disappointed when you step out in faith. There will always be disappointments and regret if you don’t.

 

Powerful choices put you on the narrow path. It takes faith to walk on the narrow path. Choices that rob you of power put you on the wide path. This is where you’re just following the crowd. If your life currently is just following the crowd, you’re walking away from the dinner table. You’re going to go to bed hungry.

 

I want to encourage you not to make fear based choices. Every fear-based choice you make moves you away from God’s power. Follow Him wherever He’s calling.

 

PRAYER: Father, it’s a scary thing to potentially be walking away from what I know into the unknowns of what You call me into. I ask that You would give an extra dose of faith to me. Give me the courage to charge boldly into my calling, and not to question it. I thank you that you’re a good God and all you want for me is to bless me and have me sit at your table and enjoy all that you have to offer. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

 

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OTHER BOOKS

Love Out Loud Challenge: 30 Day Devotional by Pastor George Clerie

This 30-day devotional, written by IMPACT195 School of Ministry founder George Clerie, is a fantastic resource to increase your experience of God’s love and to intentionally express His love. At the end of every day’s devotion is a challenge, a practical way to internalize the truths covered that day. It will stimulate growth in the most needed area of every believer—Love. God said that if we love we have fulfilled all of God’s requirements for us; this devotional is a very practical way to do just that. It will help you to Love Out Loud.

 

 

The Beatitudes by Pastor Scott Wessell

As believers we are called to be like Jesus, but what does that mean in a practical day-to-day way? In this book, Scott Wessell Pastor of IMPACT195 School of Ministry examines Jesus’ manifesto for living like a child of God—The beatitudes. Just as the Ten Commandments encapsulated the old covenant, the Beatitudes represent the spirit of the new covenant. They contain the foundational truths on which Christ like character is built.

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POWER: THE SECRETS TO LIVING A POWERFUL LIFE

The enemy wants to keep us un-empowered and in the dark but Jesus has promised his children an abundant life. Not the kind of life where one simply gets by, but the kind of life that thrives and is filled with vitality. If you want more vitality or need to be spiritually recharged, this eBook is for you. Gifted Pastor’s like Miles McPherson, George Clerie, Nathan Elson, and Scott Wessell have come together to unpack the key principles and practices to living a life of POWER. Some of the topics covered in this eBook are: • Getting Power over your past • The Power to change • Making Powerful choices • The Power to be successful God makes his abundant power available to you, our prayer is that through these powerful teachings you will be equipped to live a more powerful life.

  • Author: Scott Wessell
  • Published: 2015-09-10 04:35:10
  • Words: 22255
POWER: THE SECRETS TO LIVING A POWERFUL LIFE POWER: THE SECRETS TO LIVING A POWERFUL LIFE