Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Come As You Are (Part 1)

Well the school year has officially begun as has C4 Charlotte. Last night was the Fall Kickoff and let me tell you, it was powerful. I have never seen so many college kids in one place pouring out their all to God. There were twice as many chairs as normal lined up all the way back to the back and there were still people sitting on the floor in the back. It was so amazing to feel the passion in the room. God was there. I don't say that to sound corny or super-spiritual, but he really was there...you could feel his presence so thick it was like he was standing beside you.

Tyson opened the semester with a message called "Come As You Are".

Hebrews 10:38-39 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
No matter where you come from...no matter your past...we were created as a people how move forward with our lives. We weren't created to stay stuck in our past and our sin. We weren't created as a people who are bound to addiction and held captive to mistakes. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). God is not fearful or bound or held captive - he is victorious, he is an overcomer. We were created to move forward, not to be held back or beat down by this world.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
Originally we were designed to let nothing hold us back. We were created to walk with God and move forward in him. But because of sin, there are delays and roadblocks and other things that beat us down and hold us captive. When we choose sin, we do not move forward as we should - we draw back. When we follow our selfish agenda and sinful mindset - it holds us back. We are complacent and content to be where we are...not moving forward. But thankfully, the story does not end there...
Romans 5:15-17 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed by how many times you've messed up...feeling like God wouldn't ever want to speak to you again because of your past or the mistakes you've made. But there is hope for you! If it wasn't for Jesus, we'd be bound to the grave - held captive to our past and our mistakes...but there is no other name by which we are saved. Call upon his name.
Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS!!!!!! He didn't wait for us to be perfect! He didn't wait for us to get our lives together! He didn't wait for us to leave our past behind and start to move forward on our own! He died for us while we were still sinners...while we were still held captive...while we were broken and bruised and beaten down...while we were a mess...he still died for us...he still wanted us...he still loves us...he accepted us while we were still sinners!

No matter what your past looks like, God still loves you and there is nothing you could have done or could still do to make him love you any less. You will not find peace or satisfaction in anything the world could offer because it is all tainted by sin...the only way that you can move forward is to follow Jesus. He is the only thing that can fill up your life.

We all struggle...I struggle. Sometimes we feel like giving up...and it becomes a cycle of falling and failing. Our nature is to be discouraged. Remember though Isaiah 53. He was abused, he was mocked, he was spit upon, he was crushed, he was pierced, he was judged...all for your redemption. He laid down his life for your freedom. While you were still sinning, he loved you enough and wanted you to move forward so much that he died for you.

As he died he said one sentence..."It is finished." his work is done. The cross was the completion. The price has been paid for our freedom...it's up to us to move forward. So one day, when you get tired of being hurt, tired of being beat down and held captive to the lies that this world tells you...stand up, take your place and follow God. He will give you everything you need to become an overcomer. He loves you with everything he has...and he has everything. He wants you to get up...right where you are, just stand up as you are and come.

If you wait til you've got it all together, if you wait until you're ready...you'll never come. You will never be ready on your own. He accepted you as you are...a sinner. You are not bound any longer. God gave all he had to make you new again.

Sometimes we get depressed - we think we'll never amount to anything. But that is a lie - we were created in God's likeness and nothing can defeat us. (Romans 8:31 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?") If you keep believing the lies that the devil and the world throw at you, you will wear yourself out. You keep trying to please everyone but you don't care if the only one who matters is pleased. You'll derail your future if you are living for people instead of living for God. Don't worry about not making everyone happy all the time - Jesus didn't make a whole lot of people happy in his ministry...truth isn't always what you want to hear - but it's what you need to hear.

Pride is also a big issue...we think we're better than people. Our lives are all about status, things and ourselves. We will never move forward if life is about you. (James 4:6b "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.") You don't have to prove yourself to God. Nothing you bring God is worth any more than filthy rags. All he wants is you because nothing you have will make him love you any more than he already does.

Moving forward can be a battle at times:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
God gives us the weapons we need...the battle isn't a physical battle...it's a battle that takes place in our hearts and our minds. We were created for greatness...addictions, temptations - they are no match for you. Someone once said that "You can't stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair." - meaning that you cannot stop sinful thoughts or temptations from showing up in your life - but you can keep them from staying and gaining a hold over your life. Rise up...fight against them - you are greater than that.
Luke 5:4-11 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Leave your old life behind. Let go of what is comfortable to you and familiar so that you can take hold of everything God has for you. Move forward in him. God can and will use you if you let him. He wants you to come as you are, he uses ordinary people like the disciples to accomplish extraordinary things. He will lead you to who you were meant to be. Don't let your past dictate your future...speak to the mountains(the troubles, the past, the mistakes, the sin, the temptations, the hurdles) in your life...and give it all to God. You were created to be so much more...but you don't have to wait to be more...come right now...as you are...he will use you just as you are.

Monday, August 1, 2011

E cubed (20.0855369)


Have you ever thought about your name? I mean really taken the time to think about how important a name is.  Your name is an identifier...it's who you are. God has many names - more than we even know, and last night at C4, Tyson talked about three of God's names. Emmanuel, Elohim, and El Elyon. Each of his names identifies who he is and describes his character.
Emmanuel - God With Us
Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV) And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Why did God choose the name Emmanuel for his son? He could have chose any other name that would be as descriptive (Holy, Just, Merciful, Savior)...but he specifically chose Emmanuel as a reminder for us that he is always with us. To constantly remind us of who he is. Our God is not distant or far away - he is alive and he is here with us.

There are times in life that we might say that we feel distant from God. We might even begin to doubt and question God. But when we begin to feel distant, we need to remind ourselves of his name. Emmanuel - God with us in the good times, God with us in the bad times, God with us on the mountain, God with us in the valley, God with us when we feel him, and God with us when we don't. When you feel distant from God...ask yourself, "When was the last time I drew near to Him?"
Isaiah 8:5-10 (KJV) The LORD spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.
The Assyrians waited until they were surrounded by trouble to call out to God. Often times it takes something tragic for us to remember who he is...we don't cry out to him when life is good. It's part of our sinful nature - when life is good, we forget him and begin to lean on our own strength. It's not until trouble comes that we cry out to him. We can't just seek him only in the times we think we need him. Call on his name even when everything is good and clear in life. When we draw near to him, he draws near to us.
Elohim - God In Us
Genesis 1:26 (KJV) And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Take a close look at the pronoun that God uses. "Us". When God says that, he's talking about the plural tense of himself. The trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God didn't just want to be with us...he didn't create us just to watch and be beside us. He wanted to be in us and through us. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. When Jesus walked on earth, he was physically with us. When he went to be with the Father, he sent his Spirit so that he would be not only with us, but live in us as well.
John 14:16-20 (KJV) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
If the Holy Spirit isn't in you, then you have yet to taste the fullness of life. God leads, guides and directs us in life. He also speaks to us in a still small voice. The voice is the Holy Spirit who convicts you and draws you back to himself. We get so caught up in the motions...the lyrics...the routine...that we don't realize that we don't know Him. He wants to live in us and through us. If you wonder why your life is messed up and isn't changing...ask yourself "When was the last time I looked for Him? When was the last time I listened to Him?"
John 14:12 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
Elohim...God In Us...The Spirit doesn't just speak to you...He empowers you. John 14:12 says that if we believe in him, we can do anything. When the world looks at us, they won't believe it if all we do is preach it. They say that they don't believe because God can't do miracles anymore...that they never see that. They'll look at our lives...they'll look for prayers answered. Many people don't think about salvation as a miracle. But I know that there is no greater miracle than God saving me...making me new...saving me...forgiving me. Who is God that he "can't"? What God do you serve that he can't do miracles?"
1 Corinthians 12:3 (KJV) Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
When you pray...when you worship...things happen. If the Holy Spirit lives in you, it's impossible to curse God...but at the same time, you can't say that God is Lord unless the Holy Spirit is in you. The Holy Spirit causes you to glorify Jesus and not yourself. If Jesus is lifted up, he will draw men to you. He empowers you to live as a testimony to himself. When we call on his name, he lives through us...in our lives and empowers us to pray for people. Anything that happens because of prayer is not because we prayed...it's because God is living in us and through us.
El Elyon - God Most High
Isaiah 14:13-17 (NLT) For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. Everyone there will stare at you and ask, ‘Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?’
In these verses in Isaiah, God is addressing the very thoughts of Satan. Satan said that his kingdom will be high...like the Most High. But even Satan knows that our God is the Most High because even in his wildest dreams, he cannot imagine being better...he wants to be "like the Most High".

Do you know why Satan despises us and lives for our demise? Why Satan beats us down all the time? Because he couldn't be like the Most High...and the Most High lives IN YOU. The very moment that you turn to God, he is with you, and he lives in you. When Satan looks at you, he doesn't see you anymore. He sees El Elyon, God Most High living in you. (2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!)

You cannot allow yourself to live like the world when the Most High God lives in you. Satan sees him and the world needs to see him as well. Don't say that you "can't" because if you truly received him and he lives within you...then he will give you the power. When you're feeling discouraged, just remind yourself who lives in you and whose power is in you. If you want to do something important...if you want to make a mark on history...if you want to change lives...then live for God. 
God with us. God in us. God most high.

If you don't live like the Most High lives in you, then you could lose everything. (Check out Daniel 5:18-20...God gives and takes away) El Elyon does not mean at the top, good or close to best...it means THE. MOST. HIGH. Can the Most High live inside if you are out there living the lowest life you can live? His name isn't 2nd best or mediocre...Our lives have to mirror what his name is.

He doesn't want perfection...It's a call to holiness. (Leviticus 19:2..."Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy") He wants us to get up, move forward, leave our past behind and seek his kingdom. He wants us to raise the standard. He...The Most High...cannot be tainted by this world. If we stand up, he will move in our lives. If we give a half-hearted prayer and turn right back into our sinful lives, he won't move.

Too often we complain about the church...but we don't do anything. We think that if God is in it then it's all good...and as long as my life is a bit better than someone elses life that it's okay. NO. Leviticus 19:2 again...Be Holy. It might cost us everything...family, friends, favorite places, music...BUT...what on this earth do you love more than God? He is everything and more than enough.

Remember his name...Remember who he is...and encounter the living God.