Showing items for 'April 2016'

Showing items filed under “April 2016”

How far is too far gone?

How far is too far gone

How far is too far gone? I mean you're alive! How many years has it been that Jesus has been reaching into your life? I'm just telling you that it's impossible to be too far gone! You just have to be willing to believe that you're lovable! Maybe not by your goodness, but because God is so astonishingly good that He chooses to love beyond what we deserve -beyond anything! We're not faking Him out, He knows and He loves anyway!

I don't know why we keep our distance from God -but we do! I know I do at times, but keeping your distance from God is like not taking a shower because you want to get cleaned up first. We feel like "I'm not good enough to come into the presence of God," and we keep our distance from God in so many ways, for so many wrong and so many lesser reasons. 

One of the reasons we keep our distance from God is ignorance, we simply don't see Jesus anywhere in our world. We feel like how can I move toward somebody that I don't know is there? I don't see them." So, we just don't know the story of love that has invaded life and that's one of the reasons we want to go on the road is to help people see Jesus in their life!

Another reason we keep our distance from God is arrogance. We see Jesus in our life or we see the story of Jesus but we just see no need. We're like "I got this, I'm OK!" For some of us in our arrogance, our religious relationship with Jesus is kind of like with the fire department, "If I need you, I'll call you, but if you show up before then it's kind of an embarrassment with the neighbors you know? So, Jesus, keep your distance, I'm good I got this and I really don't need you!"

The truth is, that small snapshot of "I'm OK right now," is not sustainable. 

When we fear God in a negative way, that's another reason we keep our distance - we just don't think He's good! We may feel like "If God comes into my life, He's just going to take away the things that I want and I just don't think He's good!" Have any of you all ever heard people say "If I give my life to God, He's gonna send me to Africa?" 

Let me just tell you, when I went to Africa, I wanted to stay! I would have loved to have been privileged to answer the call to be with some of the brothers and sisters there! I experienced more community and connection there in a village in two weeks than I have in some churches for years!

God's will is good - there's nothing to fear! There is no reason to stay away from love and there are so many of us here who are just stuck in some bad and dark places and today I want to tell you some stories from Matthew 9:18-34 that are stories of the touch of God that I think can change our lives and lead us from bad broken places to forever changed and hopeful places!

In Matthew 9:18, Jesus just made a statement that what He came to bring to the world was not religion! He no longer finishes speaking when a ruler comes up to Him and says 'My daughter just died!' He's kneeling down, broken before Jesus. Who can imagine the loss of a child? Your world just collapsed! And he says "But if you'll come and put your hand on her…" 

Where did that come from?  Faith! He imagined the touch of God! That there is so much life in Jesus, that 'life' would change death back to life! 

And so he comes to Jesus and says "If you'll just touch her…she will live!" This is just a picture of the power of the touch of God! Jesus got up and went with him and so did His disciples. You may not have lost a child, some of you have, but there are times when most of us will come to a place where we've lost everything that matters to us! And the question is --what now? Where's life now? What I built my life for and what I hoped for is gone. Where is my life now and what will I do?

You see, life is all about interpretation because you can interpret everything in great ways or in crazy ways! When Jesus raised Lazarus, half of the crowd thought it was amazing and the other half said we should kill him! Now, we can look at Jesus and we can interpret this positively or negatively and we can look at our lives and look at them positively or negatively! We can look at setbacks and failures positively or negatively. 

How we interpret life changes everything and how you interpret your life when everything that maters to you has been lost and you're asking this question "Where is my life now?" Let me just encourage you to reach out for the touch of Jesus! To interpret this as an amazing opportunity to see God work in your life! So, here's what I want you to do, don't keep your distance! Don't stay with the loss! Don't stay with the brokenness and the sadness and don't quit on God! Do something! Reach out to Jesus for life! 

So now this girl is dead in Matthew 9:18-34 and the dad is devastated and Jesus says 'yes' to the reach! The scripture tells us that as He is on His way there in verse 20 a woman who had been subject to bleeding came up behind him and touched the edge of His clothes. She 'touched' - these are stories of the touch of God! A God who touches still today!

One man imagines "If only Jesus touches my daughter…" This woman imagines "If only I touch His clothes…" There is no pattern to the love of God, God is limitless, He redeems in creative ways! 

We know from one of the other gospels that Jesus is in a crowd, and people are bumping and He asks "Who touched me?" Who had the faith in this faithless world to believe that things don't have to stay the same and broken? Who had the faith to dare to believe that I'm the God who redeemed broken, not the God who caused it? Who has the faith to believe that hopeless doesn't have to be home?

This woman touches His garment, His coat and the heart of Jesus is so sensitive to the power of touch that He turns and says "Woman, your faith has healed you!" (Matthew 9:22) What do you when nothing's working? For twelve years this woman has been trying to be healed! Reaching out in an authentic, real world kind of way and her world changes! 

When nothing's working what's next? Jesus.

Jesus goes on from there, leaves the healed woman behind, pushes through the crowd and now He is going toward someone. Not toward someone who is dying, but toward someone who 'is' dead! This little girl's hand was ice cold, there was no hope in the world. Most people would have just accepted, death wins, there's nothing to do; it's over. But not Jesus! Because of the ruler's faith, Jesus pushed His way through the crowd and in Matthew 9:24 says, "The girl isn't dead, but asleep." Then He touches her hand!

Jesus walks in, He sees death, and He answers it with a touch!

The touch of Jesus changes everything; it is the defining reality of life! Nothing you're facing right now is stronger than the touch of Jesus! There is no death in a marriage, there's no death in a relationship, there's no sin from the past, there is nothing that the redeeming touch of Jesus cannot change!

Father God I pray that you would help each one of us to imagine new possibilities in your love, and Lord to choose no to stay stuck. God, life takes courage. A broken world is sometimes a really hard place to navigate; but you'll lead us home! God help us to have confidence in your grace, in your ability and in your will. Everyone of us today needs to see the hand of God, the touch of God extended toward us and to realize all we have to do is reach back! It's time that we come into the presence of Jesus and just come alive!  You can't stay dead in the presence of God; nothing stays dead in the presence of Jesus! -Dr. Drew Shofner

Accept forgiveness and live courageously toward joy!

Hebrews 12:2

I probably don't need to tell most of you that life isn't easy. That it is a challenge. That it is hard and that it hurts. But still by grace we have been given a choice.

So I want to ask you: how are you going to live the next part of eternity?

Broken down and giving up or rising up and trusting God? 

Right now, where you are may seem so long and hard and overwhelming, but I just want to remind you that it's just one part of eternity. It's just one next in a long series until we begin the next part of eternity in the presence of God, or apart from God if we didn't want His love.

In Matthew 9:1-8, we read the story that took place in Jesus' home town. Here's a picture of Jesus, on the road, out in life, going after people and revealing the love of The Father in His own life in the power of an unseen Spirit in a way that changed everything!

Jesus stepped into a boat and crossed over and came to His own home town. Some men brought him a paralytic lying on a mat, and when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic something unexpected and something strange. Jesus said, "Take heart son, your sins are forgiven…" then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home!" And the man got up and he went home. No longer stuck in dead religion, no longer stuck in the realities of life, now the Kingdom of God had come and now the unpredictability of the love of God was let loose on planet earth - and everything changed!

What if, more than we need everything that is frustrating us in this moment. What if, not having them is what depresses us and discourages us? 

What if we just needed to celebrate our forgiveness and from this point forward, just live joyfully toward home knowing that this earth isn't it? 

What if we trusted that God is giving us, from His goodness, all that we need and that we can live joyfully on our way home? 

We've basically got a choice, we can follow sin: Sin means that we're all deeply broken like the layers of an onion at successive and concentric ways. We're all deeply broken all the way to the core of our being. It's all fractured, it's all broken, it's all leaking life! And you and I can live our lives in ever-increasing sin and brokenness to where the darkness continues to increase and the sadness is growing and the loss is adding up for the rest of this part of eternity - or we can follow forgiveness all the way home to joy! 

You see, that's what Jesus did.

We just celebrated Easter, and the scripture gives us an insight into what Jesus was thinking every step of the way. With every blow to His jaw, every time the whip was laid on His back...and every time the hammer drove the nails in...the scripture tells us what was on Jesus' mind. The scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:2, "Let us look to Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross scorning it's shame." He was heading home and in spite of that agony of the moment, He trusted God and lived courageously toward joy!

You and I need to live courageously grateful for the forgiveness of our sins, and if nothing ever happens in our life that we call good, we have the gift of the forgiveness of everything that leaks life, that tears us apart and destroys us in this part of eternity! We're coming to a part of eternity where there is going to be joy, if we will have it. But in this part of eternity where we're still on the ground and where it's hard, we are called by God to live courageously grateful for the gift that matters more than all the other stuff that we demand from God and put before it, and it's all found in this one phrase, "Take heart my child, your sins are forgiven." 

Despite what you believe, God does not have a bad attitude toward you. No, He says, "Take heart my child your sins are forgiven." -Matthew 9:2 (Take heart- The Greek word here means to have confidence and firmness of purpose in the face of adversity or testing.)

I want you to imagine the man paralyzed in Matthew. His day began bad like every other day...but in the presence of the freedom of Jesus, everything changed. I want you to follow my forgiveness in a way that transforms your sorrow into joy and I want you to live gratefully from this point forward and be courageous so take heart my son get up off of the broken place where you are and walk home! 

Can you imagine the joy his parents felt? Guys, that's you and that's me!

How many of us are laying on the ground and letting life pass us by? You don't have to hate yourself - you're free! We gotta make a decision. We gotta ask for forgiveness and until that day we gotta head home healed and live courageously. This is the life that we are invited to - accept forgiveness and live courageously toward joy! -Dr. Drew Shofner

Jesus Change takes courage!

Jesus change

When Jesus walks into your life, your life is going to get totally and radically flipped upside down. If you haven't had the experience yet of Jesus showing up and having your life completely and totally flipped upside down, then you might want to ask yourself the question "Do I really know Jesus?" 

If you haven't been radically transformed in a way where you understand that what He is trying to do is make you different, then maybe there is not a real relationship with Jesus!

Because that's just what Jesus does when He shows up - Jesus changes everything!

If you've experienced change after following Jesus, there is a good chance that you're following Him. If your life is no different after following Jesus, then there is a good chance you are not really following Him! 

Jesus changes everything, and can I just tell you what 'Jesus change' takes? Jesus change takes courage! Change takes walking into situations you don't want to be in, change causes you to have to be different than you are today! Welcome to Jesus change. He's gonna take you to some scary places and He's gonna ask you to do some scary things!  If change is going to take place in your life, it's gonna take some courage!

Jesus change takes courage; Jesus change means that you're gonna have to give up everything if you want to know Him! There is nothing in your life that is off limits for Jesus to touch and do something with! 

When Jesus change comes, it will alienate you from some people, it will take some people away from you quite frankly that you may love. If you're dating someone and they don't love Jesus the most and you're trying to love Jesus the most and you're trying to convince them over and over to love Jesus. By the way, you can't convince them to love Jesus, only the Spirit can do that. In fact, often times you will just enable them to keep from loving Jesus!

So, can I just go ahead and tell you that unhealthy + unhealthy does not equal healthy. Unhealthy + healthy does not equal healthy. Only healthy + healthy coming together will be healthy! When it's all said and done, Jesus is going to alienate you from some people when He changes your life. 

Here's the deal folks, what are we gonna do with Jesus? Maybe it's a real life change, deciding to accept Him into your heart and start a real relationship with Him? Maybe you've been a follower for a while but you've just got some things that need to change. It could be in your finances, it could be something in your family or in your relationships or your job?

There are a lot of times I don't like what Jesus says to me, but when you're confronted with the real Jesus, you have to either say "Yes, Jesus, change whatever it is you want to change about me" or you have to look at Him and say "go away." There is no in-between! Jesus change takes courage! -Pastor John B. Smith 

The resurrection story- it is the story we're all looking for, even when we're not!

Revelation 3:20

I want to remind you today that you and I have the opportunity to make a choice that changes everything -in Jesus! The Bible says in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door," (if anyone will admit their need and acknowledge their sin, if anyone will welcome a savior into their life), the Bible says "I will come in and have fellowship with them and they with me.

Guys, I'm telling you when we listen to the resurrection story, and when we let it matter most - all of life changes forever!

Wherever you are in your own journey, however hard things are, I'm telling you all you have to do is call out to Jesus and everything will begin to change! When you dial 911, you're going to get a response - the police or somebody is going to show up at your house! 

And when you call upon Jesus, when you dare to believe that this whole amazing story is actually true, when you choose not to be indifferent to the suffering of God and the passion of Christ! If we say yes and if we believe and allow Jesus to come and live in us, then He is going to do in us what He did on the third day! 

He is going to resurrect our dead lives-- redeem them, turn them around--and take us home! And that my friends, is the great "Good News" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The resurrection story- it is the story we're all looking for, even when we're not!  -Dr. Drew Shofner

Read Severn Run Stories, be inspired, and stay up to date with what's happening here!