A FRESH NEW S.T.A.R.T.

All of us have experienced many setbacks and failures throughout our lives. Sometimes we allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the full Christian life that God has given us to enjoy.

Last year some of you said, “I am going to grow in my relationship with God. I am going to pray more, read my bible more and get more involved in my church. I’m going to spend more quality time with my family.”

The fact is that all of us made some mistakes or we made some bad decision that hindered us from doing those things that we wanted to do.

In John 10:10 Jesus said,    “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  ESV  Then he goes on to tell us that there is an adversary, called the Devil, that seeks to kill and destroy that life. The Devil will remind us of our past in order to keep us from enjoying the life that God gave us to live. The Devil does not want you to have a fresh start in life.

The good news is according to  Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”  ESV

We need to understand that failure does not have to destroy us but it can develop character, it can make us stronger and help us to avoid those mistakes in the future.

Maybe you feel that you have made so many mistakes, you have failed God so many times and you have sinned it all away. Now God doesn’t want anything to do with you. You feel and believe that you have no future with God.

The good news is, God is saying, “It’s not over, I have plans for your life. I am about to do something new for you.”    We need to understand that God is far more interested in our future than He is in our past.

Here is a little acrostic that I found for starting over, that should make it easy for you.   S.T.A.R.T.

S- Stop Making Excuses.   If I want a fresh start in life, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I’ve got to stop blaming other people. I’ve got to stop seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances.  In John 15 and Romans 2 Scripture is very clear – you have NO EXCUSE!

T- Take An Inventory Of My Life  I need to take an inventory of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. I need to take an inventory of my life’s experiences and learn from them.  2 Corinthians 13:5-7 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.”  ESV

A – Act in Faith – If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith. If you want to change your personality, it takes faith. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to have some faith.      Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”  ESV

R – Refocus -I need to refocus my thoughts if I want to change my life. If I want to get going again, if I want a fresh start, I need to rethink the way that I think. I need to change my mind about a number of issues.  Proverbs 4:23   “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  ESV (heart = feelings, will and intellect)

T – Trust –Trust God to help us succeed. Depend on Him. We don’t need to depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’ve failed.  Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  ESV

It’s your choice. How can I have a fresh start? I can have a fresh start by: S.T.A.R.T.

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January 7th, 2018         Romans 8:1 – 14          Nature of the New Year

Romans 8:1-14 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.  Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. [what are YOU thinking about?  What is feeding your thoughts?]  If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.) Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin, your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living within you.  So, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.  For if you keep on following it, you will perish. But if through the power of the Holy Spirit you turn from it and its evil deeds, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”    

We all enter 2018 with a struggle, well, at least one struggle.

The Battle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit.  The fight for controlling authority in our lives.  The battle between good and evil.

You are not alone in this.

Romans 7:21-25 “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?   Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Paul understood…LIVED…the same struggle we have.  Sometimes He won – obviously; yet sometimes he failed, as we do.

We can fail less.

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One wolf is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

The other wolf is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

  1. The struggles of the past year
    1. Sin
    2. Self
    3. Gossip, backbiting, bullying
    4. Financial
    5. Condemnation
  2. A promise for the new year
    1. There is NO CONDEMNATION
      1. FOR those who belong to Christ
    2. You Christian are living under a DIFFERENT PLAN than the children of the world
      1. Jesus Christ – our Savior
      2. God sent His only Son TO SAVE US
        1. He came as a human – A baby in a manger
      3. He lives a sinless life
        1. Yet died on a CROSS for our failures, sins and crimes
  • Christian, Jesus DESTROYED sins control over you
    1. FEED YOU HOLY SPIRIT
    2. STARVE THE WOLF OF SIN
  1. You Christian live with a DIFFERENT NATURE than the children of the world
    1. They are dominated by the sinFULL nature of the World
    2. YOU, Christian, are dominated by the HOLY SPIRIT, the very NATURE of Godliness
      1. EMBRACE the Spirit of God
      2. REJECT the sinful nature of the world
    3. Here is the reality of the nature of Christians:
      1. The Holy Spirit lives within you
      2. Jesus Christ lives within you
      3. God lives within you
        1. Even in physical death you will live eternally
        2. Even in a sin-filled, painful world you can live in PEACE and LIFE and the FREEDOM of NO CONDEMNATION
      4. The nature of your new year depends on which nature you choose to follow
        1. The sinful nature will lead to more hurt, disappointment, pain and loss
        2. The Holy Spirit of God will lead you to a better, more abundant life.
          1. Do you want to just EXIST for another year?
          2. Do you want to LIVE LIFE in 2018?
  • Watch what you take into your mind and heart!
    1. FEED THE GOOD WOLF – Godliness
    2. STARVE THE BAD WOLF – Flesh

An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship.  Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside of you!.

12 31        End of Year Review/Inventory      Philippians 3:12 – 15

Philippians 3:12-16 “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.   I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.  But we must be sure to obey the truth we have learned already.”    NLT

Today is the very last day 2017 has to give.  At midnight tonight 2017 will end and the new year of 2018 will begin.

Doesn’t sound fair?  Tough.

You still have 2017 New Year resolutions undone?  Tough

2017 work that needs completed?   TOUGH.

Business may be rushing even today to finish their 2017 inventory, paperwork, tax reports or even order fulfillments to meet their regulatory or contractual compliance because at Midnight 2017 ENDS.

The stock market, investors and leaders are waiting those end of year reports to measure the success or failure of the business and its future.

What about us?  Should we not pause from time to time and do a compete and thorough inventory of our lives?

Are we brave enough and curious enough to look deep into our finances, our heart, our mind and our Godliness and see what God already knows about our FAITHFULNESS?

  1. We already know we are FAR FROM PERFECT
    1. Taking time to reflect on areas that need attention is a smart use of time
    2. Look BACK
  2. We already know there is much work to be done in our lives in our pursuit to be the person Jesus gave His life for us to become for Him.
    1. LEARN
      1. Good judgement and wisdom comes from experience
      2. Experience comes from mistakes and failures more than successes
    2. We cannot change the mistakes of the past
      1. Only God can erase our record of failures, missteps and open disobedience
      2. Repent and LEAVE THEM BEHIND
        1. Forgetting the past – Don’t seek them out
      3. What we can do is focus all of our energy on BETTER
        1. LOOKING FORWARD to what lies ahead
        2. STRAIN to reach the potential God has for us
        3. RUNNING the race He has laid before us
        4. RECEIVING THE PRIZE Jesus has prepared for us
      4. Mature Christians will agree that we NEED to be BETTER Christians
        1. No excuses and No spinning the truth
        2. The WORD lays it all out clearly and we KNOW we need to improve
      5. Some may say we are “good enough” or that God will accept us for new life “just as we are”
        1. I believe that God will make the truth clear to you
        2. We must REPENT, turn our lives toward God and away from the poor excuses of self.
      6. Here is the simple, and unfortunately HARD truth, to the beginning of this process of repentance, renewal and personal revival:
        1. We already KNOW what we need to know
          1. Wisdom comes when we LEARN and LIVE the lessons of LIFE
          2. To quote Yoda, “that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.”
  • Read the Word of God we MUST
  1. LIVE the Word of God we READ is VITAL
  1. We already have the TRUTH we need.
  2. We simply need to LIVE the truth of God and His Word we already have.
  3. LIVE FORWARD

Not just another gun article story.     11 15 2017

Today I was trying to get focused on Sundays message for our First Baptist Annual Camo Day this Sunday, but my mind kept wandering in another direction.  Ok, I was thinking about my guns; maybe the result of not competing much the past few weeks, or perhaps something deeper.  I asked God direct my thoughts and this is what He did with them.

I was not day dreaming of pulling the trigger, the smell of a fresh round sent downrange or even wondering if my guns were thinking of me at the same time!  I was pondering their construction and comparing it to our own.

I strongly believe that we, like our guns, were designed by the Great Engineer and built by a Master Craftsman.  But, let’s be honest, we are not born as we should or will be in our future.

We are born as babies and there is much experience, growth and adjustments to come in our future, and sometimes life leaves us with some issues and “stuff” that need work.

When I buy a gun, I know it is not all it can be, but it wants to be better!  I am 56 years old and still want to be better; ok, I need to be better.

Regardless of the brand of gun, if it is going to be competitive I know it needs work to be better.  Maybe a new trigger, a few springs, some file work here, some polishing there, more mag capacity, better sights, new barrel and the list goes on and on; as do the costs.

We should understand that if we want to be the best we can be there is some work that needs done as well!  Maybe it is an old part (habit) that needs replaced, or part of our life has been “roughed up” and needs smoothed back out, we need better sights (vision) so we can direct our life onto a better trajectory and the list goes on and on.

There are a few issues with my gun I am able to take care of on my own!  I have replaced a barrel, upgraded a trigger system and other simple fixes.  Unfortunately, my knowledge is limited and sometimes I really mess something up!

Now, maybe I am the only one that has had to go to a gunsmith with a nonfunctioning gun, probably with a bag full of springs, pins and bits, and had to pay them to fix what I messed up trying to fix!  Ugh.

Experience has also told me that some things improve with a little time and use.  Triggers smooth out, mag releases get easier and rounds feed better with a little “break in” time.  There are parts of our life that time and experience certainly help improve in our lives.  Burn my hands on a hot stove once and I got it!  Don’t touch hot stoves.  But am I the best I can be because I know that hot stuff hurts me?

Life is much the same.  We all have problems areas, broken parts and sometimes get lost trying to figure out where all the pieces go.  We know we should be better, have tried all we know how to try and probably made things worse.  Ugh.

What can we do?

What I have found that if I want my gun to run at its very best I need to take it to a Master Gunsmith.  They are able to do things well beyond my capabilities!  I believe in their skills so much that when I buy a new competition gun I will leave it with them before I ever pull the trigger once.

With all of our lives, we can go to the Great Engineer and Master Builder that designed us, built us and has the master specifications and plans for our lives.  They know who we are supposed to be and what is possible in our life.  They have the wisdom, experience, skills and compassion for their Creation to put everything back better than we ever thought it could be; they can give us life, and life abundant.

I am not sure what you are waiting to “wear in” to make life better; but chances are it will wear out first.  I am not sure what you are trying to fix yourself, hoping this time will be better but may just end up with more broken bits.

Here is a piece of advice for you:  Take your life to God with all the broken bits, worn down surfaces and off target shooting and ask Him to make you better.

John 1:1 – 5 “In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  NLT

10-15               Distractions

 

**Calls**

**Text**

**Toys**

**People**

**Building**

Luke 21:5-6 “Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said,  “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

We tend to be a people of stuff.

We tend to be a people of pride.

We tend to be a people who are proud of our stuff.

 

“Oh, look at this new thing I got”

“Oh, see the pretty decorations?”

“Got me a new truck, jealous?”

 

We get so easily sidetracked by the stuff of the world; even the stuff at church.

I am not saying that we do not take care of God’s Stuff, or want God’s stuff to look its very best.

But sometimes we humans can go overboard and spend a lot of God’s money building huge, giant glass edifices or brick castles we forget that it is God’s money.

We forget it serves a purpose but is a tool; and not one that will last forever.

The disciples were even caught up in the glitz and glamour of the structure.

They were DISTRACTED by the shiny objects of the world

The Temple Elite were more proud of their beautiful structure than the God who allowed them to serve inside of it.

Jesus had been teaching them some very important lessons about faith, giving, the resurrection and who He really is; but they are distracted by the “majestic stonework” and “memorial decorations”

He is preparing to teach them eschatology, a very important issue for every Christian to understand.

ESCHATOLOGY:  [es cuh TOL ih gih] — a theological term that designates the study of what will happen at the end of history, particularly the event known as the SECOND COMING of Christ. The word comes from two Greek words, ‎eschatos ‎(last) and ‎logos ‎(study) – thus its definition as “the study of last things.” (Nelson’s)

We will dive off into that after our Revival services.

Right now, Jesus wants their attention; they needed to focus on Him and not the building and decorations.

How can we grow closer to God if we are not even paying attention to Him?

Telling them that everything they see will soon be completely destroyed seems like a great way to garner someone’s attention.

What in the World has captured your attention more than God?

What can so easily distract you from seeking God and listening to His Son Jesus Christ?

Sports?            Hobbies?         Facebook?       Games?           Self?                Gossip?           Backbiting?            Boasting?        Alcohol/Drugs

Stop It!

What shiny object does our eternal enemy use to pull you off a life focused on God?

STOP IT!

All of that “stuff” is so temporary and meaningless.

What are you looking at or thinking about during Sunday School, Church, Bible Study or your personal devotion time WHEN you should be completely focused on God?

Your phone?  The Clock?

Get your attention back on the King of kings and Lord of lords!

10-8-2017                    Heart

Luke 21:1-5 “While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.  Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.  For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”   NLT

I find it interesting that this text is recorded right after Jesus tells us to “Beware of these teachers of religious law!” and one of the reasons given was that they “shamelessly cheat widows out of their property…”

These Temple Elitists would shame the small givers while smothering the big givers with praise and thanks.

Jesus FLIPS THE SCRIPT on the temple thieves yet again!

Jesus speaks of the HEART of a FAITHFUL GIVER

Our true heart is a major issue in our life

We cannot Love God and Love Others without giving…and risking our heart.

Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods. If you do, the Lord ‘s anger will burn against you.”

1 Samuel 12:20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.”

  1. e poor widow gave out of her heart
    1. Her two small coins represented all she had
      1. But she wanted to give her all to God
    2. The rich people gave out of their surplus
      1. Not out of their income
      2. Not out of their faith
      3. …and you can bet they did it with flourish and an expectation of recognition
      4. You could infer here that if they had not surplus they would be giving no money
    3. Is our giving (money, time, talents, etc.) a gift of the heart?
      1. Is it about us?
        1. Are we giving EXPECTING anything?
          1. Value
          2. Special notice
        2. Is it about God?
          1. Faith
          2. Love
  • Obedience
  1. What little piece of obedience are we giving God while expecting great accolades?
    1. What are we willing to surrender to God?
      1. Funds
      2. Time
  • Self
  1. What are we UNWILLING to surrender to God?
    1. The One who created and provided everything we have
    2. What are we holding on to tightly?
  2. The poor widow gave everything she had
    1. Time
    2. Energy
    3. Faith, Hope and Love
    4. She was not forced, coerced, lied to or stolen from by the Temple Elite
      1. She gave from her faith
      2. She gave from her HEART
    5. All of her was poured out
      1. This is what God wants from us
        1. Whatever we have
        2. Whatever we are
          1. Surrender it all to Him
            1. It will be enough
            2. Even if the world thinks it is small
  • God will see it as a great gift

Priorities, Rights and Political Hay

(note:  DANGER – WORD PUKE Ahead – written quickly so grammar and spelling may not be perfect…or good…unedited)

Every time a person is murdered is a horrible crime.  This horror is multiplied inside us when we encounter events like the recent Las Vegas Shooting and other mass murders we see in our country.  These violent and horrific tragedies remind us that evil is very real and active in our midst.

Predictably a group of politicians and activists become very vocal, calling for more gun control because of these acts of evil that were inflicted through the barrel of a gun.

“Never let a tragedy go to waste” is a montra used by all sides of the political spectrum as they use a disaster or very public tragedy for their own agendas or political purposes.

But are their priorities right and consistent?

Or are they just making political hay on the heartstrings of hurting Americans?

Lets look at some rough numbers and see:

According to the CDC, every year approximately 88,000 Americans lose their lives due to alcohol, and 2.5 Million years of life are lost.  241 deaths per day due to a product that is not Constitutionally protected and is not a necessity for life.  Where is the outcry by our politicians and activists?  Maybe, just maybe, the 26 Million plus dollars of lobbyist money helps keep them quiet….or maybe we are just addicted to our alcohol.

According to the CDC, every year approximately 480,000 Americans lose their lives due to tobacco products  and the survivors lose 10 years of life.  1,315 deaths per day due to a product that is not Constitutionally protected and is not a necessity for life.  Where is the outcry by our politicians and activists?  Maybe, just maybe, the 19 Million plus dollars of lobbyist money helps keep them quiet….or maybe we are just addicted to our smokes and chews.

The Pharmacy, Health Professional, Hospital and Nursing Home lobbyists spend over 5 Billion dollars every year to influence the laws and lawmakers of our country.  Maybe this is why the outcry due to the deaths of medical malpractice, medicine issues and other like issues is not shouted from the wooden podiums of congress….or maybe we just like our meds because they are easier than lifestyle changes.

Over 40,000 people died on the roads of our country in 2016, that is 110 per day.  Where is the demand for the elimination of private transportation in favor of public?  Or do we simply love our cars so much we would refuse to get rid of them, reguardless of the risks?

Every year over 900,000 American lives are thrown away by abortion, yet certain political and ideological groups fight for them and demand they be more available.  That is around 2,500 Americans trashed every day, gone for largely non medical reasons.

75 plus lives were lost in the Hurricane Harvey tragedy, where is the out cry to move people and cities off the coast 150 miles or so?

Between 2011 and 2015 an average of 1,564 people were murdered every year with a gun.  4.28 Americans every day lost their life because someone used a firearm to murder them.  Each one is a tragedy.  Every person who murdered someone by any means should be held accountable!  But, will more laws prevent evil from committing acts of evil?

Every 31 days the same number of people who were killed in Las Vegas are murdered in Chicago and they have very strict laws.

Every 15 days the same number of people who were killed in Las Vegas are murdered in California by a firearm and they have very strict gun laws.

Every 20 days the same number of people who were killed in Las Vegas are murdered in Texas by a firearm and they have less restrictive gun laws than California and Chicago.

Every life is precious and the taking of a life by murder is a horrific action.

We should raise our voice and our culture against evil and death.  We should encourage a culture of life.

But let us start with the biggest issues first, where are the largest number of Americans dying from unnecessary activities occurring?

If we look at those numbers, even quickly, it becomes obvious that our constitutionally protected firearms would be way down on our list of priorities.

We should look at tobacco, alcohol and elective abortions (not medically required) long before we begin to look at other issues.  These are not necessary, not constitutionally protected and could save millions of American lives in just a few years.

As we look at our laws, let us remember that evil can not be legislated under control.  Evil will find a way to perpetrate it’s evil plans.  Evil will seek to steal, kill and destroy; these are the nature of evil and laws will not change the nature of evil.  Evil will use firearms, knives, bats, hammers, water, rocks, sticks, pipes, food, poison, motor vehicles, fuels, explosives, statues, knick-knacks, computers, scissors, paper, rocks, ropes, heights, clothing, and; in the absence of any type of tool, bare hands to commit evil acts.  You can never outlaw evil.

Murder, conspiracy to commit murder, abuse, assault and other like forms of violence are already illegal, more laws will only add to the charges if they are caught but will never stop the evil activity.

Let us get our priorities right.

Let us take a good hard look at our rights

Let us take a good hard look at the biggest issues in America

Let us stop just making political hay out of Americas Heart strings.