Bust Through! (Part 2) The Ceiling!

glass ceiling

The messages we are given by this world, by well-meaning family members or authority figures, even by fellow Christians can make it seem as though God could never do anything impactful through us.

‘You? Who are you? You’re nothing special!’

Those messages can get ingrained within us to the extent that, even when the Word of God and the Spirit of God try to tell us differently, we can’t get it. We can’t seem to ‘bust through’.

It’s almost like there a plexi-glass ceiling above us…we can see beyond it, but we can’t get through it.

So, what do we do?

Many of us just accept the message–‘They must be right–they know me better than I know myself, and they’re saying I’m nothing special…maybe they’re right. I give up.’

Others try with all our might to bust through the ceiling. We try to tell ourselves ‘We’re ‘better’ than they know’, or ‘stronger‘, or ‘more special‘. In other words, we try to counter act their negatives with our own positives, hoping that that will crack the ceiling. We pound on it with determined fists…but all we get is bruised and bloody knuckles.

So, what are we to do?

What is the hope for us?

We don’t need to ‘Crack the Ceiling’…it’s already been cracked and even obliterated!

We simply need to stand by faith on the Truth of the Word of God. HE is the One who has ‘broken through’, and He is the One who can do ‘something special’ with us. HE is the only one!

The Word of God declares, for example, that we are…

Justified and Righteous in Christ:

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[a] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-24)

Freed from Condemnation: 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

Secure In His Love:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Empowered by The Spirit:

 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Of course, I could go on and on…but the bottom line is this:

If GOD declares that we are ‘Righteous, Freed, Secure, and Empowered’, then those are the words and the truths we should believe–not the lies that the others are trying to hold us down with.

God wants to take us further. He wants us to break through the limits, obstacles, and negative half-truths that we may have heard.

He wants to tell us that, In Jesus, we are ‘Limitless’!

Bust Through, Part 1– Listen!

Have you ever felt as though you’re facing a wall…

…too high to get over,

…too wide to get around,

…too thick to push through?

 

How do you react when you hit that wall?

For many of us, we simply give up.

 

…but maybe we shouldn’t.

 

God sometimes puts a message in our hearts… a calling.

It may seem like a whisper, but it’s from Him.

Remember, He doesn’t always come in the thunder or an earthquake, sometimes it’s just a “still, small voice”

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

 

Sometimes God appears in big, attention-grabbing, hard-to-miss ways, and directs you accordingly.

Sometimes He whispers.

You must be listening closely, if you’re going to hear.listening

 

In order to do that, we have to quiet ourselves, find a place to communicate with Him, and listen.

Bring His Word along, bring–as a friend of mine says–‘something to write with, and something to write on‘–so that you can jot down things you think He might be saying to you.

Pray through those things. Search the Scriptures. Check with spiritually-tuned-in, mature believers.

But first…listen.

 

I believe with all my heart that God wants to speak to us, TODAY.

We’re simply too busy and surrounded by too much noise, to LISTEN and Hear.

I think He’s looking for Listeners. He’ll communicate with them.

 

I’m listening…are you?

As You Wish!

If you’re a fan of a certain movie, the minute you read the title of this blog, you read it in a ‘certain’ way, and your mind went to the movie.

 

The movie? The Princess Bride.

In that movie, Wesley–the ‘Farm boy’ falls in love with Buttercup–the Princess. Whenever Buttercup asks Wesley to do something–no matter how ridiculous–he always answers “As You Wish”, and does it. One day it dawns on Buttercup that she is in love with Wesley, and that he’s in love with her–and that, every time he says “As You Wish”, what he’s really saying is “I love you”. (At this point, if you’re a fan of the movie, you can hear the music in the background…

You can watch the clip here:

As You Wish…I love you.

In other words, Because I love you, I am willing to give up my own preferences, agenda, etc., and serve you.

Not a bad example of ‘love’.

Maybe ‘The Princess Bride’ is on to something!

 

QUESTION: Who are those you ‘love’ in life?

Do you show them by an attitude of sacrificial service–an ‘As You Wish’ mentality?

 

What about God?

Last week at Kalamazoo Community Church (www.mykcc.org), we started a series called BOLD Faith, in which we look at some people in the Scriptures who demonstrated their faith–not only in the words they said, but in a willingness to step out and follow when they were called upon by God.

Last Sunday, we looked at Mary, the mother of Jesus.

As a young woman who was betrothed to Joseph, and as a conservative, observant Jew, she had her life pretty well mapped out. She was making plans for the wedding and their marriage.

Then God stepped in and sent the angel, Gabriel to her with a message: (See Luke 1)

“Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings,[d] favored woman! The Lord is with you![e]

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel[f] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Whoa!

This was major–for her family and her people (who’d been looking for and dreaming of the Messiah’s coming for centuries), but also for her!

HOW could it happen?

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”

Mary knew this would be miraculous. A work of God that ONLY God could do!

She had to be amazed…floored…blown away!

She had to think of the cost…and it would cost her, dearly.

It would definitely ‘cost’ her reputation, some friends, her standing in the community…maybe it would cost her closest friends, and even her engagement. It might even ‘cost’ her family!

Her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:26-38)

Essentially, she says, “As You Wish!”

She believes in God, she loves God, she wants to obey God and honor Him, so she says “As You Wish“.

That is BOLD Faith!

Mary–the young woman who became the mother of Jesus–had it.

Do we?

Do you?

Are you willing to say to God–no matter what He asks you to go through–‘As You Wish’?

Are you willing to do so, not begrudgingly, but joyfully and enthusiastically, as an act of WORSHIP?

I hope so.

I hope we all are.

Sometimes God might have us go through really cool, bold things–that others will be inspired by.

Other times, He may have us go through something that no one in their right mind would sign up for. Are you willing to do so?

As YOU Wish, Lord!

I will trust in You!

 

 

Taking Steps

Have you ever seen a baby learn to take their first steps?Baby Steps

No matter who you are–how strong, how ‘tough’, etc.–it melts your heart.

Why?

Why would the act of watching a baby take steps–wobbly, unsure, few in number–seem like such a ‘magical’ thing?

I think it’s because the innocence of that baby–the newness of what they are learning–is so pure, so simple, so ‘natural’, that it reminds us of the pure simplicity of natural growth. Growth is wonderful to see!

Not long ago I had the experience of having a discussion while sitting around a campfire with my kids. In the middle of that conversation, it struck me (again): These kids are not ‘little kids’ anymore! They are young adults with lots of intelligence and deep, meaningful points to make! There, in the midst of that conversation I silently thanked the Lord (again) for blessing me with young men and women who are growing and changing, and following Him throughout their lives.

When you see ‘growth’ in your kids–no matter their age–it is a great moment!

 

I think God has that same feeling–but in a still more ‘pure and holy’ sense–when He sees His children taking steps of growth and faith.

Last Sunday @ KCC, we had a service that must have brought lots of ‘smiles’ to the Heavenly Father’s ‘face’. We had almost 15 people get baptized, each giving their testimony of faith, the grace of God, and their desire to follow Him in all of their lives.

Many others wrote things they were thankful for on cards and brought them to the front: Answered prayer, God’s grace and faithfulness; Blessings of family, church, etc.

Accompanied by the opportunity to sing songs of praise and worship, it was a great service!

Yet, I am sure that the Lord would like to ‘cheer on’ the growth of His children every day–not just at an occasional church service!

Jeff brought up a great Psalm–Psalm 34 (NASB)

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.” 

The Psalmist then goes on to say Why he will ‘bless the Lord’:

Deliverance from fears (v. 4)

Elevation of spirit (5)

Salvation from troubles (6)

Protection (7)

His response?

He encourages others: “Taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him!” (8)

Jeff encouraged us to remember that we need to ‘bless the Lord…at all times!’

It is contagious!

As we do so–if genuine– we will also bring a ‘smile’ to God’s face.

…and we just might grow in the process!

You Be You!

 

There are a LOT of important events going on in our world right now, each vying for our attention.

Dallas is at the forefront, where 4 criminals just committed multiple murders–targeting Police, as they were trying to fulfill their sworn duty, escorting a protest march.

Those protesters were voicing concern over police shootings that seemed–at least from all we know now–to be way outside the lines, and resulted in the deaths of two black men. This is obviously not an isolated incident, and it raises great concerns, among all people of good will, who stand for justice and fairness.

In addition to these voices, there are the Politicos, each seeming to push the envelope to further levels, trying to show how ‘the other person’ is the worst nominee ever, and unfit to lead our nation. There is ISIS, trying to establish its caliphate, and trying to terrorize all peace-loving nations and people that don’t agree with them in the meantime.

What’s do all these voices have in common?

Anger. Negativity. Even (on some level) Hate.

I believe our country stands on a precipice.

We are balancing on a very thin line, and depending on our response, may fall over the edge into a chaotic, hate filled abyss.

…and our spiritual enemy, the devil, revels in it!

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy…” (John 10:10)

“He was a murderer from the beginning…he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

I believe that he is playing in to this division and drama at a high level.

How should we respond?

By doing the opposite!

Love…respect…fairness…forgiveness…

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

 

Are you a Christian? Do you follow Jesus with your life?

If so, you (and I) must commit to living our faith out in our everyday lives, in our relationships, and in our conversation. In so doing, we will be pushing back the darkness.

 

I believe with all my heart that the enemy is involved in this mess. I believe with all my heart that a big part of the reason we are ‘here’ in our nation is because we’ve turned our back on God, thinking we knew a better way.

We have believed a whole slew of lies from the father of lies.

Now it’s time to turn back. It’s time for our culture to repent and turn back to God.

It will only happen, however, if Christians–those who know and have experienced the love, grace, and mercy of God–share it in how they live.

You Be You!

This is who you are! This is your new nature!

 

Martin Luther King purportedly said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have experienced love and grace that this world needs to see! We must keep living it out–in our conversation, our Facebook posts, our ‘Tweets’, etc.

Jesus said it this way: “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Pray for Dallas. Pray for Baton Rouge. Pray for Falcon Heights.

Pray for victims, families, witnesses, and authorities.

Pray for our nation.

Pray for each other.

Pray for yourselves–as I am praying for myself–that we could “Do evertying without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world…” (Philippians 3:14-15) 

Keep ‘Pushing Back the Dark’ in how you live!

Through It All…

Life can be tough.

Even a life well lived–with God at the center–can include pain, setbacks, grief.

Some would say that ‘If you follow Jesus, nothing bad will happen’, but even Jesus refuted that.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Truth is, this world–fallen, broken as it is, cries out for redemption…for hope.

And that is where Jesus comes in:

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

The promise of Eternal Life gives us hope to rise above ANYTHING in this world!

The secret: Focus. Fixing our eyes on the right object–not the ‘trouble’ that is hitting us (as gut-wrenching as it may be), but rather, on Jesus as our Lord and Savior–the One and only who can lead us through it and lead us out of it.

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they might have Life, and have it to the full!” (John 10:10)

The Key to that is that our hope, our focus, our drive and ambition, our pursuit…all must be focused on HIM!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

This world will have trouble, setbacks, defeats and pain. Sometimes it can seem unbearable. Jesus leads us through, however, and gives us hope. We know by faith that this world is not our home, and that we can overcome–by His Strength.

In the meantime, ‘Through it all, my eyes are on You…”

Fill It Up!

Fuel GuageHave you ever noticed how much nicer you fell after you’ve filled your gas tank full? Gas prices being where they are, I have been able to have that ‘satisfied’ feeling a lot more often.

There was a time, just a couple of years ago, when gas prices were at about $4.00 per gallon. We drove a big black van–a Dodge 1500 with a 25 gallon tank, and it costed me, on several occasions, over $100 to fill it up! The kicker was that the mileage was so poor that I’d have to do that 4-5 times per month! (As a result, there were times I’d ‘only’ put $20 or $30 dollars in…and it barely moved the needle! What a sick feeling that was.)

Something about seeing that needle on “F” gives a feeling of fullness, security, and satisfaction.

That’s the kind of thing the Apostle Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers would experience:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgeso that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Paul wants them to be FILLED UP with the fullness of God! To be ‘filled to the rim’ with the abundance of God’s love, God’s power, God’s holiness…so that we would know Him fully, and reflect Him fully in all our lives!

It is a picture of abundance, blessing, fullness!

…and it’s God’s will for all His children, through faith in Jesus Christ.

In contrast to that think of what most of us experience in our faith, most often. We ‘occasionally’ get a ‘whiff’ of intimacy with God, we sometimes feel moved in a service, we might once-in-a-while be ‘stirred’ by the Holy Spirit in a moment of prayer or worship…but for the most part, our walk with the Lord is mundane, predictable, and honestly, not very ‘transformational’.

Yet, Paul prays that they…and we…would be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”!

Peter said something similar, when he wrote,

“May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1: 2-4

God’s promises enable us to ‘share in His divine nature’…”everything we need for living a godly life”.

Yet, many of us are ‘running on empty’.

What gives?

There are probably several reasons for this, yet I think one big one is this:

We don’t hunger and thirst for Him!

We’ve learned to satisfy ourselves with the ‘stuff’ of this world, rather than hungering for intimacy with God. We’ve ‘filled up’ on junk, rather than allowing ourselves to experience real ‘hunger’ for God. We’ve become ‘full’…even ‘overstuffed’ with the pseudo-satisfaction this world can give, and have told ourselves that our relationship with God is ‘as good as it’s going to get…until heaven’.

NO!

God wants us–by His grace, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit–to experience the FULLNESS of the full measure of God!

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have LIFE…and have it to the full”! (John 10:10)

Maybe we need to get ‘thirsty’ again. Perhaps we need to get ‘hungry’.

This week–today–ask the Holy Spirit to give you a hunger and thirst for God. Ask Him to help you be no longer satisfied with the stuff of this world, and spend some time in prayer and worship, asking the Lord to bring you to LOVING HIM with a passion again.

FILL UP…on God!

Let Him fill your tank, to the rim.

He may just go further and ‘overflow’ it…and blow your mind!

After all, Paul continued his prayerful desire for the Ephesians…

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)