Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Good Life –Part 1

When we think of the things that keep us from the good life God has for us, it’s usually us.  It may be about our thoughts, habits, actions, and inactions.  Hebrews 10:26-27 is often misunderstood.  We need to understand the concept of grace before we go anywhere else in this series.  In this verse, the author is speaking to Hebrew people, who lived their life under law and obtained their justification through the law.  This was a big struggle for the early church.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning”—let’s look at that part first.  Is there any sin that’s not willful?  We are created by God as a Spirit, which has no desire to sin, but our flesh has a great desire to sin.  In the middle is the will.  If we feed our will with the Word, then the Spirit can convince the will.  The flesh has arguments that feel and sound good, so we have to make the Spirit strong.  If sin is willful, there’s no hope for any of us.  The point of this is that sin is no longer cleared up by sacrifices any more.    This is treating Christ’s sacrifice as insignificant.  Remember that just sinning without caring expecting to be forgiven later in a way closes our access to grace.  Romans 3:23 talks about falling short (which implies we tried).  Grace is there to bridge the when we desire to do right but willfully (sometimes VERY willfully) sin regardless.

When we live in condemnation we live in fearful expectation of judgment.  Conviction helps us become better.  Condemnation tries to beat us down.  We get dealt certain things in life, but grace says that hand is not ours.  Our reaction needs to be that we don’t deserve it (even if it’s a consequence of our own actions) because we have a new nature from the Spirit of God.  We have to exercise in this grace and refuse to accept. Romans 10:23 says “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”  In Romans 5:5, the word “hope” is the Greek word elpis, which means to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation of good; joyful and constant expectation of salvation.  This sounds like the opposite of fearful expectation of judgment. 

Fear is the natural response when trouble comes our way.  Fear is based on circumstantial evidence.  CSI proves that circumstantial evidence does not hold up in court.  Sometimes we do have natural consequences for mistakes we’ve had.  Often, God’s mercy keeps us from getting the consequences of our sin.  Eventually, if we keep making the same mistake, mercy runs out.  Grace NEVER runs out. 

Romans 8:16 and John 15:15 emphasize our status as friends, children and heirs of God instead of servants or employees.  The word “friend” in the passage is best of all friends, such as maid of honor or best man in your wedding.  A servant or employee can be fired, but family/children can’t be fired.  That is eternal.  The only thing we’re required in a parent/child relationship is the desire to understand.  The child is not responsible for understanding.  The parent is responsible to teach them to understand.  God never uses the tools of the enemy to get our attention.  He is always speaking to us.  We have to simply have the desire to hear. 

We always say we need to learn how to hear from God.  In the parent/child relationship, does the child have to learn how to hear Mom’s voice?  It has nothing to do with their behavior; they know Mom’s voice without working at it.  When God looks at us, He doesn’t see us but Jesus.  The blood of Jesus washed our sin away.  He will never turn His back on us.  He did that with Jesus only for a moment when all our sin was upon Him.  When we seek to follow God because we love Him rather than to try to earn His love, grace fills the gap between our desire and our ability.  We insult the Spirit of grace and everything Jesus did, if we still try to make it on our own.

In Romans 5:20-21, the word “abound” in the scripture is two different Greek words.  The one referring to sin means increase, exist in abundance.  The one referring to grace means to abound beyond measure, overflow, to enjoy abundantly.  There is never sin there is not enough grace for if the heart is right.  Remember the feeding of the 5000 when everyone took as much as they wanted, and then the supply stopped.  Grace always exceeds the need.  Grace has already paid our debt.  This is important because you’re never comfortable around someone to whom you’re in debt.  In Matthew 7 and Luke 11, “knock” actually means to beat on the door.  We need to be able to boldly go before God.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Church? Part 10—The Holy of Holies

This wraps up the series from July.  Why was the high priest the only person allowed in the holy of holies?  We will be discussing this.  There was a first veil in the temple, and in order to enter you had to bring an offering.  To go through the veil into the holy of holies you had to be the high priest. 

Mark 15:37 shows that Jesus’ death ripped the veil (from top to bottom is important because this couldn’t have been done by man).  The veil was the separation between God and man, not just a representation of it.  When Jesus died, this separation was taken away immediately.  Romans 8:38 reiterates this from the perspective of a Jew who understood the depth of this change.  Nothing has the authority to separate us from God, but we can allow things to separate us from God.  Hebrews 10:19 paints a picture of what went on in the holies.  There are 4 things we must do to enter the holy of holies in our life:
1) We must enter into God’s presence of your own will.

2) We have to submit to the high priest.  The high priest would come into God’s presence and receive a Word from God for the people.  The people would then have to trust them and submit to that Word.

3) We have to draw near to God.

4) We have to cleanse our hearts.

We will visit this later once we understand what happened in the holy of holies.

What was the veil like? The curtain was made of a type of yarn and a fine linen.  You’ll find many of these things have deeper significance than the original people who implemented them based on God’s instructions knew, since they were before Jesus.  The colors were blue, purple, and scarlet, interwoven with a gold thread.  Blue related to faithfulness.  (side note on the priest’s garments:  The priest put on a white tunic first symbolizing a cleansing or purity, but then his “upper robe,” the first part of the robe, was blue.  Everything was built on a foundation of the faithfulness of God.  The priest also wore an ephod.  The front side represented the old Abrahamic covenant, and the back side represented the new covenant that had not been revealed yet.  Connecting the two pieces were gold pieces on the shoulders.  It reminds me of the passage in Isaiah about the government being “upon His shoulders.”  On these were large onyx stones engraved with the 12 tribes of Israel.  The people of Israel were on His shoulders as it would be for Christ later.)  Purple represents royalty, and scarlet represents the blood of Christ.  The gold represents God’s power.  The veil is believed to have been as much as 6 inches thick.  Only God’s power could rip fabric that thick. 

What did the holy of holies look like?  Inside the holy of holy of holies was the ark of the covenant, which was made of wood and overlaid with gold.  Everything in the tabernacle was either made of wood or wood overlaid with gold.  Wood symbolized man and our impurity.  The things are covered with gold to show that God takes something plain and common like wood and makes it precious by His covenant.  The top of the ark was made out of solid gold and was called the mercy seat (it doesn’t look like a chair).  On it, made from solid chunks of gold, were 2 cherubim with wings outspread, looking down at the center, the mercy seat.  The reason it is called the mercy seat has to do with the contents of the ark.  Inside the ark were the stone tablets with the ten commandments on them (the second set since there was a mishap with the first set).  Also inside was a gold canister full of the manna, a symbol of God’s provision.  The third thing inside the ark was the budded rod of Aaron.  It was a symbol of God’s power. 

The mercy seat was there to shield and protect people from the law (which was inside the ark in the form of the tablets).  1 Samuel 6 tells a story about how the Philistines stole the ark, and many people (either 70 or 50,000 based on the version) died by looking directly at the ark without the mercy seat on it.  The law brought about death and signified death.  The mercy seat was pure gold because mercy is ALL GOD. 

What actually happened in the holy of holies?  Leviticus 16:11-22 describes the process of what would happen at the day of atonement.  This was a single day during the year when atonement would happen.  This yearly event would cover up their sin and protect them from the result of their sin.  Aaron was told to:
1) He sacrificed a bull for he and his family and sprinkled blood from the bull on the index finger of his right hand.  He then sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat seven times. 

2) He brought in 2 goats for the people’s sin.

3) When he burnt the offering for the people, he was told to bring in the hot coals from the fire in order to start burning the incense.  The picture for us is that the sacrifice we received through Christ makes our prayers effective.  We need the power of what happened at the cross for the prayer to work. 

4) He burnt a ram (one for himself and one for the people).

We’re going to focus on the goats first.  They bring 2 goats and cast lots to determine which goat to sacrifice.  The blood from that sacrifice is taken into the holy of holies again on his right index finger and is sprinkled seven times on the mercy seat.  The number 7 in the Word is a number of perfection or completion.  The other goat (the one that didn’t get sacrificed) is prayed over to symbolically put their sin on that goat (it’s called a scapegoat).  They are told to lead it out far into the wilderness to never be seen again.  At the time, they were living in the wilderness because they had chosen to spend more time there than they needed to.  We are told that our sin is put as far as the east is from the west, and into the sea of forgetfulness, so taking it a long distance away is significant in that way. When Jesus died, He became both of the goats. 

Remember that the only person allowed inside the holy of holies was the high priest.  Hebrews 10:19 was pretty earth-shattering for the Jewish people, since before that only the high priest could enter in.  The veil was our sin.  Jesus on the cross had all our sin on Him.  This is where the sprinkling comes in, cleansing us from sin and a guilty conscience.  God would also manifest to the high priest in a cloud above the mercy seat.  To enter into God’s presence, we have to cleanse ourselves of the guilty conscience we have.  The sin is gone because of Jesus, but our guilty conscience will keep us separated from God.  Romans 8:28 says nothing can separate us from God.  We aren’t supposed to be going in and out of God’s presence but always in God’s presence.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Church? Part 9—Altar of Incense

This is the second of the last 3 parts of my sermon series from July and August (see prior blog posts for parts 1-7)

This item on the surface doesn’t seem to have the depth as some of the rest, but we’ll discover that it has a significant purpose.  Exodus 30:1 and on give the instructions for the creation of the altar.  Incense is burnt on the altar, and nothing else is burned there.  In verse 34 it talks about the incense that was burned there.  There was a ritual the priest would go through when ministering in the holy of holies.  Burning incense was a picture of intercession and prayer for the needs of the people.  The priest wore a breastplate with pieces representing the twelve tribes of Israel, so he was coming to make intercession for all God’s people.  Jesus now does this for us as our high priest as it says in Revelation 8.  Jesus put our sin on Himself at the cross, and now we have a breastplate of righteousness as part of the armor of God.

So then prayer is a sweet smell to God.  The smell of a burning offering stinks, but we need it.  What were the ingredients of the incense?  There were four equal parts of: 

1) nataf or stacte--came from myrrh (brought to Jesus at His birth), the Hebrew paints a picture of a droplet or getting the sap out of a balsam tree, which is where myrrh comes from.

2) shehelet or onycha—it is believed by some to come from grinding up mollusk shells (but shellfish were unclean to Jews), but others believe it to come from a bush called a rock rose bush because it can grow in very rocky places.  Onycha is the Greek word.  Shehelet, the Hebrew version, means ”to roar like a lion” (Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah).   Also, the Israelites had just escaped from Egypt, and the pharaohs were known to make beards ou of goat hair.  They were put the onycha/shehelet on the goat hair to make it smell better.  The pharaohs were referred to by the Hebrews as the roaring lion.

3) helbenah or galbanum—this is still around today.  It is actually used in Chanel perfume.  It’s a spice taken from a plant and is initially bitter smelling.  After refinement, it becomes very sweet smelling (just like our refining in Christ)

4) lebonah or frankincense (also brought to Jesus at His birth)—it comes from a Boswellia tree, another one that can grow in rocky places (these are actually known to literally grow out of rocks).

The incense is symbolic of intercession and the people going up to God as a sweet-smelling fragrance.  God’s house is to be a house of prayer, a place for people to go and pray together.  God relates prayer to a sweet smell, but sometimes our prayer stinks. How do we make our prayer effective and sweet-smelling prayer?  2 Corinthians 2:14 and 17 say the sweet-smelling aroma has to do with us having knowledge of God and sharing that knowledge.  One thing that will make prayer stink is prayer with false motives.  Do we seek healing so we can go back to the unhealthy lifestyle that made us sick or in order to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives?  Do we seek prosperity for our own gain or the sake of God’s house? 

In Exodus 30:34-38, it says the incense can’t be used as perfume or in any use outside God’s house.  Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesians 1:17 and forward echoes this as well.  When we get a sense of who God is and the power we really have, it changes how we pray.  Two main things that limit prayer are doubt and unbelief and false humility.  James 1 tells us we are like a wave tossed by the ocean if we have doubt and unbelief.  False humility keeps us from boldly coming to Him and standing on the Word.  It seems right but it keeps us from seeing God’s power.  We quote Isaiah 64:4, but in 1 Corinthians where it is quoted, the next verse, verse 10, it says the Spirit has revealed it all to us.  We are not demanding our own selfish wants from God, but instead we are boldly going before the throne to see His will come to pass.  We must roar like a lion sometimes to see God;s will come to pass. In Revelation 8, it promises that Jesus then agrees with us. 

Why did ingredients 1 and 4 get brought as gifts to Jesus, but not the other two?  The two given to Jesus both come from trees.  Jesus is the tree of life.  The other two represent us.  They are from plants, and, for instance, galbanum doesn’t smell sweet until refined.  It is when we pray God’s Word and combine it with knowledge of Christ, that makes the sweet smell.  When we don’t know what to pray, we should just pray the Word.  Find yourself a resource to help you pray truth in every circumstance.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Church? Part 8—Golden Lampstand

This is the first of the last 3 parts of my sermon series from July and August (see prior blog posts for parts 1-7)

Inside the Holy Place, the lampstand was the only source of light.  It was made out of a talent of gold (75 pounds!) and was made out of a solid block of gold.  Today, this would be worth about $2 million.  Without light, the priests couldn’t do their job of interceding for the people and having fellowship with God.  People also donated fresh olive oil to keep it lit.

John 8:12 and 12:46 say that Jesus is the light.  We want to live our life in the light, so we can see where we’re going and how to get there.  It is never fun to stumble around in the dark and try to figure out how to get where you want to go safely.  Darkness also flees when a light is turned on.  Ephesians 5:8 says that we are NOW the light.  John 15:5 says we are no good apart from Jesus.  On the lampstand, there is a central branch and 6 other branches (for a total of 7).  Jesus is the center branch.  When we are connected to Jesus and to the church, we are extensions of Him.  This lampstand is a picture of the church, intertwined vines that intertwine together to form one piece.

Genesis 1:3 shows God’s creation of light as the first thing He created (the sun and stars are created later).  This light is truth, or enlightenment.  How often do we seek knowledge above true enlightenment?  Knowledge is about facts, but enlightenment from God’s Word is THE TRUTH.  When we allow ourselves to be ruled by facts, we are led back into the darkness. In 1 Kings 8, we see Solomon praying a prayer of dedication for the temple.   It focuses on what happens in the temple--receiving forgiveness, answers, and deliverance.  In 2 Peter we are called a royal priesthood.  Originally the only one allowed inside the Holy of Holies was the high priest.   His family served in the outer courts as ministers to the people.  Now we are in the family of Jesus, so we can serve in the house and minister to others outside of the house.  Where have you allowed yourselves to fall into man’s wisdom and be ruled by facts?

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Unstuck Part 8—Unstuck in Relationships, last part of series

You can tell a lot about a person by the people with whom we associate.  So in order to follow God and follow His will in our life we want the kind of relationships God desires.  Some people say we can just be us and God, but God created Adam and Eve in the garden for relationships.  Ecclesiastes 4 speaks of the power of relationships in our lives to help us up when we fall.   That means we need the people in our lives who WILL help lift us up.  If you are frustrated about not having the relationship you want, consider whether you are pushing people away without knowing they are.  This has a root in fear of letting people really know who they are or fear of rejection.  Look and see whether you are sometimes pushing people away.  Building the friendships takes time.

Unstuck Factor #1—Abandon Unhealthy Relationships

We need to examine the relationships we have because that influences who we become.  Are they drawing me closer to God, pulling me away, or neutral?  We don’t necessarily need to cut the unhealthy relationships completely off, but we still need to set a boundary with them.  We spend more time with those drawing us closer to God and less with those pulling me away.  We want to teach our kids this as well.  I saw numerous young people while a youth pastor who started hanging out with the wrong crowd and later started doing things they shouldn’t.  While growing up, there was a popular kid named Brian with whom I wanted to be friends.  My mom told me absolutely not.  In high school, it turned out he got into serious trouble just as my mom predicted.  You as the parent know when something is not right.

Unstuck Factor #2—Be a good friend first

Become a good friend in order to attract good friends.  Proverbs 17:9 says we should cover offenses rather than exposing them and avoid gossip.  When we want to impress someone we talk bad about someone we think they don’t like.  Instead, we should hear them talk bad and say “I would rather not talk about that.  I don’t like to do that.”  Proverbs 17:17 says “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  Become the friend who sees someone is going through a tough time and offers help rather than pointing out what they did wrong to everyone else.

Unstuck Factor #3—Connect with new Christian friends

Not every person in your life needs to be a Christian, but your closest friends should be.  Especially you should find someone who is a few steps farther along than you are or has conquered an area you want to conquer.  Find someone who is going the direction you are, and they will help you go there.  This is the idea of being equally yoked.  Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man shapes another.”  We want people in our lives who challenge and sharpen us.  We need to be near people in order to allow them to sharpen us.  One way to do this is to serve in the church.  This is partly how I got to know my wife.  We were in a college and career class and were able to observe and learn about each other as we served and learned together.

Unstuck factor #4—Devote ourselves to the most important friendship

The first thing we need to do to get unstuck in relationships is get the first relationship (that with Jesus) right.  Romans 5:10 and John 15:12 (and forward) say we are God’s friends and no longer His enemies.  Jesus died so we could be friends with God.  We need to accept His friendship and lay our lives down for Him first.  In Ephesians it says God reveals the innermost secrets to us.  That is the sign of a close friend.  That’s the kind of intimacy God desires with us.  God already knows the innermost things about us, but He still enjoys us telling Him deep things about us because it is deepening our relationship with Him.  He is our BFF (best friend forever).

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Unstuck Part 7—Getting Unstuck in Our Families

We started with a reminder that despite that today we focus on families and raising children that everyone can apply this—singles to their future or to nephews and nieces with whom they may interact, grandparents to their grandchildren.

Family is a picture of who God is.  God paints a picture of Him being the Father throughout the Bible.  The Holy Spirit is described as the female side of God and nurturer.  Jesus is referred to regularly as the husband and bridegroom, which could be difficult for men to relate to but is very important.  We don’t choose the family in which we are born, but despite them we can choose to love the family we have.  We can also choose the family we want to surround ourselves with in life, beyond just our blood family.

Unstuck Factor # 1—focus my family with daily prayer and Bible Study.  This may be difficult to do, but start with a level higher than what you’re doing now.  Of course, praying together as a family for hours a day is probably not realistic.  It would not fly in my family.  Instead, we want to set a tone that God is a part of all we do and is our partner in life.  Sometimes the prayer might be a prayer before bedtime.  You can approach Bible study by asking the kids what they learned in youth or talking about what was taught in children’s church.  Every day will be different, but make God an integral part of your family so that you develop a foundation for them in their lives to have always seek to know God more (1 Chronicles 16:11).  We want to teach our kids to pray and talk to God (pray) but also study and let Him talk to them (study).  There are many great families whose kids go astray.  This proves that you cannot control your child’s future—their decisions, etc.  But if they have a foundation, if they stray, you pray and know they will come back to the foundation that you put in place.  What I want to emphasize also is (if Mom and Dad are both in the home) that it’s great if Mom sets the tone for God being the center, but it is POWERFUL if Dad set the tone.  God set the father as the priest of the household, so the power of this direction is stronger when it comes from Dad.  Studies have shown that if Mom initiates taking the kids to church, 30-40% of them stay in church, but if Dad does it, 75-80% do.  If you are a single Mom, remember that God can be the perfect Father to your kids. 

Unstuck factor #2:  involve my family in church.  That means you are not just there but ENGAGEd in church.  Kids need to see VALUE in church in their parent’s lives for them to see value for it in their lives.  Some kids make the choice not to come despite a great example from their parents, but that’s when we pray and know we have set the right foundation in place (Proverbs 22:6).   I encourage people with kids over around 10 or so to have their children in church with them about once a month.  They can see what YOU do in church and see how you are applying it to your life.  You can also teach them how to listen to God and hear what He is saying to them.  I would also encourage you to volunteer together in the church together as a family.  This is very important for them to learn as well. 

Unstuck factor # 3—readily forgive our family when necessary.  We should demonstrate that we forgive readily despite what the other person did.  They should not hear us talking bad about aunt so-and-so or other family members but instead should see us walking in forgiveness.  Ephesians 4:32 urges us to forgive because we were forgiven first.  Proverbs 17:9 says that we don’t want to expose sin but instead cover over it.  Love wants to see the person become better, stop the sin, and bring restoration.  We can still be honest and talk to the person about an issue, but there’s a different between that and exposing their faults or getting revenge.  Romans 5 says that when we were at our worst, He was at His best, dying for us to forgive our sins.  Romans 12:18 says we should, as far as it depends on us, live at peace with others.  At a young age, we not only emphasize that our kids apologize when they do something that hurts a sibling, but that also the offended party says “I forgive you.”  This instills at a young age the principle of forgiveness.

Unstuck factor #4—schedule family celebrations together.  I always say “families that party together stay together.”   If we just live life and get stuck in routine, we can grow apart.  We must enjoy life together, even if we have to schedule it in order to do it.  I’d encourage you to plan one night a week as a “family date night.”  It doesn’t have to be anything special or expensive as long as you do it together.  Everyone turns off the phones and computers and does something together—watch a movie, play a game, etc.  Celebrate birthdays together and make them special.  Schedule a vacation.  We have had times when we’ve had good times financially and could have a big vacation, but other times we did something more simple.  You can do something in town, set tents up in the living room or back yard, etc.  It’s the principle that counts.  Celebrate your parents.  Exodus 20 says that we should honor our parents and that if we do, we will live a long life in the land God has for us.  We honor them because they exist and gave us life.  This will bring a lot of fruit in our lives.  We don’t want to talk bad about grandma and grandpa in front of the kids but honor them in front of our kids.

Unstuck factor #5—trust God with our family.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says we need to trust God and let Him make our path straight.  Our kids need to see us doing all we know to do and then trust God for the rest, they will see Him provide.  One way for them to see that is through tithing.  Despite what we have or don’t have, we give to God and trust Him to provide, we can show them that God will always provide what we need as we tithe and trust Him with our finances. This will leave a legacy and inheritance to them of trusting in God and seeing His provision. 

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Unstuck Part 6—Getting Unstuck in Our Future

Of Americans, 81% are worried about their future.  We want to get beyond this and instead embrace our future.  This allows the people who are worried to see something different in our lives so that we are a light to them.  What I’d like to emphasize is that your past or present does not necessarily determine your future.  God sees a different picture of your future.  Even if you have a good outlook of your future, God’s picture of our future is BETTER.  You have to choose to be part of it to see it in your life.  We want to get unstuck and stay unstuck, taking action to change things for the positive for our future.  Things will get worse left on their own (the laws of thermodynamics say things tend to disorder).

Proverbs 3:5 says that if we trust in God and let Him direct us, He will make our path STRAIGHT.  I like a straight path.  God didn’t say your path would be easy or short, but a straight line IS the shortest distance between two points.  It might not go as fast as we would like, but if we’re on the path God has for us, it will go the fastest it can.  A straight path is also easier to navigate (would you rather drive in an unfamiliar place on winding roads or on a grid system?).  God’s path is direct and clear.  We just have to let Him lead us in His direction.

Stuck Factor #1—worry and fear.  Studies have shown that if you put very intelligent and competent people in a stressful environment, they will have a difficult time solving a problem, but if they are in a peaceful environment, they solve it quickly.  Fear causes us to make bad choices, which causes us more worry and fear, and so on.  We can’t trust God and live in fear, because God is always faithful. 

Stuck Factor #2—making assumptions about the future.  There is a difference between standing on the word of God and believing He will come through and assuming that where we are is where we will be forever or something like that.  The assumptions we want to avoid are ones that limit where we can go.  Where we are today does not determine where we can go tomorrow. 

Stuck factor #3—Planning without prayer.  If we do this, we are stuck with the work of our own hands, with only what we can do.  Begin with seeking God in small decisions so you can learn how to hear God in the big decisions that come up.  God’s plan is bigger and better than what we can imagine, so when we fail to seek God in a decision we limit ourselves to a smaller future.  God knows your future and will make sure you make the right decisions if you consult Him.  He is not a fortune teller but instead knows how to get you where He wants you to go.  Obviously, we can go overboard with this, but the more we can practice learning to hear God’s voice, the better we’ll do.

Stuck factor #4—procrastination.  Perfectionists like me procrastinate because if you don’t start, you can’t fail.  When I had my own business doing web development, I put projects out until the end.  God showed me later that I could have had more jobs had I done them quicker.   I was never without work, but the next job would never come until I was done with the first one.  I limited how God could bless me by my procrastination.

Unstuck factor #1—recognizing that you’re stuck and why.  The reason is usually sin (sin is falling short of God’s best).  I’m not saying God is punishing us but that often we get stuck because of poor decisions.  Sometimes circumstances happen, but we can’t change that, so we have to focus on what we can change instead.  We need to know why we are where we are and admit what we did to get there so that we can change our future.  1 John 1 says that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us and help us to change ourselves and do better in the future.  Falling short (sin) in the present leads to uncertainty in our future.  Following the principles of God’s word give us certain results, but not following them leaves us in uncertainty.

Unstuck factor #1a—stop looking for life to be fair.  If you’re looking for life to be fair, you are focused on circumstances you can’t change and will miss out on something better. Fair is the enemy of greatness in our life.  It can become a cop-out to keep us from seeing why we are stuck.  Notice that fair and fear are interchangeable in scripture (there is no fair in love—was Jesus dying fair?; God has not given us a spirit of fair).

Unstuck factor #2—remember God’s faithfulness in my past.  If we remind ourselves that God was faithful before, we’ll know that He will be faithful again.  If we’re stuck because we’ve blown it before (not because God was unfaithfulness), we need to remember He will lead us the right direction as we trust in Him.  Psalm 42:5 shows us how David did this.  His soul was downcast, but he reminded Himself of God’s faithfulness.  In the Old Testament, when God did something, the Israelites built memorials and altars to remind themselves of what God did.  If you can’t find something God did for you, find something He did for someone else.  If He did it for someone else, He’ll do it for you.  Deuteronomy 7:9 tells us to remember who God is, a good God who pours out His blessings to us.

Unstuck factor #3—refocus my mind on the hope of heaven.  I don’t mean that we hold on until we get to heaven, but instead pray like Jesus commanded that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.  We will not necessarily see this worldwide, but you can see it in your life.  Philippians 4:8 says to focus on the good things.  The key to changing our lives is what is going on in your head.  Let’s focus on thinking about the best that can happen.  Producing our future begins with thoughts, which produces desire, which produces results in our lives.  If you do this, when trials come they will not drag you down.  Isn’t the worst part of a bad circumstance the way you felt?  So we can choose to feel differently and see ourselves through the trial with joy.  If I focus on what God will do, it won’t stay that way.

Unstuck factor #4—respond obediently to God’s direction.  When God is leading you to do something, respond obediently and do it NOW.  Delayed response may change the results.  Timing is everything.  This is why we train our kids to have first time obedience. 

Unstuck factor #5—replace your thoughts with God’s thoughts (see #3).  Focus on His thoughts about you.  Reframe how you look at yourself and your life by what God says, instead of what you hear or see. 

Notice we’ve been talking a lot about our thoughts and not action.  Moving toward a sure future starts with thoughts.  That will produce the action needed to go forward.  Of course, we plan and set goals, but first we must start with how we are thinking, because nothing will change if our thoughts do not change.  Jeremiah 29:11—God knows His plans, to prosper us and give us hope.  We will find God if we seek Him with all our heart.  I would encourage you to make church attendance part of your habit.  God has something to say to you every week, and you’ll miss out if you’re not there.  God has given a word to your pastor for every person in their congregation, so that will lead you in the right direction and get you excited and encouraged to lead the life God has for you.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Unstuck Part 5—Getting Unstuck in Our Career/Job/Business

If you’re just doing your job just to get a paycheck rather than it being your purpose indicates you’re stuck in your job.  Many famous people started off this way.  Vincent Van Gogh started off as a schoolmaster, then an apprentice priest, then an art dealer, then an artist.  Harry Truman was a banker, bookkeeper, failed business owner (hardware store), then president.  Walt Disney was rejected by the army and a newspaper, then fired by an ad agency for having a lack of creativity.  Harrison Ford spent 15 years as a carpenter, cabinetmaker and stagehand before being an actor.  Polls say 60% of Americans feel stuck in their career.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 says God designed us to work and to find satisfaction in our work (even in the garden Adam was told to tend the garden).  Have you ever felt like all you are doing in the garden of your life is pull weeds?  We should still be able to find a way to find fulfillment in our work because God always gives us the ability to fulfill His promises.  Quitting your job won’t necessarily get you unstuck, and neither will your dream job.

Ways to get unstuck in your job/career:

1) Choose to make God your boss.  Your company is NOT your source. Colossians 3:23 says that in all we do we work as it is unto the Lord.  You will need to change your mentality from working for money to working for God.  When we change this, now God is obligated to reward us, rather than you looking for your employer to reward or recognize you.  We can depend on God to fulfill His promise, but if we limit ourselves by our ability to satisfy them or their ability to reward us, we miss out.  If we’re working for God, you should be a blessing to your company.  You should be working to make them as successful as possible.  Instead of doing the minimum we’re required to do, we should instead bring excellence to everything we do despite whether it’s noticed and appreciated or not.  God notices regardless.

2) Separate who you are from what you do.  Sometimes in my life, what I was doing directly reflected my purpose, and other times it didn’t.  Either way, it’s important to God.  If you define yourself based on what you do, what happens if you lose your job?  The Bible says we’re to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.  This doesn’t necessarily mean suffering.  The cross was Jesus’ purpose.  We need to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him.  How do you know your purpose?  It’s whatever is before you right now.  Do that.  If you have other desires for the future, don’t worry about that.  Do what’s in front of you now.  When you move, you can be steered.  “Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength.”  Wait doesn’t mean to sit around (how would you need strength to do that?), but it means to serve (wait like a waiter).  Then as we serve where we are, God can steer us toward our purpose.

3) Choose to be faithful in the small things.  The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is a good example of this.  The manager gave according to what he knew they could handle, and rewarded those who did something with what he gave them.    As we are faithful with what we have now, then God makes us ruler over more. 

4)  Choose to persevere even when you feel stuck.  Quitting is the easy choice as a way out in most cases.  Choose to be happy where you are first.  In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul accounts how he learned to do this in his life and that it made him stronger.  If we persevere through bad circumstances and believe God, then we will be ready for what God has for us when we get there. 

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Unstuck Part 4—Dr. Maureen Anderson, Prayer

Dr. Maureen was here this morning to share with us as part of the unstuck series.  She shared about intercession.  Intercession is covenant-minded and having our mind seeing things how God sees them.  We want to get out of our old ruts of thinking and form new habits in our minds in line with the Word.  There was a scientific study on 50 people who go from job to job, relationship to relationship, etc.  They had a brain scan, and they all came back abnormal.  They then told them to spend 2 months saying nothing negative.  At the end of that period, their brain scans came back normal.  This echoes Philippians 4:8.  We have to renew our minds to obtain all that God has for us.  The Bible says Jesus is in covenant interceding for us according to the Word.  We can have all the Word promises, and prayer is a key to this.  Jesus regularly went away and prayed on His own before or after His day. 

Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit “helps” (this means clothes, possesses, takes over) us.  The Spirit was hovering before creation occurred.  Without the Holy Spirit we can not produce.  He is our partner and helps us pray as we should (not praying our problems but instead praying and seeing the Word).  We have all the promises by grace and receive them by faith.  All we have to do is agree with the Word.  God will turn even our mistakes into something good if we give it to Him. 

If we ever get to a place where you speak to the mountain and it doesn’t move, your faith is being tested.  Remember James 1:1-2 promises completeness and maturity if we joyfully persevere in the Spirit through a test of faith.  Remember the test of faith is from the enemy, not God, based on doubt and unbelief in our hearts.  It might take a day or a week, or many years, but if we believe and persevere, God’s Word WILL come to pass.  We inherit the promises by faith and patience, fighting the good fight of faith.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, it says we should take on the love of God and the perseverance of Jesus.  The goal is to survive every attack and hold your position (persevere = push ahead) until you outlast and outlive the resistance.  Look at Hebrews 10:36-39. 

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Unstuck Part 3

Today is an extension of last week.  We focused on Hebrews 10:32 through the end of Chapter 11.  If we’re going through attacks or tough times, we need to be reminded of the times when we have seen God’s power.  We need to have childlike faith that would believe despite what we see around us that God will come through.  Faith is substance and evidence of what we don’t see.  Remember there is often a period of time between conception and birth in the spiritual realm just as in pregnancy.  We have to stick to it until we see God’s word come to pass. 

We are designed to operate like God does, by speaking what we believe (maybe over and over for a long time until we believe).  We have all we need to make anything we need in the Spirit.  We discussed Noah’s faith as discussed in Chapter 11 and Genesis 6.  Noah was 500 years old when God came to him, and it had never rained before (ever).  He believed despite this and built the ark, but the flood didn’t happen for another 100 years!   [bonus: Adam lived to be 930 years old.  Noah’s dad could have known Adam for 56 years.  Noah’s son lived long enough to have known Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.]  Hebrews 11:32 encourages us that there are people who have gone through far worse than us because of their faith, and that we can do even greater things than they did.  Remember that God doesn’t give a command without the provision to fulfill it.  We want to always employ God to go beyond our abilities.  Our church recently had Jesse Duplantis speak God’s blessing of supernatural increase in finances, joy, and discernment/wisdom over our church.  This is for all the members of the church.

Things to do to move forward:

1) Be connected and stay connected.

2) Invite someone else to church.

3) Never minimize the importance of giving to the church (we reap what we sow).  This is between you and God, and is not about the amount but about our heart.  Don’t give emotionally or out of presumption above what you believe.  Develop the faith and give accordingly.

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit