Desperate, Dying and Full of Hope

Read Luke 2:25-29.  Simeon was righteous and devout but he was dying. Have you ever said to God, “I love you and I am serving you...why are you delaying my desires?  My hopes seem to be fleeting and my health is hanging on by a thread.”  But the scripture says: Hope in Him changes everything! He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.  The Holy Spirit had promised him that he would see Christ the King before he died. Moved by the Spirit, Simeon went into the temple courts and he found Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  Luke 2:28-29 tells us that Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.” What! Everything has changed, nothing has to stay the same! Why don’t you place your hope in Him and begin to dream again!  You can call on this same Jesus and you have access to this same God!  There is nothing that can separate you from the love of Christ, Jesus our Lord.

Broken, Barren and Full of Hope

You would not normally set the words broken and barren in front of the word hope, but that is what the story of Zecheriah and Elizabeth can teach us.

Read Luke 1:5-25.  “Along in years and Barren” describes Zecheriah and Elizabeth.  Do you think these two had reason to be a little hopeless, maybe disappointed and even angry with God?  It’s hard to walk in brokenness and barrenness to boot.  Barren means they had no hope of conception, no anticipation, no thought of receiving good things. But the scripture says: Hope in Him changes everything! Old Zechariah and barren and infertile Elizabeth had a son and they named him John-he brought them great joy.  Many rejoiced at his birth, and he was great in the sight of the Lord. Luke 1:39-45 tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born when Mary visited Elizabeth.  John went before the Lord in the power of Elijah and brought many in Israel back to the Lord.  Everything changed! Nothing has to stay the same! Why don’t you place your hope in Him and begin to dream again!  Zachariah praised the Lord and sang songs (Luke 1:67-80).  Do you feel broken and barren?  Everything can change!  In Jesus, everything has changed!

Hope in Him Changes Everything

There are many troubles that can plague us in this world and multiple objects that can stand in our way.  Trials will come, but there is hope in Jesus, the Christ.

In Luke 1:26-38, Mary was a sixteen year old virgin pledged to be married, pregnant, and couldn’t prove who the daddy was.  Do you think Mary could have been a little disillusioned, discouraged, low in her self-esteem? Nope! The scripture says: “Hope in Him changes everything!” An angel came to Mary and declared, “Mary, you who are highly favored, you will give birth to a son, call him Jesus, he will be great, called the Son of the Most High God, The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom shall never end.” We are not talking about a future President, but The Most High God – the most personified person in the history of man! This was to be Jesus, the Christ... and Mary said (my translation) “ok, whatever you say, I believe it’s going to be just what you said!” Whaaaaat! Everything has changed, nothing has to stay the same! Why don’t you place your hope in Him and begin to dream again! Mary praises the Lord, and we can do the same.  Are you facing overwhelming odds?  You have access to the same Jesus, the Christ!  

Simple Tithe Principles

The tithe is one-tenth of all the income that comes into your home– given to the House of God, where you are fed and covered. Today, that is your home church. 

There are many worthy agencies and parachurch organizations, which we should consider when giving special gifts and offerings. Some worthy places to give offerings include church plants, feeding programs, Life Outreach, Salvation Army, Compassion International and Samaritan’s Purse. The Crossing Church has given gifts to many outside agencies and my family has personally supported several worthy causes. However, God designates the tithe to go first to His House before any other giving! Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” The tithe is the first tenth portion given or spent in faith, trusting the word of the Lord to test Him (His words) in this action. The Tithe is a test. Tithing is not an attempt to get something from you, but is rather, getting something to you! God’s favor on you and blessing on your 90% (your house and finances) is the promise. Any monetary return, gain and blessing is a byproduct. You must believe that God wants the best for you… better than you can do for yourself.

Trusting God with our Resources

How can we trust God?  One clear way is to trust him with our own resources. If we truly believe that God is our provider, then we will not fear giving up what we believe is our own provision.

Do you ever feel like all of your resources (money) are gone and spoken for, before you ever deposit it into the bank? I distinctly remember a time like this in my life - just out of college, when I was a very new believer and didn't know or understand God's principles regarding resources.  Depositing my check, I knew that there were more bills waiting to be paid than the amount that I deposited... I thought, “I am never going to make it. How am I going to catch up?” This seemed like a lot of hard work and not a very good return! Today can be the end of withering resources! Read Malachi 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. The biblical principle regarding money, which you will find in these scriptures is counter-intuitive. God actually challenges us to give – no matter how much we have! He desires to bring us great blessings and He wants us to trust Him, even when we think we do not have enough. 

Protect and Pray for Leaders

In uncertain times, it can be difficult to support authority.  God’s word tells us to support and pray for authority.  We can do this knowing that it is ultimately God that has all authority.

If you are military you want to protect your Commander. If you understand home life, then you know that one of the greatest commodities is Mom, better protect Mom! Yes, we protect Dad too.  If you are a business person you protect your CEO. If you are into football, your greatest asset is your franchise quarterback. If you are a church you want to protect ...your Pastor! I don’t say that because I am the pastor - I say that for every church. I don’t think you want me on my back but rather leading us all to win in the Lord and leading you to cross over into the promises of God! Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”  Here is the thing about parents, husbands, bosses and pastors… there is a higher accountability that goes with the position.  Please support and pray for anyone in position of authority and then trust God to ultimately lead your authority.  Pray for your pastor!  

We Are Crossing!

You may recognize this title above.  We say this often at The Crossing Church.  It is the same thing that Joshua told the people when they faced the Jordan and all of the problems of the Promised Land.

Clarity and Uncertainty can coexist.  Read Joshua 1:12-2:24. Joshua.  There were so many questions when Israel prepared to cross the Jordan. How are the elderly, those who are sickly, children - how are they going to make it across the Jordan? How are we all going to make it across? What’s it going to be like when we cross over? I know what I saw 40 years ago and I know what recent reports are! Who are we going to face first in battle? But Joshua told them to prepare provisions, in three days “We are crossing” the Jordan! Why? Because that is what God said to do! He is giving the instruction! God gave the same instructions 40 years earlier and they did not do what he said. Are you willing to trust the Lord and trust your leadership and step out?  Only upon putting their feet in the water did the water part. You do your part and God will do his PART! Are you willing to trust enough to adjust?

Crossing Over

Sometimes in life, you are going to meet obstacles that you will have to overcome.  Joshua provides us with a great story about how God used a man to lead a nation to cross the mighty Jordan River and to enter the Promised Land.

Joshua 1:10-11 says - Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go into possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.’”  Before the great crossing, Joshua gave an encouragement to all of the people to prepare.  Joshua was sent by God to lead the people to Cross Over. Joshua 1:1-9 says, “I will establish you and your territory, what was promised will be given to you, I will be with you, will not leave you or forsake you, only be strong and very courageous and obey my commands. I will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.”  You must first know that God is for you and with you.  Prepare yourself to receive the great things that God has already prepared for you. Think on the things of the Lord and keep your mind stayed on Him.  Read the story of Joshua and then take heart and be of good courage, and then prepare to cross over the obstacles that stand in front of you.

Prayer for Freedom

Do you have someone in your life that you need to extend forgiveness?  There is no better time than now to take a moment and extend forgiveness.   Forgiveness unlocks freedom.

Think now about the person that you need to forgive and consider this prayer for forgiveness and find freedom.  Say these words, “I choose to forgive ________ because I have been released, I now choose to release _________ from the bondage of my heart. I place the cross of Christ between me and the hurt/offense. I plead the blood of Jesus over my mind, will, emotions and body.  I claim healing in my bones. I receive a fresh infilling of Dunamis power in my soul.”

You may have received a marred/negative legacy did you Receive? What has been the bad result, or bad emotion that you have carried because of someone else’s influence on your life? Now ask the Lord what he wants to give you in exchange-What legacy will you enable God to leave? Consider Genesis 50:20 – “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Honor and Forgiveness

Ephesians 6:2-3 - "Honor your father and mother"--which is the first commandment with a promise--"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

Many of us have had difficult relationships with our parents.  In my own life, I had to come to grips with a strained relationship with my biological father. I was once bitter and unforgiving.  Matthew 18:23-35 says that you stop the flow of God’s forgiveness in your own life when you do not forgive. Wanting to curse another you end up cursing yourself! I wrote a letter to my father telling him, “I release you and I love you because you are my Father (not that he was deserving – recognizing I am not deserving either – I have a love to give that’s not mine and doesn’t come from me!) Thank you for working hard, thank you for making the effort to see us, thank you for serving our country, thank you for raising another set of kids from your second wife.”  This was hard, but it was freeing. I wrote the letter before God and for my own heart and was not led to send it. Wouldn’t you know it, out of the blue my dad called: “Son, I started going to church. I trusted Christ as my savior and I would like to talk to you monthly if you are ok with that. I would like to see the grandkids.” Something significant has to happen emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.  You have to do something forgive, or it will continue to do things to you that will affect the legacy you leave