December 2, 2017

The Thrill of Hope

In Joshua chapter 3, we read the account of the children of Israel as they stood at the crossroad of opportunity. Some 40 years earlier, they had an opportunity to cross over into the land God had promised them, but because of an “evil report”, their inheritance would be delayed.

As they prepared to cross the Jordan River these 40 years later, there must have been the thrill of hope: the hope of leaving the old behind; the hope of a fresh new start; the hope of a new way of life; the hope of victories in a new land; and the hope of walking in the blessings they had given up over 40 years ago.

HOPE is defined as the confident desire and expectation of something good. Most people believe that hope is wishful thinking, as in "I hope something will happen." This is not what the Bible means by hope. Hope emphasizes the "confident expectation" of good.  

Hope is a fundamental component in the life of the believer. Without hope, we will be tempted to envy sinners; or we will be tempted to give up on life because we sometimes feel /fear that God has abandoned us. But, the righteous who put their hope in God will be helped, and not put to shame. Does this mean everything will go your way? No. But we are confident that as we hope in and trust in God, He will work everything out for our good.

Hope keeps us looking and moving forward. It defines what is possible and encourages us to go beyond what is possible to desiring and expecting things we may have thought impossible.  You might be thinking, “Isn’t that faith?” Faith and hope are closely linked. Hope is a precursor to faith. Without hope, there can be no faith because hope is part of the ingredients of faith.

As we move forward into 2018, I have the thrill of hope– hope that we will walk in our calling and gifting(s); that we will make a significant impact in our community; that we will be the healthy church that will produce abundant fruit; that we will be strong and do exploits for God; and that our community will be better off because we are here.



Psalm 31:24 NLT

So be strong and courageous,
    all you who put your hope in the Lord!

“Courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgment [realization] that something else is more important.”

Courage is not only demonstrated in “big” stories, courage can happen in everyday situations where the outside world hardly notices. Everyday someone is choosing to be courageous.

Understand that courage is born out of conviction – our strongly held beliefs. Ask yourself, “What things do I strongly believe?; Where in my life am I exhibiting courage?;  In what areas do I need courage?

Speak Lord For Your Servant Is Listening – Part IV
God Speaks to Us Through Doors
Revelation 3:7 NIV

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

In this passage of scripture, John describes Jesus Christ as having all authority and power to open and shut doors.

A door symbolizes the transition and passageway from one place to another. A door may be used to symbolize a short transition or even a longer transition. Even when people literally use the door of a building to enter or exit the outside world, they are going through a type of transition each time.

God often speaks to us through the transition of doors in our lives. But we’re encouraged by the Word of God that tells us that Jesus, Himself, opens doors for us that no one can shut and shuts doors that no one can open.

We walk through a door and think it’s our final destination, but like Joseph [Genesis 37-50], it’s actually a door that leads to a door that leads to another door. Joseph’s destiny was to save his own family and his own people from death. But he had to go through some lonely, dark and intimidating doors/transitions to get where God needed him to be.

Sometimes we face a closed door and assume that the door is shut for good. But it may not be. We think it’s a “no”, but it might be a “not yet”.  Only God can make this clear to us. And, every door that is opened to us is not necessarily for us which is why we must be able to discern, through the Holy Spirit, which doors lead us to the place that is God-ordained for us.

December 17, 2017

Culture Shock

Today many Christians are living in a state of culture shock. The world around us has changed and instead of accepting our new reality, we find ourselves longing for the “good ole days”. Is it possible to impact a culture that seems “foreign” to us? Yes, it is.

The book of Daniel demonstrates that it is not only possible to impact it but also to thrive in a culture that’s foreign to our own value system. Daniel and his companions challenge us to stay true to our convictions regardless of what is happening around us.

From Daniel’s experiences, we learn:

1.  Always stay true to your foundational beliefs no matter what is happening around you - you don’t have to compromise who you are.
2.  Even in a culture that rejects your beliefs, God can allow you to rise and have influence – he will create opportunities for you.
3.  Resist the urge to criticize and highlight cultural differences. Accept that things are different and embrace the opportunity to use your                          influence to affect change. Type your paragraph here.

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America has become a nation with attention-deficit disorder. We are inundated with so much information each day, it’s like living in blizzard like conditions. The result? Mass distraction.

Please understand that satan will use “weapons of mass distraction” strategically to keep us worried, overly anxious, and pre-occupied with trivial things so we don’t have time to focus on what ‘s most important.

Think about this:

1.  Our focus should be on what God not only requires, but also what He desires.
2.  Entanglement in the cares of life is a dangerous trap…and it doesn’t have to be sinful to be harmful.
3.  The more we focus on the things that distract us from being fruitful citizens in the Kingdom of God, the easier it becomes to continue  to do so.

When Opportunity Knocks You’ve Got To Be Ready 

In the book of John 5, there is an account of a man with an infirmity who had been sick for 38 years. Jesus has an encounter with this man by the pool of Bethesda as he lay there waiting for an opportunity to be healed.

Most of us can only imagine what it is like to be in place where people lay suffering from sickness and disease waiting on an opportunity for circumstances to change.  No matter your situation, here are some lessons we learn from this story:

1.  There is a tendency for people of like conditions to flock together. This can be good or bad depending on the situation and                                                    environment. Be careful to maintain your faith in God; stay prayerful; and guard your mind against negative influences.
2.  Don’t assume that everyone in a bad situation truly wants to improve….at least to the same degree you desire to improve.  Some  people                      are simply looking for a “hand-out” and not a “hand-up”. 
3.  If you want something different to happen in your life, you’ve got to do something different. Yesterday’s faith won’t necessarily get you                        through the tough situation you’re facing today.
4.  Your deliverance may not come the way you’ve believe it will come. As Christians, we presuppose too many times how God will work on                        our behalf. However, like Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5), God may do something totally unexpected or even a little unusual.  Seize                                  whatever opportunity God provides.
5.  Everyone is not going to celebrate your victories with you. But you have to know and recognize who it is that gives you the victory and                          anyway!

In every challenge we go through in life, there is a lesson to be learned. And, sometimes God is waiting for us to be ready to move on.  But, when God provides that opportunity that will change your situation, don’t make excuses about what was, SEIZE the opportunity and move forward.  In fact, you should be prepared for it. If you’re not in a state of readiness, you might miss it.

October 15, 2017

October 7, 2017

Speak Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening – Part 1

As a young child, I had a close relationship with my father. I could be surrounded by crowds of people and I could make out my dad’s voice above the crowd because I knew his voice; his vocal tone; his vocal pattern; I knew him personally/intimately.

In our walk with God it is important that we come to know God intimately because it is critical to forming a proper relationship with Him. A relationship is defined as the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected. A crucial aspect of a relationship, specifically a good one, is the ability to listen, to communicate positively, to give and to receive, to share openly and honestly.

As a Christian, our top goal should be to form a great relationship with God. Yet, sometimes we tend to look at the relationship we have with God through a different lens. But let me ask you a couple questions, How do you expect to hear God if you don’t know His voice? How do you expect to know God if you don’t have a relationship with Him?

The Bible relays the story of Samuel [1 Samuel 3] and how God called out to him at an early age. But up to that point, he didn’t really know who God was because he hadn’t heard His voice. After mistaking the voice of God for Eli, the priest, Samuel is encouraged by Eli to go back to where he was, quiet himself, and when called again, simply say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”.

The key is that we must be listening for God’s voice. How do we do that? By simply quieting ourselves, being still, and letting Him know we’re available to listen to what He wants to tell us. That’s exactly what Samuel did. If there is too much noise in our life, we won’t be able to hear. Suffice it to say, God is waiting on some of us to get quiet and listen.  

I James 5:16(b) AMPC
“…The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”
The real impact of this scripture is that as a righteous believer, your persistent, faith-filled, intense, passionate petition is 
powerful and effective enough to produce the result you pray for when it is aligned with the will of God and for His glory.
We must remember this: Prayer is not getting man's will done in Heaven. It's getting God's will done on earth. Prayer isn’t 
meant to change God – He doesn’t change - it is meant to change us.

November 19, 2017

October 22, 2017

September 10, 2017

December 31, 2017

November 26, 2017

September 24, 2017

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

In Matthew 19, the rich ruler came to Jesus to find out what he should do to inherit eternal life. After promoting his own sense of self-righteousness, Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give the proceeds to the poor in exchange for the riches he’ll gain in Heaven. After doing that, he should come and follow Jesus. We soon learn that this was too much of a sacrifice for the rich ruler.

The disciples of Jesus gave up their own lives, including their families and possessions, to follow Him. Does Jesus require the same of us today? Maybe for some but not likely for most. However, as a believer we must understand that self-sacrifice is a genuine part of our Christian journey and God is looking to see if you are willing to make sacrifices for Him.

We must ask ourselves this question: Is it possible to attain great things without sacrifice? If you ask those who’ve experienced significant achievements in life, they will tell you it is not possible. To reach a goal of any kind requires that you make significant investment and that requires sacrifice. The more intense your desire, passion and love for something becomes, the less you focus on the sacrifices you have to make. That is how we must see our love for God – that our sacrifices seem like nothing compared with our desire to please Him.

Mothers sacrifice because they love their children. A soldier sacrifices because they love their country. A husband sacrifices because he loves his wife and vice versa. And yet, followers of Christ enjoy an even greater gift, bought by an even greater sacrifice. Genuine love always requires sacrifice.

December 10, 2017

Speaking Lord For Your Servant is Listening – Part III
How God Speaks to His People

God speaks to us directly through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. As believers, we can attest to that. But, are these the only ways in which God speaks to His people? No.  God is not limited in the ways that He can and will often speak. Some of the ways are more indirect. One way is through our desires.

Psalm 37:4 says:
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

What does it mean to “delight yourself” in the Lord? It means to take pleasure in; to live or spend time in enjoyment with God. Delighting yourself in the Lord opens up the way for communication between you and God.

If we truly delight in the Lord, then the primary desire of our heart will be to know Him better so we can delight in Him even more. The promise in Psalm 37 is not for people who want "things," but for those who want more of God in their lives.

As Christians, we often shun desires and tend to think of them in a negative light. Why? Because as humans, we understand the frailty of our human nature. Desires are natural – some are good and some not so good. Some are admirable and some are not so admirable. No doubt, some are downright sinful. And those sinful desires must be crucified.

However, consider that God might want to repurpose some desires, resurrecting them, sanctifying them, intensifying them, and leveraging them for His purposes. The Apostle Paul provides a good example of repurposed desires. He desired to exterminate followers of Jesus Christ because he thought he was pleasing God. But God repurposed that desire and gave him a passionate desire to save the lost whatever the cost.

Paul expressed his desire toward Jesus Christ in a most profound way:  Philippians 1:21 AMPC

21 For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity].

Paul’s sole aim in living was to glorify Jesus Christ; to delight in Him – that became the desire of his heart.

Seeking God first is delighting yourself in the Lord. Seeking God first is giving Him the first word and the last word. Seeking God first is making sure His voice is the loudest voice in your life. This opens up the way for God speak to us through our desires.

CHRISTIAN COVENANT CHURCH

Message Excerpts From Pastor Teresa


Speak Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening (Part II)
“You’ve got to be able to hear God’s Voice”

How many of you believe that there is a difference between hearing and listening? There is so much noise in our world that we hear much but listen little. Listening goes far beyond your natural hearing process. It means paying attention to the words that are being spoken with the intention of understanding the other person.

Naturally, you have to be able to actually hear before you can listen. If you are totally deaf, you won’t be able to hear. When we expose ourselves to too much loud noise, we run the risk of becoming hearing impaired or even deaf in certain situations. I wonder how many Christians today are “spiritually deaf” because they’ve been listening to so much noise that they’ve become hearing impaired?

A world renowned opera singer had mysteriously lost his ability to hit certain notes, even though those notes were well within his vocal range. He sought medical attention because he believed he was experiencing vocal problems, However, turns out that he was actually experiencing hearing problems. His doctor discovered that the sounds made by the singer were often so loud inside the skull that it served to deafen the vocalist. In essence, the opera singer had been deafened by the sound of his own voice. The medical society dubbed this type of condition “The Tomatis Effect”.

When we look at this same phenomena from a spiritual perspective, we should ask …could all the noise in our lives, including the noise that we ourselves are making, cause us to be deaf to God’s voice? Is it possible that many of our problems are actually the result of hearing problems? It may be that we aren’t totally deaf to God’s voice but God can’t and won’t compete with all the other voices in our lives. Consider that chronic noise may be the greatest impediment to our spiritual growth.

God often speaks to us in what the Bible calls a “still, small voice”. This means that we must intentionally get into an environment where we can tune out everything else, hear Him speaking and listen to that still, small voice.Type your paragraph here.