Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Your Secret Weapon

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Monday, June 24, 2013:  II Kings 6:1-7:20

15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  II Kings 6:15-17 (NKJV)

Throughout the history of Israel there have been wars.  It seems they never stop, but only move from one enemy to another.  In II Kings 6 we read about the war between Israel and Syria.  But, Israel had a secret weapon -- Elisha the prophet.

It is almost comical how God used this great man of God in a very practical, real-world war.  You can read about it in II Kings 6:8-23.  Elisha was continually sending messages to Jehoram, the king of Israel, about battle strategy.  This was supernatural revelation that God gave Elisha about enemy movement!  Elisha would tell Jehoram, "Beware that you do not pass ________ (a particular place), for the Syrians are coming down there" (II Kings 6:9).  Sure enough, the king of Israel would send someone down to check it out, and find that Elisha was exactly right!

Meanwhile, for the Syrian king this was totally frustrating.  In fact, he suspected a spy in his ranks that was sending messages to the king of Israel.  He asked his servants, "Will you not show me which one of us is for the king of Israel?" (II Kings 6:11)  He though there had to be a "mole", someone leaking his strategy.

There was no spy.  One of the servants told him, "They have a prophet of God and his name is Elisha.  He is their secret weapon.  And he tells the king of Israel the words you are speaking in your bedroom!"  (II Kings 6:12). 

Such prophetic ministry is incredible.  By the supernatural gifting of God, Israel had an advantage in battle.  And we do, too!  God can tell you things that only He could know.  And by His Spirit, He can tell you where to move next.  The Holy Spirit is not only our COMFORTER, but also our ADVANTAGE.

The truth is that as followers of Jesus and believers in a supernatural God, we are SUPERNATURAL PEOPLE.  We tap into a supernatural realm and that makes all the difference.

The rest of the story of Elisha and the king of Syria illustrates this well.  Because Elisha was such a crucial figure, the king of Syria re-directed his army away from Israel's army and instead pursued ONE MAN.  Elisha was the secret weapon and so the attack came directly at him.  The Syrian army cornered Elisha and his servant in the town of Dothan. 

When the servant looked out and saw the vast army arrayed against them, he freaked out!  He cried out, "What shall we do?" (II Kings 6:15)  Have you ever been in a situation like that?  Overwhelming odds and no escape!  Elisha, however, remained calm.  Elisha did not pray for miraculous victory.  He did not pray for death to his enemies.  He prayed that the servant's eyes be opened to see things from God's perspective.  "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." (II Kings 6:16). 

When God opened the servant's eyes he saw the battle totally differently.  He saw the surrounding mountains full of the angelic army.  In the words of Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8:31) 

Two miracles took place that day with respect to eyesight.  First, the servant's eyes were OPENED.  He saw how great God's power was all around them.  Second, the enemy's eyes were BLINDED.  Not only does God help us, He also hinders our enemies.  As a result, we walk into the victory God has promised.

Paul told the Corinthians, "I do not want you to be ignorant of the spiritual realm" (I Co. 12:1).  This is an important message for us all.  Our battle is not against fleshly, worldly enemies.  It is against spiritual forces of darkness that are arrayed against us (Eph. 6:12).  We tend to forget this. 

May each of be reminded today that we are a part of an eternal kingdom that will never pass away -- that will never fail.  As we keep our eyes on Jesus, we share in His triumph.

And one last thing, this is not for the so-called spiritual "superstars."  (There really are none)  This is for every person who knows and loves Jesus Christ.  This is part of your inheritance.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Naaman, the Leper God Loved

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, June 23, 2013:  II Kings 4:18-5:27

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. II Kings 5:1 (NKJV)

In the pages of Scripture, occasionally we come across an individual who appears only once in a few verses.  Yet this person speaks a message that resounds with the Good News that is the foundation of all that we believe.  Such a person is Naaman, the commander of a foreign army.  He was actually part of a nation that had warred against God's people.  Yet, God still loved him and sought to reach him. 

The Man

Naaman had much going for him.  His name means "delightful, pleasant, beautiful, well-formed."  He was in many ways a successful man.  He looked good.  He had an important position.  He was liked by those around him.  However, he had one major problem:  HE WAS A LEPER.

He represents MAN APART FROM GOD.  He represents you and me.  He was in many ways a good person, but he had a problem.  Here's the principle:  Every great person has a point of weakness.  Everyone, no matter how good they are, is in need of a Savior.

The Ministry

It is important to note that Naaman was a Gentile.  The focus of the Bible is THE NATIONS.  God is always reaching out to the heathen, the pagan, the "reprobate."  And he will use anyone who is available to reach the lost.

He even used a little Jewish girl.  She had been captured in one of the battles between Syria and Israel.  She was a slave.  Could God use such a tragic thing as ensalvement to send out His Good News?  In this case, yes!

This young girl told her master about a prophet who could bring divine healing.  That's what we do today.  None of us are powerful in ourselves.  Instead we bring news that there is Someone who can meet the deepest needs of men.

When Naaman arrived at Elisha's door, he expected dramatic fanfare.  He expected treatment comparable to his elevated status.  Instead, the prophet sent word to him to go jump in the river Jordan -- seven times!  This offended Naaman and nearly robbed him of his healing.

God's ministry to us will usually require that we humble ourselves.

The Message

The message of Naaman's story is simple yet profound.  There is not a person you meet that God does not want to save, heal, and deliver.  It is our job to point them toward the Master.  It was the great Ceylonese evangelist, D.T. Niles, who said, "Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread." 

Paul told us "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." (II Cor. 4:5)  May God open our eyes to see the Naaman's around us now.  They may appear strong and self-sufficient.  But they need the Lord!

One of the most exciting moments of life is when you watch a person plagued with spiritual sickness dip into the river of God's grace, and come up clean!  There is nothing this side of heaven that compares!

ALARM BELLS: "I am Unloved"

Here are the notes from yesterday's message at New Life Community Church.  This is the third in the series ALARM BELLS and is entitled "I am Unloved".  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at www.newlifesite.com.  God Bless!

Alarm Bells, Part 3                                                                                        Sunday, June 23, 2013
“I am Unloved

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.  Joel 2:32 (NLT)

We all love someone or something.  But do we always feel loved back?  Can we say, “I know how much God loves me, and I am secure in the love of people around me?”

We are surrounded by a world that invites us to love people or things.

What do you love?

Love is determined by what you SEEK out and SACRIFICE for.

Show the pictures again.

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  John 15:12-13 (NKJV)

14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  John 15:14-15 (NKJV)

Friendship with God

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  I John 3:16 (NKJV)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8 (ESV)

Psalm 142
I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.  In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.  Psalm 142:1-4 (NASB)

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.  Isaiah 43:4 (ESV)

There are three reasons why people doubt the love of God for them:
1.     Past SINS
2.     Past PATTERNS
3.     Present CIRCUMSTANCES

Principle:  When you DOUBT God’s love for you, you will also QUESTION man’s love for you.  When you are CONFIDENT of God’s love for you, it will FREE you to RECEIVE the love of others.

… For it is good that the heart be established by grace ...  Hebrews 13:9 (NKJV)

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”),  Mark 3:13-17 (NIV)

Why did Jesus call James and John “sons of thunder”?

But there was another nick-name for John in the NT:  the disciple whom the Lord loved

Five times in the Gospel of John, reference is made to the disciple who Jesus loved.  According to John 21:24, that disciple is identified as none other than the Apostle John himself.  So, in writing his account of the life of Jesus, John always refers to himself as “the one who Jesus loved.”

John 13:23
John 19:26
John 20:2
John 21:7
John 21:20

Why did he do that?

Several suggestions have been made:
1.      John was trying to be humble.  He didn’t want to give his name so he made up a nick-name.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense, because if he was trying to be humble and self-effacing he could have used a different nick-name than that. 
2.      It wasn’t John actually writing, but instead a scribe who was writing for John.  Dictation.  And every time his name came up, the amanuensis would write in a complementary name for John.
3.      John was trying to make a point.

Why is it that John wrote so much about the love of God?  Could it be that he had the hardest time learning this lesson?

What makes a person lovable? 

Let’s take a look at John’s personality:

John’s Personality

1.     John was COMPETITIVE

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.  21 “What is it you want?” he asked.  She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”    24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Matthew 20:20-21, 24 (NIV)

2.     John was EGOTISTICAL

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”  50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Luke 9:49-50 (NIV)

3.     John was VINDICTIVE

52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.  Luke 9:52-55 (NIV)
This is the guy that was “the disciple who Jesus loved.”  It wasn’t because he was so lovable.  It was because Jesus was so loving!
Interesting that John begins calling himself “the disciple who Jesus loved” during the Lord’s supper.  From that point forward, he proceeded to mess up.  Did not speak up when Jesus was being attacked.  Fled into the night in fear. 
Went back fishing in John 21. 
1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.  It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  John 21:1-4 (NIV)

He called out to them, “Friends …  John 21:5 (NIV)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The God Who Multiplies

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, June 22, 2013:  II Kings 3:1-4:17

1 A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”   2 So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”   3 Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. 4 And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”   5 So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. 6 Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.”   And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”  II Kings 4:1-7 (NKJV)

The story of Elisha and the widow's oil is a story of God's miraculous provision.  God met this woman in her need and provided abundantly.  It is both an inspiring story about God's powerful and gracious intervention, and it is also a parable to us -- a lesson about how God MULTIPLIES His provision.

There are many other stories in Scripture that follow a similar pattern.  At least twice, Jesus multiplied bread and fish to feed huge crowds.  As the children of Israel journeyed for 40 years through the wilderness, God gave daily provision in the form of manna.  Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel knew Jehohah- Jireh, the God Who Provides!  It's all through the Bible. In fact, anyone who gets to know God in fullness, will meet a God who loves to give.  When God uses different angles to send us the same message, we need to pay attention.

Here is the pattern of the story:


The widow's husband had been one of the prophets that trained under Elijah.  Now, with his death, she and their two sons were left destitute.  Their debtors were closing in.  In desperation, she cried out to God and to Elisha.

How desperate are you to see the hand of God in your behalf?  The set-up for a miracle is often the darkness of need and desperation.  Psalm 34:6 says, "This poor man cried out and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his troubles."


Elisha's first question to the widow was not "What do you NEED?" but "What do you HAVE?"  God tells you to look at what is already in your hand.  This is similar to the word of the Lord to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3-4.  Moses had received a strong commission to liberate the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.  But Moses faltered, asking HOW he could do such a thing.  God asked Moses, "What is in your hand?" (Exodus 4:2)  Moses already held the rod that would be used by God in every step of the miraculous journey that lay ahead.  Moses had the tool, he just needed to use it and to operate in faith.

The widow responded by telling Elisha that all she had was a jar of oil.  But, with God, that's all she needed.


It is important to note that BEFORE the miracle could happen, the widow had to make preparations.  She was told to operate in blind faith borrowing empty vessels from neighbors.  Elisha had not told her what was about to happen.  She was required to make preparation without knowing why.

Jesus would often do this with His disciples.  He sent them on errands that did not make sense, like borrowing/stealing a man's donkey, or getting silver coins out of fishes' mouths.  In order to walk in the midst of God's miraculous provision, you must be willing to OBEY His voice.


All miracles of God run parallel with human cooperation.  God delights in bringing His power to bear THROUGH us.  Whether it is Moses holding his rod over the Red Sea or Elisha picking up an ax head that floated, there is always a way in which God invites us to action.

The widow was instructed to pour oil into the empty vessels.  It must have been an amazing experience for her watch the miracle of provision unfold before her eyes.  God could have dropped money into her hands. He could have brought gifts to her door.  Instead, he required that she pour oil.  Then later, she would need to sell the vast supply.  God chose a unique way to take care of her need.


God knows exactly how much we need.  Yet it seems in this story that the limits of His supply did not rest in His knowledge of the widow's situation.  The limit lay in the number of empty vessels she had acquired.  God's endless supply was shut down by the smallness of her expectation.

This is incredibly inspiring.  God desires to bless us.  Our small-mindedness far too often limits our capacity for His provision.


We find ourselves rooted in a fallen world while tapping into an everlasting Kingdom.  In Christ's Kingdom there is more than enough.  As we walk through life, God allows seasons of desperation and dire need.  It is our privilege to more and more move into the blessing of our God.   As we "pour out", God pours into us.  The key truth is that we are to keep pouring -- keep giving -- keep using that which is in your hand.  God MULTIPLIES that which you give Him.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Out in a Blaze of Glory

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, June 21, 2013:  II Kings 1:1-2:25

9 And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”   Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”  10 So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” 11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.  II Kings 2:9-11 (NKJV)

People speak of "going out in a blaze of glory."  This usually refers to a dramatic ending -- such as a final burst of flames before a fire is extinguished -- or the blazing beauty of a fiery sunset.  In World War II, Japanese kamikaze pilots screamed to their deaths as they crashed their planes in what they believed was their final glory.  

If ever a person exited this world in "a blaze of glory" it was Elijah.  There was a rip-roaring tornado, blazing chariots -- even horses on fire!  Elijah's departure was God's exclamation point on a dramatic, powerful life.  

It causes each of us to ask how you wish your life to be seen or evaluated.  I do not mean that we should all literally hope or expect as dramatic an ending as Elijah.  Can you imagine your funeral complete with trumpets, tornados, and blazing stallions?!  That's not what I mean.  Elijah's departure was symbolic of a life lived to the full.  He live GOD-WARD, through highs and lows, through power encounters and lonely nights.  In the final moment, God simply reached down with a mighty hand and took him!

Jonathan Edwards was one of the greatest Christian leaders in American history.  He lived his life by 70 Resolutions.  This was a way of life for him.   Three speak to this idea of ENDING WELL.  Resolution 6 says:  Resolved,  To live with all my might, while I do live.  Resolution 7 states:  Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.  Then, surprisingly, Resolution 9 tells us:  Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.  This is not morbid.  It is GOD-CENTERED.  In our modern "instant gratification" lifestyle, Jonathan Edwards tells us to live for eternity -- live to the full -- live in the power of the Spirit.  

Elijah left a legacy.  His mantle fell to Elisha.  Much is made of the final request Elisha made of Elijah.   “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”   This was more than just asking to be able to do miracles like Elijah.  Elisha wanted to LIVE like Elijah:  TO THE FULL.   Elijah's legacy is courage and hearing from God.  It is bringing the Word of the Lord into a world gone crazy.    

Like Elisha, we all do well to pray as he did: Lord, may a double portion of the spirit of Elijah be on us!  Just as it was with Elijah, may the the summation of our lives be an exclamation point to the glory of God.  That may not mean fireworks in the eyes of man, but it will mean a mighty celebration in the Kingdom of God.  And that's worth living for!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Elijah and the Broom Tree

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, June 18, 2013:  I Kings 19:1-21

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”  I Kings 19:1-4 (NKJV)

Chapter 18 of I Kings tells the story of one of the most dramatic victories in biblical history.  It was "The Showdown at Mount Carmel" -- Elijah versus 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah (I Kings 18:19).  The test was set up to determine WHO WAS THE REAL GOD.  Both sides would successively call upon their God and the one that answered by fire was the REAL ONE. 

Baal and Asherah (the false gods of Israel) were impotent.  Nothing happened at the prayers and gyrations of the pagan prophets.  But when one man -- Elijah -- prayed a simple prayer to the true God of Israel, "then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench!"  (I Kings 18:39)

This was a POWER ENCOUNTER of the first order, and victory was complete.  Surely this was the high point of the ministry of Elijah the prophet.  It is therefore amazing to read the events that follow closely after this triumph.

The King of Israel was named Ahab.  He had married a pagan wife named Jezebel.  She is one of the most evil and intimidating figures in the Bible.  She had protected, nurtured, and provided for the idolatrous pagan prophets that Elijah had just defeated.  Her anger burst forth in murderous intent against Elijah. 

The mighty man of God ran for his life!  He plunged from the pinnacle of success into suicidal depression.  He ran for day out into the desert and found himself exhausted under a broom tree.  There he prayed another simple prayer, “It is enough!  Now, Lord, take my life…” (I Kings 19:4).  Elijah prayed for his own death.

Life can be that way.  We ride a rollercoaster of success and despair.  Close on the heels of our best days can come the dark night of hopelessly bad days.  One minute we are riding high and skies are clear.  The next thing we know storms clouds have gathered. 

There is a major battle over your mind.  There is a battle over your outlook.  Right in the midst of a good season of life, the devil can send a threatening rumor or an intimidating lie.  He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, while God offers life and that in ABUNDANCE.  (John 10:10)

It is instructive to read what God told Elijah to do as he sat there in “the dark night of his soul.”  An angel appeared and told him to “Arise and eat.”  That’s the first thing we need to do:


 When things look hopeless, our tendency is to go into isolation and stop eating and drinking.  If you fail to take in spiritual nourishment, you will never recover.  Get back into the Word of God.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Begin again to worship and to pray.

2.      GET REST.

Physical pain and lack of rest go hand-in-hand with depression.  There is an important reason why God commands his people to take a Sabbath – learn how to rest and get refreshed.


The angel told Elijah that there was a new destination for him – Mount Horeb.  God wanted to re-ignite Elijah’s life and ministry.  There was an appointment with God at the mouth of a cave (I Kings 19:11).  Elijah would again hear the clear voice of God!  God always has a plan.  We need to be ready to follow Him again.

God used Elijah mightily.  And He desires to show Himself mighty in your behalf, too.  As we fight and win battles in behalf of the Lord, there can be an internal battle in our minds that id devastating.  Therefore, Paul’s words are important for us:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)

Monday, June 17, 2013

ALARM BELLS: "I am Overwhelmed"

Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church yesterday.  This is the second in the series ALARM BELLS, and is entitled "I am Overwhelmed."  If you would like to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at www.newlifesite.com.  God bless!

Alarm Bells, Part 2                                                                            Sunday, June 16, 2013
 “I am Overwhelmed”

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the Lord has said. These will be among the survivors whom the Lord has called.  Joel 2:32 (NLT)
Life is one successions of challenges in which we constantly feel like “I’m not ready for this.”

1st illustration:  Elementary School.  I remember the first day I walked up those steps to Premont Elementary School in a small south Texas town. 
2nd illustration:  Football Practice.
3rd illustration:  Called to ministry and pasturing a church at 19.
4th illustration:  Getting married and having first child.
Life is a succession of challenges.  It can be overwhelming!
Ø  What do you do the day you find out your job is being eliminated due to downsizing?
Ø  What do you do the day you get the call because you find out your child just went nuts on you?
Ø  What do you do when you find out your top client has just decided to move his business to a competitor?

Last week I asked you three questions:
1.     What signals is God sending you right now?
2.     What signals are you sending?
3.     How is Jesus coming to you now?
You find yourself in a mess, and you ask, “How did I get into a mess like this?”  Fact is, life can be overwhelming at times.  If we’re not careful the devil can step in and make you feel even worse by telling you that you’re unusual or specially disadvantaged.  So, to start, we’re going to look at a few Scriptures that tell you that you are not odd or different.  A lot of other people have felt exactly what you feel.
Psalm 124
1 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” let Israel now say— “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.”  Psalm 124:1-5 (NKJV)

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.  Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  Psalm 124:6-8 (NKJV)

Psalm 142
I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.  In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see; for there is no one who regards me; there is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul.  Psalm 142:1-4 (NASB)

I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
“Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.  “Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; the righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.”
  Psalm 142:1-7 (NASB)

Psalm 102
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned like a hearth.  My heart is stricken and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.  Because of the sound of my groaning my bones cling to my skin.  I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert.  I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.  Psalm 102:3-7 (NKJV)

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2 (NKJV)

Acts 16
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.  Acts 16:6-10 (NIV)
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.  Acts 16:13-15 (NIV)
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”  Acts 16:16-17 (NIV)

She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.  Acts 16:18 (NIV)

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”  Acts 16:19-21 (NIV)
Seized and Dragged

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.  Acts 16:22-23 (NIV)

Beaten with Rods
Severely flogged
Thrown in Prison

When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.  Acts 16:24 (NIV)
In Chains
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Acts 16:25 (NIV)
About Midnight
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.  Acts 16:26 (NIV)

1.     FREEDOM from my circumstances begins when I FOCUS on Jesus.

2.     JESUS is GREATER than what I’m going through.

Three things to note:
1)    What gets God’s attention?
2)    Doors flew open and chains came loose.
3)    Everyone’s chains came loose.

…. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
… Isaiah 43:2-3 (NKJV)