Generations become defined by the events that happen within their years. World War 2 defined the 1940’s and gave us the greatest generation. Vietnam and the Beatles defined the 1960’s and 70’s and gave the world the baby boomer generation. In the 2000’s, events like 9/11 and the financial crisis defined how millennials invest and interact with the world. Every generation has its defining moment and I believe that right now we are in another defining moment that doesn’t just touch a single generation, but touches every generation separately and uniquely. Whether you are a parent wanting to provide for your children or an older American trying to protect your health, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work, and play. As Christians, moments like this should bring excitement, not in the pain and suffering of others, but in the fact that we have the Light this dark world needs. In Acts 2, the ancient world was experiencing a defining moment as well: Jesus had been crucified by the Romans and then resurrected from the dead and a new religious movement called, “The Way” was experiencing exponential growth. A man by the name of Saul, who was a leader in the ruling religious party was threatening, arresting, beating, and even killing converts of this new movement. All eyes in Israel were on Rome, the Jewish leadership, and this new movement that was upending the current religious structure. How did those early Christians respond to their moment in time? What was their perspective in the face of fear and death? Their response gives us a great example as a generation and people who are living in their own defining moment.
1. We must step forward
“Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd…” Acts 2:14 NLT
Stepping forward in faith doesn’t mean we are careless with our actions and run out into the middle of the panic, but it means when GOD gives you an opportunity to share your faith, you seize that moment. Maybe it’s sharing scriptures of peace on your social media feed or offering to pray with a neighbor or friend who is really scared. GOD will give us all unique opportunities to step forward within our circle of family and friends in the community where we live and it’s in these moments where His light gets to shine through our actions.
2. Be prepared to share your faith
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Acts 2:37-39 NLT
The one good thing that comes from any crisis is that people look for something stable in the midst of chaos. Oftentimes, the church is the place where most people run. Even with the doors of our physical churches being closed, we have an opportunity as believers to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with family, friends, and even strangers at the grocery store. Hope is what this world is looking for and that hope is found in Jesus Christ.
3. Be open to generosity
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
How much toilet paper do you have? Did you notice the empty produce shelves at your local grocery store? This is not a time to hoard up groceries and paper products…no this is our moment to be a blessing to our neighbors and those closest to us. How can we do this when social distancing is the rule? Don’t take more than you need at the grocery store. If you have more than enough, post on Facebook and ask if anyone needs more. We can still share even among a world that is hoarding in panic. In Philippians 4:19, Paul assures us that, “GOD who takes care of me [Paul] will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Generations are defined by the moments that intersect the years they find themselves on Earth. Who would have thought during our lifetime we would have seen a pandemic? I believe that you were born to be here for this very moment in time. Living on the inside of you is the Light that shines brighter than any darkness. We have the peace that passes all understanding because the Prince of Peace lives in our hearts. I am reminded of the lyrics from one of my favorite Sunday school songs, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” Jesus is the light this dark and panicked world needs. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. THIS IS OUR MOMENT.
Most of us have heard the tale of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The sweet little Who’s in Whoville enjoyed a Christmas celebration every year with singing and a special feast, gifts and trees, and all the happiness that came with the holiday. The Grinch, who lived near town, wanted nothing to do with such excitement and was bothered by the joy Christmas brought to all the families he saw below. So, he got the brilliant idea of ruining Christmas. On the night of Christmas Eve he stole gifts and trees and anything that represented the holiday. To his dismay, this did not upset the Who’s in the slightest and they continued on with their Christmas celebration. Not the lack of stockings, trees, lights, or even gifts would stop their heartfelt desire to celebrate! The Grinch realized they had something he couldn’t take away, something in their hearts that couldn’t be bought or stolen.
Do you feel like you’re living in Whoville about now? It’s like some big mean grinch came along and stole “fun”...no school, no comradery among friends at work or meeting for play dates at the park, or sharing stories over a meal out at your favorite restaurant. Not to mention the war zone the grocery store has become! From people stock piling toilet paper, to stocking up on 20lb bags of beans, no item has been left behind at your local store. Who knew no one cleaned or washed their hands before this pandemic by the amount of hygiene products flying off the shelves?! Life is looking a little strange lately, and maybe it’s making you feel like the light inside of you is beginning to flicker. You can feel the joy leaving and despair creep in.
The enemy may try to use these events to steal your joy, your peace, and probably your patience if you’re now home full time with your kids and all of a sudden a homeschool teacher as well!
But, this is when we are supposed to gear up and get ready for battle friends! Do not, I repeat, do not let the enemy win this battle! Check out these verses below:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT
God already has the armor waiting for you, it’s your job to put it on and stand firm in these times of trial. Prepare your mind daily. This isn’t easy but it says right there in Ephesians if you can put on the armor, and resist the enemy, you WILL be standing firm at the end of the battle. God isn’t finished with you yet; take the sword of the spirit (God’s word) and use this extra time you may have on your hands to put it deep in your hearts so you can overcome these challenging days mentally and physically.
Most battles can be won or lost in the mind. What are you saying today to prepare for your battle ahead? It’s time to fight soldier, not raise your white flag! The enemy may be trying to take your “Christmas” but he can’t take what lives in your heart, and that’s Jesus who defeated the grave so you can live in abundance today! Be like The Who’s, and celebrate what can’t be stolen—Christ in You.
If you would like us to stand with you in prayer, please connect with us here . We will continue to pray for our followers as we walk through these eventful times together.
This is the third blog of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series. Click here to read part 1 & 2 of this miniseries.
The sport of baseball has always held a close place in my heart. My closest grandfather played professionally and then coached high school baseball, so around our house, baseball was king. I was blessed to be able to play growing up and all through college and learned a lot of life lessons from just being on the diamond. One of those life lessons was practice. In my twenty plus years of playing baseball, I practiced more than I actually played in a game. Whether that was with the team or individually, practice is what dominated 90% of my athletic career. I specifically remember my senior year of high school and how important this concept of practice was. I had just come off a terrible season the year before and my batting average was somewhere in the low 100’s (That’s not very good for you non baseball readers). My dream of playing in college looked like a nightmare and even the coaches didn’t have much faith in me. I only had one option: get better or ride the bench my last season of high school ball. That winter I dedicated myself to getting better. I set up a batting cage in my families garage and banged ball after ball until my hands were filled with callouses and the walls filled with holes. What happened that following season was remarkable to the coaches, but to me it was expected. My average went up by 200 points, I won the starting job back, and towards the end of my senior year, I received an offer from a college to play baseball. How did this happen? Was it good luck or an accident? No. It was practice. Practice, practice, and more practice. Finding the will of GOD for your life works the same way. With scripture, prayer, and practice, we are constantly moving towards GOD’s purpose, plan, and destiny for our life. Paul writing to the Romans put it this way:
“Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose.” Romans 6:13 TPT
Yield in this verse is what sticks out to me. In agricultural terms yield means what the land or crop can produce. For example: The land yields corn. How does the land produce the crops? Does it magically appear? No, the farmer has to sow the seed in order for the crops to be yielded. When the farmer puts the seed into the ground, he doesn’t see anything for quite some time, but does that mean the seed isn’t producing anything. If we could go beneath the surface and see the seed in action, we would watch how the seed slowly opens and finally pokes through the ground. How long does it take? Sometimes weeks or months. Practice finding the will of GOD works just like the seed that is planted into the ground. Sometimes we don’t always see the fruit of what we are doing, but beneath the surface (or in the spiritual realm) our seeds are beginning to take root. 1 John 3:7 describes this process as practice:
“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” I John 3:7 NKJV
How do we become just like Jesus? Practice righteousness. How do we know the will of GOD for our life? Practice righteousness. What is righteousness? Just doing what the word of GOD says. Jesus made a distinction between practicing good and bad in Matthew 7:21-23:
“But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matthew 7:23 NLT
The New King James Version uses the phrase, “you who practice.” So, if we can practice breaking GOD’s laws, surely we can practice walking in the will of GOD. I know practice isn’t very fun sometimes, but the Bible is clear that knowing the will of GOD is not some instantaneous action, but it is a walk of practice. And we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Just like the farmer who plants a seed or me banging baseballs in the garage, knowing the will of GOD for our life is a walk in faith. Our prayer for you is that you will allow GOD to direct your steps as you practice knowing Him more and learn to walk in His ways. Remember, your walk starts with scriptures, it’s solidified in prayer, and then it’s walked out in practice.
This is the second of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series. Click here to read part 1 of this miniseries.
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”
Luke 11:2-4 KJV
I love the poetic way the King James Version translates the Lord’s Prayer and the circumstances surrounding Jesus teaching His disciples to pray. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, He had healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, faced down Satan in the wilderness, calmed storms, and walked on water—and through all those miracles, what did the disciples what to learn? They could’ve asked Jesus anything—“teach us to heal the sick” or “Show us that walking on water thing again”—but instead of miracles, the disciples asked, “Teach us to pray.” Why? Because they saw that the power in Jesus miracles were first directed and established in prayer. Before Jesus took 2 loaves and 3 fish and fed 5,000, He prayed over the food. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed to the Father. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed in the garden. What is the pattern we see from Jesus? It’s more than just that he prayed, but it's that Jesus prayed before He did anything. I believe He was following what Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3:6:
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:6 KJV
How did Jesus know the will of GOD for His life? It started with prayer. In our last blog post, we talked about finding scriptures in the Bible that speaks directly to your future (Click here for that post) and Jesus being the ‘Word made flesh’, knew what the scriptures said and now He was praying over those scriptures to allow GOD to lead Him on those paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). Our prayers and communion with GOD are the gateway that lead us onto those paths that have been designed for us. In the Proverb referenced above, the word “acknowledge” in the Hebrew literally means to know or learn to know. When we dig down into the original language it changes the whole dynamic of what the writer is trying to say. It’s not, “GOD I acknowledge as I make these paths,” its more like, “GOD I want to know you more and through knowing you I am moving along the right paths.” Another scripture puts it this way:
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NLT
We can try and establish our own path and our own destiny, but it is ultimately GOD who makes the final determination on where and what we should be doing in this life. Whether or not we follow in that path is up to our communion and fellowship with the Creator of our destiny. And how do we come to know or learn to know the Creator more? Prayer. It’s that open communication and dialogue with the One who made everything from the grass to your beating heart. Jesus understood this principal and that is why He walked in such power and purpose. Yes, He was GOD’s son, but He was also fully man. Your power, your purpose, your direction, is found through the same door Jesus used—Prayer.
Now lets put the first blog post and this post together. If you are wondering what GOD’s will for your life is, start with finding scriptures that define what His purpose for you is. Next, use those same scriptures in prayer and read them aloud to GOD. You’re not reminding Him, but you are declaring those over yourself.
If you wonder how to start, pray this prayer:
I come to you in the name of Jesus and just want to say thank you for creating me and giving me a purpose. Your word says that, “you lead me on paths of righteousness for your names sake,” and I am thankful that you are leading me on those paths. Father, I know that you have given me the mind of Christ and because of that, I know that I have wisdom for today and for my future. Continue guiding my steps and establishing my paths. My will is to do your will. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.
This is the first of a three part miniseries within the Back to Basics series on How to Know the Will of GOD. We believe that this topic is too encompassing to limit to one blog post within the Back to Basics series.
“How do I know the will of GOD for my life?” I feel like we all ask this question at sometime or another. Oftentimes, we ask this question when we are in transitions in our life—graduating college, loss of a job, moving from one city to another—transition creates questions and this question is life changing. I remember asking myself this same question when I was younger. Am I following where GOD wants me to go? Did I go to the right college? Did I pick the right major? Am I dating the right girl? The list goes on and on and on. Today, I have the same questions, but in a different context: Am I in the right career? Am I being the best husband and father that I can be? What more does GOD have for me? Is Anchor Movement making an impact? How do we grow our ministry in integrity and purpose? All great question, but all needing specific answers. I’m sure that your list doesn’t look very different from mine. What’s amazing about GOD’s desire for your life is that it never ends. No matter your age, occupation, or situation, GOD is passionate about seeing you become everything He created you to be. What I have found for me is that GOD uses three simple ways of revealing what His will is for my life and that is what I want to share with you today starting with the first.
You find GOD’s will through His word
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 NLT
The word of GOD is the first place we should all begin when we are searching for the will of GOD in our life. The Psalmist said in the scripture above that GOD’s word is a lamp that guides our feet and a light to show us the way. GOD has given us His word so that we can “find” our way through the stories and scriptures woven throughout from Genesis to Revelation. When I was injured playing football in junior high, I looked for every scripture and story on healing that I could find in the Bible. What was I doing? I was finding the lamp that would guide my feet and light my path. When you question what GOD’s will for your life is, start by looking for scriptures that speak promises into your future. One of my favorites is Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
Another great promise for your future is found in Psalm 23:
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.” Psalms 23:2-3 NLT
Jesus speaks directly to your future in John 10:10:
“My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT
What do all three of these scriptures have in common? They are promises directly spoken over your life and your future. What GOD has done in the past, He will do again. GOD did not forget about your life among the millions of others who are longing to know what His will is for them as well. GOD has a specific purpose, destiny, and assignment for your life and the scriptures illuminate this in Psalms 139:16:
'You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.' Psalms 139:16
GOD has already laid out for you days that fulfill His exact purpose for your life. The Bible speaks of things you can do to shorten your life (Psalm 55:23) and things you can do to lengthen your life (Proverbs 10:27), but before you were born, GOD had the exact perfect purpose laid out for you. The problem is, we as humans mess up the plan. We try to do things our way or we veer away from GOD for a certain season of our life or we run away from GOD until our life is complete mess. But GOD is merciful and He is always calling us back into that original purpose that He laid out before we were ever born.
If you want to know what the will of GOD is for your life, you have to know what the Bible says about your future. More than just going to Heaven when you die, there are scriptures throughout the Bible that speak directly to your past, present, and future. In prayer one time, I questioned GOD about his pick of Matthew as a disciple. Don’t get me wrong, I like Matthew, but in ancient days tax collectors were seen as some of the scummiest people in Judea and Matthew was a tax collector. When Jesus called him to be a disciple, Matthew didn’t hesitate for one second; he immediately followed Jesus and left behind his business of collecting taxes. When I asked GOD about this He said, “I’m not into looking at past, but I’m into looking at potential.” GOD is the GOD of potential. Your life is not defined by where you are today or where you’ve been, but it’s defined in the potential that awaits you in the future. GOD’s will for your life looks different from everybody else because you are uniquely different. Don’t give up just because you see somebody else on top of the mountain and you feel like you’re in the valley. Hebrews 13:5 from The Passion Translation puts it like this:
For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!” Hebrews 13:5 TPT
GOD hasn’t given up on your life nor has He forgotten about your life. As we will discover in parts 2 and 3 of this miniseries, GOD wants to see you develop into your calling; first through His word and then through prayer and practice. The first step begins with searching out scriptures that define what GOD says about your future and then believing what GOD says. Our prayer for you today is that GOD will illuminate in His word the many promises that define your future. Allow those scripture to penetrate deep into your heart and be the firm foundation in your search and engagement in GOD’s will for your life.