Upgrading Your Version of Christmas

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,

 yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

It’s that time of the year again, Christmas. No doubt there are so many things at this time of the year to distract us and cause us to sometimes not be in the best of moods. We know Christmas comes every year, and as a christian we know it’s about the birth of Christ. Of course with it comes all the usual negative worldly trappings. For about 4-5 weeks there will be a constant reminder of it everywhere you go. There are endless commercials on tv, social media, even the fat man himself, Santa Claus is everywhere you look. Again, there are multiple distractions which have nothing to do  about what is really being celebrated, which is Christ’s birth.  So we can head into it with the same old, same old routine, focused on the negative or we can choose to be different this time at Christmas. Whether your version of Christmas is good and you love this time of the year or not, it may be time for an upgrade. 

I remember a flight once where they upgraded me to first class. The plane remained the same and was still going to the same destination but it was different. My experience was definitely enhanced, it was easier to enjoy, the flight did not seem as long. If you have ever been upgraded on a plane you know what I am talking about. We update our phones, computers and other digital devices because the makers have added new features which make it run smoother, faster, or features that enhance our user experience. It’s able to do something it couldn’t before, making it easier to use and enjoy. 

Maybe it’s time for an upgrade with your version of Christmas. It is a great time to renew our heart in the truths which Christmas presents. If you want to have a Christmas to remember then it has to start by upgrading and even updating your version of Christ. Use this time to renew and refresh the truths about Jesus and His birth. Use Christmas to remind yourself of all the amazing things Jesus did for you this year. Look at your growth as well as all of the improvements you made with His help. After all, if He hadn’t been born, we would not even have a savior. Remind yourself His birth is your salvation. Don’t let the negative about Christmas drive your thinking and attitude. Instead look at all His birth means, and all His birth brought to mankind. Scriptures may not reveal an actual day, such as the 25th, but it does reveal His birth was a pretty big deal whenever the actual day was. So let this be a time to remind yourself and anyone else around you of what His birth means. It’s a great  time of the year to look at His birth and renew, refresh, and upgrade your version of Christ. 

A powerful truth in scriptures is the concept of being renewed in your heart and mind. Use this time of the year to renew your version of Christ. To renew simply means to make it new again, make it fresh again. Scriptures teach us, as a Christian, to renew our minds because things just creep in from time to time that take away the true meaning of our life in Christ. So we need to evaluate ourselves, take a look at our walk and maybe make some areas new again. This will bring a freshness back into our lives with Jesus. 

This isn’t a bad thing, there is nothing wrong with making things new again, and nothing wrong in realizing things have gotten maybe a little stale, stagnate, or so routine that it has become automated in your response. So step back and take a fresh look at what you are doing and how you are doing it, you may need to make it new again. This is why the scriptures encourage us to renew our hearts and minds. You simply look at truths you already know and bring a freshness back into them by reminding yourself what they mean. Everything we do in life could always use a fresh focus, a renewed look again to see where we are at with something. 

In approaching whatever you are sizing up, check your attitude, is it good or indifferent?  How much do you really care about it anymore, or maybe you have a bad attitude when getting ready to do whatever it is. Are we still getting the same life, enjoyment, excitement, and warmth you did when you first did whatever you are examining? Do you still have a good attitude about it or did it change somewhere over the course of time? 

Maybe it’s time to add something new to Christmas this year or just bring a freshness back into it again. Do you need to renew your heart and mind about this season? Maybe you need a fresh view. Does Christmas bring you good feelings and a great attitude or does it bring a different feeling? Examine your heart. Even if it’s a great attitude or not so great, just like your phone or computer, perhaps you need to add some new features, or get a newer version. 

Take a fresh look at the truths about Christmas to remind yourself why the holiday is celebrated. Everything in life can always use a fresh look, to bring into focus again things we know but have allowed to become so routine. Things may not have the same meaning or excitement they once had. 

How much enjoyment can you take away from this holiday by reminding yourself of how special this event truly is. Look again at the scriptures  which tell of His birth, study them out. It’s a powerful story. It really did happen whether it was the 25th or not does not matter. There is a story in scripture of His birth and it’s marvelous. 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Luke 2:8‭-‬14 NIV

Face it, this time of the year is going to be much the same scenario as it was last year. So use it to your advantage in reminding yourself and everyone around you of how powerful His birth was. Change your perception to getting the very most out of it as you can. Just like my upgrade to a better seat made a big difference in the flight, upgrade to a better seat for this Christmas. Don’t just trudge through it with an attitude of just surviving till it’s over. Look to improve your heart and mind and learn how to enjoy every aspect of Christ’s birth, i.e. Christmas. 

The great news is you can right now, at this moment, start to renew or maybe even add some new features to your life and walk with Him through this holiday season. Update your version of Christmas, look at the areas you may need to rethink, renew or possibly add something new to enhance your enjoyment giving you a better experience. Remember it is about His Birth. So go ahead give yourself A Christmas to Remember. 

2Co 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. AMP

What Did His Birth Truly Give Us?

What Did It Add To Our Lives?

“the running father”

I’m sure most Christians are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son.  But my daughter told me about a Bible study she was in a couple of months ago where she learned in the Middle East it was referred to  as the story of The Running Father. It was not so much about a rebellious son repenting and coming to his right mind but instead the story was about the actions of a father. This intrigued me, so I began my own study on this concept (Luke 15:11-31). The following hopefully will bless those who want to see another take on this parable.

In Luke 15 before you even come to this story you have the shepherd that searches for the one lost sheep (4-7). Most sermons focus on the one lost sheep instead of the heart of the shepherd and His commitment to his sheep. It is revealed in verse 7, Jesus states the attitude of heaven is one which reflects the attitude and heart of our God, which was joy. The same with the woman who searches for the lost coin (8-10). Again, the emphasis needs to be on her heart and commitment in finding the coin. Here again it reflects the heart and attitude of heaven in verse 10, even the angels are rejoicing over the lost being found. 

Jesus is pointing to the heart of the Father in heaven. It’s about a shepherd and his dedication to search, not so much a lost sheep, or a dedicated woman to find, not so much a lost coin. These are the parables leading up to the prodigal son. The emphasis is on the attitude and heart of the one searching and not so much on what was lost. 

Now what is lost is important but really understanding the heart of the one searching and the attitude of heart toward what was lost is the emphasis. So looking at this third parable we should put the emphasis on understanding the attitude of the heart, and the commitment of the father. Also, to truly see this we need some insight into the culture of a Jewish community during this time period as well. 

Cultural Observations in a Jewish Community at this time. 

The Son:(12-19)

To ask for his inheritance was the same as saying his father was dead to Him. 

For the Father to give him what he asked for would mean putting into cash what would have been his share, of the land, livestock, business, etc..The father would have to act on the premise of how much would the son get if He were dead. The whole time the father is putting this share together it’s as if he were dead. As the Father does this it would have been heartbreaking to him. This would not have been an overnight transaction, it would have required a little time. This means there would have been tension throughout the family which the son’s action brought on all of them. The entire household would have known what was going on and most likely the community as well. This could not have been a task done in secret or overnight without others involved and knowing full well what was happening. It would have brought dishonor, embarrassment, and shame on not just the father but the family as well.

A Kezazah Ceremony) Hebrew: cutting off; It was the technical term used when a family severs its connection to a member of their family. It is where the family and community disown the individual.The whole community gathers to meet with the individual at the city gate, and the elders would break a large clay pot in front of him and say out loud for all to hear, “You are now cut off from your people!”  and then the community would totally reject him and sever all ties. It’s interesting that according to some historical accounts during the kezazah, if it was a child the father was not allowed to be present. However, the mother could attend and ask for mercy for the child, but not the father.

The son was old enough to know all of the implications that went with this, to his family, to his community, culture, traditions, he was turning his back to all of this. In a manner of speaking, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with any of them any longer. He wanted to be completely separated from His father, family, and community in which they lived. 

The wording here implies he left to live and eventually join himself to non Jewish people, which was forbidden for Jews. 

He obviously lived way above his means and making poor decisions which eventually cost him everything. He was, in our terms, flat busted broke, completely penniless. He goes from the stature of one who has money and influence to one who becomes a servant. This would have been very humiliating to him. During this time period It states he came to his senses, further stating he knew he sinned against God and his father and was not worthy to be a son but maybe a hired hand. He knew even the servants of his father’s house were treated better than his own life at that moment. His thinking is in the mindset of a servant, a hired hand. He is not thinking as son any more. His image has changed completely.

Now let’s pick up in scripture the response of the father. 

Luke 15:20-32

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'” NIV

The Father:

A long way off:(20) He knew it was his son even at a long distance off. His son could not have looked the same yet the father knew it was his own. For him to react as he did it would have been already in his heart to do so if given the opportunity. There had to have been a hope that one day he would return, something he must have continually thought about. The point was he had never forgotten his son.

Filled with compassion:(20) (Compassion; to take action to relieve the suffering of another, compassion is the action of mercy. The word compassion is not just a feeling but is the action taken to lift and if possible take the suffering off of the one needing compassion.)

Instead of disdain or contempt it was the opposite reaction. This was the son who told his father you are dead to me and I want nothing to do with you anymore, yet the father was filled with compassion. Upon seeing His son he felt the condition of His son and wanted to relieve him of his suffering. The son feeling shame, humiliation, and embarrassment, truly at his lowest possible point as a human being received only compassion from His father. 

He ran to his son:(20) This small part of the parable was huge, in this culture and time period. It was seen as an undignified action for a person of his stature and influence in the community to run. Men of his status just did not run. To run required he lift up his garment and expose his legs. Men in his position have servants to do the running. However, him running to his son immediately reveals his heart. He knew how people would react to his son returning. But before anyone could condemn or reject his son, He got to him first. By running to his son he also drew attention to himself, taking the attention off his son and his condition. The father made sure by his actions the community could see plainly the position he had concerning his son making sure no one could say anything else. The father completely accepted his son`s return.

 The son is fully aware of what he should expect from his father. But instead sees his father running towards him. The son had to have thought the same as everyone else, why is He running toward me?  He knew he was not worthy to be a son but he could be a hired servant. The son didn’t even get all of his rehearsed speech out, his father hugged and kissed him which would have been a shock to the son as well as everyone else. The son knew how He treated his father, Yet his father acted as if it never happened. Instead he starts the process of restoring his son to his place as a son born into his family. To the father even though the son told him he was dead to Him, He was and always would be His son. The father only saw his son. The father shows He would have it no other way. The suffering this young man endured, even though self-inflicted, was instantly lifted off of him by his father. 

This is why in the thinking of Middle East culture it was titled “the Running Father ”. The focus is not so much on the son but on the father’s actions. Jesus was making the point of God the Father’s heart, how the Father in heaven sees us and how He responds to us when we come to Him. It’s hard to picture God the Father in heaven so excited to see us returning home that He would run toward us, yet this is the picture Jesus wants us to see. God sees us no other way but as his children. He sees Himself as our Father and us as His son or daughter. 

Quick, bring the best robe, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.(22) The father instantly restored him to the status of a son, his son, making a distinction between a servant and his son. He obviously had to look disheveled and more like a servant. But the father never saw him any other way, but as his son. The robe instantly covers his son, gives him honor back and changes the condition he was found in, the ring signifies to all His identity and who he belongs to and belongs with, his authority and position in the family given back to Him.  The sandals give purpose to his path again, no longer a servant but a son, remember he had fallen to the place of a hired servant, now he is restored back to a son. The Father never once brings up the past, except to say He was dead but now alive, he was lost but now found.

The father throws a feast,(23-24)

He celebrates and displays publicly how he sees his son who just returned. He is overwhelmed with joy. Everyone from servants to the rest of the community would have known what was happening. Even more importantly, it would have revealed to everyone the position the father took concerning his son.

Through this parable Jesus is revealing how God sees all of us. He is painting a picture of His Father’s heart toward those who are lost. The minute we turn and start toward home He watches and sees us. Even a long way off He runs toward us. He doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. This is truly the definition of His grace. An unmerited love and favor which no man deserves but still receives from God. He never brings up the past mistakes. He doesn’t focus on who we were or what we have done but the focus is on how God the Father sees us and who we are to Him. He instantly restores us to our rightful and proper place in His family. He covers us, He gives back our dignity. He establishes us as one of His own with the position of one born into His family. His heart is ecstatic, and overwhelmed to see us come home. He is rejoicing, celebrating when we come home. All of heaven above reflects His attitude of celebration and joy. 

The Other Son:(25-32) 

Obviously the other son had a bad attitude. He probably felt justified to some extent. His focus was on what His brother had done and who he had become. However, this is not how the father saw things. Look at the father’s response to what this son says, and how he says it. The other son states he has slaved for his father, always obeying His father and yet never received a party with the fatted calf. He states his brother was wicked and not deserving. His focus was on the worth of who he had become. He saw only his brother’s past actions. This son thought he was better. He judged and looked down on his brother for his past actions. He thought His actions made him special to his father, he was different and not like his brother. 

This son did not know his father’s heart like he should have. Jesus points out that even though this son was not like the returning son, he still did not know who his father really was and his attitude and heart was wrong. 

The father corrects this son’s view of his brother. The father saw this son the same as he saw the returning son, no different. I think of how often Christians make condemning remarks, in the same way as the other son did, by feeling superior, “I’m not like them”. But by the fathers response we know this is not what he wanted from his son. He should have had the same heart and attitude of his father. This son should have been rejoicing, overwhelmed to see the return of his brother just like his father. Forgetting his past mistakes and seeing only as a brother restored back into the family.

This is a good place to look at our lives, especially if we have been walking with the father for any length of time. Do we still see ourselves by our past actions? Now that we are home and we have been serving God for sometime, what is our place and position? Do we see ourselves like the other son, quick to judge others by their past. Do we think since we have been serving God all these years we are better? 

To mature and grow and keep the same heart and attitude of our Heavenly Father is what Jesus is wanting us to see. This is what Jesus displayed through His life, death and resurrection. We are to continually have in our mind how joyful it is to see a returning son or daughter and that He sees us the same as He did when we returned home. We should encourage anyone to see themselves the way the Father sees them. This is how He always sees us, we are special but no more special than anyone else who has returned home. So what the father tells his other son is the mindset the Father wants all of us to have. 

My son(31)

We are completely totally accepted with God as one of His own. You are one of His children accepted just like He accepts Jesus. You must be secure in how He sees you. No one has a right to say anything else. This is our place and position with the Father. He put the best robe on us, put a ring on us, and sandals on our feet. We now have the right to see ourselves this way and should always see ourselves this way. God only sees a son, He only sees a daughter. He sees nothing else because He fully accepted you. Just because He rejoices when another son or daughter who returns home does not mean they are any more special then you. He sees us all the same and treats us all the same.  

You always have me(31)

We can always rely on Him being there with us and for us. He proved this with the son that was lost. He proved this with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The true question is, are we enjoying being with Him or is He still a distant Father? His position is for us to be with Him and  to enjoy every aspect of Him and His Father’s heart toward us. 

All I have is yours(31)

Everything of God’s is ours, He has never held anything back from us. All He has is ours. He shows no partiality but freely accepts us as a full family member with all the rights and privileges which come with our place with Him. 

When The Scales Have Fallen

When the Scales Have Fallen

A basic fundamental for any Christian who desires to be strong in the Lord is having a proper understanding of “God is with us” . To move from the spectator seats to being in the actual arena where the building of His Kingdom and the work of Jesus is being done, you must have a solid foundation of His omnipresence. If you have accepted Him into your life then you must believe He is there, He is with you. 

To help in the development of this concept, let’s look at Paul’s encounter with Jesus. 

Acts 9:1‭-‬12, ‬15‭-‬19

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 

Let’s notice first, Jesus knew Saul. He knew all about Saul. He knew everything Saul was doing and knew where to find him.  This would mean Jesus had to have been on the road to Damascus as well. In this encounter there was nothing hidden about Saul which Jesus did not already know. Again, He knew who Saul was, where he was, what he was doing and who he was doing it for, and who he was doing it to.  He saw all that was happening in the life of Saul.

Jesus spoke to Saul and he understood the words being spoken. This means Jesus had to have been there in order for Saul to hear. The other side of this story is Saul did not know who Jesus was, he was not aware of Him yet. Therefore, Jesus actually had to identify Himself to Saul. Even if Saul did not know it was Jesus, he was obviously aware of His presence at that moment. 

The men with Saul heard the sound but saw no one. Jesus chose not to identify Himself to them. What an amazing event which clearly shows the omnipresence of the Lord and what His presence is truly like. Now let’s look at part two of this story, Ananias. 

Acts 9:10-19

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength…. NIV

Jesus knew right where to find one of His disciples to do the work He needed done. Jesus knows where all His disciples are at any given moment. He also knows how He can use them, and what they are capable of doing for Him. 

Remember this word “moment”. 

Jesus called on Ananias to go and minister to Saul. Ananias knew the voice of the Lord and the moment Jesus called him, he answered. Obviously they had conversed before and he was familiar with the voice of Jesus, He didn’t have to identify Himself. Ananias instantly knew who was talking to him. For this to take place Jesus’ presence had to have been there with Ananias. Again, he knew who was speaking to him. They talked to each other and understood one another like any two people who knew each other twould be in a  normal conversation.

This encounter did not startle Ananias, nor did it seem strange or out of place to him but perfectly normal. So normal was this encounter Ananias was comfortable enough to respectfully question the Lord in what He was asking him to do. He was talking to the Lord the same as he would with anybody else.

 Again, Jesus knew everything about Ananias, who he was, where he was, and knew what He could count on from him at any given moment in time. Jesus even shared His plans and purposes for Saul’s life (Acts 9:15-16) with Ananias. The following scripture shows the heart of Jesus in wanting to share His plans with any of His disciples. 

John 15:15‭-‬16

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. NIV

Jesus knew Ananias and he knew Jesus. He was ready and willing to go and do for the Lord the “moment” he was asked. He was aware of the Lord’s presence, His voice, and what the Lord was asking of Him specifically. He knew what it meant to lay hands on Saul and ask for the Holy Spirit to come into his life. This was not a strange request for Ananias, he understood exactly what He was asked to do. This is also a great picture of what a trained disciple of Jesus looks like. 

This is the only mention of Ananias in the Bible, but what he did for the Lord in a moment of time went down as a powerful testimony in Saul’s life with Jesus. Two brief moments in time, two short encounters with Jesus literally affected the lives of millions throughout history. 

In examining the presence of Jesus, here is what this story reveals. 

Jesus had personal knowledge of these two men. He knew them, and everything about them. Jesus knew everything they were doing and where He could find them. Jesus knew how to communicate with them so that each one of them understood Him perfectly. Although Saul did not know it was Jesus, he still understood the words being spoken to him. Jesus also knew what each man was capable of doing and how to use them. 

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above–spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Eph 2:10 AMP

So one knew Jesus personally and how to talk with Him, and one needed his eyes and ears opened. When the scales fell off of Saul’s eyes he could now physically and spiritually see. From that day forward he had a working knowledge of the presence of Jesus in His life.  

This is who Jesus is, this was not just a special one time occurance. This is how He would be present with anyone. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).  If He was this way with Saul and Ananias then He can be this way with you. He knows everything about you. He knows right where you are physically, spiritually, and mentally. In every way possible, Jesus knows you. He knows what you are capable of doing so He knows how to use you. The real question is do you want to be used by the Lord? 

As these scriptures reveal to us Jesus was there, it is one of the attributes of the Lord, which is so powerful. He is the God who is here. Our understanding should always be that the Lord is present. He is not lost or away at the moment. He is not on vacation and should be back in a week or two. He is not gone, leaving you to hope He shows up. He is not distant, instead His presence is always here. So living in the moment with Jesus will be based on how aware our faith allows Him to be present. 

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:20‭-‬23 NKJV

No matter the story in scriptures, if you examine them you will find these truths of God being present in what is happening, God is there. His ability to be there should not be in question nor should there be any doubt about His presence, but rather our ability to know and hear Him, and being fully aware of His presence. 

In the article titled “The Awareness Factor”, we mentioned the concept of our personal life space. This is the space where you and the Lord merge your spaces. With Ananias the spaces were already merged, the Lord was able to communicate freely with him and he with Jesus. He was able to give Ananias an assignment and knew he would carry it out for Him. This should be every Christian’s goal, to be this type of disciple for Jesus. Your personal space being so in tune with Jesus that you are one with Him (Jn.17:20-23). Being fully aware He is there, knowing who He is and what life with Him is all about. To truly have those, in the moment encounters with Jesus, we need to grow and mature in our awareness of Him with us. 

If you choose to stay immature, then you are going to miss those opportunities where He lives His life through you. They will just slip right by because you are more focused on your own personal space and not the two of you together. You are really centered on self, doing for yourself what you want, living your life and not really including the Lord all that much. This is what keeps us immature and dulls our awareness of His presence. You can be a good church goer, but still not fully allow Jesus to have His life working through you. Maybe like Saul you need to have the scales fall off from your spiritual eyes.  

Jesus wants you to have and enjoy life, He does this by merging His life with your life. He wants you to be one with Him. He wants you to experience His presence all the time. So start letting your faith center on Him and come alive to the awareness of His presence, and know He is Jesus, the “God who is here”, right here, right now with you. 

The Awareness factor

The Awareness Factor

Personal Life Space and Divine Awareness

Let me start by defining “life space”. If you could look at this term just from a natural viewpoint it would be the actual space your physical body takes up, plus about 18 -24 inches in circumference around you. It’s the actual environment or space surrounding your person. Maybe you have heard someone say “you’re in my space”. They are stating you are too close to them personally and they see it as their space. This, of course, is in the natural, physical realm. This personal space is the area you conduct your life from both naturally and spiritually. 

I think everyone was aware of their personal space naturally, especially during the pandemic months of 2020. You definitively were aware when someone got too close to you physically. 

Inside this space includes your decisions on what you will or will not do, what you will accept or what you will not accept which produces life for yourself or life as you know it. It is your personal hub where you conduct life.

 Perhaps you have heard someone say, “they got in my face”? It usually means someone got into your personal space but in a negative way. They were displeased with something you did or said and they made sure you were aware of their displeasure. Anger or animosity was displayed in some form toward you. While this may not have been within the 18-24 inches surrounding your physical body you still felt attacked because they disrupted your personal space. They made sure to draw all your attention to what they were saying to you. It most likely set off emotions, maybe even angered you. Your reaction, good or bad, was where life was happening in that moment within your personal space. 

So this space includes your will, emotions, and thoughts. This space makes up who you are and what you like and dislike. This is the space around you that you feel is yours personally and you have the right to control it any way you feel is appropriate. It is the space you control just like you would control real property. You bring this space with you wherever you go.

 However this space is also spiritual as well, we will discuss this shortly. This space is like having your own office space where you show up to conduct the business of your personal life. It is the essence of who you are physically and spiritually which you control wherever you are. It is where you are operating and controlling your life. It is the actual space where you produce life for yourself according to your physical, mental and spiritual capabilities. You know it’s your space because you also know when something happens to you, makes you uncomfortable or when someone gets in this space. Why? Because it comes into your personal space and touches your likes or dislikes and interrupts your life flow positively or negatively.  

This space is where you pilot your life. You make decisions physically, mentally, and spiritually as to how you want this space to be run. The reason I’m calling it your “life space” and not just your “life” is because you will tend to see it differently if you see it as the space you own and control which you bring with you wherever you are or wherever you go.

 To allow someone into this space depends on whether you trust them or not. If you have accepted someone into this space with either their presence physically or through  their thoughts and opinions, it is based strictly on how they are trusted. Otherwise you will make sure they keep their proper distance regarding your space. 

Merging Of Personal Life Space

As Christians who accepted Jesus, we ask Him to come into our personal space. We, in a sense, grant permission for Him to enter our space. 

It’s Jesus coming into your personal space bringing His personal space, therefore making a space where life with both of you are being produced. Jesus brought His personal space and accepts and trusts  you to be in His personal space. He shares His life space with you, it’s where the two personal spaces, His and yours come together. He comes into your personal office where you are conducting the business of life and sets up a desk where He is doing the exact same thing. So it is not just your personal space anymore, but it is space shared with Jesus, where all of life, yours and His, happens. 

Catch this truth, Jesus brought all of His life into this space. It is now where all of the business of His life happens. It is all of the life of Jesus operating in His fullest capacity in and through your personal space. He did not hold anything of Himself from you,  but brought all of it into your personal life space. Let’s look at an example. 

….As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Luke 8:42‭-‬48 NIV

This woman pressed into Jesus’ personal space in a way where she was close enough to draw from what was in His space for herself. She merged into Jesus’ personal space with her personal space. The two merged for a brief moment and she was able to draw from the life in His space. Her healing was there in His personal space. She knew if she could get into His personal space she could get the healing she needed.

 Here is a truth we must grasp, wherever He went He brought it with Him. Just like you, Jesus has a personal life space and wherever He goes He brings this space with Him. 

So if you have allowed Jesus to come into your personal space He brought all of what’s in His space with Him. He even states it in scripture this way.

Faith In The Home 

Jesus answered, “If anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep My word (teaching); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him. John 14:23 AMP

Jesus says He and His Father will come live with you in your home. If He is actually living there then all of His presence would have to be there as well.  All of who He is, in every way would be present. All of His life and everything that makes up His personal space. The greater you are aware of this the greater you are aware of Him. 

When Jesus moved in and brought all of His life with Him the controlling factor is you. How much of the life of Christ will you let happen? How much do You trust and accept Him with your personal space? You and your faith now control your life together with Him. 

If you only allow Him access to a back bedroom in the house and just interact with Him when it’s convenient, then this is how much you trust and this is how much of His life you will have. 

Many Christians have accepted Jesus into their life but do not give Him full access to their personal space. Yet, Jesus allows them to have full access to His personal space. All of His life’s presence is still there with all of the life He brought with Him when He moved in. He didn’t hold back or keep any of His life from you but gladly brought it with Him for you both to enjoy. Again, it comes down to what you believe and are practicing with your faith.

 Does He have full access to the whole house? Are you living life 24/7 with Him? Are the two of you enjoying life to the fullest? This is what Jesus wants and this is what He brings with Him.

It is the two of you sharing each other’s life space. Jesus in yours and you in His. Drawing from each other living together as one. Here is How Paul stated it.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NIV

Living the Life

If you are a born again Christian, with His Spirit living in you then Jesus is right there in your personal space living His life with your life. This is how it moves from just living life to living a life with God. The life He wants us to live. 

We move from a form of Christainity to a relationship with Jesus because we are sharing life together. He moves into your personal space and He brings His personal life space and the fullness of this life into yours. We just need to keep our heart and mind centered on this truth. Jesus is right there with us wherever we are and  He is always trying to produce His life in our personal space.

He wants His life to be the dominant life if you allow Him. The more He dominates the more life together you enjoy. This regulates how much, as a Christian, your life changes. Jesus, if we let Him, brings His overcoming, abundant life with Him and now lets you live and enjoy His life through your own personal space, if you want. He is producing through you His life and everything that goes with it.  

All of God

Have you ever heard Christians say they want more of God? You may hear them say they “want Him to show up”. 

You may after a meeting hear someone say “the Lord showed up” talking about how His presence was there in a very real way through the worship part of the meeting or some other segment of the gathering. Sometimes you hear these phrases used when something dynamic happened and the individual credits the Lord for showing up.  

Now I have been in meetings where His presence seemed to be very tangible. That is, my senses seem to feel His presence more than before the meeting started.  But did God show up more or did I sense or feel Him more?  Maybe ask the question where was He until you were aware of His presence? Could it be that we need to have a different perspective on this? Scripture states He is with us and would never leave us. He would never abandon us like an orphan. He even said He is with us to the end of age, meaning forever. Scriptures continually teach us His Spirit lives in us, we are the temple of the living God. (Mt.1:23, Is.41:10, 1Cor.3:16, Jn.1:14, Dt.31:6,8, Mt.28:20, Ps.23:4, 2Tim.1:14, Rom.8:11, Jn.14:16-18, 1Cor.6:19)

Now we know there is a Spiritual and a natural realm. We also know our natural realm will cease to exist one day and all there will be is the Spiritual. However, while on earth you have both operating at the same time. So the truth is Jesus is here with us all the time. Those times that His presence seems to be so strong, whether during a private setting, or an experience during meetings, or through group worship sets our focus was greater and distractions were just not there. Our hearts and minds were centered completely on Him in those moments.

The same is true when we don’t seem to sense His presence, He is there with us but our mind and heart are more on our personal situation and circumstances that’s happening in our personal space. The truth is He is there with us and was always there, but because of natural hindurances, things that distract us, our attention is on other things. This is where we are not as focused as we could have been. Here is the definition of distraction. 

Distraction; anything that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else; extreme agitation of the mind or emotions that keeps their focus on something else other than what they need to do; something or someone that directs one’s attention away from something which should be seen, heard, or done:

But when we are focused on Him, distractions of life that have cluttered our hearts and minds seem to fade away, we become more in tune to His presence. It makes sense His presence would be more when our focus and attention is centered on Him more. Our passion and desire is locked in on Him, so our faith is stirred to a higher level of awareness. So being aware of His presence in your life space is really a normal concept. Look at the definition of aware;

Aware; having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge of something happening or existing, having knowledge or experience of a particular thing:

Divine Awareness

So having a divine awareness should be something every christian is cultivating in a greater and greater capacity and not letting things slip by you.  How aware are you of what God is doing today? Were you aware of His presence when you got up this morning? How about last night when you went to bed? Did you think of Him during the day being with you in your personal space? The truth is, right now where you are, all around you, God is doing things and He is wanting to live His life through your life. He wants you involved. He wants you to have the greatest experience in your life on earth with Him. However we must believe He is in your personal space. 

Even though it is an unseen realm it is just as real as anything you can see, touch, or hear in the natural realm, because He is there. Just because you cannot see it does not mean it’s not there. You can have a magnet and see its effect upon contact with metal but you cannot see the magnetic force itself. You can say it’s windy because you see the leaves or branches in a tree moving, but you don’t actually see the wind itself, you see its effect. 

We know how gravity works, what goes up must come down yet you don’t see gravitational pull, just its effects. There are lots of things happening everyday we don’t see and yet we know they are there, we just don’t think about them so we really are not aware of them. It is the same with God. Just because we are not aware of them does not mean they are not happening. 

Look at Paul, He did not know who the person of Jesus was, yet Jesus knew Him, actually all about him and everything he was doing, but Paul was not aware until Jesus made Him aware (Acts 9:1-19). The apostles did not know the power of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost then they understood His power and from that day forward they made sure all could be aware of this power. Those who proclaim to have His Spirit should be aware of wherever they go He goes with them. You need to be aware of the truth, you brought Him with you. He is always all around His people moving, loving, providing, because He is with us.    

Ask Yourself

So how aware of God’s presence are you? Do you believe God is here right now doing things, and wanting you to know, see and hear, to be fully aware of Him. 

but just as it is written: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the human heart, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NASB2020

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NASB2020

“I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.  John 17:20-21 NASB2020

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16‭-‬18 NIV

Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually–regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” Mat 28:18‭-‬20 AMP

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:27‭-‬29 NIV

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV

I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Gal 2:20 AMP

And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him. Hebrews 11:6 TPT

Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. 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

Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed–be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” Heb 13:5 AMP

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 NIV

The realization is, God is not holding any of His presence back from us. However if we are not looking we will not see anything. If we are not listening then we will not hear anything. If we are not listening or looking we are not going to know anything and it just goes right by us unnoticed. We must believe God wants to share His life space with us, and that He is right now in our personal life space.  If we believe, then  we will be looking and listening and growing in the knowledge of His presence with us -all the time!! 

How to Practice Awareness

  1. Read, meditate on, and believe all of the scriptures Jesus said about Him being with us. 
  2. Talk to Him like any other person being with you. If He is here right now talk to Him the same way you would with anybody else you were with right now. But talk to Him as someone close you have invited in to your life space.
  3. Look and listen for His presence, if you believe He is here then look with spiritual eyes for what He is doing, set your ear to hear what He might be saying not just to you but anybody around you 
  4. If He is with you then act like it, let your actions reflect this, act as one who has Jesus walking with them wherever they go, share your life space with Him
  5. Believe, exercise your faith that He is now living His life through you. Practice picturing Him with you, wanting to do His work through you.  Ask Him what He wants to do today, right now in this moment.

Now Is “Timeless”

“Now” faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. Heb 11:1 AMP

Now” faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. Hebrews 11:1 TPT

“Now” faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 NASB2020

Just like the Word of God, (Heb.4:12) time is also like a two edged sword. One side cautions us about using our time wisely and responsibly, while the other side encourages us to seize the moment. Too often we take such cautions we never seize the moment. 

Of course we need to understand there is only one entrance point to time. This entrance would be now, right now. So here is a statement to muse on, “You only have now” and “You always have now”. Is there anything wrong with being responsible? Absolutely not. We should use our time to be productive. However, we should not let this be our safe zone for not seizing the moment. 

Right now, at this very instant, we can seize the moment to use all of the gifts, blessings and power that Jesus secured for us. When? Right now! Now, will always be our starting point. Right now, all of what Jesus’ death and resurrection has given us is available. All of His presence, power, and promises can be accessed right now.  

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how young you are. It doesn’t matter how long you have been a Christian, whether you are new at walking with God or you’ve been doing it for years because now, right now is always your starting point. So even if you’re unsure of your next steps then take small ones, baby steps, or maybe it’s time to take a big step, even jump toward where you believe God is leading you. 

No matter where you are, as a Christian in life’s journey, taking a step with Jesus is always going to be now, right now, you need to take the step. What is it you are hoping for or desire to see happen in your life? Now is your starting point to exercise your faith. Right now start praying, believing, and speaking what you want to see God do for you. If things need to change then make the decision to do something now to change it. 

Don’t wait but seize the moment right now to start. When can you pray, when can you be blessed, when can you forgive, when can you hear and talk to God, when does God heal, when can a person get saved, when does a person have abundant life, the answer is always “NOW”. 

Remember, “Now” is your only entrance point to time. Do you want something new and exciting? Do you want to break up the status quo? Don’t let the past dictate your time right now, yesterday is gone, and don’t be so caught up with what may or may not happen tomorrow that you do not take fresh steps today. So answer the question of when, with NOW!! Right NOW. NOW is the entry point to all God has for you.

Bi-Annual Report

Wow, half of 2022 seems like it has flown by. So I wanted to give a bi-annual report on what Rubicon Ministries has been doing. 

Our ministry is still involved in supporting less fortunate children in Costa Rica through a feeding program sponsored by LightForce International.Their programs are amazing. For some of these children, it is the only hot meal they will get all week. Their programs not only feed children but adults as well. They also help disadvantaged children who have special needs along with their mothers.

We started giving to help Ukrainian refugees but stopped because we couldn’t find enough info to continue. However, I have been trying to stay informed. I’ve been in  contact with a good friend in Romania to get information on his perspective from that side of the world, since their country borders Ukraine. Hopefully doors will open to help in some way as this tragedy continues to unfold. 

We are also contributing to a summer camp to sponsor some of the children from the feeding program in Costa Rica. This is exciting as it is their first one.  They have been given use of an island where they will conduct the camp. The island has a facility specifically set up for this. They are taking children who do not have the means to do this for themselves and some of these children have never even seen the ocean. But while at this camp, they will have bible studies, worship even some surfing lessons. Their theme is called the great battle. It’s about the life of David and his defeating Goliath. The big question they will present is “if you knew God was on your side and you could not fail what would you do for Him?”.

I have been in the process of preparing book 3 of our discipleship series to print 100 copies. Of course these will be distributed for free.  I am also planning to print another 100 copies of book 2 in Spanish as we have already given away almost all of the first 100 copies of the book.

At Rubicon, we still see training as foundational basics and of utmost importance for the growth of the individual and therefore want to provide as much material as we can for free. 

No mission trips have opened up yet but I am believing I will get back out there soon.  I still speak occasionally. I’m still writing, and in fact working on a new book about living in the moment. This book is about how Jesus was the quintessential example of living in the moment and we, as followers, are being conformed to that image. As the writing continues I will be posting some excerpts to our website. 

Well, we would like to say a big thank you to all of you who support Rubicon with your prayers and financial gifts. Together we are building His Kingdom.

In your service, Kim and Bettye Carroll

A Word for 2022

A Word For 2022

“For those who have waited I am pouring My life into them. My life is My purpose and those who have waited are being filled again with purpose. Now is the time to push forward in faith. Understand, waiting is not sitting around but is time to see where I am moving, to awaken and serve, to bring forth My purposes. Now is the time to watch and pray for many will ask “where is the Lord”, You will respond and say ” Here He is”.   You will speak “I see Him here and there”, so watch and pray looking ahead with eyes of faith. It is also a time to watch and pray and be aware of the schemes of the enemy. Be careful to what you hear. Be careful to what you are listening too. But watch and listen for My Words for I will bring the hills and even the mountains low and bring the valleys up making a smooth path to journey on. For I will reward My people for their faith and fulfill My promises of life abundantly with those who know I am here, I am with you right now.”

2022

  1. A year He will be pouring His life into His purposes. To awaken to His plan and purpose. A year to reach out to those who will be looking and reaching out for the Lord.
  2. A year to deepen and grow in your faith, take risks in your walk of faith with Him
  3. A year to be on guard and very careful in what you hear but listen for the Lord and let His Spirit interrupt His Words 
  4. A year to wait on (serve) the Lord, a year to bring your sacrifice of praise before His heart. A year to declare the Excellencies of the Lord. 

Isaiah 40:31

Hebrews 11:6

Mark 4:24

1Peter 2:9

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 NASB2020

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6 NASB2020

And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.

Mark 4:24 NASB2020

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  1 Peter 2:9 NASB2020

Rubicon News Update

Rubicon Update

So sorry it’s been a few months since I gave an update, however I do want to keep those interested in Rubicon’s latest news. I hope this update finds you doing well and enjoying life, post pandemic. I say “post” because it seems here in Kentucky things are getting pretty much back to normal (or as some are saying “the new normal”), as it can be after the year we just went through. I recently posted an article to Rubicon’s website entitled “What do you expect” to help get people thinking again about what to expect from God. So many people had their expectations crushed or put on hold for a solid year that they kind of forgot what to expect and maybe even lowered them. But now is the time to re-evaluate and re-align your expectations, even be bold enough to raise them because you know what Jesus is capable of doing for you and with you. He never quit on you nor did His expectations change concerning your life. He is still the same as He was yesterday, today, and He will be the same powerful, loving Lord tomorrow. Be sure when you get time to read the article.

Well last year as some of you know I had to cancel three mission trips due to covid restrictions. So I started doing short videos called faith builders. With these I then started a YouTube channel and thanks to help from Daniel Boone and Tomahawk his web company, Rubicon put up a new website. I also finally finished the 5th book in our discipleship series. This one took about a year or so because I felt it was the most important one to a disciples growth so I made sure of what to say hoping to get to the heart of the subject of servanthood. It should be available within the next couple of weeks. I have already begun inquiring once again about future mission trips to help in training the saints. Since there has been nothing to open up I have started on another training book. This one is on hearing the voice of God, I don’t have a title yet but should have it out by the end of year along with another Christmas book. Of course Rubicon has for a couple of years been supporting a program in Costa Rica which feeds children in impoverished areas. All and all I am still staying busy here with Rubicon Ministries Churches and Ministries International.  

Expectations

What Do You Expect

Has someone ever said to you “well what did you expect”, or “what did you think was going to happen”? Usually these statements are heard when something negative occured. There are probably countless times throughout your life you have heard these spoken by someone observing what happened either to you or to someone else. You may have even told someone this yourself.  

A decision was made to go forward with something questionable which turned out wrong or bad, and then you say to yourself, “I knew that would happen”, “what did I expect”. Obviously you were expecting something completely different. Truthfully you were questioning moving forward and you were already thinking a negative outcome could happen, but hoping it wouldn’t. You honestly had a lower expectation of results. 

Even now thinking back on raising my children I wonder how many times I said, “What did you expect”?. It’s funny to think of how many things if done a certain way, the right way, you know what to expect. Then there are those times you take an easier way, a short cut, and it doesn’t work, and inwardly you didn’t expect it to but you were hoping. 

The actual definition of the word “expect” means you are considering the outcome  with certainty behind it. You may even be anticipating or looking forward to the occurrences that are about to happen because you expect what will happen. 

Now let me ask this, what do you expect from God? Do you expect Him to be faithful ? Do you expect Him to do what He says or are you just inwardly hoping?  Yet, how many times throughout the Bible and through our lives have we seen God do exactly what He said He would? As a Pastor when people have asked for prayer, we pray and it happens according to our prayers and people seem surprised. The reason for this is they honestly were not expecting any result from the prayer offered.

I mean think with me here, “What Do We Expect”?. Did we get what we expected? You are wanting God to do various things and you were truly hoping, but it didn’t happen, you were sort of expecting it wouldn’t. You had wrong expectations of the Lord. You were not expecting the Lord to do what He said He would. Look at the following story from scripture.

Matt 8:5-13

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith..” …….13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. NIV

I am sure you have heard sermons on this story. It reveals the power of His Word, what the centurion believed about Jesus. However, what I want to point out here is where the centurion put his expectations. He expected when Jesus spoke the word of healing it would work. Jesus even states “it will be done just as you believed it would”. Jesus agreed with what the centurion was expecting. The soldier didn’t demand Jesus heal his servant but instead revealed what he expected would happen and how it would happen, and it did.

We just went through the year 2020 where not a whole lot happened on the entire earth. It was called a pandemic, where no one was allowed to do anything. Even the church was declared non essential, only essential commerce was allowed to stay open.  (Just a side note, amazing how  liquor stores were seen as essential) So much happened or really didn’t happen and pretty much everyone knew what to expect. This chipped away at our expectations, getting us to lower them.  

Then things slowly began to lift, you ventured out to the store wearing your mask and making sure you didn’t come too close to anyone and not touching anything including doors unless absolutely necessary. Whenever you made your way out, you took your hand sanitizer and made sure to kill any germ that came came near you. As more and more restrictions were lifted, enabling us to do more and engage in more things outside of being locked in our homes, we learned to expect a little more. Then things opened up,  no more face masks! We are even spending time in gatherings, and dare I say shaking hands instead of touching elbows or fist bumps and yes even hugging people!

In painting this picture I am trying to get you to see how our expectations work. So I want to come back to the question, what are you expecting from God? Did your expectations go down or up? What do you think He will do? 

Here is an amazing fact, God did not change one bit through 2020. We need to be willing to evaluate our expectations of Him and make sure our expectations were not lowered. We need to expect the same and more every year no matter what happens. In fact let’s look at where we can raise our expectations of Him for this year. 

What does scripture teach us? Read the following scripture and the various words used in the different translations as they describe how we should view Him.

Eph 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us NIV

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, NKJV

20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams] —AMP

20 Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of-infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. TLB

20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination![a] He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. TPT

Now let’s take a look at God. 

We know God expects us to believe Him and I mean believe what He says. As I stated before we know He is faithful. We know He is always honest and only speaks the absolute truth. He is always willing to forgive. He is always loving you, and brings you life and life abundantly. We know He is always bringing light so that we may see the truth. We know He is able to save anyone, anywhere, anytime. He is the one who strengthens us and He gives us rest. He stands with us, beside us, protects our back, and lives inside of us. We know He causes our growth. He is our vindicator. He is our righteousness. He gives the increase. We know He wants to be with us always, and He is a good, good  Father to us. He is always for us, never ever against us.

This list could go on and on and I do not know if you could come to an actual end with the list. We know the truth about who He is. So here is the question again, What Do You Expect From Him? He who did not spare His own Son but joyfully, willingly gave Him up for us so that we can expect Him to be everything He said He would be for us. 

Rom 8:32

32 For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all,[a] he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give.

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? NLT

32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? AMP

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? NKJV

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? NIV

What Do You Expect From Him!!!

Matt 7:9-12

9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! NIV

how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him! AMP

won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them? TLB

how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts[b] to those who ask him?” TPT

What Do You Expect From Him!!!

Galatians 6:7‭-‬10

Make no mistake about it, God will never be mocked! For what you plant will always be the very thing you harvest. The harvest you reap reveals the seed that was planted. If you plant the corrupt seeds of self-life into this natural realm, you can expect to experience a harvest of corruption. If you plant the good seeds of Spirit-life you will reap the beautiful fruits that grow from the everlasting life of the Spirit. And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming! Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith! TPT

Let’s look at our expectations and properly evaluate them and if they need raising then let’s raise them. It doesn’t matter where you are with the Lord right now,  I believe there is always room to raise your expectations of what Jesus Christ can and will do for you today, right now. Do you expect to reap the right fruit if you sow the right seeds of a Spiritual life? Let us go out and raise our expectations and plant the seeds of His Spirit expecting to see the spiritual fruit He promises.