Defeating The Fears That Hold Me Back

It is a significant fact that at the first Christmas four times the phrase, “Do not be afraid”, is used. The angels had to say it to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds, and to a priest name Zechariah. Four times in the Christmas story God says, “Don’t be afraid”.

Today we know the news of the birth of Jesus Christ as good news because we know what’s going to happen.  But it wasn’t good news to the people who heard it for the first time.  In fact, it scared everybody to death.  Maybe you don’t realize this, but in the first story everybody was afraid.  Mary was afraid, Joseph was afraid, Herod was afraid, the shepherds were afraid, Zechariah… everybody.  The Bible tells us the entire city of Jerusalem panicked with the news that the Messiah had been born.

Every one of the main characters had to deal with a different kind of fear.  What is interesting is that two thousand years later we have the exact same five fears that they dealt with in the very first Christmas.  

In many ways 2016 was a year of fear.  It was a tough year.  Everybody agree with that?  You look at the headlines last year and it seemed like every week was a terrorism attack around the world.  There’s Zinka virus.  There are mass shootings in schools and other places.  There’s racial tension.  There’s injustice.  There’s violence in the street.  There are civil wars in the Middle East, and then the biggest refugee crisis in our lifetime.  Right now millions and millions and millions of people will not be home for Christmas because they’ll be in refugee camps.

But the message of Christmas is this:  Don’t be afraid. It is not God’s will for you to walk around being afraid of anything.
 
Identifying the Fears of the First Christmas

1.    Mary had to face the fear of inadequacy – Luke 1:29-34

Mary is told she will be the mother of Jesus.  She is a teenager, uneducated, engaged to a man named Joseph, and she is pregnant. If that wasn’t scary enough how do you explain to your family and friends you are a pregnant virgin? On top of all this she was given the responsibility to raise the Son of God. Who wouldn’t feel inadequate?
    
2.    Joseph had to face the fear of disapproval – Matthew 1:18-20

His fiancé says she’s pregnant and claims God is the father.  How do you explain that to this small community, to your family, and friends?

3.    The shepherds faced the fear of sudden change – Luke 2:8-10

The shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks the night Jesus was born.  Watching sheep is a pretty non-stressful job. All of a sudden the sky lights up brilliantly and is filled with angels singing. They’ve never seen angels. It scared them to death because their plans for a quiet evening were shaken up.  There was a sudden change.

4.    King Herod faced the fear of losing control – Matthew 2:1-3

Herod was the king of Judea and was hated by the Jews.  He was paranoid of losing his throne.  When he hears that Jesus “the king of the Jews” is being born he freaks out. So he orders the death of every baby in Israel under two years of age to try to prevent Jesus from being born.  

5.    Zechariah faced the fear of being disappointed – Luke 1:11-13

One day while he was in the temple, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he and Elizabeth his wife would have a baby.  They both were older and had pretty much given up hope of having a child.

How Can I Defeat The Fears That Hold Me Back

1.      Surrender my life completely to God every day! – Luke 1:38; Job 11:11-18

2.      Stop listening to the voices of fear – Romans 14:23

3.      Fill my heart with music that praises God – Colossians 3:16

4.      Base my hope on the promises of God – Luke 1:45; Psalm 56:3-4; Hebrews 2:14-15

Very Christmas everyone from all of us here at Victory!


A Thank You Gift To God

I want to talk to you about living your entire life as a thank you note to God. 

There’s an old saying that your life is God’s gift to you; but what you do with it is your gift to God.  When we understand this, then Thanksgiving will no longer be just a holiday; it will be a lifestyle.  God wants you to live your live thankfully, and make thanksgiving a lifestyle.  If you live your entire life as a Thanksgiving gift or a thank you gift to God for all the things that he has done for you, it’s going to increase your happiness in life.  It’s definitely going to increase your satisfaction in life. And it’s going to make your life have more meaning and have more significance.

Psalm 50:23 GNT: Giving thanks is the sacrifice that honors me, and I will surely save all who obey me.

What God wants more than anything else in life is an attitude of gratitude.  Scientists have discovered that gratitude is actually the healthiest emotion.  There’s nothing better for your health than the emotion of gratitude.  The attitude of gratitude.   

Why should I live my entire life with a sense of thanksgiving and gratitude to God?

1. Because of Who God is!

  • God is Great – Psalm 145:3 
  • God is Holy – Psalm 97:8
  • God is Loving – Psalm 107:8
  • God is Just – Psalm 7:17 
  • God is Good – Psalm 54:6
  • God is Merciful – Psalm 118:1

2. Because of What God has Done!

Psalm 52:9 NLT: I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.

What has God done for you:

  • He created you – Psalm 148:5 CEV
  • He saved you – Psalm 9:14 NCV
  • He answers your prayers – Psalm 118:21 CEV
  • He gives my life direction – Psalm 16:7
  • He came to earth and died for you so you could be            forgiven – Colossians 2:13-14

3. Because Of What God Has Promised

Psalm 71:22 NLT: Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel.

Let me just show you a couple or three out of the thousands in the Bible: 

  • Jesus promised us life after death – John 11:25
  • Jesus promised to meet our need if we seek Him first        – Matthew 6:33
  • Jesus promised to never leave us – Hebrews 13:5:


Follow Me

Follow me!” Jesus said these words to twelve men over 2,000 years ago and it changed the world! Today, we are given the same invitation: “Follow me.” Its an invitation to real life, the life God created us to live, and it’s the secret of fulfillment in life. Following Jesus takes trust and courage, and it is the answer for those who are tired of just existing.

In order to truly follow Jesus as a believer, we must recognize His leadership.  He is Lord and all authority belongs to Him.  He is in charge and we are His followers.  This means we have to settle the Lordship issue. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-29: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

When we made Jesus our Savior, He also became our Lord.  As this text states, “you are not your own.”  We now live our lives for Him and not for ourselves.  To follow Jesus then means to go where He says to go, and to do what He says to do.

Two things come to mind when I think of following Jesus:

1.  To follow Jesus is to obey Him (John 14:23-24).

2.  To follow Jesus is not always going to be easy (Matthew 16:24-26)

There is this perception out there that to be a “Christian” means that you said a little prayer at some point in life, you go to church fairly regularly, and that, overall, you are a good person. Pretty easy, right? Well, Jesus I think is speaking against that attitude and trying to make the point that following Him is a counter-cultural lifestyle that Jesus asks us to take on as we follow him.

Luke 9:23 NLT: Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

When it comes to priorities, it is one thing to say, “God is my number one priority in my life,” and a whole separate issue to really live it. Priorities are hard work. When we take a look at our time spent, it will show us the priorities that we are living by.

For the month of October we will be spending time discussing what it means to follow Jesus.  Please join us Sunday morning’s as we get into depth of what Jesus meant when He said, “Follow Me”.



Labor Day

Some people hate to do it. Some love to do it. Some go to great lengths to avoid doing it. Some do it too much. While there are many different attitudes toward work, one thing remains constant: work must be done. Since the Garden of Eden everyone has worked or depended on someone else’s work for their survival. Work sets a person’s lifestyle—where you live, when you sleep and eat, the time with family, even your dress.

Another constant about work is the fact that God has a clear perspective on it, and we are to align our thoughts with His. As you reflect on your own attitude toward work, consider the following 8 principles that outline God’s view of work:

1) Work is ordained by God. It was His idea from the beginning. The Bible declares that God worked (Genesis 1). By working we image God. Like God, you have the ability to work, make plans, implement them, and be creative. Additionally, God gave us the task of ruling over and taking care of His creation (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15).

2) Work is for a lifetime. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground (Genesis 3:19). God intends that humans are to work as long as they live. Meaningful activity plays a critical role in being a human being – whether paid or volunteer. The magical age of 65 shouldn’t end meaningful, purposeful work.

3) Work is not a punishment. God did not create work as drudgery, but as a gift of fulfillment to life. A human being can do nothing better than…find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)?

4) Work has three purposes: to provide money or resources to supply the necessities of life; to provide for a quality of life in the satisfaction of doing a job well; and to serve God.

5) Work calls for obedience. Even when the boss isn’t looking, a good worker is consistent and diligent to the task and loyal to the organization (Colossians 3:22). The real boss is Jesus Christ. See your job as service to Him – not simply your employer. Employers should treat employees with respect and fairness.

6) Work should be done with excellence. You are to render service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:6-7); not to be men-pleasers but God-pleasers. God’s standard of excellence needs to be the human standard.

7) Work is honorable. All professions and all kinds of work, assuming they are legal and biblically ethical, are honorable before the Lord. There is no dichotomy between sacred and secular work. All work brings glory to God and fulfillment to you, if it is done to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).

8) Work provides an opportunity for witness. You manifest a powerful message, both verbal and nonverbal, of a supernatural approach to work. The world today needs this powerful witness to the reality of Christ and the difference that He makes in His followers. (Matthew 5:16)



Why Community Groups?

God has given us a vision for reaching the world for Christ one person at a time, with love, grace, and compassion. We accomplish this by “Changing Lives with the Truth” through biblical discipleship in a relational environment.  Community Groups are the primary vehicle by which we carry out the vision of Victory.

When it comes to discipleship, relationships are the conduit that delivers the precious ingredients of discipleship. If we are to understand Jesus’ discipleship method, we must spend time talking about relationships. At Victory we believe that without true relationship, discipleship is not possible. Here are three reasons why:
 
1. More is Caught than Taught
 
In America we have developed a gathering mentality for growing christians spiritually.  We gather in large assemblies using a lecture style format to teach people God’s Word. Don’t get me wrong, good things can happen in a large-group setting that cannot happen in a small group setting, but effective discipleship is not one of them.

At Victory, we believe that discipleship is most effective when done in a relational environment.  We learn this from watching the greatest disciple-maker, Jesus. Jesus modeled for us the importance of relationships in the way He taught His disciples.  He followed Deuteronomy 6:7: You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Jesus spent time with His disciples daily teaching them as they did life together.
 

2. Two are Better than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.

Relationships not only help us grow and learn, but also give us strength for the journey.  They help all of us complete the mission of going and making disciples.
 

3. Relationships Make the Message Real

True relationships with other believers can give us the love, support, and accountability that we all need to change and grow in our love for God and others.  True relationships give nonbelievers a picture of what Jesus can do in and for them.  When believers and nonbelievers can find in our churches what they know they need, their hearts soften and doors are opened.

I will be sharing in detail Victory’s vision for Community Groups in a 3 week series beginning Sunday August 28th at our 10 am Worship Service.  I invite you to come and learn the importance of small group ministry.

We also invite you to come and join us for our 2016-2017 Community Group launch beginning the week of September 18th.



July 2016

This country was founded as a Christian; it’s foundation based on Christian principles.  It came into being because our forefathers wanted to be able worship God free from the control of state dictators.  They didn’t want to worship God as the English monarchy said they must, or other governments in the old country said they must. They wanted to worship God with liberty and freedom.  That is the basis and the reason they came to America. This is also the foundation our forefathers built this great nation upon.

The government designed by our Founding Fathers was greatly influenced by their Christian heritage.  In fact, 52 of the 55 men who produced the Constitution and worked on the Bill of Rights were committed members of either orthodox or evangelical Christian churches.  Just look at some of the comments they made as they labored and prayed over the foundational documents of this nation:

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
– Patrick Henry
 
“We have no government armed with power capable of dealing with passions unbridled by morality or religion.  Our Constitution was made only for moral and Christian people.”
– John Adams
 
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it.  We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
– James Madison
 
“Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.”
– George Washington
 

These were men who believed that the success of this great nation and the gospel of Jesus Christ were woven together inseparably, and to separate them would in destroy the very fabric that holds together our great nation.

Views have changed today.  The vast majority of the people no longer hold fast to these beliefs.  And as a result our nation has suffered greatly.  But I believe, as Christians, we have a responsibility not to be moved by what others believe.  We must remember the vision of our nations Founding Fathers.  We must return to the roots of our foundation and pray for our nation from that platform.  Rather than complain, let’s pray. 

2 Chronicles 7:14: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

1 Timothy 2:1-2: Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

God watches over His word when we pray in faith.  I have hope for our great country because I believe in the God who inspired men to found this nation on Him.  Please join me this month in praying for our nation.



Raising The Bar

Dads don’t always get the credit that they deserve.  I am not saying that dads are perfect. We all know that’s not true. But dads have a God designed influence that the heavenly Father has put inside of them that no one else on this earth can possibly touch.   

Did you know that if the dad is the first person to come to Christ that there is a ninety three percent probability that the children will also follow in the steps of the dad if he gives his life to Christ.  If a mom comes to Jesus first, if she gives her life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior for the first time there is a seventeen percent chance that the children will also follow.

Men, you’ve got a God designed influence that’s inside of you. You are to invest it in the lives of the next generation.  Here are three things that I hope will spark dads to be the number on influencer in their children’s lives.:

1. The days are long but the years are short.

Our time with our kids is but a breath.  And then it’s gone.  If yo don’t want to have regrets because you though you had a lot of time to spend with your kids, then don’t waste a moment. 

2.  Extraordinary parenting happens in ordinary moments.

Seize the ordinary moments in life to talk about, to bring up, an extraordinary God. That’s when some of the best parenting happens.  In ordinary moments. I’m talking about the not so special moments of life.  Tuesday afternoon, Thursday evening.  Just ordinary moments.  Not the perfect ones.

3. Set the bar high when it comes to parenting.

God’s standards are high.  God demands that we constantly strive for His standard.  In regards to parenting, we will all fail from time to time.  But what we need to realize is that even when we fail, we have an advocate, Jesus our Savior, who will come along side us and pick us up,l dust us off, and get us back in the game.  We never parent alone.  Jesus is always with us and will never leave us or forsake us. 

So dads, start with Jesus and you keep following him and his ways.

Happy Father’s Day!



A Mother’s Day Card From God

Proverbs 31:10

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.

 

When you feel discouraged:

 

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

When you feel angry:

 

Ephesians 4:26 Amplified

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.
Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

When you need help:

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 27:14

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!
Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

 

When you feel alone:

 

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
Hebrews 13:5

I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.
Matthew 28:20

And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.


 

When you feel tired:

 

Matthew 11:28

Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

 

When you are worried:

 

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you

 

Remember, you are not alone in Motherhood; you can count on your heavenly Father to be with you in raising your children.



Seven Secrets Of Stress Free Living

Have you ever felt tired just thinking about all you have to do?  Have you ever felt like resigning from the human race so you could do whatever you wanted to do for an entire week?  Have you ever felt like your life is out of control because of all the stress you’re under?

This month we will begin a new series, Seven Secrets Of Stress Free Living.  You can never eliminate stress completely, however we can reduce it and manage it so that it doesn’t become debilitating.  Everyone will experience stress, so it’s not about how much you can bear, but how you carry it that makes the difference.

First we are going to look at the life of Christ and the principles that Jesus Christ lived by in order to handle stress.

Second, we are going to look at how to cope with daily frustrations.  When facing the frustrations of life, your attitude will make all the difference in the world. We will teach you how to have a grateful, positive attitude when life throws you a curve.

Third, we will look at the pressure of time.  One thing about time is that it is very uncooperative.  When you want it to speed up it slows down and when you want it to slow down it speeds up.  We will each you practice steps to time management.

Fourth, we will talk about managing your money before it manages you.  We will look at principles for financial freedom.

Fifth, we will look at how to get the most out of your career.  You will spend approximately 40% of your waking hours in your lifetime on the job.  That means if you don’t like your job, you’ll going to spend a lot of your life frustrated. We will show you three biblical attitudes that can transform your work.

Sixth, we will talk about how to cope with change.  Life is a series of changes and change causes stress.  we will teach you how to react to change so that change doesn’t stress you out.

Finally, we will teach you how to avoid burnout.  We will gain wisdom from the wisest man to ever have lived, Solomon, and lean from him how to prevent burnout.

I hope you will join us over the next seven weeks and learn how to get the stress out.



The Answer

The resurrection of Jesus accomplished a lot of different things, one of which was it split history into A.D. and B.C.  However, one of the first thing it did was it validated Jesus’ identity.  It proved that he was who he claimed to be.  Throughout history lots of people claimed to be God.  Jesus proved that he was God by letting them put him to death on the cross and then by coming come back to life three days later where he was seen alive by his disciples and over 500 people over the next 40 days.

Jesus also proved, by the resurrection, that there is life after death.  That death is not the end of the story.  Through his death, burial, and resurrection he gave us a model of how to handle the suffering and pain in life.

1 Peter 2:21: For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[a] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

Through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, he modeled what we should do in the worst days of our life.  If we follow this model, when we go through the tragedies, the terrible pain filled circumstances, the days of doubt and depression and despair, he will lead us to a place of victory.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection happened over three days.

Friday was the day of pain and suffering and agony.

Saturday was the day of loss and grief and confusion and misery.

Sunday was the day of joy, celebration and victory.

In life we’re going to go through all three of those days over and over and over again.  Some of you right now are in the day of pain.  Some of you right now are in the day of confusion and doubt.  You may not have the slightest idea what you’re supposed to do next with.  Hopefully you’ll get to the day of joy.

When you go through this cycle of life you will need to answer three fundamental questions.  What do I do in my days of pain?  How do I get through my days of doubt and confusion?  How do I get to my days of victory? 

1.  What do you do in your days of pain? – Reach out to friends and reach out to God.

2.  How do I get through the doubt and confusion? -Remember the promises of God.

3.  How do I get to my days of victory? – Rely on the power of Jesus

(Come Easter Sunday to get the entirety of this message)