What Life Are You Holding On To?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant by losing your life to save it? Your understanding of this truth will either keep you in your past or propel you into your future.

The story of Rahab the harlot and the King of Jerico is a good illustration of this truth. The entire city of Jerico was on red alert because of the advancement of Israel on their city. Word had come to Jerico that the God of Israel was coming to take the city. But there was a major difference in the way Rahab looked at the future and the view from the kings palace.

The king loved the city and was willing to die for his way of life. The God of Israel coming into his life was a threat to his way of life. What the king didn’t understand was no matter how hard he tried to save his life he was going to lose it.

Rahab viewed the coming of the Lord as an opportunity for a new and better life. The coming of the Lord brought her hope and security that the king of Jerico could never provide. Rahab had to lose her current life to save it.

What life are you holding on to? The life the world offers is a condemned life. No matter how much security and safety you think it brings, it will soon all be gone. You can only experience a new life in Christ when you are willing to lose the old one. You can’t life two lives at the same time.

The Lord is coming. That will either threaten your current life or bring you hope for the new one. What life are you holding on to?

If you enjoyed this blog, please subscribe. If you would like to hear more on this topic, watch Pastor Bill’s message entitled, “What Defines You?” Click Here. Please comment below if you were encouraged in some way today.

Holding Grudges

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 6:14–15, ESV

Have you ever talked with someone who holds grudges?  They seam to have the goods on everyone.  The longer you talk to them, the more you realize they have a grudge on everyone about everything.

As Jesus is laying out the rule of His kingdom in Matthew 5-7, He uses some strong language for those that will not forgive i.e. hold grudges. When I think about the insurmountable pile of sin of which Jesus forgave me, I must forgive others.

People that hold grudges are broken people. At best, broken people hold grudges as a means of protection against future hurts from others. At worst, broken people hold grudges as a means of power over others that might try and hurt them. It’s a defense mechanism that isolates an individual from having deep relationships with others. 

But what if you didn’t have to live broken?  

What if you could be whole in the midst of all the tragedy in your life?

What if you could take the bad things and turn them into blessings for others? 

Forgiveness Restores Relationships

“If you’re not willing to forgive sinners, you’re destined to be alone.”

Everyone has coping mechanisms to deal with the hardships of life. God has placed us in relationships to learn to cope together. When a person holds grudges, you tear down the very coping mechanisms that were meant to get you through life. When relationships are replaced with grudges for coping, you find yourself alone with no help. Better to restore the relationship so you may benefit from it’s healing powers.

Forgiveness Removes Consequences

“Forgiveness is not a power to control but a gift to pass on.”

As Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, forgiveness is a major theme of the prayer. Your attitude toward forgiveness determines God’s attitude toward your forgiveness. All God is asking us to do is to pass on the forgiveness that we have received. 

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13, ESV

Forgiveness Refocuses the Heart

“Forgiveness changes your perspective and allows you to see through God’s eyes.”

There is only one character in all the Bible that is called the accuser of the brethren and that is Satan. I don’t know about you but that’s not the company I want to keep. Isn’t it better to be know as the forgiver rather than the accuser. When you forgive, you put on Christ to those who need forgiveness. You see clearly how you can be a part of the solution instead of enhancing the problems.

Forgive, Restore, Redeem, and Bless, for this is the work of the Lord that forgave you.

If you would like to learn more on this subject listen to Pastor Bill’s message entitled “The Power to Forgive” by clicking here. And for more messages like this one visit reliant.church.

4 Characteristcs of World-changers

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” (Acts 1:8, ESV)

Can you picture it? Jesus ascending up in the clouds. The disciples gazing up into heaven. And Jesus says these words as his last words to them before he went out of sight.

If you’re a Christian growing up in church, you probably heard a message on the “Great Commission”. Where the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) reveals our purpose, Acts 1:8 shows the power to get it done. Only Acts 1:8 Christians have the power to fulfill the great commission of the Lord.

Notice that the scope of Acts 1:8 is worldwide. Jesus used the word “and” instead of “then.” Jerusalem, and Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Paul took this command seriously and witnessed through all the known world at that time. Acts 1:8 Christians change the world.

Hear are 4 characteristics of World-changers.

World-changers are empowered by the Spirit. All the spiritual power you need to do spiritual work comes from the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit’s work is to testify and bear witness of Jesus. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26, ESV) It only makes since then that when the Spirit comes upon you that you will be a witness for Jesus as well. Since the time of Christ, the church has been defining what it means to be Spirit filled and Spirit led. But one thing is for sure. The leading of the Holy Spirit will cause you to witness.

World-changers work in community with others. When you look at this verse in the Greek language, it is very clear that the “you” is plural. Jesus never intended for a disciple to accomplish this daunting task. The Spirit brings disciples together to do amazing things. We call this gathering “The Local Church.” Jesus empowers and guides the local assembly to promote the gospel in her local context and send out witness’ around the world. (Acts 13)

World-changers have a worldwide focus. Jesus has called you into something bigger than yourself. Although salvation is a personal decision, it leads to a greater mission. You are not only empowered to better your life, but to change the world. The power of the Spirit is only realized in worldwide focus.

World-changers are always on mission. As a Christian, you are to be on mission all the time. When you wake up, no matter where you wake up, you should be a witness for Christ. The Spirit leads people to do different things in different places. No one can be everywhere. This is what Jesus meant when he told the disciples they would be able to do more after he left. The Spirit has placed you where you are to be a witness for Christ. If you fail to be on mission, you let down the body. If the whole body is on mission, we have a worldwide witness of the gospel.

The Secret to Success

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:7-8 ESV

Believe it or not, the Bible speaks a lot about being prosperous, and having good success. Some have this attitude that Christians are not supposed to have success in life, but instead a life of pain and suffering. Inevitably in everyone’s life there will be hard times. But God’s desire for the success of his children is clear all through out scripture.

The question we all should wrestle with is, “What does godly success really look like?” Let’s make it simple. Godly success is being used by God to bring about his will on earth as it is in heaven. You will never know godly success until you understand the heart of God. God reveals his heart and plan through the Bible he has written for all Mankind to read.

God promised Joshua that if he would follow his commands and stay on track with God’s Word, he would live in great success and prosperity. The same hold’s true for us today. If we, as God’s children, would keep His word in our heart and mouths, we too would live in the success and prosperity of the Lord.

This was the only condition placed on Joshua for success. The rest, God promised he would provide. All the provision and power, God would provide for the success of the mission. Joshua was to keep his nose clean.

Here are 3 things that I want you to focus on as you are planning for success.

  • Don’t sweat the big stuff of God’s plan. He’s got all that covered for insured success.
  • Focus on your own heart and draw close to God through his word.
  • Hold your head up in victory knowing God’s already won. You’re already walking in his prosperity and success.

Fighting with the Lord

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

Joshua 1:1-3, ESV

Can you imagine the thoughts that went through Joshua’s mind when God said, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people Israel.”

Moses had lead the people for the last 40 years, performed many miracles to sustain the people, and now Joshua must fill his shoes.
What do you do when God calls on you to do something bigger than you ever imagined? Do you take a leap of faith or do you freeze in fear? The next time that happens I want you to keep these 3 things in mind.

1. God is calling you into a story that is bigger than you.

The story didn’t start with you and it will not end with you. Take the pressure off yourself and realize God is the author of the story. God always provides for those he calls. Take the opportunity to walk with God and experience all He has for you.

2. God’s plan is not dependent on your success or failure.

God’s plans are always successful because He is the power behind the plan. Over and over in the scriptures, God promises that he will go before us and be with us through every battle and trial. We are not to fear because the Spirit of God is with us and for us.

As Moses held up the rod over the Red Sea he said, “Behold, the salvation of the Lord.” Moses knew it was the power of God that would save them. All he could do is watch, “Behold.” God is not expecting us to provide the power. We are to draw the attention of the people to the One with the real power.

3. God’s plan, God’s power, God’s glory!

Joshua would lead the children of Israel into many victories. People would talk of his greatness, but Joshua knew better. The only one worth of the victory is the Everlasting God.

Any great leader realizes the victory belongs to God. In the victory, you must remain humble, giving all glory to God who provided all the power to see the plan come to pass. Many bible characters found themselves shipwrecked by believing what people were saying. Better to stay humble and be used again than to take the glory and God use another.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9, ESV

To watch my sermon on this topic entitled “Where Your Strength Comes From,” you can click the title or visit www.reliant.church/sermons.

Living in Healthy Fear

Have you ever seen a child get to close to the waters edge. To them it is a cool place to see and experience new things as they live on the edge. To the parents its a nightmare because they understand the dangers that can happen.

Fear is not always a bad thing. You can have to much fear that paralyze you can keep you from living. The right amount of fear can keep you save and secure.

So it is with our fear of God. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 1:7 that ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love, and self control.’ But we are also commanded to fear the Lord in the Old and New Testament. So, what is the proper balance of fear in a person’s life.

My Dad and I had a great relationship growing up. Being the oldest of his boys I would go to work and play with him. We had a great time together. But I never forgot the position of authority he held in my life. If I was going to be accountable to someone, I was going to answer to my Dad.

You relationship with your heavenly Father should be much the same. He wants to be with you in work and play. I wants to be your closest friend but you must not forget the place of authority he holds in your life.

“There is no fear of God before their eyes” is the commentary of people who don’t know God in Romans 3:18.  I’m afraid this same problem has carried into the church with God’s children.  God is a merciful, caring, and forgiving God that wants to see you succeed in every area of your life. But as a loving Father he will also hold you accountable for your actions to keep you on a good path.

Love the Lord and fear him at the same time. He is not out to hurt you but he does desire to protect you. When he tell you to quit playing on the edge its not because he wants to steal your since of adventure. He just knows the dangers and wants to protect you.

A healthy fear of God will keep you safe and secure along life’s journey.

If there is a topic you would like me to cover in a blog just leave it in the comments below and I will add it to the list.

3 Simple Steps of Fighting Anxiety

Everyone deals with anxiety at some point in his or her life. Normal anxiety occurs when a person feels out of control, uncertain about the future, or stressed over current or future circumstances. According to modern research, there has been a major upswing in anxiety among young people due to social media trends and sleep deprivation. (cited)

It might surprise you to know that the Bible has quite a bit to say about anxiety. God’s desire for children is that we not live in a state of anxiety. Take a look at one of my favorite passages on the subject of anxiety.

Philippians 4:6–7 (ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Easier said and done, right! Dealing with anxiety is much more than learning to breath. You must first understand where anxiety comes from so that you can stop it before it starts.

According to the verse above, anxiety comes from a lack of trust and faith in God. This makes since when we realize control is a facade. We have no idea what tomorrow may bring and we couldn’t control it if we wanted too. So, we have to trust. We have to trust that the sun is going to come up as it always has. We have to trust that people are going to do what they say they are going to do. We have to trust that every person flying toward us in a car knows what they’re doing and is paying attention.

In a world of uncertainty, how can we ever find peace? Here are 3 simple steps to fight your normal anxiety.

First, put your trust in the one person you can count on. God has a track record of always doing what he says he will do. He is the only sure thing in the world and is the only one in control. People are completely unstable but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Second, when you don’t know what to do, ask God for wisdom and understanding.

James 1:5 (ESV) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

God hears and answers the prayers of his children. Prayer is comforting because you are patitioning the one who sees all tenses at the same time. There is a catch though. You must ask in faith. Let’s read on.

James 1:6–8 (ESV) 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Faith is the key that unlocks the wisdom and knowledge of God in your life. For those who have no faith they also have no hope. They can only trust in themselves and they know they don’t have the answers. Thus anxiety rules the day. But those who put their faith in the Lord, hear from God, and find comfort in his answer.

Third, rest in the peace and security that comes from knowing God. When you trust God, he guards your heart and mind against anxiety.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace is the absence of anxiety. The goal is to live in the peace of God. God is at peace because he knows all things. Let God rule your heart and mind and you will live in his peace, even in a world that makes no since.

3 Necessities to Walk in the Spirit.

What in the world does the Bible mean to walk in the Spirit? When you read Galatians 5:16 it sounds so easy, but we know better. Being Spirit led can be difficult because it takes a willful denial of the flesh and your own ambitions.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:16–17, ESV)
Walking in the Spirit should not be overcomplicated or mystical. It is not reserved for a few “super-godly” people. Walking in the Spirit should be as natural to the believer as breathing in and out. So, what are the biblical steps to walking in the Spirit.

1. Your posture toward God: Humble yourself before the Lord.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10, ESV)

2. Your presentation to God: Present yourself to the Lord.

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13, ESV)

3. Your persistence to God: Obey the word of the Lord.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22–25, ESV)

You too can walk in the Spirit and follow his lead. “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” As you learn to humble the flesh, the Spirit will naturally take over.

Getting on God’s Good Side

I run into people all the time doubting if God loves them and thinking they are unworthy of God’s blessing. These thoughts usually stem from their religious background based in fear and control. So, why is it some seam to live in God’s blessing and good graces while others can’t seam to catch a break? Does God play favorites or is it something that we can determine from our actions.

Romans 2:11 states, “For God shows no partiality.”
With that being the case there must be some formula for finding yourself on the blessing side of God.

I have identified 4 areas in the scripture in which God moves are your behalf and brings blessing. This is not meant to be an all inclusive list, but rather some fundamental things that are a must.

First, God gives grace through humility.

James 4:6, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

God requires a person’s humility. He is God and you are not. The faster you come to that conclusion the better off you will be. Humility is a willful submission to the authority of another. Put God in the driver’s seat and hang on.

Second, God gives love through the cross.

1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God expresses his love to every person through the Son, Jesus Christ. When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you become consumed in the love of God. Now that same love that caused Jesus to sacrifice himself for you causes you to sacrifice for others. You not only know the love of God, but you become the love of God to others.

Third, God gives strength through righteousness.

1 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

God is a relational god. He wants to walk with you and talk with you. When you decide to walk with the Lord in righteousness, you will find that you have strong support from God. To many desire the strong support but don’t want to walk with him. It doesn’t work that way. When you join God in his walk and work you have all the support from God for that walk.

Fourth, God gives generously through your generosity.

Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

God’s nature is to give. When a person becomes a selfless giver you take on the nature of God. He then fuels your generosity with his own generosity allowing you to give more and more. But, if you are only a consumer for personal gain or pleasure God will withhold his generosity. For more on this read Haggi chapter 1.

3 Keys to Finding Your Way

One might ask, “Bill, why start another blog in the midst of a sea of information?” No doubt our world is in info-overload for sure. But there is a need to help people find their way. I have had so many people help me on my journey that I feel a necessity to give back, to build up, to share some of the insights I have learned along my way.

I know so many that are asking the question, “What is my purpose? Why am I here? What is life meant to be like?” Answers to these questions can be as varied as the number of people asking them, but I do believe there are some guiding principles to help you along the way.

A professor once said to me, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you are, and you can’t know where you are until you know where you’ve been.”

Key #1: Find yourself on your map of life.

A map is no good if you can’t pinpoint your location. Think about your journey as a whole and not just in pieces. Your past, good, bad, and ugly has brought you to where you are now. Value your past and all its experiences. Embrace it and learn from it. Discover where are you emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Key #2: Map out your way and dream big.

It’s time to type in your destination. If you don’t know where you’re going how will you every know that you have arrived? Most people are afraid to dream. They are afraid of their own future; afraid of failure. Why dream if it is unattainable? But these are all lies we tell ourselves. Will and determination can take you places you never thought possible if you will just start to dream and dream big.

Key #3: Start your journey today! Don’t wait any longer!

Take your dream and begin to make it a reality. As on any map there will be directions you need to go and turns you need to make. A car sitting in a driveway will never reach its destination. Push on the gas and get the party started. Don’t worry about the end right now just begin to move. Determine the next step you need to take by asking a few questions.

Who can I emulate? Find a hero who’s taken your journey already and become a student and admirer. Learn all you can from them and even speak with them about their journey if possible.

How can I educate? To pursue your dream you must be a learner. Find the experts that have your passion and read all you can. Stay humble in the process so that you can continually be built up.

Now, accelerate. Take a step toward your dream with confidence knowing it’s not going to be easy, but believing you can do it. Everyone reaches their destination one turn at a time. It’s your time. Begin to move and the world will have to move around you.