Count On God To Do The Impossible

“For there is nothing that God cannot do.” Luke 1:37

Never let an impossible situation intimidate you. Why? Because nothing is impossible with God.

The Bible says, “For there is nothing that God cannot do” (Luke 1:37).

Instead of being intimidated by a seemingly impossible situation, let it motivate you to pray more, believe more, trust more, wait more, expect more, and depend on God more.

It doesn’t matter how impossible a situation may seem; you can be certain that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6). What God starts in your life, he will finish.

If you were to take the dictionary out of my office and look up the word “impossible,” you would find it isn’t in there because I cut it out. I decided that if it’s not in God’s dictionary, it’s not going to be in mine.

Hudson Taylor, a missionary from the 1800s, said this about God doing the impossible in our lives: “There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”

But Satan doesn’t want you to believe that nothing is impossible with God. He’ll tell you over and over, “Who do you think you are? You can’t do that. What makes you think you can be a man or woman of God?” When you believe and trust God for the impossible in your life, it’s an embarrassment for the Devil.

Maybe you’re in what looks like an impossible situation right now. Look to God and rely on his promises, and watch your situation move from impossible to possible and then to done.

Don’t Stop Dreaming Great Dreams

“God can do anything, you know far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.”Ephesians 3:20

God gives everyone different dreams so that all his purposes are fulfilled in the world. That’s why you’re passionate about some things and couldn’t care less about others. God made you to be you. And you’re responsible to fulfill the dream he gave you.

But how do you know if your dream is from God? There are two ways you can tell. One, a God-given dream will somehow help others; it won’t be self-centered. And, two, a dream God gives will be so big that you won’t be able to achieve it in your own power. It’s as if God says, “The dream I have for you is so big that you’re bound to fail if you don’t depend on me.”

Many people hold back from dreaming great dreams and you’ll often hear them say one of three things:

1. “I don’t have a dream because they’re scary.” Well, of course they’re scary. That’s why dreams require faith. Every major decision I’ve made in the last 40-plus years as pastor of Saddleback Church has scared me to death. So I just decided a long time ago not to base my life on fear and, instead, just to do the thing that I fear.

That’s what courage is. If you’re not afraid, you don’t need courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is when you do what you know God has told you to do even though it scares you.

2. “I’m not going after my dream because I don’t have peace about it.” The truth is that you’re not going to have peace about a dream until you take the first step towards it. God doesn’t give you the peace you need before you make the move. Of course you have fears, but when you step into the water and watch the waves part, peace comes.

3. “I used to have a dream, but it never happened.” If God has given you a dream and it hasn’t come true yet, don’t despair. There’s always a delay between the dream and the fulfillment. In fact, delays are part of the journey because God uses them to build your faith. God’s timing is always perfect.

The Bible says, “God can do anything, you know far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams” (Ephesians 3:20).

God uses your dreams the scary dreams, the dreams you don’t have peace about, and the dreams that haven’t happened yet to grow your faith and do great things!

Two Ways God Grows Your Faith

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7

God doesn’t want you to have just any faith. He wants you to have a strong and vigorous faith not a wimpy faith that collapses when things get tough.

The Bible says in Colossians 2:7, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness”.

How does God grow a strong faith like that?

The first way God grows your faith is through his Word. He wants you to know the Bible to read the Bible, listen to the Bible, study the Bible, memorize the Bible, and talk about the Bible. Why? Because God’s Word says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

If your faith is weak, you’re likely not in the Bible very often. But the more you’re in God’s book, the more it will feed your soul. God’s Word is soul food, and spending time in it is the easiest way to grow your faith.

The second way God grows your faith is the hard way and that’s through circumstances that test you. While you may read the Bible only a little bit each day, you have things happening all around you 24 hours a day. Your circumstances are what God most often uses to grow your faith and build your character.

Faith is like a muscle. You don’t grow muscle without some sort of resistance. The only way you grow a muscle is by stretching it, testing it, and putting weight on it. The same is true with faith. You don’t grow faith just by sitting around and saying, “Oh, I want more faith.” Faith needs to be tested. So God allows circumstances in your life to build your faith muscle.

Because God cares so much about your faith, you can know that he will always answer this prayer: “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). Make that your prayer as God grows your faith through his Word and through circumstances that test you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks

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.” Ephesians 3:20

What does it mean to have bold faith? It means taking risks.

The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

You see an example of taking risks in the parable of the talents. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man who went away for a while and gave his servants some “talents” a large amount of money. He gave one person one talent, another person two talents, and another person five talents.

The five-talent person invested his money and doubled it. The two-talent person invested it and got two more talents. When the master came back and saw what they had done, he said to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

But the person who was given one talent became afraid, so he hid his talent in the ground. When the master saw this, he said, “You wicked, lazy servant . . . you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest” (Matthew 25:26-27).

The lesson Jesus wants us to learn is this: God wants you to take risks in faith. If you make the most of what he’s given you, then you’re going to be given even more. But if you’re scared and take no risks, then you’re actually being unfaithful you’re not acting in faith with what God’s given you.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “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”.

So, go ahead, take big risks and have bold faith. Because God says to you, “I can take your biggest dream and top it!”

God Wants You To Do, Not Just Hear

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”James 1:22

God wants you to focus on doing what he tells you to do, not on just hearing what he tells you to do. He calls you to be an active follower of Jesus, not just a passive listener.

The Bible says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

The truth is, you can listen to sermons and study the Bible for decades. But if you never do anything about what you’ve heard and learned, you’re deceiving yourself and not really growing more like Christ.

D.L. Moody, an influential evangelist and Christian educator of the late 19th century, once said, “The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives.” It’s a manual for living.

The Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

That verse points to four things about God’s Word. It shows you the path to walk on; that’s doctrine. It shows you where you got off the path; that’s reproof. It shows you how to get back on the path; that’s correction. And it shows you how to stay on the path; that’s instruction in righteousness. God’s Word is practical, real-world truth.

The problem is, most of us know a lot more than we actually put into practice. You say you believe in forgiveness, but do you forgive the people who’ve hurt you? You say you believe in waiting on God, but are you patient? God doesn’t want you to just take notes and say you believe things about his Word. He wants you to be a doer of his Word.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:20: “Teach them to do everything I have commanded you”. He didn’t say, “Teach them to know everything I commanded you” or “Teach them to think about everything I commanded you.” He said, “Teach them to do.”

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that hearing God’s Word also means you’re applying God’s Word. Make plans to do something about what you hear so that you can grow into the person God created you to be.

The Benefits Of Belonging To A Church Family, Part 2

“[God] made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, we are his flock.” Psalm 100:3

Belonging to a church family has many benefits. Yesterday we looked at two of those benefits: Through the church, you learn your true identity and you are supported by others. Today we’ll look at three more benefits.

You discover your unique value. Everyone is unique. Nowhere else on Earth is there anyone like you. That’s why the church needs you to make the body complete. Romans 12:4-5 says, “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others”. You need other people, and they need you.

You receive protection. Psalm 100:3 says, “[God] made us, and we belong to him; we are his people, we are his flock”. What’s the benefit of being part of God’s flock? You are defended and cared for. You have other people looking out for you. And you can enjoy the safety and security that come from belonging to a family who trusts in Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Being connected to God’s church God’s flock also makes you more confident and less anxious. When you’re struggling in the business world, you can say, “I’m not on my own.” When your relationships are strained, you can say, “I’m not on my own.” Or when you’re facing a health crisis, you can say, “I’m not on my own.” Why? Because you belong to a church family that loves you.

You become productive. Most people want their life to count. They want to make a difference. How can you best do that? By staying connected to a church family. And that’s the key you have to stay connected.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1, 5).

The point is this: You’ll never be as productive as God intended for you to be if you’re not connected to a church family. Your church teaches you the right questions to ask and the right priorities to set. A cut-off branch cannot bear fruit. But when you’re connected to the true vine, Jesus, life-giving energy flows through you to others.

Nothing in the world can give you what the church gives you. Only the church can meet your need for significance, stability, protection, productivity, and being valued.

The Benefits Of Belonging To A Church Family, Part 1

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1:12

The better connected you are to a church family, the more you will experience everything the church has to offer.

What does the church have to offer? You get five benefits when you belong to a church family. Today we’ll be looking at the first two.

You learn your true identity. People often look for their identity in superficial things, such as their career, wealth, or favorite sports team. They may even try to find their identity in the brands of clothing they wear. But when you belong to Jesus, he gives you a whole new identity.

The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When you belong to Jesus, God adopts you into his family, the church. Unlike your physical family in which people die, grow apart, move away, or divorce your spiritual family is permanent and will last for all eternity in heaven. Ephesians 2:19 says, “You are citizens with everyone else who belongs to the family of God”.

You are supported by others. Like the strong structure of a building, we hold each other up. Without the stable support system of a church, you may find yourself collapsing at some point in your life. You weren’t meant to do it all on your own. You need physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental support.

The Bible says, “In [Christ] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22).

Romans 1:12 says, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours”. That’s why we belong to the church so God’s people can say together, “Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”

Commit To Jesus And His Family

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

God never meant for you to go through life on your own. He wants you to be part of his family the church. In fact, the church has been God’s plan from the very beginning.

Some people think of the church as a building, an institution, or an event you attend. The church isn’t any of those things. It’s a family you belong to.

The Bible says, “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!”(Ephesians 1:5)

When you’re part of the church, two things are true of you: You’re committed to Jesus, and you’re committed to the people in your church family. The Bible says in 2 Corinthian 8:5, “First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will they gave themselves to us as well”.

You give yourself to the Lord, and then you give yourself to a group of people in God’s family. The first choice makes you a Christian. The second choice connects you with other believers. I’m not the church. You’re not the church. But together, we are the church the body of Christ.

What does it mean to be part of the body of Christ? The Bible says,“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).

To understand how the church operates, look at the way God designed your body. Your hand, nose, spleen, and liver are all parts of your body. They all have separate functions, but together they make up one physical body just like God’s church makes up one spiritual body.

That’s why you are such a necessary part of your church family. You can’t say, “My part my talents and abilities isn’t needed.” There are no unnecessary parts. We are all dependent on each other, and each of us has a different role to play.

God’s intention “from the very beginning of time” is that we live our lives together in his family.

How To Get Closer To God

I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.'” Luke 15:18-19

The closer you get to God, the more he will transform your life.

Throughout Scripture, we see transformed lives. When Isaiah got close to God, he was transformed from being depressed to standing courageously. When Paul finally met Jesus Christ face to face, he was radically transformed from a persecutor of Christians to spreading Christianity throughout the Roman world. And as Moses grew closer to God, he transformed from a privileged son of Pharaoh to a humble man leading God’s people out of Egypt.

Jesus told a story about transformation the story of the prodigal son. It’s a story of spiritual transformation, about getting close to God after wandering away.

Here’s the short version of the story. A young man takes his inheritance and wastes it on careless living. Then, when things go from bad to worse, he finally says, “I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant’” (Luke 15:18-19).

The prodigal son reminds us of our tendency to wander away from our Father who made us and loves us. But more than that, his story reminds us of God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, and compassion. When the son returned home, his father saw him from a distance and “ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20).

This is how spiritual transformation begins. The moment you say, “God, I’m tired of living the way I’ve been living,” he runs out to meet you. He takes the initiative. He even celebrates, like the father did with his prodigal son: “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him . . . We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life” (Luke 15:22-24).

You may be closer to God than you’ve ever been before. Or maybe you’re feeling like the prodigal you’ve wandered away and need to renew your relationship with God. No matter where you are near or far you can get even closer to God and experience transformation in your life.

Your Heavenly Father is always ready to deepen his relationship with you, ready to greet you with open arms, and ready to bring transformation into your life.

When Your Heart Changes, Your Talk Changes

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.”James 3:5-6

As God transforms your heart, the way you talk to others will begin to change. And that will bring more harmony to your relationships. Why? Because, in any relationship, most conflict is caused by the words you say and how you say them.

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6).

People respond differently to stress and pressure. When the pressure is on, what comes out in someone’s speech reveals what’s really going on in their heart.

Under stress, kind people become kinder and patient people become more patient. Under stress, mean people become meaner, bullies become bigger bullies, angry people become angrier, and opinionated people become more opinionated.

Whatever is in your heart is going to spill out when you’re under pressure. So the only way you can control what you say is to manage what’s going on in your heart. How do you really feel about the people you interact with each day? Does social, economic, or political standing have any effect on how you see them? Do you give equal respect to everyone you meet?

Humility means thinking of yourself less and thinking more about the needs of others. It means you meet people on their own terms; you don’t think you know it all. When you practice humility, you start seeing people as God created them: in his image, with great worth.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.

Imagine what would happen if everyone in the church consistently saw people as God sees them. We would become known for being humble and kind and great listeners. We would have a lot more harmony in our relationships. And we also would show the world more of what Jesus is like!

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