Let Your Treasure Be Immaterial [Called Series]

sunlight streamingIs your treasure immaterial?

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. – 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NLT

The things we can’t see will last forever . . .

  • that relationship you’ve been building with a young believer
  • the friendship you’ve been investing in with your neighbor who is seeking Jesus
  • those prayers you’ve been praying for your community
  • that time you’ve given in serving the least of these (Mt 25:40)
  • the money you’ve invested in furthering the Gospel
  • those steps of obedience you’ve taken that you have yet to see any visible fruit from
  • that step of faith you boldly take when the crowd around you asks you “Why? and “What are you thinking?!”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Mt 6:19-21 ESV

For More:
John Piper on Don’t Be Anxious, Lay Up Treasure in Heaven, Part 1

Enough: Finding More by Living with Less by Will Davis Jr.

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Let Your Vision Be Eternal [Called Series]

FreedomTherefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

During His 33 years on earth, Jesus clearly lived with a vision that was eternal. He endured the horrific torture of the cross and the unimaginable weight of crushing sorrow of bearing the punishment of our sins “for the joy that was set before Him.”

Do you and I live for the joy that is set before us?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Cor. 4:16-18 NIV

  • The joy set before you in cruel betrayal . . . redemption, healing, wholeness.
  • The joy set before you in crushing blows of failure . . . seeing how the hand of Almighty God recreated the shattered pieces and redeemed them into a mosaic of beauty.
  • The joy set before you in heartache and loss . . . your tears will be wiped away and there will be no more crying, sorrow, or pain (Rev 21:4).
  • The joy set before you when you’ve been overlooked, abused and tossed aside  . . . heaven has no nobodies or second-class citizens.
  • The joy set before you when you’ve been harshly discriminated against . . . in heaven there is only acceptance and love.
  • The joy set before you when your investment in others all seems for naught because words that have been said and rumors that have been spread . . . in eternity all redeemed for nothing you do on this earth for Almighty God is a waste of time or effort (1 Cor 15:58)
  • The joy set before you when you yourself have squandered what you have been so generously been given . . . the joy of seeing your Father’s face who has forgiven you and the outstretched hand of your Savior who loves you and whose nail scars and stripes paid for every one of our sinful, selfish, and short-sighted mistakes.

Today my brother, my sister, are you living for the joy set before you?

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When You Don’t Know Why [Called Series]

Comfort and GriefOne of the greatest ways believers lose heart and stop moving forward in their walk of faith is when they don’t know why.

Why did they have to die so young?

Why do I lived with constant pain and fatigue?

Why didn’t I get chosen?

Why didn’t God give me that job, that spouse, that house, that promotion. . .?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why was I abused?

Why was I raped?

Why didn’t my parents want me?

Why me?

Each is a valid question of the heart. The experience of each contains deep sorrow and pain.

Yet the choice each person asking the question is faced with: to heal and go on or to be stuck, lose heart, and stop moving forward in their walk of faith.

We live in a world full of sin and thus sorrow and pain.

Revelation 21:3-4 gives us an anchor of hope and a beacon of faith when we choose to move forward in our walk of faith:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

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For More:

When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada

Rest Ministries, Inc.: Joyfully Serving the Chronically Ill

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God Who Brings Life to the Dead

new lifeEaster is an amazing reminder to us that Jesus rose from the dead.

How many of us live in the victory that He is daily the God who brings life to the dead?

We have no trouble with the concept of Spring and new life bursting forth in the midst of dead things.

Yet, in our own lives it seems more of a stretch.

Can God really bring life to the deadness of my marriage?

Can God raise to life the deadness in my heart after my divorce?

Can God revive my spirit after the death of my beloved?

Can God heal the deadness in my heart after the abuse and trauma I endured as a child?

Romans 4:17 resounds with the answer to every one of those questions:

. . .the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

This verse speaks of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise that He would give Abraham and Sarah a son though they were well past the age of being able to have children.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for God to fulfill his promise.

Yet during those 25 years, Romans 4:20-21 says concerning Abraham:

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (ESV)

God has power to do what He has promised.

Today and everyday He is the God who brings life to the dead.

What dead part of your heart or life is He asking you to believe He can and will resurrect?

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Hearts Directed Like Streams of Water: God Is In Control

water streamThe king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will. – Proverbs 21:1 ESV

Sometimes in the midst of the storms of life, it’s easy to lose sight of the powerful truth of this verse.

Most of us don’t live under the authority of a king, but we get the connection. The most powerful people in the world — God directs their hearts like a stream of water in His hand.

That job you didn’t get — God directs employers’ hearts like a stream of water in His hand.

The school you didn’t get into — God directs the hearts of administrative heads of schools like a stream of water in His hand.

That promotion, partnership, and the like — God directs the hearts of those over us like a stream of water in His hand.

Take heart and remember those who have gone before us. . .

  • Joseph’s attitude of unconditional forgiveness after he was ruthlessly betrayed by his own family. 

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. – Genesis 50:19-20

  • Mary’s attitude of joyful acceptance of a God-given reality that ostracized her and Joseph from their family and friends (being an unmarried pregnant woman in a culture where the consequence for such an offense was being stoned to death)

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38

  • David’s attitude of courageous trust when faced with impossible odds in defeating Goliath.

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” – 1 Samuel 17:37

Find courage and remember His promises:

  • He will work it for His glory and your good – Romans 8:28-29
  • What He speaks, He brings to pass. What He purposes, He does – Isaiah 46:9-11
  • No matter how dire your situation seems, He will save you victoriously and valiantly – Deuteronomy 33:26-27
  • Keep trusting; He will save you – Isaiah 25:1,9
  • Remember that what is impossible with man is possible with God – Matthew 19:26

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Gutting It Out or Giving In

Running the RaceIn John 16:33 Jesus encourages us, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It’s common knowledge that trouble being nonexistent in our lives is a rare experience.

And yet, when faced with trouble do we have peace, take heart, and lay claim to both the promise and the hope that Jesus has overcome the world?

Do we also lay claim to the promise and the power Jesus speaks of in Luke 10:19?

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”

Although not many of us are marathon runners in the physical sense, as believers we are life-long marathon runners in the spiritual sense.

Father trains us, prepares us, and has us run spiritual marathons for the duration of our walk of faith.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Cor 9:24

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Tim 4:7

Marathon and triathlete Coach Joe English, does an excellent job of explaining the value of gutting it out or giving in during workouts in his post, Training — Why do the Tough Get Going?

Paula Rinehart includes a quote in her book Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Gerald May that powerfully portrays the same concept on a spiritual level:

Because real risking in faith can occur only in those areas of life where we feel most impoverished and vulnerable, it never becomes something we are really comfortable with.  For each layer of trust that  builds up, another, more challenging risk is offered.

True faith choices, therefore, always feel like risks; they just go on, involving deeper and deeper levels of our being.  Each choice remains difficult; what really becomes conditioned in this process is simply our willingness and readiness to take the risks of faith.  They never stop feeling like risks.

If you’re currently being faced with the choice to gut it out or give in, I pray you remember inspiring words of truth from Habakkuk 3:19 (AMP):

The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!

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40 Day Prayer Focuses for Churches & Ministries: Targeting Spiritual Warfare

Prayer and PraiseThe Question:

Is your church body or ministry being faced with an abnormal amount of spiritual warfare and attack?

If so, then it is possible that the Enemy has established a stronghold or a series of strongholds that can be dealt with through a 40 Day prayer focus.

Is your church body or ministry living in the victory of these promises?

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; He answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. – Psalm 20:6-8

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in His majesty.  The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, “Destroy him!” – Deuteronomy 33:26-27

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him.  “For there are more on our side than on theirs!”  Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!”  — 2 Kings 6:16-17

The Need:

The following questions are for your leadership team to consider as you pray and discern.

1. What strongholds has the Enemy possibly been able to fortify a position of attack against our church or ministry?

2. Have there been any ongoing, undealt-with sins amongst our leadership?

There’s no formula to determine these, they must be revealed to you by the Spirit of the Living God.

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. – Mark 4:22

3. Is there a spiritual heaviness that’s very noticeable on our church or ministry campus?

4. Have we noticed a pattern of repeated satanic attack during a similar time or against a specific ministry area?

5. In last decade or so of our church or ministry history, can we identify undealt-with sins that have created a figurative pile of dysfunction, disorder, disclosed and hidden things, death, and decay that have been “swept under the rug,” glossed over, and ignored. Has God been trying to get our attention concerning it so that He can bring healing, wholeness and redemption?

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. – Proverbs 28:13

6. Are we consistently grieving the Holy Spirit by our unwillingness to allow Him to move in biblical but also supernatural ways within our body?

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

7. As leadership do we have hearts of stone that Jesus needs to turn into hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)? As leadership are we in the consistent practice of listening to God?

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back. – Isaiah 50:4-5

8. Is our church or ministry in a “life or death” spiritual battle that needs a 2 Chronicles 20:12-17 victory?

9. Are we on the brink of Father using our church body in mighty way?

What promises has Father spoken over our church body? What has He impressed upon our hearts as to what He is about to do in our midst?

 For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.” – Isaiah 49:25

The Bottom Line:

Jesus wants to use your church body or ministry mightily for the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20), but first requires that we rid ourselves of any existing piles of death and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) so we can stand against the enemies coming against us (Joshua 7:13, Ephesians 6:12-13).  Dealing with the spiritual strongholds or getting rid of your pile will follow clearly-stated biblical principles. At the same time, your church’s or your ministry’s 40 Day Prayer Focus will be tailor-fit by Jesus’ guidance and direction.

40 Day Prayer Support given through our 40 Day workbook and through 4 meetings (more meetings may be necessary depending on situation) which can be done via phone or online video call.

Angela Sansone is a knowledgeable, experienced, Spirit-led, and biblically-directed intercessor. She provides invaluable support and direction as well as helpful follow-up during 40 Day prayer process. Angela humbly assisted and supported our leadership team with written helps as well as interceding alongside us. She stood by us before, during, and after 40 Day process. — Artie Davis, Lead Pastor Cornerstone Church

40 Days in Bible:

Moses – Ex 24:18, Num 14: 34, Exploring the Promised Land – Num 13:25, Elijah – 1 Kings 19:8, Goliath vs. Israelites – 1 Sam 17:16, Jesus – Mt 4:1-2

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