Wings Like Eagles (Physically Strengthened by God)

EagleFlight

Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering                          Morphed Series/ Lesson 4

Physical Need Vs. Physical Obsession Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Samuel 16:7

Strong  strôNG/adjective

  1. having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physicallydemanding tasks. synonyms: powerful, muscular, brawny, powerfully built, strapping, sturdy, burly, tough, rugged… 2. able to withstand great force or pressure.  synonyms:secure, well built, indestructible, well fortified, well protected, impregnable, solid…

Being strong, having power for living, is needed by everyone and God wants His people to be strong! But God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, and God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  The American obsession with exercise has less to do with being strong and more to do with being physically attractive, As a matter of fact trying to look good is actually killing us!  Every year people die from over exercising (mostly heart attacks from excessive cardiovascular work outs). Many more die of course from the use of muscle supplements and steroids. Health experts still say moderation in exercise is the key to good health. Studies are proving that longer, harder workouts do more damage than good to your body and your heart.  Of course let us not forget that no exercise at all is the biggest killer of all!  

There is of course that growing American obsession with looking physically healthy without the workout.  More and more people are getting medically tucked, sucked and lifted and health risks and death rates are rising as a result.  Most deaths from cosmetic surgeries are related to    reactions to anesthesia and air embolisms. According to a recent report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), Americans spent a whopping $16 billion on treatments and enhancements — both non-invasive and surgical procedures— in 2016.

 All of this and we are told that our creator is not even interested in how you look.  God is much more interested in the “heart “of the matter.  That is in our true strength (1 Samuel 16:7).  God transforms the believer supernaturally by putting His Spirit into us as we become “Born again” by receiving Christ into our life.  God mentally transforms our thinking as we submit to His word (the Bible) and seek to follow Him.  God also changes our emotional  state as we trust in Him and allow His Spirit to work in our lives.  God also will Physically strengthens us as we exercise our faith in Him.

Trust in the Lord Psalm 20:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:7

According to the Pentagon, on May 31, 2017 the much anticipated intercept of an            intercontinental ballistic missile was successful, and the mock ICBM warhead was shot down over the Pacific “in a success for America’s missile defense program.” The test was the first of its kind in nearly three years, and was the first test ever targeting an intercontinental-range missile like North Korea is developing.

This is great news for the protection of America; however, according to God’s word this is not where our American trust should be.  We should work as hard and spend so much money on building up America’s faith in Jesus Christ.  This is where true strength is found and sadly where America and it’s families are weakening.

God’s plan is to make His people strong. In fact, “He is the One who gives power and strength to his people.” (Psalm 68:35). We are even commanded, “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might!” (Ephesians 6:10). God wants each of us to have an unshakable confidence in Him.  God’s thoughts are not like our thoughts. Our thoughts are naturally weak. Thoughts of fear, discouragement, anger or frustration. Thoughts like: “I can’t do this”, or  “God must be punishing me,” or, “The Lord is against me,” can become a part of our thinking. God wants us to live by faith not by sight. This is where true strength comes from.

Healing 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

Being Physically strengthened by God can include a physical healing.  If we are sick we are instructed in God’s word to call upon the elders of the church, to be anointed with oil, and to pray for healing (James 5:14-15), but rather God chooses to bring physical healing or not, His supernatural strength will come upon His faithful children.  The Apostle Paul had some infirmity that he prayed would be healed on three occasions but it was not.  Instead,  God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for Him.  Paul accepted the physical hardship, found reason for it, and was made stronger by it. When we are weak, we become stronger as we trust in God.

Sometimes we get the wrong idea about being strong., but who can argue that Jesus was    not strong when He allowed Himself to be arrested, beat, and crucified to pay the price for   our sin? Supernatural strength can be found in the deaths of martyrs.  In fact, historically     speaking, the greatest numerical growth in the church has occurred in the worse times of martyrdom.  God’s Word says, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim.2: 1) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil.4:13).

Wings Like Eagles Isaiah 40:28-31, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 51-58

The supernatural strength of God comes to the believer as he or she exercises faith in God’s promises.  We renew that strength as we wait on Him.  We wait on God when we praise and worship Him, take time to read His word and meditate on it, thoughtfully pray to Him, and serve Him with our time, talent and treasures.

At times we can drift, and begin to coast along in life on our own strength. Then it becomes easy to get entangled in sin and the selfishness of our own ways again. We must turn from sin to be strengthened by the Lord. Sin will make you weak. The Psalmist said, “My strength has failed because of my iniquity.” (Psalm 31:10). That is why we must seek fresh strength from the Lord day by day and week by week. Wait upon the Lord and He will give you eagle’s wings.

When we are at last done with this physical body God promises to raise us up with a new   immortal body! Until then we are encouraged to be “strong” and “Immovable” in our faith.

He is where our strength comes from and all we do in Him is never for nothing.

The Great Deception (Becoming a “real”man of God)

MakingofaMan

Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering                                             Morphed Series/ Lesson 5

The Great Deception  Ephesians 6:10-12, 1 John 2:18-23

What is a man?  That is the question that all little boys inevitably will ask.  I asked that question when I was growing up although I never verbalized it.  Most boys think that they should just   instinctively know what a man is, but they don’t!  A child must be shown what he is to become.  A little girl needs a woman to show her what she is to become and a man needs to show a boy.  It is Satan’s great deception that one will just “become”.  The perpetuation of this lie is the reason that our world is so messed up.  God’s plan for mankind includes a gender plan no matter what society propagates.

The great deceiver (satan) lies to us every day.  His minions are demonic hosts who war against us from the heavenly realms, but his followers propagate his lies just as well, perhaps even   better.  Most of them don’t even believe that he is real and therein lies the greatest danger.  These followers are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.  They are teachers, politicians and pundits, they are grandparents and godparents, false preachers and friends.  They are the “anti-Christ” (everyone who does not say that Jesus Christ is Lord) 1 John 2:18-23. They refute Jesus Christ and his teachings (the Bible) but pass themselves off as “real men” and “real woman”.  They are not!  To follow such people is to fall into a pit. Matthew 15:14

 Watch Out! 1 Peter 5:8-9, Philippians 2:9-16

 There is only one defense from the cunning deception that you will just “become” without the interaction of Christ in your life: 

1.) We must be alert in the knowledge that there is a spiritual enemy among us and stand firm in the faith that comes from Christ. 

 2.) We must acknowledge that the name of Jesus is above every name and never to be used as an expression shock or disgust (You shall not use the name of the Lord in vain: Exodus 20:7). We must elevate that name above all names and hold firmly to the word of life (God’s Word the Bible/ Jesus Christ the Son: both are the Word).

3.) We must “work out our salvation” and hold out the word of life to this warped and crooked generation  (“shine like stars”).  Show them what a “real man” or “real Woman” looks like.

Becoming A Man Of God Psalm 1:1-6, Romans 12:1-2

Becoming a man or a woman of God is all in the path that one chooses to walk down.  We  follow Jesus and therefore we do not walk in step with the wicked.

1.) The world will try and tell you that anything spiritual is good and that “All Dog’s Go To Heaven”.  Jesus says that “you must be born again (John 3:3) to see the kingdom of God and that apart from Jesus no one will see God (John 14:6).

2.) The world will tell you to mentally think within the perimeters of the world (popular) view. God tells us to be transformed by His word/ the Bible (Romans 12:1-2).

3.) The world will tell you to get in touch with your emotions and express your inner feelings whatever they may be.  God tells us to be self-controlled and let His spirit work within you (1 Peter 5:8).

4.) The world will tell you to put your trust and effort into the physical and material.  God wants our life’s emphasis to be on the Spiritual (Luke 12:19-21).

Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. Be a strong tree planted by the     river of life.

From Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk (http://drjamesdobson.org) comes some challenging Father’s Day words from the blog of JT Waresak :

“My wife and kids need a real man, not some wimpy guy that rides the ever-changing cultural tides of our times.  For Christian men, this means we must continually immerse ourselves in God’s Word in our pursuit to become less so Christ can become more (John 3:30).  In a very practical way, what we anchor our lives to will define us as men.  If we’re anchored to Christ, God will shape us into the men He wants us to be.  As a Christian man, my man code needs to be determined by God and not by the prevailing cultural norms of our day. Within the Person and life of Jesus Christ, along with God’s Word, I have the absolute picture of what a real man should look like. I also know a number of God-given directives that reveal some things that men should do as well as          never do. 

  1. Real men don’t leave their wives.  See Ephesians 5:25-32, Mark 10:9, Job 31:1
  2. Real men honor their wives as co-heirs.  See 1 Peter 3:7
  3. Real men teach their children God’s ways (both in word and in action).  See Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78:5-7
  4. Real men build into the lives of other men.  See Proverbs 27:17
  5. Real men don’t use their words to demean others.  See Ephesians 4:29
  6. Real men don’t let their anger get away from them.  See James 1:19-20
  7. Real men lead best when they love most.  See Ephesians 5:1-2; John 13:34-35
  8. Real men are sacrificial for the sake of their Lord, family, and others.  See John 15:13
  9. Real men are servants.  See Mark 10:45
  10. Real men can show their emotions (this includes crying).  See John 11:35, Matthew 21:12, Matthew 9:36

My life aim is to follow after The One who is a “REAL MAN”.  If I pursue Christ, He will pursue me (James 4:8).  In doing so, He will build me into the man that my family and my watchers need me to be.  

More Than Emotion

ButterflySunsetPastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering                                                    Morphed Series/ Lesson 3

Taking a pill                                                                                                                           According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, seven in ten Americans regularly take prescription drugs. Half of Americans were found to be taking two, and 20 percent a total of five or more. At the top of the list of most commonly prescribed drugs are antibiotics, followed by antidepressants, with painkillers ranking in third. Where antidepressants are concerned, the CDC found that 11 percent of Americans over age 12 are medicated. The number is even higher for middle aged women – and in fact, higher than that of any country in the world – at 22.8 percent for females ranging in age from 40-59.  Add children into the mix, and the numbers are even more alarming. The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 25 percent of U.S. kids and teens take medication on a chronic basis, according to Medco Health Solutions Incorporation’s database.  According to other studies, 200,000 Americans die per year from prescription drug use.

What’s the deal?                                                                                                                         These days there seems to be a pill for everything – be it a physical or emotional need. Physician and researcher J. Douglas Bremner MD, author of Before You Take That Pill: Why the Drug    Industry May be Bad for Your Health, tells us that “the US spends two times more on drugs, and takes twice as many drugs, as other countries, and has worse health.” This amounts to a major prescription drug problem, in his opinion, and implies that not only are we paying too much for too many drugs, but that on a whole they are not working.  

The bigger picture of the problem is that Americans have grown accustomed to easy fixes, and place too much trust in a system that does not always have the right answers. Instead of seeking alternative methods, such as exercise, diet, therapy, and spirituality, many assume that the doctors prescription of a pill a day is probably better than an “Apple a Day”. It’s worth keeping in mind that if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a pill a day will likely keep him around.  With these “quick fixes” can come long term dependence – even addiction and risky side effects. The sheer amount of money and corporate lobbying spent on Big Pharma, suggests that medication feeds wallets just as much as it does human bodies, which is likely a conflict of interest.

Using the Gate John 10:7-10, Matthew 11:28-30

I’m not a doctor or a psychiatrist so I will not be giving out any medical or mental diagnoses or treatments today, but as a pastor I will suggest that you apply the Biblical approach to all that ails you before popping a pill.  I call this “using the gate”. Jesus said that He is the gate for His Sheep (those that follow Him).  Those that come to life through Him are saved.  We are     instructed to listen to no one else but Him. Others do not care for us as He does. He has come that we may have life, and have it to the full. In Him we have protection among the fold (the church) and we may go in and out safely as we come and go at His leading.  He is the gate.

It was Jesus who also said that “apart from Him we can do nothing” John 15:5  ( this is also true in the healing department). Jesus bids us to come to Him for healing. Matthew 11:28-30   (just as we are to come to Him for all things pertaining to life).

 Emotional Healing Isaiah 61:1 & Luke 4:18, 1 Peter 2:24-25, Psalm 73:21-28

Emotional healing is something that every person needs, to one degree or another, for we have all been wounded emotionally. Whether the cause is natural or because of another’s sin, most people fight some type of emotional battle. Some of the most common symptoms of emotional harm are sleeplessness, detachment, depression, anger, isolation, bitterness,    frustration, and fear. Some of the most common causes are abandonment, abuse, broken trust, chronic pain or illness, rejection, a lack of community, and a sense of meaninglessness.

Jesus said that we must be spiritually born again to have eternal life and that life is only found in Him. John 3:5-7, John 14:6  He told us that as believers in Him that we would be given a new mind in Christ. Romans 8:5-6,1 Corinthians 2:16  It was prophesied that Jesus would also bring emotional healing and freedom. Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18  

 Today’s society is a breeding ground for emotional destroyers. We are increasingly drawn away from community and toward individualism, away from trustworthy behavior and toward selfishness, away from morals that give our lives purpose and toward existentialism (philosophy of self-centeredness) and post-modernism (rejection of absolute truth).  These teachings and life-styles detach us from one another and from our God, away from healthy choices and healthy practices and toward instant gratification that degrades our emotional and physical health. We lost sheep need a shepherd for our souls, a gatekeeper who knows us by name, an emotional healer and mighty counselor (Isaiah 9:6) that will bring peace.

 In Psalm 73 Asaph writes about his emotional healing. That healing only came to him when he drew near to God and allowed His direction to lead him.  In the same way, emotional healing will come to us as we draw near to God and His people and trust Christ to direct our lives.

More than Emotion  Philippians 3:14-15, Romans 8:15-16, 26, 28, 31-39

God shows us in His word that we are not people who should allow our past to determine our present or our future.  We are to press forward towards the goal. Philippians 3:14-15   God shows us that we are no longer slaves to fear we are children of God. Romans 8:15-16  God also shows us that the Spirit will help us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26  and that He will work all things together for good as we love Him. Romans 8:28  And if God is for us then no one can stand against us. We are more than our emotions…we are conquerors of all that comes against us for we are loved by Christ.  And nothing shall ever separate us from Him. Romans 8:31-39

 Life can take an emotional toll upon us but God makes all things new! 2 Corinthians 5:17 This includes our emotional well being.  God is the Great Physician, and all healing, physical, emotional, and spiritual, belongs to Him, but as with any doctor or therapist we must listen and act upon instruction.  Seek God first, use the gate! If medicine should be part of God’s plan for your healing then allow Him to direct your steps through His word. Follow Him to healing.