10 Signs You Are Overwhelmed.

  1. BUSY and TIRED are words you use to describe yourself most often when Overwhelmed-FullScreen2people ask how you are doing.
  2. You always seem to be in a HURRY.
  3.  Every time you look at your upcoming schedule, you feel STRESSED and ANXIOUS.
  4. You are getting less and less SLEEP.
  5. You always see others as the REASON for your problems.
  6. You keep saying that what you are going through is a SEASON that will eventually pass.
  7. You are showing less and less COMPASSION toward others.
  8. You are losing HOPE.
  9. You begin to WITHDRAW from family and friends.
  10. You can’t remember the last time you genuinely had FUN. (from Overwhelmed by Perry Noble)

If three or more of those things describe you…You’re OVERWHELMED. The first step step to recovery is to admit the truth about ourself…the second it to turn to the ONLY ONE who can truly help.

GOD KNOWS you’re frustrated. He knows you’re tired. He knows your struggling. But He also knows how things are going to turn out. He is greater than anything you are going through. And the best news of all, He wants to help you OVERCOME when you feel overwhelmed.

Jesus said it this way, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

He has come for you! Don’t miss Epic the next six weeks as we journey through our new series “OVERWHELMED.” I am confident that Jesus is going to show up big time in each of your lives and restore us to the way He created us to live.

Spiritual Fitness–Empowering Holy Spirit (Part 2)

The Holy Spirit’s presence in you is your guarantee that you belong to God and are part of His family.  His presence also demonstrates the genuineness of your faith and secures eternal life for you.  Once Christ, through the person of the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your heart, it is forever.  However, it is important to keep in mind this tension that exists, a two-sided reality in a Christian’s life.  On one hand you are complete in Christ, your acceptance with Him is secure.  On the other hand you are growing in Christ, becoming more and more like Him.  The daily challenges and temptations are the opportunities that help you grow.  As you react to this daily tension, it is possible for you to “grieve” or “quench” the Holy Spirit by your sinful nature.  Although the Holy Spirit continues to dwell in you, you may sense a loss of power, peace, love, joy and sometimes even wonder if the Holy Spirit has left you because of the silence.  Such a sense of loss will continue until the sins which have grieved and quenched the Holy Spirit are confessed and forgiven by the cleansing blood of Christ.  “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:30-32

The whole point is you have this amazing helper, full of God’s power dwelling in you to counsel, direct, teach you the ways of God.  He empowers you for a task, He comforts you in bereavement and trouble, He makes you holly (not perfect) but in right standing before God.  The end result of the Holy Spirits work in you is deep and lasting peace, even in the midst of conflict and inner struggle.  All you have to do is be aware of His presence, and listen to His nudging’s as He leads you through life.  “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 4:7

Two more action steps to insure this power in your life:

  • Quiet time each day.  You have to intentionally stop your life to meditate on God’s Word to gain knowledge, pray to grow your relationship with Christ and listen for the direction of the Holy Spirit.  This alone time helps you become mindful.   It is the process of being aware-intensely aware of everything going on around you.  Mindfulness helps you be keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance toward a good decision that lines up with God’s way.  These are the choices that lead you to personal growth and peace in Christ.  “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”  Romans 8:6 
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in you.  The work of the Holy Spirit in you is producing the character traits that are the nature of Christ.  When you work with the Holy Spirit and not against Him by your selfish nature, good fruit grows in you.  Being led by the Holy spirit involves the desire to hear, and the readiness to obey God’s Word.  When you live each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit, the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ will direct your actions, and the power of Christ will help you control your selfish desires.  “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.   There is no law against these things!”  Galatians 5:22-23

There will always be this tension in a believer’s life that is the very thing that keeps us needing Christ.  The Holy Spirit is always ready to coach us through the tension, replacing your stress and grief with peace.  In the process of His work, transformation happens as you become like Christ.

  • How are you carving out time in your day to make room for the work of the Holy Spirit?
  • Meditate on Galatians 5:22-23.  Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce in you?
  • Have you praised and thanked God for the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit that helps you become more and more like Christ?

Spiritual Fitness–Empowered by the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

After Christ’s resurrection, He stayed with his disciples forty days to instruct them on what was to come and to prepare them for the promised indwelling Holy Spirit.  Jesus told them not to begin their work for Him until they received this powerful gift, without it they would be alone and powerless.  Up until this point the Holy Spirit was with them but not in them.  On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down upon the believers, to envelop, indwell and permeate their entire being.  This is the experience of being born again through faith in Christ.  Today all a person has to do is ask to receive the Holy Spirit.  He is ready to enter immediately any heart that receives and surrenders to Christ as Lord and savior of their life.  “But the Advocate the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you .”  John 14:26 

We have a big God with big dreams for your life.  One of the most important gifts God gives believers is the gift of the Holy Spirit to help fulfill those God size dreams.  The Holy Spirit is a powerful person of the Trinity, on your side, working for and with you as your advocate.  He empowers you to live God’s way and reveals truth to you concerning your purpose and work for Christ.  The Holy Spirit is like a wise coach who comes along side you to counsel, encourage and comfort you to be all you were created to be.  “If you love me keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and will be with you.  I will not leave you as orphans…”  John 14:15-18  The truth into which the Holy Spirit guides you is the truth about Christ.  The Spirit also helps your faith grow as well as convicting you of sin as he helps you discern right from wrong.

Action Steps to insure this power in your life:

  • Believe and receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  Are you trying to do the work of Christ in your church or family without receiving and depending on this power?  If so, you need to stop and invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within you so you can experience this empowering to help you do the eternal work for which God has created you.  “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8
  • Be alert to the nudging of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus calls us to join Him in His work.  This takes  action.  He will use the Holy Spirit to direct you to the action He has just for you.  Maybe it is a personal growth issue.  It might be going on a mission trip, or leading a life group, or teaching children, building a set, serving someone, or saying a kind word of encouragement and on and on.  You need to be alert to the nudging so you can be part of the adventure, keeping your faith alive and growing.  “…faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead faith.”  James 2:17
  • Don’t hesitate, follow through with the direction you receive.  This can be transformation in your personal life.  The Holy Spirit makes follow through possible because whenever God gives you a command He always gives you the motivating power of his Holy spirit to accomplish it.  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord you God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6 

Our big God has big dreams for you life.  Recognizing the divine power of the Holy Spirit in your life helps your personal transformation become a reality as you live the adventure fulfilling your mission.

  • Do you trust in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?  If no, why not?
  • Have you ever experienced the nudging of the Holy Spirit?  Did you follow through with His direction?

 

Spiritual Fitness–Hope by Encouragement

Everyone needs encouragement at one time or another.  It means you reassure those who are discouraged or wavering in their faith, or maybe you see something good in them that they don’t see in themselves.  When you come along side someone in need, you use kind words and loving actions that lift them up and give them hope.  You also in a loving way can challenge them to trust and hope in the promises of God and to have confidence in His will for their life.  Encouragement is one ingredient that can unite and grow a church family because others see your good deeds and generosity and will be attracted to them.  “In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16

After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and began his missionary work, he was not well received by other believers because of his previous job, “persecuting Christians”.  Barnabas, a remarkable leader in the beginning church saw something in Paul others didn’t.  He encouraged lonely Paul to keep going and even went on the first missionary journey with him.  Paul was an amazing warrior for spreading the Good News and helping build Christ’s church.  He could never have accomplished all he did without the encouragement of Barnabas, who was generous and had a passion for lifting up new Christians in their faith.  He was the first example of giving his possessions to those in need.  As a result of his generosity and encouragement through the power of the Holy Spirit, others were attracted to the church and believed.  “Barnabas was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith.  And many people were brought to the Lord.”  Acts 11:24

Give hope by:

  • Attracting others through encouragement.  Christ says join me in my work and help me build my church.  Barnabas was passionate about the Good News of Christ and was drawn to people he could encourage.  He was generous and a great help to those around him.  Whenever Barnabas encouraged Christians, non-Christians flocked to become believers.  Keep your eyes open to see where Jesus is calling you to join Him in His work.  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24
  • Building trust through encouragement.  As the life of Barnabas shows we are often presented with a situation where there is someone who needs encouragement.  Our tendency, however is to criticize instead.  It may be important at times to point out someone’s shortcomings, but before we have the right to do this we must build that persons trust through encouragement.  See the person as a beautiful creation of God they are. Give them your time and listen to their stories.  Your encouraging words have power to help someone reach their God-given potential.  “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 15:5-6

Jesus needs us to help grow His church.  He doesn’t want us to be afraid or have a troubled heart.  One word of authentic encouragement can lift up a person so they trust God’s promises, have hope, and persevere through life.  Send a text, a card, a call.  Someone is in need of your encouraging words today!

  • What can you do today to take on the generous and encouraging attitude of Barnabas?
  • Does your family and friends know you are a Christian?  How would they describe your work and character?
  • Are you generous to the point of giving away your possessions to those in need so others see you light shine?

How to Develop Patience

spiritual fitness imageOne of the ways to develop moral excellence is patience.  This is one challenging virtue.  It means you have the power or capacity to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable, longsuffering.  Who wants to be like that?  We would rather scramble around the grocery store to quickly find our items and then look for the shortest check-out line only to stand there impatiently while someone in front of us is to friendly or having technical difficulties with a credit card.  Think about when you are driving, weaving in and out of traffic only to meet the person you passed at the next stop light.  We are a society of “we want what we want and we want it now!”  On top of that attitude we are overwhelmed with busy lives that make it almost impossible to develop patience. Impatience is one of the reasons we have so many broken relationships and a hard time forgiving.  If we want to become Christlike we must develop patience and use every aspect of our life as a spiritual growth opportunity. Paul teaches us to be patient, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  Colossians 3:12.

Martha, Mary and Lazarus were a family that was loved by Jesus.  He was visiting their home for dinner and Martha worried about every detail.  She wished to please, to serve and to do the right thing but she often made the people around her uncomfortable.  She was controlling and had high expectations and as a result was impatient and found it hard to relax and enjoy her guests.  During Jesus’s visit she became very irritated with Mary’s lack of cooperation in the preparations.  Martha decided to settle the matter by taking it to Jesus.  “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered.  “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.”  Luke 10:40-42.  Martha was not doing a bad thing, just not the best thing.  Tasks are never more important than people, especially Jesus.  He wanted time with Martha as much as Mary.  He wants time with you too.  When you spend time alone with Jesus, you realize how patient He is with you, that leads you to be patient with others.

Two ways to develop patience:

  • Let down your expectations of others.  What others do is not your business.  You are only responsible for yourself.  When people don’t live up to your expectations you become frustrated, disappointed and angry losing your patience.  Don’t waste time living in that negativity, spend it helping rather than expecting.  “And we urge you brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  1 Thessalonians 5:14
  • Relax and keep your focus on Christ’s love for you.  When you fix your eyes on Christ you will find perfect peace and patience even in the turmoil.  There are many distractions in this life that can cause impatience.  The Greek word for distraction is “Perispao” meaning to draw different ways at the same time, hence to distract with cares and responsibilities.  Can you relate?  If Satan can’t make you bad or mad he will make you busy.  Busyness doesn’t leave time for intimacy with Christ.  The lesson we learn from Martha and Mary is many things are important but only one thing is essential, “time alone with Jesus“.  No matter what circumstances you find yourself in today, His love reaches down into the depths of your frustrations and disappointments.  He is surrounding you with His love to help you through life.  “And may you have the power to understand.  as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life, and power that comes from God.  Ephesians 3:18-19

Martha opened her home but Mary opened her heart.  Remember how God dealt with you; with gentle patience and kindness.  This virtue will take you far on the “Road Trip of Life”.

  • How is your business causing you to squeeze Jesus out?
  • Are you the type of person who worries or gets upset?  What distractions or preoccupations keep you that way?
  • Do your high expectations of others cause you to become upset or impatient with them?

 

 

Three Steps to Restore a Broken Relationship

three steps title3The Bible tells us that relationships are always worth restoring.  Actually, you are given the mission of restoring them.  This life is all about learning how to love God and others.  God’s desire is that we  value relationships and make an effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there is a hurt or conflict.  “If you have gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you…agree with each other, love each other and be deep-spirited friends.”  Philippians 2:1-2.  Paul is teaching us that our ability to get along with others is a mark of spiritual maturity.  If you want to become Christlike and be a positive example for your faith, you must become a peacemaker.

Peacemaking is one of the most important skills you can develop.  Unfortunately, most of us were never taught how to resolve conflict.

Peacemaking is not avoiding conflict.  Running from a problem, pretending it doesn’t exist or being afraid to talk about it, doesn’t help the problem get solved.  Jesus was never afraid of conflict.  Sometimes He provoked it for the good of everyone.

Peacemaking is also not appeasement.  Always giving in, acting like a doormat, and allowing others to run over you is not what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Blessed are those who are the peacemakers, for they will be  called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9.  Jesus always stood His ground against evil opposition.

Here are 3 steps to help you become a peacemaker:

  • Talk to God before you talk to the person.  Most conflict is caused by high expectations and unmet needs.  Instead of gossiping to a friend you should try praying about it.  You might discover God will change your heart or the other person without your help.  Call out to God, He is always listening so vent to Him instead of looking to God, we look to others to make us happy and then get angry when they fail us.  The truth is no one can meet all your needs except God.  “I call to God; God will help me.  At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs-he hears, he rescues.”  Psalm 55:.16
  • Confess your part of the conflict.  Confession is a powerful tool when resolving conflict.  Jesus said it is a way to see more clearly.  “First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”  Matthew 7:5.  Even if you were not at fault, you will quickly see you aren’t perfect either.  This helps you see the other person through the eyes of Christ.  When you realize how many times you have been forgiven, it makes it easier to forgive others.  If you did play a part in the conflict, humble yourself and own up to it.  Accept responsibility for your mistake and ask for forgiveness.
  • Attack the problem not the person.  You cannot fix the problem if you are consumed with the blame game.  In resolving conflict how you say it is as important as what you say.  Choose your words wisely because nagging, sarcasm, insults and belittling are just slinging arrows at the person and will perpetuate the problem instead of solving it.  “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.”  Ephesians 4:29

This is the hard work of peacemaking. Sometimes it costs you your pride; sometimes it costs you your self-centeredness.  For the sake of unity do your best to compromise and find a solution.

  • Are you aware of how powerful your words are?  Do the things you say lift others up or tear them down?
  • Who do you need to contact and begin the process of restoring the relationship?

 

 

Spiritual Fitness–Cultivating Humility

 

Becoming “Second” takes a great amount of humility.  This attitude pleases God and should be taken seriously.  The opposite; self-importance, smugness and pride can destroy unity in a church family faster than anything else.  Pride builds walls between people; humility breaks them down and builds strong authentic relationships.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.  When you put God and others first, you don’t have time to focus on yourself.  Bowing in humility before the Lord helps you come closer to Him because you are acknowledging that your worth comes from Him and Him alone.  Although none of us deserve God’s favor, he wants to lift you up and give you worth and dignity, despite your human shortcomings.  “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up in honor.”  James 4:10

Jesus set an example for His followers, showing compassion and acceptance for the lowest of lows.  He was a  friend to sinners.  Proof being when He chose His disciples, one by one, He picked ordinary sinful men to be the leaders of His church.  One of them, Matthew the Tax Collector did horrible things to people, by strong-arming them into paying their taxes while he skimmed off the top.  Then he met Jesus.  As Jesus looked into Matthews’s eyes, his view of life dramatically changed. Then Jesus said “Follow Me”, Matthew dropped everything and followed Him.  The first thing Matthew did was through a banquet for Jesus and the guest list included his friends in the tax collecting business, pagans, drunkards and prostitutes.  Jesus loved everyone and I imagine he enjoyed listening to their stories as He was gently making an impact on all of their lives.  The religious leaders were keeping a close watch on Jesus’s every move and were mocking Him for hanging out with such “low-lives”.  “This so-called “teacher” and “healer” dines with sinners.”  Jesus heard them mumbling outside, He went out and stopped them in their tracks when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means.  I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:12.  He was showing them what their own scripture taught, that God is pleased with hearts full of compassion and mercy, not empty sacrifices by arrogant, empty religion.

You can easily cultivate this humble attitude of being “Second” by:

Admitting your weakness–the Bible teaches we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and if we don’t accept that fact we are only fooling ourselves.  The reason we see hypocrisy, deceit, and a lack of genuineness in others is that they are all in our hearts as well.  We are all capable of evil.  In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1 Jesus puts it this way, “Do not judge or you to will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…”, and later in verse 12 He teaches the Golden Rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”  Therefore, we have no right to judge others weaknesses when we are full of them ourselves.

Being patient with others weakness–the truth is we all have quirks and annoying traits. Our common ground in community is our relationship with Christ.  You are in His family.  One key is to understand where people come from.  Take time to discover their history.  When you know their story, you will be more understanding and compassionate.  Instead of thinking how far they need to go, think of how far they have come in spite of their hurts.

Pride blocks grace in your life.  You must have God’s grace to grow, change and help others.   You need to receive it before you can give it.  If you have humbled yourself before Christ and received Him into your heart, you are receiving His grace, love, forgiveness and protection.  You can rest in that and stop worrying about yourself and move on to helping others by giving out grace, pray for someone, teach a child or show concern to that person that is hard to love.  Humbly be Jesus to others, it is the best way to live.

  • Forgiveness is a free gift and spending time confessing can cleanse your soul and help you leave yourself behind so you can be about others.  How many times a week do you spend confessing your weakness to Christ?
  • Getting to know others is a way to unity and harmony in a church family.   Have you joined a serving team or Life Group to begin building those healthy relationships?