Can You Hear Me Now?

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Okay, so the Verizon guy… wait the Sprint guy… whoever he is with, gave us a simple phrase that sticks out in my mind all the time. Our family totally changed services here in New Braunfels in order to HEAR ONE ANOTHER. From where we live currently to where we go out and about, we continuously found certain areas where our calls were dropped. Then, as we moved out of the “dead spot” we magically connected again. Needless to say, we made a move TO BE HEARD.

As we are looking at PRAYER or CONNECTING WITH GOD as a church, our Middle Schoolers are going back to the basics of what it means to connect with God.

That same question, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” seems to come up as we focus on prayer as well.

The BEST example we have is JESUS HIMSELF, as he preaches His first (and need I say LONGEST) sermon that cuts to our hearts, even today. In this Sermon, presented on a mountain, he directs His people to think about the “WHY” when it comes to prayer.

“Don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).

 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6 NIV).

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

When we create a space and a place to CALL ON the Lord, we get more than an instant download code for 20% off on a flash sale. When we make time to focus on the person of JESUS and call out to HIM, we get more than three wishes for all our dreams to come true. Our REWARD is far greater than a “good day” or a material possession.

OUR REWARD IS A DEEP RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.

Isn’t that what our hearts truly call out for? I believe we are moved to choose a payment plan and upgrade to a new cell phone because we value the close relationships in our lives. We desire to connect with others on a deeper level, and we want to guarantee a secure connection.

How does the value with our Father translate to our daily lives?

I believe that an intentional TIME and PLACE builds a foundation for a deep encounter with the God of the Universe through Jesus Christ. How have you created an intentional time and place this week to connect? How have you seen the ultimate reward work out in your own daily walk with Jesus?

Pray This For the New Year

As we begin the New Year, Oakwood is beginning 40 days of Prayer to kick things off.

I don’t know about you, but many times, I want to pray, have the desire to grow in my prayer life, but I don’t know exactly what else to pray after about… 30 seconds. I think this problem leads to giving up on connecting with God in this way on a consistent basis. I mean, with all the distractions of raising kids, getting them in the right place with the right things at the right time, sometimes I turn around and realize I missed getting ME in the right place with the right things at the right time. Then we have technology, the game to watch, and oh yea, that source of income is good to invest in as well. It’s not that we don’t want to connect with God that’s the problem. I think its the fact that time is always slipping away through our fingertips. Before you know it, you are laying yourself to sleep and throw up a, “THANK YOU JESUS… FOR MY BED!”

So as not to WASTE TIME, maybe we need to build confidence to use our time WISELY. That is where the question begins to be:

If I’m going to pray, how can I do it right?

You want to do it right? Literally COPY A GREAT PRAYER!

‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ‘ Colossians 1:9-14

What better example do we have than Paul and his prayer out of God’s Truth in Colossians?

My challenge for myself for the NEW YEAR is to just PRAY THIS.

I am taking whatever time I have in the morning, after lunch time for a moment, as my mind wanders in the evening, to basically copy and paste most of Paul’s prayer for individuals that come to mind. The easiest way to start is to find those right in front of you. Pray for your family to be filled with Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding. Pray for good works and fruit from God Himself. Ask for strength according to His might. Do you need endurance, patience, and joy anytime soon? How about the consistent reminder that we have a Father through Jesus Christ that delivered us out of darkness and qualified us to be saints in light? Needless to say, I have found my own joy and connection with God as I have used a great prayer guide in Colossians Chapter 1.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Happy Thanksgiving from OakwoodMS Ministry!!!

Where is your heart of GRATITUDE during THANKSGIVING WEEK?

I hope there is s BIG TURKEY coming your way for this THANKSGIVING!!!

Sometimes we go about our week, do the daily thing, and forget to stop, take a breath, and fill our hearts up with gratitude for all that we have been given. Maybe this pandemic has forced subtraction in your life, so you are grateful for the addition as it may have come back to you. Then, as the days of HYBRID have brought back a busy schedule, that addition came back in a landslide. Take a moment and stop, read Psalm 103, and reflect on all the great attributes of God and His hand on your life.

‘ Bless the Lord , O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord , O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord , all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord , all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord , O my soul!’

Psalm 103:1-22

https://my.bible.com/bible/59/PSA.103.1-22

Take the Family Challenge and Download the Student Guide above. Read Psalm 103 as a family and reflect on all that God has given you. End the time crafting your own “Family Psalm 103,” and use it as a reminder to stop and THANK GOD for all HE has given you.

Worried Series – Failure

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A FAILURE TODAY?

As Paul writes to his younger companion, he relays various “trustworthy sayings” to Timothy.

2 Timothy 2

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us;

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Trying to paint the picture in my mind, I envision a wise champion of the faith relaying simple truths that may have carried him on his faith journey. We find Paul bringing understanding through strong statements of faith. The certainty of Christ with us and living in His resurrection power. The endurance gained as the eternal perspective of the Kingdom of God will come to reign. Then, right smack in the middle, the divide between our humanity and a Holy God gives comfort in a different way. Our confession with or without Christ results in denial, as we deny Him.

Lastly, a paradox of sorts. “IF WE ARE FAITHLESS,” if WE FAIL, if WE RENIG on our side of the bargain, if WE LOSE SIGHT and miss the mark, WE DO NOT IMPACT THE CONSISTENT, SOLID, BEDROCK of our FAITHFUL CREATOR.

“FOR HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF.”

As you look at your past, as you remember your failures, put your hope in the one that REMAINS FAITHFUL. Find the same qualities in the Savior that gifted you eternal life from the start. Receive GRACE and REDEMPTION once again. Walk in newness of life, and find confidence again. Don’t worry, He’s got it.

What Monsters Do You Fight?

Check Out Revelaytor Music Here

My friend, Jon the Revelaytor, just released a powerful song that reminds me that I have the ability to fight in the midst of fear.

To be honest, the struggle is real.  Whether somebody is messing with your head, or you have decided a wrong direction due to your own human programming, there seems to be a WAR INSIDE, lying beneath.

It is like you are FIGHTING MONSTERS that only you can see. Sometimes they are the reality of life, and other times, the scars of life seem to become those monsters hiding behind the door, late at night, when you least expect them.

This WAR can get the best of us and lead to extreme consequences.  

  • When we have been wronged, we jump to ANGER to lash out and solve a problem
  • When we see an injustice, protests turn to riots and buildings are burned down
  • When we feel restricted and anxious, we rebell and try to break free of whatever restrictions we are living under

Think about the WAR inside YOU.  How have you seen, living in your very own skin, the extreme reactions and consequences of your actions?

Sometimes the actions we take make us feel like the MONSTER. We feel like something else is controlling our thoughts and actions and can’t find a way out. Paul relates to this struggle inside us in Romans Chapter 7.

“What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.”

Romans 7:15 MSG

The TRUTH is that we have power in JESUS NAME to find freedom and push back in the fight. The struggles in our daily lives do not have to keep us captive to fear.

Paul goes on to say

“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

Romans 7:24-25

Jesus Christ brings FREEDOM and CONFIDENCE to win the fight. In fact, he is the source of power that gives us the strength to pick up our heads and move forward.

WHAT MONSTERS ARE YOU FIGHTING TODAY?

LOOK TO JESUS FOR THE POWER TO PUSH BACK

MUSIC ARTIST – PEABOD

Isaac Peabody, who goes by the stage name Peabod, brings to the Centricity label  (which is home to Lauren Daigle, Jordan Feliz and many more great artists) exciting talent and a unique sound: hip-hop. The 24-year old caught the label’s attention with his independently produced music, an assortment of meticulously crafted rap songs. Peabod puts a new spin on the genre, yielding infectious positivity and wordplay that connect with audiences of all ages.  He is a fun middle school-high school kind of guy that your students will love!

FEAR IS NOT FROM GOD.

Building 429 Highlight

Take a Listen to FEAR NO MORE and Read a short word below.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  
2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV

I’ll never forget this verse as long as I live because it was the FIRST scripture I remember my mom teaching me when I was a child.  I don’t know why it was the first, but today I would guess that mom knew what I didn’t… that Satan would attack my heart with fear more than anything else in my lifetime.  She would be right even to this day.  I still hear all of the same voices today that I did when I was a child, but thankfully today I understand how to fight the lies so much better.  

  • Nobody loves you
  • Nobody wants you to win
  • They’re all laughing at you
  • God is ashamed of you
  • You’ll never make your parents proud
  • You’ll never be successful at anything

I still hear the same voices, but as my mother used to say: “Sometime’s you’ve got to tell the devil to SHUT UP.” I don’t know what fear you are facing today but this scripture has become bedrock principle in my personal fight with fear. When you feel fear, you can know that it is not God speaking those words into your ears. The mind God has promised you is clear, strong, and more than able to deal with whatever He allows into your life. You can claim that sound mind today. You can do this…. why? Because He said you could. So today choose to walk with the spirit of POWER, LOVE and SOUND MIND.

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