• AS YOU – look back and reflect on the year 2013, what do you see?
• WAS IT – a good year?
• WAS IT – all you hope it would be, when the ball dropped 363 days ago, at midnight on January 1?
• DO YOU – want the year 2014 to (bigger, better, bolder and brighter)?
Do you? IF SO – you would you please stand up.
IF YOU – want the 2014 to be better, bigger, bolder and brighter… YOU ARE IN – the right place at the right time, because today 12/29/13 we are going to be talking about how to make the most of year 2014, in a conversation I am calling, ‘Endless Possibilities!’
AND – remember to get the conversation going at
NOW… I want to kick off our time today… with a parable and with a passage of Scripture?
R U ready to do this?
John Eldredge begins His book “The Journey Of Desire, Searching For The Life We’ve Only Dreamed Of” with a parable about a sea lion.
Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea.
He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty it could only be called a desert.
A kind of coarse grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty.
Of course it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. BUT – things like that do happen. HOW the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago. SO LONG, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. NOT that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.
LISTEN - sometimes people (and that would be us) can become just like that sea lion.
AND WHAT – I mean by that, is that…
THEY - have lived so long in a certain place or in a certain way, that even though it is not where they belong, they come to think of it as home.
Something awful has happened, something terrible. Something worse, even, then the fall of man. For in the greatest of all tragedies, we merely lost Paradise – and with it everything that made life worth living. What has happened since is unthinkable…we’ve gotten used to it. We’re broken in to the idea that this is just the way things are. The people who walk in great darkness… have adjusted their eyes to it.
MAN – I wish it wasn’t true by Eldredge is soo right.
I MEAN – way too many of us settle for a life that is far less than who we are… as a people created in the very image of God… and recreated in Christ to do the good things God planned for us long ago…
LISTEN – as I have said countless times before…
WHAT – drives me as a pastor, is to connect people to the lives that were created to live… A LIFE – by the way, that was never meant to be lived in a dry barren wilderness.
Now, the passage…
If you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to Isaiah chapter 43. WE – are going to begin reading at verse 15 .
The year is about 700 BC. AND – God’s people were not doing so good… Things are pretty tough in the nation. A large part of Judah and all of the northern kingdom of Israel were in exile in various parts of the Assyrian Empire.
YOU SEE BECAUSE…
• God’s people had sinned and turned their backs on Him…
• They had bowed down and worship of foreign gods…
GOD - removed His protection and allowed their enemies to come in and conquer them… and Assyria did just that.
YEAH – things were bad… AND - they would only get worse.
IN ABOUT – 100 years Babylon would come riding in to finish the job that Assyria had started.
King Nebuchadnezzar and his army would: level the city, tear down the walls, reduce the Temple to rubble, kill thousands of men, woman and children, and take even more into captivity. Understand
It was to a people who had:
• seen better days
• wandered away from and rebelled against God
• Experienced great suffering
• Lost hope
It was to a people who had:
• Wondered where God was
• Longed for better days
• Like the sea lion had lost the sea and resigned themselves to the belief that this was as good as it gets.
IT WAS – to such a people that God through His prophet Isaiah spoke the following words… 2700 years ago.
OKAY… A real quick sidebar.
Have you ever thought about how crazy it is that every week read a book full words that over 2000-3000 years old?
This is an amazing book.
Would you agree.
And a quick commercial…
Mark your calendars for 1/25… (9-12 am)
This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland… so my chosen people can be refreshed. – Isaiah 43:14-20
MG… God, is up to something….
IN – just a little over 60 hours the year 2014 begins!
SO – what do you say we spend the next several minutes talking about how to make the most of it.
NOW – as I often do…
THE WAY – I came at this message was not trying to figure out what I needed to say… BUT RATHER – by trying to figure out what I needed to hear in order to make my 2014 (bigger, better, bolder and brighter).
AND – as I listened for His voice this week, 4 words rose to the top. 4 words that…
• will help me make the most of 2014
• will open my life up to the ‘endless’ possibilities that are in Christ
• if I embrace them are guaranteed to make my 2014 (bigger, better, bolder and brighter).
NOW – 3 of those words were actually in video we watched earlier… Go, Risk and Believe… AND – I added a 4th word Adapt.
SO… this morning our conversation is centered on four words
And check this out…
Do you know what jumped out at me as I looked at those 4 words early Friday morning? That the first letters actually spelled a word.
YEAH – I know it may be kind of cheesy…
BUT HEY – everyone likes cheese, right?
TELL – the person next to you, you favorite kind of cheese (and no, cheese cake does count…
OKAY… MG, If we want to GRAB
IF – we want to (capture, grip, seize)
IF – we want to (take, snatch, snag)
IF – we want to (collar, hook, land)
IF – we want to (nab, nail, catch hold of )
IF – we want to GRAB the year 2014 for all it’s worth we need to
GO RISK ADAPT BELIEVE
LISTEN - the real value is today’s conversation is what we do with it when we walk out those doors.
I MEAN – we all want 2014 to be bigger and better?
WHAT IF – if what I am saying is right?
WHAT IF – if GRABBING 2014 would really make a difference.
OKAY – here is my challenge (even before we look at the first word)
To spend 30 minutes day this upcoming week (the last few days of 2013 and the first few days of 2014)…
Where you need to GO?
What you need to RISK?
How you need to ADAPT?
What you need to BELIEVE?
I MEAN – do you think spending 3 ½ hours is worth it?
(even when you don’t have all the answers)
UNDDERSTAND - in order to GRAB the year 2014 we will need to GO, and to GO…
Implies – Leaving
YOU SEE – if we want to GO somewhere bigger, somewhere better, somewhere new/different in 2014 than we cannot stay where we are.
• Abraham had to leave his family and homeland behind (he could not GO until he left)
• Moses had to leave the comfort and security of playing it safe in the desert.
• James and John had to leave their nets, their dad and the family business.
• Timothy had to leave his fear and timidity behind
THEY – could not go until they left.
• What do you need to leave in order to GO in 2014
• What’s holding you back
• What have you been unwilling or unable to let go of that is hindering you from becoming who God wants you to be and from embracing all that Jesus longs to do in and through you?
AGAIN - we cannot GO anywhere new/else… UNTIL we leave where we are?
QUESTION – what do you need to leave so you can GO in 2014? MAYBE – you need to leave…
• Doubt, or fear, pride
• guilt, envy, jealousy
• insecurity, timidity
• selfish ambition, self promotion… anger, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness
• some sin
• an attitude, a way of thinking
Or maybe what you need to leave behind is the past… Understand - to relive the past is to relinquish the future…
MG – in order to GRAB 2014 we gotta GO
AND – to GO not only implies leaving…
Requires - Direction
I MEAN - we have to know where we are going, right?
NOW – ‘direction’ is something we have been talking about around The Grove pretty much from the time I landed here, 3+ years ago.
WHEN – we talked about ‘The Principle Of The Path’ which is…that
Direction, not intention, determines our destination
THE PRINCIPLE – that we always end up where the road we are on is taking us, regardless of our intentions.
IMAGINE… – you are getting ready to go to VA Beach for a 2 week vacation (also imagine it’s July or August)… The cars is packed… everyone is pumped and excited… you’re on 250 about to get on I 64… you can help from smiling as you turn on your blinker and start heading down I 64 west. Do you see any problem?
LISTEN – it does not matter: how well we packed the car, how full the tank is, what we believe, how many people are praying for our ‘traveling mercies’ – regardless of our intentions if we are heading west on I-64 we will never get to Va Beach… AND – we know that, right? BUT – the crazy thing is – the interesting thing is – that, when it comes to other areas of our lives there is this huge disconnect… and we don’t think this principle ‘really’ applies…
My observation (and experience, for that matter) indicates that humans have a propensity for choosing paths that do not lead in the direction they want to go…
They’ve come to believe the popular notion that as long as their intentions are good, as long as their hearts are in the right place (whatever that means), as long as they do their best and try their hardest, it doesn’t really matter which path they take. They believe somehow they will end up in a good place.
But life doesn’t work that way…
WE - will always end up where the path we are on is taking us… UNDERSTAND – the direction you are currently traveling (relationally, financially, spiritually, and the list goes on)… WILL DETERMINE – where you end up in each of those respected areas…
AND THIS – is true regardless of your goal’s, dreams, beliefs, wishes, wants, desires, hopes or intentions…
QUESTION… - in 2013, did you have any ‘intentions’ that were not matched by your direction? I MEAN – were you ever driving down I64 West intending to go East.
(Example when we came back from our cruise and were on 1 26 leaving Charleston)
QUESTION… in 2013 did you enter the year intending to…
• get healthier physically
• get your finances in order (pay down debt)
• to work on and improve some of your relationships
• to spend more in the Word, be more committed to His Church?
UNDERSTAND – every time…
• We eat something we know we shouldn’t
• Spend money we don’t have
• Say something we know we shouldn’t say
• Talk ourselves out of exercising
• Treat someone in a way that we know will only result in more friction and destruction
• Lie to our spouse
• Drink more than we know we should/Go to places we should not go
• Continue in friendships and relationships that we know are wrong for us
• Hold on to anger, bitterness and unforgiveness
WE – violate this principle… and there is a price
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. – Pr 27:12
NEXT – if you want to GRAB 2014 you to…
(And you will experience the hand of God walking with you)
Implies – uncertainty
DOING - things that don’t add up.
THAT – don’t make sense.
WHERE – we are not sure of the outcome…
WHERE – failure is a very real option
WHERE - the odds seem to be stack way against us.
• Walking into a valley to face a 10 foot giant
• Getting out of a boat to attempt water walking in the middle of a violent storm
To GRAB the year 2014… in the way God wants us to GRAB it involves Risk… AND RISK - implies uncertainty, which most of us are not all that fond of.
I MEAN - truth be told, most of us lean towards being security lovers rather than risk takers. YEAH – I think, the data indicates that we’re pretty consistently committed to a life of playing it safe.
WE - hedge our bets, cover our tracks, touch all the bases. WE’RE - a culture of air bags and car seats, smoke detectors and floatation devices.
SURE - we love to watch people taking risks on TV, in movies and in Scripture… but we don’t like to take that many risks ourselves.
BASICALLY - we want a life free from pressure and uncertainty and danger. AND – we are really good at convincing ourselves that this is the best and the wisest thing.
But is it? You know, safety is great in most situations. But life as a Christ-follower isn’t always safe. Doing life with God isn’t always smooth and comfortable and risk-free…
I LOVE – that scene in CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. where the children hear about Aslan for the first time. Aslan is a lion and he represents Jesus Christ.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
NO – following God isn’t always safe… HE – often asks us to do things and to act in ways that do not make sense, that go against reason.
• Forgive when someone hurts me
• Give even when I don’t have
“I am convinced that God longs to put his fingerprint on our lives, to act on our behalf and surprise us with his magnificence. I am equally convinced that most of the time we do not give God a context in which to do this. The mundane is not really the best context for a miracle. When we play it safe, we squeeze god out of the formula. If we go only where we know and do what we’re sure will succeed, we remove our need for God… there is so much that God wants to do that can only be seen after we begin to do it.’
YEAH – a lot of times things do not happen until we take a RISK…
(In September of 1996, I took a RISK)
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
AND LISTEN – that did not make sense… I MEAN - every Galilean fishermen knew that the way to catch fish was at night and in the shallow waters
5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” – Luke 5:5
But if you say so…
Requires - Trust
TRUST – that God knows what’s best for you, better than you know what’s best for you… LISTEN – this is one truth that will radically change our lives in the coming days, weeks and months years.
YES - embracing this.
LIVING – this… WILL – without a doubt make the years ahead much different year then the years before.
NOW - we may know this truth in our heads (God knows what’s best)… BUT - for most of us it’s never made the trip from our head – to our heart – to our actions. YOU SEE – we think…
• That we know what is best for us
• We think we know what will make us happy, WHAT – will fulfill us, satisfy us.
• We think we know had to predict and determine the outcomes in our lives.
• We think we what the best way to behave and act is in a given situation…
BUT – do we?
GOD SAYS – I know BETTER than you what will fulfill you, what will satisfy the deep hunger in your souls, what will make you happy. I know better than you how to have the outcomes, how to have the life in 2014 that you have always dreamed about.
WHO – ‘really’ knows BEST…?
LISTEN THIS – is a crucial issue for you and I to nail down before we launch out on our new journey into the year 2014.
NOW – there is a passage that Solomon wrote in Proverbs that really speaks to this… Proverbs 3:5,6 (Let’s take a look at it).
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. – Pr 3:5,6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart…
But if you say so
FIRST – let’s note what that verse is not saying… IT – is not saying… TRUST – your heart. IT – is saying TRUST the Lord.
QUESTION – how many times have you been told the opposite… “now honey all you need to do is trust your heart, follow your heart and you will be fine…” NOW – come on is the heart really that trust worthy? The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
I MEAN – today your heart says “he’s the one” 3 years later your heart says, “he’s not the one… maybe he was the one, maybe I should look for another one… DON’T – trust you heart… INSTEAD – trust the lord…
and lean not on your own understanding…
Solomon is telling us that in spite of all we know and all we have experienced, don’t make the mistake of thinking that we are: wise enough, smart enough, experienced enough, good enough or spiritual enough to lean on (to trust in) our own understanding…
LISTEN – when it comes to your own reasoning, your own opinions and God’s commands… God wins!
WHEN – it comes to your own reasoning;
• this how I think relationships should work,
• this how I understand the handling of money,
• this how I think I should handle this conflict…”
WHEN – it comes to your reasoning and God’s commands… God wins. This book wins!
in all your ways acknowledge him
What does it mean to acknowledge God? (Hey God, I see you, yep there you are) NO – don’t think so… LOOK UP – to acknowledge God means to recognize who He is and to respond accordingly…
QUESTION – what is the proper response to the Lord of Lords and The King of kings? What is the proper response to an:
all powerful/all knowing/all present Holy/just/mighty/eternal/invisible/unstoppable/uncontainable
That dreaded ‘S’ word – SUBMISSION… GOD – you are in charge I am not – I submit to you!
in all your ways acknowledge him… LOOK – there is no wiggle room here… all means all…. It means in your
• Dating ways
• Marriage ways
• Moral ways
• Entertainment ways
• Education/professional/financial/relationship ways…
NOT – just in your religious ways, your church ways, your prayer ways… all every area of your life… you say LORD – you are in charge not me… and even though I may not want to do what I clearly hear you saying… I am going to lean into you, trust you, acknowledge you submit to you…
But if you say so…
and he will make your paths straight
BY – path he means your lifestyle, your way of life…
BUT UNDERSTAND – this is not saying that God will straighten up the paths we have chosen, it’s saying that when we trust in God he will make it obvious what path we must take…
IF – we were to take me back to the chapter in our life, the one that we regret the most…
I THINK – we would find that the outcome would have been much different IF at the beginning of that chapter we decided that God knows better than we do what is best for our life.
AND… Oh yeah… HOW – did that ‘but if you say so’ going out into deeper water things work out for the disciples…
6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. – Luke 5:4-6
(So that you can keep moving forwards regardless of circumstances)…
Have you noticed that that life never seems to go exactly as we planned, scripted or hoped for? Did anyone see they played out in 2013?
• DID ANYONE - have any surprises this year?
• DID ANYTHING – unexpected, unplanned or unwanted come your way?
• ANY – challenges or struggles… trials or difficulties… tragedies or crisis, come crashing in like a tidal wave out of nowhere?
• ANY – rough waters, rocky roads, uphill climbs… that you would have rather not be forced to travel down?
Jesus said that in this world we will have what? Trouble
HE – wasn’t kidding was He?
Unless we learn how to adapt to our; environment, circumstances, challenges, and life’s unexpected troubles, we will be tempted to use them as an excuse, claiming that they are the reason why we cannot move forward and live the life God has called us to.
HERE’S – the deal.
WE WILL - either adapt when we face circumstances we cannot control… OR - we allow those circumstances to become the boundaries of our lives.
BOUNDARIES - that will both define and limit our freedom and our forward movement.
Tim, Laurie - though we cannot always control the CONTEXT from which our life story is being written… WE CAN – control the CONTENT. How we live within it.
To GRAB 2014 for all it’s worth we will need to ADAPT… and to ADAPT…
Implies - Change
LIFE – is not a color within the lines project
LIFE - is a work of art
WE – have to keep mixing colors, creating blends, seeing things in fresh ways.
WE – must be willing to get paint all our ourselves.
LIFE – is about growth
GROWTH – demands adaptability
And adaptability implies change.
At times we have to in a way reinvent ourselves.
NOW… one of the most powerful examples of this concept of adapting in order to live the life that God has called us to is Daniel.
UNDERSTAND – when Daniel was a teenager the circumstances of his life changed in the most dramatic of ways.
The nation he lived in (Israel) is destroyed and conquered by a foreign power (The Babylonians) and he is taken along with other young men from noble families back to Babylon as slaves.
AND LISTEN – if Daniel was unable or unwilling to ADAPT to his new environment and unwanted circumstances we would not be talking about him this morning…
UNDERSTAND – in Babylon Daniel’s willingness to ADAPT would be stretched to the limits
• he had to take on a new name
• learn the wisdom and ways of the Babylonians (which he did and actually excelled above the Babylonians themselves.
Daniel knew the difference between what it means to adopt and what it means to adapt. One is to surrender to overwhelming circumstances; The other is to rise above them. To adopt – is to compromise your convictions… To adapt - is live them out in the real world
UNDERSTAND – in order to be adaptable we have to know what’s important, what’s essential. Adaptability is not the result of shooting from the hip, BUT knowing what where are aiming. Adaptability is decisive action in response to unforeseen circumstances informed by PREVIOUSLY determined values.
Requires - Core
YEAH – Daniel had done some serious ‘core training’ in his life… which enabled him to ADAPT.
Core = Convictions we are willing to risk everything for? Anchor points that have the power to keep you grounded even in the midst of the most powerful storms.
WHAT – is at your core?
NOW – like I said… the most important part about today’s conversation takes place when we walk out those doors…
WHEN – we decided whether or not we will be hearers or doers of God’s Word… Whether or not we came here today to audit or apply God’s teaching?
During the next week….
I strongly encourage you to come up with several person core values…
Pray about them
Write them down
I am going to do this as well
AND LISTEN – do you know what we are going to find out… that having a strong spiritual CORE makes us more adaptable not less adaptable!
FOR EXAMPLE… I think the apostle Paul probably had one of the most developed cores anyone ever had. YET – no one was more adaptable...
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. – 1 Cor 9:21-23
(and you will see God move mountains in your life)
Implies - expectation
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation. – 1 Peter 1:3
Now we live with great expectation.
• God to move in our lives
• God to cause all things to work out for good
• To in all things be more than conquers
• God to provide all we need as we seek first His kingdom
• God to give us the power to overcome all that holds you back and comes against you
• God to refine us in the fire
• Hear us when we pray
• That following Him will result in you experiencing an inexpressible and glorious joy
• That as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us we will become more and more like Jesus.
Requires - relationship
While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.”
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:38-42
YEAH – it’s that ‘connection’ that ‘where’ thing…
The MOST IMPORTANT thing in 2014 is to sit at the feet of Jesus and be in His presence through prayer and the word. EVERYTHING flow from this relationship.
THIS MORNING around 5 am
I posted the following on my fb
You do not want to miss today's conversation!
Guaranteed to prevent another year from slipping away!
AND THEN THIS
46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” - Luke 6:46-49
Maple Grove, as I stand today
Backed up by the authority of the Word of God (Luke 6:46-49)
IF WE apply what God has said to us
2014 is guaranteed to be bigger, better, bold and brighter!
During the next 7 days spend some time each day thinking about and praying over what we talked about this morning, so that you can GRAB the year 2014 for all it’s worth.
1) What do you need to leave behind as you begin 2014?
2) Where in your life do you need to align your ‘intentions’ with the correct direction so that you will actually get, to where you say you want to go?
1) What new thing, do sense God is wanting you take on in 2014, but you are not sure about it – because the outcome is uncertain?
2) In what area of your life do you need to trust God, and do what He says (even though you do not want to) just because He says so?
1) What circumstances do find yourself in as the year 2014 begins that require you to change?
2) What are your core values, the anchor points and non-negotiables in your life?
Look for values that you see in other people you admire, even people in Scripture. Try to come up with at least five personal core values.
1) What are you expecting God to do in your life in 2014?
2) What will you do in 2014 to deepen your relationship with Christ?