“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”/Hebrews 10:24-25
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”/Proverbs 27:17
Had a big-time blessing in my life today that urged me to challenge you in this area of life. Through a mutual acquaintance, I added this fella to the God Gold list of people I sent it to. He’s been a huge encouragement to me in the Gold and comments he’s shared in response to these messages. Got to sit down and meet with him in person today and what a blessing it was! He’s another man in ministry so getting to sit and pick his brain, learn from his experiences and ultimately leave way more strengthened in my faith than I was when I walked in. Those are the kind of moments where God puts everything in perspective and shows us just how important it is to spend time with one another, love and encourage each other, sharpen each other’s iron.
Not only did meeting with him open up my eyes to the time I invest in the people God has put in front of me. In this season of Ministry he has simply been reaching out to other men in ministry to encourage them by meeting with them to share his heart and be an ear to hear what’s going on with their heart. It’s daggum awesome what He’s doing by reaching out and encouraging others in their faith but what hit me even more is doing this simple thing to take the time to be with a friend or anyone, it’s an opportunity we have every day whether in ministry or not, as brothers and sisters in Christ God has called us to constantly find ways to spur one another on. By Matthew spurring me on today through love and his encouragement, his faith has lit my flame even more to spur on the people in my life through the same love and encouragement through Christ. You see how that chain reaction happens? I highly recommend checking out his Facebook page “Matthew Winters Ministry” and his blog page “Honest Thoughts from a pastor,” for some great encouragement and truth from his experiences and God’s Word!!!
What’s lit my fire and brought on this need to challenge you in this area of your life, is my personal neglect for meeting with people in my life and sharing the strengthening love Christ has shown to me. The daily excuses of “I’m too busy, I have too much going on, I’m too tired, I don’t feel like it, I’d rather sit here and watch this show on tv cause I really like it so I’ll get to meeting and loving on my buddy another time.”
Notice the key word in all those excuses, “I”! The majority of excuses I make for not taking time out of my days to spend some quality time with someone, sharing our hearts and sharpening our iron, the root of my problem is me and my selfishness.
We have no idea if we will even get a tomorrow to have these moments to invest in others. For me it took a lot of humbling and realizing my need to have my iron sharpened and a brother in Christ reaching out in love to encourage me by his example and the main encouragement of him taking time away from his busy schedule with a wife and kids to take care of to invest in a guy he’s never even met. I tell you that as a challenge to you and it’s a challenge to myself because we don’t have time to put off this great opportunity God has set in front of us. We have no idea what a little time and some words of love can mean to someone who could desperately need them. The coolest part of this iron sharpening mission is the investment of being a blessing to someone usually leaves you with the return of that person being a blessing to you. Iron sharpens iron. The hardest part about walking this Christian life is walking it alone. The alone times have continually led me down deeply troubled paths so I urge you not to take this challenge lightly! Reach out to someone today, send them an encouraging word through text, a phone call, and the best way just sit down with them and let the faith strengthening and iron sharpening begin!!!! Don’t walk this journey alone and don’t let anyone else walk it alone! Be and show the love that others need as Christ is and constantly shows His great love to you! Love somebody today, and every day!!!!!
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.””
Had the chance tonight to hear some awesome and powerful truth during the MAN group I have with some buddies. We switched it up tonight and listened to a sermon from a Men’s conference and don’t worry if you’re wondering which one, I’ll share the link to it at the bottom because it’s a message you’ll thank God you heard.
He told a story when he got to these verses that made so much sense. A man was living in tough times, he had a little piece of land in Texas where he was a rancher, he had some sheep he tended to. That was his livelihood. As much as he needed to make more money to support his family this was only means of surviving he could find at the time. After living week to week trying to make it and support his family things kept getting harder and harder to get by. He was living a life in poverty and his family lived it too. One day some oil workers came out asking for permission to dig on his land in search for oil. The rancher signed off on it and not long after they started digging, the workers hit oil. Not just a little bit but there was so much oil that they pumped the ranchers land for over 30 years.
This man owned the land, he’d had it the whole time while he was living in poverty. He was living in poverty, not knowing the whole time that he was standing on enough oil that he was actually a multi-millionaire.
How often do we struggle to get by, day in and day out fight and think we’re doing all we can just to survive. We’re living a life in spiritual poverty when the truth is if we just dig a little bit deeper, give up a little more of ourselves and dig into God’s truth, the truth of who God is and our identity with Him as His children. We so often see and live with what’s on the surface in poverty but the whole time God has made us multi-millionaires. When we dig a little deeper and tap into the power of His Holy Spirit, the Spirit He has given to each of His children, then we realize that we were called to live in fear and live as slaves to our insecurities and the surrounding circumstances. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the grace lives in you, the Spirit of the Creator of it all, as a child of God, you’re a multi millionaire. Not in terms of money but He’s given you everything you need to live this life in freedom and victory over the temporary trials of this world. Being led by His Spirit doesn’t lead you into the ways of the broke man you used to be, chasing what you thought was best, the sinful and selfish desires of your flesh, He has planted His truth in your heart, given you His Spirit and adopted you as one of His own children, He’s given you the truth, He’s given you His powerful Word. We have no excuse to live a life of poverty and let the ones around us that we love be subject to our weak, fearful nature. God has given us His Spirit and we have God as our father so we can trust in that, dig deeper into that truth and stand firm on that truth, we can live everyday knowing Who’s we are and the power that resides in us so we can live a rich life filled with peace, joy, and love, so the loved ones around us can be subject to His great power and love. So we can all embrace the Spirit of God has planted in us and we can live as multi millionaires praising God we don’t have to live in our self induced poverty but we can live in the richness of His love and powerful Spirit. If your living in poverty, dig a little deeper, learn more of God and realize the power of the God and truth you’ve been standing on the whole time. He didn’t give us His Spirit so we could live as slaves to ourselves in poverty. He gave us His Spirit so can live with Him in His power and walk out our lives as children of His, millionaires.
“So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”/Romans 10:17
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.”/Psalms 119:11-12
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”/ Hebrews 4:12
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””/John 8:31-32
The God Gold today is dedicated to the only Gold in these messages. God’s powerful and life changing Word spoken directly to me and you. I honestly don’t know how to even begin to explain what His Word had done for me today. I don’t know if this helps anymore but I’m going to do my best to give you an example that I pray helps.
Remember when you were little and birthday parties were a super big deal. Some had themes to them like superheroes, sports, or even Mickey Mouse. Or it’d be somewhere really cool like Chuckie Cheese, or Frankie’s Fun Park. All your best buddies would come and get wild with you!! The cake, the ice cream, the PRESENTS!! I don’t know how you feel but I’d give anything to have Birthday parties like that again!! My B-day is September 29, just throwing that out there. With al that awesomeness going on, maybe you didn’t have one but surely you’ve been at a party that did, a piñata?!?
I remember having piñatas at a few of mine and we’ve got the VHS home videos to prove how wild the piñata moments were. Everybody getting their turn to hit it, kids would go up there swinging like their life depended on it because the candy on the inside, man was that candy worth it. What made it really hard is you’d only get a few swings and before you got to take a whack at it you’d have to get a blindfold put on while a parent would spin you around a couple times. I guess Mom and Dads knew how bad we wanted the candy so they had to make us work for it. You’re probably wondering why I’m talking bout piñatas and the good ole days but I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
God’s Word is the bat in your hands. It’s sharper than any two edged sword and powerful enough to cut through and conquer any evil in our lives or any obstacle that gets in our path. The candy is the freedom and eternal life that He has given to all who read, truly believe and walk in His Word. What’s stopping us from living in the freedom and truth He has given us? That daggum piñata. I don’t know what your piñata is for you, an addiction, a stronghold of sin, the pleasures and desires that you can’t seem to walk away from because your flesh keeps promising candy and gives you vegetables in return. Ewww!!! Maybe your piñata is your pride, your self- control, a tough situation you have in your life. Your piñata is anything that stands between you and the Lord, the thing you value and spend more time thinking bout that everything else, even Jesus.
Whatever your piñata is you probably know you need to hit it, maybe you try everyday to hit it as hard as you can to knock a whole in it and knock it out of your life because you keep hearing about this awesome candy that God has for you but everyday you swing and swing, no candy. And you know what’s crazy is we’re picking up and trying everything we can possibly find to knock a hole in our troubling piñata but it seems like the moment we put our strength and trust in it, we fail not long after. Being the wise people we are, (ME), we’ve tried this trick a hundred times all with the same result and the more we swing the dizzier we become from all that getting spun around in our worries and fear. Even worse than that, the blinder we become by trusting ourselves or other things around us to get the job done, the blindfold seems like it gets darker with every swing. We can’t even see the truth that’s literally sitting right beside us.
The truth is God’s Word. It’s the ONLY weapon we can use to knock a hole in the piñatas of our life and the craziest part is just like a parent trying to give us the bat to swing against it, God gave us His literal Word spoken directly to us, whether it’s on paper or on your phone, God’s Word, its right there in front of us at all times. I don’t know why we overlook it, maybe we think we can figure out this piñata problem on our own, maybe we think we don’t need it. His Word is the truth, the answers, instructions, promises and story of such a beautiful creators love for us and the Son who paid it all so we could actually get to experience all the freedom, LIFE-filled candy we could ever ask for. We can’t even say well if God loved me He wouldn’t let there be piñatas in my life when the truth is He loves you so much that He doesn’t what want you to swing anymore, He’s given you His heart and truth to swing at the piñata any time we need it. And as good as that candy is and the impossible odds of us ever being strong enough or good enough to ever reach the candy on our own, we are always in desperate need of His Word. The problem I have is I’ve been blindfolded to my ways, my wants, and my weapons of choice that it’s hard to even realize that His Word is the powerful truth it is because there’s so much confusing clutter in the way.
Even when His truth knocks one piñata out, another one pops up out of nowhere but Hey! The candy you’re still eating from the last one, filled with peace, joy, and wisdom to turn everything to Him, continually seeking His instruction and truth, picking up the bat of His truth is the first option because He’s taught you where your bread is buttered. I told you I can’t explain how much His truth has impacted my life today, I got tired of swinging at the piñata with my weapons and just by taking it all to Him and asking for help, before I knew it God had me taping Bible verses up in my car, keeping a His Word and truth close by at all times. If it was up to me I’d kept swinging and missing but thank the Lord it’s not up to us. After swinging so many times my way I know I can’t live and get past the constantly occurring piñatas that come up without His Word as instruction, a guide, and His truth being constantly around me. Give your piñata to Him today and ask Him to help you see the simple and powerful, life changing truths in His Word. Don’t listen to the lies that tell you that you’ll never knock a whole in your piñatas, you’ve tried so many times, surely you’ll never taste that candy. God’s Word has a way of being the truth that drowns out those lies and shows you nah you can’t, but He can. I didn’t mean to take the piñata reference that far but seriously, dig into His Word intentionally seeking Him today. His truth has helped me experience victory and freedom from my piñatas today and I pray that you too can experience the powerful life changing truth God has for you. The candy is better than anything this world can offer, I’m serious, gummy bears, snickers, all that good stuff, NOT EVEN CLOSE TO HIS CANDY!!! Cool thing is, it’s not just a temporary feeling of “oh man that’s good candy.” His candy last forever! He’s given us the bat, what’s stopping you from swinging???
“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.”
I’ve always ran across these stories of Jesus healing people and one thing has always stuck out to me but I’ve never really understood it. Jesus performs a miracle, healing lepers, raising the dead to life, healing the sick, the paralyzed, here He gives a blind man His sight. Jesus does these amazing acts and always seems to mention that it was “their faith” that healed these people. I read this and once again thought, what faith? All this guy did was call on Jesus to come near, then when Jesus came the man asked for his sight to be restored. It’s never made much sense but that’s it!!!
The man was mentioned as a blind beggar. A title that the world then and now look down upon. As soon as this blind beggar heard “Jesus the Nazarene” was going by, he began to call on Jesus and not yelling out “Jesus the Nazarene” but the man called on Jesus by saying “the Son of David.” The man was proclaiming Jesus to not just be a guy from Nazareth but calls Jesus one of the many names that speaks to Him as the Son of God, the Messiah, a Savior!!! His faith wasn’t in a man His faith was in the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus is proclaimed and called out to by a man who many would pass by without looking twice. Jesus hears the call because of the beggar’s faith in who Jesus was, the ultimate authority and powerful Son of God. Even when faced with resistance, the man stays fervent in his prayer and calling out to Jesus, yells even louder! How often do we just run through our prayers talking to Jesus like He’s just an imaginary friend and pray quick hoping for a blessing? Calling out to Jesus in His fullness as the Savior of our lives and diligently, persistently seeking after Him, despite the resistance around us, that’s true faith.
Jesus stops in the middle of His journey and asks for this man to be brought to Him, and Jesus being the Son of God knows our every want and need but asks the man anyways what can He help him with? Jesus is literally surrounding us with His presence at all times, knowing we need help and we need Him but it’s the humbling of ourselves to confess our need of the Savior to save us. It sucks to think of how often we overlook His presence and power in our lives. We may have needs but how often do we go to Him? The only One who can truly help, and instead either try to handle it in our own or turn to worldly means of help?
Then the blind beggar believing in Jesus as the Son of God, believing when Jesus asks “what can I do for you?”, so he answers with his need asking for his sight back. Jesus miraculously restores his sight and says your faith has healed you. Not only did the man display his faith in Christ through calling out to Him fervently, calling out to Him in His full authority and power as the Messiah, when he asks Jesus for his sight, he doesn’t say “will you maybe, please, if you think you can manage it, maybe restore my sight and if not I got some smaller needs.” The man states his need simply to Jesus and fully believes that Jesus is going to allow him to see. He had no question and no doubt that Jesus Christ, the Son of God would have mercy on him, that Jesus would hear his call and hear his plea for help, that Jesus was fully capable and so loving toward Him that his sight would be restored.
I guess what threw me off when Jesus said, “you’ve been healed by your faith,” I didn’t understand it because so often I’m complicating my relationship with Him, not seeing Him in His fullness and calling out to Him to meet my needs, and even when I do pray, believing Jesus is going to bring His provision into my life, not often. It’s the simpleness of this man’s faith that had me so confused. He didn’t go by any guidelines or follow a certain equation, He just humbly called on the Savior professing his need and was saved! It’s faith in Christ, the simplest and most purest forms of faith. Daggum why do I make it so hard! Jesus is literally sitting by the phone waiting on us to call, He’s went through so much to make Himself available to us and as much as it doesn’t make sense. Why would Jesus be there to help weak, sinful people who ignore and put Him to the side at times? Love. Love is the answer and His love has the power to give sight to the blind, hope to the hopeless and life to the dead. I can’t tell you how many times I read a piece of His powerful truth like this and think, “well I’m not blind, I’m not a beggar or in need of healing.” The truth is those people surrounding the blind man were ignoring the fact it wasn’t just Jesus the Nazarene, He’s Jesus the Son of David, the Messiah, our Savior. They may not have looked like they needed help on the outside just like we may not look like the beggar or have any huge handicaps, but on the inside those people relate to myself and a lot of us because it turned out they were more blind than the man who couldn’t see. The Son of God and Savior of this world was right in front of them and they never saw Him for who He truly was. My prayer and challenge for you and myself is to not walk blindly to the presence of Jesus in our lives, whether on the outside or inside we are all in a great need of healing. I pray Jesus opens up our eyes to see the weak spots we’ve overlooked so we can call out to Him, the Messiah, and our faith can be strengthened in His love for us and His capable hands of healing.
So I ended up getting convicted and preached directly to today by my younger self. I was looking through some of the old God Gold messages and this one hit me right where I was living. I had just gotten back from my first mission trip to Rwanda in this message and it seems like my friends there continue to teach and impact my life every day. Looking back at this truth of simplifying our lives and then looking at how complicated I’ve made my life lately, I wonder why I can’t seem to find the same peace, joy, and love in my relationship with the Lord. The answer seems obvious now, I continue to chase and put my trust in everything around me in my life that all that mess is taking up space where God should be. God wants nothing more for us to come to Him, leave ourselves and the things we chase in this world behind so He can help us knock all that complicated mess out of the way and fully experience the perfect, powerful, and simplistic love of the Lord. In our eyes it seems like the bigger the better, but the Lord says step back, step into simple, little living and watch Him work. The worship and joy that these people had was an experience and lesson I’ll never forget and whats crazy is looking around them and seeing their lives up close, we would look at it and say they have no reason to be this joyful and thankful. They didn’t have much which left even more room for God to make Himself known in their lives. They had little but they had God and little is much when God is in it. Simplify today, tomorrow, and every day, not just things but every area of your life. It doesn’t have to be drastic changes all at once but it’s one decision at a time, one step to simple at a time. Even though you may not see it at first, those little steps to simplicity walked out everyday will add up and God will make Himself known in big ways through your little. Simplify—>Magnify.
“Psalms 19:7/ “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;”
“I’m back!!! I appreciate all of the prayers and support for these last two weeks in Rwanda! I could talk bout stuff I experienced and learned for days but the biggest takeaway from the trip was seeing the simplicity of how the Lord works. I have always looked at God’s Word and my personal relationship with Him as some detailed formula I’ve got to figure out and in Rwanda I was brought back to the basics of just how simple it all really is. Visiting homes of people in poverty, living lives of a day in and day out grind to find food for their kids but they had the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen and were so proud of what little they had. The church services I went to in buildings with lawn chairs for seats, dirt floors, no big building or fancy equipment but those people worshiped at a level I’ve never seen! Dancing, singing and praising the Lord with the little they had. When I had to get out of the comforts I’m used to of hot showers and not much WiFi even though that doesn’t compare to the struggles. Not having those simple commodities allowed me to put all of my focus the perfectness, power, and simplicity of the Lord. People had so little but they had what mattered. Without the distractions of trivial and material things all of their focus was on the Lord and it was so easy to see because of how much grace and joy they showed in their lives. It was incredible seeing so little but God was in it which made it bigger than I’ve ever seen Him. I learned more from those people than I ever could have from a billionaire with a big house and a lot of pointless stuff. As much as I’ve always thought God only works on huge miraculous stages I was hit right into reality real quick. My challenge from the trip wasn’t to make any drastic changes in my life but to simplify it. Even going back into the mundane of school, work, and busy schedules, I’m keeping the words Live Simple in front of me at all times because that’s when the law of the Lord is seen as so perfect and soul reviving. I don’t need to be wise in reading or trying to figure a formula out on having a strong relationship with the Lord, when He is at work the wise is made simple. I’ve never been so content and joyful in my whole life from simplifying my lifestyle to put more focus on what matters like my friends in Rwanda showed me. My challenge for myself and for you is to Live Simple because little is much when God is in it.”
Here’s a couple of videos of that worship I was talking about!!! When things get simple, MAN!! Worshiping and living with God gets LIT!!!