The Year of Awakening

This week, our church started a new series called Awakening. This sermon was about the need for spiritual awakening. These are my notes from each service. There will be a page break to show you where each new week starts.

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Isaiah 60:1

Week One: The Need to Spiritually Awaken

This weeks sermon was about The Need to Spiritually Awaken. If you would like to listen to the full sermon, click here. 

To start, I have to ask myself what areas of my life have I been spiritually sleeping? If I am answering honestly, I have not been in my Bible as much as I should have been. This is something I am remedying though and I am glad I am. John 10:10 says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  The part of this verse that spoke to me most was “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” God does not want me to survive this year. There were points in the last year where I felt exactly like I was just surviving the year. That’s the thing about trials in our life, when one comes, more seem to follow. Many times, it takes us longer than it should to realize that if we just hand our trials over to God then we don’t have to just survive. God is someone who will hold our hands through our sadness, our anger, our fear, and our hopelessness. God wants us to live a full life, that is what John 10:10 says.

I need to ask myself, have I been sleep walking through any areas of my life? No one is perfect, and I am no different. I have slept-walked through being in my Bible.  Do I have to ask myself how I got to an area of my life? In October, I truly felt overcome with grief and hopelessness. I was upset and hurt about a miscarriage I had in August and I lost sight of who I needed to rely on. I was letting grief overwhelm me, causing nightmares and anxiety, and I let hopelessness take me over. In November I finally had to ask myself, how did I get to this point and how can I get past these feelings. It was nothing I could do on my own. I relied on my husband and I relied on praying to God to help me through that trial and to help guide me to whatever path He wanted me on.

Isaiah 60: 1 – 2 says, Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” There will be darkness in our world and there will be darkness in our lives, that is a fact that is inevitable. We need to remember, however, that God IS the light that will guide us to where we need to go in life and He will guide us through those times of darkness in our life. If you are asking yourself “How did I get here,” then  you are at rock bottom. I feel that everyone will have a rock bottom in their lives. Don’t look at your rock bottom as a bad thing in your life, but as a time when you picked yourself off and dedicated yourself to the path you were meant to be on. 

Isaiah 60: 3 says, The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.” In today’s world, there is darkness. There are a number of sins that we see everyday via the news, social media, or even by people we encounter and if we don’t “shine our light” or stand up for what we believe in then we will accept darkness in our life which can easily turn into accommodation of the darkness. The darkness can be any sin, no matter how large or small.  Letting your light shine can be simple, you don’t necessarily have to do something Standing for the First Timeextravagant. On May 20, 2012, I was in a car accident in which I broke both of my ankles and had to have surgery on them both. I was in a wheelchair for a couple of months while my ankles healed and then I had to start the process of re-learning to walk. Something that I never imagined I would have to do. For that process, I was on a walker for  several of months. On the left there is a picture from July 14, 2012, I stood up for the first time since my accident. I wasn’t able to take even one step yet, but I stood up. That was one of the greatest feelings that I have felt. It was a moment to be proud of and it was a moment to remind myself of how lucky I was. I was alive and I was getting back on the path that I needed to be on. I went back to school at Jackson State in August. During that semester, I had to have another surgery on one of my ankles and I was not able to drive still. I rode with a friend to school everyday and was picked up by my parents or my at the time fiance. Everyday, I had to carry a book bag with ALL of my books for the day (I wasn’t driving so I had no where to store my books between classes and walking on my walker to a place I could store my books was not an easy task). One day, I sat down in the hall (there was an area with couches) waiting for it to be time for my next class when a guy came up to me and asked why I always had a smile on my face because he saw me everyday walking on a walker. He asked me how I could be happy. I told him because I had been involved in a car wreck but it was a good thing that happened in my life. It allowed me to straighten up my life and see who really and truly cared for me and it brought me back to God. I had a reason to smile. That smile, was a small action that I did each day, that caused a light to shine for someone else. That moment and the verse, Isaiah 60:3 reminds me of the song Smile by Kutless. I encourage you to listen to it. It really screams the message that I feel our sermon was trying to get across with Isaiah 60:3.

Isaiah 60:3 left this sermon with 5 questions that we can ask ourselves as to how we move from the darkness to the light.

  1. We must recognize our present state. We need to quit being in denial of our sins. We all sin and no sin is greater than another. Some verses to remember and to even knock us back into reality are: Proverbs 28:13, He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” : 1 John 1: 9-10 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” : Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of these verses tell me that we should be admitting our sins.  I, like anyone else, need to hand those sins over to God. 
  2. We need to watch for and stop the rejection of God. Romans 1:25 says, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen.” When we have something in our lives that we are placing over God, we need to take a step back and put our priorities back in order.
  3. We need to reject inaction and empty talk and we need to choose to make a difference. Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” There are issues in our world today that are occurring on a regular basis that directly go against what the Bible says and are wrong. Are we being salty? Most of the time, we aren’t, most of the time we are too scared to be outside of what is now considered the “norm” to take a stand in what we really believe in. We should all, myself included, make a commitment to stop being half in the Bible and half out. We need to be a light. Think of the story I told you about when I attended Jackson State. That is what we need to strive for. To live our lives in a way that people see something different about us.
  4. We must reject hopelessness. Psalm 62: 5-6 says, My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”  I have felt like there was no hope at times, everyone has. When I felt hopeless, I didn’t necessarily sit silently and I didn’t necessarily immediately lean on him as my rock, my salvation, and my defense. We need to remember that there is always hope in God, as long as we have Him present in our lives. 
  5. We need to confess and repent. The ways that we can do that is by doing four things. 1) We need to humble ourselves and take responsibility for our sins. James 4:10 backs that up by saying, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” 2) Spend time with God both in our Bibles and by praying. Psalm 127:1 says, Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” When we allow Him in, God shapes who we are, without Him, we are nothing. We feel things like hopelessness and anger more than we would if we were letting God in. 3) Seek God’s presence. 1 Chronicles 16:11 says, Seek the Lord and His strength;
    Seek His face evermore!” 4) Pursue God and turn away from sin. remember that our sins and our attitudes will determine the path we are on. 

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Deuteronomy 6: 4-9Week Two: The Impact One Life Can Make

On January 15, 2017  our pastor was in Israel and each service had two speakers. The speakers were members of the church and they spoke about someone who had an impact on their life. There were a total of six speakers throughout the services. If you would like to hear them, click here. They will be titled The Impact One Life Can Make  and be numbered one through six.

How do you pick one person who has made a difference in your life and your walk with God. Many times, there is a village of people that contribute to one coming to Christ and I could make a long list of all the people  who have influenced me. For this, I am choosing my mom and dad as two people who have had an impact on my life. A verse that I feel really fits with choosing them is Deuteronomy 6: 4-9. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.   You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

My parents have influenced my life. My dad is someone that I look up to for an example of leadership. Traits that my dad displays that I find to be qualities of a good leader include his ability to listen, ability to reason and consider other peoples opinion’s, his drive to want to be better, his drive to want to learn more, and the general fact that he does not demand to be in charge- he is humble. My dad has led a Bible study. This Bible study was one of the best Bible studies I have ever attended and I learned so much from him. My dad was well prepared for the lessons, he always gave chances for anyone who had a question to ask, and he never stopped explaining until he found the way that worked best for that individual and they truly understood. My dad came into the Bible study knowing what he was going to talk about, common questions related to the topic, and what examples he may need to paint a clearer picture. By doing this, people felt comfortable and people learned. When I have an opportunity to teach someone or lead another in any way, whether it be at work, home, or church, I try to think about what my dad would do. I think about how he answered all questions in Bible study with honesty and facts to back it up. I think about how the time he took to prepare for lessons.

My mom is someone who I can go to for advice on any situation. She has stood by my side through so many situations and she has always been there to give me godly advice and advice that is truly in my best interest. My mom periodically sends me Bible verses and it just amazes me how they ALWAYS are exactly what I need to hear. I am thankful to have a mom who is in her Bible and shares that with me. I find her to be an amazing role model. My mom has amazing strength- strength that I can only hope and pray that I have even a fraction of. She is someone that I see as a Christian woman who models her life as an example to others and an example of God’s love. She encourages me to pray more and to not dwell on the things that I can control but to give it ALL to God. My mom is someone who I see as passionate and she does not give up. I have seen her in situations where I feel that I would have given up hope, been so scared I could not move, or handled things in a way that was not very Christian- she has always showed courage, faith, and grace in my eyes. I hope that I can be as amazing of a woman as she is and I am thankful that I have her there to guide me.

Both of my parents have shaped who I am in their own ways. Both my mom and my dad have encouraged me to be a better person as well as a better Christian. They encourage me to steadily work on my relationship with God. I am an imperfect person and I have mistakes. They have shown me what unconditional love looks like. That love is also how I think God wants me to love those around me- a forgiving love and an understanding love. They have shown me how to stand up for what I believe in as well as to be an honest person. They have shown me to seek God in everything I do because no situation is too big for Him to handle. There are others who have influenced me and it is unbelievable hard to choose just two people, but I am thankful for the impact my parents and everyone else has made on my life.

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Week Three: Battling Evil

James 1: 13The sermon on January 29, 2017 was about battling evil. Click here to listen to the entire sermon.

There is evil in our world. If you have not already, at some point you will face some of the Devil’s handiwork. he is the only thing that will stand in our way and trying to keep us from “winning” life. How do you win life? 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”  To me this says that life is a race. It also says that the races worth running have roadblocks. What kind of road blocks have you faced in your life? If married, at some point you and your spouse will have a difficult patch- whether it be because he will not help around the house, you are too consumed with social media, or anything else- big or small- there will be a roadblock. A roadblock my life has had recently and I still am going through is the grief from a miscarriage that I had in August of 2016 as well as our current struggle with infertility. These are roadblocks that I can choose to completely stop me or they can simply detour me. I feel that as I started on the road to getting closer to God again, I kept having roadblock after roadblock. I do not feel concerned about those roadblocks that I face periodically. Those roadblocks tell me that the Devil sees me getting closer to God and I know that he is going to do what he can to stop me. I will worry when I do not have roadblocks. It is when you are living in the world and not facing roadblocks that you are on a path away from God. 

Ephesians 6: 10-20 talks about the armor of God.  Verse 10 tells us to be strong in the Lord. I alone do not have enough strength to battle with the devil. God does have that strength though. If I stand with Him then He will give me exactly what I need for all battles. Verse 11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The devil is always going to scheme against me. I am an imperfect human so I have weaknesses. Those weaknesses are what he will go after to turn me away from God. Verse twelve makes me ask what struggles to I have. Something I can admit I struggle with is unknown. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge planner. I have a plan for a plan usually and if something does not work out like I want it to, I want to know exactly why. There are situations, however, where I do not and probably never will understand. An example is my husband and I losing Riley in August. That loss is not something that I understand and it was definitely not in my plan, but it was and is a part of God’s plan.  How I handled that situation initially, I say the devil was a part of that. I initially turned away from God and I was angry with Him. I let the devil work his way in while I was in a moment of weakness- grief and that sense of being overwhelmed.  Verse thirteen tells me that if I put on the armor of God, I will be able to make it through the times like that and I will be able to make it through.

Ephesians 6: 14-17 list out the armor of God. This armor is what can help me in my battles with the devil. I can depend on truth. God and the Bible will never lie to me. That truth can help me to realize that even when I struggle, everything I read in the Bible can be used as a guide for how to deal with various situations and emotions. The shield of faith can be used to stop the devil with each attempt he makes to bring us down and further away from God. We need to have faith that God is by our side through all situations. The sword of the Spirit can be the word of God. He will give me peace, direction, and understanding. The helmet of salvation gives me the opportunity to have forgiveness for all of my sins and the chance for true eternal life. Our pastor pointed out that sometimes we only put our helmet of salvation on and unless we are fully committed and utilize all of our armor, we are not ready for battle with the devil and he could not be more right. Without the full armor, our weaknesses will be obvious to the devil and you better believe he will attack us there.

Ephesians 6: 18 – 20 says,  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”  We should pray in the Spirit by praying for a closer walk with God and all of the time. It is easy to pray when things are not going well. It should not, however, be the only time we pray. We should be praying to God in good times and in bad times. 

“The closer to the Shepherd, the farther away we are from wolves.” Below are three points that Pastor Jordan gave to us as important things to remember that we can not have and be close to God.

  1. Sin and Temptation- The devil wants us to think that sins and temptations are okay or not a big deal. God will help us avoid those sins and temptations. Some examples are emotions, addiction, false teachings, gossip, and bad relationships. James 1: 13-15, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” The devil may not MAKE us do anything sinful, but he does at times influence us based on situations and the people that we choose to be around. What is the sin or temptation that the devil tries to get you with? Can it be prevented based on who you are hanging around or the situations that you put yourself in?
  2. Self- You can not have sin and holiness co-exist. Being a true believer does not mean that you will never again sin, it means that you will be bothered by your sins. You should strive to be away from sin. Some examples of the self are below.
    1. Self Preservation can be defined as the preservation of ones self.  A great verse to tell us not to be involved in self preservation is Matthew 16: 25, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” To me, this means that I am not really living until I am living in Christ. Before living in Him, I am simply doing what I can to survive in the world- I am living in self preservation. Once I live in Christ though, I have a true life- a life that is worth living.
    2. Being self-centered can be defined as being concerned with ones self. It is easy to get wrapped up in ourselves and our problems. We should strive to be concerned with the people around us, our country, our leaders, our families, and our friends. We need to show love to others and not just look for love for ourselves.
    3. Self-will can be defined as  being stubborn and sticking to your own ideas. That  is what I find I do at times- I focus on what I think is the path I need to take or the choices I need to make instead of considering what God intends for me to do. He has a purpose, I just need to slow down and give Him the opportunity to show me His plan for my life.
    4. Self-pity can be defined as having pity for yourself. If being honest with yourself, we all have had times where we are saying, “oh woe is me,” as if we are the only person in the world facing a problem. I am no different. When you have that attitude, Romans 8: 28 is a good verse to pull out, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” You can be in a situation that seems like it is the worst thing in the world and it may be the worst thing to ever happen to you, but remember that God has a plan.
  3. Sleeping- Are you spiritually asleep? Actions such as ignoring the sins that are occurring around us or not living in God can be signs that you are spiritually asleep. Ephesians 5: 8 says “For you  were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Be a light in the world. You never know the impact that your light may have on another.

 

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