AMPLIFY – Prayer and Fasting

Jesus is teaching His famous sermon on the mount and He references what I call a 3-braid cord that is not easily broken.  These three actions affect a person’s heart more than any other thing.  When you do all three of them together, it has a very powerful affect on your life.

Jesus said “When you give…when you pray…when you fast…” All three of these are very important spiritual disciplines for the Jesus follower.  Jesus explains “why fasting is important” in the following verses:

Matthew 9:14 — One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?” 15Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom?

Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16“Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. 17“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

The true purpose for fasting is to get closer to God.  What Jesus was saying in the above verses is “My disciples do not need to fast because I am right here with them.”  But now that Jesus is away, it is good for us to fast and pray because of the distractions of life that cause us to lose connection with God.

Prayer connects us to God, and fasting disconnects us from the world.  Some times in life we must “ramp up” spiritually more than other seasons of life.  That is why we choose the beginning of the year as a time to refocus.  But a person could fast and pray when they are about to face greater trials, attacks, or to overcome chronic problems in life.

How Fasting Works When Combined With Prayer

You and I, as Jesus followers are a triune beings.  That means there are 3 parts to our life — you are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a body (1 Thess 5:23).

Each one of these 3 parts connects you to a different part of life.

Your Body will make you Self-Conscious.  It keeps you in tune with yourself. When you’re hungry, or when someone pokes your eye, you feel it.


Your Soul makes you People-Conscious — because it is in your soul where people hurt your feelings, or that is where a situation will touch your emotions.


Then, your Spirit makes you God-Conscious. This is the part where God relates to you.


So all three parts of your life are constantly competing against each other.  Each one wants to be in charge. There are times when your body is in control, and then there are times when the soul is in charge.  They can constantly be up and down with their emotions.

Paul talks about our spirit part of us being the strongest in Romans 8. He calls it being led by the Spirit of God, which simply means that your spirit is the strongest so in effect your mind and body comes under its control.

So the question is, “Which one is going to win? The spirit?  Soul?  Body?” The answer is the one that is the strongest, or the one you feed the most.

The goal of being a Christ follower is to daily make the Spirit part of you the strongest part of you.  So when we talk about getting into God’s Word to read, meditate, study in order for us to hear God’s voice and to be in His presence through prayer.  That strengthens your spirit!

So when your Spirit is dictating to your soul and body what to do; we call that being a Spirit Led person.

There is a carnal person that is talked about in the Bible…which is a Christian who is led by his flesh, or emotions.  You could call it the sin nature.

But… FASTING just takes this to a whole “nuntha” level because it not only feeds your spirit, but at the same time, it starves the other two.

So food is one thing that we can fast, but there are also soul areas of fasting such as TV, movies, music, social media, gaming, books, etc.

Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all those discussed in the Bible. Through fasting and prayer the Holy Spirit can transform your life and produce incredible results. Prayer alone is mighty, but when combined with fasting it produces a powerful force against which Hell cannot prevail.

If you do not already know the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:

  • Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded 40-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, “when you fast,” not if you fast.
  • Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the “first love” for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
  • Fasting is a Biblical way to truly humble oneself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, “I humble myself through fasting.”
  • Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life.
  • The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you!
  • Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
  • Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life – and make you a channel of revival to others. 
If you fast, you will find yourself being humbled. You will discover more time to pray and seek God’s face. And as He leads you to recognize and repent of sin, you will experience special blessings from God.

Let’s have a great 21 days!!

Shon

History of Thanksgiving

History of Thanksgiving

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for His mercy endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34).

Thanksgiving Celebration is a time to focus on God. It dates back almost 4 centuries in America. Such celebrations occurred as early as 1607 at Cape Henry, Va. Our current tradition of Thanksgiving came to us from the Pilgrims.

Sailing from England on Sept. 6, 1620, the Pilgrims spent two months braving the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. After finally landing on shore at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and began building shelters.

Nothing prepared them for the bitter winter ahead. Before Spring time, half of them were already dead. Yet through perseverance in prayer and the help of neighboring Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

In the fall of 1621, the grateful Pilgrims declared a 3-day feast to thank God and celebrate with their Native American friends. America’s first Thanksgiving festival began an annual tradition that slowly spread to other New England colonies.

The first Nationally recognized Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1789 on September 25. After approving the Bill of Rights, Mr. Elias Boudinot said he could not think of letting the congressional session end without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them.”

Mr. Elias then moved that the following resolution be delivered to President George Washington: “Resolved, that a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving not only as a praiseworthy one in itself but also warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ…this example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion. And the President heartily concurred with this congressional request declaring this:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protections and favor…Now therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789…that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.”

Most official Thanksgiving observances still occurred only at the state level. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln responded by setting aside the last Thursday of November, declaring:

“We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come…No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”

For the next 75 years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then in 1941, Congress permanently established the 4th Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving is not just an American Day…not just a national day…not just 1 day. Thanksgiving is a Christian lifestyle. It is an attitude of a Christ follower. It is something we choose to live – a LIFE OF THANKSGIVING! sbb

Thrive – Going Up the Down Escalator

Life as a Jesus follower in this world is somewhat like walking up a down escalator. As long as you keep moving ahead with your commitments, you’re fine. But try to stand still…and you will find yourself moving in the wrong direction!

The book of Second Kings is about a time in Israel’s history when the escalator was moving down very quickly. During this time, there were three kings who stood out for their Thriving faith even in the toughest of times: Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah. They each have some great lessons to teach us for our tough times about the commitments we can make to keep moving ahead.

Worship Keeps Your FAITH Strong
Joash
repaired the temple in 2nd Kings 12. He rebuilt the place of worship! The place of worship must remain strong in our lives if we’re to swim upstream without being washed down or worn out.

I’m talking about more than just attending a worship service, but giving your attention to worship. Joash’s experience reminds us of a vital truth regarding keeping worship at the center of our inner lives.

We have to be willing to pay the price. It takes time…valuable time, to worship the Lord.

Your Commitments Cause Your Faith to Thrive
Hezekiah
in 2nd Kings 18 removed the “High Places,” – the places of false worship. A growing faith comes when we deal with the destructive and the distracting influences in our lives.

Look at how Hezekiah dealt with such places. He removed, smashed, cut down and broke them into pieces! There was no compromise…they were completely dealt with.

You can’t deal with “high places” with halfway measures. It takes commitment.

God’s Word is Vital to Daily Living
Josiah
rediscovered God’s Word in chapters 22-23. Even if you haven’t picked up your Bible for a while, you probably know what shelf it’s on. That’s better than the people of Israel had done. They had literally lost the Lord’s law.

When Josiah rediscovered and read it everything changed. You may need to make a rediscovery of your own…to rediscover the meaning of God’s word for your daily life.

Start reading it again as if your very life depends upon it…it does!

Family Discussion Question: Whose example do you most need right now: Joash, Hezekiah or Josiah?

Children’s Activity: Draw a picture of a fish swimming upstream (against the flow of some trash going downstream) and put your name on the fish.

Faith Always Comes Out in the OPEN

Thriving Faith is one that is dedicated to God.  What do we mean when we say dedication?  To one person it may mean giving up a part of a football game to come to church on Sunday mornings, to another it may point to a decision to begin giving some of their money to the Lord’s work, while to another it may add up to leaving all that they know to serve the Lord as a missionary in a foreign country.

“So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD” (1 Ki 8:63 NIV).  What does it mean to dedicate a temple, a church, a child, and a life – to dedicate them to the Lord?  In 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicates the great Jerusalem Temple to the Lord. In so doing he teaches us some important lessons about the character of dedication.

Dedication means I Declare Something Openly

Dedication is a public announcement of your intentions and commitments.   Many see dedication as some inner commitment that no one can really see or understand. Not true…it is expressed in public commitments and public actions. You know when dedication begins to happen? When you begin to place your faith on the line in terms of public commitments. It’s that willingness to declare to others that add up to dedication.

  • When our forefathers penned the Declaration of Independence, they turned a philosophy into a dedication to freedom.
  • When John Kennedy said, “We will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade.” He transformed a scientist’s dream into a country’s dedication.

God asks us to make “open commitments” of our faith. Baptism is an open statement that you’ve dedicated your life to Christ. Prayer is a way that we bring out into the open our dependence on God. Worship is one way that we say openly and publicly that God is important to me.

Discussion Question: When others look at your life, what do you think they would say you are “dedicated” to?

 

Thriving FAITH Takes the Pressure Off

“By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.”   Heb 11:11 (NIV)

Have you made faith’s great change exchange? Have you learned to exchange life’s pressures for God’s promises? We all live in one of two ways, under life’s pressure or within God’s promises. The secret to promise living is faith…believing what God has told me in His Word about Himself and His world.

When you believe God’s promise you belittle life’s pressure. When you trust God’s promise you trample life’s pressure. When you count on God’s promise you count out life’s pressure. When you depend on God’s promise you defeat life’s pressure. When you receive God’s promise you reject life’s pressure. Is that clear? Promise and pressure are mutually exclusive…they can’t exist together.

There are two common attitudes that push the promises of God out of our lives as believers. Watch out for these! (You can see them in the life of Abraham as he struggled with believing God’s promise about sending he and Sarah a son).

I’ll have to settle for less…..or……I’ll have to get it myself

Although Abraham struggled with these attitudes, he ended up putting his faith in God. Just because you struggle does not mean that you cannot end up making the great “change exchange.”   You can be a person of genuine faith.

Family discussion question: Where do you feel pressured right now? As a family, pray for each other. Pray the promises of God over each other and allow God’s peace to ease your pressures.

Children’s activity: Show how promises “push out” pressure by filling a cardboard tube (paper towel or toilet tissue) with crumpled paper. Once the tube is filled show them how the new paper you put in always pushes out the old. sbb

EASTPOINTE is THAT Church.

It’s interesting to see most people who make Eastpointe their church home come from different church styles and structure. The most common style is a church with a few key people (usually with a Pastor title) who do all the important jobs around the church.

I have never really seen myself as the most important person. I am just Shon. I know it is not the best plan for Shon to be the only one doing things around church.

Eastpointe is that church that is interested in empowering people by helping YOU discover what God has put in your heart. We invite you to participate with your talents, passions, calling, and strengths.

Why don’t more Churches involve their people?

Lesser Paradigm. Like an Old Testament church perspective. If you think the Church should be modeled like the Israelites (God’s people), they had a group of God-appointed priests (ministers) called the Levites who were the pastors.

They did everything at CHURCH – the cleaning, singing, praying, offering. All of the –“ings.”   That is a Lesser Plan if only a few people are doing the majority of the church.

But Jesus shows up to build the Church, using people who SERVE others, give generously, treat the outsider with love, and care for the insider with grace. Jesus proves the Father’s heart to be with all people, to give you His gifts, and He wants your life to bear fruit.”

The way Jesus drew people (disciples) around Him and gave them permission to use His name – to help others, to lay hands on sick people, to forgive sins, etc.

When the Church Started…when Jesus ascended to heaven to be with the Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jesus followers to empower them to continue what Jesus started.  You only get 6 chapters in the book of ACTS to see Pastors need people to HELP.  

That’s why we NEED YOU – because the Holy Spirit is here to empower you with gifts, passions, and abilities to be used by God. We all must realize God does not just use a few select people called priests…but YOU!

But this does not look like most Churches or what most people think about Church. They are still looking for the Clergy to be used by God. No way — the word Clergy is not even in the Bible.  

At Eastpointe – our Pastors are not the only ones who can do the praying, the hospital visits, counseling, and leading people to salvation. We are not looking for a few experts while everybody else is just a common person.

Church is not 2 groups of people, (priest, then saint) but we are ALL priests. We can all talk to God. We all have a purpose to fulfill. God wants to use all people for His glory. Don’t look for the Preacher! Look at your life, hands, feet, voice, personality, gifting, passion — God wants to use you to build His church.

So Eastpointe is THAT Church — That Church that turns common, everyday, ordinary people into serving, people connecting, Bible leading, next generation moving, God-worshipping, lost reaching people of the Church. Let’s be THAT Church.

As your Pastors, we believe in you…believe in God’s gift in you…and believe when you decide to do something with it — something great will happen!

sbb

5 Actions That Make You a Great DAD

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions as a man? (if you don’t read the entire blog, at least read the bold headings).

  • What does it mean to be a spiritual leader in your home?
  • How do I know if I am involved enough with my family?
  • What are the responsibilities?
  • What are the tasks?
  • How in the world do I know if I’m being a good father or not?

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, there are certain roles you’re called to play in life and one of them is to be a huge influence to those around you.  The ultimate goal of life is to bring glory to God. So whatever Jesus did (give you 5 actions), He brought glory to God by the influence He was to the people around HIM.

Here are 5 Actions of Great Dads

  • You Have the Connections…So Use Them.

I want to remind you that you don’t own your kids. They belong to God. They are not yours. They are God’s children. They were God’s before. They’ll be God’s after. God just loaned them to you for a period of time in which He wants you to parent them. Lead by example.  How you father your kids is how your kids will view God. Help them know God.  Read John 17:3,6.

  • Your Words Are All-Powerful.

Your prayers for your kids are powerful because you have spiritual jurisdiction.  When you pray over your family, God hears you and answers.  5 Simple Prayers – I Pray that my kids will know Christ.  I Pray my kids will grow spiritually. I Pray that (insert names) will serve God with their talents. I Pray my kids will choose the right friends.  I Pray (names) will be a leading influence for Jesus in this generation. Read John 17:9.

  • You Reproduce WHO You Are…Not What You Say.

Dads, for good or bad, like it or not, this is going to be true of your kids too. Your life is on display in them. Take the qualities of integrity, generosity, humility, keeping your word, and being a servant and build them into your life and then your kids life.  That takes confidence, persistence, and endurance. You have to spend t-i-m-e with your kids.  Read John 17:22.

  • Get Your Kids Ready to GO.

The whole goal of parenting is to eventually release your children. From the moment they are born you are preparing them to be released in the world, not to hold on to them and micro manage and control their lives the rest of your life. But to encourage and prepare them for life by helping them serve God’s purpose.  Talk destiny with your kids.  Read John 17:18.

  • Travel the Road Ahead of Them…so You can show them the way.

Very important question: What do your kids see that you are dedicated to? What do your kids see that you are committed to? You cannot lead your kids farther than you are yourself.  Find your purpose and begin to live your life with full commitment to all God has for you. Read John 17:19.

You are a great father.  Take some time everyday to make the GREATEST impact on the future.  Be a DAD!  Happy Father’s Day.

Comment below or send your questions to shon@eastpointe.tv

sbb

Learning How to Deal with Negative People – May 15, 2016

To WIN IN LIFE — takes FAITH

The Bible says “If the ax is dull and its edge is unsharpened more strength is required.”

A Naysayer is…

  • a person who says something won’t work or isn’t possible,
  • a cynic who habitually expresses pessimistic views.

DREAM THIEVES WILL HOLD YOU BACK

“Now David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons…His three older brothers enlisted in Saul’s army [Saul was the king of Israel at the time]…but David was held back to care for the sheep in Bethlehem.” 1 Samuel 17 

1st BARRIER – is DELAY.   

DREAM THIEVES WILL PROJECT FEAR

“Each day Goliath would stand and shout at the ranks of Israel’s army, ‘Why do you come out here and line up for battle? Choose one man to fight me.  If he’s able to kill me, we will become your subjects but if I kill him then you will become our subjects and serve us…and the Israelites heard this, everyone was deeply shaken and paralyzed with fear.”

2nd BARRIER – is DISCOURAGMENT.  

Verse 16 says “For forty days, twice a day, morning and evening the Philistine giant, [Goliath] loudly berated the Israelite army.” 

Who are you listening to about your life?  

DREAM THIEVES QUESTION YOUR MOTIVES

“David asked, ‘What’s the reward for killing this Philistine and ending this disgraceful abuse?’ 

√  REMEMBER THEY ARE NOT GOD!

√  DON’T GET DISTRACTED!

√  NEVER ATTACK BACK!    

√  STAY FOCUSED ON GOD & HIS PROMISES

sbn

Why I Give Online to Eastpointe

I am hearing so many great reports of what God is doing as people choose to put God first in the finances. Truly, when we learn to BE GENEROUS, it changes the way God is involved with our life.

So I wanted to write today about – Why I Give Online to Eastpointe.

Besides being the Pastor of Eastpointe, I’m also a member who generously contributes to the financial budget of Eastpointe. I give more than 10% of my pre-tax income to my church, and I wanted to share some of the reasons why.

First, I believe in the mission of our church, which is helping people WIN IN LIFE. I’m proud to be a part of a church that cares about reaching people far from God and helping them say “YES” to God one day at a time.

I get pumped every time I hear a story about a family put back together. When a student decides to follow Christ or a man who finally gets back in church, I know that my generosity played a small part in that. People’s lives are being changed in our Church.

Secondly, I want to be an example to my children. I’m so tired of hearing people complain about the younger generation…they are just following our example! I don’t want selfish children, caring only about their iPods, clothes, cars, and friends. I want my kids to care about other people.

That’s not gonna happen by accident…I have to be intentional about modeling that. I cannot tell them to care about others and then spend 100% of my paycheck on our own needs and wants. Parents, we’ve got to be responsible for teaching our kids to be generous, and we can’t do that if we are not generous ourselves.

Thirdly, I give because Jesus says where I put my treasure…that’s where my heart really is. Even the OT talks about bringing God the first 10% of our income, and obedience wasn’t an option.

In the New Testament, Paul writes about money. He tells Christians this: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Every paycheck, we automatically give to our church because that honors God. We want to honor God, even when it’s difficult, even when things are tight. There have been times that we’ve gone without something, but we never forget to give to the church. I’d rob the mortgage company before I robbed God.

I do all of this online. I set up a profile on our website and it’s easy, automatic, and convenient. If giving is really important, then it needs to be automatic.

I want to encourage you to automate the important by setting up your online giving profile today. Log onto Eastpointe.tv and click the GIVE ONLINE link (top right). Then click the GREEN GIVE NOW BUTTON. Fill in the minimum information, and if you want it to be automatic, select RECURRING to have it automated.

Get ready for God’s amazing blessings. sbb

UNLOCKED – May 8, 2016

This is Jesus talking — “Simon, (Peter, Insert Your Name…The Bible is Personal…Church) stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to Sift all of you from Me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.” Luke 22:31-32

1. Aggressive Faith
Hebrews 11
  • Vs 1. “Now Faith Is the AssuranceConformation, Title Deed.”
  • Vs. 2. By Faith Men of Old have Testimonies Stories
  • Vs. 3. By Faith we Understand that we Frame and Create our World
  • Vs. 4. By Faith Able Brought God a better Offering
  • Vs. 5. Because of Faith Enoch never died and was Transferred to Heaven
  • Vs. 6. Without Faith it’s Impossible to Please God
  • Vs. 7. By Faith Noah Built an Ark
  • Vs. 8. By Faith Abraham Obeyed Moved his family and became the Father of many Nations
  • Vs. 11. By Faith Sarah received Physical Power to Conceive a Child, Isaac.
  • Vs. 20. With Eyes of Faith Isaac Invoked a Blessing on his sons.
  • Vs. 21. By Faith Jacob blessed Josephs son’s
  • Vs. 23. By Faith Moses’ Mom hid him from the King & Spared his Life.
  • Vs. 29 By Faith Moses Lead the Children of Israel Across the Red Sea
  • Vs. 30. Because of Faith Jericho’s Walls Fell
  • Vs. 31. By Faith Rahab’s life was Saved because she Hid the Spies.
  • Vs.32-34 “We could go on and on? GideonBarakSamsonJephthae, David, Samuel, and the Prophets: Who By the help of Faith…Toppled KingdomsMade Justice WorkTook Promises & Blessings for themselves, Protected form Lions, Extinguished the Powerof Raging FireEscaped the Edge of the Sword, out of Weakness were made StrongTurned Disadvantages to Advantage, and Won Battles.”
2. Guts To Believe

Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the Desires and Petitions of your heart. Psalm 37:4

3. Write

Then the Lord answered (Insert Your Name Here) and said, “Write the vision And engrave it plainly on tablets so that the one who reads it will run. For the vision is yet for the a [future] time It hurries toward the goal.” HABAKKUK 2:2-3

4. Top 10 Goals

Focused on the Goal – Paul is saying, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning (drawing, inviting) us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14

5. Create Your Vision Board

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

sbn