The Difference in Praying and Seeking His Face

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

Our great country needs to heal. America is hemorrhaging. The only way for the bleeding to stop and the healing to begin is for all the people who claim to be Christians to really humble themselves, recognize the sin that lives in them, and ask God to rid their hearts of sin at the foot of the cross of Christ. Notice I did not say all people have to do this, just the 75% or so of Americans who are still claiming His name by calling themselves Christians.

 

It all starts by humbling yourself and realizing that you are part of the problem. I preached last night. I had a new level of anointing that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. You know what I thought as I drove home? That I did really well. As soon as I got up this morning at 4:30, conviction was all over me. I did nothing but operate in His power and anointing. He gave me all that I needed to do it, and there I was basking in a bit of the glory. This morning, I’m humbling myself . . . I’m letting Him know that I hate the pride that lives within me. I’m praying that He destroys it. I’m praying that I might be as pure as possible.

 

But, this next one is messing with me: Seek His face. On the surface, I would think that it would be no different than praying. Surely if I’m praying, I’m seeking His face.

 

Not necessarily.

 

As I pray this morning, I’m asking for Him to do something for me. I’m petitioning Him. Once I have asked, I should believe in faith that I will receive it. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13) If what I’m asking for will bring more glory to His Name, then I should certainly believe that He would grant my request. However, I should not stop there, for after prayer comes seeking His face.

 

This is such a powerful part of the process. If I’m praying, I want what He can do for me, my family, loved ones, etc. But, if I’m seeking His face, then I just want Him for Him. I just want to hang out with Him. At this point, I should just read His Word for enjoyment. I should just go and take a walk in the cool of the day and just be with Him. Not to say anything . . . just to hang out . . . seek His face.

 

I’m sure if you’re reading this, you have actually prayed recently. But, when is the last time you hung out with Him just because you love Him? When is the last time you sought His face?

 

I want to do more of this.

 

Later

 

Adam

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The Love of my Life

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. – Romans 8:38 (NLT)

 

So I’m binge watching a show called “This is us.” Binge watching is not something that I normally do, but Hurricane Irma has shut down our schools for a couple of days and I don’t have to go to work. I liked the show when I started watching last year. I watched all the way up until Christmas, and then never finished the season. I’m trying to finish it now so I might understand the second season when it comes on. I never thought I’d learn a spiritual lesson from watching, but I did.

 

I had a conversation recently with someone who really loves animals. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone give all of themselves away to their pets. But, this person comes as close as anyone I’ve ever met. I made the comment that it was pretty easy to love an animal because an animal can’t hurt you. This person immediately shot back with, “Of course they can . . . they will die.”

 

In this one episode of “This is us,” there is a doctor who is extremely lonely. His wife of 53 years has been dead for 14 months. He loved her so much, but now she was gone. She didn’t want to or mean to, but she devastated him by doing something all of us are going to do . . . die. The doctor’s son was trying so hard to try to get him to “move on” and meet someone else, but he didn’t want to hear it. He tried to immerse himself in work, but that was only a temporary Band-Aid. When he was alone, he still talked to the wife he missed so much.

 

I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with my wife. This December, we will have been married for 16 years. I don’t worry about her hurting me emotionally or physically. I love her like crazy and she actually loves me back. I could only hope and pray that we get 53 years together. But, we said in our marriage vows that we’d love each other and be there for each other . . . “until separated by death.”

 

I depress you to give you a glorious hope. I “received” Jesus when I was 16 years old. I didn’t really know what I was getting in to. I just pretty much figured Heaven was better than hell. Five years later, at 21, after He had been pursuing me for 5 years, I started to pursue Him back. In 10 years, by the time I was 31, all of the major idols in my life had finally been cast down and He had won first place in my heart, mind, and life. I can’t believe how our relationship has grown. In the 26 years I have been a Christian, there is just no relationship like it. I had no idea it was possible to really love God. Like, for real love Him.

 

I am recognizing with astonishing intensity today that this is the one and only relationship that I will ever have that will last for all eternity. I can absolutely never be separated from Him. The Lord of my life will never ever hurt me. He is my one and only friend that death has no power over. Death only makes my faith become sight. When I take my last breath here on Earth, I will be with Him there. I can rest in the most secure relationship I will ever experience.

 

Thank you Lord that you love me, and nothing, nothing can ever separate me from your love.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Right Motives

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves.  – Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Last night, I got to make something right.  For the past several years, a few churches in Oconee County have joined together to produce what we call Men’s United.  It is a four-night event spread out over a couple of months.  The leaders of these churches simply want the hearts of men to line up with the heart of God.  We try to come together simply as Christians.  We aren’t really representing churches or denominations . . . just God.  I just joined in last year.  Lifeline has hosted the event two times.  The first thing I have learned from this group is Philippians 2:3.

The first MU meeting I went to was solid.  The praise and worship band was simple, but they absolutely rocked out while they worshipped.  I loved it.  There weren’t very many people there, but the ones who were just exuded a love for God.  I liked just being there around other men who didn’t mind professing a love for Jesus.  I knew I wanted to buy in to being a part of this.

The second meeting I attended was even better.  The praise and worship band was absolutely killer.  It might have been one of the most professional sounding praise and worship bands I’ve ever heard.  I just stood there and soaked it all in.  I was the preacher for the night, so I preached my heart out, men responded, and it was another great night.

Lifeline Community Church was to host the next Men’s United.  We were also to lead praise and worship for the night.  God had been seriously impressing upon my heart to go really simple for worship.  I really felt in my spirit that I was to just play simple, familiar songs on my acoustic and just allow the men’s voices to be heard.  Well, I did the exact opposite.  Something in me just wanted to “compete” with the other bands.  I wanted to show how big we could go too.  I ended up putting a complete band together and going big.  Philippians 2:3 absolutely sums up what I did.  As if to put an exclamation point on my disobedience, the speaker for the night at the end of the service asked, “Can someone come up here and just play Amazing Grace?”

Well, last night MU came once again to Lifeline.  I was not going to get it wrong twice.  I took my acoustic and played “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”  After each section, men would come grab the microphone and pour out their hearts in prayer.  I thought my heart was going to burst.  I was so full of the Holy Spirit that I just did not ever want to let go.  The night was absolutely wonderful.  There was probably double the number of men as the previous year.  God really moved and I just loved all of it.

I hate to think that my heart can still be so arrogant.  Keeping the old nature in check can be quite difficult.  I will give an account for what I did last year when I stand before the Lord.  It will be made of wood, hay, or straw, and it will burn up on His holy altar.  I shudder to think of how many things I have done for Him out of vain conceit.  But, this whole ordeal has taught me a great lesson that I hope you can learn from as well.  I have learned that for the rest of my days I want to serve Him because I love Him, not because I want others to look at me, and what I can do.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.  – Colossians 3:23

Later

Adam

If you are interested, come to our next Men’s United meeting at Whitestone Freedom Fellowship on Sunday, September 24, at 6:00.

4271 SC-11

Westminster, SC 29693

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When the Problem is Not the Problem

When the Problem is not the Problem

 

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things.” — Luke 10:41

 

In this story, Martha came to Jesus with what she thought was her problem: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” At that moment, she really thought her sister’s laziness was the problem. Jesus, knowing her heart, stated the real problem; “You are worried and upset about many things.”

 

When the word “worry” is seen in the original language of the Bible, it denotes that a person’s heart is divided. A Christian should not have a divided heart. I cannot say that I really believe that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28) and then constantly be concerned with what might happen. Truth be known, if I love God, then whatever happens is supposed to happen and it works together for my own good.

 

This past Sunday we had communion at our church. I do my best to examine my own heart, and then preach in a way that makes others examine theirs. When we get really brutally honest with ourselves, it is crazy the things that we find in our hearts that simply have to go. Jesus basically told Martha that what she thought was the problem, was not the problem. She wasn’t simply worried that stuff wouldn’t get done. She was worried about “many things.” This is going to change my whole perspective every time I get upset and start pointing my finger at others. I must pause and ask, “What is the real reason?”

 

In further examining why I went off on the kid last week, I realize that his attitude was certainly not the problem. If it was, then my problem will never go away because dealing with attitude is pretty much what I do for a living. The real problem was my pride. The whole incident took place publically. I felt like I had to win, so I made sure I won. In doing so, I realize now that what I said was the problem, was not the problem at all. I might have looked at him and said he was the problem, but I was the real problem. I just had to come out on top looking good. I ended up looking pretty ridiculous.

 

Today, I don’t want a divided heart worried about many things. I have found that it is so difficult for me to keep a constant connection with God and awareness of His ways. I can do it when I’m taking a walk, taking a drive, typing my WMD’s, teaching God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and when I’m all alone in the quiet of my home before everyone wakes up. It’s not that I’m necessarily praying, but I just have this constant feeling of being connected to God. Unfortunately, I get busy with many things and stop just simply abiding in Him. There must be a way to stay connected to Him while I’m getting the necessary things in my life done. I’m thinking Martha could have totally done her work and kept that connection. I guess even all those years ago, it was still easier to blame others as the source your problems.

 

I’m thinking that Martha eventually figured all this out.

 

I will too.

 

Later

 

Adam

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When Work is a Joy

“Tell her to help me!” – Luke 10:40

 

Most of us Americans hate work.  Most students can’t stand studying.  It is purely a means to an end for us.  We need it to pay bills, eat, and buy the things we like.  I saw where the Massachusetts lady won the 700 million.  What was the first thing she did?  Tell her boss she isn’t coming to work anymore.

 

In Luke 10, we have the story of Martha and Mary.  I have heard it preached many times.  Jesus rebukes Martha when she tells Him to jump on her sister for not helping out with the preparations.  He tells her that the source of her frustrations is worry about many things.  Sounds pretty familiar.  Like most Americans today, she is working because she feels like she has to . . . not because she wants to.

 

I was so unfulfilled working as a teacher for probably the first seven years of my career.  For one, I wasn’t very good at it.  Just because I barely survived some ridiculously hard math classes at Clemson University, they gave me a certificate that said I was ready to teach kids.  I was not.  I tried to do it, but other than a few moments here and there, there was just no joy in it.  If I had won the lottery . . . I’d have said, “See ya!”

 

I learned something though.  One day, after reading the Bible, I decided I was going to go to work, not for a paycheck, but to honor God.  I absolutely could not believe the difference.  Sure, I was still tired at times, but I began to love what I do.  I began to be fulfilled doing it.  Work became a joy.

 

Yesterday, I kind of flew off the handle at a student.  I’m really contemplating this morning exactly why.  I witnessed an attitude that I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of times.  This time though, it just set me off.  I’m just sitting here examining my heart and wondering if I’m worried about many things.  I did just like Martha, “Jesus, tell that kid to get up and do something!  He’s not trying like I’m trying!”

 

I think I’ve learned something.  Martha was working for the Lord, which was a good thing.   The problem arose when she started looking around and began to feel like others weren’t working like she was.  Of course this frustrated her.  The lesson is:  If I’ll just stay focused on doing what I’m doing for my Lord and Savior, I’ll be so full that I won’t really care what others are doing.  I won’t care that they make more money than me for doing much less. I won’t care that they stink at their job.  I won’t care that they seem to get to do nothing.  I basically won’t care that others don’t care.  Well, that last part isn’t true, but I must understand that anger isn’t going to change anybody’s heart and make them see the light.  I’ll stop playing this useless comparison game.  That game does not lead to joy in my heart.  I just want to work like I’m working for Him.

 

I so had this at one time.

 

I think I’ve lost it somewhere along the way.

 

I want it back.

 

Lord, today, today let me work like I’m working for You.  Let me take my eyes off of others and what they are doing.  Let my heart remain so connected to You.  I pray for the hearts of any who might read this this morning.  May they go to work today knowing that of all the places on the planet You could have placed them, You put them exactly where they are to do exactly what they are doing.  It is absolutely amazing.  Help our tasks to not be mundane.  Help us not look down at the Mary’s and believe they have it easier.  Help us to be more like Mary by taking the time to sit at Your feet.  For it is there that we will learn to work with full hearts that are not worried about many things.  It is there that we will obtain a light that so shines before men that others see our good deeds and glorify You, our Father in Heaven.

 

Amen

 

Adam Hopkins
Lifeline Community Church
http://www.lifelinecc.com

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The Earth and the Moon

 

Let your light so shine before men that others may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.    Matthew 5:16

 

The Bible says that God put light bearers in the heavens.  They separate the day from the night, help us count the days, years, and seasons.  Genesis 1:14 says they do one more thing as well . . . they give us signs.

 

Today, I watched an amazing event.  I watched the moon completely block the Sun’s light from being seen.  It happened in a little band all the way across the United States of America.  The Sun, even though it was right where it has always been, giving off the same light it always has, got blocked.  For a few minutes, the moon allowed no light to pass to the inhabitants of Earth. 

 

I believe it was a sign.  Right now, our great nation gives off no light to the rest of the world.  It seems like there used to be an overall caring about people.  We would hurt with hurting people and weren’t so quick to finish off a person while they were down.  News stories weren’t mostly negative.  We were once a nation that really cared about reaching the lost, healing the sick, and helping our fellow man.  Yet, right now, in a country where 75% of the people identify as being Christian, we are way more concerned with politics than we are being a light.  We are in the direct path of the Son blocking His light.  We’d rather be right than lay down our own lives for another.  Greater love hath no man than he give his life for a friend (John 15:13).  Read the main verse up top one more time.

 

I don’t really get where it all went wrong.  I guess it’s like anything else; it’s just a slow, gradual fade.  If I had to attempt to put a face to it, I think we have fallen for an American version of Christianity.  It is basically the American Dream sprinkled with the bits and pieces of Christianity that we like.  We think we can have Him plus this comfortable, prosperous (our version of prosperity, not His) life, and we can have it all right now with little to no effort.  Just repeat a prayer and all the work is done.  We are now entitled to a great life here and a great life in eternity.  We think we can live however we want and get whatever we want, just continue to believe in your own version of who Christ is, and he’ll “bless” you.  The only problem with that is it isn’t in the Bible.  He calls for laying it all down at the foot of the cross.  He calls for death, burial, and resurrection.  He calls for exchanging your desires for His desires.  Selfish, entitled Americans don’t like that very much.

 

But here we are.  People who supposedly know Jesus and are supposed to be representing Him aren’t allowing His light to be seen by others.  We have Christians who think that homosexuals, drug addicts, prostitutes, cursers, drinkers, and liars can’t be saved.  If they do get saved, we immediately condemn them if they don’t change immediately.  All I know is that it took me 15 years after receiving Jesus Christ to overcome sexual immorality.  It took almost 10 years to stop lying on a consistent basis.  It even took me 5 years to even pick up a Bible and read it for myself.  I certainly didn’t mature as a believer immediately.

 

Sometimes I wish I had overcome these things quicker.  I beat myself up an awful lot for not overcoming basic spiritual hurdles more quickly.  I still hate the fact that I just wasted 5 years and I could have studied and possibly know Him right now even better than I do.  But, then again, I turn around and I thank Him for taking so long.  I thank Him for being so patient with me.  What this does is make me love Him so much more.  It makes me want to be patient with others.  I don’t care if it takes years.  I just want to keep shining His light and pray that it changes the people I come into contact with.  I pray that as I preach, the light in me just shines brightly.  I pray that as I teach, my light shines.  I pray that this light I have inside of me affects every person I meet.  I have to believe that it can do for others what it did for me.  I have to believe that it changes people.

 

For a couple of minutes, just about everybody stopped hammering on each other to witness in the heavens exactly what the people on earth, especially in the United States of America, are doing . . . blocking the light of Jesus Christ.

 

In seven years another eclipse will cross this great nation.  Their paths make an X.  The X could mean the U.S. is a target of destruction, and God is crossing out our once great country.  I am reading Jeremiah right now.  He pled and pled for Israel to turn from their wicked ways.  But, because they went to church and did religious things for God, they all thought they were exempt from His wrath.  Nobody would listen to Jeremiah and it sure seems that nobody is listening right now.  Then again, the X marks the spot of treasure on some maps.  Maybe over these next seven years we as a nation turn back to Him.  Maybe revival falls upon us once more and a spiritual awakening occurs. 

 

Today, if you call yourself a Christian, let your light so shine before men that others will see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.

 

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will restore their land.  – 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

Later

Adam

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The Extra Mile

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  – Matthew 5:41

There is nothing that Jesus said that would have possibly frustrated Jews more than this verse right here.  Romans could force Jews to carry their belongings for one mile.  Jews hated the fact that they could.  So what they would do is teach their children to count their steps that equaled exactly one mile.  Nobody ever, ever went a single step further.  Roman law required one mile, so that’s what they would give to the Romans.

Here we are starting a new school year.  I’ve been back at it for a few days now.  Students will start back later this week.  One more time, we are in a sense “forced” to go to school, or to work.  Sure, there are kids who love it, but there are also kids who’d rather do absolutely anything else.  There are teachers who love it, and then there are those who are ONLY showing up because they need to get paid.  I want you to think of this “having to show up” as the first mile.  We have to do that.

Right here in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “go two miles.”

Why?

I believe it was a strategy to win the lost.  It was a strategy that if every believer in Christ bought into, absolutely everyone who didn’t believe would say, “There is nobody like those Christians!”  Imagine someone begrudgingly carrying a Roman Citizen’s stuff.   Suppose that Roman citizen had one particular person he liked forcing.  This person would count off the steps, hate every moment, seethe with hatred, and then drop the stuff on the ground and stomp off.  They had fulfilled the minimum requirement.  Now, one day, after encountering Jesus Christ, he remembers these words.  The same Roman comes along and forces the first mile, but instead of some sort of sour, scoffing attitude, he smiles and says, “I’ll be glad to.”  Then, after 5,280 feet, or 1,760 yards (a little math lesson for you students), instead of dropping it with their normal attitude, they just keep going.

This would absolutely astound the non-believing Roman citizen!  It would show them something they’ve never seen before.  It would compel them to ask, “Why?”  At this point right here, you’ve earned the right to tell them about Christ.  Now, you can tell them just how much He has worked in your own life and changed your attitude towards everything.  You do NOT get to say, “I’m right, you’re wrong, you’re going to Hell.”  This attitude of “I’m better than you because I believe something you don’t” has prevented a multitude of non-believers from ever becoming Christians.  If you want to win the lost, do it by example.  Eventually, they will have to ask why you are the way you are.

We have to go back to work.  It is the first mile.  Think about what it would look like for you to go above and beyond the minimum requirements, and go the extra mile.  Then, when someone asks, return all the glory, honor, and praise to Him.  Point them to Him.  There is just no one like Him.

Later

Adam

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