Sunday, September 25, 2016

When God Says No

Answered prayer requires two things—the ability of God and the will of God. God is able to do anything, including moving a mountain to the sea. So why would He say no to our requests?

1. God may have something better planned for you. I cannot tell you how many times God didn’t give me what I wanted at the time, only to give me something much better later. Whenever a door closes, I’ve learned to trust the Lord, knowing that He has the best planned for me.

2. God may have reasons for denying your request—but He’s not going to tell you why. Sometimes the reason God denied your request will become obvious later. But you may never know in this life why the Lord did not come through with the answer you wanted so badly.

Deut. 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever.” The “secret things” are those mysteries that aren’t going to be explained during our lifetime. When you get to heaven and stand before Jesus, your every question will be answered (1 Cor. 13:12).

3. You may have assumed that God said no, but He might still say yes.  Perhaps you’ve prayed for so long that you’ve assumed the answer was no, but Jesus (who is the one who answers our prayers) taught us to persistently pray and to not lose heart (Luke 18:1). Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years before God’s promise came to pass. Persistence means you keep going when everyone else has quit.

Jesus talked about a man who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door at midnight to ask for bread. The only reason he received the bread was “because of his persistence” (Luke 11:8). Unless you know for sure that God has said no, keep praying and trusting God.  (If God Knows What I Need, Why Should I Pray? pages 82-84). www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com   www.makinglifecount.net

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LOOKING FOR GROUP DISCUSSION MATERIALS?  Slaying Your Giants ($5.99) plus Study Guide ($4.99) has 20 interesting lessons for Small Group discussion.

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Truly Shocking!

This snippet comes from If God Knows What I Need, Why Should I Pray? (pages 22-23)

One reason Jesus came to earth was to correct our wrong ideas about God and to reveal His incredible power. Jesus used shock treatments—mind-boggling stories to jolt people out of thinking like humans so we would start thinking like God. He chose an example that we would never consider—something that’s totally out of the realm of human possibility. He shocked everyone when He said, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him” (Mark 11:23).

And just to make sure no one would tamper with His statement by trying to make it merely symbolic, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you.” Although He always spoke the truth, some statements seemed so impossible that He had to reassure the audience by saying, “I’m not joking. This really is possible!” His intent was to increase their faith in His ability.

Imagine seeing a huge mountain rising out of the ground, hovering in mid-air and then zooming miles away into an ocean. His statement was so astonishing and absurd that if Christ Himself had not spoken these words, it certainly would not have been recorded in God’s Word. But it is.

Jesus could have given the disciples a visual demonstration by speaking to the Mount of Olives and commanding it to uproot. While everyone is gawking at the mountain floating above them, He points to the southeast and orders it to fly several miles and drop into the Dead Sea. But Jesus didn’t need to do that because He had already given them a visual demonstration on the previous day. He had spoken to a fig tree saying no one would ever eat from it again. Although the tree didn’t have ears to hear His words, it obeyed His voice and withered up (Mark 11:13,14,20).

Are you facing a difficulty that seems impossible to overcome? Instead of looking at the size of the mountain, place your faith in the ability of God. Remember Jesus’ words, “The things impossible with humans are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).That's something you can hang your faith on. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com   www.makinglifecount.net  
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NEW PRINTED SERMON: JONAH 3—The God of Another Chance

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

Some gospels record events differently than the other gospels. Does this mean they contradict each other? Are they telling different stories, or are they telling the same story from different perspectives?

Matthew and Luke list the temptations of Jesus in different orders. That looks like a contradiction until you understand that an event can be recorded in two ways. An incident can be recorded as a descriptive account (where sequence isn’t a factor) or as a chronological account where sequence is a factor. Matthew records the temptations chronologically, while Luke writes descriptively, where temptations are stated as facts, but not in order.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that several women went to visit the tomb of Jesus, while John 20:1 seems to indicate that Mary Magdalene came alone. Is this a contradiction? No, because she mentions that others were with her when she told Peter, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (20:2).

The four gospels are like four cameras filming the scene from different angles. When you go to a movie, the film isn't shot from just one camera angle. Instead, you watch scenes from cameras set up in different places, which record unique perspectives. Some shots are up close, showing only one person and leaving out the other people. If you only saw the close-up view (Mary Magdalene), you’d think that she was alone. But other cameras (Matthew, Mark and Luke) film a wider angle, showing the other women. Then you understand she wasn't alone after all.

To get the clearest picture of what happened, read all four gospels as complementing each other, not contradicting each other. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Your concept of God determines your faith. Jesus used “shock treatments” to shock people out of thinking too small. Read If God Knows What I Need, Should I Pray?

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Take Out Your Garbage

A friend of mine went to a house on a business call. When they opened the front door, he was shocked to see the house was filled up to the ceiling with garbage! The owners had made a winding path through the house with walls of trash on each side. They hadn’t taken out their garbage as long as they lived there but had learned to live with the filth.

In Exodus 12:19, the Jews were commanded to clean their houses of leaven before the Passover. Leaven represents sin. The apostle Paul says if we don’t clean out the spiritual leaven in our lives, it will spread and infect everything it touches (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Just like we must remove garbage from our house, we also need to get rid of our spiritual garbage. Here’s how.

1. Identify the garbage. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. We might convince ourselves that our spiritual trash isn’t hurting us, so we can keep it. But it will eventually destroy us. The Scripture identifies our garbage—Bitterness,anger, slander (Eph. 4:3), guilt (Rom. 8:1), depression (Ps. 42:11), sexual sins (1 Thess. 4:3-5). You might be hiding secret sins (Ps. 90:8) but you must admit they’re perverting your life. 

2. Decide to get rid of it. A pastor friend was walking into a convenience store and noticed a garbage truck in the parking lot. The odor of the truck was so revolting that he almost gagged. Then two garbage workers came out of the store with hot dogs, sat on the back of the truck, and ate their lunch. They had gotten so used to the revolting odor that it didn’t bother them anymore! By an act of your will, you must decide you no longer want your spiritual garbage ruining your life.

3. Find someone to take it away. Garbage men will take away your trash because it’s their job. Jesus is willing to take away your spiritual trash because it’s why He came to earth. “And you know that He (Jesus) appeared in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5). When He takes away your sins, He spiritually cleanses you and you no longer have them. Have you taken out your garbage? www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Discover 3 reasons Jesus told you to pray for your enemies. Read If God Knows What I Need, Why Should I Pray?

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Parable of the Watermelons

God created watermelons to either be round or football-shaped, so how did those melons in the picture become square? Someone purposely tampered with them to modify their shape. The melons were each placed inside a plastic box when they were small. As they grew, they were molded into the exact shape of the container.

The parable of the square watermelons shows us how this world tries to mold us into something that God never intended us to be. The political correctness mold dictates how we must talk and think. It constantly tries to brainwash us—telling us that right is wrong, and wrong is right. The world imposes its sexual immorality mold on us, while God tells His followers to stay morally pure (1 Thess. 4:3). Young people are pressured fit into the popularity mold so they will make bad choices that can ruin their lives. If we listen to these wrong voices long enough, we'll eventually turn into a square melon.

God says, "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold" (Rom. 12:2, Phillips Transl.). To keep from being squeezed into the wrong molds, your inward character must be stronger than the pressure being applied from the outside. If you squeeze a cracker in your hand it will crumble because the outward pressure is greater than the inward strength. But you if squeeze a baseball, nothing will happen because the inside is greater than the outside.

To keep from being squeezed, purpose in your heart to love God more than this world (1 John 2:15). Daily walk with God. Stay in contact with the Lord every day by talking with Him in prayer and listening to Him. Read His Word every day. Don’t make this a legalistic duty, but do it to stay in fellowship with Him. Start today. It will keep you from getting bent out of shape. 
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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Desperate for a Miracle

If God Knows What I Need, Why Should I Pray explains that prayer has 4 purposes. One purpose is to show God how desperately we want something. In Mark 5:25-26, a woman had an infirmity for 12 years but no doctor could cure her. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him and touched His robe—and was instantly healed.

Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around and asked, “Who touched my robes?” (v.30) Even though a crowd had been pressing against Him, this woman’s touch was different from the rest. Jesus didn’t get upset at her but said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well” (v.34). He had healed many people by touching them, but this woman reversed the process and received her healing by touching Him. Notice four things about her faith:

1. DESPERATION. She was desperate for an answer. She never asked, “If it be Thy will.” She correctly assumed that it was God’s will to heal her.

2. EXPECTATION. She said to herself, “If I just touch His garments, I shall get well” (5:28). Faith expects God to do a miracle, even when the situation seems hopeless. She had suffered 12 years, but it still wasn’t too late.

3. CONNECTION. She was the only one in the crowd who touched Him with faith. Power was pulled out of Jesus in response to her touch (v.30). Like an electrical cord being plugged into an outlet, touching Him connected her with God’s power.

4. RECEPTION. She didn’t wait for Jesus to touch her. She received her miracle by reaching out and taking it for herself. Later we find that whenever Jesus went into towns, many people were touching the tassel of His robe to be healed (Mark 6:56). Apparently this woman set a precedent for others to receive healing in the same way.

Do you desperately need a miracle? Learn from this woman—reach out and touch the God who can do what is humanly impossible (Mark 10:27). www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Discover the 4 Purposes of Prayer. Read If God Knows What I Need, Should I Pray?

Watch this awesome video  “Who Am I?” by Casting Crowns performed with white gloves and black lights. (14.5 million views on YouTube)

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Leaping Instructions

Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. (Luke 6:22-23)
    I’ve seen people leap for joy when their football team scores a touchdown. 
    I’ve seen people leap for joy when a player hits a 3-pointer to win a basketball game.
    I’ve seen people leap for joy when they win the Publisher’s Clearing House. But I’ve never seen anyone leaping for joy when they’re hated by others.

Jesus said to “leap for joy”—not when your team wins, but when evil is being unleashed on you. One time when I was being attacked by a mean-spirited person, another pastor told me, “You need to follow the leaping instructions. Jesus told us to jump for joy when we’re under attack.” I had never thought of that before—to literally leap for joy. Jesus said to "be glad in that day,” not after you die and go to heaven.

The key is to understand what’s taking place in heaven at that very moment. You must realize that when you’re being hated for doing God’s will, the Lord is giving you an incredible reward in heaven that will last throughout eternity. If He would pull back the curtain and you could see this reward, you would be doing cartwheels and leaping for joy. But since you can’t see it right now, you’ll just have to take Jesus’ word for it.

LEAPING INSTRUCTIONS. (You can also leap for joy when you are discouraged or depressed). Find a private place where it’s just you and the Lord. Start jumping up and down while you’re praising God. It’s that simple. Leap just like you jumped for joy when your team won. But now you’re doing it because God is blessing you in the midst of a horrible situation. And don’t be surprised if your depression and discouragement also leave you. www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com
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Prayer can change your circumstances! Read If God Knows What I Need, Should I Pray?

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Making Life Count Ministries
P.O. Box 680174
Prattville, Alabama 36068-0174
www.makinglifecount.net  Twitter: @KentCrockett