“The Face Of God Part III” from Faith and Victory Church by Pastor Steve Dalton. Released: 2016.
“The Baptism of Jesus” from Classic Hits of 2016 by Pastor Matt Krachunis. Released: 0. Genre: Christianity.
“What Skin Are You?” from Faith and Victory Church by Pastor Jay Alexander.
“The Ultimate Power” from Classic Hits of 2016 by Pastor Matt Krachunis. Released: 0. Genre: Christianity.
Every year when I go to the Men’s Advance, I’ve noticed the same thing.
This thing I’ve noticed is not something about the guys there, or the events, or the teaching, worship or fellowship.
Those are all fine – no, it’s something else.
I know this sounds a bit strange, but bear with me. I am going somewhere with this.
On the path to the dining hall at the conference center, there are a couple of places where there are almost always ants on the sidewalk. Sometimes it appears to be hundreds of black ants, going every which way.
I don’t know if other people notice the ants, but I try to avoid stepping on them. (Even ants deserve a chance to live.) Sometimes, though, it’s virtually impossible to avoid it completely because there are so many of them. You can’t go off the path on one side, because of the bushes, and it’s probably no better walking through the grass, because you can’t see if there are more ants there.
And I haven’t noticed other people going out of their way to avoid the ants either.
So, this weekend we had 80 men, three times a day, going both ways to and from the dining hall, right through the ants. How many dozens or hundreds of ants were crushed over the two days? Yet, every time we went by, the ants were there.
And this isn’t the first time – I remember ants in the same place in years before. On top of that, the conference center is a popular place – there are people there almost every weekend year round, and often all week long in the summer.
So the ants are trampled regularly by possibly thousands of people every year, but they never change. Year after year, two or three times a day or more the same thing happens, but they don’t move their location, change their paths, or alter their schedule.
At times I wish I could say to them, “Watch out! Get off the path, a bunch of guys are coming!” But I know they won’t listen.
They are just ants, of course: we can’t expect much. But aren’t we about the same sometimes as people?
Do we do the same thing over and over again, even if it turns out badly every time, or we get hurt or someone else does as a result?
Do we make no attempt to avoid the injury or even destruction that’s approaching, because we pay no attention to what’s coming?
Are people trying to warn us about consequences of what we’re doing or potential danger, but we won’t listen?
Do we run here and there wrapped up in our own little things, until we suddenly get trampled into the ground, figuratively or literally?
As humans we are so much bigger than the ants that I don’t know if they can even see us well. And by the time we’re close enough for them to see the danger, like a foot coming down on then, it’s probably too late to get out of the way.
And if I wanted to warn them, I don’t know if they can hear us. Even if they can hear they wouldn’t understand me, because I’m sure the ants don’t speak English. We have no basis for communicating.
We are far larger than the ants, and have little in common with them. However, the difference between us and the ants is much less than the difference between us and God. We are finite created beings, and he is the infinite Creator. While we may be thousands of times bigger than ants, God is infinitely larger than we are.
Pick any number to try to express the magnitude of the difference between God and us – millions of times, or billions, quadrillions, 10 to the googolplex power – it’s still much, much more.
What’s the chance of us being able to hear or know the infinite God when we are not even able to communicate with other finite creatures like ants?
But, we’re not God. He can do what we can’t.
From the beginning, He intended to communicate with us, to commune with us, and He created us that way.
In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” so there is something in us that resembles God, some kind of similarity built in to us that gives us a basis for communicating.
Besides that, His Son came to earth, became a man, God in the flesh, and experienced life as one of us.
Speaking about Jesus, Hebrews 5:15 says, ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.’ John 1:14 also says, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’
So, God understands us, not just as the One Who created us, but also from becoming like us.
He made us like Him, and then even made Himself like us. Amazing!
But it also means that we know He knows how and is able to communicate with us.
We as humans can see the mob of hungry men coming down the sidewalk while the ants go about their day to day activity with no clue of the impending danger. In the same way God can see what’s heading our way, impending danger, whether from natural forces or supernatural.
Unlike me, who’s no longer there at the conference center and probably won’t be back for months, God hasn’t left you. I really don’t care too much about the ants: not enough to put in any real effort to save them. But God loves you: enough to make Himself like you, then even die for you. And He did.
If you’re like those ants, wrapped up in yourself and your things, your life, and your way, with no thought of what may happen or the consequences of your actions, you should stop:
Stop going every which way;
Stop being absorbed in your own things and yourself;
Stop living oblivious to impending destruction.
Turn to God. Jesus bridged that infinite divide between us and our Creator. He knows and understands what we go through and what we are, but being both God and man He sees what is coming, when there’s danger, and the best way for us to go.
The ants would be so much better off if they just knew when to get off the sidewalk. Let Jesus do that same thing for you.
A few weeks ago, Pastor Crystal was preaching and this one thing that God spoke to me was that I am not only called to come to the cross and lay each thing down at His feet but to also walk through the cross. Jesus did not just come to the cross and only lay his worries, thoughts, actions down at the cross for the Father to take but He ALSO walked through it all. He suffered through pain, trial, tribulation, sadness and so much more. I have to remind myself daily, that there is not a place I go, Jesus has not already stood!
The gospel does not promise a life free of trial and tribulation. In fact, the road of a Christian, is one that often is more difficult. When trial and tribulation come to us, God calls us to be different than those in the world. Romans 12:2 says we are to transform our minds and not be conformed to this world. I am called to respond differently, not with anger, frustration, defeat, hate but with the love of Christ. Trust me, this is exactly how my flesh wants to respond! It is only by seeking God’s will and His way am I able to respond in love. It is only be meditating on God’s word and who He say’s I am and not what the trial say’s I am, that I can truly overcome it.
James 1:2 says count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. God tells me rejoice when you have a trial, when you have to walk through the cross. Why? Because when we rejoice and walk through our trials with God and in the way He tells us to, He is glorified! He, not ourselves, is glorified, He is strengthened, He is praised.
The other part of this is that in turn, God strengthens our faith and our trust in Him. His ways are always higher and His plans are always good. We cannot usually see the end result. Often times, I believe God does not want us to see how He is going to work it all out for good. He wants us to have faith and trust in Him to work it all out. He wants us to seek His face and His will in order for to work out something in us. Most often I find that it is growth in an area of my character that He is trying to work out.
Recently, God has taken me through a trial to bring about forgiveness in me. I have always felt like a very forgiving person. But was the forgiveness my version of forgiveness or God’s version? Come to find out, it started out as my version! And that is really where the work began. I had to transform my mind, get deep into God’s Word, fully understand and comprehend His version of forgiveness, and get on my knees deep into prayer. At the beginning of this trial, I had layed all my worries, thoughts, feelings down at the foot of the cross but it took another 2 months to bring the rest of me to a place of forgiveness. To God’s version of forgiveness! God brought me to a place of understanding with my heart and mind, that if the other person never said “I am sorry” that I could still forgive them. Nothing more and nothing less than that! That because Christ is in me, that I could do exactly that. Forgive and move on.
God also humbled me in this situation. James 4:10 says humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up. I had to lower my own self in this situation. Take my own feelings and thoughts out of the equation. Pray for God to humble me, soften my heart. Transform my spirit into His Spirit! This is the only way He will be exalted!
God is so good! Through all of this He has brought reconciliation. Reconciliation is always God’s desire for our lives. God was only able to bring about reconcilliation because of my own willingness to walk through the cross!
2 Corinthians 5:11-21New Living Translation (NLT)
We Are God’s Ambassadors
11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us,[a] so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us.[b] Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.[c] 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[d] so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
“Cover Your Crack” from Faith and Victory Church by Pastor Crystal Krachunis. Released: 2016.
This may come as a shock to this entitlement minded generation, but it’s not actually about you. It never was. Despite your thirst for attention, your YouTube channel, and your participation trophy, the world owes you nothing. And no one owes you an apology. I’ve been in worship, focused on God, when a whisper will enter my head. It’s usually just a small memory, but not just any memory-it’s most often a painful one-a memory where I’ve been hurt. This is the enemy trying to sow a seed of unforgiveness. If left unchecked, it will grow into bitterness. Our world will affirm the unbiblical entitlement belief, but in Philippians 2:3, the Bible states to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” This was written to believers who were encouraged to keep strife out of their lives and be an example to an unbelieving generation. The same encouragement is for us today.
We are quick to pick up an offense and we are quick to live in that offense too. It’s exhausting though. Remembering that you are offended is like making the conscious decision to lug around a heavy weight. It takes effort. “Oh wait, I’m mad at you-you wronged me. I almost forgot and smiled at you. Good thing I remembered!” You have no right to be offended. You don’t. You have every right to get over it. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Is your hurt pride bigger than the saving grace of Jesus? Is your offense bigger than God? God can’t use you if you are full of pride.
It’s hard, but your right to an apology doesn’t trump what Jesus did. You have to make an active choice to forgive and move on. True forgiveness means releasing that person from a debt-just as you were released from your debt. To forgive means to say “You don’t owe me anything.” We need to be preaching God’s saving grace with our interactions with each other and our ability to extend the same forgiveness that has brought us into right standing with our Savior. I battle with this every day and I write from a place of intimate knowledge of hurt and abandonment. But when I walk in my hurts from my past, I am holding people in bondage to me. I am saying to God, “Thank you for forgiving me, but I can’t forgive this one person…”
This takes work, but it is not impossible. When the rebellious whisperer reminds me of something, I think about Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If you are replaying an offense, or practicing how you will defend yourself in the future against your enemy, you are not “thinking about whatever is pure and lovely” you are plotting your revenge. You are letting the enemy gain ground in your life. The enemy destroys relationships through offense-don’t let him. Actively contend against him by remembering, “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Let today be the day you shrug your shoulders at things that don’t really matter and you get over that offense, realizing it’s not bigger than the cross. You could never earn what God has given you so clothe yourself in humility and move on. Don’t water and nourish bitterness, weed it out because it has no place in your life.
Your calling is to live wholly and completely for God. That is your purpose. God will defend you, God will uphold you, “My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.” (Psalm 7:10).
“It’s Not About You” from Faith and Victory Church by Pastor Matt Krachunis. Released: 2016.
“Thrive Podcast Episode 17 – The Gift That Strengthens Others Part 2 with Pastor Crystal Krachunis and Amanda Mott” from Thrive Podcast by Kasey Maiorca. Released: 2016.