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This is Your Year!

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Today, God has given you a gift.  A gift that He has given everyone on the planet.  A gift of time.  A gift of 365 days.  Although the charismatic prophets will be telling you this is the year of this and that – breakthrough, financial release, the wealthy place, the abundant return – and the cheers will go up from the people who believe that changing calendars leads to a fresh anointing – it’s simply not the case.  This year is a gift to you and it’s up to you what it is.

It can be the year of breakthrough – if you renew your mind.

It can be the year of the financial release – if you get some financial wisdom and give generously and in faith and love

It can be the year of the abundant harvest – if you sow the abundant seed

At Tree of Life Dagenham we are calling this year “The Year of Identity” – but that’s not because God is going to give us an identity in 2014.  Christ gave us all an identity as the righteousness of God when He died and rose again on the cross – He welcomed us into the family of God and now our identity is linked eternally with His.  All we are doing is choosing to focus on it, preach on it, sing about it, study it, enjoy it and watch it manifest in our lives as our souls line up with our spirits.  It’s going to be really exciting.  

In Watford we are calling this year “The Year of Healing” but that’s not because God suddenly decided – hey, I’ve got a new calendar, let’s heal some folk.  No – all healing was accomplished 2000 years ago when Christ bore our sicknesses and diseases.  It’s not by this year you were healed, it’s by His stripes you were healed.

In Guildford we are calling this year – well certainly the first half of it because we are going to nail this in less than a year – Crossing Over.  We are going from fort to castle – we are growing into what God has prepared for us.  But it’s not that God hasn’t prepared a land of promises for us – it’s just that this is the year we are going to embrace it and enjoy it by focusing on it and renewing our minds to it.

So – this is your year.  It is what you choose it to be.  It will be the harvest of the seeds you sow.  So, I want to on this first day of the new year give you five kinds of good seeds that you could sow this year and mean that you will enjoy an abundant harvest:

1.  The seed of YOUR WORDS.  Jesus said the sower sowed the WORD.  If you want a good harvest you have to learn to speak good.  This is a challenge for this year: get 10 Scriptures that sum up what you want from God – healing, finances, and so on.  Personalize them – if it says “My God shall supply all your needs” you turn it into “My God shall supply all MY needs”, if it says “By His stripes you were healed”, turn it into “By His stripes I am healed”.  Repeat them every morning and every night.  That one action alone will totally change 2014 for you.

2.Financial seed.  If you don’t tithe, start tithing this year. Not because you have to or because God is going to get to but because you believe God’s Word and it says that if you give it will be given to you pressed down shaken together running over …. and you know that you can give more generously than a dead man under law.  Try it and see the results.  In April, we are running a 90 day tithing challenge – tithe for 3 months consistently – if you are not blown away by the change then your money back.  That’s how much I believe in this.  If you do tithe, think of something outrageous to give and believe that God supplies seed to the sower.

3. The seed of time.  What you do is what you become good at doing.  Want to become better at playing the guitar – put some time in.  Want to become better at being a friend – put the time in.  Want to become better at preaching – put the time in.  Want to become better at knowing God’s Word – put some time in.  What you invest time in will flourish.  What you ignore and neglect will wither and die.  Today, choose what you want to cultivate in 2014.  You cannot do everything  – so decide what is important.  We go on and on about being well rounded, but a squash ball is well rounded but if you needed surgery you wouldn’t want the surgeon using a squash ball, you would want a blade that is not well rounded but sharp.  You have a choice in life, well rounded or sharp.  Sharp is more useful and more valuable.  Focus on what you want to do and invest time in that.

4. The seed of “NO”.  I honestly believe “no” is the single most anointed word in the world.  It has the powerful to release destiny, set you free, give you a future.  An extra doughnut is saying “eat me”.  No.  A friend wants to gossip about the pastor.  No.  A guy starts to come on to you when you are married.  No.  All sorts of negative thoughts are trying to nest in your head.  Your flesh will want to have a pity party – tell it no.  Often our lives are a mess not because of what we are not doing, but because we are doing too much and are too busy.  Churches fail because they have too many meetings, businesses fail because they are trying to do too many things.  Stop being swept away – find out your destiny and say no to everything else.

5. The seed of love.  This is the seed that often produces the quickest harvest.  Try smiling at someone – they almost always instantly smile back.  Go and take someone out to the shops and buy them some new shoes.  Go and buy someone some flowers, some shopping, a new computer game.  Go and mow someone’s lawn.  Right now phone the first single mother who comes to mind and offer to babysit one night this week and let her go out.  Pay her to babysit her child.  Let’s decide to try and outdo each other in being the most loving people on earth this year.  

Sow those seed and this will be the year of harvest.  Don’t sow them and it’s still the year of harvest.  It’s just 100 times nothing is still nothing.

The Sower Sows the Word (IV)

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Firstly, thanks for your patience in waiting for part IV of our series on the Sower Sows the Word. I know I said I would be able to continue tomorrow and that was about ten days ago, however, we went to Wales for Christmas and New Year and did not really have access the internet.

But the issue of dealing with the thorns that choke the Word of God is vitally important at this time of the year. As people make New Year’s Resolutions, they normally make the mistake of trying to succeed in the flesh with willpower.

Realizing the truth of the Sower Sows the Word means that you are going to understand how to make choices that lead to permanent and effortless change.

Let’s use weight and diet as an example, as most New Year Resolutions are based on this. Not only that, I want to lose weight this year – and these are the principles I will be using myself.

In the world, what we do is make a pledge to lose a certain amount, or give up cakes, or stick to a diet. We then use all f our willpower to resist what we have decided to give up, and we inevitably fail. Just like the person told not to think of an elephant, the first thing that comes into our mind whenever we have a free moment is the very thing we want to give up. It is only the third of January, but I believe entirely that there will be people reading this who have already broken their resolutions.

However, Jesus does not leave us in condemnation or fighting the calories, or the smoking, or the pornography, or the anger in our flesh. He gives us the Word. When we sow the Word of God in our heart, there will be a harvest.

If we sow words of purity and love and freedom into our heart, and speak the Word over ourself, then we will have a harvest of purity, love and freedom. We will not be struggling in the flesh, in condemnation and feeling like death all the time – we can have the joy of victory.

Mark 11.24 says that you can have what you say. Rather than say “I am never going to make it, I am never going to win.” say “I am free from this, I am alive to God, I am more than a conqueror.” Say it again and again. We have in previous articles on the Sower Sows the Word spoke about meditating on the Word and how to put the Word in your heart. This is the key to change. Filling your mind with the Word will lead to victory.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. We meditate on the Word and we feel great, but then it doesn’t seem to produce results. It doesn’t seem to change our lifestyle, or bring the peace, the prosperity or the healing we are expecting.

Well, one of the main reasons this is the case is due to the thorns. Mark 4.7 says:

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

I am sure that like me you have felt at times that even though you know the Word, are meditating on the Word and speaking the Word, you feel choked and unfruitful. You feel that it just isn’t going right for you, and you can’t seem to get it right. If that is you, rejoice! The solution is in the Bible:

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. – Mark 4.18,19

We are choked by three things:

1. The cares of this world
2. The deceitfulness of riches
3. The lusts of other things

If you can remove these three things from your heart then the Word will NEVER be choked again. Do you understand – you will never be unfruitful again. You will always bear fruit. You will ask and receive, you will walk in victory.

In the next two posts I want to look at 2 and 3. I might decide to spend several posts on the deceitfulness of riches, because this is one of the biggest issues in the church today.

However, for now I want to deal with the cares of this world. Most Christians have had the word of God choked due to the cares of this world.

The word used for cares in this verse is merimna which literally means different directions. The world tries to distract you by drawing you in different directions.

We go to church, hear a great sermon on the power of God to heal and we are focused and ready to receive. But the world distracts us by leading us in different directions: try medicine, try acupunture, try panicking, try anything. These distractions choke the Word and stop it working.

Or in the instance of New Year Resolutions. The Word says you change by changing your heart by what you hear. So you need to speak out and say “I am only going to eat what I need, I am in control of my appetites, my god is not my belly, my God is the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the world distracts you – you need to try Slimfast, this pill, this diet, this fad, that strategy, and the thorns will choke out the Word.

The sooner we realize that the Word of God plus something leads to nothing, but the Word of God only leads to something the more successful we will be.

Do not let the world distract you and lead you in many directions this year – choose one direction: the direction of the Word of God. If you do not know the direction of the Word then go and read it until you see its direction to you and then obey it. The Word will keep you right and bring a harvest of peace and freedom. The world will lead you back into the same world of hurt and confusion you have been in before.

Often one of the distractions of the world is impatience. The Word will grow, but sometimes it does not happen instantly. Do not let the world pressure you into a get-rich-quick or a get-slim-quick scheme, you will be conned. Let the Word have its perfect work in you…

It is your choice – choose life!

Blessings,
Ben

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