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God's truth for today's world.

God loves diversity. He loves to see His creation change and grow. He loves to create things fresh and new. At the atomic level, God’s palette of 100 or so elements gives rise to a literally infinite number of possibilities and combinations, all with different properties and potential. The universe is filled with stars. A recent estimate of the number of stars visible to modern telescopes was just done. The number of visible stars was estimated at 70 sextillion, that’s 70 followed by 22 zeroes. Astronomers say there are more stars than grains of sand in all of Earth’s deserts and beaches. No two stars are alike, they are all different, they all have there own unique identity.

Take a look at creation. The world is filled with a huge array of animals, birds, fish and insects. To date, scientists have classified about 1½ million species of animal life, but they estimate that there are between 50 and 100 million species in the world. Science has hardly begun to scratch the surface of the diversity that God has created. People are unique as well. The world is now filled with 6.3 billion people. All of them created with their own unique divine design by God, no two alike, all having special gifts and abilities to serve God with.

Why did God create such a diverse and exciting universe? A universe that’s constantly expanding, constantly changing, constantly showing us new vistas to explore. I believe that God wanted life in this universe for His children to be an exciting adventure of walking with God as He shows us incredible things. NLT 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit. God has wonderful secrets He wants to reveal to you, secrets about Himself, secrets about His plan for your life, secrets about yourself. Can you imagine walking with the creator of this incredible universe hand in hand throughout life as He reveals more and more about Himself to you? Nothing could be more exciting.

However, the sad fact is that most people, even most believers, go through life in a boring, mechanical way, stuck in the rut of life, spinning their wheels. Worrying about whether they will have enough food, clothes and shelter. Going through the motions day after day, just trying to make it for themselves and their families.

God has so much more for you. He wants you to have your own needs met and for you to have enough to meet the needs of others. God doesn’t want you stuck in a rut doing the same things in your life day after day, month after month, year after year. God’s plan is for you to experience supernatural change in your life. God wants your life to be an exciting life, changing all the time as you grow and develop to become more and more like Jesus, impacting more and more people for Him.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my May 1, 2005 message entitled Experience Supernatural Change

A pastor decided to use a visual illustration to make a point in his message. He placed four earthworms into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a jar of alcohol. The second worm was put into a jar of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a jar of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a jar of good clean soil. At the conclusion of his message, the pastor reported the following results. The first worm in alcohol – dead. The second worm in cigarette smoke – dead. The third worm in chocolate syrup – dead. The fourth worm in good clean soil – alive. So the pastor asked the congregation “What can you learn from this demonstration?” A person in the back quickly raised their hand and said “As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!” That was not the answer the pastor was expecting.

God created worms to live in a healthy environment of good clean soil and God created people to live in a healthy environment of freedom. Freedom to live a happy life of following God’s purpose. However, all too often people are making wrong choices in their lives, choosing environments and actions that are harmful and hurtful both to themselves and to their families. Many people in America today are choosing to be in bondage rather than to be free. They are choosing addictions like drinking, smoking, drugs, overeating, undereating, sexual addictions, pornography, excessive television, overspending, gambling, workaholism, internet addiction, sports addiction, anger, bad language and addictions to hurtful people, choosing bondage over freedom.

Since everybody seems to be addicted to or in bondage to something, it doesn’t seem so bad. The trouble is, addictions will ultimately kill you. An addiction is any habitual, systematic pattern of sin. Addictions put you under the influence of evil and God wants you to be free, truly free. Those who are in bondage to various addictions or habits need a supernatural miracle to be set free. NLT John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. Jesus wants you to choose the door that leads to freedom and that door is Jesus. Only Jesus can truly set you free. What is ironic is that so many people today define freedom as the right to choose to be in bondage. True freedom comes only through Jesus.

If some of you think that you are truly free, that you’re not addicted to anything, that you have no habits that keep you in bondage, think again. The only person who was completely free from evil influences was Jesus. All of us have many bondages, many habits that keep us in prison, that keep us from fully realizing the freedom that God has for us. I want to ask three questions about freedom and find answers from God’s Word that will help us to live in the freedom that God has for us.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my April 24, 2005 message entitled Experience Supernatural Freedom

In 2004, four successive hurricanes battered Florida, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. We could see them coming, but there was nothing we could do to stop the storms. People prepared their property, evacuated the area, then the storms came. They flooded blew buildings over and wreaked billions of dollars of damage. If you are trapped in the path of a violent storm, whether a hurricane or a tornado, it can be a dangerous and frightening experience, but sometimes storms uncover hidden treasures.

A wonderful treasure was discovered on the beaches of Florida after Hurricane Jeanne. Joel Ruth came across 180 near-mint-condition silver coins, Spanish pieces of eight worth more than $40,000. The coins were from a Spanish treasure fleet of about a dozen ships that were destroyed by a hurricane in 1715. Now, 289 years later, another hurricane momentarily uncovered a portion of this treasure that had washed ashore. It took a hurricane like Jeanne—a storm responsible for some of the worst destruction in recent history to Florida’s coast—to bring that slice of shoreline back to where it was nearly 300 years before. The storm exposed an impressive treasure to the one who went looking for it. Isn’t that like life? Oftentimes, storms are required to uncover hidden treasures, if we are willing to look.

Life is kind of like the weather. Sometimes our lives are full of pleasant sunny experiences. At other times, our lives can be cloudy and dreary and at times we all will face storms in our lives. Storms in our lives are times when the unexpected happens, when circumstances outside of our control buffet our lives, throwing things around. Storms in our lives can be caused by all kinds of things. A life storm might be problems in a relationship or the fracturing of a relationship through divorce or death. A life storm could be a major health problem. A life storm could be a job loss or a financial setback. A life storm could be a crisis in your relationship with God. Life storms are frightening just like physical storms and often there’s not much we can do to change them, we must just go through them.

A miracle is a supernatural manifestation of the power of God, it something outside the natural course of things. If you ever find yourself in the path of a hurricane, you are going to need a miracle of protection from God. And when you find yourself in the middle of a life storm, you are going to need a miracle from God to make it through the storm. When storms hit our lives we usually just want God to make them go away but that rarely happens immediately, we’ve got to go through them. And as we go through the fear and anxiety of life storms, God offers peace to us. NIV John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus wants you to have peace as you go through the storms of life.

In the exact center of a hurricane is an unusual zone called the eye of the hurricane. The winds are calm in the eye of the hurricane, the temperature is moderate, there are no clouds, you can see straight up into the sky. It is a place of peace. God want you to find his peace in the eye of the hurricanes of life.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my April 17, 2005 message entitled Experience Supernatural Peace

A supernatural manifestation of the power of God is something outside the natural course of things or the way things usually happen. As we go through life, there are going to be times when we are in special need. At those times we are a candidate for a miracle. If you believe in God, you must believe in miracles. God is a supernatural being and when He supernaturally intervenes in our lives, a miracle happens. Now that’s not to say that God is not involved in the normal course of events, He is, but miracles are when something out of the ordinary happens.

One of the areas of need that we all have from time to time is the need for healing. You and I need healing when something in our lives is damaged or cannot function properly. We need God to restore whatever it is that is sick to health. Actually there are many areas in our lives that need healing, areas that have been damaged by sin, either our own or the sin of other people or the effects of sin in the world as a whole.

Our greatest need is spiritual healing healing from the terminal disease of sin. That disease will result in an eternity spent without God, if it is not healed by Jesus. God doesn’t heal everyone. Why? One reason is that physical healing is not His highest priority, spiritual healing is. He decides how best to bring spiritual healing about. Two of my wife’s grandparents received the Lord on their deathbeds. They had to get close of the end of their lives in order to receive spiritual healing, then it was time for them to be with Jesus.

Yet, God wants to heal the physically sick much more than we have seen. NLT James 5:15 Prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. Two conditions for healing are in this verse. First we need to pray for the sick person, secondly, the prayer needs to be made in faith. Although medicine has greatly advanced and God works through doctors and drugs to bring about healing, they are many times when doctors do not have the answers or the prognosis is poor. At those times we need a supernatural healing from God. When I talk about healing, some of you may think about strange television evangelists or faith healers that pull people out of wheelchairs or push people over. For any spiritual truth, there will be those who take it to an excess but here at Life Church we want God’s best, in His way, in His timing. If you read your Bible, you will see that it is full of examples of God, of Jesus, of believers, bringing about healing of sick people through prayer. Those examples are there for us to learn from, for our faith to grow and for us to understand how God works so that we can experience supernatural healing in our lives.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my April 10, 2005 message entitled Experience Supernatural Healing

The United States is the most technically advanced country in the world, filled with educated and rational people Yet our entertainment, whether books or movies is filled with the supernatural. Haunted houses, ghosts, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation, angels and the list could go on and on. Belief in paranormal or supernatural experiences has increased significantly in the last 15 years. Kids continue to devour Harry Potter novels. Adults continue to read and watch supernatural thrillers. 84% of Americans believe in miracles.

Why the interest in the supernatural? God has placed something within every person that senses there is something more to life than what we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands. Not only do we sense that there is something more, we want to experience that something more. We want to fill our desire for mystery and excitement. We need help with problems and situations that are beyond our power to deal with. The desire to experience the supernatural was put in our hearts by a supernatural being, God our creator.

What is the supernatural? The supernatural is a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces. The Bible teaches that there are two types of supernatural power. The first type is from the dark side. It’s power comes from Satan and the forces under his control. It’s interesting that most of the supernatural in entertainment comes from the dark side, things like witchcraft, astrology, ghosts, demon possession, tarot cards, Ouija boards and fortune telling. None of that is new. NLT Deuteronomy 18:10-11 Do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. The Bible forbids participation in the supernatural of the dark side. Why? Because it connects you to Satan and his forces and the end result is always destructive in your life. It draws you away from God.

The good news is that there is a second type of supernatural power the power that comes from God. God’s supernatural power is good. God’s supernatural power helps people, it brings out the best in them and it draws them closer to God. The Bible is filled with accounts of the supernatural power of God, not just to describe ancient history but to show us how God operates and how we can experience His supernatural power in our lives.

To hear more about this topic, listen to my April 3, 2005 message entitled Experience Supernatural Provision