Friday, April 29, 2011

Change of Plans

This past week has been very crazy due to the storms that blew through here on Monday and Tuesday. My family spent a good portion of our time in the basement of the church across the street from us. With that being said, I was not prepared for Wednesday night's youth group. So what do you do when you are not prepared? You plan a movie night, right? So that is exactly what I did. We were going to watch “Facing the Giants”. There were some new faces in the group. As I started, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that I need to give a message instead of the movie… So I shifted gears. And I am so glad I did! As I walked to my office to get my Bible, I asked the Lord what He wanted to speak on, only one message came to mind. It was a message I gave during my last chapel service in college back in 2003. It was on judging people. I shared with them that people judge based on outer appearance whereas God looks on the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7. As I watched their faces, I could tell that a couple of students where struggling with some things in their lives. Some of these kids have had a very hard time in their short lives. I told them that while they are at our church, they would not find judgement, but they would find love and acceptance. But more importantly they will find love and acceptance with Jesus Christ. Then shared the gospel with them. As I closed, I asked if anyone would be bold enough to raise their hand if they had never asked Christ for forgiveness of their sins. One student, with tears in her eyes, raised her hand. Then I said them: “For those of you, who just raised your hands, do want the love and forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ?” And that student, with tears streaming down her face, raised her hand once again. We prayed and this young student gave her life to Christ. I was and still am amazed how God moved that night. I had my plans but He had His! One the greatest things I learned was that I need to follow the Spirit's leading and be willing to change my plan at any given moment. I'm so glad there was a "Change of Plans!"

What about you, has God ever changed your plans?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Please, Do Tell!

This morning as I was reading the Scripture, I came across this verse: "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done" Psalm 9:1 NLT. After I read it, I thought about all the things that the Lord has done in my life and I felt so blessed! God has done some pretty amazing things in my life. Then I read the verse again, and it says "I will tell all the things..." The word tell means to announce or proclaim. So this morning I want to announce or proclaim some of the things that the Lord has done in my life. If I were to tell all the things that the Lord has done, then this post would be to long to read! So I tell you 10 marvelous things that come to my mind that the Lord has done in my life. In no particular order:

1. He gave me eternal life through Jesus Christ!
2. Brought Holly into my life! She is an awesome wife!
3. Blessed me with being a dad of 3 wonderful children! Peyton, Caitlyn, & Megan!
4. Some of the best friends a guy could ask for!
5. Restored me when I didn't deserved to be restored!
6. He has given me a great family! And that includes Holly's family.
7. Moments of waking up and cuddling with my princess!
8. The Lord has blessed me in allowing me to Pastor.
9. He has never left me in want!
10. He allowed me to travel around the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

The Lord God is so amazing! So this morning, I will praise Him with all of my heart for what He has done in my life!

I know that sometimes life gets crazy and we forget about all that He has done in our lives. So today, take some time out of your busy schedule and think about what the Lord has done in your life and then praise His name for it! I would love to hear from you! Tell me what the Lord has done in your life! You can either post it here on my blog, on my Facebook page, or reply to @jacobricker on Twitter! I look forward to hearing what God has done in your life! So Please, Do Tell!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Lil Princess is Born

This morning at 4:48 A.M. the Lord Blessed Holly and I with Megan Faye Ricker! She is so adorable! She looks just like Caitlyn did when she was born. The only difference was that Megan didn't cry as loud as Caitlyn did. As of when I am writing this at 6:52 A.M. the Unofficial weight is 6 lbs 11 oz and she was 19" long with a full head of dark hair! Megan was born three weeks early. The delivery went well and Holly did awesome! And yes I cried as I watched myh lil princess being cleaned up and then it was such an honor to place her in Holly's arms all wrapped up. Megan is very alert. Holly and Megan are doing well! I can't wait for Peyton and Caitie to meet baby Megan! I will post more later!

Praising the Name of Jesus!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Motivation - The Driving Factor for Commitments

What do the contestants on The Biggest Loser, Olympians and the Apostle Paul all have in common? They each have one thing in common. They all have motivation. Motivation is the driving factor to not to give up everything within us tells us to give up. Each contestant on the Biggest Loser has something in there life that drives them to lose weight. One contestant was to be a role model for his two boys whereas one to get off of the insulin shots and 24 pills he had to take every day. The motivation that drives an Olympian to get up each day and train for 10 -12 hours a day, seven days a week so they can compete in the Olympic every four is to receive the Olympic Gold Medal. What about Paul? He was shipped wrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned and left for dead. What motivated him to go through all of these things and to travel to all the known world of his day? The motivation that caused him to focus not on his past but to look to what laid ahead of him? His motivation was to receive the prize that laid at the end of his race(Phil. 3:12-14). That prize was to be Christ-like! The way Paul became Christ-like was to get to know Him! Paul committed everything in his life to Christ first! (Matt. 6:33) Paul made Christ a priority in your life. When Paul came to the end of his life, he was able to stand before the great Judgment Seat and hear the words: “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21) as he laid his crown at Christ feet (2 Tim. 4:7&8 and Rev. 4:9-11).

So how does this apply to us 2000 plus years later? For starters, we all need to be seeking Christ first in everything we do! Our focus should be on Him and what He has for our lives! But how does this apply to all the other kinds of NYR’s? We have to remember what motivated us in the beginning! We have to be focused on the why we made our commitments in the first place. This is how you and I can keep our NYR’s! So what motivated you to make a commitment to change something in your life? First I want to encourage to place Christ Jesus first in your life. Without Him in your life, things will not go as you hope or plan! Forget your past, stay focused on seeking Him with everything in you and never forget what motivated you to make your commitments! Remember it is all about your relationship with Christ and being In His Grip!

So what are some of the things that motivate you to keep your NYR's? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

When Our Past Collides with Our Commitments!

~Wikipedia defines A New Year resolution as a commitment that an individual makes to a personal goal, project, or the reforming of a habit.~

It is said that only half of the people in the United States made New Year’s Resolutions (NYR’s) this past weekend. I was quite surprised by this number. However, when I polled my congregation on New Year’s Eve I found these numbers to be true. So as I prepared for my first message of the year, which was on NYR's, I found myself changing direction for this series. I had to ask myself why do so many people not make NYR’s? Two words came to mind: our past. What is it about our past that causes half of Americans not to make NYR’s? This question consumed me Friday night. As I asked myself this question over and over, the answer hit me. I realized that our past keeps us from moving forward in life. I thought about how my past has influenced me in making NYR’s. I believe that there are two areas of our past that have kept us from making commitments such as NYR’s. These two things are guilt of past mistakes and the fear of failing.

The mistakes from our past sometimes bring on a wave of guilt which prevents us from moving on in our lives. Guilt will stop a person dead in their tracks when it comes time to make a commitment in life. William Wordsworth once said: “From the body of one guilty deed a thousand ghostly fears and haunting thoughts proceed.” How true are those words! I know that the guilt of mistakes in my past have stopped me from committing to something. However, if there is any one in history that could have let the guilt of his past mistake prevent him from committing his life to God, it was Paul. By his own declaration, he said: “I am the worst of all sinners” 1 Tim 1:15 (NLT). Paul was commissioned to hunt down and kill the people who followed Christ Jesus. He even stood over Stephen as he was being stoned. If Paul walked around the rest of his life with his head hung in shame because of the guilt of his mistakes, then there is a good chance that he would have never became the missionary God wanted him to be. Not only that, but we would not have half of the New Testament.

The guilt of our past mistakes is not the only thing that stops us from making NYR’s. The fear of failing is another part of our past that stops from making NYR's. We look to our past and say to ourselves: "I’ve already failed at this once, I don’t want to fail again!” So we don’t want to commit to anything, therefor we don’t make a NYR’s. The presence of fear is a great disabler in our lives and in our ability to make commitments. Peter is a great example of a person who did not let the fear of failing stop him from committing his life to Christ. He was a hot head who often spoke without thinking. He even denied Jesus Christ not once but three times! What if Peter did not standing up in Acts 2 and preaching that power message because of his past failures? The answer could be that the church might not be what it is today. Remember it was his profession,which is found in Matt. 16:15-19, that Jesus said He would build His church. On that day, the church started with a bold message from Peter that would start a chain of events that would turn the world upside down!

American journalist Fulton Oursler said: “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret of the past (guilt) and the fear of the future (fear of failing).” These two factors have stopped many people from committing their lives to something great or even making NYR’s. So what is secret to overcoming the past? The answer is found in Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi. It is found in Philippians 3:13, Paul writes: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead”. Paul said we must forget our past! Our past is our past! There is nothing we can do to change our past. We must attack our past with verses such as Jeremiah 31:34: “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” If our Heavenly Father forgives and forgets our sins, that means you and I don’t have to live with the guilt of those sins the rest of our lives. And as far as dealing with the fear of failing we must remember that God has said Fear Not over 365 times in His word. That is one for everyday of the year! He knew we would fear things. So He inspired Paul to write in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

So if you have things in your past that has brought guilt into your life or if you have a fear of failing, come to the one who can remove both of them. That person is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can fully take care of your past so that you can make NYR’s and commitments that will help you become the person that He called you to be in the future. It is my prayer that you don’t let your past stop you from becoming the man or woman that God wants you to be!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Out of Death Comes Life

Last week was a week full of sorrow and of celebration. I had the privilege of speaking at my friend Doug’s funeral on Tuesday of last week. I had the opportunity to share and celebrate Doug’s life here on earth. There were tears along with laughter as I shared stories about Doug. The house was packed with family and friends. Everyone there was sharing in the sorrow of Doug’s death. However, we were not only sharing in sorrow of the lost of a man who influenced so many people, including myself, there was something to celebrate! So what could there be to celebrate at a funeral? Well out of Doug’s death came life! I not only shared Doug’s life with everyone, I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To my knowledge, there were no decisions made for Christ the day of the funeral. But what happened the night before is another story.

After visitation, I spent some time with Doug’s seventeen year old son, Zach. Zach is a baseball and football play who happens to be a senior this year. I was concerned about Zach; he seemed to be taking his dad’s death very hard, so I asked him if we could talk. We discussed things about his dad and how he was dealing with everything thing. As we talked I led the conversation to spiritual things. I told him that his dad was not in heaven because he was a good man, but because he made some life changing decisions about Jesus Christ. He said he had prayed many time to God, but never had asked for forgiveness and never asked Christ to be his Lord. This opened the doors for me to share the message of Jesus Christ with Zach. When I was done sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, I told him that I wasn’t going to push or pressure him into anything. That if he wanted to think about it over night that would be fine. He had a lot on his plate to work through. He looked at me and said boldly, “What is there to think about? I want that!” And with that we prayed and Zach accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So see, out of Doug’s death came eternal life in his son Zach.

As I have thought about this over the past week, I have thought about that statement, “out of death comes life.” How true is that statement? It is very true! See out of Christ death on the Cross we can have eternal life! There are too many people out there who are dying two deaths, a physical death and a spiritual death. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So I celebrate in the fact that not only is my friend Doug has eternal life with my Heavenly Father right now, his son, Zach, has eternal life also! And that my friend, is a message worth sharing! Who do you know that needs to hear the statement “Out of Death Comes Life?” It is my prayer that this encourages you to share the message of Jesus Christ with someone that you know! It might be the only time they get to hear it!

In His Grip,

Friday, October 1, 2010

From the Stand

Well right now I'm sitting in my climbing stand on a beautiful October morning. The temperature is a cool 55 degrees and there is a partial moon all the stars are out because it's before day light. It is so peaceful out here right now. On a normal day I am at work at this time of the day or if it's on Fridays, I'm usually studying for Sunday's message. But here I am out in God's wonderful creation. It really amazes me that the Father above created all of this and I have the honor of experiencing this everyday. And Paul was so right when he wrote in Romans 1:20 that He, God, reveals Himself in His Creation. However, how many time have I just ignored His creation! I would have to say too many times. I just want to sit here and enjoy His presence this morning! Thank you Father for allowing me to be in your presence and in Your grip!