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Peace Is Possible

When I was a child, I attended a Lutheran school for a large part of my early development. As part of the daily school routine, we went to chapel every Wednesday, and there was also a habit of prayer in our classroom. I will never forget praying for our country and our world when the Persian Gulf War began. I don't remember the details of the prayer by any means, but I do remember praying for peace. As a child, I didn't have a full grasp on what peace meant, so in essence I didn't fully understand what we were praying for. As an adult, however, I understand the importance of not only collective peace, but individual peace.


The word peace is defined two ways by the Oxford English Dictionary; 1) freedom from disturbance; tranquility, and 2) a state or period in which there is no war, or a war has ended. Both of these definitions intrigued me. The first definition of peace makes me think of an environment where all is calm, and everyone coexists with no issues. The second definition of peace really strikes a chord with me because based on this definition, there hasn't been peace in our world for a very long time. Merriam-Webster's dictionary goes on to mention other definitions of the word peace. The definition of peace that stood out to me the most was, "used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm, or as a greeting or farewell." This definition of peace makes me instantly think of the Word of God. When channeling peace from a Christian perspective, consider these three points:


  1. What does the Word of God say about peace?
  2. Why is peace so important?
  3. How do we achieve personal peace?


The Word tells us that By choosing to live a life that is anchored by the Word of God, we are actively demonstrating our pursuit of God's peace. There will always be things in this world that will attempt to sway us one way or another. There will always be temptation around us that can cause us to act out of character, make a bad decision, and lose sight of what is important. All of us sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but if we are truly anchored by Him, we will never be too far away from Him to do what is right (follow the laws outlined in God's Word). When we choose God's path, we will have peace in our hearts. The Word tells us that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. (Matthew 7:13-14, John 14:6) The Word tells us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) When we confess Jesus as our Lord and make a decision to live for Him, there are benefits - including everlasting life and peace. (Romans 10:9)


God wants all of His children to live a life of peace. Does that mean there won't be any problems? Of course not. But it does mean that when trouble arises and tries to take up permanent residence in our heart, we can begin to meditate on Jesus, who He is in our lives, and and allow peace to overcome us. Peace is so important because it allows us to see past our Earthly conditions, to the hope of spending eternity with the Father. God is not a God of disorder but of peace; so wherever there is peace present, He is there also. (1 Corinthians 14:33) And remember, we shouldn't solely pursue peace for our own benefit, but we should also seek to give that same peace to others. (Matthew 5:9) That is how we can carry out peace in our daily lives.


When we come across people, things, or situations that are chaotic, we can choose not to participate, which is a demonstration of wisdom. We shouldn't let anyone or anything take our peace away because our peace comes from Jesus and Jesus alone. If you're not sure how to truly find peace, go to the Word of God, search for scriptures on peace, recite them, and commit them to memory. Here are a few to get you started:


  • The Lord gives strength to His people, and the Lord blesses His people with peace. (Psalm 29:11)
  • May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)
  • For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down his flesh, dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
  • Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)
  • Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. (Psalm 119:165)
  • And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)



As I close, I am reminded of how chaotic the world was when the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged. Since March of 2020, I have participated in a prayer group that prays together every weekday morning. The person who is leading prayer each day rotates, so that everyone who wants to lead prayer, is able to. Each time my turn to lead comes around, I speak a specific passage of scripture to end my prayer. In my mind, not only is it a beautiful passage of scripture, but it also sends everyone off to face their day knowing the power of the Lord is covering them. I offer the same covering to you today:


May the Lord bless you and keep you

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace

Amen, Amen, and Amen.

(Numbers 6:24-26)


References

Arichea, J. D. (1987, April). Peace In The New Testament. The Bible Translator, 201-206. Retrieved from Sage Journals: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/026009438703800201


Country Living Yahoo Sports. (2022, August 25). 32 Comforting Bible Verses About Peace of God in Hard Times. Retrieved from Yahoo Sports: https://sports.yahoo.com/amphtml/20-comforting-bible-verses-peace-185100255.html


Merriam-Webster. (2022, September 22). Peace Definition. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peace


Oxford University. (2022, September 30). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of Peace


The Persian Gulf War. (1999, 2022, May, August 5,23). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/event/Persian-Gulf-War


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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Witness Protection Program

Have you ever thought about how you will respond when you have the next opportunity to speak of God's goodness to someone who doesn't know Him? Have you ever thought about what you will share, or how you will be a witness for Christ? The bible tells us to always be ready to explain our hope as a believer (1 Peter 3:15), so if you aren't, ready, it's time to get ready. Opportunities to profess your faith will present themselves in places that you least expect.


Upon leaving a restaurant one day, a woman approached me, referenced my tattoo, and asked me about God. Now, because this tattoo is on my back behind my right shoulder, I often forget it’s there. Nonetheless, I have a tattoo of the Bible, with a cross in the middle, and a rainbow on top of the cross with the words “God’s Promise” underneath (see Genesis 9:12-16 for the back story there). I shared with the woman the meaning of my tattoo and why I got it and she began to ask me about Jesus. She asked me questions like, " How do we KNOW everything will be ok one day? How do we KNOW that God will do all of these things He said He would do?" I went on to give her two examples of God faithfulness.


The first example was of Gods covenant with Noah. Because of Noah’s obedience, God promised Noah that he would never again curse the ground because of man, because man’s heart is evil from the start (Genesis 8:21). As a result, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a reminder to Noah of that promise. I then shared with her the most important promise of all, God sending His Son, Jesus Christ to Earth to live as man, and die as man, only to rise again and ascend so that we all have everlasting life. The Woman responded to me saying, “I know all that. But if we want to get to the kingdom and take people with us to the kingdom then what do we do?” I have to be honest, her question stumped me for a moment. I wasn’t sure how to answer her in a way that she would “get it.” But then I thought about what I do each day and I simply responded, “You have to show who God is in the way you live each day. You have to be an example of God’s Love and you have to live a life that honors the sacrifice Jesus made for us all. And the Bible tells you everything you need to know on how to do just that.” She then smiled with excitement and said, That’s it, that’s it.” I reiterated to her that Jesus was humble and He wasn’t boastful, but everyone knew He was special by the way He lived His life. He wasn’t like everyone else.


One of my really good friends has been saying for years, “don’t ruin your witness.” To put it plainly, don’t say you are a Christian, yet the way you walk, talk, and breathe shows the complete opposite. For example, members of sororities are charged to carry ourselves in a way that will always reflect positively on the organization. If you are observed wearing “letters” while doing something that will reflect negatively on the organization, you can be expelled. That’s how important it is. Likewise, we must always remember as Christians, we wear the name “Jesus” on our forehead, across our chest, on our car, etc. The name Jesus is with us wherever we go. We are always labeled as followers of Jesus and as such, we have to make sure that we are great advocates of Him. We must must go forth and make disciples of all nations, we must share the good news of Jesus with others, we must confess that we believe in Jesus, and we must be a walking example of God’s love (Matthew 28:19, Romans 10:9, John 3:16).


Although I was a bit uncomfortable at first, I’m glad the Woman approached me and challenged me about Jesus. It made me think of all the ways I can do a better job of being a witness for Christ. It also reminded me that it’s not enough to study the Word for myself and teach it to my children, but I must study and know God’s Word so my life reflects EXACTLY who Jesus is and the goodness He shows to those who love Him. I must live my life in a way that allows me to share Jesus with anyone I cross paths with. I must strive to be His “star witness” in this case called life!  Unlike the witness protection program instituted by the federal government, we don’t have to be witnesses to Jesus in the dark behind closed doors. God wants us to BOLDLY speak of the His goodness, every chance we get. As we acknowledge Jesus, stand up for Him, serve as witnesses for Him, and “testify on His behalf”, we will be protected.


Thank you Heavenly Father for originating the ULTIMATE Witness Protection Program!


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers

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Kingdom Check

If someone asked you the question, "What do I need to do to live a good life?", what would you say? One person may say don't do "bad" things. Another person may tell you to try your best to be a "good" person. Someone else may say always be "nice." All of those things are good, but how do you truly measure whether or not you are a "good" person who is always "nice" and doesn't do "bad" things? We can't confirm whether or not we are living a good life based on what our parents say, what our friends say, or what our employer says. For Believers, Jesus is the standard. (Ephesians 4:13) If we truly want to live a good life, we must follow the example of Jesus and utilize God's Word as the instruction manual of our lives. If our ultimate goal is to live for eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven, then we must do what's required to make it there, now, while we are on Earth. To put it plain, if we want to make it to the Kingdom, every now and then we need to have a Kingdom Check.


It's not enough to say we want to follow God's Word and strive to live like Jesus, we have to truly do so. As Believers, how do we do that?


  1. Allow the way that we process things - the way that we think - to be transformed. (Romans 12:2) We can't say that we believe what the Bible says, and our daily life looks like everyone else around us, including non-believers. We must live our lives in a way that truly reflects who we are (Believers) and who we represent (Jesus).
  2. Be intentional about turning away from sin, and running toward those things that are righteous. In Colossians, Paul tells us to put to death all the sinful and earthly things lurking within us, and to instead, put on our new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. (Colossians 3:5-10) God knows that for us, learning His nature will be continuous; in fact, that is what He desires of us. He wants us to draw to nearer to Him to develop a true relationship with Him. He wants us to seek Him through prayer, and reveal ourselves to Him so that he can begin to renew our perspectives each day.
  3. Trust the Word of God above all else. The Word of God is full of examples of guidance, wisdom, prayers, and everything in between. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) We should look to the Bible for guidance on how to live our lives (things we should stay away from as well), for wisdom in making decisions (Proverbs 19:20), an example of how we should pray (Matthew 5:6-13), and for the steps that we should take when we don't know what to do. When we trust God above all else (especially ourselves), God will always show us the path that we should take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  4. Let Jesus be your example. If there is anyone that we should motto Kingdom living after, it's Jesus. Jesus came and completely changed everything. Jesus wasn't addicted to the approval of people like we often are; instead He simply lived the way the Father wants us to live, thus setting an example for all those who would follow him. Instead of condemning people for their wrong doing, he taught us to look at be reflective of our own actions. (John 8:7-11) Instead of choosing temptation, we follow the road that God provides as our way out. (1 Corinthians 10:13) We are called to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgiveable, and overall care for the least of these. (Matthew 25:35-40) The World will know we represent Jesus by the love we show to one another. (John 13:35)



Conducting a Kingdom check may not be easy, but's its necessary. Think of it this way - Each year business professionals take the time to review their financial statements to make sure the plans that they make for the future of their business remain the best choice. Each year to make sure that our health is on target, we go to our doctor and have an annual check up. Our physician will often check our blood, our lungs, our weight, our cholesterol, our blood sugar levels, etc. The same sentiment should be applied to our lives as believers. Every so often we should have what I call a Kingdom Check. We should ask ourselves, "Am I giving all that I’m able to give? Am I serving in my church the way that I could serve? Am I serving in the community the way that I could? Are my daily actions reflective of those of a believer?" These are not questions that you should ask yourself because you feel pressured by another person. These are not questions that you should ask yourself because you hear your pastor mention them during a sermon. You should ask yourself these questions because Kingdom work is important. As believers there are generations of who Believers came before us who also did Kingdom work. I can say that for a fact because without them, we wouldn’t know who Jesus is. It is my prayer that once you conduct your own Kingdom Check, you will be able to determine if you are truly a follower of Jesus, or if you just say that you are. We are all a work in progress. We are all striving for the mark. (Philippians 3:14) Let each day that we live be an example of the faith we have in our Father, and our desire to follow Jesus with all of our hearts. As we continue to live a more holy life leaving sin behind, let us do so while letting our light shine because when we do, God will be glorified. (Matthew 5:16)


Amen.


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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The Blessings of Jesus

One of the most profound points of Jesus' ministry was what we now call the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is eye opening because the principles that Jesus shared with the disciples during this lesson on the mountain side truly revealed who Jesus was, and the true nature of God our father. The opening of the Sermon on the Mount and the focus of our reading will be the Beatitudes.


The beatitudes refer to are a set of eight blessings spoken directly from Jesus. The word beatitude comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning "blessedness". One of the reasons that the beatitudes were so important to the ministry of Jesus was because they emphasized the humble state of humans and the righteousness of God. Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by saying,


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted

Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5:3-10)


Each blessing depicts the ideal heart posture for those who claim to be part of God's Kingdom. If we as believers follow what Jesus spoke in the sermon, we can anticipate abundant spiritual blessings from God. We know this because we can trust in everything Jesus ever spoke. Jesus is the way. (John 14:6) God's blueprint urges us to make the choice to give our lives to Jesus here on Earth, and in doing so we follow His example all the way to Heaven. The beatitudes spoken in the Sermon on the Mount, speak of the blessings that we can expect when we choose to follow the teachings of Jesus.


If you have never taken the time to read the "Sermon on the Mount", I encourage you to so. (Matthew 5,6, and 7). As you read, you will realize some of our most commonly quoted verses are part of this sermon from Jesus. Bible verses such as "Seek First the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), "Don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing" (Matthew 6:3), "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:8), and one that I say each night before I go to bed, The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). As with all of Jesus' teachings, the Sermon on the Mount is truly life changing. Jesus uses this time to reveal to all that the people's way is not God's way. When we trust in God, follow His son Jesus, and receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we can expect generous blessings from above.


Thank you Heavenly Father for sending your Son to teach us all the way to go. May we take His teachings to heart, and truly be recognized as children of God.


Amen.


References

Bucher, M. (2020, September 21). 5 Things You Didn't Know about the Sermon on the Mount. Retrieved from Crosswalk.com: https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/things-you-didnt-know-about-the-sermon-on-the-mount.html


Fairchild, M. (2020, August 25). What are the Beatitudes? Retrieved from Learn Religions Web Site: https://www.learnreligions.com/what-are-the-beatitudes-701505


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.


New International Version. (2011). BibleGateway.com. http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/#booklist

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Trust in God's Promises

Have you ever heard anyone say something like, "hold fast the God's promises", "Trust in the promises of the Lord", or "God always keeps his promises?" Every time I hear statements like these I wonder, "what exactly are the promises of God?" What exactly should we be clinging to as we walk through our daily lives?


The promises of God are many, and the Word speaks to all them. One of the first promises I recall from the Word is the promise God made Abraham regarding his descendants. God promised Abraham (Abram at that time) that he would make him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3) and that he would have so many decedents that he wouldn't be able to count them. (Genesis 15:5) Boy did God keep those promises!


The next promise that I think of is the one that accompanies the fourth commandment. As God issued our rules to live by through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17), He provided a special promise. The fourth commandment instructs us to honor our fathers and mothers and our days shall be long on the earth. (Exodus 20:12) God references it again in the New Testament as a reminder of what He promised in the Old Testament. This is the first commandment with a promise attached. (Ephesians 6:1-3) I truly believe that God makes no mistakes, so Him mentioning this commandment and this promise again in Ephesians, is intentional. Honoring our mothers and fathers is also a way for us to honor God. By following His commands, we are not only displaying hearts of Thanksgiving, but we are displaying a posture of worship. (Psalm 95:1-5)


God's ultimate promise is the one He made when He created a way for humans to be reconciled with Him, through the blood of his son Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:20) Jesus came to Earth, and fulfilled His purpose of saving us from our sins. (Romans 5:8) Thanks to the fulfilled promise of God and the life of Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to spend eternity with Him in heaven, if we believe. (Ephesians 2:8-9) We can hold fast to the fact that God not only made a way for us to be saved, but he also promised to be with use each and every day as we walk this Earth. God promises to never leave us and never forsake us, multiple times in the Word. He shared it through Joshua (Joshua 1:9), He shared it through Isaiah (Isaiah 41:10) and even Jesus said "Lo I’ll be with you even till the end of the earth." (Matthew 28:20)


In this season of honoring mothers and fathers for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember the promise God gave in the Ten Commandments. Remember what He promised Abraham regarding his descendants and look at this world now. Hold the promises of God close to your heart and allow those promises to anchor you in every stage of life.


Growing up my grandmother had a saying, "Everything changes but the love of God". We can hold on to that promise today and always.



Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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The King Is Here

Each year in December as we countdown to Christmas, many Christians observe Advent. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming of Jesus. Likewise, each Spring (usually in March or April) many Christians countdown to Easter by observing Lent, a period of preparation for Easter that often commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and praying. During the Easter season, Christians often take a journey through the gospels and internalize all that a Jesus’ life represents to mankind. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb that everyone was waiting for, and by fulfilling prophecy, conquering death, and rising from the dead, Jesus earned his crown as King. 

 

There are many references in scripture that speak to either the coming of the King or refer to Jesus directly as our King. Isaiah (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 43:15), Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14), and Timothy (1 Timothy 6:13-15) all speak of the coming King . Even Jacob speaks of the one whom all nations will honor. (Genesis 49:10) The New Testament teaches of Jesus birth, the growth of His ministry, and His crucifixion & resurrection. The crucifixion story reveals how Jesus was mocked and teased, and while on the cross, He was even forced to wear a crown of thorns to signify Him as “King of the Jews.” When the Roman soldiers put the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, they did so as a form of insult, disgrace, and mockery. (Matthew 27:27-31) Little did they know, not only was he the king of the Jews, but he was the king of all mankind. The moment Jesus conquered death, His assignment was finished. When Jesus rose from the dead, that was Jesus’ “I told you so” moment (at least I like to think so 😊).  Jesus was sent to the Earth by God our father to bear the sin of the world, and only the true king could do that (Revelation 1:5-6). 

 

 

So, what does that mean for us today? We no longer have to wonder who the king of the world is. We no longer have to anticipate whether or not there truly is a savior who will rescue us. We live in a time where the Bible is accessible and because of that, we know who Jesus is. The Bible is something that we can carry with us, memorize, and use as the true anchor of our lives. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t have to wonder who our king is. Our king is here with us right now. Our king has already defeated hell. Our king takes care of us, provides for us, bears our burdens, and brings us joy. Jesus’ kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:33) and because he is alive and not dead, He will rule as King for always. 

 

I’m so truly thankful that we no longer have to wonder who the king is or if he’s ever coming. Our king is the king of kings and the lord of lords. He is the way to our father. (John 14:6) Our king is preparing a place for us and in time, He will be back to take us there. (John 14:2-4) Only our king can do that!


References

Britannica. (2022, March 16). Religious Beliefs: Lent. Retrieved from Britannica Website: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lent


Christianity - Salem Web Network. (2021, November 19). What is Advent? Retrieved from Christianity.com: https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/christmas/what-is-advent.html


FaithLife Staff. (2019, October 25). Digital Discipleship - Practical Theology. Retrieved from FaithLife Blog Site: https://blog.faithlife.com/10-bible-verses-that-teach-us-jesus-is-king/


Merriam-Webster. (2022, April 1). Dictionary - King. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Website: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/king


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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Knowing and Doing

Have you ever heard someone quote the phrase, "knowing is half the battle?" I'm sure you have. You may have even used this phrase yourself a few times. When you take the time to think about it, what does “knowing is half the battle” really mean? It can mean many things depending on the context. One common interpretation can mean that the most important part of any project or endeavor is gathering the necessary knowledge first. Once you've done that, then what?


It’s true knowing is half of what we need in order to accomplish things, but the other half is just as important. Not only is it important for you to know what to do, but once you know, you must actually do it. When you set out to accomplish a goal, do you follow the tried and true process of success, or do you skip steps expecting to get the same results? So often we know what to do, yet somewhere between knowing what to do and actually doing it, we get locked up in our own insecurities, fear, laziness, and disobedience. When we let insecurity, fear, laziness, and disobedience to take root, we are cheating ourselves from living the life that Jesus intended for us to live. (John 10:10)


Ponder these thoughts...


-If we know that we should teach our children all they need to know about to live a life anchored by the Word of God, yet we fail to actually teach them, will they have a foundation for their lives that is rooted in God? No! (Proverbs 22:6)


-If we know that we should love our neighbor as ourselves yet when we see they need help, we ignore the need and act like it doesn't exist, are we following God's command? No! (Matthew 22:39)


-If we know that we should pray every day to build a relationship with God, but we don't actually pray, will we have the relationship that we desire? No! (Psalm 145:18)


-If we know that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and we fail to do what is required to get there - confess Jesus as Lord - will we spend eternity in Heaven? Absolutely not! (John 14:6)


God knows that there are many that don't know Him and don't know what to do in their daily lives. He also knows that there are many who know Him, yet they reject the truth by failing to put the truth into action. What about you? What category do you fall in? Are you unfamiliar with the Father (I Am), the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit (the Comforter), are you doing the best you can to follow the Word of God whole heartedly, or do you reject the truth by failing to do what you know? If you don't know Him, that's one thing; but when you know Him and then fail to do what is asked of you, that's something totally different. In one of the many times Jesus taught the disciples of the blessings in being a servant, Jesus concluded by saying, "Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them." (John 13:17) In studying what the Word says about knowing and doing, I know without a shadow of a doubt that doing is important!


The Bible is clear. It's not enough to claim we are followers of Jesus. Our lives should be evidence that God's will is more important than our own. (Matthew 7:21) If we know the Word yet we fail to do what it says, we are only fooling ourselves. (James 1:22-24) God wants us to live abundant lives, so much so that He left us words of wisdom, encouragement, and instruction to guarantee our success. One of the many wonderful things about our Heavenly Father is that He gives us chance after chance to get it right. So what choice will you make? Don't choose ignorance, acting like you don't know what to do. Choose today to truly follow the Lord - not only in what you know, but most importantly in what you do. (Luke 11:28)


Choose to be a "do-er", and you will be blessed for it.


References

Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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Who Told You That?

When is the last time that you took inventory on your values? Did you inherit your values from a family member? A friend? Do your values com from scripture, or, have you allowed other forces to cause you to take on a whole new value system, full of doubt, insecurity, and disbelief? Do you see God as the master of the universe (Isaiah 66:2), or have you placed limits on His power? 


We have to be careful believing that we can only have certain things in life, as if there’s a cap on the blessings that we can obtain. As we place limits on our abilities to be blessed by God, we are indirectly placing limits on what God can do. The Word tells us that there is nothing too hard for the Father (Jeremiah 32:27), so ask yourself this question, “Where are the limits coming from?”

 

"I will only get a promotion if I meet certain requirements" – Who told you that?


"I have to get married by the time I turn 30" – Who told you that?


"There is no way I can get a college degree because I can’t afford tuition" – Who told you that?


"I’m not a professional writer, so I can’t publish a book" – Who told you that?


"I’m over 50, so I am too old to go back to school" – Who told you that?


The list goes on and on…

 

Is there someone or something making you believe that you have already seen the best that life has to offer? It's so important to be in tune with the Lord‘s voice so that we can recognize the other voices that pretend to be Him for exactly what they are…imposters. The enemy is a lot of things, but no one can argue the fact that he is strategic in his attempts to conquer us. However, as children of God, we are not ignorant to his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11) The enemy wants us to overlook what Jesus taught us, and believe the lies that we pick up from him. (John 8:44) That’s why it’s so important that we know the truth for ourselves. Satan is constantly looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), so it’s our job to make sure that he knows his ways have no place in our space.


As we pray for the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), it’s vital that we give ourselves a faith-check. When our desires are in line with God’s will for our lives, we then must join our faith with His ability to do what we see as impossible. (Hebrews 11:6) Please don’t take this lightly; this is imperative. Actively praying for discernment is also important, as that will help us to determine if we are believing something that’s not true, or if we’re hearing the voice of God as He provides direction for our lives. Above all else, we must remember that God can do it all. Apart from Him we can accomplish nothing, but with him we can accomplish everything.


My question to you, is do you trust Him? Do you really truly trust Him? God is a trustworthy God! (Psalm 37:3) We shouldn’t have to wait until He surprises us with an unexpected blessing before we stand tall and bear witness to how wonderful He is, and how wonderful He has been in our lives. As our faith grows and our discernment gets stronger, it will be easier to distinguish between a lie and the truth. Don’t trust in things that are trying to deceive you. Don’t think you are limited to what the world is limited to. When Paul tells us that God can accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think, it’s the truth! (Ephesians 3:20) When the word says that God will finish the work that He started in us, it's the truth! (Philippians 1:6) When the Word tells us to trust in Him, knowing that He will provide and take care of us, it's the truth!


We serve a God who keeps His promises (Psalm 145:13) and that’s all we need to remember as we live our lives each day. God will come through and God will do what He said. So instead of living a life full of restrictions where God is concern, try taking the limits off. May God's favor on your life, lead you to grow in your faith as you trust Him like never before.


Be blessed!


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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Go All In

When I hear the term “go all in”, I can imagine a team in a huddle making plans for the final play in the last seconds of a game. I can visualize a track runner making mental preparations before a race, remembering that the only way to win the gold medal is to go as hard as they can as fast as they can, from start to finish.


Ironically the term “all in” comes from the game of poker. (Crouch, 2015) The moment a poker player makes a decision to bet everything he or she has on his/her current hand - whether out of desperation, grandstanding, or just taking a chance – the poker player is going “all in.” (Crouch, 2015) The poker player doesn’t know what the outcome will be; all they know is, they are taking a huge risk hoping that risk will pay off. As Christians, we must have that same willingness - to “go all in” for Jesus. When we made the decision to give our lives to Christ, by default we made a decision to give our all to the greater good. (Acts 20:24) As followers of

Christ, we wear many spiritual hats that allow us to strive to be the best representatives of Christ that we can be. It’s not enough to say “I gave my life to Christ”, but then continue the same behaviors that we had before we made that declaration. It’s not enough to spend time with Jesus on Sunday, yet every other day of the week neglect to make time for Jesus. We must seek Him every day (Matthew 6:33) It’s not enough to study the Bible for ourselves, and neglect to share the Word with others around us. The more I thought about what it means for Christians to “go all in”, I realized that we can’t only do one thing that God requires - that's partial obedience. On the contrary, we must pull ourselves together and do all that God calls us to do - giving God our full obedience. 


Our pastor does a great job of teaching directly from the Word of God, and keeping God’s commands at the forefront of everything we do as a church body. God wants us to use our gifts and talents to build His kingdom. (1 Peter 4:10) One thing we can do is care for those among us who may be experiencing hardship, while reminding them that despite their current circumstances, God still loves them. (Matthew 25:35-40) Another way we can go all in for God is to commit to service within our church. We can also start a Bible study with a group of co-workers or neighbors, in effort to maintain fellowship with other believers. It’s so important for us to know the Word for ourselves because if we don’t, anyone can come along, tell us something that’s not true, and we will believe it. Thankfully, we can decide to know God for ourselves (John 14:6) and once we do, we can represent Christ with confidence (Jeremiah 17:7), knowing we are walking in the light instead of darkness. (John 8:12)


Most often times at the beginning of a new year people think about all the things that they want to do differently from the previous year and as a result, they make resolutions for the new year. Instead of making a resolution to do something that you can’t follow through on, the best thing that we can do as Believers is to pursue continual grow. Instead of doing a little bit for the Kingdom here and a little bit for Christ there, make a decision to “go all in.”  Unlike poker, when we go all in for Jesus there is no way that we can lose. You don’t have to worry about missing out on anything, because when you give your life to Christ, you gain everything. (Matthew 10:39)


Take time this year to continue moving toward the mark. (Philippians 3:14) Take the time to reflect on the areas where you only gave a little in the past (finances, personal time with Jesus, volunteering, leading in ministry, etc.) and instead make the necessary shift to give your all to the Lord.  You don’t know what’s ahead, but I can guarantee that living a life for Jesus is a blessed life. As long as you live for the Kingdom, you will never regret your decision to "go all in". 


Peace and blessings to you in 2022 and always!


References

Crouch, I. (2015, September 7). Cultural Comment.

Retrieved from The New Yorker: "Going All In On All In"


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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Praying In The Waiting

We all know what it's like to want something really bad, while at the same time accepting that you have absolutely no control over when or if you will receive it. In those situations, the only thing you can do is wait, and wait, and wait. Some of us are waiting for our life circumstances to change. Some of us are waiting for the score on our final exam. Others are waiting for the Lord to heal a loved one. Some are waiting for guidance on what steps to take next for our lives. Others are waiting for the good news to finally arrive. Waiting is not an easy thing for any of us to do; but what we do while we wait, makes all the difference. We can complain while we wait, nagging God about why He is taking so long to deliver what we want, we can give up along the way, or we can choose to pray while we wait.

 

There are multiple examples in the Bible of God making His people wait for His timing before providing His answer to their problem. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for many years before God responded to their cry. (Exodus 2:23-25) It wasn’t until God's appointed time that He sent Moses to deliver the Israelites from oppression in Egypt. (Exodus 12:31) After being anointed the next king of Israel, David had to wait many years before he actually took the throne. (1 Samuel 16) During David's years "in waiting", he served, he prayed, and he grew closer to God. (2 Samuel 2:1-14) When Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, he didn’t know what his fate would be. Regardless, Daniel decided to believe in God and he knew that whatever happened, God‘s will would be done in his life. Daniel knew that he had to wait for God to answer the way that He saw fit.  As a result of Daniel's commitment to the Lord and his refusal to stop praying, King Darius sent out a message declaring the God of Daniel is the true and living God. (Daniel 6) The New Testament of the Bible continues to speak of the generations of people who were alive and waiting for the Savior. Many generations before believed the Savior was coming, but they did not live long enough to see Him arrive. Of all of the waiting that takes place in the Bible, waiting for our Savior to arrive is one of the most profound times in scripture.


The generations who were alive at that time had no idea who the Savior was, or what He would look like when He came. Back then, the word of the prophets (which came from God) was what the people stood on. Isaiah told us if we wait on the Lord we will have renewed strength. (Isaiah 40:31) Jeremiah spoke of the new covenant that would exist between God and His people, giving everyone something to look forward to. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) When that little baby boy was born all those years later, God's people were finally able to see what their elders had been talking about their entire lives. (Luke 2)


The star that so many place on the top of their Christmas trees each year, symbolizes the star that the Wise Men followed after the news of the Saviors birth had reached them. (Matthew 2:1-12) Just as people waited generations for the Savior to arrive on earth, today we are praying and waiting for our Savior to come back to Earth and carry us to our Heavenly home. (Matthew 24) While we are waiting for that day, God calls us to love one another. (Matthew 22:36-40) God calls us to encourage one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11-12) Jesus tells us to seek Him and He’ll take care of everything else. (Matthew 6:33) Jesus tells us to come to Him when we’re weary so that He can provide the rest that we need. (Matthew 11:28) Paul prays that all will be enlightened by the wonder and glory of Jesus. (Ephesians 1:18) Jesus tells us not to try to have everything figured out because He alone knows what is best for our lives. (Romans 8:27-28) We must always remember that when we pray consistently, we will have great power and see wonderful results. (James 5:16)


When we are waiting for answers from God, how we wait is so important. When we put down our desires and trust in God with everything that we have (Proverbs 3:5-6), such extreme blessings can come to us in our waiting. This Christmas season let’s not focus on what we will gift other people, or the gifts that we receive. Instead, let’s keep our focus on Jesus. As we wait for Jesus to return, let's pivot our waiting posture. Although we are "in waiting", God can do amazing things with our lives when we truly surrender and let Him.


References


Tyndale House Foundation. (1996, 2004, 2015). Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Carol Stream, Illinois. All rights reserved.: Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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