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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's like to want something really bad, while at the same time accepting that you have absolutely no control over when 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. Daniel just 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. (Daniel 6) The New Testament of the Bible continues to speak of the generations of people who were alive and waiting for the Savior. 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) 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)


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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Does Faith Really Work?

I am sure there isn’t one person in this world who hasn’t pondered whether or not faith is worth it at one time or another in their lives. We all have our challenges but for the most part, we can maintain a posture of thanksgiving, as there no major issues in our lives. In those times, without a doubt, our faith is strong because we have no reason to doubt, no reason to question, no reason to think faith won't work in our favor. However, what happens when a major life trial comes? What do you do then? Many situations in life can cause you to question whether you will continue to believe the way you once did. For one person it may be struggling through an extremely difficult time in your marriage. For another person it may be suffering through the poor decisions of a wayward child. For someone else it may be grieving the loss of a loved one with no idea how to continue to put one foot in front of the other. In all of those situations, the easy thing to do would be to walk away. The easy thing to do would be to give up and say I’m done believing in God, because believing and having faith got me here. But what happens if you continue to hold on to what the Word says?

 

What exactly does the Word say about faith? First, the Word tells us that faith is the reality of what we hope for, and the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1) The Word tells us that when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow. (James 1:3) The Word tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) It is not realistic to walk around rejoicing on days when all is well (from our point of view) thinking that is God's only requirement of us and as a result, our faith will not be tested. The true question is, when your faith is tested, how will you respond? Again, the Word tells us that our endurance has a chance to grow in times when our faith is tested. (James 1:3) Not sure if you believe that? There is so much evidence in the Bible of how a choice to continue trusting God will always yield the best results. Joseph maintained his faith in God despite all of the challenges in his life and as a result, God put him in position of power and he was able to bless his family. (Genesis 37 – 50) When Ruth lost her husband and she had a choice to return to her family (who were non-believers), she chose to stay with her mother-in-law Naomi and continue to have faith in whatever God had planned for her. (Ruth 1:16 – 18) Because of Ruth’s faith, God blessed her with a man named Boaz, they created a family, and Ruth went on to birth Obed, who was part of the bloodline of Jesus. (Ruth 4: 13 -17; Matthew 1:1 – 17) When Jesus became scared and anxious at the thought of dying on a cross for the sins of humanity (Matthew 26:39), He prayed to God, which helped Him maintain His faith in God’s plan.  

 

There are endless examples of what faith looks like in the Word, but even with those examples, we will always be faced with our own decisions. Yes, we can surrender to life’s circumstances and let go of our faith, but what if we do the opposite? What if we continue to rejoice in our confident hope, remain patient in times of trouble, and most importantly we decide to keep on praying? (Romans 12:12). One day will turn into one week. One week will turn into one month. The next thing you know, seven or eight months have passed and the pain you felt in the beginning won’t be as severe as it once was. That’s what faith looks like. It’s choosing to continue to hold on to God no matter what you face, and believing that somehow He will turn it around. Maintaining your faith in God is the absolute best thing that you can do, because He is the only one who can turn morning into dancing. (Psalm 30:11 – 12) He is the only one who will always be there for you no matter what. (Matthew 28:20


Choosing to maintain our faith in God is not always easy, but it is always the right choice. (John 14:6) So does Faith really work? In a word, yes. Faith is everything. Faith allowed Jesus to fulfill his purpose knowing that God would bring him back home. Faith is how we get to heaven. Faith is what allows us to go through tough times knowing joy will soon come again. (Psalm 30:5) Your morning may be tomorrow, your morning may be next year, but we do know that trouble does not last always. As long as we run to the Word, and hold on to Jesus with all we have, He will continue to see us through, He will continue to renew our faith, and He will continue to get the glory out of our lives.

 

Keep the faith brothers and sisters…keep the faith!


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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Give Me Jesus


Have you ever thought things like, “If only I could earn a higher salary at work I would be set” or, “Let me lose around 15 pounds, then I would finally reach my goal weight” or “Once I get that new truck I have had my eyes on I will be the man.” Honestly, we have all had thoughts like this. On the outside we seem thankful for what we have, but on the inside we're not satisfied. We see our neighbors with a bigger house, and we think they work so much harder than we do. We see our friends traveling all over the world without having to “check-in” because they aren’t married or don’t have children, and we think we are missing out on something. We see the celebrities that we follow on social media doing extravagant things, and we begin to wonder if we will ever get a chance to do things like that. Why is it second nature to compare our lives to others? Why do we measure how blessed we are by what someone else has or doesn’t have? I don’t know about you but to me it sounds like a lack of contentment. (Galatians 6:4)

 

The dictionary says to be content is to be free from worry or restlessness, or to have peaceful satisfaction. Society encourages us to want more, desire more, and “hustle to get what we want”. As a result, content is often the last thing that we would consider ourselves. We think we need status and money to be what exactly? Accepted? Admired? Enough? In reality, the approval and the admiration that we are seeking from things and people will never satisfy us because God didn’t make us that way. (Proverbs 27:20) The Word of God is clear. As tempted as we are to do it, we don’t have to worry about our lives. (Matthew 6:25) God promised to provide our every need. If we would only turn from the things of the world and turn to the One who controls it all, we would be so much more content. We must seek God above all things so that we can hear the direction He desires for our lives. (Matthew 6:33


Life will always present us with challenges. (John 16:33) In some seasons we may have more than we do others. In other seasons we will feel as though everything in our lives is wonderful, not knowing hardship is around the corner. In either situation, God wants us to be content (Philippians 4:11-12) and trust Him above all else. (Psalm 9:10) Is it ok to want things? Of course it is. We all want nice things, and sometimes even extravagant things. Jesus wants us to have a rich and satisfying life, so we don’t have to settle for less than what He wants for us. (John 10:10) However, when our worldly desires begin to clash with God’s desire for us, that’s when we begin to have a serious problem. The things of the world will always be temporary, and we must never lose sight of that. (1 John 2:15-17)

 

So how can we combat our worldly desires? By holding on to Jesus with everything we have. The answer to our every want and desire is Jesus. The way to get to heaven is through Jesus. (John 14:6) The path to contentment starts and ends with Jesus. If you don’t know Him, try Him. Once you try Him, begin to trust Him. Once you trust Him, let His light guide your life. 

 

“In the morning when I rise don’t give me things - Give Me Jesus!”


References

Contemtment: Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (2021, September 3). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Website: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contentment


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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