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Belonging

Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian. Ephesians 2:19 (TLB) 

Experiencing the Christ-filled life begins with faith. Faith is simply believing God and acting upon what you believe. You do that the moment you respond in faith to the invitation to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior from sin. The moment you do, your life is never the same! Continue reading “Belonging” »

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The Power of Community

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone….” Genesis 2:18 (NIV)

You were designed by God to function best in community. Even before sin ever entered the garden, God, the Creator, said something wasn’t good about His perfect creation. As He looked at all He created and said was good, He noticed something missing. Even though Adam had fellowship with God, he needed someone to do life with him on his level. God said it was not good for him to be alone. God never designed you and me to live in insolation. When God created Eve and brought her to Adam, He gave them both the command to be fruitful and multiply. Why? Because we were made to live in community. Continue reading “The Power of Community” »

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The Power of Blessing

… lifting His hands to heaven, He blessed them. Luke 24:50b (NLT)

There’s power in a blessing! If you’ve ever been blessed, you know what I’m talking about. A blessing can change a life. It was a common practice in the Bible that, unfortunately, has become less common today. What if we revived the practice of blessing others? What would that look like? How would we do it? What’s involved in a blessing? Continue reading “The Power of Blessing” »

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Convenience or Conviction?

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)

Are you led by convenience or conviction? It’s the difference between having boundaries and living without them. Continue reading “Convenience or Conviction?” »

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The Call of God

Son of man, let all My words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people in exile and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says!” Do this whether they listen to you or not. Ezekiel 3:10-11 (NLT)

“Son of man….” That was what the immortal God often called Ezekiel in this amazing Old Testament book of prophecy. The title emphasizes the distance between them; yet, the fact that the immortal God chooses to do His divine work through mortal, imperfect beings like you and me is even more wonderful! Continue reading “The Call of God” »

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Centered

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

How would you describe your life right now? Hectic? Stressful? Overwhelmed? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? There are a lot of ways to describe our lives, but I’m guessing that centered might not be on the list for most.

Yet, God desires that our lives be centered in Him and, when Christ is the center of our lives, we experience His strength in the middle of our stress! How does that work? Asking God to remove all our stress doesn’t work. In fact, it seems to only add more stress. That must mean that stress is not necessarily a bad thing. God teaches us how to manage our stress in a way that brings balance to our busy lives. This past weekend, we looked at a passage of scripture that tells us how God does it. It’s found in Philippians, a letter that was written by the Apostle Paul when he was in a Roman jail for preaching the gospel. From what he says, you might imagine Paul was on an island enjoying a vacation without a care in the world. The truth was that he was in a dungeon, suffering for sharing his faith with others. That bit of background will make what he says even more profound and enable us to relate when we go through stressful times ourselves. You may never be in prison for sharing your faith. But, you may feel locked up with limitations, deadlines and problems that are overwhelming you. What did he say to do?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Paul offers three practical steps to be centered in the middle of your stress so you can experience God’s peace despite the circumstances.

  1. Don’t worry about anything…. (Vs. 6a)

Are you a worrier? Worry is like revving up your car engine. It burns a lot of gas, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. How much energy do you waste worrying over things beyond your control? Worry puts “me” at the center of my life. It says, “God, I don’t believe You’re big enough to handle this one, so I need to worry about it.” Sound dumb? It is! That’s why Paul gave us the command, Don’t worry about anything! Make your worries prayer targets to do something positive. What?

  1. Pray about everything…. (Vs. 6b)

There’s nothing we can’t pray about! There is no problem too big for God’s power, and there’s no care too small for His concern! Peter discovered that when he was fishing one day and couldn’t catch a thing. He turned it over to Jesus and discovered God cared about his business. God cares about your business as well! He cares about every detail in your life because He loves you. Peter said,

You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern. 1 Peter 5:7 (Ph)

  1. Always give thanks! (Vs. 6c)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Bible says,

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice the word in? He didn’t say, “Give thanks for all circumstances.” While we don’t give thanks for all things, we can give thanks in them. Despite the circumstances, God is still in control, and we trust Him because He loves us and is working out His purposes through them all! Paul was writing this from prison, not thankful that He was there, but thankful that God was with him. Paul knew that God was in control of even the worst of situations and would use it for His glory somehow. Little did Paul know that we would be reading his words today! Had he not been in prison, we may not even have the prison letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

So, what can you expect when you apply Paul’s counsel for being centered in the middle of your stress? Look at verse 7:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Trade in your panic today for peace as you make Christ the center of your life.

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God’s Hedge of Protection

Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. Job 1:10 (NIV)

God’s hedge of protection is described in some translations like a protective wall, a fence, or even a force field shielding our lives, property, and possession. Continue reading “God’s Hedge of Protection” »

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Selfish Ambition or Spiritual Anointing?

Are you seeking great things for yourself? Jeremiah 45:5a (NLT)

Even a sincere heart can fall captive to selfish ambition. There’s a fine line between seeking great things for God and promoting ourselves along the way. Pride causes us to take the credit for what God and others made possible in our lives. Are you led by selfish ambition or spiritual anointing? How can we know? Continue reading “Selfish Ambition or Spiritual Anointing?” »

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The New Normal

Adjusting to a new normal can be difficult to navigate, even in the best of situations. Leaving home for the first time, getting married, having children, settling in to a new job, dealing with long-term disabilities, a divorce, loss or death – all of these can be the reality of a new normal. A pastor friend of mine experienced what he described as a new normal following a tragic car accident that changed everything in a moment! His life would never be the same. He was forced to adapt to what he called the new normal. Life is filled with unexpected twists that leave us wondering, “What do we do now?” Continue reading “The New Normal” »