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Since April I have been working part-time for a company called Uber. For those of you who don't know about Uber, I basically use my car and my smart phone to drive people around the city – kind of like a self-employed taxi driver. I've completed over 600 trips since April and every single one of them has a story behind it. From high school students to business professionals, I've driven and talked with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Tonight I picked up a young man from a bar in the Shockoe Slip area of Richmond and his destination point was a gentlemen's strip club on the other side of the city. Throughout the duration of the ride, I found out that he was a Christian college graduate with a business degree working in sales and he found out that I was a Pastor and the founder of a nonprofit organization. Upon discovering this about me, he immediately felt like I was going to judge him because that is what he had experienced in the past from Christian leaders and churches. I told him it was not my job to judge but to love people and to encourage them to come up higher. Besides, as an Uber driver, it is simply my job to safely and responsibly drive people to where they want to go. By the time we got to the strip club, we had talked a lot about God and life and although he didn't change his destination point, he felt pretty bad about going to the strip club and he asked me for my business card and said he would like to start coming to our church services. Of course we need to be careful about the situations we put ourselves in, but I think many Christians could afford to have a more adventurous spirit and a more open mind when it comes to the people they talk with and try to minister to. I felt really honored and privileged to have this young man in my car who obviously needs a little bit of leadership, encouragement, and redirection in his life. He asked if he could text me and I said of course. I hope he stops by one of our services sometime and that I get to see him again. Don't be afraid of the darkness. If you have Jesus, you are the light of the world and it's time for you to go out there and shine. There are lost, confused, and hurting people waiting for you to show them the way.
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May God bless you & shine brightly upon you today & always!
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Many of us may feel like our boss, an abusive person in our life, or our circumstances are in control. But that is not the case. God is the One who reigns in our lives and He is the One that determines what happens to us. Be confident and know He is in the role of supreme authority and influence over your life and circumstances. He is in control and He determines the outcome. Trust in His goodness every day and remind yourself, “The Lord Reigns!”
Thank you for visiting! If this post was a blessing and encouragement to you, please like, share, comment, and subscribe and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for regular encouragement & inspiration. May God bless you & shine brightly upon you today & always! See you soon!
Instead of being paralyzed by your past, choose to be propelled forward by your past.
Too many Christians and people in general are living far below their level of ability and potential due to something that has happened to them or due to something they themselves have done in the past.
Nothing you have done has disqualified you for your calling and destiny. God forgives and even forgets our past and our sins.
His mercies are new every morning and there is always a new slate with God.
He is the God of the 2nd,3rd, 4th, and even the 100th chance.
To say you can’t accomplish your destiny because of something that has taken place in your past is to say God is not able to cleanse, heal, and equip you for your calling and destiny.
He is God.
And He is bigger and more powerful than any sin you ever have committed or ever will commit in the future. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for all of humanity’s sins – past, present, and future.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Every sin that any person has ever committed or ever will commit was paid for and cleansed by Jesus’ one act of obedience on the cross. The blood that He shed on that one day covered all of man’s sins forever. It also covered and healed all of man’s shame, guilt, insecurity, doubt, hurt, and pain.
Nothing was left uncovered.
What therapists could take a lifetime to resolve and heal in a person’s life, Jesus resolved and healed in simply a few moments on the cross.
Listen, if God can forgive, cleanse, and use the Apostle Paul after he persecuted and killed Christians, then He can forgive, cleanse, and use you to accomplish your calling and destiny.
What it boils down to is, if you focus on what you have done in your past, you’ll miss out on what God wants to do in your future.
You cannot drive forward looking in your rearview mirror. Stare at the rearview mirror long enough and you will most certainly drive off the road; damaging both yourself and the vehicle carrying you.
It’s the same with life.
You have to live your life in the present, looking into the future, without allowing what has happened in your past to negatively affect either your present or your future.
Looking at the future with the negativity of your past in mind is like looking at a beautiful landscape through a pair of glasses that were not prescribed to you. The view will be unclear and you will not be able to accurately see or appreciate the real beauty of what lies in front of you.
Israel could never have conquered their promised land if they maintained a wilderness mentality. In the wilderness, they were in slavery; overworked, underpaid, malnourished. They lived in a constant state of depression, fear, and defeat.
Because of this, it is no wonder so many Christians today are not living at the level of fruitfulness and productivity that God desires.
Let me ask you - how are you going to defeat the giants and the armies that you’ll face in your promised land if you are living in a depressed, weak, afraid, and defeated mindset yourself?
If that is how we are thinking and living, then we have already lost the battle and we have no chance of moving forward and claiming the promised land God wants to give us.
No, you need to see yourself as a giant and as a member of God’s mighty army if you’re going to defeat the giants and the mighty armies of this world.
Let me ask you another question – when you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see you, or do you see a past version of you? Or perhaps you see a present version of you living in a state of incompetency, shame, and/or defeat.
God wants you to look in the mirror and not only see the beautiful, powerful, and amazing you that you are today, but also the victorious King or Queen that will one day conquer and possess the great “land” He has promised you.
So how do we get there?
Well, we have to start viewing ourselves and thinking about ourselves the way God and the Bible speak about us.
Your identity is determined not by your past, what you think about yourself, or what others say about you.
Your identity is determined simply by what God and the Bible say about you.
I want to change gears now and talk to you about how God does not waste anything. He uses everything we experience for our ultimate good and for the expansion of His Kingdom. He takes the sin and hurt that we have done and experienced and He melts it down so that only the useful and beautiful elements remain.
God can take what was thrown into a kitchen trash bag and transform its contents into a healthy buffet filled with all kinds of delicious and nourishing foods.
He can take what was thrown into a landfill and transform those items into a museum where others come to learn and admire the beauty of the things that are on display.
That’s what God wants to do in your life today. He wants to take the garbage and the ugly things from your life that you wish to throw away and forget about and He wants to transform and restore those things so that they bring nourishment and beauty to the lives of the people He has called you to reach.
Open your heart and open your past to Him, your future is bright and your promised land is even more amazing than you have imagined.
Thank you for visiting!
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“’Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that very hour.”
What are we believing for?
What are we believing for in 2014?
What are we believing for in our school?
What are we believing for in our workplace?
What are we believing for in our marriage?
What are we believing for in the lives of our children?
What are we believing for in our church?
This man approached Jesus because his servant was lying at his house paralyzed and in terrible suffering. Jesus then offers to go to this man’s house and heal his servant. Then something amazing was said and something even more amazing happened. The servant basically says, “No Jesus, that’s alright. I don’t deserve to have you come to my house. Just say the word from where you’re currently standing. I know that you have the power and the ability to heal my servant right now. I am a man who is both under authority and I possess authority over others. Just like I can give orders to my subordinates and they will do what I command, I know that all you have to do is speak forth what you want to have done and it will be accomplished.”
Then something amazing happened. Something that does not happen very often at all in Scripture. The Son of God, Jesus, was ASTONISHED!
Cool, calm, collected, Jesus.
The One who has authority and control over the entire universe. The One who has not only seen the most breathtaking scenery in all of creation but the One whom through it was created. This man, this God, this Jesus, was astonished. And what was it that was so astonishing?
This centurion, a Gentile, an outsider to the Jewish nation and people, astonished the Messiah of the Jewish nation and people because of his faith in what Jesus could do. This man did not grow up going to the synagogue or learning the Scriptures. From what we can tell, never did he read about all the miracles and wonders done throughout the Old Testament and yet his faith and his trust in the power and ability of Jesus was greater and more astonishing than even one of God’s own chosen Jewish people.
This is what astonished Jesus.
Now I will tell you what astonishes me. After hearing what this man had to say, Jesus in turn replies to him, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
“It will be done just as you believed it would.” This is so powerful. What are we believing for? What are we expecting? What do we think God can and wants to do in our lives?
Many people come sheepishly to God with their tail between their legs willing to simply receive whatever God has for them; hoping to simply receive something, just anything in order to get by. I’m not so sure this is how God wants us to view ourselves or how He wants us to approach Him as our Heavenly Father.
God created the whole universe which includes the whole earth and every single person living on it. He owns everything. Every resource, tangible and intangible, was created and made available to humanity by Almighty God Himself.
As Christians, the Bible says in Romans 11 that we have been grafted in to the olive tree of Israel. What this means is that all of the love, affection, protection, blessing, and resources that were once mainly reserved for God’s chosen people – the Israelites, has now been extended to anyone who calls upon God’s name and trusts in Him for salvation. Once we accept and follow Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become adopted sons and daughters of the One True King; the God of the whole universe.
No longer do we have to walk around confused, helpless, and defeated. With God as our Father, we now have direction, purpose, identity, a future filled with hope, and all of the resources necessary to fulfill our destiny and become everything God has created us to be.
Going back to the book of Matthew, I’d like to look at another story where an outsider approaches Jesus and wants Him to do something for her. Let’s see what happens.
She is a Greek woman; born in the region of Syrian Phoenicia. Her daughter is possessed by a demon and she is desperate to have her daughter healed and restored to a healthy state of mind and body. So she comes to Jesus, crying out to Him for Him to help her daughter. Then Jesus does something really interesting. He just flat out ignores her.
Now what would most people do at this point? Probably they would get discouraged and say, “Oh well, I guess my daughter will always be like this”, and then they would simply walk away with a sense of disappoint and defeat.
Not this woman.
She decides to come even closer to Jesus, kneel before Him, and then cry out to Him again, “Lord, help me!”
Now if ignoring the woman the first time wasn’t bad enough, this time Jesus calls both her and her daughter dogs.
And you know what? This woman still didn’t walk away. What does this teach us? Maybe God is simply waiting to see how much we believe in something and how badly we truly want it.
The exchange that took place between Jesus and this woman basically boils down to Jesus telling her that He has only come for the lost sheep of Israel and it wouldn’t be right for Him to give to her (an outsider) what rightfully belongs to the children of Israel. Jesus uses the metaphor that by healing this woman’s daughter, it would be like giving Israel’s bread to the “dogs” under the table.
What happens and what is said next is just as astonishing as what the centurion said to Jesus a few chapters earlier.
This woman, having tremendous faith in Jesus’ power and ability, says to Jesus that yes it is not right to give the children’s bread to the dogs under the table, but that the dogs do in fact get to eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table.
Wow! What this woman was saying is, “Jesus, I don’t need the full spread that is laid out across Your banquet table. I do not need the fullness of your ability, I just need a crumb of your power and my daughter will be healed.”
Amazing. Astonishing. This is the kind of faith and boldness that gets Jesus’ attention.
So let me ask you, what are you believing for in 2014? Is it big enough and bold enough to stop Jesus in His tracks?
Oh by the way, the woman who was willing to take just a crumb of Jesus’ power received what she cried out for. Listen to what Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And the Bible goes on to say that the woman’s daughter was healed at that very hour and that the woman went home and found her daughter lying on the bed and the demon gone.
So again, what are you believing for in 2014? Are you willing to cry out for it? Are you willing to follow after Jesus wherever He leads you in order to attain it? My prayer is that sometime soon your faith and your boldness will astonish Jesus and that along the way you will receive what you’ve been believing for and that ultimately you will take one giant step closer to fulfilling your destiny and becoming everything God has created you to be!
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I grew up thinking God was distant from me and always out to get me.
How wrong I was.
Please comment, share, subscribe & may God bless you & shine brightly upon you today & always!
Please join me on Facebook & Twitter for regular encouragement & inspiration.
One day when making oatmeal from an instant packet, I decided out of curiosity to read what the ingredients were. I was surprised to find salt as one of them. Up until then, I always thought of salt as something you put on french fries, meats, and fish. But why on earth would they mix salt with the other ingredients of an oatmeal packet?
You may also find that when baking cookies, the recipe will call for you to add a small amount of salt. Again this is puzzling; why would I add salt to something that is supposed to be sweet?
Well, it turns out that salt not only adds flavor to food, it actually enhances the flavor of the ingredients that it is mixed with. So, when you put salt in your cookies, it brings out the best of the other ingredients so that the cookies are that much more flavorful.
Likewise, Jesus calls us to not only sprinkle the world but to intermingle with it so that through God’s character and nature inside us, people’s best flavors (their personalities, character traits, and God-given gifts & abilities) will be brought forth and enhanced; making their lives more flavorful and desirable.
So go out into the world knowing you have been equipped by God to not only add flavor to the world but to also bring out the best in others and to help them become everything God has created them to be!
Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 that we are the Salt of the Earth. What does that mean exactly? Well beyond simply adding flavor to the people and world around us, salt had many other uses and implications.
For starters, salt was once a rare, valuable, and precious commodity. This is hard to imagine since nowadays salt is very accessible and inexpensive. So to start out, I would say that Jesus was saying that as God’s children we are valuable and precious. No one else in the world has our DNA or fingerprints. God has breathed His life into us and in addition to being made in His image and likeness, we are filled with His spirit and presence. Because of this, we are precious and extremely valuable.
Furthermore, I believe Jesus was saying that as the Salt of the Earth we are a preservative in the earth. You see, prior to refrigeration, meats were packed in salt to prolong and prevent the rotting process due to the growth of bacteria. Without salt, the meat would slowly decay and become foul to both the sense of smell and taste.
Likewise, this world without God and without Christians around them will and is slowly decaying and becoming more and more unpleasant to be associated with. Therefore, when Christ said His followers were the salt of the earth, He may have been indicating that without Christians in the world, the growth and spread of spiritual and moral decay would be rampant.
By being in the world and living in close proximity to people who don’t know God, we are helping to preserve the atmosphere of love, unity, and healthy interpersonal relationships that God originally intended for humankind.
One time when I was serving on staff at a church, I remember hearing a member of the church say that he didn't believe that God wanted our church to grow. Now I know that there are seasons where God will focus on developing a church more spiritually than numerically, but I have to believe that healthy things grow and change. If this is true, then it must be true for churches as well. Healthy children, plants, and trees all grow – so why wouldn't a healthy church grow?
We must believe in our minds that God wants us reaching more people in our community - impacting more lives and rescuing more people from hell and into Heaven. Having multiple services is a great way to do this. I don’t think we can believe any longer that church is only done on Sunday mornings. With people working multiple jobs and multiple shifts nowadays, I feel it is the loving and compassionate thing to do to offer more times and opportunities for people to hear God’s Word, enjoy His presence, and fellowship with other believers.
Let’s believe that God wants churches to grow because He wants Heaven to grow! He said He wanted His banquet table to be filled with people. When we talk about church growth, the aim is not simply adding more numbers to the seats of our churches, but rather it’s about adding more souls to God’s banqueting table in Heaven.
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Voices. They are everywhere. On TV. On the radio. At our jobs. In our schools. Even in our own thoughts. So many words are heard on a daily basis. Which ones are worth listening to?
People spend a lot of money to have a Psychologist help them with their feelings and problems. People spend a lot of money to have a fortune teller reveal their future. But what if there was Someone who could accurately and effectively deal with your past, present, and your future – all at the same time, and all for free?
That Someone’s name is Jesus, and He is the answer.
The answer to what you ask?
Every situation, issue, circumstance, and problem that humankind ever has and ever will face Jesus is and Jesus has the answer for it.
Seems too easy?
Let’s not make it complicated. God made us, so He can fix us.
Taking 5 minutes to listen to God’s voice and God’s solution to our situation will do us more good than a thousand minutes in the presence of any person.
So let me ask you again, who is speaking to you?
“The Queen of the South came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.”
People came from far and wide to hear the wisdom that God endowed upon Solomon – Israel’s King. People from all walks of life, it mattered not who they were or where they were from. They heard of Solomon’s great wisdom and fame and they wanted the opportunity just to spend a few moments in his presence. Well like the verse says, now one greater than Solomon is here. The good news is that we don’t have to travel miles or pay hundreds just to be in His presence. Jesus is here with us right now, even living inside of us. He embodies all of the wisdom that Solomon ever knew. All of the wisdom from the beginning to the end of time is found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the epitome of Wisdom and in Him are found all the hidden treasures of life, beauty, and wisdom – all of the things man spends his lifetime pursuing.
So spend some time in His presence, and let Him speak to you.
You’ll never be the same.
Pouting is Paralyzing, Singing Will Set You Free.
Sulking is Self-Defeating, Singing is Self-Energizing.
Do you sing? When most people are asked this, they say no. They assume singing is for people on the radio or people who have joined the choir or worship team at church. They may not have the personality that would cause them to sing much or they may not like the sound of their own voice.
If we don’t have a good voice, we shouldn’t sing, right?
The Bible says in Proverbs 15:15, “A cheerful heart fills the day with song” (The Message).
This tells me that anyone, regardless of their musical or singing abilities, has the right, the freedom, and even the responsibility to sing on a daily basis from the overflow of a cheerful heart.
If we wait for the perfect day or the perfect circumstances before we start singing, we may never utter our first tune.
I believe that eventually, we will realize that as we sing, our perspective regarding our circumstances will change. By us singing, we are sparking a heart and spirit of gratitude on the inside that will eventually change how we view things on the outside.
Inward gratitude, outward joy. Gratefulness on the inside leading to joyfulness on the outside.
So what should we sing?
Anything that is glorifying to God and edifying to ourselves and others. The Bible says in several places throughout the book of Psalms that we should sing a new song to the Lord. In fact, in one particular verse it even says that God Himself provides the words for us.
God wants to hear your love song to Him. Simply start meditating on how amazing He is, and all the good things He has done for you and others throughout your life so far.
It could be one line.
It could be a few words.
Just start somewhere, and just start singing.
Never underestimate the power of your voice over your circumstances and the oppressive attacks of the enemy.
Remember this: the last thing the enemy wants to hear is you joyfully singing songs of gratitude to God.
The next time someone asks you if you sing, you should say yes.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”
Psalm 40:3 NIV
“Why should I try harder? Does anybody care? Is anybody even watching? I feel like I am doing all this work for nothing. No one seems to notice everything I do and all the time and hard work I devote to this place. And why does it feel like I am working harder than everyone else around here?”
Maybe you’ve heard somebody say some of these things before; maybe you have said some of these things before. You want to do what’s right, go the extra mile; pour your heart and soul into something, and leave it better than when you found it. That is noble and that is an amazing attitude to have. After a while though, other people’s lack of enthusiasm and appreciation when it comes to all your hard work begins to wear on you. You wonder if it’s really worth it.
Once upon a time there were two prisoners serving time in the same prison. Although they were convicted of substantial crimes, neither one of them was guilty. They were both falsely accused and despite their current circumstances, they were both in fact innocent. That, however, is where the similarities ceased. You see, one man decided to allow his false conviction to alter his attitude, behavior, and really his whole outlook on life. The other man, however, realized and reminded himself that he was still a child of God, God was still in control, and even though he was in jail, God could still vindicate him and use his situation for the good in his life. Furthermore, he realized although he was spending time locked within a cell, he was still free since ultimately he was living unto God.
How was he free you ask? Despite where he was, he was still free – free to live, free to love, free to serve, and free to be excellent. Regardless of where we are, God is the God of the universe and with Him there are no limits or boundaries. This man’s excellent attitude and spirit enabled him to be the same person he was before prison (and even better) because he knew he was serving and representing Almighty God. Over the years he learned that at the end of the day, God was His Father & Master – in other words God was ultimately the only one he had to answer to. Eventually this man’s great attitude, hard work, and excellence all paid off when one day he was called upon; right out of his jail cell and into a place of leadership within that kingdom. We don’t know the name of the other prisoner, but you may have heard of this one. His name was Joseph, and you probably remember him as the Joseph we all know from the Old Testament book of Genesis.
So today, in your life, maybe you’re not in prison, but perhaps you feel like you are. Maybe you’re in a job, a relationship, or a situation where you feel trapped, confined, and limited. God knows and He sees you. He is fully in control and He has each of your days numbered and planned. Be faithful, be excellent, and before you know it you will be promoted from the “prison” to a place of prominence. Be encouraged, your excellence will surely be greatly rewarded.
“Do you see people skilled in their work?
They will work for kings, not for ordinary people.”
Proverbs 22:29 NCV
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Where can I find these things? My job, position, or title? My best friend, girlfriend, or boyfriend? My children, my husband, or my wife? My home, car, or possessions? My talents, hobbies, or habits?
Where can I go to fill this gaping hole I feel inside my heart? I try to fit these things inside a space that day and night cries out but it seems the more I fill it with these things, the more empty I feel inside. Some of these things bring relief for a little while, but when the high wears off, I am right back to where I started.
So what can I do? Where can I go? Who can help me?
The only way we can discover what it is that will truly satisfy us is to discover the One who designed us, created us, and unconditionally loves us.
It is good to have ambition, want to excel, succeed, and move forward in our job and career. It is good to cherish and love our spouse, our children, and our friends. It is also ok to desire certain things and to enjoy them while we’re here on the earth. The problem comes, however, when we try to use these people and these things to fill a space that only God is designed to fill.
In the light of eternity, God is our greatest title – He is our Father and we are His Children. He is our greatest passion, our greatest love, and our greatest companionship. In addition, He is the One who can provide for us our greatest level of joy, satisfaction, and pleasure.
We can spend our whole life and search the whole earth, but everything we are looking for is found in Him.
Who, O God, is like you? ~ Psalm 71:19 NIV
The soldier was told he’d be running a total of 15 miles today. Running through woods, trails, mud, heat, and insects, it was not a pleasant run, but he knew he could do it. After all, he had run farther than 15 miles before so today should be fairly easy. As he approached the fifteenth mile, the soldier was growing weary since during this run he was also carrying his heavy pack loaded with equipment and supplies. He knew he was almost finished and a great sense of relief came over him. Accomplishment, rest, water, and food would be his reward.
When he rounded the final bend, he noticed something strange, however. The awaiting officer at the 15 mile mark was not accompanied by a vehicle. How would they get back to base? Was a vehicle on the way? The officer congratulated him for completing the 15 miles. Contrary to what the soldier had believed all along, however, he was in fact, not yet finished. The officer informed him that he would have to continue running, five more miles to be exact, and that there would be a truck waiting to take him back to base. It was a test of endurance, and a test of the young man’s attitude. Although slightly disillusioned and discouraged, he thought, “I can do this, I have been trained to run long distances and to overcome adversity, obstacles, and setbacks.”
So he pressed on. He ran the next five miles knowing it would be his last five miles of the day. He felt a sense of pride knowing he had run farther than expected. As he approached the end of the five miles, off in the distance he could see a big green military truck waiting on the side of the trail. As he got closer and closer to the truck, in anticipation he could almost feel the cool water he would later consume rushing down his esophagus as well as taste the nourishing and replenishing food he would finally get to eat. It had been a long run and he was glad it was finally over. Just as he approached the truck and slowed his run down to a slow jog, the truck lurched forward and began to drive away.
“Wait, what happened? I thought I passed the endurance and attitude test. Why is the truck driving away? Does this mean I have to walk the rest of the way back to base on my own two feet?” The soldier’s feelings of accomplishment and relief were suddenly overshadowed by a deep sense of confusion.
So what does he do now? Does he wait? If he waits, he may be waiting there for a long time, and so will you.
Keep running, and do whatever you have to do to get to the place where God is calling you. Don’t rely on anyone else. Don’t worry if someone has disillusioned you in the past. Move forward. Decide in your mind you’re going to accomplish God’s dreams for your life no matter what. You’re alive on this earth once. Discover what it is God is calling you to do, and each day keep taking steps in that direction. Confusion may come, disillusionment may come. Weariness and discouragement may come. But God is greater than it all. Your life and your call are too valuable for you to give up. God will reward you for your effort, your diligence, and your endurance. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and keep running.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 NIV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 NIV
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The Lord your God is with you.
God is a strong Warrior there to save you.
God will take great delight in you.
God will rejoice over you with joy.
God will quiet you with His love.
God celebrates and sings because of you.
Growing up in a traditional denomination, the above truths were never spoken to me or taught to me. I always assumed God was very stern and always ready to punish me if I were to do something wrong. It wasn’t until later in my adolescence, during my high school years, that I began to have God and His ways taught to me and revealed to me in a much more Biblical and healthy way. If I had this experience as a child growing up in a traditional denomination, then I know there must be others out there in the world who also may have never seen God in light of the above statements.
The above statements are excerpts from the Old Testament book of Zephaniah, chapter 3, verse 17. Using several different translations, I wanted to develop a snapshot of God’s character and view of us as it is seen in this particular verse of Scripture. Let’s get started by looking at the entire verse: “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV).
We may think God is way off in the universe somewhere, unaware and unconcerned about us, our life, and our current situation. But the fact is we are never alone. God is walking with us throughout the day, every day of our lives. The comforting truth is that we are not on the earth to fend for ourselves. God has not left us alone to figure life out all on our own. He is very near to us and is even living inside of each one of us. Above all other things, He is longing to have a personal and daily relationship with every one of us. Let’s look at some of the individual truths found throughout this verse and what each of them means to us.
“A strong Warrior there to save you.” (MSG)
Ladies, God is your knight in shining armor. More than a boyfriend, husband, or bodyguard could ever dream of doing, God is there to protect you and keep you safe both now and forever. There is nothing that can happen to you without God knowing or allowing it. You are under 24/7 watch and care by your Heavenly Father who is also your strong warrior.
“His power gives you victory.” (GNT)
“The Lord your God wins victory after victory & is always with you.” (CEV)
Notice that God desires for us to live in a continuous state of victory. Our lives should be marked by God constantly moving us forward and upward into all He has created us to be and do.
Although we may not always feel like it, we stand in a place of victory today. We’re not down, and we’re certainly not defeated. God is on our side. He is for us, and He wants us to succeed. Despite what I and maybe many others have believed over the years, God is not against us and He is not waiting for us to fail.
At times we may get weary and feel overwhelmed by life, but there is comfort in knowing that God is our defender. We must continually remind ourselves that the battle is God’s, not ours. He goes before us & fights for us.
“He will take great delight in you.” (NIV)
Unfortunately, many people are going through life thinking God is upset with them and maybe even down right angry with them. They feel nothing they do could ever be good enough for God. Despite these feelings, however, God is pleased with us and His love for us is not dependent upon our good deeds and accomplishments. God sent His Son Jesus to die for us and to fulfill the righteous requirements of God that we could not on our own. God sees us now through the righteousness and perfection of Jesus.
“He will rejoice over you with joy.” AMP
God created you and what He designs and creates is carefully thought out and planned. Just was a sculptor rejoices over his work when it is completed, so God also rejoices over you simply because you are His creation.
“He will quiet you with His love.” NIV
It breaks the heart of God if you are living in a perpetual state of pain, fear, misery, doubt, and worry. God has complete control of the whole universe which means He can certainly handle the issues and details of our lives. Jesus is our answer and God is the solution to any problem we will ever face. He is a strong Father; an anchor and a refuge for us to trust in and run to in times of need.
“He will calm you with His love.” (MSG)
“In His love He will give you new life.” (GNT)
“He will refresh your life with His love.” (CEV)
God heals us and He restores us. No matter what you have experienced in your past, God wants to bring healing, reconciliation, and vindication to your life. A negative life experience does not mean it’s over for us, it simply means we have one more life experience to learn from and grow from – one more opportunity for God to transform devastation into a beautiful masterpiece in our lives.
“He will rest (in silent satisfaction) and in His love He will be silent and make no mention (of past sins, or even recall them).” (AMP)
God is not concerned with the sins in your past, He’s excited about the successes in your future! God is always daydreaming about what we can be in the future, not what has been in the past. He makes all things new and He calls things that are not as though they were. Instead of dwelling on and regretting the past, spend your time and energy thinking and planning how you’re going to become the person you dream of being.
“He will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)
“He will sing and be joyful over you, as joyful as people at a festival.” (GNT)
“He celebrates and sings because of you.” (CEV)
I think about a mother holding her child and singing over her. God is pleased with you and He is proud of you. God is excited about your future and the potential that lies inside of you. He sees you for who you can become, not simply who you are now. God is pleased with you and He is proud of you not because of what you have done or will do, but simply because you are His beautiful creation. He has masterfully crafted you and just as a father is proud of his children, God is proud to call you His own.
In life there will be times when we feel like we have gotten the wind knocked out of us. It is going to feel like we are being kicked while we are already down on the ground. It will seem like there is no joy in the present and no hope for the future. The question is, how will we live in the midst of such circumstances? Some may say there is only one way to live when all of that is happening to a person – just survive and hold on until things get better.
The Bible, however, is full of stories of courageous men and women who despite their circumstances lived lives of excellence and greatness regardless of what their circumstances looked like. Just like how a scuba diver is unaffected by the lack of oxygen in the water around him, many individuals throughout the Bible and throughout history discovered a way to live victoriously - in control of their own thoughts, words, and happiness even when everything around them seemed out of control and quite unhappy. Many of us at some point in our lives allowed our thoughts, words, responses, and personal happiness be dictated to us by what was happening around us. Maybe some of you are still living this way. There comes a day, however, when we come across an individual that inspires courage and hope; he or she teaches us and models for us the amazing ability of the human mind to be in control of what is thought and said. We begin to believe and understand that we do not have to dwell upon a thought simply because it entered our mind. Nor do we have to be a chameleon and simply blend in with our circumstances (i.e. if my circumstances are miserable then I guess I need to be miserable too!)
We live this way maybe because we think that is what others expect of us. Subconsciously we may be saying to oursevles, "If someone knew what I was going through, then of course they would expect me to be discouraged, depressed, and defeated." This is simply not true, though. We hear stories all the time of people experiencing tragedy but in the midst of that tragedy they remain optimistic, cheerful, and hopeful for the future. Again, this is possible because although we cannot always choose what is happening around us or to us, we can choose the thoughts that we continually dwell upon, we can choose the words that proceed from our mouths, and we can choose our overall disposition.
One of my favorite persons in the Bible who personified this is Joseph. Joseph came up with the short end of the stick on several occasions. He was plotted against, sold into slavery, falsely accused, wrongfully imprisoned, and forgotten about by someone who promised to help him. Just when things seemed like they could not get any worse in Joseph’s life, they did – and not just once, but several times. But how did he respond? How was his daily performance affected by his eroding circumstances? It seems like the worse things got, the better he became. It seems as Joseph’s circumstances became more and more terrible, he only became more and more incredible. As his situation deteriorated and plummeted further and further, he only rose higher and higher to each new occasion, consistently taking the higher road in all of his dealings.
How was Joseph able to do this? The whole world seemed to be against Joseph at times, but he lived with the character and the demeanor of a champion. Joseph was not affected by outward appearances and circumstances because he knew God was in control and that at the end of day God had the final say in his life. Despite what others may have said or done to him, God was the one writing the history book for all mankind. Nothing could happen to Joseph and nothing can happen to you that is apart from God’s knowledge or ability to intervene. God is not surprised by what happens to His people. He orchestrates our circumstances. He does not allow anything to be done in vain. He promises to use everything that happens to us for our good and for the advancement of our lives in the future. Others may intend to harm us, but God will use those situations and circumstances to help us. Others may try to push us backwards, but God uses those circumstances to catapult us forward. The darker our past and our present may seem, is all the more reason to get excited about how bright our future will become.
So be strong, stay focused, keep your eyes on Jesus, listen for His voice, and know that the dry seasons of your life are preparing you for the glorious Spring and Summer seasons when amazing things will sprout forth from your life. Allow God to use this time to develop Godliness, character, and perseverance so you can run your race with endurance and excellence for all the days of your life. God has not abandoned or forgotten you. On the contrary, He loves you so much that He is training and equipping you for the amazing future that He has so graciously and perfectly prepared for you.
So the Biblical character of Joseph as he is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis had some lofty dreams of what he would become in life. He shared these dreams with those who were close to him and it ended up getting him sold into slavery and eventually working in Potiphar’s house.
You also may have had some extraordinary moments in your life when God gave you large dreams for your future. You may have already seen some glimmers of progress toward those dreams in your life. But now all of a sudden you may find yourself in a set of unfortunate or unfair circumstances. You may be tempted to remove yourself from them. Think about Joseph. He knew what his destiny was. He knew what he had dreamed. He could have thought to himself, “I don’t belong here, this isn’t how the story ends. I need to get out of this place if I’m ever going to reach my goals and fulfill my destiny.” But from God’s perspective, it was those exact unfair and unfortunate circumstances that were helping to carve and shape and mold Joseph and ultimately prepare Him for the greatest moments of his life.
Now if Joseph had decided to run away from Potiphar’s house, who knows where he would have ended up. But Joseph stuck with it. He not only stuck with it, he had an incredibly great attitude and work ethic in the midst of it all. He rose above the discouragement and despair and soared high on the winds of God’s truth and destiny for his life. He did not wallow in self-pity but instead behaved like a mighty leader and a champion. All that Potiphar owned was entrusted to Joseph and was under his care. Joseph worked so diligently that he earned the trust, respect, and the favor of his superior.
You may be working in what you might call a dead-end job and you’re afraid you’ll be stuck there forever and your dreams will never be fulfilled. You think you have to make things happen, be a go-getter and conquer the goals God has put in your heart. This is partly true. But we must not get ahead of God. He will fulfill His plans for us in His timing and in His ways. We are simply responsible for cultivating an intimate relationship with God, learning to hear His voice and understand what it is He is doing in our lives right now, and then do our best to be faithful by obediently living our lives in such a way that aligns with what He has revealed to us. The dreams He has given us will come to pass. In the meantime, in this moment, allow God to do His preparing and perfecting work in your life.
Be still, be calm, be patient, God is using your circumstances to purify you, strengthen you, and prepare you to function as a champion so that when it comes time to operate in the role He has for you, you will do so with character, wisdom, and optimum effectiveness.
So in light of all Joseph went through and how it pertains to your own circumstances, don’t quit, don’t run away, don’t drop out of what God is trying to accomplish during this season of your life. Hang in there. Rely on God’s strength, wisdom, and grace. Take your life one day at a time. Listen for His voice. He will guide you and help you through the tough moments. He wants you to prosper, succeed, and accomplish all that He has planned for you.
His dreams and plans for you are greater than you can imagine. Allow Him to do His work – He is making you into a masterpiece, and a masterpiece takes time. You will get there. You will be who you dream of being. You will do what you dream of doing. Just be faithful now with what God has entrusted to you. Be excellent, be amazing, be a champion for Christ, and watch God elevate you closer and closer to the dreams He has for your life! Go forward today in Jesus’ name!
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you keep calling out to me for help? Tell the Israelites to move forward.” Exodus 14:15 cev
How often do we sit still crying out to God, asking Him to intervene and deliver us out of our current situation? In this portion of Scripture, God’s intervention and deliverance could not take place until the Israelites took the first step forward. Maybe in some of our current situations God is saying to some of us, “Stop asking, and start moving forward.”
Behind us is our past. If we move backward we risk the possibility of spiritually dying or being enslaved all over again.
In front of us are obstacles and challenges we have never faced before. Some of us are not sure which is scarier; our past which is trying to hunt us down and destroy us, or the seemingly impossible and insurmountable obstacles that stand in front of us.
For a long time now, many of us have been sitting still, crying out to God to help us, deliver us, and to move us forward into His promises and the greater blessings He has for our lives. There are unfulfilled promises lingering over our lives and we’re unsure of God’s timing and methods.
During this time of sitting still and waiting, I believe in the spiritual realm God is orchestrating deliverances, healings, promotions, and blessings that we currently do not yet see in the physical realm. We are sitting still, and even though we have been released to go forward, we still sit there paralyzed between our past and our future. We do not see God moving and so we do not know what to do or where to go. We don’t want to try and tackle the obstacles in front of us without His help and blessing, and we also do not want to try to overcome our past without His supernatural intervention either.
But like with the Israelites, in some of our lives and circumstances we must take the first steps away from our past and forward into our future before we will see the hand of God intervene in our situation.
Jesus said that we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. You see, God already has our future visualized and planned. He is simply waiting for us to walk in such a way that the way we are living aligns with what He is planning.
I believe many of us are living far below the level of potential we are capable of not because of something God is not doing, but because of something we are not doing. When we live disciplined lives and we intentionally take steps forward toward God’s destiny for us, I believe God rewards us by intervening with His supernatural blessing, deliverance, and promotion.
So what is it that we have been believing God for? How long have we been waiting? Has it been days, months, weeks, or years? What have we done while we have been in this season of waiting? Do we feel paralyzed? Do we truly believe God has called us to step forward? We must make up our minds and begin to march forward toward our obstacles and even our fears, because on the other side awaits our destiny.
Today's entry is the final post in the Jacob / Laban series. For the past two posts we have been looking at the relationship between Jacob and his father-in-law, Laban - particularly how God sees us and He is with us when we are experiencing unpleasant circumstances such as unfair treatment and harsh conditions.
Today's segment deals with what people say to us whether good or bad as well as how to continue to work hard with joy and enthusiasm even when it seems like no one notices or appreciates what we are doing.
I (Laban) could easily hurt you, but the God your father worshiped has warned me not to make any threats or promises (to Jacob). Genesis 31:29 cev - parentheses mine
God is so loving and so aware of what we are going through that He is even able to control what is said to us. Many people mean well, but unless their words and actions originate from the will of God, then they will be eternally futile. God must be behind other peoples' words and actions in order for them to bear fruit and become instrumental in carrying out His will in our lives. God is so precise. He even knows what we need to hear and also what types of interventions we need to experience in order to walk out and accomplish the fullness of our destiny in Him.
. . . But God saw my hard work, and he knew the trouble I was in, so he helped me. Genesis 31:42 cev
Our hard work may go unnoticed at times by man, but it never goes unnoticed by God. He sees it all, and our help and reward comes from Him. We are all learning to walk, run, and eventually fly for the glory of God. God longs for the day when all of His children are shining bright and living at their highest capacity. Amid our trials, He is faithful to provide the moments of peace and joy to sustain us. He will also impart to us the wisdom necessary for us to continue to be successful and prosperous even while we are in the midst of struggle and suffering. He can’t wait to see you become all He has created you to be. God sees you and He will help you!
Thank you for joining us today! I hope this series on Jacob and Laban has encouraged you to live and work with joy and excellence knowing that God is on your side, God sees you, and He is there to help you do your best and to be your best. Please feel free to include your thoughts and comments and we hope to see you again soon!
Continued from my last post, below are further scriptures and application regarding the relationship between Jacob and his father-in-law Laban, as it is found in Genesis 31.
But God has protected me. Genesis 31:7
Despite how much control our superiors seem to have over us, God is ultimately the one that controls the temperature dial. What I mean by that is God is aware of everything we are going through and He is not going to allow us to go through anything that we can not handle or endure. He knows just how hot to turn up the furnace in our lives in order to burn off the impurities so that His beauty and likeness can shine forth in our lives. We are in His hands and no man or woman and no demon or devil has any power over us that God has not already authorized. Look at Jesus, even as He stood before Pilate waiting to be crucified, Jesus said to him, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." (John 19:11 NIV). So even with us, there is no power over our lives unless it is granted by our merciful and sovereign Heavenly Father.
I know everything Laban is doing to you . . . Genesis 31:12
Have you ever watched a friend or a child participate in a sporting event and wish you could run out onto the field and help or protect them? There are times we see people struggling in a situation and yet we are powerless to assist them in their struggle. God is not powerless, but at times He refrains from stepping onto the field because He wants us to learn to run and fly. In the infancy stage, a baby eagle rides upon its mother's back until it can learn to fly on its own. There comes a point in our Christian walk when God sees it is time for us to endure some very scary and uncertain circumstances. This is only because He knows that through the experience we will become stronger and learn to soar higher than we ever have before.
I hope these verses and application encouraged you. We welcome your comments and please stay tuned for the closing portion of verses and application from Genesis 31.
May you soar high for Him!
I have been reading through Genesis and one particular chapter has been on my heart and mind lately. It's the chapter that speaks of Jacob's relationship with his father-in-law, Laban. Jacob had to work many years in order to marry Laban's daughters and throughout that time Jacob had to endure some painful experiences, unfair treatment, and oftentimes harsh conditions. You may be going through a similar experience with your job or have already gone through it in the past and there is still some hurt in your life from that season. During the next few blog posts I would like to share some verses from Genesis 31 along with some practical application.
God . . . has been on my side. Genesis 31:5 cev
When we go through a difficult situation, it is easy to feel at times like the whole world is against us, including God. But God is always by our side, especially during the difficult moments. I think of it almost like a drill instructor next to a soldier who is going through intense training. The soldier knows the instructor is there, but probably wonders if the instructor even cares whether or not he finishes the course. The instructor's job, however, is to turn out the best, most qualified, and most highly trained soldiers possible. So it is with God. As our instructor, He is right beside us and His job is to make sure we are continually transformed into the image of His perfect and beautiful Son, Jesus Christ.
Stay tuned for another verse and exhortation from Genesis 31.
Originally Posted on January 24, 2012
January 24, 2012
To the right is a video I found on You Tube a few months back. As I watched the video several times and listened to the lyrics, it progressively dawned on me that this song is like the anthem of Christianity. I've included some thoughts about the video below.
"This solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm."
Christ is the only ground we can stand upon. We can try and stand upon our finances, our family, our job, or our education, but all of these are like shifting, sinking sand compared to the strength and eternal reliability of Christ. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever - He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is the rock that we must build our life and our existence upon.
"What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are
stilled, when striving cease."
We can not love the way we were created to love nor can we experience the depth of peace that we were created to until we are able to surrender our fears to Christ and hide ourselves in Him. When He is our defense, protection, and provision, then we can truly love with the innocence of Christ and experience a stillness and quiet in our minds, hearts, and spirits.
"So as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me."
We are no longer under the shame, guilt, and condemnation of our past sins. We are a new creation in Christ, set free from the prison of our fleshly desires and sins. We are to walk in His righteousness and liberty. We are a child of God, loved and accepted by Him. God has set us free so we can live free from the oppressive weight of temptation and bondage. His grace enables us to emerge victoriously in the moment of temptation and His loving mercy enables us to be forgiven when we do fall. The blanket of temptation and shame has been replaced with the much weightier blanket of God's grace and mercy.
"So no guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me."
We are free in this life from guilt due to Christ's death on the cross. God sees us through the lens of His crucified Son. Our sins have been washed clean by Jesus' blood on the cross. We are forgiven and accepted children of the Most High God. As we walk through life knowing that death is inevitable for us all, there is no fear, only joy and anticipation for the day when we shall be made fully whole, knowing Him as He knows us. We are free from the fear of death because we know that the next life is immeasurably more glorious than the present one.
"From life's first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."
Even before we enter this world, God has our entire life mapped out for us (Psalm 139:16). Every decision and all the logistics of our entire life and existence is already meticulously planned and ordained. There is no need to worry, fear, or wrestle through life. All we must do is cultivate and maintain an intimate, personal, and daily relationship with God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the precious Holy Spirit; graciously walking through life listening and obeying as God gently leads and guides our every step. Jesus is highly exalted above all people and things, He is the one that is in charge of our life and destiny. May we learn to rest in Him as we also learn to move as He moves.
"No power of hell, no scheme of man, could ever pluck me from His hand.
'Til He returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand."
We are safe in His hands. Nothing can touch or harm us unless it first passes through the hands of our merciful Father. Just as Job was stricken by the Devil but only after he had God's permission, we too will only face the trials that God has allowed to enter our lives. God is the one who delegates authority and power - even Jesus when being handed over to be crucified said to Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above" (John 19:11 NIV). Even in our darkest moments, God is in full control of our lives and the circumstances we face. We are safe until He returns to get us or we transition from this life into the next. We stand in His power because He has filled us with His mighty Holy Spirit. We are to live confidently in God - knowing that our present and our future is under His control and His power, and no one and no thing can take that from us.
Originally posted on January 13, 2012
January 13, 2012
I have been hesitant to post this entry because I have been feeling the Lord leading me to share a prayer from my personal journal. Please know my intention in sharing this prayer is 1. Simply to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, and 2. To encourage you in your journey.
I prayed this prayer on February 5, 2006 during a time in my life when I was feeling much uncertainty about the future. God was doing some serious character building in me and I simply wanted to be obedient enough to stay in the season He had me in – a season of discipline and preparation. The grammar and sentence structure may seem a little rough - I was simply writing what I felt in my heart and I decided to leave it in its raw form. This was my prayer that night:
“Help me Lord to deny myself, to be disciplined, trustworthy, gentle, patient, kind. To love others as I love myself. To honor you with even my thoughts and intentions, this is the high calling of discipleship. To be under complete restraint of the Holy Ghost. To be under arrest and complete control. A slave to Your Spirit. Sensitive, soft, completely willing and compliant to your laws and decrees. To love You, and love man, this simple yet profound mystery of condensing all Your law into 2 commandments. To walk in love, speak the truth in love. To know the time and place for everything. To live a balanced life hidden in You. To not speak or defend, but to trust and surrender to you, and trust you for the outcome. For you will defend your righteous ones. May I be righteous in your eyes, and according to your standards. To not fear the reproach or thoughts of man. To know you are in control. Help me to wait upon you. Be glorified.”
Originally posted on January 03, 2012
January 03, 2012
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life!"
Proverbs 3:5-8 MSG
It is not easy to trust God from the bottom of our hearts. This is because we are wired to trust in ourselves and in the things we can see, hear, and touch. To trust God requires a step into the spiritual realm – which can not be seen, heard, or touched. The irony, however, is that once we become familiar with the spiritual realm we will “see”, “hear”, and “touch” things that will revolutionize our lives in the physical realm. I should say here that we should not be afraid of the spiritual realm and imagine it as something far out somewhere in outer space. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is within us (Luke 17:21). Therefore, entering the spiritual realm is as simple as tuning out the noise and the busyness of everyday life and quieting one’s mind, heart, and spirit long enough to hear the whisper of God’s voice.
In the physical realm we think we can fix anything if we try hard enough – and this may be partially true, although the fix will probably be only temporary and superficial. When we seek God for direction and solutions, however, the root of the issue is dealt with by the transformational power of God’s love and Spirit. This is the difference between trying to figure out everything on our own versus listening for God’s voice.
We must seek to understand the truth that what is happening in the spiritual realm is just as influential as what is happening in the physical realm. When we get a grasp on this, we will more fully understand the importance of prayer and waiting upon God.
It was never God’s intention for mankind to walk around aimlessly without hope. God created man and woman, rather, to have such a beautiful and vibrant relationship with Him that knowing His ways and hearing His voice would be second nature to us. God should be our source of wisdom, knowledge, and information when it comes to facing all of life’s choices and decisions. He is there to help us, guide us, and bless us – for we are His children. Just as a Father and Mother gladly steers their child in the right direction and does everything within their power to help their child be productive and successful, so God also longs to see His children flourishing and bearing much fruit for His glory.
Originally posted on December 29, 2011
December 29, 2011
I have often reflected on the life of Noah and how he was able to live so close to God and be so in tune with God despite his primitive surroundings and lack of Spiritual resources. Below in quotes are a few reflective questions I found in my personal journal.
"What did Noah do without a Bible? How was he righteous?
By being and doing right. Be & Do."
This may sound easy and simple enough, but have you ever really sat down and thought about the resources Noah had compared to how righteous he was and how close to the Lord he was?
Noah did not have access to Biblical literature, commentaries, worship music, or well-written books by Christian authors. He also did not attend a vibrant, healthy church every Sunday or a mid-week service or small group. All Noah had was an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord. Through daily communication with Lord and worship, Noah managed to live a life that not only caught God's attention, but managed to be the saving factor for his entire family when God decided to wipe out the rest of humanity with the Flood. Noah's life is a great example for us - to keep things simple and intimate and personal when it comes to our Christianity and our relationship with the Lord. Does this mean we only pray and read our Bibles and never branch out and utilize other resources Of course not, but let's make sure those resources are bringing us closer to God instead of crowding us away from God.
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Becoming A Champion
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Biblical Financial Freedom
The Existence of God
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Why Jesus Came to Earth
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Prayer - A Biblical Outline
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