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The Power of Prayer

In Luke chapter 11 we get a glimpse of what prayer is really supposed to look and sound like. Jesus' disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to prayer and Jesus' response has become one of the better known section of verses in the bible. But have you ever stopped to think about why the question was asked in the first place? Why did the disciples ask Jesus how to prayer? Could it have been that every time they saw Jesus retreat away to pray he always came back and performed astounding miracles or spoke and many were saved? Could it have been they the disciples had figured out a key to walking in this world the way the father intended? Prayer was always God's original plan, he created man and woman to have "dominion" over the earth and seek God for matters we encounter here. Prayer was always intended to be answered, it may not always look the way we think or happen when we want it to but God is not limited by space and time and he answers every prayer that aligns with His will. Prayer creates dependency on God and it's in that dependency that we find ourselves in a true heavenly relationship with our creator. 

Luke 11 : 9 & 10
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

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Divided

There is a man in the bible by the name Gideon. Gideon was a mighty warrior but before he could be victorious he had to wrestle through what we all wrestle through, a divided faith. A faith that hears the word of God but sees the current situation and realizes that the two don't match. The lord had declared Gideon to be a mighty warrior but what Gideon saw was his own short comings, the strength of the opposing army, and a situation that looked impossible. What do we do when what we hear and what we see don't match? How do we overcome a divided faith? What tools of the spirit do we have access to that help us overcome?

Ephesians 6 : 10 - 17

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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In The Meantime

We are a society that is fixated and obsessed with goals, ambitions, and future accomplishments. We love to think about and talk about the next car we're going to get, the promotion we're working for, or the next vacation we're planning. There's nothing wrong with looking to the future with excitement but often that leads us down a path of undermining and devaluing the present. And when it comes to faith this is particularly dangerous. As Christ followers we can find ourselves thinking thoughts like, "Well when I'm reading my bible more I'll be a better spouse", or "When I finally deal with that sin I'll be able to talk to my co workers about Jesus". We can find ourselves having faith for future versions of ourselves but not for who we are and where we are in the present. I am so thankful that Jesus doesn't love the "future version of myself", He loves who I am today. When it comes to living and acting in faith, it's always for the present. 

Romans 12 : 1 - 2
"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."

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Unshakable Faith

In the bible in the book of Ephesians the writer describes a shield that in spiritual battle protects us from the fiery arrows the enemy throws our way. But interestingly this shield is not made up of good behavior, religious actions, or scriptural knowledge. The bible describes it as a shield of FAITH. So if faith is the thing that protects us from everything the enemy throws at us, the question becomes how am I doing at maintaining and growing my faith. And is my faith based on truth founded in the person of Jesus, or is my faith circumstantial; changing with my emotions, feelings, and the outcomes that I see. Are there things that are happening in my life right now that are causing me to lower my "shield", leaving me exposed. 

Ephesians 6 : 16
" In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil."   

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Stand For Love

In the Church and in the world it has been highly perpetuated and demonstrated that righteousness is about being right. Righteousness is about being better than someone else, it's about being a perfect example of the standard, it's about being right and shoving it in the face of those who are wrong. But this kind of righteousness that has become to common place does not even slightly resemble the love, grace, and transformation that Jesus shows us and all of humanity. What if true righteousness wasn't about being right before 'man' but being right with God. Being right with God doesn't mean being perfect, it means being in 'right relationship'. It means accepting the love that He has for us, it means getting all that we need from Him, it means understanding that through Christ Jesus the requirements of our relationship with God have been fulfilled. The only way to truly love others, the only way to stand for love is to first receive the all fulfilling love of God. So when we walk out into our worlds we aren't trying to 'get', we are ready to give.

Romans 3 : 21 & 22
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

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Look up to Stand up

In a time where there are so many people "standing" immovable for their beliefs, opinions, and perspectives how as the church are we meant to "stand"? So often what you end up standing for is a direct reflection at what you're looking at. Your eyes determine your stance. So if we are meant to be carriers and builders of the Kingdom of God on earth, if we are meant to have the perspective and eyes of heaven then where should our gaze be fixed? The word of God seems to answer this question for us, our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus. You have to look up, to stand up.

Hebrews 12 : 1 - 2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

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Victory Through Worship

Paul, writing to Ephesus in 60 AD, declared that the normal Christian life looked like being part of an unbeatable army advancing an unshakable kingdom. In 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah wrote that when God’s people worship, God dresses himself as a hero and fights their battles for them -- crushing his enemies. The enemies of God are not people but negative mindsets pride, shame, guilt, fear that form barriers between a loving God and His good creation. We advance God’s unshakable kingdom through worship. When we worship, we win.

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Put on Your New Clothes

Pastor Norton Graham of India spoke on the power of God to heal, to restore. From the story of Lazarus in John 11, we see that Jesus brings the dead to life, but we need one another to unwrap the clothes of death. Our grave clothes - what wraps us up from our former selves - is partially described in Colossians 3:8. By living together in community, we remove destructive behavior and help one another live like our truest selves.

Colossians 3: 12-14

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

 

 

 

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Unshakeable

How we interact with God's truth determines how unshakable we are in this life. And when it comes to interacting with this truth there are three things we have to remember. The first is that God's truth IS a person and that person is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and he is the only way to the Father. The second is we must learn to submit to God's truth and not live by our own. The truth is not what we make it and it is not what we feel, the truth is everlasting and never changing. The third and final thing, is that we must get into the habit of declaring and standing on God's truth. Despite our circumstances and despite what we may see, feel, or encounter God's truth is higher. If we can declare it and begin to stand on God's truth we will truly be unshakable.

Ephesians 1 : 21 - 23
21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

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Just Stand

Because of the victory of Jesus our position is no longer one of striving but of standing. Jesus has won the victory, now we stand in the shadow and triumph of the cross. The enemy can throw tantrums but because of calvary no longer does it have power. We don't have to strive any longer, we have been released to stand, and when all else fails "to stand". 

 

Ephesians 6 : 10 - 15
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

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We weren't created for Fear

Fear has many damaging affects on our lives but one of the most significant is that it stops us from fulfilling our destiny. Fear can be caused by so many different things but they all end up at the same destination. Because of what Jesus has done for us and because of the salvation we have received, our spirits have been renewed and no longer are we bound to a spirit of fear. The life and spirit that God gives is one of power, love, and a sound mind. We were not created for fear, we were created for relationship with our God and purpose through Jesus.

2 Timothy 1 : 7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

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Why Am I Here?

The answer to the question "Why Am I Here?" can feel like a complicated and complex thing. But over and over in God's word we are encouraged by the radically simple truth that we are here on this earth to receive and reveal Jesus. But when it comes to receiving and revealing Jesus in and through our lives there are limitations that we can put on ourselves. As we look at the life of Paul in the bible there are three things that we can take away from who he was and what God was able to do through him when it comes to taking the limits off ourselves. The first is realizing that we are not limited by where we are at. The second is, we are not limited by what we have. And finally, we are not limited by what we have done.

Ephesians 3 : 8 - 11
Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Created to Create

We have been created by a divinely creative and supreme God! And because we have been made in the image of God we recognize that we have been created to create and we have been created to WIN! But just because we have been created to win, doesn't mean that we will. If we truly want to "win" in life then there are three things that we must have. The first is the right team, the church is meant to be your team in life; there to keep you moving forward and always on your side. The second thing you must have is the right strategy. You can have the intention to win but without the right strategy you never will. In order to win in life we must be constantly listening to God and obeying his word. The last thing we must have is the right driver. Even with the right team and the right strategy, if JESUS is not the one driving you'll never win. Do you know that you were created win? Do you have the right team around you in life? Do you have the right strategy? And is Jesus truly the one driving your life in the direction He wants it to go?

1 Corinthians 9 : 24 - 26
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

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You Are The Game Changer

Wherever we go, the bible tells us we are carriers of the good news of Christ, ambassadors of the hope found in the glory of our savior. This fact can invoke great faith and passion but it can also cause major confusion and doubt. And the thing that determines our reaction to this information is the security that we have in our own identity. If we feel secure in who we've been created to be then the formula of 'Jesus + Me = Great change in people's lives' makes complete sense. But when we doubt our identity, or minimize the impact that we can have in the world around us we actually remove ourselves from the 'game' entirely. But we are actually destined to be game changers, wherever we are and in every relationship. Christ In you in every situation has the potential to be the catalyst for great change and impact.

Colossians 1:27
"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

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Standing In Awe and Wonder

In the book of Genesis we are told that man and woman were created in the image of God, but how often do we try to create God in our image or in in an elevated image of ourselves. We tend to view God as like us only a little big bigger, and a little bit smarter. But what we don't realize is that it's our perspective of God that determines our reaction towards people. My view of God and my understanding of His view of me shapes my view of people. So how do we stand in wonder of God? We go after more of Him in our lives, we desire his presence, we adjust our attitude with praise, we seek his face and not his hand, and we take a learning posture. If we stand in the place of awe and wonder of God we need not "fear" anyone and we set ourselves up to impact everyone.

 

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

4 One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
5 For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
8 When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
9 Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

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You Are The Bridge

If you've gone for Church for a long period of time or have been following Jesus for many years there is a state of existence that you or I can find ourselves in; it's a place that is easy to get to but dangerous to be in. It's a place of partaking but not participating. Partaking is receiving for yourself , but participating is revealing to others. It's easy for us to partake of God's goodness but not participate in revealing that goodness to the lost. It's easy for us to partake of God's love but not participate in extending that love to the people in our lives. It's easy to partake of God's forgiveness for your own sins but not participate in choosing to forgive the people that have sinned against you. See we were never meant just just partake of God's love but partner with Him and participate in unveiling and unleashing His love to a lost world. We are the bridge for people.


2 Corinthians 1 : 3 - 7
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

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What Gives You The Right?

There is a story in the bible that recounts a very confrontational moment between Jesus and some religious leaders of the temple. In the interaction Jesus completely challenges what had become acceptable and comfortable to the temple leaders and their general response to him was, "What gives you the right?". As people of faith we may look at this story and the response of the religious leaders and feel very self assured that we wouldn't have responded that way. But the truth is we've all been in similar situations, either within our relationship with Jesus or with others and reacted the exact same way. Relationship was never meant to be convenient, but it is meant to be trans-formative. Jesus doesn't desire to meddle in our lives for his own benefit but for ours. When is the last time you've challenged the things in your life that have become comfortable and acceptable? When is the last time you gave Jesus "the right" and the room to speak to the contents of your life? "It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind it all.".

Romans 6 : 10 - 11
"When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus."

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The Process of Multiplication

I think it's a pretty understood thing that as a society, we love "more". We love excess and extra and often times we want it immediately. And especially when it comes to our needs, when it comes to the things that we're believing God for; we want it now and we want extra. The good news is that we serve of a God of abundance and multiplication but his process may not always be our preference. When it comes to what we're asking God for many times before we see the harvest God asks us to plant our seed. Our seed is that we have in our hands right now, it's the thing no matter how small or little that we're able to give or able to do. It could be money, time, encouragement, it's whatever you have that you are able to "plant". God asks us to do what we can and trust Him with the rest, because the seed was never meant to match the need. We plant our "seed" knowing that God is not moved by perfection or need but he is moved by our faith. 

Matthew 14 : 14-21

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

   

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The Good Father

The greatest father-child relationship in history that we can learn from is Jesus and his father. The way that Jesus interacted and related to his Father allowed him to live the life he did here on earth. And in the same way we are to imitate the intimacy of that relationship. Knowing we are starts with knowing who we belong to. The truth is that we have been created in the image of Jesus as sons and daughters of our heavenly father. This truth allows us to live life with purpose and freedom, in pursuit of doing "the Father's" will. 

John 8 : 32
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

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Better Together Because Of Love

We believe that the love that we are meant to walk in with one another truly makes us better together. But what is this love and how does it differ from the kind of love we so often hear about. In Psalm 25 the writer says that 'The lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness' or "kindness" and "faithfulness". These two major aspects make up the love Jesus shows us and the love that we are meant to show to one another. It's a selfless love, one that is committed to the long term best in other, and does't seek reciprocation. These two things, kindness and faithfulness are both equally important and equally required. Because kindness without faithfulness is exploitation, and faithfulness without kindness is judgment. But love is kindness and faithfulness met together. This is true love, this is what makes us better together. 

Psalm 25:10
"The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands." 

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