Be Anxious

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Be Anxious

In a world full of instant access, binge watching, digital friendships, surface level conversation, and access to more information than EVER before at our fingertips, it's more common and more likely that you walk around ANXIOUS than EVER before. People are more anxious all the time.

It's just a fact of life. It's easy to be offended and set off because of a tweet. It's easy to get caught up in what's due and overdue with an email notification to remind you that you're terrible with money. Living at peace is almost an afterthought. When the majority of people wake up they check their likes to determine how they will feel for the remainder of the day. The dings your phone brings with the news of the day won't do much more than set you in a negative direction. 

Yet, today, more than ever before it's vital that you and I be anxious. It's counterintuitive. It's upside down. But if you want to overcome the anxiety that wreaks havoc in your mind; the anxiety that weighs down your heart; the anxiety that pushes you to the brink of failure in your relationships; then you'll have to learn to be anxious. 

The only way to overcome the anxiety of the world is to be anxious for something else. The anxiety I'm talking about is not medical. It's the anxiety that we bring on ourselves through comparison and through giving our minds to social media. It's the anxiety that pushes away from truth and towards what if. 

Peter knew all about anxiety. He denied Jesus three times and was told he would do it BEFORE he did it. I'm sure he walked around anxious before he denied AND after he denied. But Peter writes something that is astounding to me.

He says, "2 You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. 3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols."

The only way to remove anxiety from your mind and your heart is to replace it with something else. Peter's argument is to replace your anxiety of "godless" things and place your anxiety in God. BE ANXIOUS to do the will of God. 

Wake up in the morning anxious to spend time with God rather than read the comments on Facebook. Set a notification to be reminded of God's Word on your phone instead of being reminded of the status of politics. Be anxious to do good at work instead of being anxious about your boss approving of your work. 

Much of the anxiety we face in our society is simply brought on by the choices we make. We choose to give ourselves to the good, bad, and ugly of Facebook and CNN or Fox News instead of giving ourselves over to God.

We many times direct our attention, and therefore our anxiety to the wrong things. 

If you're more anxious to wake up and see who liked your photo on Instagram, you will open yourself to anxiety eventually. Start now to be anxious for God above all else. Be anxious to wake up to Him instead of what the world can offer. It's time to direct your anxiety from social media, network news, comparison, and fill-in-the-blank, and instead direct your anxiety toward the God that holds your life in His hands; the God that loves you; the God that has what's best for you.

Direct your anxiety to that God.

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My Mom on Momming Masterfully

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My Mom on Momming Masterfully

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First off, what a title. Wow. This past Sunday, the service was VERY different than what you would typically experience at SoulQuest. We had a discussion panel talking candidly about the Coleman family and motherhood. But there were two things that I (Austin) totally forgot that were probably the two most impactful.

My mom had two statements she repeated to my sister and I our whole life. I remember going on dates, and before I left mom saying one or both of these statements to me. It wasn't "Don't do drugs." It wasn't "Don't be a stupid teenager." When I was in college 800 miles away, it wasn't "Don't do this or that" It was always one of these two statements.

1. "Be Jesus."

This simple two word statement has stuck with me my whole life. Mom used to say this when we were good, when we were bad, when we were minding our own business. And honestly, it's some of the best advice for parenting or Christian living in general.

Sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that we miss being Jesus to our world. Sometimes we have to step back and remember that momma always said to be Jesus. Think about how to be Jesus, then be and do that! That will make your faith so much stronger!

2. "Remember who you are and whose you are."

Gosh she said this so much. And honestly I don't even know the exact way she meant it. It was either "You are a child of God and you belong to the Coleman's" or "You are a Coleman and you belong to God" Either way is a great challenge AND encouragement. 

When you are told your whole life that you're a child of God and you're a Coleman whether you win or lose, there's safety and security in that. There's safety that I'll never not be my mom's child and I'll never not be God's child. 

This statement also has a lot of, "Hey, you're a Coleman, and you've been blood bought by Jesus. Now don't do anything stupid and embarrass us." And honestly I think that's more needed. Kids, teenagers, and adults alike need a strong voice reminding them they are loved. They also need a voice just as strong reminding them of the responsibility of representing something bigger than themselves. 

So, if I had to go back and tell the two biggest lessons I learned from my mom (that you may want to apply to your parenting), these two would take the cake. 

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Consistent vs. Convenient

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Consistent vs. Convenient

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Growth.

This word is somewhat of a mystery to many Christians today. A lot of people see it as a "job" of a leader. Some see it as the responsibility of a church. Others see growth as something uncontrollable. 

My 18 month old is learning to talk. Which is terrifying. He repeats everything, so I've had to make sure my wife quit cussing. That's sarcasm - aka she doesn't cuss. At least not that much. He learned two words in the same day. Two words that terrified me as a dad. 

He learned "No" and "mine" all in the same day. What a day to be a dad. 

He doesn't know what they mean entirely yet, and he doesn't place an attitude behind those words yet. BUT I know the day will come when he will try.

When he said those two words in the same day, something hit me. I think Christians, myself included, fall into the trap of saying "no" to God's Word, and "mine" to His Church. What happens when we do those two things is we place our growth as Christians in our preferences over God's presence. 

There are two words that I believe not only conquer the preference trap, but also guide us into true growth as believers: consistency and obedience. Two words you don't hear much about in a selfie centered, social media, fast food world. 

If you want to grow in your relationship with Jesus, it requires perseverance and obedience. You probably don't need to know more about the Bible, although that's great. You probably need to obey what you know and persevere to obey no matter what consistently.

You and I know gossip is a sin. It's not only hurtful to the person you talk about, it's also dangerous to your own soul. If we would just obey God in encouraging others instead of gossiping about others, we'd see growth in our life. You and I know we should read our Bible to hear from God. You and I know we should pray to return our burdens and praise back to God. You and I know to love our neighbor. If we would obey the things we already know consistently our lives would change. 

If you're a Christian, Jesus has rescued you from your sin. If you're a Christian, you should be following Jesus. In John 14, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Jesus left two commandments: Love God. Love people. The rest of the New Testament is essentially commentary on how to love God and love people. 

If you want to see growth in your faith, try consistent obedience. Obedience that doesn't say "no." Consistency that doesn't look at preference for when obedience occurs. Consistent obedience that only you are responsible for and can control.

Are you obeying his commandments consistently? Or are you obeying when it's convenient.

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Progress or Presence?

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Progress or Presence?

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Last week my Apple Watch broke. It wouldn't notify my of my texts or calls, it wouldn't ping my phone, and it wouldn't update! This was a serious problem. It's 2018. 

I wanted to go on a run, but as I started to get ready I realized that my watch wasn't working properly. So, I tried to update it again. 

Estimated time: 9 hours.

That was not okay. I had planned to go on a run, but I couldn't go because my watch wasn't working. I couldn't track my distance or time or heart rate, so I decided I just wouldn't go. 

I wasn't going to be able to see my progress, so I had decided to just not go at all. 

Then, it felt like God showed me something about my life at times, and I'm sure yours as well.

We prefer progress to presence. 

Sometimes in our spiritual journey, our spiritual progression watch stops working. So we give up or slow down. It's not that we don't know what to do or how to do it, it's that we don't see the progress to keep us motivated to do what we know to do! 

I finally decided to go on the run anyway, because whether I had a watch on or not to track my progress, I was going to take the same route. I knew the exact loop I was going to take and about how far one loop was. I knew the route, but I craved the progress. And I almost let my craving for progress outweigh the ACTUAL PROGRESSION through actually running.

You won't always see God changing you. Sometimes you won't hear Him speak to you. Sometimes reading the Bible won't be an eye opening experience. The question for us all is: Do we want His presence or a feeling of progress more?

Jesus never promised progress. He promised His presence. Don't miss your actual progression with Jesus because you don't SEE the progress. When you don't know what to do, do what you know to do! You can progress even when you don't see progress. 

Just like I knew the route I was going to run with or without the watch, go back to the Word, back to prayer, back to the basics of your faith; His presence will meet you there. 

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Response-able

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Response-able

We've all thought to ourselves, "If I had that job..." or "If my kids would obey..." or "If we just had that extra money..." Fill in the blank. We've all taken our problems and turned them around to be someone or something else's fault. We seem to prefer to pretend that we have no responsibility in the matter, and the "world" is out to get us. 

Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, states "Anytime we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us."

There's a story in Scripture about a guy named Joseph. Joseph was the most loved son of Jacob. Joseph had a bit of a wisdom problem. He was given dreams from God, but he didn't have the wisdom in how or when to share the visions. God had given him visions that he would rule over his entire family. As soon as he saw these dreams, he went straight to tell the family. Joseph was already the favorite, and this little act pushed his brothers over the edge. They ended up selling him into slavery. Joseph ended up in Potiphar's house as a servant.

Joseph had every right to sit in self-pity. He had every excuse to excuse himself from the problem, and throw all the blame at someone else. Joseph didn't do that. Joseph was handed a hand of cards he never expected, but he took what was given and he controlled the only thing he could: his response. 

Joseph worked on being the right person. Joseph didn't concentrate on what he had or didn't have. He didn't concentrate on what others did to him. He didn't concentrate on what could have been or should have been. Joseph concentrated on being the right person and doing the right things. Because of his concentration on what he could control, he ended up controlling and running Potiphar's entire house.

That's not the end of Joseph's story. Joseph was then hit on by Potiphar's wife. He stood strong in being the right person and literally ran away. Potiphar's wife was so after Joseph and so upset that she told everyone he raped her. So, now Joseph was headed to prison. 

Another circumstance in Joseph's life had hit him in the face. He did nothing wrong, but was receiving the consequences of wrongdoing. Joseph didn't stop being the right person. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Joseph continued being. 

Joseph worked so hard on being the right person and doing the right things, that he ended up leading the prison and ultimately becoming the second in command in all of Egypt.

Joseph knew something we all need to learn: we are responsible. We aren't responsible for the 10% of things that happen to us, but we are responsible for the way we respond. We are response-able. We have been given the gift of response. 

We can either allow our lives to be lived on by others and the circumstances we can't control.

OR

We can live on our lives by the way we respond to the people and circumstances that come into our lives. 

The choice is yours. You can't change what someone did to you. You can't change the circumstance you had no control over. You can't change the stupid mistake you made that is just now catching up with you. You CAN control what happens next. You CAN control the response to that person. You CAN control the direction of your life. 

Be a Joseph. Start being the right person and doing the right things. Control what you can. You and I are responsible for our responses.

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Value

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Value

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

You've seen this truth in your own life. What you value the most is what's most valuable. That sounds so common, right? Wrong. 

Culture would rewrite this passage of Scripture today to say, "For where you heart is, there your treasure will be also." You've heard it before, "Just follow your heart." Unfortunately, hearts are deceitful. Hearts drift away from what we should treasure. Hearts rarely, if ever, drift into a good treasure.

Your greatest regret in life probably began with you following your heart. Your biggest financial regret may have begun with you simply following your heart. Hearts are deceitful. That's why Jesus doesn't say your treasure will be found wherever your heart is. Instead, Jesus says, wherever your treasure is there you will find your heart. 

So that comes back to this basic idea. It sounds too simple to be true. What you value most is what's most valuable. You get to decide. You get to make a choice. What are you going to value? What are you going to treasure? Because whatever you value the most will become what's most valuable in your heart. 

If you value your family, even when your heart wants to do more work, your family will eventually be where your heart lies. If you value your relationship with God, even when your heart is trying to drift away, your relationship with God will begin to be where your heart resides. 

So... What are you valuing most? Because what you value most is what's most valuable. It's where your heart will be found. 

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Plan Ahead or Prepare Before?

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Plan Ahead or Prepare Before?

We can't plan what's going to happen to us, or how we will respond to each and every situation. We can, though, prepare before we arrive.

If you have a baby or have ever had a baby, you understand this. We all wish we could plan out our days with an infant better. When he or she is gonna poop. When he or she is going to be hungry. When he or she is going to throw up on that brand new outfit. When, when, when. Unfortunately, we can't plan ahead with babies. We can, however, prepare for what may come. We can bring extra diapers for when the baby poops. We can bring food for when the baby is hungry. We can bring an extra outfit for when the baby throws up. 

We can't always plan, but we can always prepare.

Our life is like taking care of a baby. As much as we like to think that we've progressed past pooping and crying and such, we haven't progressed past unexpected things happening. The problem with unexpected things is that they're unexpected. That's where most of us stop. We just think, "well it's unexpected, and I can't do anything about it." Which is true. We can't see the future. BUT we can prepare for what may come. 

No one plans to drift out of a good marriage into an affair. No one plans to drift away from a good family life. No one plans to be in insurmountable debt. No one plans to drift away.

BUT those who do drift, often times don't prepare for trouble. They don't put trust in Jesus today and follow him today. They wait to follow Jesus until they are in the middle of a storm. When you're in the middle of a storm, it's too late to learn to swim. We have to prepare before we go through trials. 

We have to learn to bring the diapers, wipes, food, and extra clothes with us before we find ourselves in the middle of an accident. 

  • Are you daily trusting Jesus, and asking him to give you strength to weather the storms of life?
  • If you are in the middle of the storm, it may be too late to learn to swim, but luckily our God walks on water. Call out to him and he will help you.
  • Start trusting in him now! Start with the First Fifteen.
    • | 5 minutes worship | 5 minutes prayer | 5 minutes Scripture reading |

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Be a Door

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Be a Door

Have you ever tried to refurbish or reuse old furniture? I have. Once my wife, Sara, and I built a table out of an old door. That was also the day I almost lost a limb. Not from a knife or a saw. I thought Sara was going to beat me up over this door table. Or take off an arm or something. So, now we don't build things together. Because I want to live with two arms and stay married. 

Revelation 21:5 says, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'"

Our God is a maker. Here are two ways God wants to make us new starting today.

1. Repurpose

When we bought our door, we knew we didn't want it to be a door anymore. We wanted to give it new purpose. We wanted to repurpose it and make it into a table. God wants to give you and I a new identity. He wants to give us a new purpose in life. He wants to make us new. He wants to open our eyes and purify our hearts. He wants us to know who we are and whose we are. We are not what we've done. We are not what we do. We are who God calls us to be because of what Jesus has done. God wants to give us a new name. He wants to repurpose us. 

2. Restore

Before we were done with our table, we needed to paint it and make it look fresh. At this point, I had lost two limbs and a knee cap, so Sara painted the table. It had been repurposed. Now we needed to restore it. We had to make it look good again. God also wants to make something old in your life new again. He wants to restore it. A relationship that hasn't been good lately; God wants to repaint and restore that relationship. Your self-esteem has hit an all time low; God wants to restore what you once lost through Jesus. 

Action

God wants to repurpose and restore our lives. He longs to repurpose who you are. God desires to restore the mess we call life. Before God is able to repurpose and restore us, we have to be willing. The door we bought was a door. Duh. The door, though, didn't say it didn't want to be a table, probably because it was a door. It just went with the flow. It was repurposed and restored to our liking. 

Before God can repurpose and restore our lives, we've got to give Him permission. We've got to give Him access. We've got to look to Him and ask him to repurpose our identity and restore our lives.

We've got to be like the door. We've got to go with what God wants for us.

God wants to make us new. Will we let Him?

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Labels

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Labels

Labels work really well when you're planning an event or organizing something. Labels work really well when you need to know where something is or what something is.

Labels have also become how we view our world and those that live in it. 

We all give out labels and are given labels. Conservative; Liberal; jock; band-geek; Republican; Democrat; American; white; black; smart; dumb; dropout; adulterer; quitter; not good enough. Whatever label you find yourself categorized with, it doesn't tell the full story. 

In John 8, Jesus tells the Pharisees to cast the first stone at the woman who was caught in adultery. Of course, no one casts the first stone, because none of them were without sin. Jesus then looks at the woman, who was labeled "adulterer" and says, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 

This adulterous woman was caught. If we really step back and think about it, we can be placed in her situation. We've all been caught and labeled. Whether it was by an ex, a parent, or by a random stranger. We've all been caught in our sin and labeled by it.

Jesus continues on and says, "Neither do I condemn you. No go and sin no more."

Satan will try his hardest to make you think that you are only as good as your worst sin. You'll only ever live up to the level of your worst sin. You are forever labeled by what you've done and how bad it was.

Jesus, on the other hand, comes in and calls you, not by the label that your sin has given you, but by the name which he calls you. Jesus didn't call this woman "Adulterous Woman" as if that was her name and label to him. He simply called her "Woman."

There are no labels when it comes to Jesus. Jesus wipes labels clean. Jesus exchanges our label identity with an entirely new identity. 

When Jesus sees you, he doesn't see you as "Democrat Phil." He doesn't see you as "Republican Joe." He doesn't see you as "Adulterous Woman." Jesus sees through the labels that others give you right to the heart. 

Jesus ended this story with telling her to go and sin no more. He didn't condemn her. He didn't condone her sin. He redeemed her. He showed her the dignity she hadn't received before. He showed her forgiveness, and he showed her a better way. 

While others may label you by what you've done. In Jesus, God sees you through what He's done.

What labels are holding you back? How does God actually see you?

Exchange your label identity with a new identity from Christ.

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How to Make 2017 Not Suck

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How to Make 2017 Not Suck

Maybe 2016 wasn't your year. Maybe you walked away happy to change your calendars and your check writing skills. Maybe you are so excited for a fresh start.

Maybe you're terrified that 2017 will end up just like every other year you wanted a fresh start.

Your 2016 might have been the worst year of your life. It may have been full of terrible circumstances, broken relationships, or loss of life. Your 2016 may have been the best year you'v ever had. Whatever your 2016 was like, your 2017 is relying on one thing to determine whether it will wreak havoc on your life or bring the blessings you desire. 

What you do with what's in your hands. 

What's in your hands isn't always your choice. In fact, more times than not, what is placed in your hands is not your decision. 

If you were raised in a broken home with abusive parents; you didn't ask for that to be placed in your hands. But it was. 

If you lost a job after working hard hours and doing good work; you didn't ask for that to be dropped into your hands. But it was. 

If you were given everything to succeed; you didn't request it. But it's there.

Regardless of what is placed in your hands or mine, we are all responsible for what happens next. You are responsible for what you do with what's in your hands.

Will you continue the cycle of broken homes and abusive relationships with your children? Or will you let that hurt that was given to you slide through your fingers? Will you instead pick up patience and endurance with Christ by your side? 

Will you wallow in self-pity after being handed your lost job? Or will you drop the self-pity to replace it with confidence in an all providing God?

Will you rely solely on what others have given you? Or will you pick up the faithfulness required to steward what has been entrusted to you? 

No matter what is handed to you in 2017, the decision is yours. Will you allow something outside of your control to control you? Will you take what's in your hands, regardless of the hurt or success that is handed your way, and use it to lift your hands in praise to God?

How you respond to what is handed to you may just determine whether 2017 sucks or succeeds.

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Rise Above It

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Rise Above It

Pastor Steven Furtick once said, "The Devil's agenda is destruction. His strategy is division. His tactic is offense." Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10) He is not lackadaisical about his mission. He is intentional. He is calculated. He is strategic.

In contrast, the agenda of our Savior is life, and life more abundant. His strategy is unity. His tactic is forgiveness. Our Savior Jesus is determined as well. He is passionate. He is ready. He has shown his determination on the cross.

While Satan is determined in his mission, he lacks the power to see it through on his own. He requires OUR help. Satan is not all powerful. He is not all knowing. He is not all present. But he is very strategic. He is very intentional. 

Satan's agenda is to destroy you, your church, or your family. His strategy is to divide you, your church, or your family. His tactic is to pile up small offenses. His tactic is to wedge offenses between you and your spouse. His tactic is to place offenses between your family and your brother's family. Satan's strategic aim and tactic is simply to pile up one small offense after another.

How does he do this? He may orchestrate a situation or circumstance, but he has NO POWER to affect how we react. He has no control over any outcome. He is powerless in that respect. That's where we come in. We decide if we will be offended or not. We decide if those that have done us wrong will have control over us or not. We decide.

Every day of our lives we are confronted with opportunities to respond. We are gifted with the free will to react. No one forces us to react to our circumstances. That is our decision alone. It's been said that offense is an event, but offended is a choice. And we decide through our reactions and responses.

When someone offends us, we have no power over their action. We do, however, have control over how we respond. The response that we give in an event of offense will determine whether we allow Satan's agenda to take hold or not. When we choose to be offended over choosing to be forgiving, we are choosing the tactic of Satan over the tactic of Christ. When we live in the state of being offended, we ultimately begin to fall into Satan's trap of division. Once Satan's strategy of division takes hold, destruction is right around the corner. Destruction of a friendship. Destruction of a family. Destruction of a church. Destruction of a country. Offended leads to division leads to destruction. 

So, how do we respond when someone legitimately hurts us? How do we keep Satan from being successful? We rise above it. When someone hurts us, we rise above it. We forgive, and we move on. When someone offends us, we rise above it. When our spouse drops the ball, we rise above it.

The only way to keep from being in a constant state of offense, is to practice a heart of forgiveness. "That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." That is the attitude of our Savior. That is the attitude we are called to live in, as hard as it may be. The circumstance or offense that comes our way is out of our hands. Our response and attitude is what we control.

How will you react today?

Watch the full sermon on Moving Past Your Past here.

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Seek

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Seek

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

In every area of your life, what you seek first sets up what's next. How you start can positively or negatively effect your perspective of what comes next.

God wants to be first in your life. He wants to be the first thing that you seek. He wants to be first, because He knows what's next. He knows that you can't always control what happens to you. When you seek Him first, you set yourself up to react well to what comes next.

When you seek God before anything else, whatever else happens is within the right context. You are placing your circumstances within the context of a God that is with us through our ups and downs.

This is why Scripture is so full of seeking God first. In nearly every facet of your life, God wants to be first.

When you seek God first thing in the morning you are placing your day in His hands. Whether your car breaks down, you lose your job, or your kid throws up on the way to school; your circumstances are placed in the context of a caring God. When you seek God at the first of the week through church, you're setting your week up for success. Whatever happens next may be out of your control, but it's within the control of an all powerful God. When you seek God first in your finances through tithing, you're giving God control of providing for you. Tithing takes the provision out of your hands and places it into the hands of the God that owns everything anyway.

Seeking God first places everything that happens next in His hands, not your own.

How are you going to start this year seeking God? The way you start can set a positive or negative context for what's next. What will your context be? 

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Little and Much

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Little and Much

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

Here's the main idea of this passage- If you're faithful with little, you can be trusted with much. If you're not faithful with little, you can't be trusted with much.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus as your Savior, then he has placed something back into your hands. He has given you time, talent, or treasure. Maybe even all three! What he has given you may not look like a lot to you or to those around you. See, it's not just about how much talent or treasure you have. It's about how well you steward what you have been given; how faithful you are.

Would you line up more with the servants who were given two and five bags of gold, or the servant who was given one? The servant who was given one bag of gold was afraid to take a chance and live by faith, so he just gave up being faithful altogether. The other two took what the Master had given them, and they worked it out. They were faithful.

How can you be faithful to what God has given you today? Is it money? Is it a great spouse? Is it a house full of kids to lead to Jesus? Is it a vision God has placed in your heart? Ask God today how you can be faithful with what He's already given you!

Watch the sermon from Sunday on faith and faithfulness here.

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Movement

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Movement

The making of a movement begins within a man or woman. Every movement begins with a vision. Andy Stanley say, "Vision is born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be." 

In Nehemiah chapter 1, Nehemiah's vision from God begins as a concern. He saw the tension between what was and what could be. Nehemiah's vision began as a concern that led him to a prayer, that led him to plan and act. 

What is your vision? It doesn't have to be specific to "ministry." Not everyone is called to plant a church or restore the People of Israel, but we are all called to something. There is a movement waiting on you to begin. God has a vision for your life that he wants you to walk in. Are you walking in it? 

It could be raising children that honor God. It could be starting a business that honors God. It could be starting a non-profit. It could be starting a blog to help single moms. It could be as small as joining a Serve Team, joining SoulQuest in an outreach event, or finding Christian community in a Dinner Party. The possibilities are endless, but only YOU know where God is calling you. What is the tension you see between what is and what could be? What are you burdened about? What would you change if you could in your life? Where do your gifts intersect with your burdens? 

What movement is God trying to start inside of your heart that could turn into a movement to change other lives? 

Watch Pastor Ronnie's sermon from Sunday to hear more on the making of a movement, and how God wants to use you! Sermon- Making of a Movement

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Our Great God

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Our Great God

For today's First Fifteen devotional, we want to see just how big our God is, and nothing we can write on here can show that as well as Scripture! Check out these passages!

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  Isaiah 40:28

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

No one is like you, Lord;
    you are great,
    and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6

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The Will of God as a Way of Life

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The Will of God as a Way of Life

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Imagine God's will as a dart board. There are three parts: The outside circle, the inside circle, and the bullseye. It can be scary to think about God's will as a dart board, and finding his will like hitting the bullseye. But God's will isn't a competition or blind like pin the tail on the donkey. God's will is much more straight forward. 

The Works of God

God's works are part of the things that God does regardless of what we do. For example, God sent Jesus regardless of what we wanted or thought. God is sovereign, and God does certain things apart from us and without any say from us whatsoever. On the dart board of God's will, the works of God would be the dart board as a whole. An example is that it was God's will to send Jesus to earth to die and rise again for the sins of humanity.

The Will of God

This part of the dart board of God's will is the part we all really want to know. This is the specific part. This is found in questions like, "Should we take that new job?" "Should we buy that house?" "Should we have another kid?" This would be like the green part of the dart board. It's not quite the bullseye, but it's close. If you want to hit the bullseye on a dart board, you won't aim for the green part. The same is true for the will of God; we aim for the bullseye of God's will which is found in his ways. 

The Ways of God

God's ways are found in the moral laws of God. God's moral laws are our guidelines in life. The 10 Commandments would be an example of God's moral law. Jesus summed up the law by saying to love God and love people. On the dart board of God's will, the ways of God would be the bullseye. The ways of God are the sweet spot. If you hit the bullseye, you're automatically within the green part of the dart board, and you're on the board in general! 

We can't control the works of God, nor should we want to in reality. When it comes to the will of God in specific situations, we won't always hear a specific answer from God. When it comes to the ways of God, it falls to our responsibility.

When we are following the WAYS of God, we will always be in the WILL of God. Colossians 3:17 says, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" When we follow Jesus and do whatever we do for him and acknowledge him first, we will always be in the will of God!

Whether or not we get a specific answer to what house to buy, what job to take, or how many kids to have, we can still be in the center of God's will. We can still hit the bullseye of God's will when we ACKNOWLEDGE God first. When we acknowledge God, He will direct our paths. 

Much of this was adapted from Dr. Jerry Sittser's book "The Will of God as a Way of Life"

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What Anger are You?

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What Anger are You?

Not all anger is bad, but not all anger is good either. There are essentially 4 types of anger. When we can figure out which anger we are, we can start to do something about it. 

(Points taken from Pastor Ronnie's sermon on anger)

1. Short Fuse Anger

A quick-tempered man acts foolishly (Proverbs 14:17)

This is the type of anger that produces road rage. Yes, even when your car has a SoulQuest Church sticker... Do you get angry and lose your cool with your family? Do the circumstances in your life cause you to be angry quickly? 

Our response to short fuse anger is vital. When we lose our cool and go off on those around us, we are sinning. How will you respond next time that slow car stays in the left lane?

2. Sinful Anger

22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Most of us have called others something worse than "You good for nothing." Sinful anger is found entirely in our responses. When someone does something to us that seems unfair, how will we respond?

3. Stubborn Anger

26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

This is that childlike anger. When we don't get our way about something, and we sulk. It's like when were kids and didn't get to do whatever the heck we wanted. Many times children will just pout. 

Stubborn anger causes us to pout and cry "Poor pitiful me." Stubborn anger says that someone owes us something. Instead of being stubborn, we need to take the mindset of Christ and be forgiving. Forgiveness conquers anger.

4. Sanctified Anger

This is the good anger. It's righteous anger. It's the type of anger that Jesus felt when he tossed tables in the temple. The people had turned a house of God into a Farmer's Market. Jesus was passionate about His Father's house. 

What are you passionate about? What makes you angry? What in the world is something you are righteously angry over? Is it sex slavery? Fostering children? Homeless communities? 

What can you do about the problem that you are passionate about? God wants to use your righteous anger and passion to change the world!

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It's All in the Response

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It's All in the Response

Life is full of problems, it seems. Nearly every day there is something new to get us down or ruin our day. And many times we blame these events or problems for putting us in a bad mood or ruining our day. 

We can't control our circumstances, but we can control our choices. We can control our responses.  

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Many of us have this idea that someone or something "put us in a bad mood" When we give someone else the power to dictate our mood and emotions, we are handing the keys of our life over to them. 

If our attitude and emotions reflect our circumstances, we'll never be in control. When our responses to our circumstances reflect God, He'll always be in control. 

Though we may find ourselves in all kinds of problems every day, we have the opportunity to be joyful in our circumstances when we are thankful through our circumstances. The responses we give while in our circumstances are the keys to our future within our circumstances.

Will you respond in a way that gives God the control in your life, or will you respond in a way that gives your circumstances the control?

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