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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The Goal of Stress

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The Goal of Stress

Matthew 6:25-34

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [i]care for itself. [j]Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This is what stress wants to do to you and to me. Stress wants to take our focus away from daily stepping with Jesus, and put our focus onto a theoretical tomorrow. Stress wants you to worry about tomorrow and forget about today. This is one of the main reasons our "todays" are stressful and our "tomorrows" are full of worry, because we find ourselves concentrating, not on reality, but on an abstract tomorrow.

Luckily for us, Jesus has a cure for this hurried life we live. Jesus gives us one simple statement in dealing with the stresses of "today" and the worries of "tomorrow." He says, 

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This is the cure. The goal of stress is to get your eyes focused on the abstract. The goal of Jesus is to get your eyes focused on his kingdom and his righteousness. Jesus' goal is for us to focus on today. Jesus' goal is for us to daily walk with him.

Jesus' goal is for us to seek him in the reality of today, and he will take care of the abstract tomorrows. How will you stepping with Jesus and seek him each day this week?

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Two Coin Faith

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Two Coin Faith

As I've traveled to different Dinner Parties and listened to people talk about their lives, there has been a common theme come up. It's a place that many people place most, if not all of their faith. It's a place that is hard to give up to God and trust that he can handle it. 

Finances

Our budgets can be so tight that we feel like we can't squeeze God into them; even when we want to so badly. The problem with this is simple yet hard for us to grasp: Placing our faith in our finances means we are NOT placing our faith in our God.

You can't place your faith in two things. You can't trust in your finances to take care of you, and also tag God on at the end to take care of the other stuff finances can't provide.

Hebrews 13:5 says, "Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.'" 

God is not leaving you in the middle of your financial crisis. God won't leave you when your finances do. God won't give up on you when the bank does.

Money eventually runs out; God never runs out.

 "While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus said, 'this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.'" (Luke 21:1-4)

What are your two small coins? Where is your starting place? If you never start somewhere to be generous, your finances will continue to take the place of Jesus in your life. Are you trusting in your finances to give you peace in life, or are you trusting in Jesus?

The best place to start is where you are. If you've never sacrificed financially, start off small. Work your way up. If you've given for years like the rich people, maybe it's time to bump it up till it's more of a sacrifice.

The more the sacrifice-the more the trust in Jesus-the more you grow closer to him-the more he shows his perfect provision.

Let's all work to have the two coin faith of the poor woman.

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Different

Think back to where you were when you met Jesus. Hopefully you are different now than you were then. We have a savior that runs to where we are. He doesn't sit back idly waiting on us to run to him after we've fixed our messes. 

Jesus pursues us. He runs to us. He chases after us. Jesus meets us wherever we are. Jesus meets us in the messiest parts of our lives. He doesn't wait for us to get cleaned up before he meets us. He jumps straight into our mess, and he cleans us up.

We talk about how Jesus jumps into our messes, and we talk about how we don't clean ourselves up, but what happens after Jesus meets us in our mess?

See, Jesus will meet us WHEREVER we are, but he doesn't want us to stay WHERE we are. He wants us to grow. He wants us to change. Jesus meets us in our mess, but Jesus wants to walk us out of our mess and into a life more like his.

He wants us to be different. Think back one more time to the mess you were in when Jesus found you. Now, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. How different am I?

  2. Am I more like Jesus? 

  3. How can I be more like Jesus?

This journey with Jesus isn't always clean and good. Sometimes we slip. Sometimes we fall. But we should always be moving and striving to be closer to Jesus, and more like him. Maybe your next step is to pray more often. Maybe your next step is to give up a bad habit in exchange for a new habit like a Bible reading plan.

Whatever your next step is, Jesus is right by you ready to take the step with you!

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Second Chances

7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:7

In this passage of Scripture, Peter was specifically pointed out. Peter had just denied that he even knew Jesus three times. Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples had completely forsaken Jesus. He had turned his back on Jesus at a time when he should've been running towards his savior. 

But...

Our God is a God of second chances. When we fall, He is right there to pick us back up again. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him; he even predicted it!

And Jesus knows that you're going to screw up again. He knows you're going to fall again. He knows you're going to mess up again.

But...

Our God is a God of second chances. Our consequences will always catch up with our actions. There are always consequences to our actions. Luckily for us, there is also always forgiveness for our actions. 

Jesus knows that you're going to screw up again- he died for that. Jesus knows you're going to fall again- he died for that. Jesus knows you're going to mess up again- he died for that. 

God used Peter to preach the sermon that saw over 3,000 people come to know Christ. God used Peter again. Although Peter screwed up, he sought after Christ for forgiveness and transformation, and God used him again. 

God wants to use you again. He wants to restore you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to see your life change. Ask God to forgive you and change you today. Ask Him to use you again like he used Peter again.

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Repent- April 5, 2016

Repentance is simply a change of mind that leads to a change of action. When we sin as Christians, the Holy Spirit convicts us. If you're a new believer, you may have wondered why you feel so bad about things you never thought twice about. The answer is simple: The Holy Spirit is convicting you. He's challenging you to growth through repentance. 

When we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, it is then our response to repent. We are all messed up to one extent or another. We all fall short. And thank God that Jesus will meet you WHEREVER you are! BUT Jesus doesn't want you to stay WHERE you are. He wants you to grow.

That growth happens through being convicted and repenting. 

Ask the Lord to reveal anything you haven't repented of in your life, and ask him to restore to you the joy of your salvation like David did in Psalm 51:12: 

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you. Psalm 51:12

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Not Angry- January 26, 2016

God is not angry at you. He loves you.

He showed his love for you at the cross. He showed his anger towards sin at the cross.

Just as God showed his love towards you and anger towards sin at the cross, so should we show our love towards others and anger towards our own sin.

Pastor Ronnie said Sunday, "Some people need to get ticked off today. You need to get mad at your debt, at your health, at your bad choices, at your pet sin."

Jesus overcame the anger towards sin through forgiving us. We overcome anger towards others in our life by forgiving them and loving them.

Who do you need to forgive and love today?

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Pointed to Christ- January 14, 2016

"17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b]for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

You are an ambassador of Christ. You carry his name. You show his love to the world. When you are able to walk through trials and tribulations in life by trusting in Christ's power, those around you will notice.

When life hits you in the face, and you want to give in, keep walking! Jesus is with you through every trial. When you are hit by life, and others see you continuing to walk, they will take notice. 

It's hard to walk through life at times. But as trials come, and you continue to trust in Christ, others will be pointed to Christ. You can show Christ to the world by sharing the gospel, or showing love, or being bold in your faith.

You can also point people to Christ by trusting in him in the midst of your trials, and continuing to walk. There is power in seeing someone walk through a trial because they have Christ on their side.

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Never Alone- January 13, 2016

"4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

The power of the one that is in you is greater than the power of the problems around you. Jesus went to the cross to bear the weight of your sin, your problems, your worries, your struggles, and your marriage.

Whatever weight that the world has laid on your shoulders is not as powerful as the one that lives within you. The one that is within you defeated everything that can come against you.

He is the reason you are able to keep walking! He is the reason you are able to trust in the promises of God! Because God kept His promises by sending His only Son. Now, you are never alone. You are able to keep walking no matter what life sends your way.

It's not always easy, but it's never alone, because of the power of Christ within you.

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Promises- January 12, 2016

"2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” (Joshua 6:2-5)

Did you know that God has made promises to you? Did you know that just like God promised the city of Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, He has made promises to you?

God's promises are found in His Word. Joshua knew the promise of God because Joshua had been with God (see chapter 5).

How will you know the promises of God if you are never communing with God? 

When you look to the Word of God, you will find the promises of God. No matter the problems you find in your life, God's promises never fail. Keep walking with God through your problems. He has promised to never leave nor forsake you. He will be with you.

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Believe and Obey- December 15, 2015

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25) Read the whole chapter here.

"Trust and obey, for there's no other way. To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." 

This old hymn really resembles this season of Joseph's life. He was in a pretty big predicament. His future wife was pregnant... And he was not the baby daddy... Joseph planned to leave Mary quietly, so that she would not be shamed, but God had other plans for him.

The angel came and told Joseph what was happening. Joseph didn't wait around. Joseph didn't sit around. No. Joseph got up, and obeyed. He believed what God was telling him through the angel, and he obeyed the Lord.

How are you believing and obeying God in your own life? Believing and obeying will lead to joy unspeakable in your life.

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Power, Love, Discipline- December 11, 2015

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) Read the whole chapter here.

God gives us a spirit of faith. God doesn't give a spirit of fear. 

When you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live within you. He gives you power (Acts 1:8).

When you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to make us more and more like Jesus. We become more loving.

When you place your trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit begins to convict you of sin, leading you into repentance. Each time you are tempted, you have a choice. You can choose to be disciplined and follow Jesus more closely, or you can choose to give into the sin. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the power and ability to choose discipline over sin.

Walking in the spirit of faith that God has given us looks like trusting in Jesus, and walking in the power, love, and discipline that he alone can give.

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Before Others- December 10, 2015

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) Read the whole chapter here.

Yesterday we talked about living a life of prayer and righteous living for the glory of God. Many times, God will show favor towards those that have a strong prayer life and live righteously. 

When we live a life of prayer and righteous living, it's like a light. It stands out. Mostly because not many people live that way. Living our life to the glory of God leads others to give glory to God. It's like a chain reaction. 

Our lives are many times the only Bible that anyone will see, and our lives are definitely the only version of Jesus anyone will see.

Are you living your life in a way that would give glory to God, and make others wonder what you have?

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Favor- December 9, 2015

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee calledNazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings,favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and [z]she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For [aa]nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the [ab]bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38) Read the whole chapter here.

Favor. Mary was just a human like you and I. She didn't have special powers or half god half human blood. She was just a normal girl, from a normal town, living a normal life.

She was just minding her own business.

But sometimes when we mind our own business while living for God, God decides to step in and show favor. Mary was even perplexed by the statement of the angel. She was trying to figure out why she was so favored. 

There is no magical formula to follow to get favor. There is no mathematical formula of traits that make a person more or less favored. Favor is unmerited and given graciously and freely by God. But there is a pattern that follows most, if not all, people that God highly favors. Not everyone that follows this pattern is favored, but most people that are favored have followed this pattern.

Prayer and righteous living. God favors those who are close to him, those that follow His Word. 

We don't pray and live righteously to be favored or blessed. That's not the point. The point is glorifying God. God favors those that pray and live righteously to the glory of God.

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Nothing- December 8, 2015

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee calledNazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings,favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38) Read the whole chapter here.

Nothing is impossible with God. No sin is too big. No problem is too hard. No obstacle is too difficult. Our God is a God of the impossible.

In this Scripture, Mary is faced with a difficult truth. She has been told that she will conceive a son while still a virgin. She has been told that she has been chosen as the vessel to carry the very Son of God. Mary starts off a bit puzzled, and frankly a little scared. But look at how she responds right before the angel leaves her. May it be done according to your word.

Mary doesn't say, "May it be done according to my questions." She doesn't say, "May it be done according to my fear." She, instead, puts her trust into the God of the impossible. She places her trust in His Word, not her own thoughts or emotions.

Our God is the God of the impossible. He wants to do impossible things in and through your life. But first, you have to allow him to do so by trusting in His Word, not your own thoughts and emotions. 

How can you place more of your trust in God's Word today over your own thoughts and emotions?

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Fill The Jars- November 27, 2015

5 His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing [b]twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus *said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He *said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the [c]headwaiter.”So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter *called the bridegroom, 10 and *said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have [d]drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; butyou have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:5-10) Read the whole chapter here.

These guys filled the jars to the brim. They didn't go half way. They went all the way. Where is God telling you to give more? Where is he telling you to give 100%? 

When we give all we have, Jesus changes things. Jesus changes water into wine. Jesus can change lives. It's our responsibility to give him all that we have, and Jesus will change the lives. 

Whether it's joining a Serve Team (here), beginning to give financially (here), or just giving more of yourself to the Serve Team you are already involved in or giving a bigger percentage financially. 

God wants to use you. And when God uses you, he changes what you bring him into something even better. 

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One Thing- November 26, 2015

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Read the whole chapter here.

Love God. Love people. 

You can test whether you are truly pouring yourself out into others by asking a simple question. Am I loving God and loving people through doing ______? It's a hard question at times. But learning to build your life around loving God and loving people is the basis of growing to be more like Jesus.

What is ONE thing you can change today to better love God and love those around you? Ask God to help you change it, and work towards that! 

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Responsible- November 25, 2015

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23) Read the whole chapter here.

God has gifted you. He's given you abilities. He's given you talents. But with giftings, abilities, and talents come a big "R" word: responsibility.

Whatever you have, you are responsible for. God may have blessed you tremendously financially, but he's also given you the responsibility to manage your finances wisely. God may have given you the ability to lead others, but he's also given you the responsibility to lead them well and with integrity. 

When you have a gift, ability, talent, treasure, or whatever, use it as if you're working for the Lord. When you begin to see those that you lead through the eyes of Jesus, you will be responsible. When you see your finances through the eyes of stewardship, not ownership, you will be responsible. 

Working for the Lord comes through being responsible for what He's already given you, and giving it back to Him by using it well.

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My Hour- November 24, 2015

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus *said to her,“Woman, [a]what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:1-4) Read the whole chapter here.

This miracle was Jesus' first recorded. It's interesting that Jesus tells his mom that his hour had not yet come. There's something here that Jesus knows that his mother doesn't. He knows that as soon as his public ministry begins by doing a miracle, it will also mark the inevitable end of his life on a cross.

Jesus was human, just like you and I. Before Jesus is arrested, he is in the garden of Gethsemane physically, emotionally, and spiritually stressed because he knew what awaited him. Jesus probably felt a bit of that stress at this first miracle. He knew exactly why he came to Earth. He knew exactly what the Father's will was: to die for the sins of humanity. 

Jesus changing water to wine as his first miracle actually foreshadows the change that he was going to make in your life and my life. Jesus knew if he changed water to wine it would start the process of dying and taking on your sins. But Jesus changed the water to wine, so that he could change your old life of sin to new life in him.

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Friends- November 17, 2015

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I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:5) Read the whole chapter here.

When you begin to follow Jesus and make him your Savior and Lord, he isn't just a distant Savior. He is an intimate friend. Jesus wants to be with you through your hardest trials and your greatest victories.

When you begin to see him as your friend, he will begin to show you that he really does care about everything you are going through. He cares about the big things and the little things. Because that's what friends do; they care; they love; they stay. 

Jesus is your friend, and he wants you to realize that he's right there with you. Thank him for being your friend and staying with you through thick and thin. Ask him to help you realize this truth more and more.

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