Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: The First Step to a Miracle

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“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them …. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go … buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages!’” (Mark 6:34-37 NIV)

If you want God to do a miracle in your life, the first thing you have to do is admit that you have an unsolvable problem.

Mark 6:34-37 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them …. So he began teaching them many things. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go … buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages!’” (NIV)

In this passage, we learn the three typical responses to an unsolvable problem in our lives: We procrastinate, we pass the buck, and we worry.

First, we procrastinate. It was already late in the day when the disciples brought the problem to Jesus. They had all day to figure out how to feed the 5,000 people. When we have a problem we can’t solve, we just keep putting it off. We delay. We pretend it doesn’t exist. We look the other way.

What problem are you avoiding in your marriage? What problem in your finances have you procrastinated about? What problem in your body are you putting off addressing? Procrastination only makes problems worse.

Second, we pass the buck. We blame other people. Instead of dealing with the problem, the disciples wanted to send the people away. They thought, “Hey, we didn’t invite these people out here. We didn’t promise them food.” So they didn’t take responsibility for the need. Have you ever done that with a problem in your life?

The third thing we do is worry. We fret, we stew, we get anxious, we get stressed out. When Jesus told the disciples to feed the people, their anxiety went into overdrive. I can just imagine Peter doing the cost analysis. “Five thousand people! How are we ever going to get the food and keep it hot and distribute it and then clean it up?”

Just like we do when we face a seemingly unsolvable problem, the disciples procrastinated, they passed the buck, and they worried. What’s the problem with this picture? They’re standing next to Jesus — the guy who can easily turn stones into bread if he wanted to, yet when he tells them to do something, they say, “Lord that’s practically, financially, and humanly impossible.”

Has God ever asked you to do something impossible and you replied, “Lord, I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the education.”

God wants you to do the impossible because he wants to stretch your faith. When you have an unsolvable problem, just admit it, and then wait to see how God can turn it into a miracle.

12-31-15-Daring-Faith-The-First-Step-to-a-Miracle_mini

 

Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

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Christmas · Jentezen Franklin · Joel Osteen · Motivate Me · Motivation

MOTIVATE ME: Everything You Need to Know About the Daniel Fast

Motivate Me

In the beginning of each year thousands of believers in God (Jesus) are going on a Daniel Fast. While some fully understand what it is and how to do it, others are new to the idea of fasting and need more help than others.  In the next few paragraphs I will talk about the What, Why and the How of the Daniel Fast.

What is Fasting?


Fasting ALWAYS involves FOOD! You might have heard some say: “I am fasting my friends,” or “I am fasting television,” etc. However these people misunderstand what fasting is and isn’t. The Hebrew word for fast means “to cover the mouth.” The Greek word for fast means “to abstain from food.” While we do need to get away from every day destructions of our lives and spend time alone with God, away from people, fasting is always about restricting food! Everything else is self-discipline and dying to our flesh. So, to truly benefit from the fast one would have to restrict/change their normal food intake.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline. It is done not so we can change God’s mind, but rather to get quiet before Him, so we can hear what He is speaking. When we satisfy our flesh with everything that it demands we tend to drown out God’s voice because we become very preoccupied with self-gratification. During fasting we take charge of our flesh, making it a servant to our spirit, and thus we are able to get in tune with what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us.

Fasting is NEVER to be done to show off what one might perceive as spirituality. Jesus was very clear on the subject.

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

So, when you fast, don’t toot your own horn, don’t brag about what you are doing and how you are “sacrificing” something for God—let the Lord be your Rewarder, not men! However, if you are taking part in a congregational fast, feel free to invite others to join, with humility. You might find that having outside support will help you be more diligent about your efforts as well.

What is the Daniel Fast?

The Daniel Fast is a Biblically based partial fast* based on two instances of Daniel’s fasting experiences.

“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.” (Daniel 1:12)

“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” (Daniel 10:1-2)

Based on the information that we glean from these references we understand that the Daniel Fast eating plan is vegan in nature, with additional restrictions. In the first Scripture, we see that Daniel ate only:

  • Only Fruits and Vegetables
  • And drank ONLY water

Which would also mean that he ate no processed, artificial, or chemically altered foods. From the second Scripture, we learn that Daniel’s diet did not allow:

  • Animal products
  • Pleasant/precious food, which would include all sweeteners, including honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, etc.
  • Alcohol

It has become a tradition that during the Daniel Fast people abstain from

  • Any kind of leavened bread (anything made with yeast, baking powder, baking soda, etc.)

However, digging into the Scriptures, you could not find a reference indicating that it should be the case. If we did the 21 fast, which is referred to in Daniel 10, then what Daniel said was as follows:

“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” (v 3).

I know that some translations say: “I ate no pleasant bread,” while others say: “I ate no desirable bread” and yet others say: “I didn’t eat any good-tasting food.”

I know some refer to Daniel 1 for food guidelines: fruit, veggies only. However, the chapter never says how long Daniel and his friends ate that way, neither does the Bible call it a fast.

 

Why the Daniel Fast?

Fasting is not a diet! Fasting is not done for weight loss! Fasting is ALWAYS done for spiritual purposes. Fasting should be done with a PURPOSE! Before you begin the fast you should decide on the purpose of your fast. Without a purpose, you will be simply dieting. Take the time to prayerfully consider the reason of your fast.

What is your greatest need at this time? Can your marriage grow stronger? Are you facing financial difficulties? Do you want to learn to trust God and develop a deeper relationship with Him?

Take the time in prayer to decide on the purpose of your fast.

When you are fasting, set time aside for prayer, worship, meditation and Bible study. Keep a journal of your revelations, of what God is speaking to you. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you and to reveal areas in your life that need purification.

What Happens During the Fast?


Daniel Fast is undertaken by people of all ages for many various reasons. However, whatever your need/reason is you can be certain that your entire being will benefit from it: Spirit, Soul and Body.

We are a triune being. When we fast we learn to allow God-intended order into our life: human is a spirit that possesses a soul and lives in a body.

Body
Our bodies are most definitely going to be effected as we change our diet for 21 days. For some the change is going to be very dramatic. You might experience detoxing from food addictions, such as: caffeine, processed or unnatural foods, chemicals and sugar.

The symptoms that accompany detox process might be light or more pronounced: headaches, leg cramps, fatigue, nausea and even light depression. As the body will detox, the symptoms will alleviate and you will experience more energy, better sleep, clearer and sharper mind, and many other benefits. So, take the time to ride it out.

Soul
The soul is the central place of our emotions, intellect and will. It is the place where we make decisions, experience anger, fear, love, frustration and cravings. The soul is frequently referred to as “the flesh” in the Bible.

During the fast your soul may rebel against the change in your diet. You will get an opportunity to experience and win this battle over the flesh, which might prove to be one of the most powerful lessons of the fast.

Spirit
Our spirit is the part of us that has been born again when we gave our lives over to Christ. It should be the part that surrenders to God. When we are fully surrendered we can truly abide with the Father and the Son. Our spirit is filled with the Holy Spirit if we yield to Him.

The purpose of the fast is to place our spirit in control of the other two parts of us: soul and body. When our flesh is acting out with a craving, we take control of it with our spirit (just imagine as parents would take control of a rebellious child).

 

Preparing for the Daniel Fast

In addition to spending time in prayer to decide on the focus of your fast you should take the time to prepare your body as well. Start easing off things that you feel you cannot live without: ease off caffeine, sugar, animal (if you eat an omnivorous diet) and processed foods. Try to do it before the first day of the fast, otherwise you might experience mild-to-strong detox symptoms: headaches, cramping, nausea, etc.

I would also strongly suggest for you not to go on an eating binge of all your favorite food the night before your fast begins! I call it the Last Supper when I train people. First, it really shows that your flesh is stronger than your spirit, secondly, it will be harder for you to start the fast because processed, animal and fatty foods will create a craving that will be hard to deal with for days to come.

To prepare for the fast, start drinking more water to flush out toxins faster and make the transition easier.

A Word About Water

If you don’t drink enough water, your body is probably used to storing water. Water retention=extra unwanted weight. Before and during the fast you need to learn to consume enough water to stay hydrated. How much water exactly? While there is no specific formula, the suggestion is:

HALF OF YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN OUNCES

So, if you weigh 180 lbs., you should drink 90 oz. of filtered water a day.

By increasing fluid consumption you will help your body to flush out toxins and train it not to store extra water. You can drink warm/hot water throughout the day with a wedge of lemon to help reduce fluid retention. However, make sure that you the water you drink is without chemicals as much as possible.

The longer you consume Daniel Fast diet, the more you will find that eventually you not be as thirsty anymore, since most of your foods will keep their natural juices: fruits, vegetables, blended smoothies, etc. You will learn to follow your body’s thirst and hunger signals, as it gets more adapted to a cleaner diet.

During the Fast

Physically, especially in the beginning of the fast, you might experience hunger pains. Before going for a snack or a meal drink some water—most people misunderstand signs of dehydration for hunger. If you drink some water the “hunger” pains might go away. If hunger does not go away, make sure to snack, not to experience sugar spikes.

The purpose of the fast is not to simply change the foods you eat but also to restrict how much you eat, so learn to spend the time you would normally spend eating in prayer and meditation. However it is also advisable that you eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three huge “square” meals and overwhelm your body. By “snacking” throughout the day, you will be able to aid your body in processing the foods you eat faster and easier, while maintaining the level of clarity needed to perform daily tasks.

Spiritually, you will experience a more successful fast when you spend time each day in prayer and communion with God. Establish a time during the day for quite time and meditation on the Word of God. Study His Word and seek His face. You might have to set aside some time at home, or, if you have a long commute to and from work, take it to talk to the Savior, worship and listen to an audio Bible.

Emotionally, you might be tempted during the fast to break a few “rules” and eat/drink something your body craves. For example, you might decide not to drink water only but include herbal teas. However, think that Daniel refused to eat any pleasant food/drinks, and for the most part the herbal teas that we consume are to add a pleasant taste. There are exceptions when you might be drinking certain herbs for therapeutic reasons, such as parsley, chamomile or clover teas.

If the temptation comes, I hope you can learn a lesson by examining yourself. Ask yourself why you would want the thing you desire. If you respond in the manner that will indicate that it is because YOU WANT it, it will be a good time to exercise control over your flesh and show it who is truly in control. However, I would highly recommend not to get too legalistic with some of the guidelines—after all, it is the condition of your spirit (your heart) that matters most to God. So, if drinking an herbal tea is not a big deal (an addiction) for you, and you decide to do it, do so, with peace in your heart.

 

Daniel Fast Approved Foods

I found a great list of foods on-line that is Daniel Fast friendly. You can print it out and take it with you when you go grocery shopping.


All fruits. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. However, you will fill much better physically if you consume fresh fruit. If you decide on canned fruit, make sure that no sweeteners of preservatives were used in the process. I also would suggest avoiding juiced fruit (if you juice at home), as the released sugars will spike your blood sugar levels too fast. By keeping the fiber you will still enjoy the fruit, while also keeping your body happy.

Fruits include but are not limited to: apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, guava, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemons, limes, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, prunes, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangelos, tangerines, watermelon.

All vegetables. These can be fresh, frozen, dried, juiced or canned. Same rule would apply to canned vegetables as to that of fruit.

Vegetables include but are not limited to: all kinds of greens, artichokes, asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, ginger root, kale, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, scallions, spinach, sprouts, squashes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, yams, zucchini.

All whole grains, including but not limited to: whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats, barley, grits, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, rice cakes and popcorn.

All nuts and seeds, including but not limited to: sunflower seeds, cashews, peanuts, sesame. Also, additive free nut butters including peanut butter, although I highly recommend avoiding peanut butter, unless it is freshly made, as it might be highly processed and roasted oils (as found in roasted nuts) are harmful to our health.

All legumes. These can be canned or dried. If canned, make sure not preservatives or sugars were used.

Legumes include, but are not limited to: dried beans, pinto beans, split peas, lentils, black eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, white beans.

Beverages: spring water, distilled water or other pure waters.

Other: soy sauce, vinegar, seasonings, salt (sea or Himalayan salt preferred, see below for a detailed explanation), herbs and spices.

Salt
Table Salt is highly processed, and most of the times not vegan in nature, which means it has some sort of animal residue in it, due to processing. Oftentimes, to bleach salt it is processed through crushed animals bones. Not only that, but since it is highly processed it has NO nutritional value and is sure to raise your blood pressure.

As humans we need very little salt in our diet and we regularly consume way too much of it. This fast will be an opportunity for you to retrain your body to eat healthier… and to feel better! If you do decide to use salt, buy the kinds still have minerals in it, such as Sea or Himalayan salt.

 

Foods to Avoid on the Daniel Fast

All meat and animal products including but not limited to: beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish.

All dairy products including but not limited to:milk, cheese, cream, butter, and eggs.

All sweeteners including but not limited to:sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrups, molasses, and cane juice.

All sweet baked goods.

All refined and processed food products including but not: limited to artificial flavorings, food additives, chemicals, white rice, white flour, and foods that contain artificial preservatives.

All deep fried foods including but not limited to:potato chips, French fries, corn chips.

All solid fats including shortening, margarine, lard and foods high in fat.

Beverages including but not limited to: coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcohol.

Read the Labels
I would strongly suggest not using any packaged (boxed), canned or bottled foods during the fast. However, if you do, please remember to READ THE LABELS! Foods should be sugar and chemical free. Using boxed whole wheat pasta products, as long as they contain basic ingredients, should be just fine.

Medication & Supplements during the Fast
You should seek the advice of your health care practitioner about medications you might be taking. If you depend on them for any serious reason DO NOT discontinue them without first advising your doctor. Supplements are food for the most part and can be safely taken during Daniel Fast.

Special Note: if you have health issues, please be sure to contact your health professional for advice before committing to any fast. You can print out the list of foods you will be using on the Daniel Fast and take it with you.

Daniel Fast is very sound and safe and most practitioners will be more than happy to approve it. However, if in doubt, check it out!

 

A True Fast

In all things, I would like to remind you that being legalistic about these guidelines is not the best decision. After all, a true fast happens in the heart of the person fasting—it is much more important than the foods s/he eats. If you end up being stranded somewhere and cannot fulfill the fast guidelines you choose, you will have to eat what you can. Maintaining a heart of worship and humility is going to be what matters in the end. That is the fast that the Lord chooses.

Read Isaiah 58:6-9 (and the whole chapter) (NIV):

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

 

I hope to see you there, and I wish God’s blessings for you. May He answer your prayers and may you successfully subdue your flesh into a full submission to your spirit.

Blessings
As you start on your fast I pray God’s blessings for you. May He answer your prayers and may you successfully subdue your flesh into a full submission to your spirit. Remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) If He could do a miracle in our lives, He is sure capable to do it for you too, because “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

 

Step 1: Be Specific
Daniel was not vague in his objection to the Babylonian diet. He defined the problem immediately.

  1. The king’s food was against dietary laws.
  2. Daniel and his friends had vowed against wine.
  3. The king’s food had been offered up to idols/demons.

Step 2: Fast as a Spiritual Commitment
The Daniel Fast involves a spiritual commitment to God. “Daniel proposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).

Step 3: Reflect Inner Desire by Outer Discipline
Many people have an inner desire for better health, but they can’t discipline themselves to avoid junk food, and other foods that are not good for their health. The physical health you seek from God may be more than an answer to prayer. Your physical health can be linked to any of the following factors:

  1. Your food choices.
  2. The level of your spiritual commitment as reflected in constant prayer during the fast.
  3. Your time commitment. If you determine to fast for a certain time, keep it. For example, if you determine to fast 10 days, don’t stop on Day 9.
  4. Your testimony commitment. Your fast is a statement of faith to God that you want Him to heal your body, and faith is foundational to the Daniel Fast.

Step 4: Pray to Perceive Sin’s Role in Poor Health
Notice James 5:13-16:

  • Sin is something related to the cause of sickness.
  • Lack of health/healing may be the result of spiritual rebellion.
  • Lack of health/healing may be due to sin of wrong intake, i.e. drugs, pornography.
  • Repentance is linked to health according to James.
  • Elders have a role in healing both spiritual and physical health.
  • Sick people must desire to be well
  • The anointing oil could mean
    1. Medicine for healing,
    2. Symbolic of the Holy Spirit, or
    3. It could be baptism
  • Prayer alone may not gain healing, faith is the major factor.
  • In Greek there are several words for “sick”. James uses “Kanino”, which not only includes disease, but also means weak or weary.
  • Attitude is important. James said, “are there any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”

Step 5: Fast as a Statement of Faith to Others
Daniel was making a statement of faith when he asked for only vegetables to eat and water to drink, then dared the overseer to compare the appearance of the four sons of Israel with the young men who ate the king’s food.

Step 6: Learn the Effects of the Food You Eat
Why are some foods good for us, and other foods not? What does certain food do to your body? If we really knew, there would likely be some things we would never eat again.

Step 7: Yield All Results to God
Daniel said, “as you see fit, deal with your servants” (Dan. 1:13).

Daniel 1:12
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.”

Daniel 10:3 KJV
“I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

When going on a Daniel fast, or any type of fast, if you have questions outside of what Scripture says, prayerfully seek the Lord and be led by the Spirit for the specifics for your personal fast.

Be blessed,

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(Source: Jentezen Franklin, Vegelicious, Joel Osteen)

Family

FAMILY: Christian Conflict Five Ways to Fight It

Family

I wish I never had to deal with conflict. I am a card-carrying conflict avoider. Whatever the reason (character, context, sin, etc). I would rather run away from conflict than take it head on. It wasn’t until I began my training as a counselor at nearly thirty-years-old that someone explained conflict didn’t always have to do damage. In fact, it was possible to have conflict with a person and to feel closer to them in the wake of it.

This was a revolutionary idea to me. However, skilled conflict doesn’t come easy. It requires dedication, persistence and the willingness to forgive when things go poorly. In other words, it mirrors the rest of our Christian walk.

Scripture has something to say to us in this regard. While studying Colossians 3:12–17, I was taken by the fact that these attributes — which we are to cultivate in our lives as Christians — should be exercised both externally (to the world) and internally (to our Christian brothers and sisters). I think Colossians 3:12 specifically helps us to get a bit of a roadmap for what it looks like for Christians to struggle alongside and with one another:

1. Compassion

It is no surprise that compassion is the first attribute listed for Paul. Compassion is the emotion most often ascribed to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13; Matthew 9:38; 14:14; 15:32; Mark 6:34; 8:2).

To be compassionate means to be moved, deeply, by the state of another. In order to be moved by someone’s condition, we must struggle to understand his or her condition. It means rushing to hear rather than to speak (Proverbs 18:13). It means being willing to understand how they’ve been hurt, even when you are the one who has done the wounding. This is especially difficult when both parties feel that they’ve been wronged. However, it is a sign of spiritual maturity to be the first one to lay aside (if only temporarily) one’s own feelings in order to listen to someone else’s.

2. Kindness

Kindness is compassion in action. Be willing to show through your actions that even in the midst of conflict you still love and care for one another. Nothing can escalate a conflict more quickly than a poorly placed eye roll, shrug, or sigh. Body language and tone of voice are crucial to communicating care in tense times. Being kind also means guarding your thoughts and your words. Constructive communication is so often scuttled in advance as both parties stew in their own thoughts and feelings of hurt and anger.

Confront those thoughts. Remind yourself that you, too, are a sinner who desperately needs grace (Romans 3:23). Pray prayers of thanksgiving for God’s provision of forgiveness in your life and beseech the Lord that you would reflect some of that back to the person with whom you are in conflict (Colossians 3:13).

3. Humility

Humility is action without regard for reward. So often people enter into conflict with a sort of “game theory” mentality. The whole exchange becomes about assigning blame and fault rather than building each other up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15–16; Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11). Die to your desire for personal gain through conflict and instead live to the idea that you have an incredible opportunity to display Christ!

4. Gentleness

Gentleness is action received as help, not just condemnation. This means that our conflict needs a measure of intentionality to it. So often conflict is just a volcanic eruption of emotion rather than a strategic release of pressure. While we cannot choose when and where someone will hurt us (or us them), we can choose how and when we will communicate about it.

Also, not all hurts need to be discussed. If on a scale of one to ten, your hurt is less than or equal to five, then try to forgive and just move on (Colossians 3:13). But if you can’t or if it’s bigger than that, then be wise about how and when you discuss it. For example, some people are morning people; if you start the conversation and it’s late into the night, you can’t expect them to pay very much attention and vice versa for night people. You can also choose to use words which are not meant to be hurtful and which lack accusation (Proverbs 16:24). No matter how frustrated and angry you feel, choosing to use words that put someone on the defensive rarely works (less than 8% of the time!) We have the ability to accurately describe our experiences of pain without having to try to hurt others.

5. Patience

Patience allows us to continue to offer help even when it doesn’t appear to yield results. In seminary I had a professor who once asked, “Can you be as patient with X as God is being patient with you?” Replace X with the name of the person with whom you are in conflict. Every time we sin, God doesn’t send a giant lightning bolt to zap us. And I’ll be darned if I don’t tend to sin in the same ways now as I did in the past. Yet God doesn’t cast me off or throw me aside. Instead he promises to his people, “[I] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

People tend to struggle with the same sorts of things their entire lives. Are you friends with someone who isn’t good at asking for help? Is your spouse someone who doesn’t communicate well? Does your sibling stink at details? Guess what, that’s probably not to going to dramatically change anytime soon. We don’t have to pretend that those things don’t cause hurt — they do — but we shouldn’t let our expectations get too crazy either. Being a lovingly consistent voice is far greater than an occasionally shrill one.

Being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient in the midst of conflict can be extraordinarily tough. Yet Paul’s advice is clear that these attributes need to be self-evident in every sphere of our lives and at all times (Colossians 3:17). Doing so not only increases the chances that on the opposite side of conflict we will be closer together, but it effectively points to the character of Christ at a time and in a place where the gospel is needed most.

 

God Bless,

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(Source: Josh Squires)

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

MOTIVATE ME: Grow, Sow, and Go in Faith

Motivate Me

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7 NLT, second edition)

God wants you to focus on growing, sowing, and going in faith.

First, God wants you to grow in faith. He doesn’t want you to be a spiritual baby! The Bible says in Colossians 2:7: “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT, second edition).

And, God wants you to sow in faith. He wants you to learn to become generous, because you cannot become like Christ without becoming generous. The Bible says,“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV).

This is the law of sowing and reaping, and it’s true in every area of life. If you sow criticism, you’re going to reap criticism. If you sow love, you’ll reap love. If you sow kindness, you will reap kindness. And you always reap more than you sow. When you plant one corn kernel in the ground, you don’t get one kernel back. You get a whole stalk. You always get more back —positive or negative — of what you put out in life.

Then, God wants you to go in faith.

Hebrews 11:8 says, “It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go”(NCV).

Would you do that? Abraham was up in years. He was in his retirement phase, just about to hang it up and settle down when God said, “No. Dust yourself off, and get ready for the greatest journey of your life.” When you live by faith, it involves going, often to places you were never planning to go.

Why is it so important for you to develop your faith?

Because everything that God does in your life he does by his grace and through your faith:

“Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6a NIV).

“According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29b).

“Anything that is not done in faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b GW).

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Be blessed,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivation · Power Thoughts

POWER THOUGHTS: Rejected by Friends, Loved by Jesus

PowerThoughts1

As 2015 draws to a close, we might take stock of the year’s accomplishments and assess the outcome of desired goals. We look back at notable highlights and milestones celebrated. But the year-end survey might also reveal difficulties in relationships — that close friend who distanced herself, the extended family member who excluded you, your old school buddy who unfriended you, or a coworker or neighbor with whom you can’t seem to connect.

Strained relationships are hard no matter the reason. But when the underlying cause is Christ, there is a unique dynamic, one that may be rife with pain, yet abounding in blessing.

Peace on Earth?

Every year around this time, we hear “peace on earth” in connection with Jesus’s birth. The message resonates, as we all long for peace, including peace in our relationships. But the heavenly host’s proclamation had a qualification: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). By God’s grace, believers have peace with God through Christ and an abiding peace within. But peace across the board in our relationships is not promised.

In fact, Jesus let us know that the opposite would be true. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). It is telling that when Jesus shed light on his statement, he spoke of intimate, familial relationships. Father and son, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, members of one’s household — they would be set against one another because of Christ.

It’s a truth of kingdom life — Christ divides. Believing Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, being unashamed of the gospel, holding firm to eternal truth will cost us. Taking up our cross and following him puts us at odds with the world, and in our relationships in the world.

Thankfully, in his goodness and grace, Jesus told us what to expect. We shouldn’t be shocked that our devotion to him has cost us. And yet, the pain can be very real.

The Blessing in Sharing Jesus’s Suffering

When a childhood friend cuts ties, no matter how subtle, or a coworker invites everyone but you to an after-work gathering, the rejection is felt to the core. We may wonder what we could have done differently. Maybe we should have used words like “God” and “faith” rather than Jesus. Maybe we should have kept quiet or given a politically correct response when asked our opinion, rather than shared biblical truth.

But rejection should not drive us to dial back our devotion to Jesus. Instead, we lean into it. There’s no relationship more precious, none more important. Like the apostle Paul, the cry of our heart ought be to know him. Sharing in his suffering deepens that knowing.

Indeed, we are called to such suffering. We serve a Savior who suffered in the flesh for us. Though he committed no sin, he bore our sins on the cross, so that we might be saved. And as he lives in and through us, we too learn what it means to suffer. Unlike the suffering that comes from sin, suffering for the sake of righteousness makes us more like Christ.

Our pain helps us to abide more deeply with Jesus. We grow in our appreciation of the depth of his sacrifice, and in turn, grow in our desire to live more sacrificially for him. Having been rejected, Jesus understands our pain and loves us through it. Shared suffering fosters a holy kinship.

The Joy in Earthly Rejection

An interesting thing happens when man rejects us. It hurts, and we may hit an emotional low, but spiritually, we are positioned to soar. It’s as if, paradoxically, the more we are rejected because of Christ, the more we are able to abound. The contrast in these verses is astounding:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.” (Luke 6:22–23)

“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)

When we are hated and excluded because of Christ, we do not feel like rejoicing. We focus on the hurt and betrayal, the slander, and whatever else has come against us. And we focus on the offending person, especially if it is someone we know and love. We wallow in our disappointment, wishing the circumstance could be different.

But from the Lord’s perspective, we could not be in a better place. We have held fast to our first love. We have laid down our life for the Savior. We have shown, maybe to ourselves for the first time, that we no longer live to please people but God. This is cause for rejoicing.

If Jesus says to “leap for joy” when we are rejected for his sake, we can believe that he gives grace for that glorious leap. He meets us in that low place and fills us with joy. And not only that, such suffering finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20). He blesses us because of it, and will one day reward us.

The Blessing of the Body

We may have lost friends and even family members because of Christ, but he makes us a promise: We will receive many times as much both now and in the age to come (Luke 18:29–30). Our blessing in this regard is the body of Christ. As fellow children of God, this is our true family.

We have fellow brothers and sisters who understand the pain of rejection, because we endure the same suffering. We are able to minister comfort and encouragement to one another, to exhort one another to stand firm, and to pray for one another.

As aliens in this world, the only ones who truly understand us are fellow aliens. These are the people with whom we will dwell for eternity. They may look nothing like our blood family. They may not be the people we would naturally gravitate toward for friendship. But in Christ, we belong to one another. We need one another. The Lord knew, and gave us a holy bond that is unbreakable.

A New Mindset for the New Year

We do not hope for rejection, but in Christ, it may come. Let us resolve now to rejoice in that day, knowing that our hope is secure in Christ, and to pray for those who persecute us. Ultimately, they are not rejecting us, but Christ.

As we seek the Lord for their souls, we may be part of their future testimony of redemption through his grace and power.

Rejected by Friends, Loved by Jesus

 

Love and joy to you all,

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(Source: Kim Cash Tate)

John Maxwell · Leadership

LEADERSHIP: CLOSE TO THE HEART OF GOD

leadership

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

When Samuel first heard God’s voice, he was “in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was” (1 Samuel 3:3). That was a good place to be, because that location was as close to the presence of God as a person could be in those days-unless, of course, he were the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year.

Close to God is where every leader belongs. That doesn’t mean you have to be in a place of formal worship; it just means you need to have an attitude of worship wherever you are. It’s a posture of the heart.

That’s a lesson I learned while in college and then took into the ministry. When I was attending Circleville Bible College, I used to go out to a deserted house after my classes and spend time with God every afternoon. It became my special place to connect with Him. Since then, I’ve always had a special place I visit to listen to God.

If you want to become the kind of person that others listen to, then get better acquainted with God. Connect with Him on a consistent basis, and you will greatly increase the likelihood that you will connect with others.

Be blessed,

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(Source: John Maxwell)

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

MOTIVATE ME: Faith Produces Resilience

Motivate Me

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT, second edition)

Faith unlocks the promises of God and it shows us the power of God and it turns dreams into reality and it gives us the power to hold on in tough times.

But faith doesn’t always take you out of the problem. Faith often takes you through the problem. Faith doesn’t always take away the pain. Faith gives you the ability to handle the pain. Faith doesn’t take you out of the storm. Faith calms you in the midst of the storm.

I remember reading the stories of Corrie ten Boom, a young Dutch Christian who helped many Jews escape the Holocaust before being sent to the Nazi death camps. She said that the people who lasted in those camps were those who had the deepest faith. Why? Because faith gives you the power to hold on in tough times. It produces persistence.

Study after study has shown that probably the most important characteristic you could teach a child (and that you need in your own life) is resilience. It’s the ability to bounce back. It’s the ability to keep going. Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of successes. Everybody has failures and mistakes. We all embarrass ourselves. We all have pain. We all have problems. We all have pressures. The people who make it in life have resilience.

 

Where do you get the resilience to keep going? Faith. It’s believing God could do something any moment that could change the direction of your life, and you don’t want to miss it, so you keep moving forward. It’s believing that God will give you exactly what you need when you need it as you learn to rely on him to accomplish his purpose in you.

This is the testimony of Paul, a great man of faith: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT, second edition).

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Be blessed,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

Motivate Me · Motivation · Rick Warren

MOTIVATE ME: What Faith Does to Your Dreams

Motivate Me

“Glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

Faith turns God-given dreams into reality. Nothing happens until somebody starts dreaming!

The Bible is full of people who had God-given dreams. Abraham dreamed of being the father of a great nation. Moses dreamed of setting God’s people free. Joseph dreamed of saving a nation and his own family. Throughout Scripture, there are all kinds of people who were inspiring dreamers, like Daniel and Paul and David.

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (TLB).

Now, if there were ever a “blank check” verse in the Bible, that’s it. God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask. What are you afraid to ask God for? He is able to do far more than we could even dream of.

If there were tears in Heaven, it would simply be because we would get there and realize all the things that we could have done if we had just believed God a little bit more. To me that would be Hell! Hell for me would be being shown everything I could have accomplished and become as a husband, a father, and a pastor if I had just believed God a little bit more.

But there aren’t any tears in Heaven, and God gives you everything you need right now to accomplish what he has planned for you. I want to challenge you to dream big about your relationships, your marriage, your family, and your career. Your faith can turn those dreams into reality, because God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask or even dream of.

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Be blessed,

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(Source: Rick Warren)

John Maxwell · Leadership

LEADERSHIP: CLOSER THAN A BROTHER

leadership

But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers!”  Matthew 12:48-49

When you’re looking for potential leaders, if someone you’re considering lacks loyalty, he’s disqualified. Don’t even consider taking him on the journey with you because in the end, he’ll hurt you more than help you. So what does it mean for others to be loyal to you?

  1. They love you unconditionally – They accept you with your strengths and weaknesses intact. They care for you, but don’t put you on a pedestal.
  2. They represent you well to others – Loyal people may take you to task privately or hold you accountable, but they never criticize you to others.
  3. They are able to laugh and cry with you as you travel together – This makes the trip less lonely.
  4. They make your dream, their dream – Some people will share the journey with you only briefly. But a few, a special few, will want to come alongside you and help you for the rest of the way.

When people combine loyalty with other talents and abilities, they can be some of your greatest assets. If you find people like that, take good care of them.

Be blessed,

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(Source: John Maxwell)

Blogging Thru The Bible · Job · The Bible

BLOGGING THRU: We Begin……Book of Job {Introduction}

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I am SO excited to announce our next study! We begin Monday, January 4th in the Book of Job! All are welcome to join anytime – there are no enrollments or sign-ups!

Introducing the book of Job (2)

New 2016 Schedule

December 28th-January 4th – Regrouping Begins & New Leaders Group Opens

If you are looking to join an open group that meets on facebook or via email – please join our group below. We are ready to welcome you in with open arms!

Join our FB UK GMG Bible Study Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/724894230988215/

January 4th – February 26th 

We will read the book of Job, one chapter a day (except on two days when we combine chapters to make this an 8 week study).This will be such an encouraging study as we remember that God knows our trials, knows our limits and we can rest in His sovereign grace.

February 27th – March 6th 

Take a one week break.

March 7th – March 28th

New study begins in the book of Mark.  I love studying the gospels during the days leading up to Resurrection Sunday!

Here’s the Printable Bible Bookmark

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Please Note: 2 of the days we combined chapters so we can complete the book of Job in 8 weeks.

We use SOAK Method for our study:

92H

 

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I’m so excited you are here!

**WAVES**

Have a wonderful, blessed week and let’s study together.

Peace be with you,

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