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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thoughts on surgery day

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Today is the day that I had surgery following the suspicious nature of my post thyroid cancer follow up. None of us like to hear the word “cancer” when getting a report from the doctor. After hearing the possibility, I dove into God’s word for the comfort that I needed.  Here are some thoughts God gave me.
Cancer is so limited...it cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot destroy peace. It cannot kill friendship. It cannot suppress memories. It cannot invade the soul. It cannot steal eternal life. It cannot conquer the spirit.

I love those words. They beautifully reflect the truth found in God's Word. Paul, facing physical challenges, could say with confidence, "We ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure" (2 Corinthians 4:7). The apostle, like you or someone you know, experienced suffering as an ever-present companion. Yet he chose to "fix his gaze on things that cannot be seen".

Paul's faith and confidence flowed from the treasure within him - God's transforming power - and the future that awaited him - eternity with Jesus. He knew that when this life was over he would be forever in God's presence, where there will be "no more death or sorrow or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

When suffering comes, we can pour out our hearts to. He is with us in our pain. We can worship Him when He chooses to heal and when He chooses not to heal. But no limited thing like disease or suffering can ever separate us from His love. An ultimate healing, as Christian composer Wayne Watson puts it, lies just ahead. Today, fix your eyes on what can't be seen - what an awesome, breathtaking view!

Dear Lord, we thank You that You are in control of everything. Give us the strength to look ahead knowing that the view is awesome. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, August 13, 2018

It Starts With Me Getting Uncomfortable

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Has anyone ever interrupted you in the middle of something really important? Maybe you’ve been watching the newest episode of your favorite TV show, it’s just getting good and then your mom yells for you to go take out the trash or your son or daughter want help with homework. Or you’re walking into the mall and a homeless man stops you to ask for money. It can be extremely frustrating to be inconvenienced by other people and their needs.

In Acts 10, Peter is in the middle of praying and is interrupted by two men who are coming to ask him to travel from Joppa to Caesarea. The Lord tells Peter to go with these men on a 30-mile journey to another city. If you ask me, Peter was extremely interrupted and inconvenienced. Not only was Peter interrupted, but also was asked to travel 30 miles to another city for no reason other than they asked him to. Peter did not show anger. He did not get frustrated with God or the men that approached him. Instead, Peter stood up, pushed his needs to the side and started his way to Caesarea.

At the end of Acts 10, Peter has finally made it to Caesarea. You can imagine that after walking 30 miles, he is tired and exhausted, but Peter continues to share the Gospel with all of the people that are present. Because Peter did what was uncomfortable, many came to know Jesus and start a relationship with him.

Being a Christian isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes being a Christian means pushing everything on your agenda to the side to talk to that friend that’s having a bad day. Peter didn’t know the great outcome of traveling to Caesarea. Neither do we always know the great that will come out of getting uncomfortable. A moment of being uncomfortable for you could lead to life change for someone else.

Is your comfort more important than helping someone else?

Dear Lord, we ask that You would give us more opportunities to go out of our way.  Help us to take those uncomfortable opportunities when they arise and shine for You. In The Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

It Starts With Me Inviting Them.

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Because Jesus promised to build His Church and has given us the Holy Spirit to empower us, we can have confidence and boldness when inviting people to church!

Most people would not attend a party they aren’t invited to. This applies to church too. While we know that the doors are always open and everyone is invited, most of the time people won’t feel comfortable coming unless someone has invited them. This is where we play our part. People hear the gospel and encounter Jesus at church, and because of this, evangelism starts with me inviting them!

We interact with hundreds of different people every week. The person who serves you at a restaurant, your coworkers, your teachers, your classmates, and your family all need Jesus. Inviting the person wrapping our burrito can be an uncomfortable moment for all involved, but when we invite people to church we are giving them an opportunity to hear and respond to the message of Jesus because church is a place where Jesus is celebrated and the gospel is preached. You don’t need a masters in theology, you simply need to be bold enough to let them know they are invited!

Imagine whose salvation is on the other side of an invitation from you? You might be afraid of them turning you down, but that’s OK. You have nothing to lose and they have everything to gain – it’s worth the ask!

Take a few minutes and ask Jesus to give you the boldness to invite someone to church. Also ask Him to soften their hearts so that when they hear the message of Jesus they would be saved.

Dear Lord, give us the boldness to invite someone to church.  We pray that their heart will be softened and ready to hear about Your great love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

It Starts With Me Looking Up

1 Corinthians 7:35 (ESV)
35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Our generation has great potential to reach and impact the world around us but this won’t happen as long as our eyes are looking down – fixed to our phones, our shoes, ourselves. If you want to make a difference in your family, at work, your school, your sports team and the world, then it starts with you looking up.

Technology is a great thing. It allows us to communicate with people all over the world at any moment. Imagine if we didn’t have the gift of technology and we had to communicate without it. Because we have such easy access to technology, it can quickly become a distraction. Instead of our eyes and hearts being focused on the people around us and on the opportunities, God gives us, we can become infatuated with our phones and spend most of our time scrolling timelines.

While Jesus faced many potential distractions (storms, hunger, critics, lack of sleep, betrayal, etc.), He didn’t allow these distractions to draw His attention away from what God had called Him to do or from the people God had called Him to minister to. With our eyes looking up, we will see more clearly the people God has brought into our lives who we can show the love of Jesus to. Only with our eyes looking up will we be able to bring change to the world as we recognize and respond to the people that God has put on our path.

Take the time to make a plan to prevent yourself being distracted by things that distract us from Jesus.

Jesus wants to use your life to impact and influence the world around you so start looking up!

Dear Lord, help us to look up to You. Help us to recognize the things that distract us from You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2018

It Starts With Me Having 20 Seconds Of Courage

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Telling a stranger about Jesus, your family about the Gauntlet, or your friends about Fuse can be an awkward experience for anyone. But evangelism starts with us just having 20 seconds of courage.

In the movie We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee – played by Matt Damon – says to his son, “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

As you have probably have realized by now, your heart beats quicker and your palms get sweaty when an opportunity for evangelism presents itself. This is normal! So instead of looking for an escape route, embrace the awkwardness and go for it. On the other side of this conversation could be someone’s eternal salvation.

It’s not up to us to save people; Jesus saves, we get to tell people about it. The message of Jesus living a perfect life, dying on a cross, and rising again has been ‘entrusted to us’ by God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).
Have 20 seconds of courage today and either take the opportunity of evangelism when it presents itself, or spend 20 seconds inviting someone to church. Trust the Bible that something great will happen because of your courage!

Evangelism isn’t for the experts. It starts with me, and it starts with you!

Dear Lord, give us that 20 seconds of courage today. Help us to rely on You and go for it when the opportunity is before us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

It Starts With Me Loving My Family

2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Want your family to love Jesus like you do? Then it starts with you loving your family.

Most people could name at least one person in their family who does not have a relationship with Jesus (if not more). Whether you are the first person in your family to believe in Jesus, or one among many, we each have an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to our family members, including our crazy Aunt Thelma.

As Christians, we are called “ambassadors for Christ”. This means that we are representatives of Jesus to our coworkers, school friends, bowling team or other sports teams, our Facebook followers, and to our families. We cannot excuse ourselves from the great task of showing our family the love and kindness that Jesus has shown us. Our moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and crazy aunts and uncles need Jesus just as much as we do. You have a great opportunity and responsibility to show your family not only how much Jesus loves them, but also how much Jesus has changed your life.

It won’t always be easy, but in every situation and conversation you can choose to be an ambassador for Christ and show your family the same love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy that He has shown you. While they may never cross paths with another Jesus follower, God has put YOU in their world not by accident, but on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose.

Take up the challenge of representing Christ to your family today!

Dear Lord we pray for opportunities to show our family the love of Jesus today. Give us patience and compassion to continue loving them as Jesus does. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It Starts With Me Setting Boundaries

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Let’s commit to set physical boundaries long before we get into a relationship. By knowing where you stand and what God has called you to do, you’ll be stronger and less likely to give into temptation when it comes.

It’s easy to decide you want to commit to purity. It’s way harder to follow through. Ambiguity is one of the leading causes of moral failure - you don’t make the right decision because you haven’t decided what the right decision is! A lot of us don’t take the time to process how we feel or what God has told us is within His will for us physically. It’s no wonder that when we’re in tempting situations, we cave.

Without knowing your own boundaries, it’s easy to blame the other person for ‘pushing your boundaries’ or ‘doing more than you would have wanted.’ Instead of making excuses, it’s time to own your purity. Decide how God wants you to live and be bold! Share your thoughts with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend early on and build accountability within your relationship, as well as with other trusted friends. Don’t wait until you’ve gone too far and feel guilty to determine your boundaries. Don’t wait until you hit the other person’s boundaries. Take initiative to protect both your purity and your significant other’s purity. Your relationship with Jesus and your ability to hear His voice will grow stronger when you realize that purity starts with you.

Pray that Jesus would give you a heart for purity and that you would truly desire to live your life His way and enjoy obeying Him.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would keep strong boundaries in our relationships. Help us to protect the ones that we love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

It Starts With Me Loving Jesus The Most

Colossians 3:1-2 (ESV)
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

You don’t get to have a godly relationship without first being godly yourself. Instead of pursuing a relationship, spend your time pursuing Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.

Many of us have when younger had probably pictured a happy, fun, romantic life as a married man or woman, It didn’t  just happen overnight. It started with us, and it starts with us loving Jesus more than we could possibly love another human.

Many of us think that we have gaps that can only be filled by our soulmate. The truth is that no matter how “perfect” the person you end up with may be, it still won’t be enough. If you want to have dating relationships that are successful in the eyes of Jesus, you have to seek Him, ask what He wants for you, and listen to what He thinks about dating. It starts with you submitting to Jesus. Only after you’ve gotten to the point where Jesus is your everything will you be whole enough to make a good wife or husband for someone else.

So don’t wait until you’ve met that person that you want to be with. Don’t wait until college is over to be more selective about who you date. Put Jesus first now and trust Him to bring about the right person at the right time. By doing this, you’ll get His best for you and avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache.

What could you do practically to put Jesus first?

The Bible makes it clear that Jesus’ highest priority for us is to love Him. Do you live like He is your highest priority?

Dear Lord, help us make you the highest priority in our life. Help us to not put anyone or anything ahead of You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2018

It Starts With Me Taking Responsibility

Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

If you want to do all that God has called you to do so that He gets the glory and you get the joy, then it starts with you taking responsibility for your life.

There comes a time when you have to man (or woman) up and take responsibility for your own life. That time is now. No more can you blame your parents, your family, your teachers, co workers or lack of opportunities, for who you are or who you are becoming. The Bible tells us that “we are more than conquerors” through Christ, which doesn’t leave much room for excuses (Romans 8:37). Jesus said it, so we better believe it!

Too often people allow the past circumstances to determine the future outcome. The only power that your past has over your future is the power that you give it. God has a great plan for your future so quit making excuses as to why or how you can’t get there. Take responsibility for the person you are today and trust that God will provide you with all you need to become the person He is calling you to be. Jesus doesn’t agree with our excuses nor does He affirm us when we play the blame game. As He said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Your weaknesses are simply opportunities for Jesus to reveal His grace in your life.

Look for a situation, limitation, or person in your life who you’re blaming for how things have turned out for you? Instead, choose to take responsibility for your life and trust that Jesus will turn any weakness into a strength for His glory and for your joy.

Dear Lord, help us to not blame things on others or our past. Help us take responsibility today for our self and help us to become the people that You want us to be.  In The Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

It Starts With Me Playing My Part

Ephesians 4:16 (ESV)
From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

As Christians, the church is not just a building we spend a few hours at every week. We are the church and we each have a part to play in it. Being able to enjoy the community that church offers us starts with each of us playing our part.

The Church has existed for 2,000 years and spans across the entire world. It is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). The Church is ‘The Body Of Christ’ – the gathering of believers who are on mission to fulfill the Great Commission.

As a believer you and the church you attend are a part of the large scale Church – the Body of Christ. Because the whole body is made up of many different parts, there is a specific part you play and contribution you can make to the body. Whether it is speaking on stage, greeting at the door, serving coffee, or giving generously, everyone’s contribution makes the whole body grow and be able to continue Jesus' work on Earth.

If you are simply attending church without playing a part, why not think of an area you would like to serve at and then get involved!

The part you play in contributing to the Body of Christ is significant. You wouldn’t choose to something without any of your body parts and neither would Jesus or His Church choose to do without you!

Dear Lord, open our eyes to the ways we can serve You. Thanks You for Your church and that we can be part of it. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

It Starts With Me Coming To Church

Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Jesus knew the Church was needed and necessary – not only for the world’s sake but also for yours. If you are serious about pursuing Jesus and doing all He has called you to do, then it starts with you coming to church.

Church attendance doesn’t earn you extra bonus points; it is essential for your relationship with Jesus. Thankfully, when He left the earth and ascended into heaven, Jesus didn’t leave us to fend for ourselves. Instead, He established His Church – the unified body of believers – who would gather throughout the entire earth until He returned. The Church is something we are a part of because of our decision to follow Christ, it’s not something we choose to attend or a program offered to us. If you are in Christ then you are a part of His Church.

It is important that as Christians we make coming to church a priority. It is in church that we hear the Word of God, celebrate what Jesus is doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us, support and sharpen one another, and have opportunity to serve.

If you are serious about growing in your relationship with God, becoming all He’s called you to be, and doing all He has planned for you to do, then coming to church must be a non-negotiable. There isn’t a second or third option. Church is not just a good idea; it’s God’s idea. He knew that we couldn’t do life alone!

Dear Lord, help us to make going to church a priority in our life. Help us face the excuses that we have and not give into them. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2018

It Starts With Me Being A Friend First

Luke 6:35-36 (ESV)
35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Too often people complain or tweet about not having friends or community in their life —if only they knew that the solution lies within them! Just as Jesus initiated a relationship between Himself and humanity, sometimes we must be the instigators and initiators of friendships so that we can enjoy the fullness of community that God intends for us. Why not create quality community for yourself by being a friend first!

Jesus didn’t wait for us to approach Him; He made the first move. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” We did not ask for Jesus, nor did we do anything to deserve Jesus, but yet He still came to us.

Rather than wait for others to acknowledge us, look in our direction, or invite us to sit with them, as Christians we should imitate Jesus and go first in friendships. Make the first move: make eye contact, be the first to smile, have a good attitude, and introduce yourself! While your friendliness won’t always be reciprocated, most of the time it will be received and returned in your direction. The more you do this, the more confident we will become and the more we will recognize community happening in and around our life.

Go today and extend your friendship to a stranger, or to someone you have known for years (but have never been friends with).

Dear Lord, help us to be a friend today. Give us the courage to make the first move like You taught us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

It Starts With Me Being On Time

Romans 5:6 (ESV)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

Being on time makes you more than a punctual person. If you want to impress your future boss, receive more responsibility, be respected among your friends, and live a disciplined life, then it starts with you being on time.

In a world where we worry about anything and everything, we don’t worry about being on time like we do our Instagram posts, what we are going to eat, or our bench-press max.

While being late – even by a few minutes – might not seem like a big deal, over time you will see a lack in discipline and urgency in other areas of your life as well. To set yourself up for the best opportunities in the future and to create good disciplines in other areas of your life, make punctuality a priority. Your ability and commitment to being on time says a lot about you and how you choose to live your life. This is something that will be noticed by your future husband or wife, your present husband or wife, boss, pastor, friends, and Jesus.  Luke tells us that it is pleasing to Jesus when we are ready, on time and well prepared.

God was not late or delayed in sending Jesus but instead, “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Jesus arrived on time – not only in the pages of history, but also in the story of your life. His timing is impeccable and because of that we get a sense of His urgency, love and devotion towards us. Can the people in your world say the same thing about you?

Think about a time when Jesus’ timing was perfect in your life.
Now think about how not being on time could affect other areas of your life. (ex. relationships, job opportunities, leadership responsibilities, etc.)

The discipline of being on time can make a huge difference in your life. Do today what you will thank yourself for tomorrow!

Dear Lord, we pray that we would work on being on time for the things that face us each day. Help us to be disciplined with our time. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Conflict resolution

Colossians 3:13 (ESV)
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

The best example we have of conflict resolution is God Himself. Time after time, we turned away from Him. We sinned against Him. And we did things we knew weren’t good for us.

So, God decided to have some conflict resolution—with us. How did He do it? Humbly and directly.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born in a lowly, dirty animal stable. He came as one of us—a person. He lived life just as any human would. But unlike us, Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life. Then, He died on the cross to pay for our sin in the ultimate conflict resolution.

He didn’t have to, but He chose to. He took what we deserved and put it on Himself. He died to confront the conflict and forgive us of our sins so that we could be with Him.

If we call ourselves followers of Jesus, we’re supposed to follow His lead. And that means things might get a little messy. He asks us to confront conflict head on instead of running from it, by going immediately, directly, and humbly—just like He did.

The thing to remember is that dealing with conflict in a healthy way won’t always fix our relationships. Sometimes, people may not accept your apology. And sometimes, the conflict may not go away overnight. But, learning to handle conflict in a healthy way heals your heart, even if it doesn’t heal your relationship. Why? Because when we deal with conflict the right way, we become more like Jesus.

So, let’s embrace conflict. Let’s be like Jesus—humble and forgiving. Remember: He saved us when we didn’t deserve it. So, let’s extend that same grace to others, even when we think they don’t deserve it either.

Dear Lord, help us deal with conflict in a way that honors You. Give us wisdom to help us get our relationships right. Help us forgive others the way You’ve forgiven us.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What does healthy conflict look like?

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)
A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

An oxymoron is when seemingly contradictory words appear together. Like jumbo shrimp. Pretty ugly. Virtual reality. Random order.

Get the idea?

At first glance, healthy conflict might seem like an oxymoron too. However, when we look at what the Bible says, healthy conflict is exactly what God had in mind.

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus said that if a brother or sister sins against you, you should go directly to that person and point at their fault—just the two of you.

This is the completely opposite of what we want to do when someone offends us.

And you know what we want to do? We either want to run or rant. When someone makes us mad, we either want to run away and avoid the problem, or we want to rant about that person to everyone but that person.

Jesus proposed a different way—a better way—which involves us confronting the situation at the root of the problem.

So, how do you confront conflict? Here are three ways:

1.) Go immediately. Ephesians 4:26 says to not let the sun go down while we’re angry. Confront the conflict as soon as possible.

2.) Go directly. When you and a friend have conflict, it’s tempting to go to everyone but that friend! But Proverbs 11:13 says that a gossip betrays a confidence. God dislikes gossip and spreading rumors.

3.) Go humbly. It may not have occurred to you, but you might not be in the clear. Be willing to admit that you were wrong, and be humble. Humility looks good on everyone. Proverbs 15:1 says that a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

So, how do we deal with conflict in a healthy way? We go. We resolve the conflict immediately, directly, and humbly. And when we do that, it honors God and starts healing our hearts.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would deal with the conflicts on our life now. Help us find ways to make things right. I the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2018

How does conflict affect our relationship with God?

Colossians 3:13 (ESV)
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

When someone messes with your best friend, it’s hard for you to like that person, isn’t it? That’s the way God is with us—His kids. You can’t be right with God if you’re hurting one of His kids.

Your relationships with people and your relationship with God are directly connected. Basically, before making things right with God, we need to make things right with others.

In the Old Testament, people connected with God by offering gifts at the altar. People would travel for days to present their offering. By time they got there, they were likely exhausted.

With that context in mind, Jesus said in Matthew 5 that if you’re offering a gift at the altar and remember someone has something against you, you should go and fix that relationship first.

Did you catch that? Even if they had been traveling for days, they still had to go back and resolve conflict with the person that had something against them, which would have made their entire journey a waste of time.

That might seem a bit extreme, but Jesus wasn’t playing around. He knew something that we often forget: You can’t be right with God if you’re wrong with others.

Now we know what a big deal conflict is to God. Tomorrow we will take a look at what healthy, God-honoring conflict looks like.

Dear Lord, show us today those that we have conflict with and need to resolve it. Help us to get things right so we can be right with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Why do we fear conflict?

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

As we know conflict is unavoidable. So, why are we so afraid of it? Here are a few reasons we tend to fear conflict:

1. It makes us uncomfortable. Ultimately, conflict just isn’t fun. When we sense that something isn’t right, we know we need to do something about it, but sometimes we try to hide our feelings to avoid conflict.

2. It makes us feel out of control. When we experience conflict, we feel like we’re no longer in control of our lives. It’s the same reason we prefer to send a text instead of talking on the phone—we like to be in control of the conversation and the situation.

3. We’re not obeying God. Sometimes we fear conflict because we’re not doing what God wants us to do. When we trust God, we know that He wants our relationships to be in the right place. When we choose to avoid conflict and allow it to poison us, we’re hurting relationships that God wants us to make right.

Now that we know why we fear conflict, we can start to overcome it. God is bigger than your fears, and fear is not from God. So, when you’re worried about conflict, pray about it. Ask God to give you wisdom and to give you the right words to heal that broken relationship. Next, we will look at how conflict can affect our relationship with God.

Dear Lord, we pray that we will have the strength to overcome conflict. Help us to remember that You are bigger than any of our fears. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

What is conflict?

Hebrews 12:15 (ESV)
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

Have you ever noticed that your greatest pain and disappointments came as a result of a broken relationship?

When something isn’t right between you and someone else, we call that conflict. You know how it goes. It’s like that time you had a horrible fight with your parents, or when your friend spread rumors about you at school or a coworker talks behind your back. Or maybe, a friend unfriended you on FaceBook.

It’s not hard to figure out what conflict is because we experience it every day. The bad news is it’s also unavoidable. Why? Because we’re human, and humans mess up! None of us are perfect, and when imperfect people try to do things, conflict can easily come up.

But conflict isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, healthy conflict can lead to healthy relationships. But, when we don’t deal with conflict in a healthy way, it’s like a poison. It’ll slowly seep into our relationships, infecting everything and everyone we interact with. In the Bible, the writer of Hebrews knew this well. That’s why Hebrews 12:15 says this:  … Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

It’s important for us to work through conflict, because the quality of our lives is only as good as the quality of our relationships.

The next four days, we’ll learn why we fear conflict, how conflict affects our relationship with God, and how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. Let’s each pray now that we will stop fearing conflict and start dealing with it so that you can build better, stronger relationships. 

Dear Lord, as we look at conflict help us to learn how we can stop fearing it and become stronger when we handle it the correct way. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2018

What holiness really looks like for our lives #5

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Once we’ve begun to live holy lives set apart for God, we then need to learn to remain in Him, to seek Him every day, and let Him lead our lives.

When we remain in Him, we begin to grow fruit in our lives. Wait … what? Grow fruit!?

Well, yeah!

The verses we just read talk about growing fruit. But not like apples and oranges, that would just be weird, come on!

Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the kind of fruit we’ll produce when we remain in Christ. When we seek Him and spend time with Him every day, we will be more loving. We will have more joy in our lives. We will experience more peace in our days. We’ll have a little more patience for others. We’ll be able to be kinder to others, do more good in the world, and have greater faith.

Who wouldn’t want to live that way and be that kind of person?

That’s what happens when we remain in Christ throughout our days and live holy lives set apart for God.

Dear Lord, help us to remain in You all day. Help us to not wonder away from You in the business of the day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

What holiness really looks like for our lives #4

Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
    but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

So, to be set apart, we set apart time to get to know God and we act differently from the world around us. But that can be hard to do by yourself! God calls us to be different, but He doesn’t call us to be different alone.

If we’re going to live holy lives, we’re going to need other people. But not just anyone—we’re going to need godly people who can help us live the way God has called us to live.

We talked about how we become like who we spend time with. So, we should definitely spend time with God. But we also need to spend time with others! We’ll become like the people we hang out with, so we need to choose wisely.

Look for people who are pursuing God, spending time with Him, and serving others the way Jesus would. Then, choose to do those things together, because even though our relationship with Jesus is personal, it’s certainly not private.

So, who are those friends who bring you closer to Christ? What can you do to strengthen those relationships to help you live a holy life?

To be set apart for God, we’ll need other people to help us. 

Dear Lord, we pray for friend that will bring us closer to You. Also help us be the person that someone needs to bring them closer to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What holiness really looks like for our lives #3

2 Timothy 1:9  (ESV)
Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

A lot of people say they’re Christians, but not all of them live that way. They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.

Would you say people know that you’re a Christian just because you say it, or do they know it because you live it? To be holy is to live your life set apart in such a way that people can tell there’s something different about you even without you telling them.

As Christians, we shouldn’t be doing what everyone else is doing. We shouldn’t just conform to what’s normal.

When everyone’s talking trash about someone, you choose to be their one and only friend. When others are sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend, you choose to wait for the person you’re going to marry. When people you know are making crude jokes or comments, you choose not to be a part of it.

Choose to live your life set apart for God. Be different in a good way. Choose to love better than anyone else. Choose to live your life with more joy, excitement, and contentment than everyone else. Choose to be someone who is known by what you’re for rather than complaining all the time.

What ways do you need to start living a life set apart?

When you start to live set apart for God, others will be drawn to God. 

Dear Lord, help us to live a life that is set apart so that the world around us will see You in us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What holiness really looks like for our lives #2

1 Thessalonians 4:7 (ESV)
For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

We must be holy and live holy lives! What does that even mean? Well, simply put, it means to be set apart—in a good way.

If you’re a Christian, that means you should think differently, act differently, and live your life differently. This is what it means to be set apart or holy. But in order to be set apart for God, we need to learn to first set apart time with God.

Life gets busy. There are so many things contending for our time and attention: school, homework, sports, friends, family, and the list goes on and on. God begins to get pushed to the back of our minds, and eventually we realize that we haven’t really spent time with Him in a while.

So if that’s you, here’s what you need to do: slow down, stop and put everything away, and set apart time for God. Get away from it all. Be silent for a moment. Go experience God in nature, read your Bible, journal, or pray.

What do you need to do less of to experience more of God in your life?

To be set apart we need to set apart time with God.

Dear Lord, we pray today that we would make it a priority to experience You more in every part of our life. Show is the things that we need to let go of so we can become closer to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What holiness really looks like for our lives #1

2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

One of the best ways we can start learning to be set apart for God is to spend time with Him, just like we talked about yesterday. But how do we do that? Prayer!

It seems like the classic Christian answer, but prayer is powerful, and it can transform your life in huge ways. Prayer can sometimes feel like this awkward experience where you’re talking to an empty void. But it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Think about a time you learned a new skill. Maybe it was a sport, a complex math problem, or a new hobby. It took time to learn how to do it well, right? Prayer is the same way. It feels awkward at first. But you have to embrace the awkward to get to the awesome.

Think about it like this. Imagine you needed to talk to a stranger for a minute. Just the thought of that seems awkward and stressful, right? Now, imagine you’re talking to your best friend for a minute. Totally normal.

That’s how prayer works. The less time we spend praying, the more time it’ll feel awkward. But, when we continue to pray, even when it doesn’t feel natural, we start experiencing God in ways we never have before.

The reality is that we become like who we spend time with. So, if we’re going to be set apart for God, we’ve got to get to know Him. We’ve got to talk with Him and listen to Him.

So, let’s practice. Today, spend just two minutes in prayer. You could write it down in a journal, draw it in a creative way, pray in your head, or speak it out loud. Try to do this every day for the next week and see if you don’t start experiencing prayer in a whole new way.

When you spend time praying to God, you’ll start becoming set apart for God.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we can talk to You. Help us to work on the skill of praying to You. Hep to become closer to You as we talk with You each day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What Does God Say About Speaking Up?

Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)
8 Open your mouth for the mute,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

God has given us a powerful way to help others, be bold and show kindness.

Speaking up for people means using your words to help them. Next time you’re at school, work, or church, be aware of when you should speak up for someone. If you see someone pushing or hitting another child, tell an adult. If you hear a classmate teasing someone on the playground, tell the bully why that’s wrong and then say kind words to the person being teased.

The tricky part is knowing when to speak up, and that comes with wisdom. You can gain wisdom by reading the Bible, listening to teachers, friends and parents, studying hard and praying.

How can you reach out to someone today?

Dear Lord, we are thankful that You gave us a voice to speak up for others. Please give us wisdom to know when to stay silent and when to use our words to defend someone from harm or show kindness. Please give us ideas for what to say and do to help the people we meet. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.