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Finish Strong!

Have you ever noticed that there is no prize for starting, the only reward is for the one that finishes the race (1Cor 9:24). At the end of his life for Christ Paul could say: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7; KJV) and he eagerly looked forward to his heavenly reward.

 “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1-2; KJV).

 Paul paints a picture for us of the heavenly hosts cheering us on. As we look back at all the amazing men and women of God who have gone before us, we should be encouraged to focus on Jesus and put aside all the distractions and sins, to serve Him on this earth.

We need the same heavenly focus that Jesus had and need to know that we don’t run in our own strength but His (Phil 2:13; Phil 4:13). Paul exhorted us to press on, to lay hold of all God has for us and be disciplined (Phil 3:12-14; 1Cor 9:25). We are God’s salt and lights in this world (Matt 5:13-14), He so wants to work through us, to bless us in our earthly journey (Eph 3:20) and to bring us to that eternal reward in Heaven. Let's cooperate and press in; the rewards are great and the journey amazing. Finish Strong!

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Have You Ever Worried?

Have you ever started to worry about anything? To say no would probably be less than honest.

Hezekiah king of Judah was under severe threat from the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18: 7- 19:37). He took a letter from the Assyrians and spread it before God in the temple as he cried out to God in prayer. God heard the prayers of this righteous king and destroyed the Assyrian enemy.

God tells us to cast our cares and burdens on Him and He will never let us be moved (1Peter 5:7; Ps 55:22). One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30; KJV).

When we worry, we labor and try to think things out for ourselves. When we seek to learn from Him and do it His way we come under His yoke. Yoked to Jesus is not an equal bearing of the load but He carries us with His power, love and wisdom.

Jesus painted such beautiful pictures for us in Matthew 6:25-34. Here He tells us not to worry but to trust God. Don’t fuss and fret He says; just look to God and see how He cares for the birds or clothes the Lilies of the field. God will do better for us, His children, than you can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).


How do we Release the Power of God’s Word in our Lives?

We talk a lot about the word of God, its power (Heb 4:12) and ability to change us (Gal 5:22). In the Bible, we are told that God’s word has power (Heb 4:12), that it is life and truth and that the truth will set us free. (John 17:17; 8:32) God spoke the word at creation and that Word released the power of the Holy Spirit to bring light (Gen 1:1-3; John 1:1-3).

So how do we release the life changing power of God’s word in our lives? I grew up in a school environment where we studied the word almost daily and I am glad as it gave me a lot of Bible knowledge. However, I was not a Christian then and to me the Bible was no different than other literature; I did however, enjoy all the battle stories. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit on the inside of us (2 Cor 1:22) and that Spirit brings us revelation and understanding of God’s Word (John 14:26).

We need to prayerfully study God’s word and ask Him to reveal His wisdom to us by His Spirit. This takes time and discipline. Joshua said we should meditate the word day and night and do what that word tells us to do; (Josh 1:8) then we would be blessed. To meditate is to mull something around in our mind. Notice Joshua also said the word should not leave our mouth; we should speak it so our ears hear it.

To receive God’s power and life changing promises we need to grow our faith and the Bible says we do that by hearing Gods word (Rom 10:17). Are you getting the picture? We need to make the Bible a priority in our day and speak and meditate God’s word as we go about our daily life. “For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Josh 1:8; KJV)

Send this to ten friends, I double dog dare you!

What is the Normal Church?

In the Bible and the book of Acts, chapter 2 and verses 42 through 47, we see a description of the early church. In verse 42 we are told that the church members continued in the apostle’s doctrine, teaching, or the word of God.

The word fellowship in verse 42 means unity, a close relationship, communion, empowered by the Holy Spirit. That fellowship was with Jesus and church members. Prayer was central to early church life as was communion at the Lords table.

Notice the word “steadfast” in verse 42. Steadfast, means to be earnest, constant and diligent in making a firm effort to achieve the activities of verse 42.

Thankfulness and giving to meet the needs of everyone were important attributes of the early church (v44-45). Unity and praising God were also listed as central characteristics of the believers (v46-47), as was a reverential fear of God (v43).

When you think about the verses of scripture above (Acts 2:42-47), you realize we are still living out the book of Acts or living in the age of God’s grace to His Church. Our churches should mirror Acts 2:42-47; with great signs, wonders (v43), and favor with the world; we should experience the same miracle church growth (v47). Acts 2:42-47 describe the “Normal Church”!

In His Presence.

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Ps 27:4; KJV). King David’s primary desire was an intimate relationship with God; this he sought. In Psalm 42, verse 1, David says his soul panted and thirsted for God (Ps 42:1). It’s no wonder God could call David a man after his own heart (Acts 13:22). Do we have the same priority as David? Do we have the same relationship with God?

I love the verse in the New Testament where Mary sat at Jesus feet, mesmerized by and focused on the Lord and his every word (Luke 10:39). Think what relationship we can have with God now, David had the Spirit on him (1 Sam 16:13), we are children of God (1 John 3:2) and we have his Spirit on the inside of us (Acts 2:4).

Do we have the same heart cry for relationship with God that David showed in the Psalms (Ps 84:2)? Do we sit at Jesus feet as Mary did? Paul said that he counted everything of the world as rubbish (that word can be translated dung) the he might gain Christ (Phil 3:8).

For me, the Apostle John captured the relationship God yearns for with us when he (John) quoted Jesus' prayer for us as believers: "that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou sent me" (John 17:21-22; KJV).

How heartbroken Jesus was when He prayed over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37; the people rejected his desire for intimacy. My desire is captured in Psalm 91:1: "he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty"; what about you?