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Stand for your convictions

Acts 1:4-8

Standing up and speaking out for the Lord can feel scary to a believer. Even if we desire to obey God’s call to “Go … and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), we may wonder, What would I do? or What would I say? It can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating if we think we have to do it all on our own. But fortunately, we are not alone.

Look again at these verses, Matthew 28:18-20. Knowing He was issuing a potentially uncomfortable command, Christ was intentional in the way He framed it. Notice that this passage has essentially three components:

  1. Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth.
    2. We are to go and make disciples.
    3. Jesus will be with us every step of the way.

This wording, combined with the promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8, reveals that the responsibility of making disciples was never intended to be a solo act. Jesus is not only present with us, but He is also pouring His power into us so that we may more effectively be His witnesses—His ambassadors—in the world. The work is His and the power is His; we’re just the instrument He’s chosen to use in carrying out His work.

God wants to use us, but He hasn’t left us to tackle the job on our own. The One who holds all the power and authority in the universe is with us step by step, and He has put that power within us through His Holy Spirit. Everything we need is at our fingertips. All that’s left is for us to follow the command to “Go!” Where will that lead you today?

 

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Learning to rely on God alone

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Jeremiah 33:3

Who do you turn to when you need help, when you need an important answer to an important question? Do you ask God first?

So many believers fail to do that! They’ll stand around wringing their hands and talking to each other all day. They’ll inquire of their pastor. They’ll inquire of their friends. They’ll inquire of their husband or wife. But do they inquire of God? No.

Don’t make that mistake.

Instead, follow the example of King David. In 1 Chronicles 14, the Bible tells us he was about to face a battle with the very powerful Philistines who had all come out against him. The Philistine nation had been an enemy of Israel for years. David probably could have guessed that God would tell him to go to battle against them. But he didn’t guess! He went to God and inquired, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the Lord said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand” (verse 10).

Don’t depend on guesswork. When you encounter a problem, seek the Lord through the Word and in prayer and ask Him what the solution is. No matter how much scripture you learn, no matter how fully you perceive who you are in Christ Jesus, you’ll never outgrow your need to do that.

Go to the Lord and find out exactly what He wants you to do. Don’t decide your course of action and then ask God to bless your plans. Go to Him and say, “Lord, what are Your plans?” His plans are already blessed. If you follow them, your victory is guaranteed.

 

Spiritual Discernment

Hebrews 4:12-13

Spiritual discernment is the ability to see life from God’s perspective. It requires that we know how He thinks and acts. The Bible is His unchanging, infallible revelation of Himself. However, the Lord doesn’t simply give us a list of facts about His character and ways. All throughout the pages of Scripture, He illustrates who He is and how He operates.

Although an ancient book, the Bible is in no way obsolete. Its stories may have taken place centuries ago, but its principles and applications are still relevant, offering discernment about situations and guidance for decisions.

God’s Word—which Ephesians 6:17 refers to as “the sword of the Spirit”— is active and piercing, like a surgeon’s scalpel. The words don’t simply sit on the page; rather, they penetrate our heart and judge our thoughts and motives. This convicting quality is why some Christians avoid reading the Bible. They prefer to live on a surface level but never understand why they react to situations the way they do. If we don’t want to keep making the same mistakes, it’s essential that we become discerning about ourselves. The way to do that is by approaching the Word of God with an open spirit. Then God will bring to light our hidden motives and unrecognized sins.

Spiritual discernment involves seeing not just circumstances but also ourselves from God’s perspective. Have you learned to embrace the piercing sword of Scripture, or have you avoided doing so because it makes you uncomfortable? Remember, whenever the Lord uses a surgical knife, His purpose is always to make us healthier.

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17

Wedding Communion

Co-written by Cait and her husband, who were engaged at the time this was written.

Communion / ke-myoonyen/ noun: 1.The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially on the mental or spiritual level. 2. Taking of the consecrated bread and wine at a Christian worship service 3. A relationship of recognition and acceptance between individual Christians and a church

“For we are members of his (Christ’s) body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5: 30-32

As we prepare our wedding ceremony, during which the two of us will take communion, we want to share with you why we have selected such a special exchange, albeit less traditional for mainstream Christian wedding ceremonies.

If communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is, in fact, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as he tells at Passover, and if each one of us individually needs the grace and presence of Christ poured out through his body and blood (we do), how much more might there be the need for a bride and groom who are preparing to become one flesh. After all, is the marriage of a man and a woman not intended to mirror and reflect the very love of Christ for his bride, the church? Are we not to love our spouses in the same way that Christ loves His church? (Enough to sacrifice all for them, according to God’s plan.) Therefore, the Lord’s supper as not only a part of the marriage ceremony, but even a regular part of marriage is paramount to receiving grace, mercy, and the power of the Spirit. All while the bride and groom set out to mirror Christ as one single union, bonded in love.

It is our prayer that we may always do our best to keep God at the center of our marriage and that, through such a dedication, we can reflect who God is and share His light and truth with those who are unaware or misled. We want to trust God to lead us down narrow paths and into deep waters. His plan is sovereign! We want to live in community with others as we serve God’s people, showing the world what true Love looks like. As it says in Ephesians, this is a profound mystery- but I, too, am talking about Christ and the church.

Giving it ALL to God

Right now, give everything over to God. Pay attention to what will happen when you rely on God and exchange your worries for faith in Him.

Your children… give them to God

Your finances… give them to God

Your health… give it to God

Your spouse… give him/her to God

Your career… give it to God

Your aging parents… give them to God

Your addictions/dependencies… give them to God

Your unspoken thoughts… give them to God

Your heartaches… give them to God

Your ministry… give it to God

Your dreams… give them to God

Your desires… give them to God

Your sadness… give it to God

Your thankfulness, give it to God

Your gratitude… give it to God

Your happiness… give it to God

Your love… give it to God

Your heart… give it to God

Your life… give it to God

His Love endures forever. He is Yeshua, and He is GOOD.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5: 6-9

So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you. 

Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You sinners, clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.  James 4: 7-8

Double Portion

The past few weeks have been very exciting around our house. Once back from an overseas trip, I noticed there was a bird that had set up shop in a plant on our balcony. I leaned in to get a closer look and noticed that it looked like a Dove, but either we were having a staring contest, or he/she was not alive.

Not thinking much of it, I tossed a few pairs of shoes out on the balcony to dry, scaring the bird out of the staring contest as she flew away, and to my horror, I watched the lone egg she’d been protecting tumble off our balcony to the one below. I was beside myself. I knew this was part of nature, but I felt terribly guilty, that if I hadn’t been so careless, that one egg would have developed into a baby bird.

Fast forward a few days, I had a medical procedure done and was home for about a week and a half to recover. I found myself with lots of time to dig into the Word of God and lots of time watching the dove, who I named Debbie (after Deborah in the Bible), who trusted us enough to set up her nest in our plant a second time. (Make note of that.)

In my studies over that week and a half I kept hearing the words “double portion”. I felt as though God was reminding me that he’d repay what has been lost and stolen in my life, two fold. A few days after my surgery, my husband pointed out that there were now two eggs where Debbie was usually sitting! Double portion!

A few weeks later, the two eggs hatched. One bird was strong and determined, the other smaller and weaker. I so enjoyed peeking outside to watch Debbie feeding and keeping her babies warm. I had regained Debbie’s trust, moving very slowly if I had to go outside.

Earlier today I went outside and set some artwork down gently to dry on the balcony. I hadn’t seen the baby birds in a few days, as I’d been gone or engrossed in work. As I moved carefully, Debbie flew about a foot away, keeping close eye on her nest. I noticed that only one baby bird was there, and saw the general shape of a lifeless baby bird on the balcony below.

That is not what I had in mind for “double portion,” but I know that God is still good and that sometimes nature is violent. God is restoring all of creation along with humanity. I trust that. I trust God. He gave His life so that we can live. I trust that He has and will continue to repay what has been lost, stolen, or broken with His greatest double portion.

 

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5, NLT

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The muddy shoe

The Muddy Shoe

I recently found myself in the position where I needed to wear a boot on my right foot. The kind that cushions and protects your foot from further injury? It’s terribly un-fashionable. Yep, that one. As I strapped my right foot into the boot, I wondered what I could wear on my left foot so as to stand with square hips. I felt like I’d need a low high heel on the left foot to even out the difference. Then I remembered a pair of shoes that have about 1.5 inches of support, which would mostly even out the difference between my two different “shoes”.

I picked up the left shoe and noticed mud on the white sole and edges from a recent walk I took. It was late and I wanted to go to bed, so I decided to clean off the outside of the shoe only. After all, that’s the only part that people would see! Only I would know that the inside of the shoe (the curved part which helps you discern the left from right) also had mud on it. In that exact moment, God revealed to me that this is the same as putting on a Band-Aid when one needs surgery; that we cannot only clean up our sin on the outside. We must dig down deep and let God clean out the sin from the inside out. We must rely on God and lean into Him as He cleanses us and forgives us for our sin. What a loving Father we have, one who love us unconditionally, no matter how many times we cover ourselves in mud.

Taking that one step further, is there someone in your life whose shoes you could wash for them? Show them the loving kindness that God our Father shows us. Forgive them of their sins against you, and show them your Christ like heart.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Psalm 51:2

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 37:23

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15