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1. Built to Last

July 01, 2017

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It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise, and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. Luke 6:48

Have you ever made a promise you didn’t keep? What about trying to start a new spiritual habit (prayer, fasting, reading your Bible) only to end up with little follow-through? It’s easy to make promises, or to start something new, but continuing for a lasting period of time takes something altogether different: a good foundation. 

The beach is a fun place to relax, explore and play. A shovel, a bucked and a beach are the perfect equation for the greatest sandcastle ever constructed. Sandcastles are fun to build, and later, to pretend epic battle scenes with. But sandcastles aren’t made to last forever. They are temporary. When we try to build a habit without first building a strong foundation in Jesus, we spend time working on things that turn out to be spiritual sandcastles. They have all the appearance of something great without a lasting quality.

To build something that will last requires that we dedicate time and effort to the foundation. In Luke, Jesus says that folks who listen to his teachings and follow them are like a wise builder who builds on a solid foundation; when the storms come, they will last. The structure, or outward appearance, is not as important as what it is built on. In our spiritual walk with the Lord, when we try to do things in our own strength, our own way and in our own timing, we are often times guilty of building spiritual sandcastles. When we trust God, and do what he says, we can have something spiritual that is built to last.

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2. The Sound of Rain

June 30, 2017

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Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” I Kings 18:41

Growing up in a small town has its benefits. After playing outside on a hot summer day, something magical would happen almost every afternoon—a sound so familiar that still brings a smile when it is heard today. This sound would motivate any kid to sprint as fast as he/she could back into the house to grab a dollar. It’s the sound of an ice cream truck. You could hear the ice cream truck coming for blocks away as the music played and grew louder. With dollar in hand and huge anticipation and joy, you step up to receive the very thing you had been hearing for blocks now: ice cream.

Have you ever been anticipating God to give you something? Is there a promise right now that you are weary of waiting for? Be encouraged. God is moving. In I Kings, God had withheld the rain for a while, causing the land of Israel to be in severe drought. Nothing was growing, livestock couldn’t be watered and people were becoming desperate. Elijah, the prophet of God, hears the sound of God’s rain before He sees a cloud in the sky. Elijah sends someone to look for a cloud. It took seven times of sending the man before he saw a cloud the size of his fist. The man went and came back with a negative report six times. Do you think his anticipation level dropped with each trip? What if he would have stopped at time number six? Even on the seventh look, it wasn’t even a huge thundercloud. It was so small that it was the size of his fist. How deflating! But before long, this cloud turned into a huge rainstorm that brought the nation out of a drought!

In God’s kingdom, sometimes you have to hear something in your spirit before you can see it with your eyes. A spiritual anticipation will allow you to see God move even when it appears to be only a cloud the size of a man’s fist. God has so many great things for you. His desire is that goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life. Be reminded that all of God’s promises are yes and amen. Don’t stop looking for them. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of rain!

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3. Goal Line Fumble

June 29, 2017

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Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Philippians 3:12

In 2014, during the college football season, something crazy happened. Utah went against the high-powered Oregon football team. Utah scored first and had a lot of momentum. On a 3 and 5 play, Utah made a huge completion in the middle of the field, and looked to score a touchdown. Not so fast! The receiver, in the rush of the moment, dropped the ball at the 1-yard line. Oregon picked the ball up and ran it 99 yards the other direction for a touchdown. This led to a change in momentum and an ultimate victory.

This outcome would be devastating to live down, but it happens more times than we want in our spiritual walk. Have you ever felt like life was going your way, and then, out of the blue, a huge attack from the enemy? We seem to be more open to attack when there aren’t struggles in our life. Our attitude about our spiritual walk might relax a little.

Philippians encourages us to have a different mindset and attitude. Our approach should be to press on, not coast in. To press on requires an attitude that says, this walk with Jesus gets better and better with each step forward. Complacency creeps in when we do not keep the mindset of pressing on. When complacency is established, we begin to say things like, “Remembering when God did this…?” or “I used to hear God so clearly.” A press-on mindset and attitude forgets the former things and reaches forward to what God has ahead. Don’t be guilty of a goal line fumble; remember the best is yet to come!

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4. Your Life is a Letter

June 28, 2017

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Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3

Writing letters is a lost art. There is something powerful about sitting down and writing a letter. It speaks of time invested, thoughtfulness, a fully engaged relationship and intentionality. In today’s fast-paced world, with social media, emails and texting, our communication styles are about speed and short hand. It doesn’t matter if vowels are used, or spelling is proper, it only matters that a message gets communicated. What was once, “I love you" is now “Luv u.” It’s no question why a hand-written letter still holds a special place.

Your life is a letter! It’s true! Your life is a letter from Christ. The purpose of his letter is to show his work in your life. He writes through your life to show his grace, love and faithfulness to the world. Paul goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 3, your letter is “not written with pen and ink.” This indicates what is being written cannot be erased or changed by anyone except for author. The author of the letter of your life is the Spirit of the living God.

Imagining your life as a letter from Jesus, authored by the Holy Spirit, might feel a little overwhelming, but think of it with joy. God wants to capture your heart in such a way that the people around you are impacted. Your life being a letter means that God is investing his time into your life. It shows that his thoughts are for you, he is fully engaged in the relationship, and is intentional and true to his word. What is being written by God about you today?

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5. Joy Under Pressure

June 27, 2017

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Count it all joy when you fall into various trials... James 1:2

There is a huge difference between joy and happiness. One of the difficulties in our Christian walk comes when we try to put joy and happiness into the same bucket. You can have happiness and lack joy, and the opposite is true too; there can be a lack of happiness in your life, but you can still have joy.

When you break down the word happiness, it comes from the Middle English word hap, which means chance or luck. Another word from this is happenstance, which is chance or luck. Happiness basically means it is by chance or luck if something good happens. Happiness is completely based on what is going on around us.

Joy is much different. Joy is found in the knowledge of and experience with God. Joy comes from within, and is deeply rooted in our relationship with God. When James instructs us to count it all joy when we face various trials, he explains why. With trials, our faith is tested, and when our faith is tested, we develop steadfastness. Simply put, trials dealt in joy form a foundation to our faith that is unshakable. 

Joy under pressure is not based on what is happening around us. It is a result of what Jesus has done in us. When we experience joy in any circumstance or situation in our life, it is a good indication that the foundation of our faith is strong. If you are lacking joy, dig deep into your relationship with God. He promises you will find a new level of joy.

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