For I Know The Plans I Have For You

 Jeremiah

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

God is a good, good father. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand God’s plan, God is good and His plans are perfect and when we’re on the other side of the tapestry, we’re going to see that. But on this side, we have a choice to make. To live sullen and angry and seeking our own will, or to give up our own will and to go to God in surrendered prayer. And just to begin walking the path to light and allowing the light of the love of Jesus Christ to fill our lives utterly! 

If you are in a bad place right now and you don’t want to do 2017 like you did 2016, God will bring you out of that captivity if you will let Him! The way back and the way forward is wholehearted prayer! The more you and I recognize the depths of the world’s darkness and our need for God’s goodness, the more we will pray! 

Believers depend upon the will of God, not their own will. Everything depends on how you and I depend. You see, God’s desire is not to give us the glory of this world, or build up the glory of our name. God’s desire is to lead us into the glory of relationship with Him! God’s plan doesn’t serve my purposes -God’s plan serves His purposes!

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” That word in Hebrew is ‘Segula’, it means what God treasures most! In all of the universe and all of the things that God created, you are the treasured possession of God! 

You are not rejected. You are not denied. You are not unacceptable. Your have not sinned so much that God will not come to you again. He is your Father and He wants to bring you into His arms and to wrap your life up in the light of His grace and His love! 

We are God’s special possession that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His wonderful light! (1 Peter 2:9)

Today for 2017, what I’m calling you to do is to get out of darkness and go into light through prayer! That’s going to be a choice every single day, whether it’s pornography, lust, food, whatever it is, there is deep darkness in all of us --but we don’t have to be dominated by it. 

God has a plan for a better life, a higher life, an eternal kind of life and you and I can stop depending upon ourselves. We can learn to live a life of dependent faithful prayer and we can walk a path that will fill not only our lives, but our world and our families with the light of Jesus Christ! -Dr. Drew Shofner

God Hears Your Prayers

Jeremiah 29-12

God hears your prayers, every one of them! In Jeremiah 29:12 the scripture says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you…” God hears and He answers well. The scripture goes on to say in verse 13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart…” The Holy Bible knows nothing of half heartedness. It knows nothing of the religion of appearences. It knows nothing of a heart that wants to appear ‘God given’ but is actually withheld and self guided. In the Holy Scriptures you see people who are all in! You see people who come to the end of themselves who go to God and cry out to Him and we ask for Him and we seek Him with all of our hearts!

The truth is, the Savior on the cross knows nothing of half heartedness and God will not accept half heartedness on our part. But when we seek Him, we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart! “I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:14) God never intended for us to love anyone or anything more than Him! And in prayer, we have this amazing opportunity to open up the corridors of Heaven itself, for our hearts and for the world around us! -Dr. Drew Shofner

Is God in Your Goals?

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Is GOD in Your Goals?

As 2017 begins, many of us dust off our goals for 2016 with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt.

These are admirable goals, however, as Jesus followers, we are asked to be different from the world, to be in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). Romans 12:2 tells us how, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) This probably explains why we set goals every year and then are never quite able to meet them – we think we are strong enough to do things our way. As believers, we are strong in God and should seek his will before starting any new project, New Year’s Resolutions included.

The Bible contains stories of ordinary people who set goals to be used by God and who accomplished extraordinary things. David v. Goliath, Moses v. the Red Sea, Daniel v. the Lion, and Noah v. the Flood. God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20)

So, for 2017, let’s change things up a bit. Let us seek to align our goals for 2017 with God’s wishes. Let us also seek his wisdom and guidance for our personal goals that his will be done.

As 2016 started last year, I remember being extremely frustrated. Things were not going well, I was laid off from a long term contract I had been working on, I experienced periods of unemployment, and I was generally frustrated and upset. One day I came across a preacher talking about how to really focus on the two greatest commandments:

  • Love God, put Him first. He has forgiven me and he had sent his son to be a sacrifice for me, so I could be closer to him.
  • Love others. Be the light of God to them. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. That is an ongoing goal. As a young man in high school, I ministered to others in my class and recently spoke to one of my classmates. Thirty years later he contacted me and thanked me for sharing the gospel with him. He is now a believer. It may not take 30 years for your love to impact someone like that, it could be 30 minutes or 30 days, the point is that we need to love on others as Christ loved us.

Out of those two instructions, I saw some additional knowledge.

  • Love yourself. You are forgiven, you are healed, and you are set free. Don’t beat up on yourself if you make a mistake, ask God for forgiveness and move on.
  • Forgive yourself (Romans 8:1). Grow in grace. Feed your spirit self. In the physical world we tend to want to eat healthy. The same needs to happen in the spiritual world. I have personally turned off the news because I only see division, I see separation, which I think is the opposite of what God wants. What you read, what you watch, what you listen to, and who you spend time with affects you.
  • Speak life. We have a natural tendency to lean towards negative thoughts and words, however, I have seen significant improvement in my personal life just by speaking positively and reminding myself that I am a child of God. I am a friend of God, I am created in His image, and I am blessed and highly favored. I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.

Part of loving God and others is to pray for them daily. We should pray for our leaders that they will seek God’s wisdom as well. Pray for missionaries and their families who are under threat in the Middle East and other areas. Pray for folks without heat or shelter this winter, ask God how you can help them. Pray for police officers and protestors, school administrators, children in need, missing children, people with dementia. There are so many needs; we need to address them.

[We will be sharing a 21-day Prayer Journal with you in the coming weeks that will help you focus on payer in the new year.]

It is important to set goals that align with what God wants. As you set goals for yourself in 2017, ask God for His guidance, and thank Him for the outcome in advance.

Here's how it could look in 2017:  

January

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am a friend of God (James 2:23)

February

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

 March

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 10:6)

 April

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the humility of God thru Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:5)

 May

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the joy of God thru Christ Jesus (Habakkuk 3:18)

 June

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the kindness of God thru Christ Jesus (Micah 6:8)

 July

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the will of God thru Christ Jesus (1 John 2:17)

 August

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the peace of God thru Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:2)

 September

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the grace of God thru Christ Jesus (! Corinthians 1:4)

 October

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the forgiveness of God thru Christ Jesus. He forgave me, so I forgive others, and myself.

 November

  1. Love God:
    1. Give Him Praise, Give Him Thanks, Honor Him daily
    2. Seek His will in His word
    3. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  2. Love Others:
    1. Be a light to pre-Christians
    2. Be a friend to others
    3. Share His love with others
    4. Encourage other believers
    5. Smile – it’s contagious
  3. Love Yourself:
    1. Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
    2. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
    3. Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
  4. Speak life every day
    1. I am the patience of God thru Christ Jesus. He is patient with us, let us be patient towards others.

 

 

Spiritual Fitness in 2017

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 Have you made a New Year’s resolution for 2017?

Did you know the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight? Health, fitness, and weight loss are important goals and helps us to feel better physically and mentally.

If you set a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and become more fit, the best way to achieve it is to set goals and milestones. Perhaps you will begin by running a few times a week, eating healthier snacks, and setting a long-term goal to run a 5K within a year. Following this plan you could become fit and strong for the new year.

Just imagine how much more beneficial it would be to set a New Year’s resolution to achieve spiritual fitness.

Spiritual fitness is achieving a closer relationship with God. To achieve spiritual fitness, you must run with perseverance the race marked out for you. I Timothy 4:7-8 says,Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

You can start by setting the following goals:

  • Pray daily-Set aside a specific time each day to pray. It is best to find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Take the time to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
  • Spend time reading the Bible-Learn the Word of Jesus and write it on your heart.
  • Join a Connect Group at Severn Run-Connect Groups allow you to do life with friends on a mission for Jesus. (Find a Connect Group)
  • Serve the Lord-Join a ministry that allows you to use your specific talents to serve others. Discover your purpose for your time on Earth. (Find a Serving Spot)

Healthy relationships require commitment and training. In the same way you can train yourself to be godly, for godliness holds promise and value. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 

 

Prayer Is The Path To A Life In The Light

Prayer is the path

2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through that field. Everything in 2017 depends on how you will depend on the light of God or yourself and the darkness of this world. 

When the sun is coming down and the light is hitting us, we’re ok, but when circumstances change and get painful and the clouds come and block the sun, things get dark pretty quick. The trouble is, that too often when circumstances get hard, our hearts get hard as well. When circumstances go dark, too often in my own case at least, my heart gets pretty dark.

I have the unspiritual gift of self pity. Any of you all have that gift? Worry? Fear?

The reality is, that all of these things are like gravity pulling down and we struggle in this dark world with rising up and living in the brilliant light of Christ verses giving up and lying down in the darkness of the world!

When I talk about darkness, it is things like anger, bitterness, sadness. The frustration that you and I feel, it is the pain that is often pouring into life. It is the vision of the future that just appears. Well, have you ever tried to drive at night without your headlights?

The light on the other hand is the joy and the peace and the love of God. It is the glory of God —it is hope! I’m just telling you as a person who is deeply broken and the truth is that we’re all deeply broken in different ways, I struggle with not only living in a dark world, but I struggle with having a dark heart and with living down and depressed and under instead of soaring on eagle's wings! (Isaiah 40:31)

And when we allow the darkness of this broken world into our lives (circumstances happen) but when we let it in, the darkness clings and it depresses and it festers and it makes us angry, it makes us broken, it makes us less!

So the power of this message is going to depend, in part, on you owning your own darkness. Identifying your darkness. What is your darkness? What is your resentment? Your un-forgiveness? What is it that depresses you and discourages you that makes the future look hopeless and the past look dominant?

Isaiah 9:2 says, “But the people walking in darkness…” That’s a description of our lives in this world, and part of the insanity of our life in the world is that we often don’t see the darkness and we call darkness light. In fact, the scriptures in Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." 

That’s just the nature of what we do. In fact, all of our sin that we turn to, is us turning to something other than God (which is called idolatry) and we’re calling something other than God good when in fact it is evil because we’ve put it above God.  

“But the people walking in darkness have seen a great light…” That is about Jesus, “…on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) 

Guys, I just want to say that 2017 can be the most brilliant year of our lives! It can be full of light. Full of hope. Full of joy. Full of peace. The truth is, the way that we get to the light in a dark world and the way that we live overcoming and not dying down is through prayer! 

Prayer is the path to a life in the light!

So you and I don’t have to live dying down. We don’t have to live angry. We don’t have to live dabbling with sin and destruction! We can live in the freedom of the glorious light of God! 

It is amazing when the light comes on, how fearless you can be! When the light comes on, fear begins to evaporate. When the light comes on, anger begins to recede. When the light comes on, forgiveness begins to flow. When the light comes on, we can see the insanity!

Prayer is the path to a life in the light so that no matter how hard circumstances are, no matter how difficult the moment or the day or the year is, we are not in the dark —we are alive in the light of God. Everything depends on how we depend! -Dr. Drew Shofner

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