Fighting to Let Go

This Week's Life Lifter:
 

For God loved the world so much
that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life
.

(John 3:16)



Think back to a time you fought for something. Was it important to you? We fight for things we care about or feel entitled to.

What about your life? It seems like an easy question, yet Mark 8:35 says “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News (gospel message), you will save it.”

There are few things that are more miserable than hanging onto your own life when you need to let go, but listen to the words of Jesus. He says that if you do what comes natural by hanging on to your life then the most unnatural thing will happen, you will face death.

We will fight to hold on to our view of the world, to get what we want, and we get mad when life does not work out exactly how we thought it should. We will fight with all we’ve got before we die. In the spiritual realm, when we are willing to fight to the death, we are fighting against life.

The way the world views religion, Jesus is here to serve us. This view thinks that God should give us what we want in exchange for us serving him. The world says that you can be religious, but yet still harbor hateful thoughts and feelings towards others. The world says that God can have a small part of your life, and you can keep the rest. 

But this is not how it works.

In the beginning or the end, your life is either kept for yourself or given completely to Jesus. You cannot be partially crucified. The given life is an “all in” kind of life. Or it isn't given at all.

This is the example that God set for us.

It says in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

His life was THE given life.

 


 

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Getting Back to Bible Reading

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There is an old saying that goes, “Stay prayed up!” This is one way to keep the devil at bay and to remain closer to God.

Who doesn’t want to be closer to God?

There are many ways to develop a close relationship with Christ. Over all the praises, songs, prayers, and devotions, it is clear that we need to know who Christ is. We need to know the experiences Christ had with the people he met along the way to becoming our one true savior. We need to know his true intentions for us all. We need to know how his will and our ways align in the grand scheme of this great life.

In order to understand our journey and the plans he has for us, we need to know him.

Considering the need every child of God has for a real, honest relationship with him, our first stop in pursuing a relationship with him should be the Bible, or the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Picking up the Bible for leisurely reading may seem like a challenge. Reading the Bible outside of church or Bible study may seem like a chore. But, any relationship worth having is worth working for. Every day God works on us just a little bit more, so carve out some time to work on your end as well.

Psalms 119:133 says that God’s Word gives us guidance. In times of need, and in times of ease, it’s important to seek Christ’s guidance for your life.

Here are some quick tips for getting more Bible time in your life:

  • Use a small devotional in the mornings to get your day started
  • Commit yourself to 10 minutes of reading on a topic of your choice 4 days a week and highlight the important parts that stand out to you for later reflection.
  • Use a handy Bible reading App
  • Listen to an audio Bible during your commute
  • Search for verses that have a significant meaning to you to begin your reading (i.e. Birthday January 4th= read John 1:4, Philippians 1:4, Ecclesiastes 1:4, etc.)

After you have chosen what works best for you, find a way to tie it into your prayer time or whatever time you have set for your private dates with Jesus. If you chose to have several small ones a day or just one a day, use this time to build on your relationship with Jesus!

You’ll be glad you did.

Stand Firm, The Battle is On

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We have all heard about Satan or the devil, envisioning anything from the snake in the garden to the red-suited, pointed-eared, trident-toting, Halloween costume.

Satan in mentioned throughout the Bible and is referred to by many names including the evil one, the devil, our adversary, the wicked one, the prince of this world, and the tempter, to name a few.

We are warned about Satan and his deception. In I Peter 5:8-9 we are told, “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 suffering”.

There is no doubt, there is a battle over our hearts and souls…all of us are under attack. We must be on guard, be aware, and know our enemy to insure we fight the right fight.

How do we defend against the tempter’s attacks?

Anyone who’s ever been involved in sports has heard that the best defense is the best offense. What does a "best defense" against Satan look like?

Believe The Battle Is On

We must acknowledge we are in a spiritual battle. Otherwise we have given Satan the winning hand. Ignorance is not bliss, it means the battle has been lost.

Stay Close to Jesus

In her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young says to renew our minds, “Train your mind to seek Me (Jesus) in every moment, every situation.” With Jesus this close we can overcome.

Understand The Enemy 

Know your enemy is the advice any military strategist would give as a key concept in battle. Being aware of Satan and his tactics is key to winning the war.

Seek the Light

Jesus is the light of the world. Satan loves the darkness and hides from the light. The light of Jesus protects and guides us when we remain in his light.

Stay Firm in Your Faith

Stay focused!! Showing Satan complete trust and confidence in God will repulse him. The devil may try to lead us astray, but ultimately he cannot defeat our God.

Support Each Other

At the last supper, Jesus had a heart-to-heart conversation with his disciples. In Luke 22:31-32b Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”  If it was important for Jesus to pray for his disciples how much more do we need prayer?

The thought of a battle, spiritual warfare, taking place here and now on this earth can be quite disconcerting; even downright frightening. The good news is that in the end we know who wins. The Bible assures us that Christ has and will continue to overcome the evil of this world. Eventually he will do so once and for all. Until that day, be confident and stay strong resting on that promise.

Serving at Winter Relief as a Family

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At the end of last October, I took my family to serve for one evening of the Winter Relief program. It was a very remarkable experience and as I reflect back on it, there are three main takeaways that made a huge impact on my family. 

First and foremost, there is power in serving Jesus together as a family.

The world has a way of sucking me into believing that I am the center of the universe—that it’s all about me. Often I end up translating that into my family too! My world begins to revolve around my family and my priorities become my wife’s needs, my kid’s needs, schoolwork, soccer practice, family dinner and girl scouts. These are all wonderful and important activities. But serving as a family is different.

We prepared two large honey baked hams, then brought them to church and helped serve the homeless people who had gathered there. Doing tangible service as a family together meant that everything else had to be put on hold and serving other people took priority. It was a challenge and each person had to sacrifice something they’d rather be doing in order to serve. That’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about, choosing to follow him instead of my own desires.

Second, my children got to see me model service.

The reality is that my family is always watching me. They take notice of everything; what I do, what I say, what I like, what excites me, and my attitude towards something. Sadly, I often fall short in the example I want to set for my children and my wife. But this was one night where I felt confident in saying, watch me and do what I do. As I began to truly enjoy serving and interacting with the people at Winter Relief, my family followed suite. Soon I looked over at a table and saw my daughters (aged 9 & 6) taking seats next to a lonely young girl sitting by herself, offering to get her a drink. My son (aged 16) was doing a wonderful job serving everyone who came through his line. My wife was bringing people anything they might have missed like utensils or napkins. 

Third, my family was able to encounter real world brokenness and offer the love of Jesus in response.

Before we went to serve for the evening, my wife and I had to have some meaningful conversations with our children about the homeless. They don’t encounter homeless people very often. While all humans experience disappointment and brokenness, homelessness is a very upfront and external brokenness. I wanted to teach my children that it doesn’t matter if the brokenness is internal and hidden well or external and visible to all, the answer is the same. When people are in need, Jesus calls us to serve them in whatever way we can to reveal him.

 

Serving at Winter Relief was undoubtedly a meaningful and positive experience for my family. Even though we had to step outside our comfort zone and make some small sacrifices to get everyone there. In the end, we were able to do something to tangibly serve others and we had some wonderful and very meaningful conversations along the way.

At that moment, when my whole family was serving together, I couldn’t have been more content.

 


 

Winter Relief will be here again soon! There is a big need for Severn Runners to fill—bringing food, cooking, serving, and most of all connecting with our guests. This is an amazing opportunity for our church community to Love Well and Live Jesus! Get more information and sign up to fill a need when you follow this link:

YES!
I’M HELPING WITH
WINTER RELIEF!

 

Prayer Is The Window Through "Impossible!"

Prayer is the window

Too often we confuse magic with prayer. Magic is instant. Magic is showy, we just kind of wave a wand and it happens -but that's not supernatural!

Prayer is for THROUGH and not around!

Prayer is the window through, but we want around! So many of us, on our journey, have been stopped by Satan because we prayed about something and God didn't lead us around. I gotta tell you, God rarely does around!

God does through, and this is what we see in all of the life of Jesus!

Have we missed the heart of how God works? God is not an around God, He's a through God! Go back and read Luke 22:39-46, and look how Jesus had to go through every moment of the crucifixion.

You can't get to the resurrection without going through the cross!

You can't get to heaven without going through the hardship of a broken world!

And the truth is, we need to come back to through and understand that Daniel had to go through being dropped into rocks in a stinking cave in Daniel verse 6:16. And I know that because in the end, it tells us they had to lift him up out of the cave!

Daniel prays: and God's salvation and deliverance is not to have the king change his mind or to have Daniel avoid being dropped in a hole! Daniel's prayer didn't resolve impossible before he faced it, but as the clock ticked, moment by moment, through, through, through -Daniel prayed!

Then after all of this comes the question of the ages: “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20

Guys, at some point and 100 times over, you're going to have to decide in your life -Is God able? Is my God able? Will I trust him and will I pray "through?"

Will I believe that the impossible isn't?
No matter how things look to my eyes?
No matter how things sound to my ears?
No matter how things feel to my senses?

No matter how huge the storm is on my emotions, I will open the window of prayer and see through it all and see my Savior, Jesus Christ, who showed that the way through impossible is to a resurrection! -Dr. Drew Shofner

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