God reveals Himself through the revelation of creation. Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands." When we look up into the skies and we see that sunset, when we look up into the sky and we see the sun bursting through, we have...
The truth is, everybody has an innate desire to know God. Everybody was created in the image of God with a desire to know Him and to be reconnected with Him. In fact, in everybody that you meet, regardless of what they know, in their DNA (woven into their very being), was wired for their...
Our purpose as a church is not to be comfortable. It's not to keep me employed or to make you happy. Our purpose as a church is to creatively reveal something that is world changing and epic-- it is the love of the Father! A love that is the answer to all of the brokenness in this badly broken...
Shortly after awakening from a restful night’s sleep, Maureen Shannon walked to the window to open the blinds. At the last minute, she changed her mind and turned around. In the very next moment her body broke and her future was dramatically altered. Maureen began playing piano when she...
You might know exactly what talents and abilities God has given you and where you are of most service in the body of Christ. Or, you might like to know where the biggest needs are and step into a serving spot that is desperate to be filled. However, you may have no idea where or even when you...
On Friday, February 18, over 400 people gathered at the Ignition Banquet in the Worship Center that was transformed into a banquet hall to launch our On The Road capital campaign. The evening was filled with fun, food, games and great conversation. A meal of salad, rice, chicken and...
Jesus said that if we found our life and our significance in His love, that we would be then so changed and altered in our heart that we would spend the rest of our lives helping other people find their place in the love of the Father! So if we are not doing the one, then we need to question...
Do you realize that one of the greatest growth industries in modern America is the storage industry? The funny thing is as we gain more and gather more stuff that we don't need, we then have put this 'stuff' in storage. We can't get rid of it or give it to someone who might need it- God forbid!...
Seventeen and a half years ago when God let me have the privilege of becoming the lead pastor at The Church at Severn Run, we had a real decision to make. The decision to make was to stay where we are and ignore the need of the world around us and pretend like somebody else will reach those...
So, we’re already into the second month of 2016! How are your resolutions coming along? If you’re like most people, then it’s possible that you’re finding it difficult to stick with it at this point. Most New Year’s resolutioners (yes, I made up a word there)...
The best way to establish, develop, and maintain any relationship is through conversation. Relationships must be centered on trust. It is upon trust that intimacy is built. How do we establish trust and build intimacy? Through conversation.
Prayer is conversation with God. Through conversation we build a relationship with him.
If, upon meeting someone for the first time, the conversation ended after an exchanged “hello”, the relationship would not go beyond the introductory level. A relationship can’t continue to grow without extended conversation. The conversation needs to eventually move from the basics of getting to know each other, to sharing thoughts and feelings on a personal and emotional level. That’s the level of intimacy we can have with God the Father.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:1-2)
He already knows the thoughts and feelings of our innermost places, but when we willingly share those with him in prayer, an intimate bond with him develops in our own hearts.
Another failed technique in relationship building is to dominate the conversation. It’s hard to be friends with a person who only talks about themselves – THEIR problems, THEIR successes, THEIR families, THEIR jobs, THEIR drama. God is so much more tolerant of the kind of conversation than a human friend would be. The thing is, WE are missing so many benefits of having a relationship with the Lord when we don’t stop to listen to what he has to say to us!
These handy acronyms offer a couple of ways to guide our conversation with God:
From Bible study leader, Priscilla Shirer:
P – Praise God for who he is and what he’s done.
R – Repent for any areas of your life where you’re resisting what God wants to do in you.
A – Ask for God’s help and guidance in your life or the lives of others.
Y – Yes! Confirm God’s truth and promises to you by praying His own words from Scripture.
Or similar to PRAY, practice ACTS:
A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication (Praying for the needs of others and yourself)
Get to know your Lord and Savior. Reading your Bible and prayer (conversation) are the best ways to grow in your relationship with him. He longs for you to willingly share every part of your life experience with him. We can do that through prayer.
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, 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?
As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year 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 the new year, let’s change things up a bit. Let us seek to align our goals with God’s purpose for us. Let us also seek his wisdom and guidance for our personal goals that his will be done.
It might help to focus on what Jesus said were the two greatest commands: Love God with all your being, and love others as yourself. Here's what it could look like:
Put Him first. He has forgiven you and he has sent his son to be a sacrifice for you, so you could be closer to him. Love him with everything thing you have; your mind, your heart, your soul. Think of him constantly, meditate on his word, and talk with him daily.
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.
Some people struggle with loving themselves--their thoughts are filled with self-loathing or extreme self-criticism. This year, Remember who you are...or more importantly, whose you are! If you have a relationship with Jesus, you are a child of God. A prince or princess of the Most High King who was pursued passionately. You are forgiven, you are healed, and you are set free. You are loved. 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.
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.
It is important to set goals that align with what God wants. As you set goals for yourself in the new year, ask God for his guidance, and thank him for the outcome in advance.
Here's how you could focus on these principles each week of each month:
Week 1 Focus on Loving God:
- Give him praise, give him thanks, honor Him daily
- Seek his will in the word
- Pray daily
- Give tithes and offerings for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Week 2 Focus on Loving Others
- Be a light to pre-Christians
- Be a friend to others
- Share God's love with others
- Encourage other believers
- Smile – it’s contagious
- Serve where ever God shows you a need
Week 3 Focus on Loving Yourself
- Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
- 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)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Slow down and take time to do the things that make you happy and bring you closer to God
Week 4 Speak Life Every Day
- Speak these verses:
- I am a friend of God (James 2:23)
- Praise him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Find other verses to say and memorize
- Speak kindly to the people around you
- Share an encouragement with someone
- Tell the people you love how much you love them
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.”