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Hope for the Church

By Ty Haguewood

I am always blown away as I think about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. We have an abundance of hope for our lives because the God who saved us is the God of hope. We often talk about the hope that each one of us as in Jesus yet we sometimes belittle the hope that we have as the church. So let me put it this way:

The body of Christ, also known as the church, has a fullness of hope as God has lavished hope on us through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want us to take a deeper look at this.

  1. Jesus is the rock and foundation of the church

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ solidified His authority and place as the Victorious King. We as believers must always first remember Jesus as Victor and Savior of our souls. The church is most hopeful and healthy when we have a right view of God and all that He has done, is doing, and will do. The moment the church loses a right view of God is the moment the church slips into a place of hopelessness.

We must remember that sin has lost it’s power, death has lost it’s sting, and Jesus reigns supreme forever. The church is founded and rooted in the God who conquered death.

We have so much to celebrate and hope in.

  1. The Holy Spirit is the power of the church

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:4-8

In Acts 1, Jesus told the disciples to not leave Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. He did not let them go do anything based on their own power, instead, Jesus told them that they were going to receive a great power.

God never calls us to be the savior of humanity nor the King of Kings; God calls us to believe, follow, and be available for Him to use. We, as the church, must never attempt to do the work of God without the power of God. The church is never more crippled than when we try to do God’s work without God’s presence.

We have a power available to us unparalleled to anything else, why would we depend on ourselves if have the Holy Spirit? We must be a people totally dependent and desperate to be used by God and filled with His Spirit.

The church has hope in the reality that God is our power and He will never leave us to our own ability to do His work.

Some Closing Thoughts

I pray that we would spend less time designing programs and events and spend more time on our knees praying for God to move in our community. We have a God that conquered death yet we so often rely on ourselves. Let us be a people on our faces before God asking Him to transform our community.

The church has so much hope, let’s turn to God and trust Him. He will guide us, provide for us, protect us, empower us, and never leave us. Let’s surrender and watch Him transform this city.

 

 

Hope for the Family

By Chad Spriggs

Fill in the blanks. I hope I… I hope we… I hope it… we all have things we hope will work out, get better, or even go away. Our hopes reveal the things we want the most. Hope can be a fickle thing when it’s is found in anything less than Jesus.

One of my hopes is rooted in a deep desire to see families thrive. The single most important relationships we will ever have are formed in the fires of family. We find meaning, purpose, safety, and discipline in the confides of family. We grow up, old, and out with our family. Family shapes our thoughts, propels our efforts, and calls us back to reality. We need family. God’s design from the beginning was family, and it hasn’t changed. The problem for us comes from defining family. The best way to define family is to simply ask…

Who is your family?

How does God want you to love your family?

There are many ways and specific things we can do to love our family, but the only life changing things come from putting our hope, our trust, in Jesus. Here are four important ways we can do that.

Put God First “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

What does your family see?

Does your family see you argue, debate for the sake of winning, criticize, belittle, or mindlessly disconnected. If so, where is God? If we put God first they will see you praying, reading the Bible, talking about God’s goodness, disciplining in accordance to God’s word, being compassionate, and humbly putting others needs before your own. It’s time our families live according to the Spirit and set our minds on the things of the Spirit.

Live on Mission “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

What does your family do?

Is it hard for your family slow down, reflect on what God is doing, see God at work in and around, or dream about how together you can grow in Christ and share his hope? For the Christian family there is no secular. Our lives should be chapter after chapter of God’s redemption story. Our lives should reflect that we are chosen, priestly, holy, and filled with the mind of Christ.

Fight for Their Lives “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

What does your family fight for?

We can fight to win or we can fight to help. We can tear down or build up. Every act, thought, and word has the power to heal or the power to destroy. The law of Christ commands that we care for others. Caring for others starts with the family, those that are sometimes hardest to care for. Do the burdens of your family annoy you are drive you to prayer?

Trust God Not Your Instincts “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Where does your family turn?

God’s ways are good, they are perfect. Our ways can be good, but they are flawed. When life gets difficult, when family life is hard, the last thing we need to do is trust in our natural instincts. Put your hope in God’s words, because they are true. Put your hope in the Spirit of God, because He will teach you. Put your hope in the creator God, because despite how we have broken this world through sin, He holds it together. Put your hope in God. He alone brings joy and peace to the family.

There is Hope for your family. That hope is found in loving Jesus and loving others with God’s love. If you want to love your family the way God loves; you will put God first, live on mission, fight for their lives, and trust God not your instinct. I pray that God give you the strength and the will to put your Hope in God. He wants to help you love your family.

 

 

 

 

 

Love’s Influence

By Chad Spriggs

In his Gospel, Matthew sets out the success of Jesus’ ministry (ch.5–9). He summarizes, ‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness’ (9:35). In word and action Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God. Jesus lovingly pursued bringing the reality of God’s rule and presence into the lives of those around him.

What do you pursue?  Some people desire fitness while others focus on art.  Some seek  justice while others long for mercy. No matter what it is, one thing is certain.  Your pursuits reveal what you love.

YOUR PURSUITS REVEAL WHAT YOU LOVE

Here is another way to look at it. What are you known for? If I ask a dozen of your closest friends and family to tell me about you, what would they say? Would they say you are driven, creative, kind, hospitable, funny, or intelligent? Would they describe you based on your talents or your character? Your pursuits reveal what you love. What you love reveals who you are.

YOUR PURSUITS REVEAL WHAT YOU LOVE

WHAT YOU LOVE REVEALS WHO YOU ARE

Here’s where this gets hard to swallow. The life of a follower of Christ should be characterized by the singular pursuit of God through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. If you pursue anything other than knowing God and showing Jesus, your pursuit is empty, dead, and void of God’s redemptive power. If you love anything above God your love is tainted and reveals sin’s command of your life.

Let’s take it one step further. Your pursuits reveal what you love. What you love reveals who you are. Who you are is your greatest influencer. Your influence will point people to God or away from God.

YOUR PURSUITS REVEAL WHAT YOU LOVE

WHAT YOU LOVE REVEALS WHO YOU ARE

WHO YOU ARE IS YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCER

The world is held together through relationships. The strength of money, infrastructure, social media, government, military, pop-culture, and art do not compare to the strength found in a trusting relationship.  When relationships are fractured the very fabric of society is ripped apart.

I believe the church was formed through a singular pursuit of loving Jesus. This love revealed who they were, Children of the Living God. Then Christ in and through them influenced people, families, communities and regions with His transforming power. And the church grew.

The sad thing is that in just a few short years the Church was no longer singularly focused. Tradition, politics, culture, and self advancement crept in. Paul’s corrective letters in the New Testament primarily pointed people back to the influence of Christ rather than the influence of the world.

Some things haven’t changed. The Church today must fight against the influence of tradition, politics, culture, and self advancement. It must run to Jesus and allow His influence to influence others.

Lets take a look at how Paul challenged The Church in Colossae to pursue Jesus, love Jesus, and allow Jesus to influence others through them.

“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17 HCSB

YOUR PURSUITS REVEAL WHAT YOU LOVE

WHAT YOU LOVE REVEALS WHO YOU ARE

WHO YOU ARE IS YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCER

The Church of Collossae had a choice. Continue to be influenced by Gnostic thought, secularism, and tradition or abandon it all and follow Jesus. The only way the Church would survive is if Christ followers decided to allow Jesus Christ in and through them to influence the spiritual health of others in the Church. This is a Historical truth that has timeless implications for every local church. It’s time we ask ourselves a hard question.

How are you and the church influencing the spiritual health of others?

God may be revealing specifics to you even now. That’s great. Along with those specifics, Paul’s encouragement in Collisions 3:12-17 can help undergird our efforts to influence the spiritual health of others. Let’s take a look at the actions found in this section of scripture. Meditate on these truths and ask yourself how you are expressing this character, and if you are not. What must you do to align with scripture’s truths?

  1. Put on heartfelt compassion kindness, humility gentleness, and patience.
  2. Accept one another.
  3. Forgive one another.
  4. Put on love.
  5. Let the peace of the Messiah control your hearts.
  6. Be thankful.
  7. Let the Messiah’s message dwell among you.
  8. Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.
  9. Sing with gratitude in your hearts.
  10. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The church’s actions corporately and personally will align with Colossians when they pursue Jesus, love Jesus, and allow Jesus to influence others through them.

How are you and the church influencing the spiritual health of others?

 

Overwhelmed for Worship

By Chad Spriggs

When was the last time you were overwhelmed?

In the Old Testament we see time and time again that God’s greatness was revealed after His people were overwhelmed by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God’s stubborn love and longing to draw them close and bless them with His favor was overwhelming. They worshiped, making much of God, and God healed their land.

In the New Testament we see God’s greatness revealed in and through Jesus Christ. When people opened their eyes and ears to receive forgiveness of sin they were overwhelmed. Jesus captivated their heart, mind, and soul and never let go. His followers worshiped, making much of God, and God healed their lives.

God’s people from every era and generation worship God when they recognize the true greatness of God and are overwhelmed by His love. Imagine a love so great it overwhelms you. It captivates your heart, mind, and soul. It may encourage some to become strangely still; even quiet, others fall to their knees tears flowing, many stand in awe, and a few may leap with joy. It may happen in crowds of people, alone, or in the most unexpected ways and places. Is this what worship looks like? Is this what happens when you comes face to face with the transforming truth of God’s love and redeeming power?

God wants to overwhelm you with His love.
He is only limited by your willingness to worship Him.

With all that we’ve done to replace, reinvent, and rewrite God’s love story he simple asks us…“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)

The original intent of this verse was for God to establish a works based relationship with his people. Their works were based on their humility toward God, focus on God’s instructions, and repentance of things that opposed God. The application is timeless, God longs to have a people that expressed their devotion to him through a life surrendered to God, desperately wanting to honor God through obedience, and daily trusting Jesus for life direction. God may not heal our land but he has and always will seek to heal lives that are overwhelmed by God. That state of mind will prompt people to humble themselves, seek Him, and repent of wickedness.

When was the last time you humbled yourself, sought his face, and repented of wickedness?

Worship is not the song we sing, the sacrifice we make, how well we represent God on social media, raising a good family, or representing our church well. All these things are good but in and of themselves are not worship. Worship is humble adoration, communion with God, seeking God with our whole body, and turning from sin while running to God. Worship elevates God and takes us off the paying field.

Humble Yourself
Humility becomes a reality for those that have come to grips with their limitations and look forward to God’s Influence. Humility begins with perspective. The humble will say, “I am nothing, but God is everything.” Their life will be one example after another of making much of God.

How is God becoming the influencer of everything you say and do?

Pray
Prayer transforms a person when they believe God hears, cares, and longs to meet their heart’s cry. Prayer is the most intimate act of trust. It helps a person recognize that God is present with them through the good and bad.  The more we pray the more we are centered on God rather that the circumstances of life. Prayer gives the intangible substance.

How is your heart’s cry met through your relationship with God?

Seek His Face
When a person seeks His face they are intentionally loosing track of the things that distract, corrupt, and rob them from knowing God. The purpose of life is found in knowing God. The Bible promises that those that seek him will find him. It doesn’t mean they wont find despair, fear, anger, and uncertainty along the way, but it promises they will find God.

How is seeking His face giving you strength for each new day?

Turn from Wickedness
Turning from wickedness takes recognizing sin has corrupt even the best, purest thoughts a person has apart from the enlightenment of the Father. Wickedness is pervasive. There is no escape apart from God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Sin has no dominion over Jesus. If a person is covered by Jesus’ love and sacrifice, sin has no dominion over them. Wickedness is a fading memory of a past reality. Worshiping God in his greatness becomes our clear reality.

How is wickedness fading and worship growing in you?

I recently asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter this question. Other than God, what things do you find yourself drawn to worship? Here are some of their responses.

  1. My cat
  2. Music…listening to it and making it.
  3. Doing good.
  4. Tone, melody, instrumentation, vocals…all things that drew me to music to begin with.
  5. My house, I too often worry and stress over making it perfectly organized and clean.
  6. Me – what I like, what I want, what I don’t want to do…
  7. Fly fishing
  8. Laser beams
  9. Screaming guitar shredding and R&B background singers.
  10. Sports Activity
  11. Security
  12. Contentment
  13. Convenience
  14. Anything that I’m willing to defend.

 

Think it Through
Read Isaiah 6

Before Isaiah saw God his answer to my question would be similar to ours. Contextually appropriate, but the same. When He saw God… all of God… the love of God… he was overwhelmed. His response, his next step, was a life of devoted worship.

Imagine a love so great it overwhelms you. It captivates your heart, mind, and soul. Now stop imagining it. Humble yourself, pray, seek His face, and turn from wickedness…say here I am…send me! Worship God.

How are you and the church drawing closer to God through worship?

Living Hope

By Ty Haguewood

I hate feeling hopeless. I hate seeing other people feel hopeless.

I recently went on a personal journey to try and understand hope on a deeper level. I wanted to figure out what hope was so I would know where to look. I stumbled upon this passage of scripture and it changed my life. I want to share with you four key lessons that I learned about hope from 1 Peter 1:3-4.

1. Hope comes from God. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  (verse 3) 

The hope we have now is a result of God’s mercy on us. We as believers need to understand the power of our hope. God caused us to be born again to this living hope because He chose mercy. Our hope was a very costly hope. Our hope was bought because God showed mercy on us by taking the payment for our sin on His Son, Jesus. It was through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we have access to this living hope.

Let me put it this way: we do not possess an accidental hope. We have a hope that God designed for us; our hope is Jesus.

As believers, we must first see His mercy if we want to walk in His hope. We must first see that our hope comes from God.

2. Hope is alive.

“…born again to a living hope” (verse 3) The resurrection of Jesus is the reason for our hope. We hope in the One whom death could not hold. We believe in the One who stripped death of its power. We believe the One who could not be bound to the grave. We believe in Jesus; our living Savior.

You may feel broken.

You may feel hurting.

You may feel lost.

You may feel lonely.

You may feel discouraged.

You may feel heartbroken.

You may feel dead.

We may be surrounded by death but we are secured by the Author of Life This is why our hope is so powerful! Our hope is powerful because our hope is in Jesus. Our hope is living because our God is living.

3. Hope is eternal. 

“…who by God’s power are being guarded through faith” (verse 4) Our hope is alive and guess what? It will always be alive!

Our hope is eternal. The God who purchased our hope is the God who secures our hope for eternity. We never have to worry about losing our hope or going a day without hope. Our God is the faithful guardian of our soul and He promises us hope through Christ Jesus. He promises us a living hope.

We have a hope that generations upon generations have trusted; a hope that has no expiration date.

4. We do not design hope for ourselves.

Can I confess something to you? I struggle with clinging to the hope God has for us. I struggle because I would rather take things into my own hands usually. I see a problem and I try to solve it myself. I feel hopeless so I try to fix it with temporary solutions. Have you ever been there?

Maybe if I try to be more positive.

Maybe if I ignore the bad stuff.

Maybe if I just try harder.

Maybe if I am more motivated.

Maybe if I achieve that goal.

Maybe If I dream bigger.

I always resort to these “Maybe if’s.” They are my sorry attempt to design hope for myself. We exhaust ourselves trying to design hope for ourselves when God never ended for us to do so.

God doesn’t call us to design hope for ourselves; He calls us to discover hope through Him. He designs and we discover!

What does that mean for our lives? It means that we can take a step back and finally breathe. We must simply press into God and allow Him to press hope onto us. We must simply trust and follow.

I pray that you would set your eyes on Jesus, our living hope.

Self-Condemnation

By Ty Haguewood

I do not always feel good enough. In fact, I don’t feel good enough most of the time. I don’t know if you have ever felt that way. If you have felt not good enough or struggled with self-condemnation, I am right here with you.

Over the last few months, I have realized the severity of self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is not a small issue. Self-condemnation shows us a lot about our belief in God. I want to share three faults of self-condemnation.

Self-Condemnation Distorts the Good News of the Gospel

Self-condemnation is an assault on the good news of the Gospel. God has promised to redeem and rescue His people from condemnation. He doesn’t save people so that they would return to condemnation. Self-condemnation leaves the believer in a state of hopelessness that God never intended for believers to stay in.  It takes the good news out of the Gospel and leaves the person hopeless.

Self-Condemnation Belittles the Price Jesus Paid to Forgive Us

Self-condemnation belittles the blood-bought identity that God purchased for us. As believers, we must not forget how costly it was for God to save us from condemnation. Self-condemnation says the payment didn’t clear because I am somehow not good enough. There is no question that we are not good enough. Nowhere in the Gospel does God make any claim giving us credit for being good enough. The good news of the Gospel is that God is good enough and He made a way for us.  The believer who chooses to return to condemnation demeans the cost Jesus paid for them to be rescued from it.

Self-Condemnation is a Sorry Attempt to Take Control from God

Self-condemnation is an attempt for us to become the judge of our souls. We look at God’s promises and tell Him they are not good enough. We start trying to judge if God should or should not love us, as if we have any say in the matter. God loves you regardless of your approval. The perfect God of the universe does not bow to our approval. As believers we must remember who chose to save us. God did not ask our permission to sacrifice His only Son to save us from the condemnation we deserve. He simply asks us to follow Him.

How Can We Fight Against Self-Condemnation?

We can fight against self-condemnation with the promises of God. If you feel like you are not good enough or somehow still condemning yourself, run to the promises of God and believe them. Stop what you are doing, turn off this blog, and immerse yourself in the Word of God.

You are loved.                               

You have been redeemed.

You have been purchased.

You have been pardoned.

You have been given new life.

 

A Trip I Will Never Forget

By Libby Edwards
All I heard were people yelling my name in a different language, and trying to touch me like I was famous.

I was meeting my birth parents in Cambodia for the first time.

But before I met them, I toured Cambodia; it was fun seeing everything. We went to the ocean and it was great jumping off rocks and feeling the water hit my face. It was
really cold, but it was worth it. One time I was walking up some steps at the beach to get back to the hotel I stepped down and saw a scorpion. I jumped and ran to my friends; it was scary. We also saw a lot of the old temples and several monks wearing orange. It was weird seeing people praying to their god and not ours, but it was a good experience. The food was really good too; I ate a lot of noodles and egg rolls. It was fun spending New Year’s Eve in Cambodia; it was a lot different, but cool.

The day I went to meet my birth parents was one of the coolest and scariest days.

We got there by a road we called the bumpy road because it was really bumpy. We were flying up in the air and hitting our heads on the roof; it was something I probably won’t forget. Once we got there, people surrounded our van and it was really weird. When I stepped out everyone started saying my name and other words I didn’t understand. I was so confused. We sat inside their house and waited for my birth parents. I was scared and thinking, “What are they going to think of me?” As soon as my birth mom saw me she started crying and gave me a hug. I don’t like hugs but I thought I should give her one anyway, so I did. After that we started talking through our translator. Then some lady came up to me and started braiding my hair; I had no idea who she was, but I just went with it. I made balloon animals for the little kids and they were so happy. Later we said our goodbyes and headed off.
My parents said I showed Christian love to my birth parents and their friends in my attitude toward them. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). After we got back home, my parents told me the people we thought were my birth parents, turned out not to be my birth parents. The first thing I said to my Mom and Dad was, “You mean I hugged that lady for no reason?” It was fun anyway seeing them and seeing how happy they were to meet me even if they weren’t my birth parents. It was a trip I will never forget!

Libby Edwards is an 18-year old senior at Hope Christian School. She is a member of
Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church where she serves on the worship team for The Peak Student Ministry. An accomplished musician, Libby enjoys writing her own original music.

Poor in Spirit

By Robert Thomas

In Matthew chapter 5, we read the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus teaches many things that contradict the world’s teaching, but reveal the type of life that God desires for His people. Instead of using worldly ways of thinking and behaving, Jesus encourages us to abandon what the world thinks, and counteract it with spiritual truths. Jesus begins this teaching with this thought: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

These words are part of the very core of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus isn’t talking about being physically poor, He’s referring to the state of our souls.

To be blessed, which could also be translated “happy”, or “fortunate”, is a benefit to the one who is poor in spirit. Although each person is spiritually dead inside because of their sin, Jesus still encourages His followers not just to be poor in spirit, but to acknowledge they are poor in spirit.

To live like we’re poor in spirit, we must first acknowledge our need before the Lord.

Instead of trying to be self-sufficient and solve our spiritual problems on our own, we must recognize our utterly desperate spiritual bankruptcy and come to Christ in humility, begging for forgiveness from our sins. To be a follower of Christ whatsoever, we must conclude that without Jesus, we are dead inside and have no hope of ever saving ourselves. Spiritual poverty is deeply rooted in the very Gospel itself – humanity is lost and in desperate need without a Savior, and Jesus came and died to pay the price for our sins. Since the price is paid, we can come to Jesus in belief and repentance and receive eternal life.
Living like we’re poor in spirit isn’t something only new believers have to worry about, because the Lord has always wanted His people to depend on Him for their every need. Belief in Jesus as Lord and confession of our sins isn’t just a place to start, it’s a model that should color every day of our lives. Throughout the Bible we are reminded that we should come before the Lord daily to confess our deep continual need, but probably the best example of this is the way Jesus lived his life. He would often go off by Himself to seek sustenance and guidance from the Lord, and He taught His disciples to pray each day for their daily bread from the Lord.

In our lives today, we cannot afford to forget our spiritual poverty, and we cannot escape the fact that without the Holy Spirit and the words of God constantly pouring into our lives, we are spiritually destitute.

We cannot ever reach a state of self-sufficiency in our walks with the Lord; we cannot ever become spiritual enough that we eliminate the need to consistently return to His presence to be filled. But take heart! The Bible promises that the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and in His presence we find our true fulfillment and joy.
Pattern your life after Jesus, and live like He did. Live poor in spirit, because Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Look After the Orphans

By Gai Gai Anderson

The month of November is Adoption Month. That in itself should make us think about James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I can remember ten years ago when Angella and I flew back from Uganda, July 13, 2007, and she landed in the USA for the first time. God had answered many prayers through several years for that moment to happen. Small 2 ½ year-old Angella had become our daughter, to look after from then on. The adoption was finalized on November 17, 2007, on Adoption Day in Albuquerque.
Christians don’t often think of themselves as following a religion. After all, God calls us to a personal relationship with Him, not a religious experience or set of rules. James, the writer of James 1:27, had seen religious leaders flaunting their so-called spirituality in front of the masses. After seeing these leaders, perhaps there were Christians spread throughout the land wondering what God thought about religion. Am I supposed to be a religious person? What does that look like? James felt he needed to address the issue.
We have no problem with the last part of this definition of religion that says God wants us to keep the world’s views from polluting our lives. We know as followers of Christ we are to be set apart from the world and to be holy. In addition, our church serves widows by assigning deacons to support, encourage, and help meet their needs. Even those who are not deacons “love on” the widows in our fellowship.

Haven’t we forgotten the children? We are to look after orphans in their distress.

Every Christian couple and even Christian single adults should pray about adopting a child. Not so they can claim to be religious, but because God tells us to look after them. To some people this may be to sponsor a child somewhere in the world through Compassion International or World Vision. Some of you, no doubt, have been called to adopt a child from here in the States or from another country. To the Anderson family it looked like a precious, extra small, 2 ½ year old Ugandan girl who turned into a beautiful, tall, 13-year- old Ugandan-American.

Yes, keep yourselves from being polluted by the world and continue looking after widows; but pray about how “look after orphans…in their distress” is to be lived out in your life. Be a “religious” person in the true sense of the word.

Living with Balance

By Karen Polich

Not much about our lives is perfectly laid out. How do we find balance?

Our focus point is key in living with “balance”. When our focus is in the right place, we can make the adjustments we need. When we are firmly focused on Christ, we can put everything into perspective. We are gifted with the perfect filter for everything we do.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

We are called to do all things for the glory of God. It’s that simple.

Matt Snook & Ty Haguewood delivered Sunday’s message on balance in our lives and with our finances. You can dive in with them on the podcast.

When it comes to our finances, it’s just one more area where we have the opportunity to glorify God. As we live out God’s call in our lives, advancing the Kingdom is the goal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 This scripture reminds us our dependence should be on God in all things. There is no reason to trust our own efforts or riches above Him.

When our focus is on Him, all the correcting and adjusting become easy and constant from the perspective His will. We can become out of balance with great things as well as bad things, but when God is at the center, and our hearts stay on Him, we will seek the light and live our lives His way.

God has designed happiness and holiness to sync with Him. He is the source of our balance and our joy.

Do you need to shift your focus back to Him? Spend time with God today and ask Him to restore His balance in your life.