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Hope Anchors

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15 As Christians, we should never take hope for granted, because it’s the incredible force that inspires us to move ahead when everything around us says to quit. The dictionary defines it as a “feeling of expectation,” but the beauty of living in Jesus is that hope is more than just an emotion or a desire — it’s a fact. The Bible says that we can anchor our soul in it, because we know for certain that there is always more goodness ahead than what we see. When the storms of life swirl around us and we fear for our safety and wellbeing, hope keeps us rooted in the unchanging

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The Anointing of Light

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” – 1 John 2:20 Yesterday, we learned that our anointing in Jesus is one of power and protection. For the next few days, I want to explore three additional aspects of authority that come through the covering of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The first one is light. Have you ever been engaged in a busy evening at home when the power suddenly goes out? It’s amazing how quickly a bustling pace can come to a halt in the absence of illumination. Left in the dark, we must scramble to find candles, flashlights, and other temporary sources of brightness to see us through. Though nothing replaces the intensity of a return to full power, each little flicker helps us find our way in otherwise black rooms and halls. And this is exactly how

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Don’t Fear the Devil

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” – Acts 26:17,18 Have you ever had one of those dreams where you were back in high school because you never graduated? I don’t know what it is about this proverbial nightmare, but it visits many of us at one time or another. Thankfully, as vivid as our mind might make it seem, when we wake up, we breathe a sigh of relief as we realize that we really did get our diploma. And as strange as the analogy sounds, I believe this scenario parallels a spiritual principle for those of us who’ve said yes to Jesus’ gift of salvation. While we have an enemy,

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A Refreshing Christian

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” – Proverbs 11:25 Have you ever stood by a waterfall on a hot summer’s day? If so, then you know what a relief it is to feel the splash of crisp, cool water on your warm skin. Unfortunately, residents of the ancient city of Laodicea, to whom Jesus wrote a letter in the Book of Revelation, had no such source of refreshing in their midst. Though they were a hub of trade (kind of like the Wall Street of today), the 150,000 people who lived in that place had no clean water to enjoy. Instead, they were forced to go to other towns to find it. Thankfully, just a few miles to their north was a city called Colossae, and there was located a fresh and beautiful mountain spring that was a source of hydration for many of the

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Flavor

“Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” – Mark 9:49,50 For the past few days, we’ve talked about salt being both a force of preservation and purity in the world. Today, I want to discuss the third (and most important) property of this potent mineral, and that is flavor. Let’s face it — salt is delicious! Whether on chips, meat, or french fries, it enhances taste. In fact, it’s hard to imagine life without this powerful mineral because in its absence, food would be plain bland. Since eating is a major source of enjoyment and the primary manner in which we sustain life, flavor is really important. Of course, if this is true physically, it’s even more true spiritually. As Christians, we are the

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Rejection for His Sake

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – Matthew 5:11 As Christians, we sometimes get the idea that once we know Jesus, life will be easy. Since certain teaching emphasizes earthly prosperity over spiritual power, many have come to believe that we’re called to an existence of sheer wealth and popularity. However, the truth is that embracing the journey of discipleship isn’t a guarantee of a trouble-free path. You see, we are set apart to be different, and at times, this can feel lonely. While the world is going one way, we’re asked to go another, and swimming upstream against the strongholds of culture can be exhausting. Nevertheless, it’s a battle worth fighting, for in the end, we will be rewarded for our faithful endurance. Though Jesus was not always popular, He was triumphant, and His

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A Shoot From a Stump

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” – Isaiah 11:1-3 Isaiah is an Old Testament prophecy about the destruction of Israel. Even though God took His people out of darkness and set them apart to be an oasis of truth in a brutal and harsh world, they were often too weak to stand alone. As is common for humans, they were influenced by the secular culture around them and succumbed again and again to its idolatry and paganism. Though the Lord was repeatedly merciful to His people, His anger burned, and He ultimately allowed them to be

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The Root of the Problem

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.’” – Matthew 5:27-29 As Christians, we should constantly seek to become more like Jesus. While this is an everyday aspiration, looking ahead to a new year gives us an opportunity to commit ourselves again to the call of discipleship. In light of our divided culture — one in which social media has given everyone a platform — many of us feel a burden to cultivate unity. More than ever, we’re zealous about bringing divine justice and mercy to earth, yet

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His Life Is the Light of Men

“Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11 Christmas Eve has arrived, and although it looks a bit different this year, my prayer is that you are embracing the power of the One whom we celebrate and that He is filling your life with the gifts of His Spirit. In that vein, today, I want to talk about the third and final offering the Magi brought to Jesus, and how it gives us a source of fresh hope in the midst of a tough season. While gold signifies that the Lord reigns over the kingdoms of earth and incense represents His authority in the Kingdom of Heaven, myrrh speaks to His victory over the grave. Used as an embalming oil in ancient times, this valuable gift foreshadowed His crucifixion, but more importantly, it revealed His greater plan and purpose. Though

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Set Apart

“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:5 When we look at those in the Bible who adhered to the ancient Nazarite vow, there’s perhaps none as famous as Samson. This Herculean man of enormous physical strength was consecrated for the work of God when he was born, and from the time he was young, it was “drilled” into his mind that he was not to touch any dead thing, to drink any wine, or to cut his hair. While he understood that he was a warrior set apart to save the Israelites from the Philistines, he was fascinated by the culture of his enemies and found himself constantly

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