obstacles

Don’t Be Fooled by Smoke and Mirrors

“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.” – Jonah 2:8 The story of Jonah and the whale is a powerful testament to God’s goodness and mercy. Jonah was called by God during the bronze age of the Akkadian Assyrian empire, which was brutal and full of villains. Citizens of this kingdom were oppressed by their kings, so God told Jonah to go tell the citizens of Nineveh to repent. In contrast, Jonah traveled in the opposite direction and a huge whale swallowed him. That sea monster seemed like punishment, but it was actually God’s mercy. It is what keeps Jonah from drowning and brings him back to Nineveh. As a result, God reinstated his calling. During his time in this whale, Jonah said some of scripture’s most profound words. In the King James Version of the above scripture, he said, “Those who observe lying

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The Choice Is Up To You

“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, …” – Proverbs 8:10 It is absolutely possible for your life to be better than it is right now. You don’t need to worry about how sick you are. You don’t need to worry about how old you are, where you’re from, or what family you came from. It doesn’t even matter what the balance in your bank account is. If you desire change, you can create a more fulfilling life right now if you invite Christ into your heart.  Here’s a big mistake a lot of us make: We think that if we attend a better school, get a better boss, live in a bigger home, get a better spouse or better children, then our lives will be better. Folks, your life gets better when you get better. People think that things will improve when we get the

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Perseverance

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4 I love the word perseverance. Defined as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success,” I believe this powerful character trait is of utmost importance as we stand on the threshold of a new year. Though the verses above may be familiar to you, there’s something in them Hannah pointed out to me that I think is very significant. Look at the phrase, “let perseverance finish its work.” Did you notice that it’s passive? In other words, without interference, perseverance will have its way in your life, and you will get to where you’re supposed to be. But why would you not

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The Battle Before the Blessing

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which is 90 miles away from where Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth. While it would only take an hour and a half by car today, back then, it was at least a weeklong trip over rugged terrain. On top of that, it was wintertime, so it was very cold and rainy. Though we know that the Lord had to be born in the City of David so that prophecy could be fulfilled, it’s interesting how much this young couple had to endure before the arrival of the world’s Great Redeemer. Just like Mary and Joseph had to travel a rough road to arrive at the place where the Savior would

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Fear Not

“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’” – Acts 18:9 Fear Not! Do Not Be Afraid! These commonly used Biblical commands always precede God doing something really great in a person’s life. For instance, every time an angel appears to one of the Lord’s chosen, whether Mary before becoming pregnant with Jesus or the Apostle Paul before surviving a shipwreck, He tells that person to not be afraid. Naturally, the presence of an angelic being, full of power and celestial glory, would be enough to make anyone tremble in fear, at least in the moment, but after the call of God is given, there is an even greater opportunity for worry to set in.   The world is full of obstacles and there are more opportunities for angst and anxiety than ever before. When Jesus calls us

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Anti-Fragile Love

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38 We’ve lately discussed being anti-fragile, and how anything that is knocked down, attacked, or destroyed in Jesus will eventually come back stronger. This is true primarily because love is anti-fragile, and God is love. If your daughter is dating someone you don’t like, telling her to break up with them is the worst thing you can do for their relationship. Although it may seem strange and paradoxical, staying positive or neutral is often the best option. Attacking the connection, whether it’s actual love or just infatuation, invalidates the overwhelming feelings that are occurring and nearly guarantees a

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Stress is Strengthening

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4 I want to share a piece of information with you today that I believe can shape the way you think about your walk with God. While life’s circumstances are often tough, just because things aren’t going the way you want them to does not mean that Jesus is disinterested; He is not withholding Himself and punishing you. God, on the other hand, isn’t always concerned with improving your circumstances; rather, He is constantly concerned with improving you! He is passionate about making disciples, and that is His top priority. What is the definition of a disciple? Someone who aspires to be just like Jesus in terms of intelligence, strength, power, love, forgiveness, mercy, and wisdom. If this sounds egotistical, realize that this is exactly what Jesus desires for us: to become disciples

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Something New

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” – Matthew 27:7,8 There’s been much talk recently about the end times, because there’s a lot happening in the world around us. And whether Jesus is coming back next week or in another 500 years, the truth is that He often births new seasons through discomfort. This will certainly be true when history comes to a close and Creation endures a time of tribulation, but it’s equally as true in our lives right now. As those made in the image of God and born again through the blood of Christ, He beckons us to press on and move forward, becoming more like Him in the process. However, it’s important to remember that He often uses pain to loosen our grip on one season so

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Overwhelming Obstacles

“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.” – 2 Chronicles 20:1 Poor Jehoshaphat. It wasn’t long after he barely escaped with his life in the battle against Ramoth-Gilead that three surrounding nations decided to come after him and attack. Because they wanted the wealth that Judah had, they sought to take advantage of his weakness and “get him” while he was down. He must have been terrified when he heard the news, because his enemies — Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir — all had huge armies and lots of manpower. On the contrary, his troops were demoralized and weakened from the war they just faught. It must have looked overwhelming from his perspective, yet history says that the enormous odds probably worked in the king’s favor. This is because, instead of “battening down the hatches,” forging alliances with other countries,

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Unfinished Symphonies

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) A symphony is an elaborate musical work that’s written for a full orchestra. It’s typically divided into four movements, and all of them are distinctly different but woven together by similar themes. Since composing such a complex piece of music is no easy task, there are several famous composers who started them but never finished. Perhaps the most famous is Franz Schubert and his Symphony #8, of which he completed only two movements. Though speculation by some is that he never intended to finish it, the reality is that he probably didn’t get to it, either because he lacked inspiration or didn’t receive adequate support. Thankfully for us, God doesn’t author any unfinished symphonies. Though our lives are complex and

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