Purpose

Avodah: Hebrew for work, worship and service

“Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord, Christ.” – Colossians 3:22-24 Did you know that surveys suggest that roughly 65 percent of Americans really dislike their jobs and that at least 15 percent hate them? I know, hate is a strong word. Considering that you typically work eight hours a day, five days a week, this can be a problem! To help us change the way we view our careers, we’re going to begin a series of devotions dealing with how God works in and through us to cultivate a joy that brings new meaning to our work-life.   When you think about your favorite job, what comes to mind? Were you ever employed in a place that, although you may have worked hard, you felt satisfied

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Vulnerability in Relationships

“See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” – Luke 11:35,36 Today, I want to sum up our discussion of discipline and secrecy and how it deepens our walk with God. Allow me to offer you two practical steps you can take to employ the power of secrecy in your own life and in your relationships, both with Jesus and others. First of all, when you do something really great for someone else, keep it a secret. If you’ve never done this before, I encourage you to give it a try. Give a gift to a friend or a stranger, serve in some capacity, or volunteer for a day, but don’t tell anyone. When

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You are Rewarded in His Likeness

“The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good rewarded for theirs.” – Proverbs 14:14 What do you want in life? What would you say if we were sitting by a lake together, staring at the water and being contemplative, and I asked you that question? Do you think it’s money? Maybe. Do you think it’s glory? Maybe. Given enough time to think and contemplate, I believe you would say something along the lines of wanting to live a life that matters, wanting to belong, or wanting your friends and family to be healthy and happy. These things are your life and reward in the Kingdom of God, which is the wonderful news I want to share with you right now!  These gifts — purpose, health, peace, and passion — come as a result of the power that comes from exercising specific aspects of our walk with

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The Call is Not to Comfort

“The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.” – Ezekiel 2:4,5 Yesterday, we saw that God met Ezekiel in the middle of a season of exile with a divine vision that led him to his call as a prophet. Because the Israelites in Babylon were blatantly rebelling against their Heavenly Father in acts of idolatry and paganism (such as child sacrifice and temple prostitution), He needed to warn them that judgment was coming if they didn’t change their ways. Always faithful and long-suffering, the Lord chose to speak through Ezekiel to give the Jews a chance to turn from evil and return to His heart. Following the Holy Spirit’s prompts, the prophet faithfully delivered

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The Vitality in Vision

“In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” – Ezekiel 1:1 Yesterday, we talked about Ezekiel and how he was captured by the Babylonians when he was just 25 years old. After spending five years in a strange city wondering if the Lord had forgotten him, he finally got a glimpse of what His Creator was up to. As he sat by the banks of the Kebar River with his fellow exiles from Jerusalem — probably feeling sad since this was the time he was supposed to come into his own as a priest — he saw something greater than he could ever have fathomed. In fact, with no warning, the heavens opened up before him and he beheld a vision of glory. While at first

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He Has Anointed YOU!

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” – Isaiah 61:1 When we come to know Jesus, He imparts to us the call to proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and share freedom with captives. And while this sounds overwhelming upon first hearing, the truth is that He has chosen us specifically for the job. In fact, He has anointed and set us apart to break spiritual strongholds and pass on divine power — the key is that we must believe it! We are equipped to do everything our Savior says we can do, because our anointing has nothing to do with our talents or training, but solely with His

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Free to Be Yourself

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14 Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island among other literary works, once made the statement, “I have been to church today and I’m not depressed.” Unfortunately, this famous quote provides a rather sad insight into how the brilliant author viewed the majority of corporate worship services. In a similar vein, the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.” Sadly, he was not alone in his assessment of Christians. Although we have every reason to live abundantly and vibrantly, too many of us spend too much of our lives trying to conform to someone else’s mold. Rather than embracing the quirky, salty, and unique individuals we are, we

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Habits Build a Holy Life

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 I think many of us believe that some big event or triumph has to occur in our lives before we consider ourselves successful. We may think we have to be promoted to manager, start a booming business, write a book, or have a family before we’ve truly “arrived.” However, maintaining this view cheats us out of the victories that happen every day. More than one big moment, success is the sum of small efforts that are repeated time and again until they make us strong on the inside. In fact, we are only as effective as our habits, and that makes time our most precious commodity. Like I’ve said before, “Show me your calendar, and I’ll show you your future.” This is because, although each of us has

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Called vs. Driven

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 Among the greatest gifts we inherit when we become part of the family of God is that He gives us a purpose. The very One who set the stars in the sky and the planets in space has ordained a calling for us, and if we seek Him, He faithfully leads us to it. As for me, I’m called to be a pastor and to expand the Kingdom of Christ through Hour of Power and Shepherd’s Grove. However, I’m not the proprietor of my position — I’m only a steward of what the Lord has entrusted to me. First and foremost, it belongs to Him, and so does everything else that I enjoy. Knowing this, I’m free to embrace my

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Time and Immortality

“For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” – 1 Corinthians 15:53,54 I love history. As I’m studying Scripture, I put myself in the shoes of Biblical characters and examine their reactions from the standpoint of culture, and I glean more application for my life now. When I immerse myself in first-century Jewish society, I see a clearer picture of Jesus, and I gain a deeper understanding of my fellow man. In addition, as I learn about the chronology of world civilizations, I enlarge my knowledge of the arc of time and begin to see patterns in the unfolding of events on this planet. In fact, the more I examine what’s happened before, the

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