strength

Jesus Is

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” – John 1:18 The life of Jesus exemplifies perfect theology. What I mean is that if we want a totally accurate depiction of what God is like, we need only look at His Son. When we study how our Savior acted, how He preached, how He ministered, and how He loved people, we learn about the values and priorities of the Lord Himself. Knowing this, we can internalize the heart of our Creator by examining the way He behaved toward people when He was in the flesh. For instance, He was a servant leader — He didn’t go around making others sick to teach them a lesson or harming them to get His point across. He also didn’t use fear, guilt, or

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A Compassionate Touch

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” – Mark 6:34 While there are many words we can use to describe how healing happens in the church, if I were to pick one, it would be compassion. Nearly every time Jesus restored, touched, or taught in the Bible, it says that He had compassion for the people He was helping. In fact, this familiar word literally means to “suffer alongside.” The term passion, which is often used to describe the cross, comes from the french word for suffering, which is pati, and when you add the prefix co, it means to “suffer with.” Truth is, there’s great healing power in offering sympathy and tenderness to an emotionally-wounded neighbor, and since we live in a world that can’t seem to stop

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God’s Covenant Bearer

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:2-4 4,000 years ago in the Ancient East, the world was a dangerous place, full of sickness, plague, famine, and drought. Struggling humanity survived through the enactment of covenants, or permanent promises made between two tribes that combined their strengths, assets, and property. The idea was that when both groups came together, they were stronger, wealthier, and wiser than they were on their own. Such agreements were typically made during a ceremony wherein two tribes faced each other, sang songs, and performed sacrificial rites. The tribal chiefs would exchange coats as a sign of honor and then they would

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The Anointing of Power

“Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.” – Exodus 29:7 In Christianity, we talk a lot about our anointing in Christ, but few of us actually understand where the term originates. Turns out that the practice of anointing actually began with sheep. Since they were prone to the infestation of bugs in their ears, someone figured out that slathering their heads with olive oil kept insects away. Then, later on, someone else wondered if it might work for humans also. Since there was no running water in ancient times, baths were not a common thing, and people tended to smell pretty bad. Even worse, because they traveled long distances and got really dirty, they also attracted bugs. Therefore, anointing their heads was a way to lessen body odor and shield themselves from creepy crawlers. Later, it became a religious ritual that was employed in

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Dry Bones Come Back to Life

“Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” – Ezekiel 37:4-6 If you know anything about me, you know that I “geek out” over history. Thus, a while back, I listened to a guy named Donovan Webster on a podcast he hosts called “Hardcore History.” In this particular episode, he talked about taking a bunch of trains and buses to get to a remote farmer’s field in the southern part of Russia. It just so happens that

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The Wisdom in God’s Warning

“At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.’” – Ezekiel 3:16,17 Over and over again in the Old Testament, we see the Lord warning His people. Though they were chosen and set apart by Him to be a living representation of His goodness, they habitually fell into sin and wickedness. This was especially true in the time of the prophet Ezekiel. Despite knowing right from wrong, the Jews in his day were partaking in paganism and idolatry that involved such gross practices as prostitution, child sacrifice, and other rituals. Seeing their blatant disregard for His ways, God could have punished them then and there. However, He chose to send a messenger to preach repentance instead. So patient and

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The Curse of Comparison

“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” – 2 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) Because our lives are hidden with God in Christ, we’ve been granted protection from and authority over the enemy. In fact, as believers, we walk around in a cushion of grace that makes us impervious to the dominion or possession of darkness. Therefore, the way the devil tries to take us down is through the power of deception. By gaining a foothold in our thoughts, he causes us to turn against ourselves and keeps us paralyzed in fear. In fact, one of the most sinister and common ways in which he does this is through the curse of comparison. Especially in the age of social media, where people are always

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God’s Got the Power

“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” – Exodus 7:10-12 There’s an interesting account in the book of Exodus that took place after Moses and his brother Aaron were commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Having been oppressed and abused for 400 years by Egyptian officials, the Lord heard the cries of His people and put a plan into action to deliver them. He called Moses to guide them, and He appointed Aaron to be a prophet to speak on His behalf. Promising to

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You Are Not Your Mistakes

“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.” – Hebrews 12:1 Often, when we struggle with things like addiction or long-standing sin, we grow discouraged because we feel like we will never beat it. We make progress, but then we backslide, and the devil whispers in our ear that we’re just too broken and messed up to change. In fact, this is how he gains a foothold in our lives. When we listen to his constant fatalistic commentary, he convinces us to give up on ourselves, and that’s when we get in trouble. Once we’re running with the ball of self-defeat, we’re tempted to believe that our Heavenly Father feels as negatively about us as we do, and our view

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The Community of Jesus

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.” – Mark 6:30 For the last couple of days, we’ve talked about two of the three habits we see Jesus model as we study His life — solitude and Scripture memorization — and today, I want to talk about the third practice He exercised consistently, and that is gathering in community. Our Lord was not a loner. While He enjoyed extended periods of solitude, the purpose of those times was to bring Him back to people. He came to lay down His life for others, and He continually poured Himself out to His followers and gleaned strength from being with friends. His first miracle was performed at a wedding feast, and there He joined in a joyful days-long celebration and partook in all the festivities. He clearly understood the importance of having fun, but He

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