Children of God – TRUST

matt 6 28,29

Today I am going to focus on trusting God. I have talked about this topic before, most likely because this is something that I personally struggle with. That being said, I am going to focus more on trying to have trust like a child, since this week I am focusing on having faith like a child, and each of the components that go along with that. In many different places in the Bible Christians are referred to as children of God, I believe that this is incredibly intentional (as is most things that can be found in the Bible), but even more so with this phrase. God could have said, that we are his people, which he does, but this is not what we are referred to as in every instance in the Bible. We are children of God, he loves us and cares for us, and calls us to have a child-like faith. Matthew 18:3 says, “ Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like the little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In my classroom, I have about 8 kids every single day, and they rely on me to make sure that they get breakfast, lunch, and a snack. They rely on me to take them outside, or on a walk. Some of them are working on being potty-trained, so they rely on me to change their diapers. They rely on me to facilitate discussion between them and their friends about whose turn it is with the babydoll in the classroom. There is more than just this “reliance” though. These children simply trust that what I say is true, that what I am telling them is the right thing to do. They trust that the food I am giving to them is good for them and will fuel their bodies. They trust that I am going to braid their hair if they ask, give them hugs if they need them, or pick them up when they fall down. They trust that I am going to be excited about them trying something new, or climbing across the tires on the playground, but they also trust that when they fall and scrape their knee, I am going to comfort them and get them a bandaid. These children trust that I am going to meet their every need while they are at daycare with me. They do not expect that I am going to meet every want, but they do trust that I am going to take care of their every need.

Do we do that in our daily lives as Christians? Do you truly believe that God has your back and is going to provide for your every need? Do you trust that he hears your every want and every prayer? Because God tells us he hears us, and that he will make sure that our every need is met. He doesn’t promise us an easy life without any hiccups, but he does promise to meet our needs. We should be looking to the children in our lives that may rely on us, and trust us to take care of them, and see that example in them. That reliance and trust they have in us, is something that we need to try to emulate in our relationship with God.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”

Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Matthew 6:28-34 “28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Today, I am going to challenge you to trust God. Trust him like a child would. Lean on him, rely on him and truly work on believing that what he says and what his word says is true. God comes through for us on our promises, and he makes sure that we have what we absolutely need. It may not always seem like that to us, but Jesus’ words in Matthew, tell us that God even clothes the flowers and the grass, and they do no work. If we believe in him, have faith in him, and trust him (like a child) would he not care for us at least as much as the grass of the field, if not more?

A song that I have for you today actually comes from Aaron Winner. “You Make The Flowers Grow” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE8xGez3AOY

~Jana Swanson

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Submit Your Ways to God

Faithfulness-Instagram copy

Do you ever find yourself thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it?”  It’s easy to slip into the mindset of doubt. We live in a broken world, and we may have gone through painful experiences that cause us to lose our trust in others.  For this reason, faithfulness, a fruit of the Spirit, can be a challenging trait to possess. Faithfulness comes from a place of trust and loyalty. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is a confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  As a Christian, it is important to be faithful to God. It is one thing to simply believe in Him, but another to be faithful to Him. When we are truly faithful to God, this shapes the way we live. Faithfulness requires us to submit our ways to God.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” We are to be faithful to God, because He is faithful to us.  In the Bible, the story of Abraham demonstrates the importance of faithfulness. Abraham and his wife Sarah struggled to trust God, but learned the value of faithfulness when they submitted to Him.  For example, Abraham and Sarah waited many years for God to fulfill His promise of giving them a son. Because of her lack of faith, Sarah insisted upon Hagar, her maid, giving birth to her son. This resulted in pain and conflict. However, when Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God, Sarah was able to give birth to Isaac despite being past childbearing age.  Ultimately, the story of Abraham shows how God blesses those who are faithful and trust in His plans.

So, how do we grow in our faithfulness?  We can grow in our faithfulness by having a personal relationship with God. If we are truly faithful to Him and obey His commands, this will be evident in our lives.  My challenge to you is this: Think about the ways you show your faithfulness to God. Are there things that are getting in the way of your faithfulness? What areas of your life have you not given over to Him? Through spending time in prayer, ask God to make these things clear to you, so that He can grow you in your faithfulness.

-Katie-Beth Fletcher

Happiness vs. Joy

Joy

Joy is the foundation for a positive life.  Our world lacks joy and has way too much fear, worry, discouragement, and depression these days.  We need to fully trust God and have joy even in the hard moments and seasons of life. It we are not fully trusting our Father, then we will never be able to experience pure joy.

Biblical joy, the true joy, comes from filling the spiritual void with good relationships, mostly the intimate relationship with the One who is pure joy.  Jesus put it this way: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit” (John 15:5). That fruit includes much joy!

The Bible speaks much more often of joy than of being happy. “Hap” means chance and is the root of several words— happen, happening, haphazard (dependent on mere chance), hapless, happenstance (a chance circumstance) and happy.

Happiness is a glad feeling that depends on something good happening. God wants you to experience happy times (as long as God approves of what is happening). But His greater desire is that you have unconditional joy. Jesus said His joy would “remain in you” and “your joy no one will take from you” (John 15:11; John 16:22).

Think of joy as a strong foundation that supports a variety of healthy emotions, including happiness. The long-range evidence of joy is general gratitude, contentment, optimism, a sense of freedom and other positive attitudes.

-Katie-Beth Fletcher

Unknown Endgame

Gen 12 1

“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Gen 12:1). This is what the LORD said to a man called Abram, later known as Abraham. He was promised to be the father of many nations, while also told to adventure out unto the great unknown to a land that God would show him. Not tell him. In this verse, the word used is raah which in Hebrew means “to show”. It’s important to note here that God would not tell Abram where to go, but show. This means that at the time Abram decided to leave, he didn’t have an endgame. Only God did, and God promised to reveal it to him at the correct time.

Abram was not the first and most certainly not the last to be called by God to travel to unknown territory. I can testify to this.

In January of this year, at a college gathering for a Christian group, I was extremely convicted by the speaker’s message to reexamine my life, specifically my future plans. At the time, I had narrowed down three graduate school fellowships I was going to apply. Eventually, the goal was to settle down somewhere as a college professor and teach Literature. This had been my plan for a couple of years now, though in the back of my mind, something always felt a bit unsettling. As important as I thought Shakespeare may be, I wanted to do more with my life then teach Hamlet. Deep down, ever since I was a young girl, I knew I would end up going to Atlanta Bible College. As I sat in that seat during the sermon, it became clear to me that the time was now. While he was still speaking, I pulled out my phone and applied right then and there. I knew that if I waited till I got back to my dorm, I would have chickened out. That night was the start of my unknown.

I did a lot of praying, a lot of back and forth with God, but all along, I knew the answer was to move to Georgia and attend ABC. I don’t have an endgame, only possibilities, but I’m trusting God that he will show me my path when I get there.

When I started to tell people about my decision, I got more support than I thought I would. I was worried about the stigma that came with going to a Bible College, but as it turned out, many of my peers and professors respected and were excited about my decision. Not all of them, though. I won’t ever forget the way one of my English professor’s face fell in disappointment when he asked about my future plans. It was right after I presented my honors project and he was encouraging me to pursue graduate school. He looked at me as if I was wasting my potential.

My mother and step-father were not supportive and are still getting used to the idea. I know that deep down, their concern is out of love, but it still hurts and strains our relationship. Their biggest issue is that I don’t have an end goal. They want to know why I’m going down to ABC, what it is exactly I hope to gain from another bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately for them, and for many others in the world, “God will show me when I get there” doesn’t work. But right here with Abram, we’ve got proof that it does. We know the end of his story. We know that God did follow through, that God did show him the way. As a result, when we are called out unto the great unknown, because we know Abram’s story, we know the end of our stories, too.

-Emilee Ross

Battle Cry

sunday dec. 31

We are in the midst of war. This war was waged about 6,000 years ago when Adam and Eve committed the very first sin. The fruit they ate was the gateway for sin to enter the world. God and sin do not peacefully coexist, because “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  This war, like any war, is made up of battles and tomorrow, the beginning of 2018, marks a new battle. Are you ready?

Every battle needs a battle cry— a word or phrase cried out by the soldiers going into combat for the purpose of uniting your regiment and intimidating the enemy. One of my favorite battles in the Bible happens in the book of Judges. The Israelites have lost their leader, Joshua, leaving them in a vulnerable place. Over and over in the book of judges the Israelites repeat the cycle of falling into sin, becoming oppressed by another group of people, calling out to God for help, being delivered by a judge (not the kind that carries a gavel, think more of like a temporary Superman), and finally enjoying a time of peace. Our story begins as the Israelites have been given into the hands of the Midianites, who are notorious for invading the Israelite’s land, destroying their crops, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. The Israelites are now so impoverished and helpless that their only option is to cry out for the God of their ancestors. Hearing their cries, God appoints a man named Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites, telling Gideon, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12).

After a bit of hesitation, Gideon gathers an army of 32,000 men. As he prepares to bring them into battle, God nudges Gideon, telling him that he has too many men. If Israel were to win, they would think it was because of their own power and not because of God’s almighty power. Gideon tells his army that if anyone is scared they can turn back now. 22,000 soldiers left, while only 10,000 remained. With only a third of Gideon’s army remaining, God still says there are too many men, so Gideon takes his men down to the water. Every man who drank from cupped hands, lapping like a dog was allowed to fight, but every man who got down on their knees to drink were sent back home. Gideon’s army now consists of 300 men (who are probably at this time pooping their pants in fear). These men were not given traditional weapons; instead, they had trumpets and jars with torches inside.

In case you’re lost, here are the numbers: 135,000 well-equipped Midianite soldiers stacked up against 300 Israelite soldiers holding trumpets, jars, and torches. If I was a betting man, I would put my money on the Midianites. Regardless, Gideon and his teeny-tiny army surround the Midianite camp just as the Midianites were changing guard. Suddenly, all 300 Israelites blow their trumpets, smash their jars, and yell their battle cry, “For the LORD and for Gideon!” Mass chaos ensues. The Midianites are now the ones pooping their pants, crying for their mommies, and turning on each other with their swords. That’s right, the Midianites defeat themselves while the Israelites stand back and watch.

The first step to being battle-ready is having a battle cry—a shout for solidarity and to frighten the enemy (bonus points if you make them poop their pants). Throughout the week, we will be covering words to adopt as our own battle cries in 2018. These words will strengthen us, unite us, give us courage, and intimidate the enemy. The enemy has waged war; our only option is to fight back, mighty warrior.

The whole story of Gideon defeating the Midianites is found in Judges chapters 6 and 7. Seriously, read it all. It’s full of so much juicy goodness.

 

~ Mackenzie McClain

The Way of Wisdom: Love and Trust – Prov. 3

Proverbs-33

Good Morning!

Yesterday I talked a little bit more about what wisdom is and what it can do for us. I also talked somewhat about how it is important for the Christian life.

Today we are reading Proverbs chapter 3, and this happens to have the memory verse in it this week. As a reminder the memory verse this week is Proverbs 3:5-6.

Chapter 3 has a lot of different little pieces of advice for us to keep, and to remember as we walk through our lives. I strongly encourage you to read through all of Proverbs 3 and to really take to heart all the things that it says.

Today, I just want to talk about a couple of my favorite ones from the chapter. Proverbs 3:3 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” I love this because part of the Christian faith is that we are called to Love. “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is our calling as Christians! Let love and faithfulness never leave you. That is just beautiful and very important to remember, especially when we live in a world that is full of injustice and turmoil.

Another that I think is very important for each of us to remember is this; verses 25-26, “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”  God is telling us not to fear, especially natural disasters or anything else that is truly outside of our control, because God will be with us, and take care of us. We may find hardship and difficulty, but God will protect us, and take care of us. This also may not be in the ways that we expect or desire, but it will be in the ways that God sees fit, or that is in God’s will.

Finally, verse 30,” Do not accuse anyone for no reason- when they have done you no harm.” This is something I need to work on too. I have three younger sisters, and sometimes I will automatically blame one of them if something of mine “goes missing”. Sometimes they really did use or take whatever it was, but sometimes, I just misplace them. Here’s the thing, when I accuse them of something they didn’t do, it hurts their feelings and it makes them more upset with me, and defensive. We need to be more careful with the words that we say, and the tones in which we say them because our words can cause a lot of harm.

Prov3.5-6

I want to close with three more verses. First I want you to read verses 5-6 again, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” & verse 35, “The wise inherit honor, but fools get only shame.” Again, wisdom takes care of us. We will inherit honor. Take this to heart, and pay attention to the rest of Proverbs 3.

Thank you for joining us today! Have a great day, and I hope you check in with us tomorrow!

God Bless,

– Jana Swanson

Your Sins Hurt Others

Jeremiah 15 – 17

jeremiah-17_7

Friday, March 3

Chapters 15-17 deal with the pain others feel for Judah’s continuous betrayal.  God feels sadness when we sin.  Jeremiah is frustrated and hurt (physically and emotionally) by this sin.  Our sins trap us (just like the enemies of Judah) and change us (16:10-13)
Sin has a deep hold on us.  But in chapter 17 Jeremiah reminds us that we can repent.
Repentance is explained in Jeremiah 17:5-8.  The difference in being blessed or being left with nothing is determined by our trust.
Do you trust God?
Do you believe that He will take care of you and that His way is better than your way?
Sometimes we feel like we can’t come back from our sin but God knows you can if you trust in Him.
Do you want barrenness (vs. 5,6) or blessing (vs.7,8)?
-Andy Cisneros
(Photo Credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/hope/jeremiah-17-7/)