Resources from 2016

December

What is success for your family?
By | December 30, 2016

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

—Luke 10:27

 

I know you want your family to be successful. Whether you’re a parent or grandparent, you want your children to be healthy, successful, and productive.

But what is true success? Jesus addressed this in Luke 10 when he was confronted by a lawyer asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus replied with a question, “What is written in the Law?” The answer is our verse today: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus said, “Do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28). If you want your children to really live, a successful life comes from a strong faith.

You may be asking, “So how do I instill that faith into my children?”

It’s not as hard as society likes to pretend. You see, God wants your children to know and love Him even more than you do.

That is why He has provided you with an instruction manual, His Word. If you and I simply apply the Scriptures to our lives and homes, we will raise godly children!

If you’re struggling in a particular area at home, see what god’s word has to say about it.

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What if Jesus hadn’t been born?
By | December 21, 2016

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Colossians 1:15

 

I want you to try to imagine what the world would be like without the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s beyond our imagination, but just try to picture it. We certainly wouldn’t know God as we know Him. In fact, we’d be fortunate to have even heard about the God revealed in the Old Testament.  

So what changed on that first Christmas so long ago? Well, when Jesus Christ came, the Bible says He was Immanuel… “God with us.” God was no longer a distant deity. He was no longer an unfathomable, unapproachable image. But God became flesh and blood; God was with us! That’s why Jesus would later say, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

When Jesus was born into the world, He was God! He wasn’t a man acting like God; not even God acting like a man; but God who was fully man and a man who was fully God! When Christ was seeing, that was God seeing. And when Christ was walking, that was God walking!

If Jesus hadn’t come, and if He weren’t God, we’d never have the knowledge of God we have today. So thank God today for sending Jesus to Bethlehem all those years ago so that you might have a clear picture of a God who loves you unconditionally!

THANK GOD FOR REVEALING HIMSELF TO YOU THROUGH JESUS SO THAT YOU COULD BE SAVED BY KNOWING HIM!

 

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Wrap your mind around the truth
By | December 20, 2016

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”

—Matthew 1:23

Right now, millions of people around the world are preparing for Christmas. Some are planning for parties and family gatherings. Others are frantically shopping for the final items on their Christmas list.

You may even have a few last-minute preparations to make, too.

So many people are consumed with the usual Christmas activities. But do they really know what is Christmas really all about? Is it a myth? Is it about merriment? Is it about money and merchandizing?

The answer is that Christmas is a miracle. An amazing, life-changing miracle that happened long ago—and that continues to happen in the lives of those who know Christ.

The first miracle of Christmas is that Immanuel came. And according to our verse today, Immanuel means “God with us.”

The very presence of God in Jesus Christ came to earth. It’s unbelievable! Impossible! Unthinkable! Heaven’s royalty walked down our streets. He became flesh and dwelt among us.

And the Prince of eternity still knocks on your door today. That’s the glorious truth of Christmas.

Wrap your mind around the truth that God himself stepped out of eternity into time… for you.

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The greatest story ever told
By | December 19, 2016

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”—Matthew 1:21
 

In the busyness of the holiday season, it’s easy to lose sight of how truly incredible the miracle of Christmas really is. Think about it. Jesus bridged the gulf of sin between God and mankind (you, if you’re a believer) by taking the form of man.

The story of Christmas is the Greatest Story Ever Told because Jesus came to bear the devastation and pain of our sins. It’s unimaginable, but true!  Christmas is about redemption. It’s about hope. As our verse today says, “He will save his people from their sins.”

 When you get a glimpse of what Jesus came to do, you can recapture the wonder and awe of this Christmas season. 

Because Christ came, we can be filled with joy, hope, and peace! And that is Good News worth celebrating!
 
The story of Christmas is the greatest story ever told because Jesus came to bear the devastation and pain of our sins.

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The Ultimate Gift
By | December 16, 2016

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

—John 3:16

God wants to live in your heart and transform your life. You see, when you become a believer in Jesus Christ, a wonderful thing happens. The very Spirit of God enters your life and lives within you!  And when the Holy Spirit lives within, you’re never the same.

 

This is the best Christmas present of all! Nothing can compare to receiving the gift of Jesus Christ because His salvation is the ultimate gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

 

God loves you and me so much so that he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a baby. God sent Him so that you could have meaning, purpose, and a future with Him. God didn’t walk away or give up on restoring our relationship with Him. No, He came to save you!

 

It’s my prayer that you would remember God’s love for you this Christmas season and that you would be bold in sharing this gift with the world. It will be the best Christmas present you could ever give someone!

 

Nothing can compare to receiving the gift of Jesus Christ because His salvation is the ultimate gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

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What Christmas is all about
By | December 13, 2016

In the busyness of the holiday season, it’s easy to be swept up in all the things that have come to define Christmas – the frantic final days of shopping, the decorating, the travel plans, the big meal with the family.

But often lost in the rush is the true miracle of Christmas. Jesus came in the form of an infant to bridge the gulf of sin between God and mankind – and that means you and me and every other believer!

It reminds me of old Charlie Brown, the harried director of a neighborhood holiday pageant who yells out in frustration, “Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?”

Then, in a remarkable TV moment, Charlie’s blanket-toting buddy Linus steps to center stage, asks for a spotlight, and recites Luke 2 8-14 in the elegant formality of the King James translation of the Bible:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’

“That's what Christmas is...

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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5

 

Every single person, at some point in his or her life, goes through a time of darkness. Whether it be a darkness of failure, darkness of sin, or the darkness of sorrow, there’s no escaping the fact that darkness is all around us. This darkness causes many to wonder, “Will the darkness win? Will evil prevail?”

 

The answer to that question was given over 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born into the world. To many in that day, it looked like the darkness was going to win. And while most people were afraid of the darkness of oppression by the Roman Empire, Jesus opened their eyes to the reality of something even darker… the darkness of their own sin.

 

But in the midst of that darkness, God sent Jesus into the world to shine a great light… a light so bright and so overwhelming that those who experienced it were forever changed.

 

God sent a bold answer all those years ago that while the darkness may sometimes seem overwhelming, goodness will ultimately triumph over evil. Jesus was the light of the world, and whoever believes in Him already has victory over sin and death. Trust Him for that victory today.

 

In Christ, you can overcome the darkness and have victory over sin and death. Trust Him today!

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November

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

-1 Peter 1:3

Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman once wrote a song entitled “Heaven in the Real World,” in which one of the repeated lines is, “Where is the hope? Where is the peace?” Those are great questions because I think those are the questions many people are asking every day.

How I praise God that we have the answer! There is hope and there is peace for this world.  But that hope and peace is found only in Jesus Christ.

You see, when you and I accepted Christ, we were born again to what the Bible in the verse above calls a “living hope,”…a hope that is not wishful thinking, but a hope that is based on the reality of God Himself evidenced in the power of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

This living hope means we can persevere through trials, rough spots, and even pain. This living hope means we may stumble and fall, but we will not falter completely because we are in Jesus Christ. And this living hope means we have a future that is sure and that we aren’t alone today.

The peace God gives us when we accept Jesus is a peace that the world could never know.  It means that we can enjoy serenity of heart no matter what happens to us.  Why?  Well, Jesus said it best in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you...

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And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

-Philippians 1:6

Sometimes problems are like a big truck you’re following on the highway. It’s so big that you can’t see around it…and you’re not sure you can get around it because you don’t know what’s ahead of you.

A problem can sometimes seem so big and overwhelming that you simply don’t know if you’re ever going to get around it.

The good news is that even though you can’t always see on the other side of a problem, there’s something good there—the anticipation that comes from knowing that when you wrestle through a problem, God is there on the other side with the promise of a brighter and hopeful future.

As a follower of Christ, you have the promise of God that He will finish what He started in you and not leave you stranded in the middle of a problem. And let me remind you that God permits trials in your life to strengthen your faith…and that should give you the anticipation of knowing that He is doing something wonderful through you and for you, even when the testing is hard.

So if you’re going through a hard trial today, don’t let go of the hopeful anticipation of what Christ is doing in your life.

REGARDLESS OF THE TRIAL, YOU CAN LIVE IN HOPEFUL ANTICIPATION BECAUSE OF GOD’S PROMISE TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED IN YOUR LIFE.

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Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  

-1 Corinthians 10:12

Remember when you were a kid and would wrestle with your brother or sister? And once you got them down on the ground, you’d hold them there until they cried “uncle”? You wanted them to stop resisting and give up.

Well, temptation is tenacious like that, but far more vicious and unrelenting. If you or I even entertain the idea of sin, we can soon find ourselves in its grip struggling to escape.

You see, Satan can manipulate our minds and seduce us so that we’ll disobey God. He’ll take a natural, God-given, wholesome desire and twist it so that we will desire to use it in God-forbidden ways. He tempts us with the promise of some reward for our disobedience…. it might be pleasure, power, or profit.

And Satan will stop at nothing to make you give in to him. I know people who never dreamed they could be unfaithful to their partner, but then Satan brought the temptation.

Now you might think, “I would never let that happen!” But listen. It’s a huge mistake to think you’re not vulnerable to temptation. You must realize your own weakness and prepare yourself. This is why Jesus taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil….” 

Be proactive in your prayer life. Prize obedience to God more than temptation’s rewards.

IT’S A HUGE MISTAKE TO THINK YOU’RE NOT VULNERABLE TO TEMPTATION.

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No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man….

-1 Corinthians 10:13

There are some people today who think that being a Christ follower means they should live free from temptation. But that’s just not true.

You see, before we came to faith, we didn’t feel the struggle of sin’s temptation. We gave in to it. But now that you and I are in Christ, we feel the pull between the old life and our new life him. It’s precisely because we are in Christ that we should expect to face temptation and struggles. After all, Jesus himself faced temptation. Remember?

At the very outset of his ministry, Jesus went alone into the wilderness to pray. While he was isolated, Satan came and tempted him in three areas: his physical appetite, earthly ambition, and spiritual allegiance. And Satan attacks us in these same ways.

But listen! Jesus has shown us that we can overcome temptation’s pull. Now you may say, “Hold on! That was Jesus. I can’t do that.”  But you can!

Jesus endured temptation as a human being just like you and me. Look at today’s verse of Scripture. Temptation is nothing new. Jesus felt the same temptations you feel today, and he resisted!

Are you struggling with the temptation of sin? This is your call to battle!

Don’t give in! Jesus is with you and he has overcome!

JESUS HAS SHOWN US THAT WE CAN OVERCOME TEMPTATION’S PULL.

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God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things
By Dr. Jack Graham | November 14, 2016

... that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

-1 Peter 2:9
 
I love the stories in the Scripture where people are called by God to do something special for him. These people are just like you and me, just common, ordinary people.
 
Moses was living on the back side of the desert, a total failure as the prince of Egypt, and God called him to deliver a nation.
 
When Goliath was taunting the Israelites, everyone discounted David, a teenage shepherd boy. But God didn’t! And David defeated the giant and became the king of a nation.
 
How about Nehemiah? He was living in Persia in complete obscurity serving as a cupbearer and God called him to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem.
 
Mary was a teenage girl living in Nazareth when God called her to be the mother of the Messiah.
 
And Simon Peter would have lived and died an ordinary fisherman except that Jesus called him to establish the church.
 
Do you see the pattern here? God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He uses improbable men and women who have nothing of their own to offer, but their faithfulness and  willingness to say, “Yes.”   
 
So what has God called you to? I’ll tell you. It’s something wonderful and extraordinary!
 
He’s calling right now. And all you have to do is say, “Yes, Lord

GOD USES ORDINARY PEOPLE TO DO EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.

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Thanksgiving
By | November 11, 2016

As the days shorten and the weather cools, we can’t help but sense another year passing, another harvest taken in, and another opportunity to offer thanksgiving to God.

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5 ways your storms can make you stronger
By Jack Graham | November 1, 2016

Life doesn’t always work out the way you expect it to, does it? You can be walking along singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” and then – Bam! Out of nowhere, you find yourself in the middle of a trial, a test, or a storm.

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October

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)…

Acts 4:36

 

When people think about you, what are some characteristics that you believe come to their mind? If we’re really honest, you and I do care about our reputation. But the message we often hear today is, “Don’t worry what people think about you, just be yourself.” And while it’s okay to be rejected by others for the right reasons, there are many who believe they have a license to have a bad reputation because they’re just ‘being their self’.

 

But did you know that God cares about your reputation? Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” And Luke 2:52 makes it a point to say that Jesus increased “in favor with God and man.”

 

Joseph was such an encourager that his friends began to call him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” So how are you known among your peers? When they think of you, are there impressions generally positive or negative?

 

Gaining and keeping a good reputation takes time and effort. You have to invest relationally in people and be intentional in being someone whom they consider trustworthy. But that investment will pay huge dividends in the form of vibrant, sanctifying relationships!

 

Build your reputation as someone who is exceptionally trustworthy.

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How to power up when you feel like giving up
By Jack Graham | October 1, 2016

There’s something in our human spirit that never wants to give up. Each of us is like that little train engine in the children’s book, bravely chanting, “I think I can!” to conquer the mountains in our lives.

But most of us will eventually meet a set of circumstances that seems hell-bent on taking us down. And that’s when we can begin to think, “Can I really get over this hill?”

If ever there was a “Can I?” sort of person, Gideon was that guy. We read in Judges chapter 6 that Gideon was hiding away from his enemies… threshing wheat in a winepress… when an angel sent from God turned up and called Gideon a “mighty man of valor” (v. 12). He also said Gideon was going to spearhead God’s plan to free Israel from Midianite oppression.

Looking at the odds against him, Gideon replied, “How can I save Israel?” (v. 15). What he didn’t know was that the Spirit of the Lord was about to clothe him. This forlorn farmer was going to wear God like a suit. Judges 6:33-34 says:

“Now all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East came together…. But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet, and the Abiezrites [Gideon’s family] were called out to follow him.”

Just when things had taken a turn for the very worst, God wrapped Himself around His chosen man. And He’ll do the same for you.

As you read the rest of Gideon’s story, you see miraculous evidence of God’s intervening clout. After Gideon laid down his fears – and kept believing that even though he couldn’t, God could – he sounded the...

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September

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

—Revelation 2:16-17

 

We live in an age of compromise. You see it in every level of government, industry, and unfortunately… you see it in the church as well. 

 

But today… instead of focusing on the compromise you see in others… I want to ask you… are you a compromising Christian? Are you living a double standard? Are there areas in your life, be it in your marriage… your professional life… or your thought life… where you are compromising?

 

Maybe you’re thinking about cheating on your spouse. Perhaps you’ve turned a blind eye to something unethical at work. Or maybe you allow yourself the leeway to think lustful or hateful thoughts.

 

Whatever it is, let me assure you of this: God takes the sin of compromise seriously!  Revelation 2:16 says it clearly, “Therefore repent.  If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” Jesus is not only saying that He’ll deal with any church that compromises with sin… He’s saying it to any Christian too… including you and me!

 

Jesus wants you to stop compromising, admit your sin, and deal with it. He wants you to get right...

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