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How To Serve The Lord

A key to serving the Lord all the days of your life is spiritual fervor. The King James Bible refers to it as “fervent in spirit” and the Amplified Bible records it as “being aglow and burning with the Spirit”. This flow of living by the Spirit of God is what will keep you seeking and serving Him continually.

We have the Holy Spirit as our Guide in life, and God has promised us that He will never leave us (John 14:16-18). This is why He gave us the Holy Spirit as our Counselor, to help us navigate this life by showing us all things, revealing the truth of God’s Word to us. As born again believers, we all have the Holy Spirit living inside, however we can choose the degree to which we flow in Him. Without a close fellowship with the Lord, being guided by His Spirit, it is easy to get distracted along the way and wrapped up in what the world has to offer. But if we live by the Spirit, we will not have any desire to gratify the things of the flesh (Romans 8:5).

This is key, because if we are to serve the Lord all the days of our lives being zealous for Him, then this can only be accomplished supernaturally. If we try to do this in the natural realm, in our own efforts, we have set ourselves up for failure. It takes the focus off God, and places it on us and what we can do for Him. Our lives then become a yo-yo between trying to live for God, and being persuaded by the world around us.

However, if we solely seek the Lord and keep ourselves stirred up by reading the Word, praying in the Holy Spirit, and listening and fellowshipping with God all the time, then our service and worship is a lifestyle, not something we do to please God. We are simply living as an extension of Him. Directed and guided by His Spirit in all things. Our spiritual fervor is a by-product of knowing God and walking with Him. Nothing is this world can shake it. No temptation of the flesh can distract us, because we are flowing in the Holy Spirit, in tune to God.

Today, it is my prayer that you allow the Holy Spirit to flow through you, guiding and directing your steps. Let Him encourage and build you up so that your zeal will always be for the Lord. May you serve Him out of love, not obligation all the days of your life, amen. (JULI CAMERIN)

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What To Do While We Wait

As we look at Mark 13:1-13, it would be better for us to ask ourselves some questions. Are we personally ready for Jesus’ Second Coming? Would it upset our plans if Jesus came back today? Would we want Him to wait a little longer? Even if we did know the hour and the day, would knowing that change the way we are living today?

The truth is really this simple: Jesus tells us that we are simply to be ready for it at all times. We are to each day live as End Time people. God knows us all too well. He knows that we like to be clock watchers, that we love to procrastinate, and that we will decide to only change at the very last moment.

God did not call us to be clock watchers and sign watchers. God called us to be Kingdom Builders! He wants us to be people who will live out each day the message of Love, the message of Grace, the message of Forgiveness, the message of Redemption and the message of Mercy.

So, what should we do as we wait for the Second Coming?

1. First of all we should live each day as our best day – as if it could be our very last day here on Planet Earth. We should challenge ourselves each morning as we get out of bed with this thought. If today were the last day in this mortal body how shall I live it to its fullest? How shall we live today as the best possible vessel of our spirit and the Holy Spirit?

2. Secondly, we should treat others as if today the LORD was coming again. We should allow our love, our joy, our forgiveness and our mercy rule our day. We should make sure that any minor disagreements, minor problems be taken care of in the name of Jesus. We should do all we can to be at peace with everyone. We should bury any hatchet, any grudge or anything that looks like unforgiveness.

3. Thirdly, treat all possessions as if they would become rubble and garbage tomorrow. Who wants to put their stock into things that will not be here 100 – 200 years from now? Why do we waste so much time building up things here on this earth when we know that we cannot take them to heaven? Let us remember the Parable of the Rich Fool who after building barns had to face his LORD empty of heart and soul. Rather, let us build up one another than bricks and mortar, wood and stone. Let us build up relationship that the Bible tells us can be everlasting.

4. Finally, let us work with the talents, resources and time we have already been given. While we wait for the Kingdom, let us do what we can to be Kingdom Builders here on earth. And that means reaching out to people. That means sharing the Good News. That means focusing on Jesus rather than on ourselves and our kingdoms. When Jesus comes again, He will come as King of Kings and Righteous Judge. He will judge us on how well we have done living out His life on His earth. How well we have been cultivating and working on our own personal relationship with Him, working on our interpersonal relationships with one another, and living a life that truly honors and glorifies Him. (ERNIE ARNOLD)

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Do Everything With Love

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Half the time I don’t respond with love towards others, or choose to love the people who are driving me crazy! Living in a world filled with unhappy, often demanding people makes it all too easy to rudely snap back. Responding in love is the last thing on my mind, especially when my buttons are being pushed. And yet, loving others is a command found over and over again in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is one of my favorite of the “love verses” because it offers a simple, step-by-step on guide on how to do everything with love.

A 3-Step Checklist for Doing Everything with Love

1. Be on guard. As you go through your day, there will always be that certain thing that pushes your buttons and sends you into the deep end. So can you identify ahead of time what sorts of things make you mad?

You may not necessarily be able to avoid these situations, but if you know your tendency to overact when these buttons are pushed, you can prepare yourself to respond in a calm manner. By choosing to be “on guard,” you can plan how you’ll respond and ask God to help you have the right response, too.

2. Stand firm in the faith. By starting your day with your attention on God through time spent reading your Bible will not only give your day a more positive outlook, but you’ll also be able to “stand firm in the faith” when the little things start to bother you. I’m not saying you need to have an elaborate 45-minute Bible time, but putting in a little bit of time to get your heart and mind right with God is one way to stand firm in the faith. Beginning your day with God can be as simple as a 5-minute devotion and prayer time. Another idea, is to memorize 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and put it up in on your bathroom mirror or the first place you go in the morning, as a reminder for the day.

3. Be courageous. Be strong. The world is filled with temptations and obstacles ready to tear us down. Sometimes those challenges hit us out of the blue. Other times, they are predictable. Being strong and courageous in the Lord is how we are to face all of the difficult circumstances, and sometimes difficult people, that cross our paths each day. We don’t need to cower and run away. Nor do we need to be aggressive and rude. We simply need to be filled with the courage and strength God gives us, and by doing so, we’ll also be able to respond in love.

Mastering these three steps is not a guarantee that we will be respond in love with everything that we do, but it will definitely move us in that direction. Yes, there are still going to those moments that we fail to respond in love, but if we keep this instruction from 1 Corinthians in mind, we’ll better prepared to love those God has put in our lives.

What does it look like to you to be on guard, stand firm in your faith, and be strong and courageous, so that you can do everything in love? (LEAH PULLIAM)

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Intentional Discipleship

Discipleship involves prayer, teaching, compassion, commitment, and the ability to lead by a godly example; some portions are passive, while others are extremely active and intentional. When Barnabas saw how Paul was being rejected in Jerusalem, he “took him and brought him to the apostles” (Acts 9:27). When he may have been concerned that Paul was discouraged; “Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul” (Acts 11:25). And when Mark was facing rejection and almost certain discouragement for future ministry, “Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus” (Acts 15:39).

Each of these events involved much more than a kind word as Barnabas continued on his own path. They involved evaluating the need, and then making the necessary changes in his own path to help meet the need – they involved being intentional.

There is certainly no better example of how to disciple others than Jesus. During His ministry on earth Jesus was an example to all who saw or heard of Him. He taught large groups and ministered to individuals at every opportunity. But with a specific group of twelve, Jesus gave an extra measure of His time and energy to help them grow closer to God and equip them for future ministry.

Luke 6:12-13 “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles.”

We ought to do more than encourage when it’s convenient, more than live a godly life and hope others will follow. In Jesus, we are given a wonderful example of choosing, through prayer, individuals whom we intentionally lead closer to God. This is clearly His command when Jesus says, “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

I wish I could say it’s easy to “go and make disciples,” but it’s not. And I wish I could say I’m good at it, but I’m definitely not! Getting schedules and desires to match up seems to get harder all the time, and the process can often become quite discouraging. And yet, we must not give up. Jesus showed us the way and commanded us to follow; this is the only true plan for discipleship!

Let’s continue to lead through the example of a devoted and holy life, and encourage those in need at every opportunity. But let’s also take the next step and prayerfully identify those who will receive our special attention for an extended period of time. Let’s pour ourselves into others and help them grow closer to Jesus through intentional discipleship. (STEVE TROXEL)

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Walk On The Wet Side

“So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.”
Matthew 14:29-30

So typically when we hear someone teach on this passage the focus is on Peter’s failure to keep his eyes on Jesus. He let his impulsive arrogance deceive him into thinking he could do what Jesus was doing. Then his faith faltered and he was literally all wet. There’s a good bit we can learn by looking at it from that angle but there are a few other good insights we miss if we stop there.

First of all, don’t be afraid to ask God for the ridiculous. The other disciples were cowering in fear but when Peter realized that it was Jesus they were seeing on the water he said, “If it’s You, have me come out of the boat to You.” What a bold request! Most of us would’ve never thought to ask Jesus for something that ridiculous but Peter did.

Second, when God gives you a green light, go! When Jesus said, “Come,” how many of us would have stayed in the boat? How many of us would have said, “Are you sure?” Some of us might have gone to the edge and toe tested the water but not Peter. He was over the side of the boat and 100 percent all in. We should all be so obedient!

Third, remember that failure is part of learning to walk by faith. Refuse to allow the fear of failure to confine you to a comfortable, controlled and colorless life. You’ll never experience the great adventure God created you for if you don’t trust Him enough to take some God-led risks along the way.

So ask big, ridiculous things of God. He’s a big God! When God gives you the word, go! Don’t wait, negotiate or hesitate. If Jesus is calling you to the water, He’ll be your rescue if you start to sink. “Only God” stories are lived out only by those who ask big, risk all and step out. You are loved! (CROSSROADS CHURCH)

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Beauty And Strength

Many years ago, when I attended a youth conference, a young man came to me and took me aside. We stood together underneath a great Douglas fir tree, and he said, “Pastor, I
don’t know what is the matter with me. I want to be a good Christian, and I try hard, but somehow I just never seem to make it. I’m always doing the wrong thing. I just can’t live like a Christian.

I said to him, Well, there may be several reasons for that, but, first of all, let me ask you this, “What about your private life with the Lord? How well do you know Him? How much do you delight in reading His Word and then spending time talking to Him? Because, after all, it’s not the time you spend in reading the Word that’s important, but it’s the time you spend in enjoying the presence of God that strengthens you.”

He hung his head and said, “Well, I admit I don’t do very much of that.”

Just then this very phrase from Psalm 1:3 flashed into my mind: He is like a tree planted by streams of water. I stepped back and said to him, “Look at this tree we’re under. What does it remind you of? What are the qualities this tree suggests to you?”

He looked at the tremendous Douglas fir tree, towering up into the heavens above, and said, “Well, the first thing is, it’s strong.” I said, “Yes, anything else?” “Well”, he said, “it’s beautiful.” I said, “Exactly! Beauty and strength. Those are the two things you admire about this tree. And those are exactly the two things you want in your own life, aren’t they? Beauty and strength?” He said, “Right.” “Well”, I said, tell me this, “What makes this tree beautiful and strong? Where does it get its beauty and its strength?” He stopped for a moment and looked at the tree. Then he said, “Well, from the roots, I guess.” I asked him, “Can you see the roots?” “No”, he said, “you can’t.” Then he said, “I get it! That is the hidden part of life, but it is the secret of this tree’s beauty and strength, isn’t it?”

That is exactly what this psalmist is saying. Those who are godly have learned, in the hidden inner parts of their life, to draw upon the grace and glory and strength of God. Their roots run deep into rich and moist soil, and this is what makes them beautiful and strong. And they are fruitful: He … yields its fruit in season. That is probably a reference to the fruit of the Spirit, which is described for us in the New Testament. It is the character of God, and that is always the same in either the Old or the New Testament: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and the rest of the qualities listed in Galatians 5:22.

For your Reflection:

• Beautiful, strong and fruitful describes a life rooted and grounded in God’s life and love. Are you planted and nurtured in the soil of Christ’s character?

• Are you allowing this marvelous provision from God for producing godlikeness to bear fruit in you? Or does a great deal of your life still consist of ungodliness so that you are like the chaff that the wind drives away? (RAY STEDMAN)

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Reasons To Pray

What motivates you to talk with God? Throughout the Scriptures, we are commanded to pray. In fact, Jesus—the Son of God—considered prayer so essential that He regularly left the crowds to seek time alone with His Father (Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). Any relationship requires communication if it is to grow and flourish, and that includes our relationship with God.

David was a man who knew the Lord intimately. Since he recorded many of his prayers in the psalms, we are able to catch a glimpse of his heart as he poured out his soul before the Lord. Psalm 25 shows us five reasons that we, too, should come to God in prayer:

1. Guidance (Show me Your paths and teach me to follow; guide me by Your truth and instruct me. You keep me safe, and I always trust You. Psalm 25:4-5).

If we ask, the Lord will lead and teach us.

2. Forgiveness (Forget each wrong I did when I was young. Show how truly kind You are and remember me. Be true to Your name, Lord, by forgiving each one of my terrible sins. Psalm 25:7 & 11).

Each day we need God’s cleansing for sin and His power to repent and turn back to Him.

3. Decisions (You will show the right path to all who worship You. Psalm 25:12).

When we reverentially fear God, He instructs us in the way we should choose.

4. Trouble (I am lonely and troubled. Show that You care and have pity on me. My awful worries keep growing. Rescue me from sadness. See my troubles and misery and forgive my sins. Psalm 25:16-18).

When we’re overwhelmed by difficulties, no one can comfort us like the Lord.

5. Protection (Look at all my enemies! See how much they hate me. I come to You for shelter. Protect me, keep me safe, and don’t disappoint me. Psalm 25:19-20).

God is the One who guards our soul and rescues us from the enemy’s attacks.

When we seek the Lord, He becomes our refuge. God understands our weaknesses and invites us to come to Him with all our concerns. It’s in the intimacy of prayer that we learn to know His faithfulness, compassion, and love. Then we can say, as David did, “O my God, in You I trust” (Psalm 25:2).


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