Four Ways to Bring Life This Christmas

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green. Psalm 92:12-14

1. ASK FOR WISDOM. Wisdom “is a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18). You can ask God and He will give you the wisdom you need for all the complexities of life: how to raise your kids, how to deal and cope with the fast-paced nature of change, and how to excel in your job.

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Steps to Strengthening

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:29, 31

1. GET IN THE WORD. How amazing is it that from weakness we can be made strong? As realistically as push-ups help your physical body, starting the day in the Bible will give you an advantage. It will strengthen your spirit. It will light your path (Psalm 119:105). It will help you overcome bad habits and not be led by the flesh. You will become strengthened with all power in your inner person (Ephesians 3:16).

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The Value of Gratitude

As He [Jesus] entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. Luke 17:12-16a

1. THANK GOD FOR WHAT HE’S DONE. Ten men were healed, but only one turned back to give thanks while the others were so excited they took off to re-enter society. We don’t want to be part of the group that forgets to be thankful. This season is a great time for us to pause, recognize any ungrateful habits, and start to celebrate and count our blessings instead.

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Daily Thankfulness

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

WRITE DOWN THREE THINGS YOU’RE THANKFUL FOR. Thank God for everything you can think of. The atmosphere of gratitude can foster amazing things. For starters, it breaks us out of selfish moodiness and prepares the way for us to enter into praise. As we accumulate things to be thankful for, we will get an increased awareness of God’s grace.

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Three Benefits Of Praising God Continually

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. Psalm 34:1, 4-5

1. DELIVERANCE FROM FEAR. Both fear and faith are planted as seeds of thought. The Hebrew word for fear is also translated as a “storehouse,” which gives a good visual of how you can fill a whole barn with all your fears. Praise breaks that cycle. When you constantly speak out praises reminding yourself of Who God is and what His Word promises, God will deliver you from a whole silo full of freak-out!

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Prayer Patterns

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” Matthew 6:9-13

1. START WITH FOCUSING ON GOD, and then make it personal. These patterns we’ve been studying for praise, prayer, and provision get us out of the “me, me, me” mentality. When we follow the prayer pattern Jesus set out in Matthew, and shift our focus to who God is, that fleshly side gets adjusted and we get free from too much introspection.

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Praise & Breakthrough

Thus says the Lord to you, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b

1. LET GOD FIGHT YOUR BATTLES. When Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, learned that his enemy was about to attack him on three fronts, he sought God. Instead of dwelling on all the problems, he deliberately began to praise God and remember how powerful God is (2 Chronicles 20:6). When there is an alarming situation or a terrible circumstance, our minds want to fixate on it instead of turning our attention to seek the Lord. But it’s when we get our hearts fixed on God that breakthrough happens.

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Prayer & Fasting

“Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6

I’m dedicating this week, October 21-25, to prayer and fasting for our church and for our country. We’ll be praying together in the Worship Center every night this week: Sunday-Thursday 6:30-8 p.m.

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The Attitude of Faith

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)

1. FAITH BELIEVES GOD’S WORD. In the Bible, the Israelites sent 12 spies to check out the land God promised them. When they came back and reported, ten men were freaked out by the fortified cities and the giant warriors, while only two, Caleb and Joshua, believed they could take the land. Caleb said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).

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It’s So Good to Worship God

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. Psalm 96:1-4

1. ADORE THE PERSON OF OUR WORSHIP. Many things try to distract and divide our attention, but Jesus deserves our whole heart. We worship Him as the supreme King and giver of life and eternal life. We worship God as our savior. We praise Him for all He has done. We celebrate, we contemplate, and we thank Him.

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Patterns of Provision

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits. Psalm 103:2

1. DON’T FRET. It’s easy to get agitated and freaked out about life, but God wants to lead us by quiet waters and restore our souls (Psalm 23:2). Anxiety in a heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25). Find the good word you need in the Bible. Its pages reveal God’s consistent provision through the ages. That faithful, stabilizing, abundant God is your God and you can trust Him to sustain you all through your life.

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How to Be Occupied With God’s Provision

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 Corinthians 9:8

1. UNDERSTAND GOD’S WILL & HIS NATURE. God is a giver. Parents know how to bless their kids. How much more will your Heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). God loves you, and that fact translates into spiritual and practical blessings. His will is to save you, heal you, bless you, fill you with the Holy Spirit, answer your prayers, deliver you, and protect you.

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Patterns of Breakthrough

When he [Jehoshaphat] had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” When they began singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed. 2 Chronicles 20:21-22

1. START WITH PRAISE. Praise brings breakthrough. When armies came to attack Judah, King Jehoshaphat immediately directed his people to seek God and he began praising God.

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The Benefits of Praising God

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. Revelation 4:11

1. IT CONNECTS US TO GOD. We are actually designed to praise God, and He alone is worthy of it. God has requested that we come before Him in praise and worship, and He is searching for the ones who will connect with Him and worship Him (John 4:23-24).

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A Clean Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. Psalm 51:10-13

1. REPENTANCE. In the Bible, King David is the only person called “a man after God’s own heart.” But so many times we read about David sinning against God. Yet, after every blunder, David repented and learned from his mistakes. When he got in trouble, he didn’t run away from God. Instead, he humbled himself and ran toward God.

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What Is Your Preoccupation?

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:1-5

1. GOD HAS A PLAN. Do you have a vision for your life – to do and see great things? When you receive Jesus as your Savior, God redeems your life from the pit and sets you on a path of abundant life. If you’ve been in a fog of darkness and heaviness, God’s grace is available to help you to get up, get out there, and believe God and conquer.

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A New Spirit

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36:26-27

1. SALVATION BRINGS CONNECTION. God is inviting us to know His thoughts (1 Corinthians 2:16). The new birth – salvation through Jesus – is not just verbiage. We actually become a new kind of being where our spirits can connect with God’s Spirit.

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The Mission Is Go!

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. Mark 16:15, 20

1. HERE IS YOUR MANDATE. Jesus commissioned His disciples to take the good news of salvation to the fallen world, and this assignment is for all believers down through the ages – including us. The mission is clear. We are called to impact our fallen world in order that people can serve Him, love Him, and know Him. Embracing the biblical revelation of God – who loves the world so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to save us – reveals our origin, underscores our purpose, and inspires our destiny.

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Help People Know God’s Love

For the love of Christ controls us. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:14a, 17-18

1. GOD’S LOVE CONTROLS US. Jesus died for all. He became a ransom and paid the price to free captive humanity. When we let God’s love inform our actions, we get to participate in God’s purposes, and we are given a ministry of reconciliation. Everyone needs Jesus – both the down-and-outers rejected by society and the up-and-outers who seem to have everything.

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Mission Possible

Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another . . . But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11a

1. LOVE ONE ANOTHER. The Apostle Paul praised the Thessalonian church for identifying and doing what pleases God and encouraged them to keep excelling. What this early church exemplified holds true today: The hallmark of Christianity is our love for one another. We can’t thrive and advance when we carry the weight of resentment. Let God deal with other people. When you show others mercy, you will receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

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The Lift of Love

“By this all men will know that you are My [Jesus’] disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

1. LOVE ENRICHES LIFE. The greatest thing we can do in our life expression is to walk in love. A man in the Bible asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was and He replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:30-31a). When life is dominated by love inspired by Jesus, it will grow and develop and make all of life’s relations sweeter.

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The Gift of Eternal Life

And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:28

1. IT IS BROUGHT BY AN ETERNAL PERSON. Eternal life is the greatest blessing you or I will ever come across – immortality is what people have craved through the ages. God has set eternity in our hearts and only He, the Eternal One, the beginning and the end, can give eternal life. And we must receive this gift by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).

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God Is Able

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 Corinthians 9:8

1. HE IS ABLE TO MAKE YOU STAND. Anxiety can weigh a person down, but Jesus is the cure for anxiety. When we put all of our attention and focus on God and delight ourselves in the Lord through prayer, worship, and studying the Word—He is the one who lifts that pressure off of us and gives us abundance for every good deed!

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Rely on God

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My Word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

1. GOD FINISHES WHAT HE BEGINS. As realistically as rain and snow come from heaven to replenish the earth, so God’s Word will replenish you and accomplish what God desires. Let this truth resonate in your spirit: He who has begun a good work will perfect and perform it in you—regardless if you are nine or ninety-nine (Philippians 1:6).

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