Obstacles and Opportunities

For a wide door for effective service has opened to me [Paul], and there are many adversaries. 1 Corinthians 16:9

1. WALK THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR. Opportunities are often disguised by obstacles. With every promise there will be inherent challenges and problems. Paul knew he was going to have challenges, but he kept forging ahead anyway. Instead of shrinking back or hesitating, we must seek God about what opportunity He has for us in the midst of difficulty.

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In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35

1. GET FOCUSED ON THE MISSION. The devil uses distraction to hinder our walk with God and to diminish our effectiveness in helping people. Real life can be hard, and our responsibilities often aren’t as appealing as hopping from one mind-numbing inconsequential thing to another. But when we remember we’re on a mission as “ambassadors for Christ,” we can look to Jesus to help us focus in on what really matters (2 Corinthians 5:20).

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My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long. Psalm 71:8

1. FOCUS ON GOD. It’s easy to get busy or preoccupied and try to numb ourselves with entertainment. But God has called us to push past distractions and focus on Him. When we come before God in praise and worship, we’re reinforcing who He is, what He is capable of doing, and His faithfulness throughout the ages.

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Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a

1. FOCUS ON TODAY. When Jesus went to visit the house of two sisters Mary and Martha, Mary focused on Jesus, but Martha was bothered and distracted by the preparations for Jesus. We’ve all been guilty of this. But when we remember that we have only so many days on earth we can concentrate n on making the most of our time here. The highest and best thing we can do today – above all priorities – is focus on Jesus. Start your day in the Word and write down some goals that God gives you. He will keep you in perfect peace as you keep your mind fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

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Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13

1. MAKE GOD YOUR FOCUS. Focus means to have purposeful commitment to the goals that are primary; that God has set before us. God is calling us to focus, to center our interest on Him. The Psalmist said: “I have set the Lord continually before me” (Psalm 16:8a). We can follow the model of the Early Church who freely and purposely yielded to and leaned toward God (Acts 2).

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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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Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:6-7 TPT

1. FROM ISOLATION TO CONNECTION. You are not alone. Even on the days you’ve felt most lonely – God is with you. If you’ve felt the tendency to pull away and isolate yourself, follow the pattern of the Early Church. They continually came together to hear the Word, connect and fellowship together, have meal time, and pray (Acts 2:42).

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Start Your Day With God

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” Mark 1:35-38

BE FRUITFUL NOT BUSY. Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. How did He know what God did? Jesus spent time with Him. Sometimes you can get distracted by too many opportunities and give your attention to the loudest or most urgent thing. But because Jesus took time to seek God, He received direction to know what He was supposed to do instead of what others thought He should do.

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The Battle For Your Focus

The truth is that, although of course we lead normal human lives, the battle we are fighting is on the spiritual level. The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 Philips Translation

1. USE GOD’S WEAPONS. Instead of focusing on circumstances, Paul tells us in Ephesians that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). We are to fight our battles with the tools and armor God has given us: the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit which is the Bible, the power of prayer, and the name of Jesus – which gives us authority over every evil (Ephesians 6: 13-18, Mark 16:1718).

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Focused On Jesus

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9a

1. TURN YOUR HEART TO JESUS. As a young couple, Patsy and I had to learn to prioritize going on dates where we focused and loved on each other. Just as that is essential in a marriage, we must intentionally spend time with God. In the Bible, God commended the Ephesian church for their good deeds and perseverance, but He said, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4). Let’s remember the why of what we do – Jesus – and turn our hearts to Him.

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The Love Atmosphere

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7.

SET THE THERMOSTAT. Just like you can change the temperature to heat or cool your home, if you walk in love, you will set the thermostat of the world you live in. When you walk into a room and sense strife or conflict, you can bring change to the environment by simply operating in love. Every person you encounter is someone for whom Christ died. Even if you disagree with someone, ask yourself: “How can I genuinely value that person without compromising the truth?”

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Three Keys to Breakthrough

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan [river] on dry ground.’” Joshua 4:21-22

1. REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE. There is a continuum of God’s faithfulness through generations. In the Bible, when the Jewish people would experience breakthrough they would name the place where it happened or mark it with memorial stones so future generations would know that God had come through.

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Let There Be Light!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Isaiah 9:2 NKJV

1. LET JESUS BE YOUR LIGHT. The Bible is not just a snapshot of antiquity – it’s where we see the pattern that God set into effect at Creation when He first said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Then when Adam and Eve forfeited God’s plan through disobedience, God sent Jesus to be our light and He came to seek and save that which is lost.

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3 Gifts God Has for You

Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough you bring to me. Hold me close to you with a willing spirit that obeys whatever you say. Psalm 51:12 TPT

1. PASSION FOR LIFE RESTORED. God loves you. I am the result of a Vietnam veteran who gave me a ride to my house and feebly shared the Gospel with me. He had been through a great deal of heartache – a lot of it self-inflicted. He got addicted to drugs, was dishonorably discharged from the military, and his marriage fell apart. He wasn’t eloquent, but he was real when he shared how God rescued him. Much of it went over my head at the time, but something grabbed my heart and forever my life was changed.

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For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

1. WE ARE SAVED. God is able to make all grace abound to you in every area of your life (2 Corinthians 9:8). As a Bible student, I was told that grace is God’s willingness to use His power to work on our behalf even though we don’t deserve it. The older I get the more I rely on God’s grace for every aspect of my life. Not only are we saved from sin by grace, but then we are sustained through life by that same grace.

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Three Steps To A Healthy Heart

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE. A true genius doesn’t use intelligence to impress and intimidate but instead clarifies things into layman’s terms so others can understand a complex thought. God made Christianity simple enough that a child can grasp it. How much more does He want to help you approach life the same way? When we let Him, God will take what seems super complicated in our lives and simplify it. Then He equips us to do the same for others (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

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Holiday Help

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. John 16:7, 13

THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US. The Spirit who comes from God, who was hovering over the waters at creation, is the same Holy Spirit who was sent to be our Helper! He is someone who will guide us into all truth. He is available to help you daily. He can help you navigate the holidays with peace and joy and you will finish this year in breakthrough.

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Rejoice With Thanksgiving

And He [Jesus] got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s [Peter’s], and … He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break. Luke 5:3-6

1. TURNAROUND. The night Simon Peter caught zero fish turned into the day he met Jesus (and filled his boats to overflowing). We can all relate to times of disappointment when we’ve pulled up empty nets. Yet, God is looking for people in the midst of their disappointment to respond to Him in obedience like Peter: “I will do as You say.”

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Getting Rehydrated

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. My soul is satisfied. Psalm 63:1, 5a

MIRACLE WATERS. Jesus always has been and will be the only true satisfaction in all of life. When God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He also sustained them with food and water along the way, causing water to pour from a rock. That same God is faithful to all generations. If God can keep three million people hydrated and fed in the desert, He can sustain us as well. Jesus is our rock, gushing living water with all the provision we need (1 Corinthians 10:4).

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BREAKTHROUGH: What to Do When Trouble Hits Your Life

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

Win every time. When someone becomes a Christian, life does not become easy or utopian. It actually gets more intensified because we are going against the current of the world. But God is good and because of Jesus we can be convinced that even though there are challenges, we can “overwhelmingly conquer” every time (Romans 8:37). Jesus died for us, gave us His Holy Spirit as our Guide, and has given us power so that when we speak the Name of Jesus, mountains move.

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Staying Hopeful in the Daily Grind

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

KEEP IT SIMPLE. The devil will try to divert us from the simplicity of devotion to Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3). It’s easy to be complicated, but we don’t have that luxury. God gave an open book test in the Bible when He said: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It’s that simple. Choose Jesus.

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How to Get Out of a Funk

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet. Psalm 8:3-6

1. REMEMBER GOD CARES FOR YOU. King David lived at a time when there wasn’t any light pollution. At night when the sun would set in the holy land, he could see the Milky Way Galaxy. David marveled at the stars and the moon, but then settled in on, “Wow God, You care for me.” Let that sink into your heart: the Creator of the universe cares about you down to the smallest detail. And He is constantly trustworthy and faithful.

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Walk by Faith

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

1. BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS. In the Bible God told the Israelites to move into an amazing land He had promised them. Then He had Moses send 12 spies to assess and prepare for the next steps. But instead of coming back with a plan, ten came back as the voice of disbelief saying: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us” (Numbers 13:31b). Instead of looking to what God promised, they looked at the circumstances and decided they couldn’t do it. Caleb and Joshua were the only spies who believed what God said.

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and 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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Break Through Your Obstacles

And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:22-24

1. HAVE FAITH IN GOD. This is a year of breakthrough and we are called to actually move mountains. A mountain is the biggest barrier in the natural world. It represents anything in your life that is standing in the way of God’s will being done. Mountains can be fears, natural circumstances, lack, or sickness. Whatever is blocking God’s will in your life, remember that God is faithful, His Word is true, and His promises are unfailing. You can trust and rely on Him.

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Overflowing Life

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. John 10:10 AMP

1. WHY WE NEED IT. Jesus is both the source and sustainer of abundant life. When He showed up on earth, the Roman Empire was in decline and had become enmeshed with hedonism and paganism. As a result, life was empty. In the Jewish religious community things had become a bit dry and there was some hollowness in all the ritualism and law keeping. Jesus came to earth at the perfect time to bring hope to a lost and diseased world. He showed a way of life that was so much better than anything in existence. And that same overflowing life is available to us today.

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