It’s All Working Out for Good!

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

1. THE DREAM. Joseph had a vision for his life. But sometimes, in between the dream and the fulfillment, ridiculous stuff can happen. Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him to some Ishmaelites. Then, in Egypt, he was unjustly thrown into prison. From age 17 to 30 his dream was challenged, but then God opened the door.

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Understand the Times

Of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command. 1 Chronicles 12:32 NKJV

1. RIGHT ON TIME. God has a plan and nothing takes Him by surprise. There was a group of observant people in the Old Testament—Issachar’s tribe — and they were described in two ways: They had understanding of the times and they knew what Israel should do. In our generation, God has called and equipped us to understand our times and to know what to do.

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Called for Such a Time as This

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

1. YOUR STEPS ARE ORDERED. Your times are in God’s hands, and just as He did for Esther when it was her time to step up, He will establish your steps too (Psalm 31:15; Psalm 37:23). As you seek and pursue Him, you can trust that He will bring order to seemingly random events in your life.

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Continual Devotion

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common. Acts 2:42-44

1. BE DEVOTED TO JESUS. The Early Church had a mission to go into the whole world and make disciples. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we still have that same assignment (2 Corinthians 5:18; Hebrews 13:8). We have the same Jesus, the same Holy Spirit, the same potential, and therefore the same direction to continually devote ourselves, saying, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15b).

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Tell People About Jesus

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

1. CALLED TO EFFECTIVENESS. St. Louis Family Church was established in 1988 with the goal to honor God and help people. Jesus, the Head of the Church, is doing great things worldwide, and we are part of it. Together and as individuals we have a mandate on our lives to carry light and fire to the next generation.

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Serve and Give

Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant . . . just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26b-28

1. SERVING IS FUN! These words of Jesus provide an example that is totally different from the selfish human framework we inherited from man’s fall — He came to serve. And through that, He altered the eternal course of humanity. We honor God when we help people (Matthew 5:16). When we abandon constant introspection and preoccupation with “me, me, me” and get out and serve others, we get refreshed. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25 NIV).

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The Equipping Power of Baptism

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38-39

The Early Church models what Christianity is to be in the 21st century. Those believers went into the upper room, they prayed, and came out changed. The disciple Peter used to be a denier of Jesus. But in one day he was filled with the Holy Spirit and led over 3,000 people to Jesus (Matthew 26:74; Acts 2:14-41). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the same mission to make Jesus known!

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Why Church?

And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day [of Jesus’ return] drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

1. CHURCH IS GOD’S IDEA. When we study the Bible, we see people who experienced salvation through Jesus, and they had a real impact on the world. Throughout the book of Acts, the Early Church gathered together in unity before experiencing great acts of fruitfulness. They weren’t embracing a fancy philosophy; they found something with inherent, life-changing power.

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How to Pray

But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16

1. TAKE TIME TO PRAY. It’s worth it to spend time with Jesus. The great fruitfulness of our lives is rooted in meaningful, biblical prayer. When you go to God, start out with praise first and focus on God before going into your petitions. There is an abundance of wisdom and resource found in the presence of God.

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Read Your Bible: The Truth Will Set You Free

So Jesus was saying . . . “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

1. WHY WE READ GOD’S WORD. The truths in the Bible, inspired and revealed by the Holy Spirit, will bring us into the understanding of who God created each one of us to be. As we invest our time in reading the Scriptures, our minds get renewed and we trade in a smaller way of thinking for God’s amazing, big, beautiful, eternal thoughts!

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How to Grow in God

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

GO FORWARD. When you receive Jesus, you become a new person. God wants you to grow and become spiritually strong – to learn to hear from Him and be guided by Him.

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How to Receive Jesus

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

1. WHY WE NEED JESUS. The Bible reveals that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s wonderful plan for our lives (Romans 3:23). So God sent His Son, Jesus, to make things right. Sin can’t be overcome by self-help, philosophy, or good works. It’s conquered only by receiving Jesus who shed His blood and paid the penalty for us.

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How to Live for God

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. Psalm 37:3-5

1. KEEP A RECEPTIVE HEART. Think of our hearts as soil and the Word of God as seed. Jesus warns against rocky ground and says we must keep the soil of our hearts pliable. The condition of your heart will determine how the crop grows in your life.

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Action Steps to Open Doors

But I [Paul] will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, 13-14

1. TO GET STRONG SEEK GOD. “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1b NKJV). Life is at its best when we walk with the Lord. In King David’s moments of challenge, he did not disengage or go on autopilot. Instead He “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). That God is our God and He is the same faithful, strengthening God for us today as he was for David.

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Five Steps Toward Fruitfulness

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit. John 15:7-8a

2018 is a season of fruitfulness. As we fast and pray in the following weeks, here are five words that the Lord put on my heart to help us accomplish all He has called us to this year!

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According to God’s Word

“May it be done to me according to Your word.” Luke 1:38b

1. BELIEVE THE WORD. We can win in the fight of faith by getting our hearts in agreement with what God says. When God sent an angel to tell Mary of Jesus’ coming birth, she responded in faith saying, “Be it done to me according to your word” – a phrase repeated twelve times in Psalm 119. As a young Jewish woman, Mary would have studied the book of Psalms and known the importance of receiving God’s Word into her heart. We too must familiarize ourselves with what the Bible says and then meditate on it and ponder it repeatedly.

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Let’s Prepare for Easter 2018!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4

I often refer to Easter as the New Year’s Day of the Church. This is both a time for us to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and what He has done in our lives and an opportunity for us to reach people with the Good News!

Here are some ways we can prepare.

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Conquering Adversity

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

1. FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS. So often, obstacles coincide with opportunity. For instance, when the apostle Peter walked on water at the bidding of Jesus, the atmosphere was stormy—wind was blowing and waves were crashing (Matthew 14:27-30). When Peter diverted his eyes to his circumstances, he started to sink. When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, ready to hear what He has to say—revelation will come, faith will be roused, and storms will be settled.

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Sowing and Reaping

For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:7b-9

God’s Word is spiritual seed and food. As realistically as your physical body needs physical food, your spiritual self needs the Word of God. It’s pure and powerful, and when you sow it into your spirit, you will reap amazing benefits.

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Timing Is Everything

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

1. CALLED TO THIS TIME. Throughout the Bible we read of the different faith heroes who were strategically placed to impact their generation. The prophet Daniel advised many kings, Joseph saved a whole region from starvation, Esther was perfectly placed to rescue an entire people group, the Apostle Paul took the Gospel to the nations. Just as these people were in the right place at the right time, so are you. You are called for such a time as this.

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How to Triumph in Trouble

We triumph even in our troubles, knowing that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope — a hope which never disappoints us, since God’s love floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 Moffatt

1. REALIZE JESUS HAS TRIUMPHED. The Bible makes us aware of a couple things: (1) the inevitability of problems here on earth and (2) the certainty that God will work things out. Because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross, we are not only saved, but we have abiding victory. And we triumph even in our troubles!

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Faith for the Future

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

1. FEAR NOT, ONLY BELIEVE. God has called us to this life of faith. We build endurance as we learn to walk by faith and not by how we feel. Our emotions can change from morning to night or in a split second — that’s why we don’t rely on them. Instead, we get our eyes fixed on God, who has covered everything from the cradle to the grave and from eternity to eternity.

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New Year — Same Faithful God!

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.” Joshua 1:3-4

1. TAKE YOUR PLACE. In Joshua 1 we see a transitional moment for Joshua and the people of Israel. Joshua was in his seventies when he became the leader of the people of Israel. But God imparted something fresh and called the people to go out and take their places. We too have empowerment from God. Young or old, God has something fresh for you in 2018, and as you seek Him, He will order your steps (Proverbs 16:9).

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Jesus Brings Freedom

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

1. THE FORETELLING. When humanity first sinned, it was promised that a Savior would come. God is really good at following through, and all the prophecies in the Bible have been or will be fulfilled. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah, the Hebrew prophet, foretold of a Messiah in such specific terminology that, as we read it today, it produces faith, gives us bearing, and shows us God’s plan.

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