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. Christian living God's Word Handling Life's Problems victory

Connect

It has been said a thousand different ways in a thousand different languages; the value of connecting with someone. A spouse, friend, loved one, or even co-worker. When there is a heart connection it does something majestic for the soul. I sometimes think “where do we get this from?” or “why are we wired this way?” and I believe the answer is found in Genesis chapter one, two and three.

We see God telling, revealing “..it’s not good for man to be alone..” and creates Eve for Adam. This is a clear picture we are made for connection. But, notice it starts with our connection with God.

I believe this, we can correctly and in a healthy way connect with others ONLY after we connect with God. If we try any other way it is like getting the cart before the horse.

And when we connect with God it overflows into every relationship we have. When our connection to God is our first priority it flows into every other area of our life. Jesus said “..if your eye is healthy, then your whole body is full of light.” Matthew 6:22

So the question becomes; How do we connect with God who’s name is Yahweh, the creator of the universe?

One, big practical step: Spend time with Him.

This can look like reading the Bible, reading a devotional, reading a Christian book. It can look like taking a walk or a ride. It can look like praying no matter where you are. This can look like worshiping while you cook or drive. Take the time to get the words of Christ into your heart, however it may look in your life.

The whole goal is to make time to connect with God, because He greatly desires to connect with you.

“Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you…” James 4:8 [TPT]

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. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Trust in the Silence

“Silence is golden…unless you have kids, then silence is suspicious”. Anyone with kids relate to that? Having two kids of my own and working with kids weekly, I can absolutely testify to this! At our house it usually means there’s some sort of mess being made or plot being conspired. Kids…am I right?? 

Silence can actually be deafening can’t it? Silence can be alarming. Silence can trigger our need to take action. 

Having just celebrated Easter this past weekend, this is all still fresh on my heart so stay with me because I really want you to “see” this part of the story!

Friday was the crucifixion; violence, mourning, grief. 

Sunday was the resurrection; excitement, celebrating, joy. 

But Saturday? 

Saturday was silent. 

So often we want to bypass Saturday because nothing “good” seems to be happening. It’s that messy, middle part of the story right? Where there’s disappointment, isolation, hopelessness, unexplainable hurt. 

We’ve come one day away from the trauma and we hear that “Sunday is coming and just wait for it, it’s going to be amazing what God is going to do on Sunday”! And that is absolutely true, don’t miss that. (Matthew 27:45-65, Matthew 28:1-10)

Of course God was at work Friday, it was part of His perfect plan. And of course God was at work Sunday, it was God’s promise fulfilled. 

But, you know what we tend to forget? 

God was still at work Saturday. He was still there in the silence. He was still there in the disappointment. In the hopelessness. In the hurt. God was there! When we’re searching for answers for the unexplainable pain and crying out with total abandon desperation…He’s working to bring it all together for good. (Romans 8:28)

Psalms 94:14 “For the Lord will never walk away from his cherished ones, nor would he forsake his chosen ones who belong to him”

When you think there’s silence, God is speaking in that space. When you think you’re isolated, God is working in that void. When you think you’re alone, God is shifting things on your behalf.

God is always, always at work even when we can’t see it or maybe even feel it. God is still the author of your story on Saturday, just like He was on Friday and Sunday. 

God CAN and WILL do for you what nobody else can do for you, even in the silence on “your Saturday”. 

We remember Friday, we celebrate Sunday. 

Let’s trust God on Saturday

Categories
. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Birds and Grass

Leaving my house and heading into the office this morning I counted four different lawn crews working on just a small stretch of road. When I got to the red light I noticed two birds flying not too far above the traffic intersection. This morning, in the short mile and a half road and a thirty-second wait at the traffic light, I felt my trust for God deepen.

God reminded me of His words in Matthew 6

“Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food.

Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?

So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?

And why would you worry about your clothing? Look at all the beautiful flowers of the field. They don’t work or toil, and yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed in beauty more than one of these!”

So if God has clothed the meadow with hay which is here for such a short time, then dried up, and burned, won’t he provide for you the clothes you need? Even though you live with such little faith? So then, forsake your worries!

Matthew 6:26-31 TPT

Can you feel the weight of His words to us?

In our current day and time trusting God at the highest level is a must. We aren’t sure week to week what news headline will shake our nation next, where our economy will go from here, what will “normal” look like!

 Yet, the grass just keeps growing and the birds keep flying.

Those four lawn crews reminded me that God is still making the grass grow. The birds I saw flying above the intersection made the words of Jesus ring in my ears “Look at the birds…aren’t you more valuable to your Heavenly Father than they?”

Let these promises sink deep in your heart. Let them envelop your entire way of thinking. If the grass is growing and the birds are flying, God has your back and you absolutely can trust Him no matter what comes your way.

How can you be sure?

Because if He is taking care of flowers and birds He absolutely will take care of you as His child.

To hear a sermon that takes a deeper dive on this click here.

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. faith Handling Life's Problems

Faith over Fear Equation

Remember the days in high school where we thought we new everything we would ever need to take on this thing called “adulting”? I certainly do! Especially when it came to math classes. Will I ever actually use x = −b ± √b²-4ac/2a or x2+3x+2, 4×2−1, x2−5x+6? In many professions I would say yes! In many I would say no! But that is a debate for another time.

Here’s an equation you have to use no matter your profession, age, or background – putting your faith over your fear. When fear starts to rear it’s ugly head, my answer is simple; I trust God. I trust that He will protect me, heal me, provide for me, and fight for me.

For a deeper dive we did on this check out the sermon here!

Fear is a real thing everyone deals with, but we do not all deal with it well. Fear has a way of robbing us, abusing us, and ruining us. It stops dreams, opportunities, fresh starts, and reconciliation unlike anything else. Fear is not a respecter of persons and will be used by the enemy on every person.

The good news?

It is NOT the most powerful force on the earth. According to 1 Corinthians 13 “..faith, hope and love..” will remain after everything, meaning there is nothing that can conquer  or rival those things.

 For today we are going to look at faith in which we know is trust.

So what does this faith over fear equation look like? It is the posture of heart that says “I trust that God has my back and He has me covered – more than I trust the roar of my fear”.

It is when I get a bad doctors report, I trust God has me covered no matter what. It is when hours are being cut at work or I lost the bid on the job or I didn’t get the sale, I trust God has my back and He will supply all of my needs. It is when I feel like instead of wholeness in my home I have nothing but a shattering dream…I trust God has us covered and will do what only He can do. And what God can do is bring beauty from ashes, dead bones to life, and water to the dry places.

Take whatever your fear is and put over it the trust (faith) that God is greater than those fears. Put over the fear how God is still undefeated. Put over the fear that you have a loving father who desires to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you could ever ask or think. This is the equation of the Christ follower!

For a deeper dive we did on this check out the sermon here!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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. Christian living faith Handling Life's Problems victory

Faith is simply trust

I thoroughly enjoy catchy words, creative sayings, and even tag lines that get engrained in your mind that everyone can relate to. The problem with these catchy and creative tag lines is outside of its context the meaning can easily be lost.

For example the old McDonald’s saying “badabababa I’m lovin’ it” makes complete sense as you are eating a juicy, fresh Big Mac. Add in a large fry with a large coke and a McFlurry, “badabababa” seems to just roll off your tongue! Now if you were to say this as you didn’t meet a deadline, getting a ticket for a fender-bender, or set fire to your kitchen while making dinner…badabababa Im lovinit” would make zero sense!

The word faith is certainly one of these words that, out of context, the meaning can be easily lost.

Phrases about faith are said a lot in church circles and rightfully so as Jesus even makes a few like “have faith in God!” (Mark 11:22) We are even told “it is faith that pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith makes sense in songs and sermons, gets amens from pews and online streams. You can even find faith printed on trendy shirts & Yeti cups in the trendiest calligraphy.

But what does this frequently mentioned faith look like in day to day, hour by hour life?

It is simply trust. Trust that God loves you, is guiding you, and wants the absolute best for you. God desires complete devotion to Him and it all starts with trust.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven. It was trust in God that led Abraham to be called the Father of Faith. It was trust in God that led David to slay Goliath. It was trust in God that led Daniel to not only survive a den full of lions but to influence his culture even when it seemed to have no hope. It was trust in God that led to Peter stepping out of the boat, Lazarus stepping out of the grave, and the leaders of the early church stepping into their calling of proclaiming the great news of the Gospel.

This trust in God is one of the most powerful things on this side of Heaven.

Let this same trust that all the heroes of faith walked in, that is available to you and I, strengthen us to take a step in whatever season we find ourself in.

I encourage you today to see faith for what it is – a complete trust in the goodness of God as your Heavenly Father. He has your back and has never lost a battle or forgotten one of His children. Rest in this truth today and put your trust in Him.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 2

Here is another lie I believed for far too long…

A consistent day off for soul care would make me seem weak, lazy, and unmotivated to the world around me.

How ignorant I was!?

Although hard work is scriptural and honorable, it should not control my life. When I believe the lie of a day off will not fix my problems and it ultimately makes me weak, lazy and, unmotivated – I’m basically taking God and His promises completely out of the equation. I think we can all agree this is not a smart move. Jesus makes this wonderful statement in Mark 2:27

“The Sabbath was made for the sake of people, and not people for the Sabbath.”

Rest and rhythm that turn our hearts towards the goodness of our Heavenly Father was made for our sake. Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling. When Jesus says this in Mark 2 He is revealing how the Sabbath is not for rules, rituals, and regulations. Instead it holds a powerful spiritual component that ultimately bears fruit outwardly.

Let that truth and that promise resonate in your busy spirit. We were wired to experience a weekly rhythm of rest and refueling.

Over the last few years I have thought a lot about why God would wire us with the need for sabbath. Although I do believe many of God’s designs and ways are a mystery to us (see Isaiah 55:8-9), I came across seven miracles Jesus did on the sabbath and I believe they paint an amazing picture of God’s purpose behind it.

Check these out:

1.) Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law on the Sabbath [Mark 1:29-34]

2.) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath [Mark 3:1-6]

3.) Jesus heals a man born blind on the Sabbath [John 9:1-12]

4.) Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath [Luke 13:10-17]

5.) Jesus heals a man with dropsy on the Sabbath [Luke 14:1-6]

6.) Jesus drives out an evil spirit on the Sabbath [Mark 1:21-28]

7.) Jesus heals the lame man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath [John 5:1-18]

So why does all this matter?

It shows us what Jesus is doing on the sabbath as a picture of what He will do in our life through our sabbath.

He brings wholeness to our family (1.), restores what was no longer useful (2.) , restores vision (3.), gives strength for steps (4.), heals our inward working (5.), frees us (6.) and makes things happen that we have been waiting years for (7.). Sounds almost too good to be true doesn’t it? When in reality it is a part of the good news of the Kingdom of God!

Sabbath may seem only a day off, a pause in your schedule, a few moments to yourself where you look around and reflect on the goodness of God…but it is so much more!

It is as spiritual as praying, fasting, worshipping, giving and serving. It is God’s designed way to fill you up with His goodness and grace to take on the journey He has planned for you long ago!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10 [NLT]

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

“A Day Off Will Not Fix It.” part 1

Confession time! Here is a lie I believed for far too long…

A day off is not going to fix my problems.

As with most good lies there is a small kernel of truth in it but it is far from actual truth.

What does stopping to refuel, finding the rhythm of refueling, and caring for your soul (all of which we have been calling Sabbath) does is creates a peace within you. Think about that for a minute. What could complete abandonment to true peace do for your weary soul?

If you go to Mark 4 we find Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of a great storm.

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.

The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:37-39 [NLT]

Take a moment to picture this in your mind. What stands out to me is even the professional fisherman in the group disciples were scared for their life which means this storm was quite something! Then they cry out with the question so many of us ask when we are in our own storm “..do you even care?”

I do a deeper dive in this when I preached about my own battles of suicide and burnout and you can find that here.

But notice what Jesus does here because it is so important when we find ourselves asking those hard questions. He gets up and stops the storm to the point it’s noted “..there was a great calm”.

How did Jesus do this?! Maybe because He is the son of God? Maybe because He is showing us how God deals with storms? Or could it be Jesus had authority over the storm because what was within Him did not match what was around Him.

Be sure to know this: storms WILL happen. But when we have the peace of God WITHIN us we can deal with everything AROUND us.

Notice in verse 38 where Jesus was when the storm was raging “..sleeping in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion.” He was in a posture of rest. Can you see now, the significance of resting, refueling, and finding rhythms? It’s what Jesus did and as a result He had a peace that surpassed all understanding!

So what about you? How is your sabbath rhythm going?

Sabbath is so much more than just time off from the hurry and the mundane in our lives. It is a rhythm of rest that God our creator put into place (see Genesis 2:1-3). In part two of this I will show you the seven spiritual aspects of sabbath. Until then I encourage you to take a step this week in finding your rhythm of refueling. You will not regret it!

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so he rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

Just Schedule It

Have you ever run into a friend out and about somewhere, or maybe they shot you a text or a quick phone call, and y’all discussed hanging out soon? So the schedule hunt begins…

You can’t Monday because your oldest has volleyball practice.

You can’t Tuesday because the new puppy has it’s follow up vet appointment.

You can’t Wednesday because you have small groups.

You can’t Thursday because you have to work on the presentation that’s due Friday.

You can’t Friday because the plumbers are scheduled to come look at the dripping pipe by the washer.

Saturday is out of the question because it’s the community yard sale.

Sunday? Probably not because laundry and getting the house reset is a must before Monday.

Then, the dread hits you. Your schedule doesn’t allow for anything, let alone time for you and your friend to connect anytime soon.

I don’t know about you but I have been defeated by my schedule more times than not! This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

This is exactly why I’m going to nudge you this week to schedule your Sabbath rest time.

Seems kind of upside down doesn’t it? To schedule the time where you rest, position your heart to the goodness and grace of God to let Him refuel you. It seems absurd to schedule these moments to eat a great meal, catch up with a friend, or to simply enjoy your favorite activity (or whatever you do for Sabbath). Let’s call it what it is; it seems odd to have to schedule it.

But from my own experience if you do not make it a priority on your schedule, it will never be a priority in your life.

Here are two practical tips:

1.) Start where you are.

You can easily put it off until after volleyball season, or after the busy season at work, or when this small group study ends. But putting off your rest prolongs the gift of refueling. You also run the risk of operating longer on whatever is left in your tank, which I’m guessing is already close to empty. Maybe you only have a few hours a week right now because of prior engagements, so start there!

2.) Find what fuels you in the time you have.

This potentially is more difficult than finding the time to stop and sabbath. Once you schedule it, what are you going to do? If Tuesday from 7pm till 9:30pm is your starting point, what are you going to with that time? Only you can answer this and it most likely will take a good amount of testing. Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either! Look at this time like a weekly holiday for your soul. A good meal, a relaxing hobby, a different environment, a great sunrise, a great sunset, a long bath, or whatever fills your heart with the goodness of God!

It’s not about just getting time off from your busy schedule, it is about how you use that time.

Trying to see what works and what does not will take time, don’t rush trying to figure it out but don’t put it off either!

Remember why this matters. Sabbath is important as your prayer life, your alone time connecting with God (i.e. bible study, devotionals), your generosity, and your unique gift to the body of Christ. This is significant so, start today and schedule it because you were not meant to run on empty.

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choices Christian living Handling Life's Problems Sabbath Rest

Where Do I Start?

This week we put up the last of our Christmas decorations and lights. As I was in the attic I found a massive tangled up mess of Christmas lights that I thought I would conquer. The question was, where do I even start? The knots were so tight, nothing seemed to give way, and after a few minutes, multiple tries to break it all free and many angry grunts….I gave up. I ended up throwing the tangled mess in a random box and went on with the task at hand.

I think this is what we often do when we hear the words of God to honor and observe a day of rest and refueling (check out Mark 2:27). Like the tangled Christmas lights our schedule is tight as can be, nothing will even flinch to give way and honestly our to-do list is at capacity with no let-up in sight!

Here’s what we need to know; the Hebrew word for Sabbath comes from shavat, which is the verb “to rest”. Rest does not necessarily mean doing nothing or lying in bed staring at the ceiling or sleeping away the day. Rest is actually more about what you ARE doing more than what you are NOT doing. It’s a change of pace, doing something different, or taking a completely different approach to the day.

Sabbath rest is a rest that turns our heart to the goodness, greatness, and kindness of our Heavenly Father.

But where do we start?

Sabbath rest is a rest that turns our heart to the goodness, greatness, and kindness of our Heavenly Father.

Every answer is unique to the individual, but here is step one: identify what fuels you. What puts a smile on your face? What makes the shift within you to be governed by enjoyment and not the clock? What is something you do that makes you pause in its midst and say “..God is truly good..” and as the scripture says in Numbers 6:24-26 you can feel His face shining on upon you.

This could be a number of things – a hobby, a great meal, a good book, a walk, a day on the water, a day in the hammock, a day on the slopes, a day on the bike and the list can go on and on and on. Remember it is all about pressing pause on work to refuel (rest) in the goodness of our God.

If you have not been practicing Sabbath rest chances are you will not be able to start off with a full day, so start with what you can. An hour, an evening, a morning, a half day, and then pray this dangerous prayer “God, give me the wisdom to adjust my life so I might experience your intended Sabbath rest.”

…pray this dangerous prayer “God, give me the wisdom to adjust my life so I might experience your intended Sabbath rest.”

As a disclaimer these are my raw thoughts…

Recently I preached something that has been working in me over the last four years & I’m sure will work in me for all of my time here on earth.

The thought was on Sabbath and it’s importance to the rhythm of our life. (You can see it here)

I’m discovering as intricate and detailed as all of creation is, rest is included in it (see Genesis 1). Rest and refueling is both simple and detailed, plain and complex, all wrapped up as one.

Over the next few weeks I want to give you the thoughts and notes that did not make the sermon, yet are helping me on this journey. My prayer is you will find your rhythm of refueling through Sabbath where it will not only fill you, but overflow to those around you. After all, that is the purpose of the abundant life Jesus gives…

– Trevor Hersey

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prayer

Diving Deeper into Prayer

Have you ever longed to pray more effectively and deeply for your friends and family? I pray regularly for my loved ones. I’ve noticed my prayers for them are often centered more around physical, earthly concerns than spiritual, heavenly issues. I long to pray deeper prayers for those I love, but I could sure use some help figuring out how to do it.

Not surprisingly, the Bible offers inspiring examples of prayer. One of them is Paul’s prayer for his friends at the church in Ephesus.

Paul prayed often for the Christians at Ephesus. He prayed earnestly for them, diving deeply into prayer by asking God to give his friends wisdom, revelation, knowledge, and vision. His prayer explodes with power, like fireworks in a summer sky, providing us with a roadmap to pray more effectively for ourselves and those we love.

Paul didn’t pray the Ephesians would receive physical health or a promotion at work. He didn’t pray for their marriages or parenting. Those things are important and it’s certainly appropriate to pray about them, but Paul is most concerned that the Ephesians know God. He prays God will give them, “…the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Paul prays his friends will not only know about God but will personally know Him through their own experiences.

Paul also prayed that the churches in Phillipi, Colossae, and Philemon’s home would know God better. Jesus prayed for His followers to know God: “…that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).

With so many Biblical prayers imploring God to enable his people to know Him better, shouldn’t we consider adding this request to prayers for our loved ones and our friends? Shouldn’t we pray this for ourselves?

When we pray to know God better, we are seeking Him first—before our health, jobs, or other earthly concerns. The Bible promises that if we seek God first, all other aspects of our lives fall into place.

Praying for a deeper knowledge of God invites His blessing not only our spiritual life, but our day-to-day life as well.

Will I continue to pray for the health, safety, and prosperity of my friends and family? Of course. God cares about every aspect of our lives. He is attentive to every prayer. But I will also dive deeper in prayer by asking God for a more important blessing—the blessing of knowing Him more each day.

Heavenly Father, it’s so easy for me to fall into a routine prayer for finances, health, or safety rather than praying for deeper spiritual needs. While I may not have prayed about it in the past, I truly want to know You better each day. Give me a deeper knowledge of You. Give my friends and family wisdom and revelation so their knowledge of You increases each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.