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Nothing Lacking

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1)

Do you worry about not being enough? Strong enough. Successful enough. Patient enough. Smart enough. Do you sometimes feel you’re just not good enough? Our insecurities and feelings of inadequacy often cause us to question whether we’re enough.

The truth is, we’re not enough. We never will be. On our own, our best efforts shrivel up like an old leaf blown away by the wind (see Isaiah 64:6). We weren’t created to be enough on our own. We were created to be made complete by God. We can’t be a good enough parent, a good enough spouse, or even just a good enough person without God.

We’re not enough. But, with God…we are more than enough.

Moses worried that he wasn’t enough. God interrupted Moses’s ordinary day with a very extraordinary sight—a bush on fire that didn’t burn up!  God told Moses to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. In spite of the burning bush and God’s clear direction, Moses argued with God: “I am not a great man! How can I be the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).

Moses begged God to send someone else. He told God all the reasons he would fail in this mission, all the reasons he wasn’t enough.

God finally instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh that “I AM” sent him. Moses said, “I’m not enough.” But God said, “I AM.”

We’ve all felt inadequate at some point in our lives. And that’s OK. We don’t have to be adequate because our God is completely adequate. We don’t have to be strong because God is strong in our weakness. We don’t have to be smart because we have the mind of Christ. Anytime we say, “I’m not enough,” God says, “I AM.”

Colossians 2:10 says, “And because you belong to Christ you are complete, having everything you need…” We aren’t missing or lacking anything. We are complete. Christ in us is enough.

Still not sure? Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” God has everything we need. When we feel we aren’t enough, it is his great delight to give us what we need.

As a child of God, we never have to worry about coming up short or not being enough. Because of God’s grace, we are always enough.

Dear God, when my faults and inadequacies make me feel less than enough, help me remember your great love for me. Help me remember that any good thing I accomplish is because of the strength you give me and not of myself. Let me lean more on your power and less on my own. I know you will not leave me lacking. I know that when I am not enough, Christ in me is enough. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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The Enemy Knows Who You Are…Do You?

“…If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Sarah Connor: But I didn’t do anything.

Kyle Reese: No, but you will.

These words are from an old 80’s movie, The Terminator. If you’re thinking of watching it, we recommend you opt for a cleaned up version, but the premise of the movie illustrates something important about our identity.

In the movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger played a murderous Cyborg from the future who traveled back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Kyle Reese traveled back to save Sarah’s life because, unknown to her, she had an important role to play in the future. Her son would one day save the human race.

Sarah finds it hard to believe and accept her identity as the mother of the man who will save the earth from the killer machines. Sarah tells Kyle, “Oh, come on. Do I look like the mother of the future? I mean, am I tough? Organized? I can’t even balance my checkbook.”

Sarah struggled to believe what Kyle said about her identity. She saw herself as a flighty, struggling waitress. She couldn’t picture herself in an important role. She didn’t think she was capable enough or gifted enough to really impact the world.

Though she didn’t know who she was, her enemy knew her real identity. He realized her significance. And because of that, he was on a mission to destroy her.

Each of us has an enemy on a mission to destroy us. That’s just a fact. He knows our real identity. He knows the power of a forgiven, born-again man or woman who embraces their identity as a child of God. He knows the tremendous impact of people who pray, share the gospel, and spread God’s love like crazy. He knows the vast potential of a confident Christian to impact the future. He knows it all too well.

He knows who you really are. But do you?

In her book, “Girls with Swords,” Lisa Bevere says: “Satan has made it his aim to distract you from who you really are and what the purpose of your life truly is. It is his focused objective to lure you off the path of strength, life, and authority and onto a course of intentional destruction.”

Satan’s primary weapon is to trick us into believing his lies—especially lies about who we are and why we’re here.

Hebrews 10:35 encourages us in our identity: “So don’t lose your bold, courageous faith, for you are destined for a great reward.” We are people of faith, courage, and destiny. A mistake, a failure, or a setback doesn’t change who we are.

If you ever wonder who you are and why you matter, here’s the answer: You are a highly valued, dearly loved child of the most-high God, anointed for a purpose and destined for victory.

Dear God, it’s hard to believe that the creator of the universe loves me personally and has purpose for my life. Help me walk in the power of your anointing, confident in my purpose. Protect me from the lies and tricks of the enemy. Keep my eyes focused on you so that I one day receive the reward you have waiting for me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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Peel Off That Label

“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

Many of us have a storage closet, garage, or attic filled with boxes. We may even label the boxes with words like, “Fragile,” “Old Clothes,” or “Books.” Labeling allows us to easily identify the box we need. It’s a helpful organizational tool. We sometimes label canisters, shelves, office drawers, or other things. Labels are a tool we use to categorize the complexity of our environment.

Sometimes we use labels as a short cut to categorize people. Labeling boxes is helpful, but labeling people is dangerous.

We may categorize people by personality, by achievement, by race, by religion, by appearance. And, often, our labels are wrong, hurtful, and damaging.

We see the effects of labels in our own lives. What labels have been placed on us? Loser. Failure. Addict. If we hear these words about ourselves enough, we begin to internalize them. We begin to believe the labels. For example, we may start to accept that we are just an angry person. We think, “I can’t help it. I’ve always had a bad temper. I might as well get used to it.”

And sometimes the hardest labels to shake are the ones we give ourselves.

Friend, you are not your labels. If you have asked Jesus to forgive your sins and given your life to him, the labels placed on you by the world are no longer your identity. Your past does not predict your future. And your present is not your ultimate destination.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” When we are saved, our old, sinful self was crucified, along with all of those false labels the enemy tried to put on us. We are not defined by those false labels, but by Christ living in us.

We look to God’s word for true labels. God’s word says we are:

  • Lavishly loved. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1)
  • Highly valued. “For God bought you with a high price…” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • Planned with purpose. “…Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The reality of God’s word completely supersedes the false labels we used to carry. When Christ is in our hearts, old labels no longer apply. It’s time to peel off those false labels and live out the truth of our identity in Christ.

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for me. Thank you for the price you paid for me and the future you have planned for me. Lord, sometimes I lose sight of who I am in you and accept labels the enemy wants to place on me. Today, I reject those labels. I know that I am who your word says I am. My identity is in you. Help me live out the purpose you have for my life and not to be limited by false labels. In Jesus’s name, amen.

How have labels affected your life? Share in the Reply section below.

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Filled with Joy

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” (James 1:2-3)

Carrying a child and giving birth involves a lot of unpleasantness and pain. Morning sickness and nausea. Back aches and fatigue. Roller-coaster hormone fluctuations. Not to mention the pain involved in labor and giving birth. Yet, despite the pain and discomfort, women often refer to pregnancy and childbirth as a joyous occasion. Why? It’s joyous because the pain is temporary, and they know that in the end, they will greet their newborn, beloved son or daughter.

An expectant mother looks past the negative in the struggle and sees the positive result at the end. In the same way, we don’t experience joy only when everything is going our way. We can be filled with joy through the difficulties, through the pain, and through the struggles, because we anticipate a positive result at the end.  

Biblical joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction because we know God will use these circumstances for our good and for his glory.

That’s why James says that troubles are an opportunity for joy for Christians because troubles strengthen our character and enable us to better serve God. Because we know God works everything for our good, we can be joyful and content in every circumstance of our life, because we are certain of a positive outcome from every difficulty we face.

Biblical joy is not the same as happiness. It’s not the result of success or circumstances—it’s so much more! Joy is a supernatural fruit produced in the lives of those who follow Jesus.

Joy gives us strength. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Interestingly, negative emotions such as anger, fear, and hopelessness are associated with many health issues, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, and infections. On the other side of the spectrum, positive emotions such as gratitude, contentment, and expectation of a good outcome result in longer, healthier lives. The joy of the Lord brings contentment and optimism. Joy strengthens our spirit and our body.

In every situation, we make a choice. Will we choose worry? Will we choose resentment? Will we choose fear? Or will we choose to look beyond our current circumstances and focus on the faithfulness of our heavenly father? Joy is a choice. Choose joy.

Heavenly father, I know you are the source of joy. Thank you for giving me access to a supernatural joy that transcends my circumstances. Fill me to overflowing with joyful, calm contentment, knowing that every moment of my life is covered in your unfailing love and guarded with your unsurpassed wisdom. I know joy is a choice. Help me choose joy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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The Greatest of These

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Beatles said all you need is love. Maybe, like Elvis, you can’t help falling in love. Or maybe, like Foreigner, you want to know what love is. According to Pat Benatar, love is a battlefield. And too bad for Johnny Lee—he was looking for love in all the wrong places!

Everybody wants to be loved. Perhaps that’s why so many songs are all about finding that special person and falling in love.

But the love mentioned in Galatians 5:22 is different. It’s from the Greek word, “agape,” and it means to love someone the way God loves us. When the Holy Spirit fills our lives, we are empowered to love others the way God loves us.

How does God love?

He loves sacrificially. He loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die for our sins.

He loves unconditionally. He loves us regardless of our past mistakes or our current jacked-up situation. We don’t have to deserve his love to receive it.

He loves unfailingly. God always loves. He doesn’t stop when he’s tired, or grumpy, or feels slighted. He doesn’t stop when those he loves are unlovable. He just keeps loving.

Jesus told us in Mark 12:30-31 that the two greatest commandments are to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the great challenge of our lives—to love God and other people. Steadfastly. With our whole hearts. Even when they don’t deserve it.

Such a lofty challenge requires the Holy Spirit to accomplish. On our own, we can’t love like God. To produce this fruit requires the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Bob Goff said, “We will become in our lives what we do with our love.” Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  (See John 13:33.)

There’s no getting around it. Our lives must produce more than pop-song love. We must produce the fruit of sacrificial, unconditional, unfailing love. Agape love. The kind of love the Holy Spirit will pour into our souls if we ask him.

Dear Father in heaven, I want to love you with my whole heart. Search my heart and cleanse me from anything that interferes with my ability to love you wholeheartedly. Show me how to let your sacrificial, unconditional, unfailing love flow into my heart, and then out into the world. I want the world to see that I am your disciple because of the steadfast love I pour into others. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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Good Tree, Bad Tree

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matt. 15:20)

An orange grove in blossom is a delight for the senses. The delicate white flowers against the deep green leaves are beautiful to see, and the blossoms fill the air with their uniquely intoxicating aroma. But the blossoms are just the first act. The grand finale is the harvest of oranges.

If a person doesn’t know too much about trees, they could mix up an orange tree in blossom with a cherry tree in blossom. But when the fruit is on the tree, it reveals the type of tree with certainty.

An orange tree can’t produce cherries. And a cherry tree can’t produce oranges. Jesus tells us that, just as a tree is identified by its fruit, so a person is identified by the fruit produced in their life. Matthew 3:8 says, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Another translation says to bear fruit worthy of a person who has repented.

It begs the question: What fruit are we producing? Is our focus more on our job than on Jesus? Are we more concerned about our neighbors’ annoying habits than about loving our neighbors? Are we more interested in our own comfort than in serving others?

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s a wise saying. Our actions reveal our character. We can talk a good talk, but if our actions don’t back up our words, we’re not producing fruit.

Stop for a moment and think about your own actions. Do your actions prove your commitment to Jesus? What is one step you can take today to increase the fruit you are producing in your life?

Father in heaven, thank you for your love for me. Thank you for making a way for me to be saved, and for the opportunity to live a fruitful life. Open my eyes to the opportunities I’m missing. Help me take steps to be fruitful, and to take actions that back up my words. In Jesus’s name, Amen

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April 21st: Resurrection Sunday!

On Resurrection Sunday, we reach the culmination of Holy Week. The resurrection  of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith. The very foundation of all Christian doctrine hinges on the truth of this account.

Early Sunday morning several women (Mary Magdalene Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled away. An angel announced:

“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”Matthew 28:5-6

On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ made at least five appearances. Marks gospel says the first person to see him was Mary Magdalene. Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all of the disciples except Thomas, while they were gathered in a house for prayer.

The eyewitness accounts in the Gospels provide what Christians believe to be undeniable evidence  that the resurrection of Jesus Christ did indeed happen. Two millennia after his death, followers of Christ still flock to Jerusalem to see the empty tomb.

Sunday’s events are recorded in Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, and John 20:1-23.

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April 20th: Saturday in The Tomb

Jesus’ body lay in its tomb, where it was guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day on Saturday, which was the Sabbath. When the Sabbath ended at 6 p.m., Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus:

“He brought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.” John 19: 39-40

Nicodemus, like Joseph of Arimathea, was a member of the Sanhedrin, the court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death. For a time, both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community.

Similarly, both were deeply affected by Christ’s death. They boldly came out of hiding, risking their reputations and their lives because they had come to realize that Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah. Together they cared for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.

While his physical body lay in the tomb, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice. He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation:

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

Saturday’s events are recorded in Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, and John 19:40.

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April 19th: Good Friday

“Good Friday”, is the most difficult day of Passion Week. It’s hard to witness the final hours leading to His death.

According to Scripture, Judas Iscariot, the disciple who had betrayed Jesus, was overcome with remorse and hanged himself early Friday morning.

Meanwhile, before the third hour (9 a.m.), Jesus endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings, and abandonment. After multiple unlawful trials, He was sentenced to death by crucifixion, one of the most horrible and disgraceful methods of capital punishment known at the time.

Before Christ was led away, soldiers spit on Him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced Him with a crown of thrones.  Then Jesus carried his own cross to Calvary where, again, He was mocked and insulted as Roman soldiers nailed Him to the wooden cross. 

Jesus spoke seven final statements from the cross. His first words were, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. His last words were, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Then, about the ninth hour (3 p.m.), Jesus breathed his last breath and died.

By 6 p.m. Friday evening, Nicodemas and Joseph Of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb.

Friday’s events are recorded in Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, and John 18:28-19:37.

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April 18th: Maundy Thursday

Holy Week takes a somber turn on Thursday.

From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover.

By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrated by example how believers are to love one another. 

Then Jesus shared the feast of Passover with his disciples, saying:

“I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16

As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. During this LastSupper, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread & wine (Luke 22:19-20).

Later, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony to God the Father.  Luke’s Gospel says that “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44

Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.

Meanwhile, in the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing his Master three times before the rooster crowed.

Thursday’s events are recorded in Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, and John 13:1-38.