Stay Amazed

Luke 4:32There, too, the people were amazed at His teaching, for He spoke with authority (NLT).

I want to encourage you this morning to stay amazed at the things God does in your life, even the small things. Have the mindset that nothing is trivial or coincidental. The longer I’ve been a believer the more I realize my own need to live this way.

Like in any relationship, it’s easy to start taking God for granted because He’s reliable, timely, and present. I try to discipline myself daily to praise Him for His faithfulness and thank Him for everything He does. If you will purpose to do the same, I believe you will value and appreciate those things you’ve been taking for granted.

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Seek and Live

Matthew 6:33 — “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (NLT).

People in general spend the bulk of their time living for and working toward achieving whatever it is they think they want or need. That pursuit, though, often takes us off the path of God’s perfect will, exhausting our time and energy in the process. In the above verse, Jesus gave two keys to unlocking God’s blessing in our lives.

First, seek the Kingdom of God above everything else. In other words, we waste valuable time and effort if our first priority is not chasing after God. Trust me, it’s much easier to find God than it is to find whatever else you might be looking for.

Next, live righteously. Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice so you and I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). When you receive Christ as Lord and Savior, He makes you righteous. Live in His righteousness by faith and walk in obedience to His word.

It’s really as simple as that. Seek God and live for Him. Then He makes it His priority to give you whatever you need.

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Fit in With Him

Job 8:20-21 — But look, God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will He lend a hand to the wickedHe will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy (NLT).

Growing up, I had a great fear of rejection. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it just wasn’t happening. My self-worth was tied up in what others thought about be me. It was a hopeless existence. Why? If a person values himself based on how he is received by others, he’ll have a fear of rejection whether he is accepted by them or not.

There is no fear in joy. If you’re in a constant pursuit to be accepted by a certain person or group, you are fighting a losing battle. You will lose your joy every time someone shuns you, and someone will shun you. I guarantee it.

Live a life of integrity; be a person of your word. God will not reject you. He has actually already accepted you through Christ. Aim to please Him today, and He will fill your mouth with laughter.

Psalm 27:10 — Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me (NIV).

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Imitate God

Ephesians 5:1 — Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children (NLT).

Imitating God isn’t a suggestion or good idea. Otherwise, Paul would have told us to try and imitate Him in some things. As it stands, being a model of God-likeness is an expectation we will be held accountable for. So before you completely discredit yourself and write off the possibility of ever being like your Creator, listen to this: If He expects us to imitate Him in everything, it is doable. Here are the words of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (NKJV).

Anything we do like God is the product of our faith multiplied by His grace. If you think it’s impossible to imitate God, you’re right. You’ll write off this message because your faith is in your ability rather than in God’s. You’ve totally removed Him from the equation. But I charge you with this: Put your faith in God’s grace—His power, or strength.

In the latter part of this same verse, Paul wrote, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” In other words, when we are willing to admit that imitating God has nothing to do with our strength (or the lack thereof) and everything to do with His, His grace enables us to do the impossible. Why? His power works best through our weaknesses.

I challenge you to get this right within yourself. Your deficiencies don’t disqualify you from being like God; they actually qualify you even more. Your weaknesses don’t prevent you from His grace; they permit you access to it. You just have to believe in His power and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit.

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Got Self-Control?

Proverbs 25:28 — A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls (NLT).

I believe this verse paints a great picture of what a person with, or without, self-control looks like. Self-control is a form of protection for us. Our lives are like a city. When we practice self-control, we fortify the walls that surround and protect us. We are safe, secure, and at peace.

On the other hand, if we don’t control ourselves, those walls crumble around us and open the door for danger, insecurity, and chaos. Many people indulge in destructive behaviors because they lack self-control. The walls have crumbled around them, and they put themselves in compromising situations. Good people wind up doing bad things because they lack self-control.

Use wisdom. Think before you speak. Don’t give into temptation. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you develop the fruit of self-control in your life. If you’ve lived without it for a while, today is a great time to start over.

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Enter In

Romans 4:3 — What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own” (MSG).

Notice that Abraham entered into what God was doing for him. I like to say it like this: “We should be doing what God is blessing, rather than ask Him to bless what we are doing.”

Think about it. How many times do we enter into some situation, business, job, or relationship without seeking God concerning it? We never even ask Him if it is what He wants for our lives. Then, before long, we are worn out and burned out. There is no enabling power or strength to accomplish tasks that are not part of God’s perfect plan for our lives. There is no grace there.

On the other hand, when we seek God, spend time in His word, and develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, we will know when and how to enter into what God is doing for us. How did Abraham see God’s promises fulfilled? He walked by faith.

He walked obediently, even when or after he had missed it. He built altars to God and worshiped. He made room for God, and most importantly, he never quit. Here are five keys to victorious living: 1. Faith, 2. Obedience, 3. Worship, 4. Prayer, and 5. Perseverance. So, enter into what God is doing for you. It is a grand adventure!

—Heidi Jonker

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Desire, Discipline, Delight

Hebrews 12:11 — No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (NIV).

I don’t know a single child who really enjoys being disciplined. Most resist at first, especially if it is not a common practice at home. I also don’t know anyone that has been disciplined to not receive a harvest of some kind in his or her life.

Over the years in working with children, Michael and I have had many come back and thank us for requiring something of them. Parents have often called and asked how we got their child to obey and follow instructions. The answer is simple: We expect it. The results are always positive. The child accomplishes things he or she never had before because of discipline. The same is true for believers. When we seek God, get directions, and discipline ourselves to fulfill His call, it produces a harvest.

What areas of your life lack discipline? What is it that you need to do to fulfill your purpose? I’ve got three words for you—desire, discipline, and delight. You need to first desire to do what is right. Then, you must discipline yourself to change, and finally, you will delight in the fruit or harvest. And when the blessings of God overtake your life, discipline won’t seem so bothersome at all!

—Heidi Jonker

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