• Suffering and Setbacks

    I just recently started to comb through a couple of books I had read. One of them talked about the idea of God having a plan for our life that is greater than any idea we could imagine. The journey toward greater things is almost always marked with setbacks  and suffering. Some of you may be experiencing those setbacks right now. Some may be experiencing some sort of pain or suffering as you have started to move in the direction God has for you. I want to encourage you with this, suffering and setbacks are not and should not be considered a detour... they should be considered a landmark. Often times when negative things creep up, it's an indication that we are doing something positive. Something right.

    In 2 Kings 4, we read about a story of a woman who always showed hospitality to a man named Elisha. Elisha was a man that knew that God was a God that desired for us to experience His greatness. This woman was always showing hospitality to Elisha whenever he went through her town. One day, God wanted to repay her for her generosity over time to Elisha. He noticed she did not have a son which she had longed for her entire life, so Elisha told her that God wanted to bless her with a son. She couldn't believe that God would want to bless her with something like this. She was in awe. Fast forward, the child she was promised had come and is now a young boy, except this boy lay dead on her bed. Her faith shattered.

    She travelled immediately to go and see Elisha and wept at his feet. She asked why he got her hopes up, why did God bless her with something only to have her heart broken. She was experiencing suffering and setbacks. 

    Do you feel like this? Do you feel like you have been following God and feel like you are doing everything He has called you to do? Do you feel like you have experienced His blessing, but when heartache comes you see it as a sign of His blessing be lifted from you? 

    When stuff like this happens, we need to embrace it and use it as an opportunity to have MORE faith in Jesus. To rely on Him and His word EVEN MORE! The story goes on to show us that Elisha went to the house, prayed over the boy, and the boy was raised from the dead. How many of you are seeing the trials you are in as an opportunity to trust God even more? Or are you cursing God because of the situation you may be in? Not one ounce of your faith is being wasted. Trust God through EVERY circumstance, both the blessing and the suffering. He is a God that is full of love and compassion and He wants you to trust Him no matter what you may be facing.

  • Food for thought

    James 1:5 – 8. It says: "If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."

    That last phrase is crucial. Many times when we pray, when we seek God’s direction, we don’t fully commit or move forward with God. We keep our options open.

    We don’t fully invest in generosity, holding back just in case it rains and God doesn’t provide. We don’t fully commit to community or what He has called us to, just in case we got it wrong. This leaves us feeling in control, but it also keeps us from fully experiencing the life God has for us and has called us to.

    NLC'ers, if you are facing a tough decision in your life but feel shackled by your inability to make a decision, remember these words

    Philippians 4:6-7 says this, "Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life"

    Bring your concerns to God, allow Him to guide you in your decision. He will give you a peace that surpasses our understanding and give you the courage to make whatever decision you need to make. Try it! Talk to God and see how He comes through for you!

  • The Overflow of the Heart

    “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”  Matthew 12:34, 35 (NIV)

    What is the condition of your heart?  Your heart’s condition depends on the things you allow into it. Your thoughts and attitudes ultimately shape the deepest part of your being.  No matter what your circumstances are, if your heart is right, you’re going to be okay. But if wrong things in your heart go unattended, they will become deeply rooted and harder to deal with. The quicker you can detect a wrong heart condition and get it straightened out, the better off you are.

    Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Notice that it doesn’t say somebody else will guard your heart. It says you’re in charge of guarding your own heart. That is pretty much a full-time job because you don’t know what will arise on any given day. You must be constantly working with the Holy Spirit to keep your heart right.

    Jesus gives our heart condition serious attention in the scriptures.  He is saying, “If you are careless with your tongue—quarrelling, complaining, murmuring, tattling—you have a serious heart problem.”   When your heart condition is not right with God, it goes very deep.

    Whenever I allow something ridiculous to come out of my mouth, I've got to stop and ask, “Do I have anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, or discontentment ruling in my heart?”  Allow God to show you the condition of your heart and then let Him pluck out the roots of pride and selfishness. God wants to get at all the junk in your heart, root it out, and heal you completely.

  • Are you willing?

    "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man." - Luke 6:22

    Most of us have felt rejected or criticized for one thing or another in our lives. But, have you ever felt rejected or criticized because of your faith? Has anyone ever avoided you, left you out of the clique, or even made fun of you because you are a Christian? No, that’s not paranoia; this happens to every dedicated Christian at one time or another. Jesus wants you to know that when you are rejected by others or shown hostility for your beliefs, you are not the one being rejected. People are hostile at Jesus, not you. They are rejecting Jesus, not you. Never forget that.

    And that is where we need to follow the example of Jesus most of all. When you are rejected due to your devotion to Christ, you need to respond just as Jesus did when He was rejected on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

    In your devotion to Christ, if you are rejected, face hostility, or are even persecuted, you need to forgive as Christ forgave on the cross. Because if you want to see something that should be unique about Christianity over every other religion, you look at Jesus in His Spirit on that cross, of forgiving those who have rejected Him. Are you willing to follow Jesus when it means these kinds of costs? Are you really?

  • New Series Starting This Weekend

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