Devotional Blog

Psalm 138:8 He Planned It: You Are Not An Accident

Pslam 138:8 (NLT)
The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Last week  we explored our manual of life informs us that God predestined and purposed us for greatness. Therefore, start communing with God through prayer so you can get closer to your purpose. This week the Bible reminds us that we are not an accident. 

Consider the following:
Rick Warren wrote, “while there are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children” (p.12). In this quote, he is stating, God used human vessels to create you, thus you are not a mistake and you have been purposed. Despite what angry parents, teachers, or others may have mislead you to believe, you are purposed. Whether you are in a season of confusion, content, or confidence about your purpose, God has not abandoned you. Petition God for your purpose because God thought of you before this world. For example, Ephesians 1:4 indicates, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (NLT). This reveals to us that God was thinking of us before he even made the world. Hence, why do you think God does not only want us to be successful? Why do you think God wants us to be unhappy? The answer is, He does not. God wants us to purposely flourish and have joy. Today, I encourage you as our scripture reminds us that our God will work out the plan He created for our lives. We need to do our part.  

As previously discussed, the first step is to have a relationship with Him and the second step is to commune with God through prayer so you can get closer to your purpose. Today’s step reminds us to trust in God’s word that God’s love endures forever. Always remember God is love, meaning God knows love, shows love, understands love, and is faithfully unwavering in love with us. 

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Ephesians 1:11 Divine Will: It All Starts with God Part 2

Ephesians 1:11
(NKJV) In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, (NLT)  Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[a] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan

Last week we discussed that our purpose comes from God, and success does not define or confine our purpose. Therefore, in order to understand our purpose we must first have a relationship with God. This week we will continue to explore why it all starts with God and what the word of God says about purpose.  

Consider the following:
In Rick Warren’s exploration of this text, he suggested that our scripture gives us three insights. He wrote, “First, you discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, God was thinking of you long before you ever thought about him. Third, the purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed for eternity” (p. 9). 

These three insights inform us that God is the author of all things but sin. God is the works of creation and of providence. God is of grace and salvation. In this text some commentators believe that Paul reflects on how God arranged every detail to bring Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. If God can deliver and guide a whole nation to their promise land, can not God guide you to your purpose? When we work according to God’s will in a wise and prudent manner, we see exactly what Wonderful Counselor means. Today, I encourage you to know that our manual of life informs us that God predestined and purposed us for greatness. Therefore, start communing with God through prayer so you can get closer to your purpose. If you want to know what this looks like and have questions, please feel free to contact us at onetemplefitness@7fire8.com.  

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Job 12:10 Divine Will: It All Starts with God

Job 12:10
(NKJV) In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (NLT) For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being

Praise God! God has blessed us to see another year, oh, what a joy! Oh, what a feeling! The number nine represents divine will. As we begin 2019, God wants everyone to know that they have been called for a purpose. Over the next nine weeks leading us to Lent, we will learn more about God’s divine will for our lives and ways to step into it. This series will use nuggets from What on Earth am I here for? by Rick Warren. 

I encourage you to share this series with all people. However, I caution you to know that being successful and living on and in purpose are not the same. God purposed you, so you must believe that God created you for a specific reason. You may be successful, meet your goals, have a financially flourishing life, and still miss your purpose. Thus, the very first step is knowing God and having a personal relationship with him. If you want to know what this looks like and have questions, please feel free to contact us at onetemplefitness@7fire8.com

Consider the following:
If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God, for God purposed us when we were born. Often times in life we ask ourselves self-centered questions — “What do I want to be? and What are my goals?” (p. 5). However, our scripture informs us that God holds and directs every creature on this earth, God has the breath and the life of every human being. Thus, if we want to understand God’s divine will for our life, if we want to know our purpose, then we must seek God first. As the Bible reminds us, God is Alpha — God is the beginning, God is also omniscient — God is all knowing, and God is agape — God is love. Therefore, since God loves us, knows everything, and purposed us from the beginning, then it is imperative that we seek God to obtain our divine will. Warren wrote it this way, “You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny” (p. 5).

Over the next several weeks, we will explore with God these questions: 1) What does the Word say about purpose? 2) Why is it necessary to know our purpose? 3) Can your purpose be multifaceted? 4) How do you discover your purpose? 5) Once discovered, how do you confidently live in it?

Although you may have realizations about your career, find steps to achieve your dreams, and be on a trajectory for planning your life, the main goal is for you to discover your purpose. That way during Lent we will fast, pray and praise so we can live in our purpose. Always remember, God provides revelation and through His word, God will provide you answers. 

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Matthew 4:4 - Five Weeks of Prayer, Praise and Fasting

Matthew 4:4 (NLT)
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”

Over the last two weeks of this year we will be focusing on fasting, praise via testimony, and prayer. Join us as we claim our season of turn around, transformation, greater, healing, elevation, protection, mental wellness, partnership, and financial stability!

*WE WILL HAVE THE LAST PRAYER CALL OF 2018 ON 12/26/18, PLEASE JOIN US!!*

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Exodus 34:28 - Five Weeks of Prayer, Praise and Fasting

Exodus 34:28 (NIV)
Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

Over the last three weeks of this year we will be focusing on fasting, praise via testimony, and prayer. Join us as we claim our season of turn around, transformation, greater, healing, elevation, protection, mental wellness, partnership, and financial stability!

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Matthew 6:9-13 - Five Weeks of Prayer, Praise and Fasting

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

Over the last four weeks of this year we will be focusing on fasting, praise via testimony, and prayer. Join us as we claim our season of turn around, transformation, greater, healing, elevation, protection, mental wellness, partnership, and financial stability!

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1 Chronicles 16:11 - Five Weeks of Prayer, Praise and Fasting

1 Chronicles 16:11 (NIV)
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Over the last five weeks of this year we will be focusing on fasting, praise via testimony, and prayer. Join us as we claim our season of turn around, transformation, greater, healing, elevation, protection, mental wellness, partnership, and financial stability!

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Experiencing God - Reality #7: You Come to Know God by Experience as You Obey Him, and He Accomplishes His Work Through You

John 3:21
But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.

When you do what God tells you, no matter how impossible or bewildering it may seem, God carries out what He purposed though you. Not only do you experience God’s power and presence, but so do those who observe your life.

Our difficulty in following God isn’t that we don’t know what God desires us to do. Our discomfort comes from the fact that we do know His will, but we don’t want to do it. As God leads you in your Christian growth, He will allow challenges in your life that match your character and relationship with Him. God will not totally change your character at once. Rather, He will lead you through a process to become more like His Son, Jesus. He will keep working in an area of your life until it is controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Obedience to God’s commands always brings fulfillment. When the Lord gives you instructions, obey immediately. Don’t wait until you have figured it all out and everything makes perfect sense to you. Sometimes God leads you to do things that you will not fully understand until after you have done them. He tells you enough for you to implement what He’s said, but He withholds enough information so that you must continue to rely on His guidance.

Even today God is reconciling a world to Himself. Because He loves you, God wants to involve you in His activity. He begins by pursuing a love relationship with you. He then invites you to become involved with Him in His work. As He relates to you, He discloses Himself, His purposes and His ways. If you want to experience God’s mighty power at work in and through you, you must walk by faith, make major adjustments, and immediately obey whatever God tells you to do.

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Experiencing God - Reality #6: You Must Make Major Adjustments in Your Life to Join God in What He is Doing

Luke 9:23-24
If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.

Many of us want God to speak and lead us in His will. We want the excitement of God working through us, but we are reluctant to make any major changes or adjustments so that He will. The Bible reveals that every time God speaks to people about something that He wants to do, they must realign their lives in some way.

Like the Crisis of Belief, the necessity of adjustment is a second point at which many people miss out on experiencing God. To get from where you are to where God will have you to be requires significant adjustments in your life. These adjustments may relate to your thinking, circumstances, relationships, commitments, actions, and beliefs. If you choose to make the necessary adjustments, you can go on to obedience. If you refuse, you could miss what God has in store for your life. Obedience begins in the heart as a willingness to do whatever God says. Obedience is expressed through actin, by words and deeds. Our obedience can be costly—to you and to those around you. In short, you can’t stay where you are and go with God at the same time.

When God speaks, revealing what He is about to do, that revelation is your invitation to adjust your life to God. As you adjust your heart and mind to God, God’s purposes, and God’s ways, you are in a position and posture to obey. You can’t continue business as usual or stay where you are and go with God at the same time. This truth is clearly evident in Scripture. Noah could not continue life as usual and build an ark at the same time. Moses could not stay on the back side of the desert herding sheep and lead the Israelites from Egypt at the same time. David had to leave his sheep in order to become King. Esther could not remain silent before the King and save her people. Saul had to completely change direction in order for God to use him to preach the Gospel.

Enormous changes and adjustments were required whenever God’s people determined to obey God’s calling. Some had to leave family and country, while others had to abandon long held prejudices and reorient their thinking. Men and women were willing to leave behind life goals, ideals, and desires. Everything had to be yielded to God and their entire life adjusted to Him. However, the moment the necessary adjustments were made, God began to accomplish his purposes through them. Each one learned that adjusting one’s life to God is always well-worth the cost.

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Experiencing God - Reality #5: God’s Invitation for You to Work with Him Always Leads You to a Crisis of Belief that Requires Faith and Action

Hebrews 11:6
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

God wants a watching world to come to know who He truly is. He does not call you to get involved in His activity merely so that people can see what you can do. He calls you to an assignment that you can’t accomplish apart from His divine intervention. God’s assignments have God-sized dimensions. It will be obvious that you cannot do it on your own. If God does not help, you will fail. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t ask us to undertake mundane, seemingly ordinary tasks. But when God is involved in anything, there are always eternal, divine dimensions, implications, and possibilities.

When God asks you to do something you can’t do, you face a crisis of belief. That means, you must decide what you really believe about God. Can God and will God do what He said He wants to do through you? Can God do the seemingly impossible through your ordinary life? The way you respond to God’s invitation reveals what you truly believe about God, regardless of what you say.

This is the crisis point where so many people miss out on experience God’s mighty power working through them. For many, if they cannot understand exactly how everything is going to happen, they choose not to proceed. Then they wonder why they do not experience God presence, power, and activity. God does not want us to merely believe what He says. God wants us to obey what He commands. All of God’s promises and invitations will be meaningless unless we respond with both faith and action.

This crisis is not a disaster or a bad thing. It is a turning point or a fork in the road that calls for a decision. You must decide what you believe about God. How you respond when you reach this turning point will determine whether or not you proceed with God in something only God can do or whether youcontinueonyourownwayandmisswhatGodhaspurposedforyourlife. Moreover,thisisnota one-time experience. How you live your life daily is a testimony of what you believe about God.

God’s assignments have God-sized dimensions. What you believe about God should stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Let God use you in ways you never would have asked, dreamed, or imagined.

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Experiencing God - Reality #4: God speaks by the Holy Spirit Through the Bible, Prayer, Circumstances, and the Church to Reveal Himself, His Purposes, and His ways

Hebrews 1:1-2
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son

Life today is preoccupied with methods. We spend time and energy looking for spiritual disciplines, books, seminars, or conferences that work in order to feel satisfied with our Christian life. But God doesn’t want usto trust in methods. He wants us to trust in Him. Trusting in methods rather than trusting God seriously limits the way we experience God. When we expect God to speak to us only in predictable ways, we forget that God is much more complex than our perception of Him. The means that God uses to communicate with us is irrelevant; the fact that He’s communicating is what is critical. Do you approach the reading of Scripture with a holy expectation, listening for the life-changing words that God has for you that day?

All Scripture is useful, and because every verse of Scripture is inspired by God and gainful to us, we shouldn’t claim verses we like and ignore those that convict us. When bombarded with an assortment of doctrines, lifestyles, and behaviors...if you are not firmly grounded in God’s Word, you will be left without having a means to evaluate whether they are approved by God.

The Key to Knowing God’s Voice: We become familiar with God’s voice as we experience Him. As God speaks and you respond, you will recognize God’s voice more and more readily. Some people try to bypass the love relationship and look for a miraculous sign or try a formula to discover God’s will. But, there is no substitute for an intimate relationship with God.

God doesn’t make suggestions. He speaks with the full determination to see that what He has said will cometo fruition. God gives direction on the front end of His assignments. He may not tell you all you want to know at the start, but He will reveal what you need to know in order to adjust and obey. Your relationship with God is the key to hearing when God speaks to you.

When God spoke to Abraham, Moses, Mary, and others, those events were encounters with God. In the same way, when you encounter the Holy Spirit, that is an encounter with God for you. When the Holy Spirit reveals truth to you, He is not leading you to an encounter with God. That is an encounter with God!

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Experiencing God - Reality #3: God Invites You to Become Involved with Him in His Work

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose

God, the infinitely wise Lord of all creation, already has a purpose and a plan. He does not ask us to dream our dreams for Him or to try our best or our hardest for Him. God already has His own agenda. The almighty Lord of lords and King of kings chooses to personally interact with you to participate in His work.

When God is working, He may reveal His activity to you. That revelation is His invitation for you to join Him in His redemptive work. Be alert to God’s activity around you. The world operates by vision. However, God’s people live by revelation. The world seeks grand, noble purposes and goals to achieve. God’s people function in a radically different way. Christians arrange their lives based on the revelation of God, regardless of whether it makes sense to them.

God’s desire is to get you from where you are to where He is working; and, He leads us from being self- centered to being God-centered. A self-centered person tends to confuse his or her personal agenda with God’s will. God does not ask for our opinions about what is best for our future, our family, our church, or our country. God already knows.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

Moreover, circumstances alone cannot be a clear direction for God’s leadership. Asking God to close a door if we are not headed in the right direction is an admirable way of seeking what God desires. However, the danger in this thinking lies in assuming that God’s will is always the path of least resistance. To the Israelites, the Red Sea certainly appeared to be a “closed door;” however, because they stayed the course, it proved to be an opportunity to witness the power of God. Seek the Lord’s guidance to be confirmed through Prayer, Scripture and life’s circumstances.

When people choose not to base their lives on God’s revelation, they do what’s right in their own eyes. They set their own goals, arrange their own agendas, and then pray for God’s blessings to achieve them. The only way to know God’s will is for Him to reveal it to you. You will never discover God’s will on your own. If you keep your life God-centered, you will immediately want to participate in His activity when He reveals His plans to you. When you hear from the Lord, you have an immediate agenda for your life: obedience.

Often our struggle as Christians is not deciding whether we should obey the Lord but in whether we will obey immediately. God’s timing is perfect. When God speaks, the time to respond in obedience is now. There’s no such thing as postponing a decision with God. Delayed obedience is disobedience. If God has made something known to you, it’s time to respond.

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Experiencing God - Reality #2: God Pursues A Love Relationship With You That Is Real and Personal

Mark 12:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

God created humanity for a love relationship with him that is both real and personal. There is nowhere you can go that God will not be present. But He won’t force Himself on you. God may draw you to Himself andwoo you relentlessly, but He won’t take away your ability to reject Him.

You are a person created in the image of God, created to love and be loved. Greater than anything else in your life, remember that you are created for a relationship with God. Never forget that your relationship with God matters most.

  • God pursues us in the relationship. It is God who pursues us, not we who pursue him. He reached out to us first by sending his son Jesus. God places people, events, and questions in our path so we begin to seek him, and everything that we are experiencing from God comes in response to his invitation.

  • It's a relationship of Love. Love is the lens through which God always relates to us, and is at work in us. God settled the question of his love for us at the cross.

  • The relationship is real and personal. God is not distant and unknowable. God reveals himself and intersects in our lives in a way that is real, and we can relate to and understand him.

Your love for God and your obedience to His commands go hand in hand. Obedience is the outward expression of your love for God. If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.

“Your relationship with God is the single most important aspect of your life. If you knew that all you had in your life was a relationship with God, would you be totally satisfied? If everything else were removed from you, could you be content having nothing but your relationship with God? Many would answer, ‘Well, I would like to have that relationship, but I would also like to do something.’ Or ‘I would want a relationship with God, but I would also want a spouse and children, a good career, a nice home and friends.’ As wonderful as all of these things are, they cannot provide the key component that God desires to give to us: Himself. If your relationship with God is at the deepest level that He intends, you will find enormous satisfaction and joy in your relationship with him” (Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, p. 85). And, God will satisfy the longing for “all these things” that we desire in life.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matthew 6:33

More than anything else you may do or obtain, God wants you to love Him with your total being. If your love relationship with God is not close, everything else related to knowing and doing the will of God will be out of order and out focus.

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Experiencing God - Reality 1: God is Always at Work Around You

Acts 26:16
Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.

The ancient Hebrew idea of knowing is one of experience; you can’t really know something without experiencing it. So, the only way to know God is to experience Him. The more we experience God, the more we get to know God. Every time we read God’s Word, He’s making Himself known to us.

The Lord doesn’t come to us to so that we’ll discover what we want to accomplish for Him. No, God encounters us in order to reveal His activity and to invite us to become involved in His work. An encounter with God requires us to adjust ourselves to the activity of God that’s been revealed. Godnever communicates with us merely to give us a warm devotional thought for the day. He never speaks to us simply to increase our biblical knowledge. The Lord has far more significant things to reveal to us than that. When God shows us what He’s doing, He is inviting us to join Him in His current activity.

As we read the accounts of God’s miraculous work through men and women in the Bible, you may wonder whether God still performs such miracles today. Be assured that the same God who walked with Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Peter, James, John, Paul and others now lives within each of us. No power can defeat the God who guides us. The God who blessed them is just as capable of working out His purposes through our lives. The same God who gave them victory over seemingly invincible enemies, who provided for them when their own resources were insufficient, and who guided them in their decisions is prepared to work just as powerfully in our lives today.

Too often we acknowledge our belief that God can do whatever He wants; then we add a safety clause:“That was back then,” or “I really don’t think God will use me like that!” In essence, we become partial Believers, believing God can perform miracles but never expecting a miracle to show up in our own lives. The heroes of the faith had one thing in common: they were all ordinary people with no power of their own. The difference was the mighty presence of God. Times may change, but the miraculouseffect of God’s presence throughout our lives remains the same (Seven Realities for Experiencing God, p. 11, 18-19).

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James 4:7 Spiritual Preparedness: Humility + Resistance = Preparedness

James 4:7 (NLT)
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Over the last month we examined two stories of spiritual preparedness and two stories of spiritual unpreparedness. I have encouraged you to have the mindset, “despite what it looks like on the outside, I know my blessings are on the inside,” “fast without hesitation,” “have a, ‘But if You say so’ mindset with Christ,” and “trust God enough to know that when God sends you out, He is not sending you out alone.” As we close out this spiritual preparedness series, today’s scripture sums the formula for spiritual preparedness: humility plus resistance equals preparedness.

Consider the following: 
In all of the examples there was a commonality of a component of humility and resistance. The individuals who were unprepared either were not humble and felt like they had the best solution or initially resisted God’s plan or instruction altogether. On the contrary, persons who were prepared had a spirit of humility because they drew close to God and resisted the desire to do things their way. Today, I submit to you one simple suggestion, if you are still struggling with being spiritually prepared: Humble yourselves before God - align yourself with God’s perfect will. Resist the devil - withstand temptation towards temporary self-fulfillment mentally, physically, and emotionally, and he (the devil) will flee from you. This is achieved through prayer (building your relationship with God) and supplication (to plead humbly). Ultimately, spiritual preparedness is understanding that God knows best and you are to completely yield your desires to God’s will. This yielding in conjunction with putting on your whole armor and resisting your flesh in all forms such as greed, gluttony, lust, envy, sloth, wrath, and pride, will indeed make you spiritually prepared. 

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Jonah 1:1-3 Spiritual Preparedness: Jonah

Jonah 1:1-3 (NLT)
The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.

Last week we examined how Simon Peter was spiritually prepared because he had a “But, if God says so” attitude. This week we will dive into Jonah and see if he was spiritually prepared or unprepared. 

Consider the following: 
Today’s story is found in Jonah chapter one, where Jonah is clearly disobeying God. In the first few verses, God gives Jonah a directive and Jonah runs in the opposite direction. Here we see Jonah being flat out defiant. No, he did not fall, stumble, or slip up. He literally told God, no thank you, I’m good on that request. How many of us have received a directive from God and without a second thought told God no? When we look at this first part of the story, we can clearly see Jonah was spiritually unprepared. If Jonah was spiritually prepared, he would have prayed to God and expressed, I need you Lord because, honestly, I do not want to do it, I want the people to suffer. But, I know if it aligns with your will, everything will work out! Being spiritually prepared in times of making difficult decisions means you must have a transparent conversation with God about your apprehensions and how you are feeling. If you feel the assignment seems far greater than what you can handle, tell God. If you need divine help, say help me Lord execute your will. Not by my might, nor by my power, but by your spirit, Lord. I need you Lord because I am afraid to fail or be rejected. I need you Lord because I do not think I am equipped. Today, I encourage you to get to a place where you don’t want to tell God a flat out “no.” I pray that you trust God enough to know that when God sends you out, He is not sending you out alone. When God gives you a directive, God will bring the resources to carry out your mission. Get to a place of even if in your humanness you do not agree with what God is saying, that you get in your spirit that God is working on your behalf, you are simply the vessel God chose to use.

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Luke 5:1-7 Spiritual Preparedness: Simon Peter

Luke 5:1-7 (NLT)
One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,[a] great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon,[b] its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

Last week we examined how Mordecai and Esther were both spiritually prepared. This week we will dive into Peter and see if he was spiritually prepared or unprepared.

Consider the following: 
Today’s story is found in a few books of the New Testament; however, we are examining this story from the Gospel according to Luke. In this story, Simon Peter, a fisherman was out with his colleagues trying to catch some fish. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. OH BUT, Jesus was on the scene! When Jesus is on the scene you know there will be a shifting. We see in the first part of verse five that Simon Peter informed Jesus that he had been working hard but had no results, as if Jesus did not know that. How many of us live a Master, I already been there and done that type of life? Lord, I’ve tried asking for forgiveness, Lord I’ve tried managing my money, Lord I’ve tried to eat and exercise, Lord I’ve tried praying for my child, Lord, I’ve tried this and that, and then you stop there?! Today, I encourage you to elevate your thinking and live a “BUT if you say so” lifestyle. We see that yes indeed Simon Peter was spiritually prepared. He initially answered with his human experience but responded with his spirit of faith! Lord, I’ve been denied for a loan three times but if you say go, I’ll go. Lord, I’ve had my heart broken several times, but if you say love, I’ll love. Lord, I’ve been to rehab twice, but if you say I can break my addiction, I’ll go again. Lord, cancer is back, but if you say live, I will live! Lord, today, I pray for a Simon Peter spirit, “But if you say so!”

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Esther 2:5-7; 3:3-6; 4:13-17 Spiritual Preparedness: Mordecai and Esther

Esther 2:5-7 (NLT)
At that time there was a Jewish man in the fortress of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a descendant of Kish and Shimei. His family[a] had been among those who, with King Jehoiachin[b] of Judah, had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. This man had a very beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hadassah, who was also called Esther. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter. As a result of the king’s decree, Esther, along with many other young women, was brought to the king’s harem at the fortress of Susa and placed in Hegai’s care. Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had directed her not to do so. 

Esther 3:3-6 (NLT)
Then the palace officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you disobeying the king’s command?” They spoke to him day after day, but still he refused to comply with the order. So they spoke to Haman about this to see if he would tolerate Mordecai’s conduct, since Mordecai had told them he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes.

Esther 4:13-17 (NLT)
Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him

Last week we started a new series on spiritual preparedness and we looked at how Naaman was spiritually unprepared to receive his physical healing. Today’s lesson will examine Mordecai, a caregiver and parent figure, to Esther and how they were both spiritually prepared.

Consider the following: 
Today’s story is found throughout the book of Esther and I encourage you to take time and read it. In this story, we see Mordecai who technically is Esther’s cousin raise her when both of her parents passed away. Esther, an orphan Jewish virgin who went through a long 12 months of beautification, and became the next Queen of Persia. She had to disguise her true identity, until it was time for the king to see her and said he was pleased and whatever she wanted was hers. After hearing of plans of killing the Jewish race, her people, she had to be bold and rise to the occasion, tell the king, to not let her people perish. However, before approaching the king, she mandated a fast from food and water for 72 hours, so she could seek the presence of the true King, her heavenly father for direction and favor. This amazing story speaks to two individuals being spiritually prepared. For all parents and parent-like figures, we can take note from Mordecai. He was prepared to raise up a child and when she was put in a compromising situation she did not depart because of values instilled in her. Mordecai also illustrated being unwavering in his faith by refusing to comply to the king’s command. In addition, due to Mordecai’s positive relationship and influence on Esther’s life, there was a mutual respect and they followed each other’s direction when it was necessary. Esther was spiritually prepared because after Mordecai stressed the urgency of the matter, she immediately instituted a 72-hour fast. This amazing story is a true depiction of all what God can do through people who are obedient to him. Today’s main takeaways 1. As a parent or parent-like figure it is important to be spiritually prepared so your child(ren) can be spiritually prepared when they find themselves in compromising situations and 2. When we find ourselves in compromising situations, fast without hesitation. Seek God and know that our father is in our corner. 

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2 Kings 5:1-5a;9-14 Spiritual Preparedness: The Naaman Healing

2 Kings 5:1-5a; 9-14 (NLT)
1 The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy2 At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. 3 One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said. 5 “Go and visit the prophet,” the king of Aram told him. “I will send a letter of introduction for you to take to the king of Israel.”9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” 11 But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! 12 Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir,[c] if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 14 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!

Today, we are starting a new series on spiritual preparedness! When going through something in life, are you spiritually prepared? We have talked about fasting before and every Wednesday, we meet to pray, but what does it look like in real time? Over the next several weeks, the series will focus on different people in the Bible and their spiritual preparedness. We will look at persons in the Bible who needed spiritual preparedness, were in the midst of spiritually preparing, or who were already spiritually prepared. It is my hope and desire that at least one of these stories will resonate with you so when you are going through, you can become spiritually prepared and also have a biblically based relatable connection.

Consider the following: 
Today’s scripture found in 2 Kings chapter five is a story of a successful Syrian commander, Naaman, who had leprosy, and was spiritually unprepared. Yes you heard it right, he was a victorious warrior with an illness, yet he was spiritually unprepared. Although, he did not let his physical state take rule over his mental state, his spirituality was in question! (Of note, leprosy was a horrible disease during the Biblical times, which in some parts of the world people are still suffering from today!) In this story, we see that Naaman’s wife’s servant suggested that Naaman see the prophet Elisha to be cured of his leprosy. We see that in Naaman’s affliction, he turned to the Lord to be healed! Although he turned to the Lord, Naaman was spiritually unprepared because he was not fully ready to accept his healing as God saw fit to heal him. Naaman did not want to humble himself to God’s will. When one is spiritually unprepared they focus on the package instead of the contents of the package. Like Naaman, he focused on the river instead of the healing that would take place in the river. When you are spiritually prepared, you have the mindset that despite what it looks like on the outside, I know my blessing is on the inside! Today, I encourage you to not get so caught up with orchestrating your blessing or how it is supposed to be that you almost miss it! I also want to encourage someone that no matter how sick you are or how long you have been struggling with this physical ailment there are NO impossibilities with God. Time tests our faith but when struggling with sickness you must get it in your spirit that God is your healer! According to God’s word, today, I command you to live! I encourage anyone who is battling with a sickness to continue to do God’s work! Do not let it confine or limit you! Just as our text illustrates Naaman was highly esteemed due to his leadership even with leprosy, no limits and no boundaries! Know that God can use you in any state! I encourage you to seek healing and know that God can indeed heal! If He promised it to you, He will deliver!

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Romans 12: 9-12 A New Found Patience

Romans 12:9-12 (NLT)
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

As we close out this patience series, we learned that we need to be patient with God because God is not impatient with us. We need to be reminded if we want real power, then it is wise to embody patience. When we are wronged, it is necessary to be patient with the person as God is patient with us. That perseverance is the action word of patience, and love is an action word that involves patience. We also learned the importance of going to our prayer closet to keep up our endurance which will aid in controlling our emotions. We were inspired to know that the frustration, isolation, misunderstanding or suffering we are experiencing during this waiting season does not compare to the promise God has for us! Last week we learned that God’s timing is not our timing and God is simply waiting for us to get it together!

Consider the following: 
Today’s scripture lesson is encouraging us to have real love that is not based on hypocrisy. As Christians, we must demonstrate against love with hypocrisy. It is also urging us as Christians to not have a cold and stand-offish demeanor, rather be genuine and show displays of affection. God has called us to never be lazy, work hard, and serve God enthusiastically. Yes, this means even when God says, not yet or never, be diligent and have a fervent spirit. Further, one of the most important instructions is to rejoice in hope. As Christians, it is our rightful duty to rejoice in hope and not in results! When we rejoice in hope we are keeping our eye towards heaven with our spiritual eye sharpened and our worldly eye dulled. When our spiritual eye is focused we display hope, patience, and a steadfast character. Which is also why our text informs us that difficult times do not give us permission to abandon hope, patience, or a steadfast prayer life. Most importantly know that when we face trials, it does not excuse a lack of love in the body of Christ, a lack of willingness to do God’s work, and most importantly it does not excuse a lack of patience. So in everything that you do, have patience!

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