Devotional Blog

1 Corinthians 7:7-9; Matthew 19:9-12 
Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Celibacy

1 Corinthians 7:7-9 (NIV)
I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Matthew 19:9-12 (ESV)
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, a“Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

This week’s spirit gift is the gift of celibacy or singleness. The definition of celibacy is to voluntarily remain single without regret and with the ability to maintain controlled sexual impulses so as to serve the Lord without distraction.  


Consider the following:
Today’s scriptures highlight that although the gift of celibacy or singleness is not listed in the spiritual gifts scriptures, it has been made known that indeed this is a gift. In our Corinthians text, Paul says, “I wish that all men were [unmarried] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (verse 7). Paul is careful to state that this is “a concession, not . . . a command” (verse 6). The ability to stay single and serve God apart from marriage is a gift, that only some were given but not everyone. However, for my biblical scholars, I would like to note that Paul is talking to people who had already been married, for whom the gift would have been given prior to the death of their spouse.

In our Matthew text, the phrase “only those to whom it has been given” refers to people receiving what some call “the gift of celibacy” or “the gift of singleness.” Jesus teaches that most people do not naturally desire to remain single and celibate for a lifetime. The exceptions are those who have “renounced marriage” for the kingdom’s sake, and have received a special gift from God. Therefore, if you believe God has blessed you with this gift, then remain single to be able to devote yourself completely to ministry and know that independence can allow more availability to move and act quickly as the Lord commands. I encourage you to enjoy committing wholeheartedly to projects, responsibilities, and ministry. However, know that it may be a lonely gift and at times the flesh may make you struggle with feelings of being “unwanted,” thus form life-giving friendships. Lastly, if this is your gift, scholars suggest to work in ministries such as prison or jail visitation and correspondence as well as discipleship. 

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Ephesians 4:11-13 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Apostleship

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.


Last week we discussed our first spiritual gift, administration focusing on 1 Corinthians 12:28, and this week we will explore apostleship. Of note, the Greek Word apostolos - 'apo'=from 'stello'=send; one sent forth — is the literal definition of apostle. This is noteworthy because sometimes people use the word apostle and disciple interchangeably but by definition there are different. Apostle is a messenger and champions a belief or a cause, and in Christianity apostles spread the Christian message to the world or a person. Whereas, a disciple is a follower and student who assists in spreading the teachings the more they learn. 


Consider the following:
Today’s scripture reminds us that Christ gave us apostles as one of the leaders in Christianity to equip Christians for works of service. Our scripture last week indicates that God has placed in the Church first of all apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28, NIV). Apostles are to be sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel, providing leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority over spiritual matters pertaining to the church. When a person has the gift of apostleship, that person uses the gift to compel people to reach out to new and unfamiliar groups and individuals, and to invite them into relationship with God and community. Apostles share the story of faith in other lands, cultures, and traditions, as well as are welcoming the stranger in their own land. Apostles extend the hand of friendship to those of other generations, nations, and languages. Many apostles desire to be missionaries.

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1 Corinthians 12:28 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth: Administration

1 Corinthians 12:28 (NIV)
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.


Last week we introduced the topic of spiritual gifts. We learned that developing and sustaining your spiritual growth is not solely for the purpose of your life but also for others and the Kingdom of God. As it is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” This week will will discuss our first spiritual gift, administration. 

Consider the following:
Today’s scripture 1 Corinthians 12:28 reads that God has designed designated people to steer the body toward the accomplishment of God-given goals and directives by planning, organizing, and supervising others. The Greek word for the spiritual gift of administration is Kubernesis, which means to steer, guide, rule or govern. An example would be a helmsmen, one who steers a ship, is a shipmaster or captain. This gift carries the idea of someone who guides and directs a group of people toward a goal or destination.  We see variations of this word in verses like Acts 27:11, “But the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul (NLT), and Revelation 18:17, “In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone!” And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance” (NLT). The Holy Spirit enables certain Christians to organize, direct, and implement plans to lead others in the various ministries of the Church.  This gift is closely related to the gift of Leadership. However, administration is different from leadership because administration is more goal or task oriented and is also more concerned with details and organization. Some experts indicate that the gift of administration allows a person to organize people and resources for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and success. Administrators have the natural ability to apply resources where they will do the greatest good, and are good with details and are deeply aware of how all the parts of a group or organization work together to achieve their goals. 

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Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-13 Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts for Spiritual Growth

Romans 12:3-8 (NIV)
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

There are three key scriptures that address spiritual gifts which are also known as gifts of grace: Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-13, and 1 Corinthians 12-14. You will find twenty different Greek words used for the gifts listed in the key passages on spiritual gifting. As we journey, I encourage you take a spiritual gifts test. There are many out there but here is one: https://mintools.com/gifts-list.htm 

The above test will be used as a basis for 20 spiritual gifts which will be discussed. Of note, there are many different opinions on the actual number of spiritual gifts; however, God's Word clearly indicates a variety of gifts.

Consider the following:
Spiritual growth is a transformative experience that leads us to our God-given talents. Spiritual growth enables you to identify and develop your spiritual gifts. Developing and sustaining your spiritual growth is not solely for the purpose of your life but also for others and the Kingdom of God. As it is written in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” Therefore, over the next several weeks we will dive deeper into the meaning of each one of these spiritual gifts and what the scripture indicates to promote spiritual growth. 

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John 20:24-29 Where is Your Faith?

John 20:24-29 (NIV)
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Last Wednesday for our final Lenten season devotional, we discussed having authority over our faith. We were reminded that our Lord wants us to have authority over our faith and start to believe in the impossible. To believe in miracles like the dead rising from the grave, the ill finding a cure, or the lost being found. However, there are some of us that still do not believe that we serve a God who specializes in the impossible, so the question today is, where is your faith?

Consider the following:
Sometimes in life we will not see the blessing unfold right before our eyes or we will not personally see a demonic spirit break off of a loved one, BUT the blessing occurred and the curse was broken, so the question still stands, where is your faith? Troubles come to challenge your faith and in those times we can not be a doubting Thomas. Our scripture lesson reminds us that Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  If you have started to possess a doubting Thomas spirit because you have been at your low point for far too long, I encourage you regain your faith. Today, I remind you that when you change your thoughts and you shift your mind, your whole world changes. Therefore, instead of always searching for the negative, find the silver lining. Remember, the word of God says by His stripes we are healed. Today, I encourage you to know that as long as you have faith, whatever you are asking God for, it shall come to past. Know that some things you may not bear witness to, but it shall come to past!

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Luke 24:6-7 Authority over Faith: Impossible Made Possible

Luke 24:6-7
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”

He has Risen! Knowing that on Resurrection Sunday Jesus will defeat death, we rejoice in serving a God that is all powerful. Jesus’ life consistently demonstrates to us that the impossible can be made possible and that our faith is the greatest weapon we can use against the enemy. One of my favorite songs is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong and it reminds me of the powerful and loving God we serve. A father that sent his only son to die for our sins and is continually fighting for our salvation. Part of this song proclaims this message when it states that: 

Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You

You silenced the boast, of sin and grave

The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory

For You are raised to life again

You have no rival, You have no equal

Now and forever, Our God reigns

Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory

Yours is the Name, above all names

During Holy Week we rejoice knowing that our sins are already paid for and we serve a God that gives us power through the Holy Spirit. Our Lord wants us to have authority over our faith and start to believe in the impossible. To believe in miracles like the dead rising from the grave, the ill finding a cure, or the lost being found. 

Consider the following:
This Lent we went through a series that gave us the courage to have authority over our health, relationships, finances, and purpose. Today the final step is authority over our faith and doing everything in our power to protect it from the enemies’ distractions. We have nothing to worry about because through faith, worship, and community we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. On Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the life of Jesus Christ and the promises that God has made to His people. We are renewed through Christ, sustained by the Holy Spirit, and grounded in the love of God. There is nothing we cannot accomplish this year, so go forth with joy and gratitude in your heart.

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Mark 10:45 Authority Over Purpose: Come to Serve

Mark 10:45
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we are going to dive deeper into how God wants us to have authority over our purpose. Last Wednesday, we learned through 1 Samuel 13:14 that “The Lord sought out a man after his own heart,” meaning that God wants us to follow His example. God’s heart is filled with mercy, patience, and understanding and he seeks to us live a healthy and happy life filled with purpose. To continue off that message, Mark reminds us that service to others is a core principle of being a follower of Christ and is part of our larger purpose. 

Furthermore, it states that even Jesus, the son of God, didn’t come to earth to be served, but rather to serve God’s people. Jesus is a great role model to follow because he was given a task and through service he was able to transform the church and his people. When Jesus ministered to marginalized communities, like taxpayers, prostitutes, or individuals of different faith beliefs, he showed us that ALL people need God’s love. One of our main purposes as Christians is to serve and demonstrate God’s love to everyone we come into contact with. In Galatians 5:13, it states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (NIV). Through free will we have the choice to use our freedom to feed our flesh or the spirit and this scripture encourages us to serve one another humbly. To be humble means to have a lower estimate of one’s own importance and when serving others we are encouraged to place their needs above our own.

Consider the following:
Service is vital to the growth of the church and to building a more united world, but at times we can make up excuses such as lack of time, selfishness, or ignorance to deter us from being other-centered. If we are to continue God’s mission to spread the gospel and bring healing, then we must put aside our flesh and pour into building a stronger spirit.

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1 Samuel 13:14 Authority Over Purpose: God has Chosen You, Go Forth

1 Samuel 13:14 (ESV)
14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince[a] over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we are going to dive deeper into how God wants us to have authority over our purpose. Purpose is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists,” and as Christians we are created to serve God. Today, we will focus on the first step, which is having authority over our purpose. Having authority over our purpose is opening and mirroring our heart after God’s. Before receiving an assignment from the Lord, God is examining our hearts to see if it’s like His. In Matthew 6:21, it states that “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In our society, we have made idols like money, fame, or power our treasure, but God wants His Word and His people to be our treasure. For example, David is highlighted for his love of God, which is why God trusted him to be a Shepard. God knew he could trust and guide him towards his larger purpose: to lead a nation.  

Consider the following:
In a recent sermon by Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church, he asked his congregation if they were experiencing a heart attack due to things such as unforgiveness, selfishness, or hate which may be clotting their arteries. He discussed how God can’t bless us if we first do not renew our minds and open our hearts to the Lord. We might have a stained past like Solomon, confined to gender roles like Esther, or born into a lower status like David. However, in God’s eyes God sees past the exterior and goes by 1 Samuel 16:7 which states:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

If you are looking to gain authority over your purpose here is a short prayer you can save over the next three weeks: God, please give me authority over my purpose. I bind up every false idol, fear, or doubt. I cover my purpose with your blood. I believe that my purpose will be revealed to me and activated to do your work in your name. God, I believe in your power and I know that with your will I can walk on water. Amen.  

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Luke 14:28-30 Authority Over Finances: Being Good Stewards

Luke 14:28-30 (NIV)
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

Last week we learned how to take authority over our relationships. This week, we are taking authority over our finances. Do you have a plan for your finances or are you haphazardly spending? Today’s scripture instructs us to have a financial plan before moving ahead with decisions that can have a lasting impact. To dive deeper, our lenten series encourages us to consult and partner with God on everything, especially our finances. It is necessary to be a good steward over what God blesses us with. Stewardship is defined as “the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property” and infers that we do not own the property. We are tillers and laborers of God’s land and He is expecting that we oversee his property with care and attention.When we start to idolize money and focus on selfish desires, we can become jaded or misled regarding God’s vision for our lives. Furthermore, worrying about our finances demonstrates little faith in God’s power, so today God wants us to be reminded that He comes to bless, provide, and pay all debts against us. 

Consider the following:
Our first step to financial freedom is understanding that all we possess belongs to God. Since everything we possess belongs to God, then we must be sure to give God his rightful portion, which means we must tithe! Tithing is essential because God says you can have 90%, I just want 10%. Second is praying and asking God to help us come up with a plan that allows for us to tithe and handle our other financial responsibilities. Below we’ve included a tithing chart to help you get started. Remember, God wants a cheerful giver, which is why God looks at our heart, so just start! Thirdly, God wants us to serve the less fortunate with obedience and unwavering faith. God will follow through with His promise to “open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10). Know that this scripture is referencing more than just financial overflow. When you give just to give, God will beat your giving in your tithe, your time, and your talent! As the hymn goes, “You can't beat God's giving, no matter how you try. And just as sure as you are living and the Lord is in heaven on high. The more you give, the more He gives to you, but keep on giving because it's really true  that you can't beat God's giving, no matter how you try.”

If you want to take authority over your finances, say this short prayer: God, please give me authority over my finances. I bind up every debt, area of lack, and negative mindset. I cover my finances with your blood. I believe that things will be restored and multiplied in your name. Amen.  

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Luke 15:20-24 Authority Over Relationships: Restoration and Forgiveness

Luke 15:20-24 New Century Version (NCV)
20 So the son left and went to his father. “While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt sorry for his son. So the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. 21 The son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[a] 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get our fat calf and kill it so we can have a feast and celebrate. 24 My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

Last week we learned how to take authority over our health and seek healing. This week, we are taking authority over our relationships. As Genesis 2:22 reveals to us, God does not want us to be alone, but rather in relationship with others, whether it is romantic or platonic.

Consider the following:
The Prodigal son’s story illustrates the power of forgiveness and restoration. In this story, the younger son asked for his inheritance and when his request was granted by his father he quickly squandered his fortune. After returning home empty handed and with the spirit of shame weighing on his conscious, his father surprisedly opens up his arms and welcomes him home. Later on in the scripture we discover that the eldest son rejects the idea of acceptance and love for his younger brother, but the father reminds him that one day he will inherit everything, and that they should still celebrate the return of the younger son because he was lost and is now found.

The father in this parable represents God’s love for us and the restorative power of His mercy. Today, God wants to remind us that we can have authority over our relationships and if we are praying for restoration and forgiveness we are able to seek it out through the Holy Spirit. Due to the father forgiving and accepting his son, the son is now back in alignment to receive God’s blessings and God’s vision for his life. Remember, there is no relationship that God cannot heal, fix, or bring together.

If you are on this call and are waiting for God to…

  1. Break generational curses, God says “Repent, and I will come; Enter into my courts and I will deliver”

  2. Help you forgive those who have hurt you, God says “Open your heart, so I can fill it”

  3. Present to you your husband or wife, God says “Trust in me and lean not into your own understanding”

  4. Bring love back into your relationship, God says “Put me in the center of your life and relationship”

Here is a short prayer you can recite to receive authority: God, please give me authority over my relationships. I bind up every generational curse; every demonic force or illegitimate sacrifice that is in my linage all the way back to Adam and Even; I pray that the spirit of un-forgiveness is destroyed; and abuse to my body by myself or others no longer controls me for I am yours and have been made whole. I cover my relationships with your blood. I believe that all things will be renewed, healed, and united in your name. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

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James 5:14-15 Authority Over Health

James 5:14-15
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”

Last week we started this Lenten Season with understanding that God wants us to take authority over our lives. In our scripture lesson, Jesus calls upon the elders of the church to pray and anoint the sick with oil. Yes, Jesus could have done this himself, but he choose vessels to do God’s work and we are vessels! As our scripture reminds us, “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” or in other words, our belief in the power of the Holy Spirit will give us the authority to heal the sick. All we have to do is have faith, listen for God's instruction so our steps will be ordered, and be obedient. Thus, if you have been asking God for healing today, I encourage you to pray over yourself with faith and authority. 


Consider the following:

If you are asking God for healing, God wants you to get connected to the body of Christ to pray, God wants you to bind up any works of the enemy, and God wants you to not only pray for your situation but for others who are sick as well. For example, two weeks ago, a family asked for prayer over their sick child and here is what God revealed:

1. There is power when two or more are gathered in His name

2. We can have God's authority if we believe in His healing powers

3. God will use us even in difficult situations 

Today, I encourage you to know there is power in community and power in faith. Here is a prayer you can say during this season as you take authority over your health:

God, please give me authority over my health. I bind up every disease, illness, or pain in my body. I cover my health with your blood. I believe that all things will be healed in your name.  Amen.

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Jeremiah 1:5 God at the Center: When We Stand With Christ, We are Given Authority

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Who in here is ready for a radical change in your life? Are you tired of standing on the sidelines and asking God to put you into the game of life? Well, today’s scripture lets us know that God has already given us a starting position, but it is up to us to do the following:

  1. Believe in our abilities and gifts

  2. Put in the Work 

  3. Come everyday to play to the best of our ability 

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season and God wants us to understand the following truths:

When we make God the Center of our lives…

  1. We are set apart

  2. We will be appointed to be a prophet

  3. We will activate our purpose

In addition, to these truths God wants to give us authority over our lives, and authority to do His work here on earth. Before God can trust us to handle the work of the Lord, He invites us to make Him the center of our lives. The key word here is “invite” which means we have to make the choice and commitment to be in covenant with God, but more importantly open our hearts for His love. God wants to be interwoven into every aspect of lives because God is embedded in our DNA and nervous system….traveling through our blood...God is our true essence. God wants us to exist only for Him and His mission.

Consider the following:
Are you walking in your God-given purpose and using your gifts to bring forth God’s Word? Has fear, shame, or doubt gotten in the way of you being able to walk with authority? God wants to remind us during this season that He can turn a “test” into a “testimony” and a “mess” into a “message” and that everyone and everything can be used for his glory. We are all called to be disciples and today God is putting us to the test. Are you ready? In the following weeks leading up to Easter, we are going to explore the areas of our lives that God wants to give us authority over:

Authority over Health

Authority over Relationships

Authority over Finances

Authority over your Purpose

Here are short prayers that you can pray everyday pertaining to these areas: 

God, please give me authority over my health. I bind up every disease, illness, or pain in my body. I cover my health with your blood. I believe that all things will be healed in your name.

God, please give me authority over my relationships. I bind up every generational curse, unforgiveness, and abuse in my body. I cover my relationships with your blood. I believe that all things will be renewed, healed, and united in your name.

God, please give me authority over my finances. I bind up every debt, area of lack, and negative mindset. I cover my finances with your blood. I believe that things will be restored and multiplied in your name.

God, please give me authority over my purpose. I bind up every false idol, fear, or doubt. I cover my purpose with your blood. I believe that my purpose will be revealed to me and activated to do your work in your name. 

God, I believe in your power and I know that with your will I can walk on water. 

In your name I pray. Amen.

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1 Samuel 16:1-13 Your Oil Has Your Name On It

1 Samuel 16:1-13 (NLT)
Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.” But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” “Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.” So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?” “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too. When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” Next Jesse summoned Shimea,[a] but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” 12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.” 13 So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.

Last week we discussed seeing life from God’s view and we explored how and why life is a temporary assignment. This week we are going to finish this series on purpose by knowing our oil has our name on it, and that is why we should stand firm in knowing we have purpose.

Consider the following:
Since the beginning of this series we’ve discussed the difference between being successful and living on and in purpose. It was emphasized that having a relationship with God was critical so you could believe that God purposed you. We were also reminded that we are not accidents and that God has indeed purposed us, which is why it is important to remember what drives our lives.  Today’s scripture encapsulates each one of those points and confirms that God sees what others may disregard. 

First, today’s scripture emphasizes that God’s work goes beyond any person, and God will never allow God’s work to die with the death or failure of any one person. However, we must be obedient to God when God provides instruction. It is understandable to be nervous or have some fear similar to Samuel. When God calls us out and sets us a part, but it is necessary to trust God anyhow. However, our scripture indicates that God told Samuel that he will show Samuel what to do. This should comfort us in knowing that when God calls us to do something and when God has instruction for us, God will not leave us out in the dark, God will be by our side. Further, our scripture lesson illustrates that God is raising up leaders for God’s people and God will keep them obscure and hidden until the right time. This informs us to be patient with God. You may be trying to find your purpose in life or you may even feel like you are living out your purpose, but God may have greater in store for you. In addition, God does not judge us by our outward appearance, which is why it is important to know what drives our lives. For example, at the time of our text, Saul was the king and he looked the part but Saul did not have the heart a king of God’s people should have. Lastly, our text indicates that people including family and friends may count you out and you may not even be invited to the table because they do not think you are worthy. However, I invite you today to know that God often chooses unlikely people to do God’s work — purpose, not man’s work. Just remember, those who are often rejected by man are loved and purposed by God. 

Today, I encourage you to know that your oil has your name on it, so stand firm in knowing that God has purposed you. Like David, be in the field, tend to the sheep, mind your own business, do not compare yourselves to others, and know that when you keep a close relationship with God, your purpose undoubtedly will reveal itself in due time. 

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Romans 12: 2 Seeing Life from God’s View / Matthew 25:21 Life is a Temporary Assignment

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Last week God instructed a pause on this theme so we could pray for our youth. This week we will resume focusing on two topic areas: Seeing Life from God’s View and Life is a Temporary Assignment.

Consider the following:
Rick Warren posed the question, “have you ever paused to consider the you may be basing your life on a faulty metaphor? He encouraged us to be reminded of today’s scripture, and adhere to the three metaphors the Bible offers: Life is a test, life is a trust, and life is temporary.  

He suggested while on earth, life is a test because God continually tests people’s character, faith, obedience, love, integrity and loyalty. Warren wrote, “Words like trials, temptations, refining, and testing occur more than 200 times in God’s Word.” For example, we read about success stories of when God tested Abraham by asking him to offer his son Isaac and Jacob to work extra years for Rachel to be his wife. We also read about failed tests, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and King David on several occasions. To take it a step further, God tested the character of Joseph, Ruth, Esther and Daniel and they all passed. You ARE ALWAYS being tested, that is how character is developed and revealed, and God will test us through major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism, and even senseless tragedies.

Life is a trust because God is entrusting us with all the gifts He bestowed upon us, such as time, energy, intelligence, opportunities, relationships, and resources. Our second scripture lesson spoke to this point, that God wants to give us many things, but it is our duty to show faithfulness over few things. 

Life is temporary and God repeatedly reminds us by allowing us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life — longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity. Warren suggests that realizing earth is a temporary assignment should radically alter our values.

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Ecclesiastes 3:11 Made to Last Forever

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Last week we finished examining unhealthy “drivers” of our life. This week we are going to explore how God designed us to last forever.

Consider the following:
Rick Warren wrote that we have an inborn instinct that longs for immortality, yet our earthly body is just a temporary residence for our spirit (p. 28). Thus, it is necessary to think about how our mentality of immortality impacts our decisions as well as the influencers in our lives. He presses his claim by saying “our relationship to God on earth will determine our relationship to him in eternity” (p. 28). These are important topics to fully understand because it provides the context as to why we should strive for purpose over success. It gives us a better understanding of the need for us to be driven by our relationship with Christ instead of others or even earthly things. When we digest that this life is temporary and eternity is with God, then we start to live with the mindset that there is more to life than just the here and now. As our scripture reminds us, God planted eternity in our hearts, therefore, we must combat the most damaging aspect of contemporary living — short-term thinking. It is important to disengage from short-term thinking because our time here on earth is minuscule in comparison to eternity, but the consequences of our decisions here on earth will last forever. 

Today, I encourage everyone to continue to ponder about the why we are made to last forever and if our lifestyle reflects that we believe we are truly made to last forever. Remember, our body is just a temporary residence for our spirit so disengage from short-term thinking.

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Matthew 6:24 What Drives Your Life? Part II

Matthew 6:24 (NLT)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

Last week we started exploring what drives our lives. We looked at common drivers such as guilt, resentment, and fear, and how these drivers manifest when we become manipulated by our memories. This week we are going to look at how the materialism and the need for approval can drive our lives. . 

Consider the following:
Rick Warren suggested that people who are driven by materialism have a desire to acquire which turns into the whole goal of their lives. While others allow opinions and the expectations of friends, family, partners, and non-factors to control their lives. Both of these toxic drivers are true thieves of purpose. As our scripture lesson informs us, we can not serve two masters. In our scripture lesson, Jesus is instructing us to keep our focus on him and counseling us on not having worldly-mindedness. Being driven by things and living for man’s approval instead of God’s approval is an entry way to sin and a purposeless life. Furthermore, these two drivers often lead to depression and anxiety because you are constantly feeling that you do not have enough, you are not doing enough, and you are not enough. On the contrary, when you put Jesus at the forefront of your life He validates that you are enough because your net worth and quantity of friends with their two cents of advice does not determine your self worth! This is why when you get in your spirit that God has purposed you, trivial, petty, and pointless interactions and “things” will not move your spirit. You will be driven by purpose thus striving for a stronger relationship with Christ.  

He suggests there are practical benefits of living a purpose-driven life: 1) knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life — when life has meaning you can bare almost anything, 2) knowing your purpose simplifies your life — your purpose becomes the standard you use to evaluate which activities are essential and which aren’t, 3) knowing your purpose focuses your life — you become effective by being selective because you concentrate your effort and energy on what’s important, 4) knowing your purpose energizes your life — purpose produces passion while purely striving for success can muddle that passion, and 5) knowing your purpose prepares you for eternity — ultimately what matters is what God says about your life, not others (p. 25). 

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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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