BREAK DOWN

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“I will break down your stubborn pride…”

-Leviticus 26:19 // NIV Translation

You’re in the middle of an argument when all of a sudden you realize the point you originally made is completely and totally wrong. A moment of regret hits you straight in the chest but instead of admitting your mistake, you continue to push forward on your quest to be right. Our pride is stubborn, it is a wall of force that takes a lot of patience and wherewithal to break down, but we can’t do it alone. When we surrender and accept grace into our heart we are filled with the notion of peace. There is no need to argue and fight and claw our way to the top of our pride-built mountain. Instead, we are washed in the calming presence of the Lord who says He will shape our hearts and mold them to His will when we lay them before His feet (Ezekiel 36:26). The pride that fills us up will not longer control how we choose to act and humbleness will flush in, leading us in a direction that is less like our sin nature and a lot more like Jesus. So allow the love and grace and good of Jesus to fill our hearts and soften them to look more like His because He can and will break down our stubborn pride, we only have to let Him in to do so (Leviticus 26:19).

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MORE THAN

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Faith is more than what is tangible. It is far more than the cross necklace I wear around my neck or religiously going to church or the label of being a Christian. Anyone can do these things but not all can choose to actively live out a life that glorifies God. Our faith is not just a pretty package or a compartmentalized part of our lives, it bleeds into every aspect of our lives. We are called to live out faith, for it to be active and thriving, a direct representation of how the Lord works. If we live an idle faith then we aren’t displaying the joy that God has placed within our hearts to those around us. The Lord has called us to a greater purpose through the sacrifice of Jesus, and because of that higher purpose we are told that we are more than what this world tells us we are. We are children of God who carry a faith greater than anything that ever crosses this earth’s ground. Even with faith as small as a mustard seed we will be able to conquer all the tribulations that try to distract us from how very good our God is (Matthew 17:20). So when your heart grows heavy and the weight of trouble lays heavy on your shoulders, remember to step out into faith and declare His name from the top of the mountains for He has filled our heart with greater joy (Psalm 4:7).

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NO MISTAKES

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Insecurities flood in. Anxiety levels peak. Doubts cloud our mind and fill us with the leaded weight of shame and rejection. The feeling of not being good enough is common and too prevalent for the amazing truth that the Lord reveals to us through prayer and the glory of His word. We are so very loved—loved so much that we were given the greatest gift of a life sacrificed. If we are loved by God then we must know our worth. We must know how beautiful we are and that tearing ourselves down is lessening a creation of a God who never messes up or makes mistakes. The Lord is a lord of perfection, a loving god who creates in His own image and could never breathe something into life that was not exactly what He had envisioned. The instant the lies from the enemy drive forward to make us feel inadequate and unloved, we must take an active stance in fighting them off. Take up a prayer and tell God all that you are saddled with. Read the word that He provided us to show us what the absolute truth is. The greatest thing about God is His absolute truth is filled with nothing but encouragement. He tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that He knitted you together while you were still forming and created you in the most intimate way possible (Psalm 119:13-14). Rejoice in this truth, lay it on your heart, and believe it; take the active steps needed to fight off the most ultimate lies we are told.

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GET PERSONAL

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In no physical way can God be small, He’s the creator of the universe and everything within it. But God can be small in that He is a personal god. We are the children of a Lord who seeks to have an intimate relationship with each and every one of us; there is no one on this earth that God will shun or push away. There seems to be a tendency to view God as a “big” being, something that could never hold a personal relationship and is only there to be worshipped and feared. There is so much untruth in that, and we need to recognize the danger of thinking of God in that context. He pursues us with a full heart and His arms are left open wide for those that choose to pursue Him in return. Yes, God is big. He can take on all our worries and cast them away but in the same context, how could a god that only seeks shallow worship know what we fear and better yet ask us to cast those anxieties upon Him to hold rather than us? We are called to a close bond with our creator, the One who knows every intricate part of us, every muddy thought, and still wants to know us deeply. Looking at the Lord in a large or overall type of context limits us from the beauty of relationship with Him. Let us instead crave to know Him the way that He craves to know us.

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KNOW IT

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Fears creep in and the devil tries to place strongholds in our minds; it is a common mistake made when we don’t allow the truths of God to actually become just that: truths. There is an extreme difference between thinking “yes I am loved by God, yes I have been hand-created by Him” and knowing the veracity of these things. These deficits form when we become caught up with thoughts of inadequacy and allow the untruths of the devil to become our own sort of truth. We have to take an active step in the spiritual battle that we are engaged in with the enemy. The Lord gives us the ability to defend ourselves against these strongholds, but weapons and armor are useless when laying unused on the battlefield. Take an active role and make the choice to use the armor that we are lovingly given (Ephesians 6:10-18). God doesn’t want to see us fail, He wants to see us thrive and wage war against the evils that try their best to take control of our thoughts. When we recognize that what the Lord tells us through scripture and prayer and encouragement is the full truth, then we begin to acknowledge the power they have in accordance to our lives. There are no amount of lies that can try to choke out our truth in God if we are properly fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). So instead of allowing lies to enter your mind, take up the full armor of God and know that you are secure in the actualities presented to us by our glorious God.

COLOSSIANS 3

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Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.

-Colossians 3:1-2 // NIV Translation

There is a lot of talk about keeping your thoughts set on godly things, rather than those that are of this earth, but sometimes we are oft to forget the importance of keeping our heart set on those things too. It is one thing to think on the truth that comes from Heaven but quite another to actually believe them. While it is crucial to take our thoughts and transform them to the will of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5), we must also be able to then enact what we have learned. There is power in knowing the scripture of God and knowing the truths that He lays for us, but there is even greater power in then putting your faith into action. James 2:14-17 tells us that it is good to have faith but if we cannot take that faith and transform it into good works—whether that is by spreading the good news or serving others—then our faith is hollow. There is no real backbone to a faith that is simply talk without any type of action put behind it to back it up. Our faith is strong enough to move mountains so why would we not seek to do everything in our power to show others how good Jesus is? We should scream from the mountaintops the power and wonders of our faith and crave to be a representative of who Jesus was on this earth. So not only should we take our thoughts and turn them heavenward, but we should also set our hearts to the purity of Christ.

WORRY NOT

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As we enter into the new year and take on a whole new twelve months filled with obstacles and hangups and troubles, we can remember our position in the love of the Lord. A place where we are drowned in grace and love that isn’t conditional and doesn’t rely upon unpredictable feelings. We are secure in the Lord, a truth that sometimes becomes clouded because the circumstances we are currently experiencing seem too overwhelming in the moment. But these are truths that we need to remember: the Lord is good, His timing is good, and He is always with us. He wants us to come and cast our anxieties on Him because He craves a relationship with us (1 Peter 5:7) . In the simplest terms there is nothing that worry does to enrich our lives. In fact, worry is useless and uninspiring. In it’s strongest form it is a lie that cripples us from being able to live life with full intention because we are too afraid. Matthew 6:25-34 is a great example of the truth of God rather than the lies of the devil. It rejoices in the beauty of trusting the Lord and knowing that if God provides for every other creature and life on this earth, He too will provide for you. Our God is big enough to handle anything that we could ever experience, so when worries feel like they are taking over, throw your stresses onto the one who will pull you up from the waves and into His secure caress (Psalm 18:16).

PLANT, PLANT, PLANT

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Though we have no power to convict or to change hearts, we too have a very active role in the saving of God’s lost people. We are called to show others His love and His heart with our actions and words here on earth. However much we may feel small and unimportant, there is always someone that is watching. All it takes it one act of God’s will made by you to change that person’s mind. Planting seeds is hard work; it can seem frivolous and embarrassing. What might seem like embarrassment to you for five minutes could change someone’s entire life, even if not in that very moment. Growing seeds of life takes time, and though we are an impatient people by nature, we can learn to see the beauty in the time that it takes for those seeds to prosper AKA seeing the beauty in God’s good timing. Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary of doing the good that God has called us to do because in time there will be a season of reaping the harvest that you may have planted or watered or fostered within another person. Let us be the people that are not fearful of spreading the good news of God, let us have full confidence in Him and see His blessings rain down not only on us but those that we come across (Jeremiah 17:7). We are called by name by our Lord and sent to spread the news of His glory; we have the power to change people’s lives so why not utilize this gift. Make planting seeds your goal in this new year!

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REJOICE!

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Psalm 118:24 says that we should rejoice and be glad in all that the Lord has done today. On a day like Christmas I think this becomes especially apparent as we are drawn towards the miracle of the birth of Jesus. In the manner of Psalm 118, may we rejoice in the glorious birth of our savior. There is wonder in this day, knowing that we are important enough to our Father in Heaven that He sent His only son to earth to live among us and eventually become a martyr for our sins (1 John 4:9). What is there not to rejoice about in a situation as imperative as this? We are so very loved—a love that we cannot even begin to fathom because of how expansive and all-consuming it is. Even the most intentional and greatest love here on earth is but a fraction of what the Lord has to offer us. It is said that joy is an everlasting gift from above, produced when we place trust in God and know that in any circumstance He is still good (note that happiness may be worldly and temporary, but joy is forever and unshakeable; they are two different emotions however similar they may appear). Amongst the tribulations of life may we remember that we are securely grounded in the love of God, a love that cannot be taken from us no matter how many mistakes we may make or what the circumstances of our life may lead to be (1 Corinthians 13). Rest firmly in this truth friends, that on this day we were given Jesus, the greatest gift we could ever receive, and an example of the love cast over us from above.

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GLORIOUS WONDERS

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Recently, I was able to experience a great creation of the Lord: snow. When we truly stop and look at how beautiful His creations are, we are rewarded with the feeling of awe at how good our God really is. Psalm 19:1 says that the heavens and the skies declare how good His work is. Every creation comes together to shout the glory of the Lord who has hand-crafted and intricately planned each and every wonder that will ever grace this earth. It’s hard to recognize wonder in the every day when we aren’t actively trying to find it. I have found that the best way to recognize God’s wonder is to pray for the eyes to see it in everything you experience. Once we accept this prayer and begin to approach the subject with willing hearts, our attitudes change. We see the majesty in the falling leaves and laughter of our friends. Think on this: we are children of a god who individually creates each and every piece of nature. Each unique snowflake that fell was pieced together and willed into creation by a single breath of the Lord, and no snowflake like it will ever fall again. How amazing is it that we are in community with the One who moves mountains and raises crashing waves? Open your hearts and He will open your eyes to His wonders.

If you ever need a reminder of the mighty power of the Lord, read Genesis 1 for a refresher on the creation of the world. He is good!

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