Seek Him

In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks to the crowds about the motivation for giving (vs. 1-4); He teaches about how to pray (vs. 5-15); the godly attitude for fasting (vs.16-18); and He instructs the crowd about worry and anxiety (vs. 19-34). One of the most often quoted verses in the passage is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” ESV

In this simple verse, there is a summation of the entire chapter – focus on seeking Him. Not seeking Him for this or that, but seeking Him. In verse 31, He cautions us not to be anxious – don’t let anxiety gain entrance into your life. Don’t worry about what is or isn’t happening around you – instead, take that worry to God in prayer. But be careful not to disconnect from the idea of “do not worry”. Sometimes, we will take worry and transplant it from one place to another. We will take our anxieties and our worries and we will turn them into prayers. It seems spiritual enough, because after all, we have been commanded to cast our anxieties on Him, right? But please note that we have never been commanded to pray worrisome prayers. We’ve been commanded to stop worrying, and pray faith-filled prayers. The worrisome prayer is the prayer that begs God to enter a situation, and then question why He hasn’t done it yet.  The worrisome prayer is all about doom, and is a verbal reminder to God that the current situation is hopeless. The faith-filled prayer is one that confesses worry as a sin, and proclaims the promises of God over a situation. The faith-filled prayer is one that embraces a moment when the power of God is the only option left on the table. When God is all we have left, then think about how much more He will be glorified in the process! Faith-filled prayers are not about complaining; faith-filled prayers are about proclaiming! Greater is He who is in you; He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it; He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

In Matthew 6:33, it doesn’t say, “seek God first, and then seek everything else.”  Instead, it says, “seek Him – and He will add to your life everything else you need.”  Seek Him – and you don’t have to worry.

-Steve Coleman

Striving

Each and every one of us has something that we are striving to be or to be known for; something that can define us and leave a significant mark of greatness. We each want people to know our individuality. There is a person we want to be known as.

Truth be told, if any one of us would say that this is not true, well, we would be lying.

That desire in us is what drives us.  It is what sits deep in us and gives us a sense of meaning and purpose in our existence here on this earth.  Now, I will say that striving, that drive, or that desire to be known can misguide us if we are not careful.  I read a quote earlier that made me think about that desire in myself as well as that desire in some of my students and others I know.

Here’s the quote: “To dream of the person you wish to be is to waste the person you are.” Don Quixote

Before I go on let me say that I don’t believe we should not have goals or even dreams. What kind of life would that be?  As I type this, I have the image of Don Quixote de la Mancha, atop his horse Rocinante, and the words “to dream the impossible dream” running through my head.

But, I am saying the power of misguided goals, and dreams and the striving towards those goals can easily cause our focus to become blurred or fuzzy. It can cause us to become ineffective in who we are and what we need now, resulting in a frustration that keeps us in a place of dissatisfaction of our current involvements, and paths that are leading, guiding, strengthening, and in some cases pruning us into what we need to be, so we can become what it is that we need to become.

I am reminded of two scriptures that I struggle balance between. They are both impossible to overlook or ignore in my own life and journey.

Cease striving and know that I am God…”  Psalm 46:10 (NASB)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NASB)

The contrast of balance between these two, I do attempt to keep, even though at times I feel like Dash in the last scene from the movie “The Incredibles.” Trying to keep my balance of who I am and who God wants me to be.

Keeping all this in mind I do my best in the moment of where I am in life and in my goals and dreams holding this verse close.  Ephesians 5:10 (The Message) “Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

-Pastor Terry

Demolishing Strongholds

As Christ followers, we strive to be more and more like Christ.  However, we all face our own spiritual battles or strongholds as we grow in the likeness of Christ.  A stronghold can be anything that takes our mind off Him.  Strongholds can present themselves as bigger or more powerful than God.  They steal our focus and distract us from what Christ would have us do.  They cause us to feel controlled and overpowered.  Whether our stronghold is an addiction, unforgiveness, selfishness, pride, or something else, it can consume us and steal our joy and effectiveness in ministry.

2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to demolish strongholds.”  The word “demolish” in the Greek is a combination of two words meaning “against, contrary to, opposed and to choose.”  So we must make a conscious choice to go against the strongholds that keep us from growing in Christ.  We must choose truth.  We must “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”- 2 Cor. 10:5.  This means every time our stronghold comes into our mind we choose to turn our thoughts to the things of Christ.  The battlefield of the mind is the place where the enemy attacks us first.  Overcoming strongholds is not possible to do by human effort alone.  No amount of will power will be sufficient.  We need a supernatural strength from God to demolish them.

God has given us access to two weapons with “divine power” to help us in the battle: the Word of God and Spirit- empowered prayer.  In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the armor of God.  All of the pieces of armor are defensive pieces for protection except the Sword, which is the Word of God.  The Word is our offensive weapon and prayer gives us access to power.  Prayerful lives are powerful lives.   I think it is so cool to note that the Greek word for “power” in 2 Cor. 10:4 is “dunamai” which is the same root word our English word for “dynamite” comes from.  God has essentially given us two sticks of dynamite: His Word and prayer to help us demolish those strongholds in our lives.  Strap those two sticks together and ignite them with faith that God will do what he says He will do.

Over the course of several months, God revealed one particular stronghold in my life that I simply didn’t want to release to Him.  I was stubborn.  However, God also had a way of revealing these sticks of dynamite to me to overcome it.  He doesn’t just convict; He also empowers.   He wants to bring healing and freedom to our lives.  Connecting to Him will give us strength and power to fight off the enemy’s strongholds.   Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36.

-Sharon Carmichael

Are you putting God first?

I hope we do more than just put God first. You are probably thinking; the Bible tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God.” Why do we need to do more? Take a look at Matthew 6:32-33 again.

32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ESV

Jesus is teaching us not to seek after all the things of this world, but seek after the things of God, namely God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Have you ever heard someone say, “put God is first, family is second, and work is third”? I heard someone on the radio say this last week and it reminded me of something I heard long ago; God should not just be first in our life, he should be in every part of our life. I understand why people say we should put God first, and certainly I have said it as well.

God should be a priority in our life, but we must be careful not to compartmentalize God. It can be easy to “put God first” by beginning our day with prayer and a devotion. However, things go downhill fast when someone cuts us off in traffic, the guy at the gas station accidentally shorts us a dollar, and we begin our work day with a discouraging email. God should not have priority in the list of things we need to do today; honoring God should be our priority in everything we do.

Matthew 22:37 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” I think Jesus repeated the word “all” for a reason. We should glorify God in everything we say, everything we do, and everything that we think. We should glorify God when we go to church, when we go to work, in our conversations at lunch, and in the T.V. we watch with our family. We should glorify God in all things.

Don’t just put God first, center your life around bringing honor and glory to Him.

-Pastor David

Revival

Do you remember the verse in Luke 19:40 that says that if believers and followers don’t proclaim the name of Jesus that “even the stones will cry out”?  What if Jesus was talking about hearts of stone?  What if He was saying, “If my people don’t proclaim my name then those who have hearts of stone eventually will?” You might think that’s a stretch but we actually see that happen in the end days when every knee bows and every heart confesses that “Jesus is Lord“.

I think the Lord is calling us to revival in His church.  And He’s working in the hearts of those who love Him, calling them to return to their first love.  Consider the words Jesus shares in Revelation 2: 4-5:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

I hear people say that revival will start in the church but a better explanation would be that revival will start in the hearts of the people who believe but haven’t remembered, repented, and returned to their first love.  That’s why we’re studying Nehemiah: to see how God changes everything one heart and one person at a time.

Come join us this Sunday at 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 to see if God wants to do exactly that in your heart!  See you this Sunday! Hopefully, you’ll bring someone with you! 

~Pastor Ric