Pursue Healthy Relationships

We live in an age where we are more connected to people than ever before, while at the same time we are becoming an age where we are lonelier than we have ever been before. Loneliness is about the quality rather than the quantity of relationships that we have, so a person may have a lot of friends but still find that their needs for social contact are not met.
 
Biblical Example: Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1–14). This is a great picture of an important spiritual truth. Who we choose to follow will determine, to a large degree, who we become.
 
Show me your friends and I will show you your future. — Craig Groeschel See Proverbs 12:26.

Resolution #2: This year, I will pursue healthy relationships that inspire and influence me to become the best version of me.

 
We all need three types of friends in order to become the best version of you.

A friend to challenge you and call out your best.

Biblical Example: David and Samuel (1 Samuel 16). If you study David’s life, it becomes clear that the right people at the right time helped him to become the right man. David’s relationship with Samuel made David better. Do you have friends who make you better? People who call out your potential? Seek out friends who model something you don’t currently have but need in order to become a better version of you.

A friend to help you find strength in God and to grow in your faith.

Biblical Example: David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18-23). Jonathan helped David find strength in God when he needed it most. See 1 Samuel 23:15–18. Jonathan helped him find strength in God. There may not be a more valuable gesture one friend can make to another than pointing them toward God, encouraging them to seek his power, loving them toward God’s unending strength. Who helps you find strength in God? God already has that person ready for you.

A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it.

This is the type of friend that is most needed but hardest to find. Biblical Example: David and Nathan (2 Samuel 12). Many people around us tell us the things we want to hear, rather than helping us to see the truth. It’s difficult to find people who have our best interests at heart when we make decisions that are not in our own best interest. See Proverbs 27:5-6.
 
Which kind of friend do you need most in your life right now? Sociologists say that you eventually become the average of your five closest friends. Do you like what you are becoming right now? If not, you need to take a look at the people that you give the most open access and influence in your life. See Proverbs 13:20.
 
You may be one friendship away from changing your destiny if you’ll just decide to reach out and connect with the right people.
 

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Guard My Thoughts

 
See Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV). Whether we like it or not, what we think influences what we do. Beneath the emotions we want to improve and the behavior we want to correct is a pattern of thinking that needs to change.

Resolution #1: This year, I will guard my thoughts carefully knowing they influence my attitudes and actions.

 
If you want your life to dramatically change — to get out of a rut of destructive emotions or bad habits — it all begins with what goes into your mind.
 
See Philippians 4:8. This verse challenges us to consider the quality of our thoughts and take into account its character and realize its potential influence in your life.
 
This verse reminds us to get your thoughts right and the emotions, behaviors, and consequences of peace will follow. See Philippians 4:7.
 
Guard your thoughts about God. What are your thoughts when you think about God? Psalm 139 is a good place to start. What you think about God will certainly impact how you choose to believe and live for Him.
 
Guard your thoughts about yourself. It seems unspiritual to think about yourself at all, doesn’t it? But unless you understand something about yourself, you can’t really understand God’s love for you. You need to understand just how much you need his mercy, and you need to understand just how much of it he has given (Zephaniah 3:17).
 
Guard your thoughts about others. How does God look at people? See 1 Samuel 16:7. What do you think would happen to your relationships at home, work, school, community if you began to see people as God sees them?
 
Guard your thoughts about life. Life isn’t about acquiring, impression, using, hoarding or exploiting. It’s about discovering God’s purpose and plan. It’s about taking up your cross and following Jesus (Luke 9:23-25). You lose your life (as the world would define it) in the process but you gain the abundant life Christ promised.

Guard your thoughts about the future. Can you imagine living life without fear and anxiety, without worry about what tomorrow will bring? You can live that way if you believe what God has promised in Jeremiah 29:11; Matt 6:33. You have a promise that God is in control of today and tomorrow. This doesn’t mean your life will be problem-free, but it does mean that you don’t have to worry about whether those problems will overthrow God’s purpose for you.
 
Guard your thoughts about the past. For a lot of people, their past has hijacked their future. They have a hard time letting their mistakes, sins, and failures go. Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead — press on toward the goal (Phil. 3:13-14).
 
Guard your thoughts about challenges. Too often, we let adversity get us down, turn us into a victim, and make us angry at God. We have plenty of unhealthy ways to address the challenges of our lives. See James 1:2-4. That’s a very different way to think about our challenges. But if we let this passage guide us as we face a challenge, our emotions, behaviors, and consequences will look much different than if our minds follow their natural, unhealthy course.
 
This new, resolved way of thinking won’t happen overnight. It’s taken several years to develop your current thinking habits. But in the same way that you developed those unhealthy thought patterns (overtime and with consistency) that’s how your new thinking habits will occur.
 
Start each day with Scripture, focus on what is feeding your thought life, pay attention to your thoughts. What we think will determine the course of our life this year.
 

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Costly News

Have you ever received news — good or bad — that was going to cost you something? The news of Mary’s pregnancy was costly news for Joseph. He was either going to lose the girl he loved (Mary) or he was going to lose his reputation.

Read Matthew 1:18-19. This passage in Matthew reveals something to us about Joseph. “Joseph…was faithful to the law”.  Which means that he lived in accordance with God’s compelling standards as outlined in the Mosaic law.

Because we live on the other side of Christmas, we want to rush to the end of the story where everything turns out okay. But if you do that, you miss the whole point of what Joseph is learning. You miss out on how God is already beginning to redefine what it means to be righteous.

The Torah has some clear instructions about what to do to somebody in Mary’s condition (Deuteronomy 22:21, 23-24). Joseph’s reputation was on the line. His fellow law abiding associates would have told him this sin must be publicly exposed and punished. But Joseph couldn’t bring himself to do this. So he decides to divorce her quietly. That way he could minimize her suffering but maintain his status as a righteous man.

Read Matthew 1:20-23. Why did God make Joseph wait till after he had to think and struggle with all this stuff? Is it possible that anxiety removal is not God’s number one goal for Joseph — or maybe for you and me? If you’re confused or uncertain about something, maybe it’s not because you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you’re about to grow. Maybe what you need to do is wait on God and trust God’s going to do something in your life you don’t even know about yet!

When we consider our circumstances only at face value, we risk “considering” God right out of our circumstance.

 

But an angel had spoken. Could it have been the same angel that gave God’s law to Moses (Galatians 3:19)?. Could this angel be revealing a new way truly living a righteous life?

Read Matthew 1:24–25. Embracing what God was doing through Mary and her expected child was going to be very costly for Joseph. It was a cost he would pay for the rest of his life.

Years later, when Jesus was an adult and his public ministry had began, he was teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown — Joseph’s too. See Mark 6:1-3. This passage may reflect that decades late Joseph’s reputation still has not recovered from his marriage.

Since that time, millions of people have made sacrifices for the sake of this one called Jesus.

Many have given up status, possessions, convenience, freedoms, even their lives.

When Joseph looked into people’s eyes after he obeyed God, things were never the same. They never looked at him with the same respect and adoration. But when he looked into the eyes of that child, Jesus, he knew he had done the right thing.

I think of how Jesus, as he was growing up, must have admired his dad’s example of courage, sacrifice and true righteousness.

God still calls people to be willing to die to reputation, status and comfort for the sake of godly love.

 

When Joseph made the decision to wed Mary, he thought it was the end of his being known as a righteous man. He did not know fully that the child he would adopt would bring to the human race a new kind of righteousness.  A righteousness not based on the law, but on love for God and your neighbor. A righteousness our world desperately needs.

What has the Christ-initiated righteousness cost you?


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Good News

 
Read: Luke 2:1–7; Micah 5:2.

The overwhelming message of this passage is the humble circumstances into which Jesus was born. It just seems so un-extraordinary. The simplicity of the Savior’s birth reminds us of the simplicity of our salvation.
 

The birth of the Savior in your life requires humility.

 
Read: Luke 2:8–12.
 
Why did the announcement go to shepherds? The shepherds represented the types of people overlooked by religion. Due to their employment as shepherds, they would not be able to participate in religious worship. They represent those pushed to the side by religion.
 
Of all the times that I have read this passage, a phrase jumped right off the pages to me this time as I considered the shepherds. The phrase is “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” The prophet Isaiah foretells of the demonstration of God’s glory (Isaiah 60:1-2).
 
Christ’s birth was the light that had come. These shepherds were the first to experience the glory of the Lord returning in a whole new way. The Holy presence of the Lord shone around ritually unclean shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem. The glory didn’t appear in the Temple in Jerusalem. It appeared to the most unlikely characters in a most unlikely place.
 
When the Shepherds saw and angel the the Glory of the Lord all around them they were indeed terrified. Terrified because they may have heard stories of the power and the purity of God’s glory. They probably thought judgement and death would follow. But it didn’t. Instead, the Angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” After calming the shepherds’ fears, the angel declares what God is doing. Humanity has nothing to fear when God moves in grace.
 
His glory and presence was coming in a whole new way. This was the Good News. God Himself was going to dwell with man. See John 1:14.
 
This is the ultimate expression of God’s grace. Our Lord, our Savior, is approachable, he is near, he welcomes those who are not perfect. A Savior has been offered to you. But as with all gifts offered, it needs to be personally received.
 

While the Savior’s offer is universal, it requires a personal response.

 
Read: Luke 2:13–20.

The Shepherds weren’t satisfied with just hearing about the Good News. They had to go and see, to experience, to receive this Good News bundled up in the swaddling clothes and lying in a manger — within reach of all who would come with humble hearts.
 
After the encounter with their newborn Savior, the Shepherds spread the word.
 

Those who experience the Good News share the Good News.

 
Remember, the angels announced that it was good news for all people. What are you doing to place the Good News within reach of those around you?
 
Don’t complicate Christmas. God made this as down to earth, simple, approachable, and interactive as He possibly could. Don’t complicate it. Don’t take away from the simplicity of it. Approach it again with simple faith. The Good News is within your reach. God’s favor rests on you during this season of grace. Don’t miss it.
 

TODAY…a Savior has been born to you.

 
Will you respond to him today?
 

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Life-Changing News

The Incarnation is the supreme miracle of the Christian faith. It’s the cornerstone of Christianity. If you cannot accept the miracle of the virgin-birth everything else in Christ’s life is pointless and meaningless. In fact, the power of the resurrection hinges on His incarnation. If Jesus is who the angel said he is, then you have to center your whole life on him. It should bring about absolute life change for those who believe. See Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38.

If you want Jesus in your life, it’s going be inconvenient. The birth of Christ changed everything for Mary and Joseph. His life coming into their lives was completely life-changing. When Jesus enters your life it will not only be completely life-changing, it will also mess up your life of convenience.
 

We, like Mary and Joseph, need to be willing to submit to the inconvenience of the incarnation. Courage is required to move from convenience to obedience.

Courage to give up your right to live for yourself.

Convenience is living with only you in mind. Obedience is living with God in mind.
 
God’s will and plan would not simply fit into a neat little compartment in Mary and Joseph’s lives. God’s plan required that they accommodate their life around his plan. Too often, we try to accommodate God’s plan around our lives. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 3:3.
 

Christian faith is not a negotiation but a surrender. It means taking your hands off your life and wrapping them around Jesus’ life. But here is the hope of living this way: if we commit to Christ in that way, we can trust that he is even more committed to us.

Courage to take the world’s contempt.

Convenience is maintaining the culture status quo. Obedience is going against the cultural norm in pursuit of God.
In many cases your reputation will suffer as you hold on by faith to the truth of Christ and his teaching in Scripture. See John 15:18-19.
 
As Christians, we will be socially persecuted. We will be slandered for our belief in Christ and counter-cultural way of living. This persecution will separate those who are only following Christian principles from those who are authentically following Christ.

Courage to live with tensions and unresolved questions.

Convenience is taking action only when all our tensions are resolved and questions are answered. Obedience being willing to act even in the midst of tension and unresolved questions.
 

We believe that we want to know all the facts before we act. That’s convenience, not obedience. As I look throughout Scripture, I see people willingly obey God before the tensions are resolved and the questions are answered. If you are waiting for all the tensions to be resolved and the questions to be answered before you obey God, you miss most of the critical faith growing moments that occur in those difficult moments.

Courage to admit you are a sinner.

Convenience excuses away your behavior. Obedience admits your true spiritual need.
 

What was Jesus’ entire mission? “He will save his people from their sins.” See 1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:6,8. This isn’t about a courage to try harder, to behave better in hopes that you can earn God’s favor or forgiveness. We are powerless to change without Christ. You are either saved or a sinner. There is no other option. See 1 John 1:8-10. Is your faith born of convenience or conviction? Don’t compromise your conviction for your convenience. What has it cost you to follow Christ? In what ways has your Christian life inconvenienced you? Have you unintentionally settled for convenient Christianity?

Living for Christ is not about convenience; it’s about obedience.
 

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Unexpected News

 

Read: Luke 1:5–7. Right after we are introduced to Zechariah and Elizabeth, we are confronted with the problem and the pain that has plagued their lives for years – infertility. It was often considered a result of personal sin or judgement from God. Because of this, it brought an incredible amount of disgrace upon the women suffering from it. The fact they were blameless and infertile doesn’t seem to go together. This is a great example of bad things happening to good people for no apparent reason. My experience has proven that God is at work for my good (and others) even in the midst of unfair events.

The first bit of unexpected news: Your limitation does not limit the effectiveness of God’s plan. God regularly worked great things through those who felt limited. We need to learn to view our limit as God’s conduit through which He works out His plan.

 
Your limitation does not limit the effectiveness of God’s plan.

 

Read: Luke 1:8–13. Why did God wait to make this announcement and answer their prayers at this appointed time? Why not years earlier when they undoubtedly prayed earnestly for a child? God’s plan had multiple layers, multiple players. Next dose of unexpected news is: God’s plan for you isn’t just about you. God sent Jesus, his Son, at the appointed time. Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t know what God was up to and were unaware of His timeline. They were a parallel story that was about to merge with the great story of God’s plan. Their hopes and dreams were bound up in God’s ultimate plan — which wasn’t just a child for them BUT a Savior for the whole world — whom their child, John, would prepare the way for.

God’s plan for you isn’t just about you.

 
They were to be a part of the plan God was preparing to unfold — and this plan wasn’t just about them or John. It was about Jesus! Could it be that your current unanswered prayer is on hold because God is working out a plan greater than you could ever imagine.

Read: Luke 1:14-17. The name “John” means Gift of God. He was certainly a gift of God to his parents. But this gift of God wasn’t meant to be kept to themselves. As this passage illustrates, John was to be used of God to make way for the Son of God.

The birth of John was placed in the Christmas story to remind us that God still wants us to introduce people to Jesus. The unexpected news of Christmas is that You are the gift of God used by God to introduce someone to Jesus this Christmas.
 
Christmas is one time of the year that people are surrounded by the message of Christ. How might God use you to prepare the way for someone to discover Christ as Savior this Christmas.
 
You are the gift of God used by God to introduce someone to Jesus this Christmas.

 

Read: Luke 1:18–25. In its most basic form, disgrace means a reversal or removal of grace; to fall out of favor. Elizabeth experienced disgrace personally and publicly because of her infertility. However, God extended grace to Elizabeth and that expression of God’s favor removed her disgrace. The final piece of unexpected news we can glean from this story of Christmas Greetings is that God’s favor in your life removes disgrace from your life. God’s favor is expressed through His gift of undeserved grace.

There was nothing that Zechariah or Elizabeth could do to bring this about. It was all God. God gave her grace in place of her disgrace. In what ways do you struggle with disgrace? This Christmas Greeting is a reminder that you don’t have to live in that disgrace any longer. In fact, disgrace cannot survive under the power of God’s amazing grace.
 
God’s favor in your life removes disgrace from your life.

 

Perhaps you feel as though you have fallen from God’s grace and are left wallowing in disgrace. Please listen to me: God’s grace is still available to you. God still favors you.

Which unexpected news did you most need to hear today? What do you need to do to respond to this news today?
 
 

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I Am Encouraging

Encouragement is positive influence. When we encourage someone, we are imparting courage to them.
 

Encouraging words are difficult to remember. Discouraging words are difficult to forget.

  An encouraging word spoken at the right time can make all the difference in a person’s life. See Proverbs 25:11; 12:25; 16:24. The words spoken into your life today have a tremendous impact on your life tomorrow.   The Bible provides a wonderful example of a life fully lived under this principle — someone who cultivated encouragement in his own life and encouraged others regularly. His name was Barnabas and there are several lessons we can draw from his story.

An encourager is practical.
See Acts 4:36-37. While attending to someone spiritually is always appropriate and helpful, we shouldn’t neglect looking for ways to encourage the people we love on practical levels as well. Encouragement is relatively simple to do and can be given in very practical ways at home, at work, among friends, on social medial. What practical way can you show encouragement today?
An encourager is a risk taker.
See Acts 9:26-27. Barnabas took a risk when others wanted to reject Saul for his behavior. Love has the ability to look past brokenness and pain, even sinful choices, and still see God at work in the midst of a situation. Loving and caring for someone can be risky and often requires us to be authentic and to move beyond our comfort zones. Take a risk today – encourage your loved one by being vulnerable.
An encourager is committed.
See Acts 11:22-24. When Barnabas was sent to Antioch, the Scriptures says he began to encourage them with everything he had. The words describe him as having a “resolute heart.” In the same way, when we walk down the aisle with someone and pledge vows, or choose to bring a son or daughter into the world, or enter that friendship, or step into that workplace we need to be committed as “all in” when it comes to our own role and responsibilities.
An encourager is others-centered.
See Acts 11:25-26. Shortly after arriving in Antioch, Barnabas turned his thoughts toward his good friend, Saul. Inviting others into your journey underscores the reality that we were created by God in relationship and for relationship.
Marriages and families are composed of individuals who each have their own set of expectations, desires, hopes, dreams, and plans. We all need to grow in the practice of “relational gift-giving.” Encourage your loved ones and make this moment, this hour, this day, a celebration of who they are.
An encourager is available.
See Acts 13:1-3. Making ourselves available to the Lord, as well as to our spouses and children, can open up the doors of opportunity for deeper relationships, ministry, healing, and transformation. For many, time is one of the most valuable commodities in today’s fast-paced world. The power of presence should never be underestimated. Be an encourager and offer yourself in love.
An encourager is patient. 
See Acts 15:36-40. There are times when loving someone means standing with him or her in the middle of major mistakes and shortcomings. The first descriptor of love is that it is patient (1 Cor. 13). Encourage others through your unwavering, patient, and unconditional love. You potentially may be the most influential person in your spouse’s or child’s life… in the best position to support, pray for, believe in, and journey with him or her in all the ups and downs.
 
Who comes to mind in your world that you can encourage? One leader asked a simple question we should all consider, “If the people around you depend on your words for nourishment, are they dying of malnutrition or are they thriving?”
 
Proverbs 11:25 (NLT) —Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
 

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I Am Grateful

Gratitude is the lens that helps us focus on the positive.

We often consider gratitude something we possess (have or don’t have), but I see it as a discipline we must practice — a way of seeing and living we must strive for.

Grateful people are positive people.

People who are grateful and practice gratitude regularly are significantly more positive than those who don’t. Read: Luke 17:11-19 (Jesus Heals Ten Lepers). Jesus’s encounter with this group of lepers reveals some key truths about how we express gratitude in our own lives and how that gratitude ultimately shapes our everyday experiences.

God often gets forgotten in the good times.

While you and I can easily see the glaring ingratitude of the lepers’ response, we’re often guilty of treating God the same way. We don’t have leprosy, but most of us do suffer from a condition called gratitude deficiency which is characterized by a tendency to forget God when life is going well. We must remember that the good things you enjoy (while often forgetting God) come from the Father. See James 1:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Grateful words reveal greater faith.

When you choose to express your gratitude to God you are exercising faith that God’s ways are bigger than your own and that he is ultimately in control of every facet of your life. As a result, you open yourself up to seeing and receiving even more of God’s goodness. You won’t miss the things he does, because you’ll be on the lookout for them. And each time he blesses you, your faith will grow even more.

Grateful words lead to additional blessings.

When the one grateful leper came back to say thank you to Jesus, he received a blessing the other nine lepers didn’t receive (Luke 17:19). This doesn’t refer to the physical healing from leprosy but to an additional healing—a spiritual healing.  In the same way, when you give God credit for what’s happening in your life, he is going to bless you spiritually by drawing you closer to him. He will make you more aware of his day-to-day presence, and he will give you deeper glimpses into how he is working through the people and events around you. Gratitude is also the key that often unlocks other positive characteristics in your life.

Gratitude turns every blessing I have into praise.

Praise is important because it reestablishes our relationship with God on its proper terms. We appreciate his activity in our lives. Praise provides a cleansing of attitudes that life often implants in our hearts. It allows us to recount God’s goodness. See Psalm 9:1-2.

Gratitude is learned by being thankful for what is, not obsessing over what is not.

I will not let what I want rob me of what I have. We all have a tendency to overlook the joy in everyday life because we are so focused on the weekend, next month’s vacation, our next relationship, our next promotion, or whatever we think will finally make us content.  Harnessing the creative force of your words through directed action is the single best way to cultivate a mind-set that positively influences every aspect of your life. You can begin intentionally incorporating words of gratitude into everyday speech by taking some practical action steps: • Begin your day with gratefulness. • Remove all complaints from your life. • Be quick to say “Thank You.”

• Learn to live every day in a state of present joy.
 

Gratitude is the lens that helps us focus on the positive

 
Do you want to stay positive…especially during this season of Thanksgiving?  See Psalm 118:29.
 

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I Am Hopeful

Negativity  and cynicism are on the rise today. There’s something inside the human spirit that wants to hope, wants to think things will get better. Nearly everyone starts life with a positive attitude. So what happened? How do you go from being so positive to so negative?

You know and experience too much. You would think that knowledge and experience is always a good thing. But, strangely, these are the very things that can often cause you to become cynical, jaded, and negative. See Ecclesiastes 1:18. Knowledge often brings sorrow because the more you know, the more you see life for what it really is.

You project the past onto the future. Cynicism/negativity really takes root when you start to protect yourself from future hurt. What starts innocently enough as self-protection can easily morph into something more concerning. The way you view things and people around you can be distorted through your lens of negativity and cynicism.

You decide to stop trusting, hoping and believing. The problem with generalizing past hurts is that the death of trust, hope and belief is like a virus, infecting everything. Perhaps the most disturbingly, negativity begins to infect your relationship with God. When you close your heart to people, you close your heart to God.

So here’s the things you need to understand: cynicism and negativity is actually a choice. Cynicism isn’t always a conscious decision, but it’s a decision nonetheless.

Negativity has an antidote: HOPE. Hope is the expectation of a favorable future under God’s direction. See Romans 15:13.

My hope comes from what I believe about God, not what I feel in the moment.

 
See John 14:1; Psalm 31:24. 
 
Romans 8 shows us several reasons that we can be hopeful believers who stay positive in a negative world.
 
I am hopeful because I have been set free from condemnation and sin. Romans 1:1-2; 3-4.
 
I am hopeful because I have a Spirit-renewed mind. See Romans 8:5-6. Negativity is a product of your mind — it is a mindset, the way you choose to think in any given situation. Let the Holy Spirit change your mind about how you feel, how you view your situations, how you view God’s presence even in the midst of your moments.
 
I am hopeful because I am a child of God, under His protection. See Romans 8:14-15.
 
I am hopeful because my future victory is greater than my present pain. See Romans 8:18. I’m hopeful because what I’m going through now is doing something in me. God is going to use this to strengthen me and conform me to the image of his son, Jesus. See Philippians 4:11-13; James 1:2-4.
 
I am hopeful because the Trinity is for me. See Romans 8:26-27, 31, 34.
 
I am hopeful because God is working all things for my good. See Romans 8:28.
 
I am hopeful because nothing can separate me from God’s love. See Romans 8:38-39.
 

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Life In Christ

 

“__________ is my life.”

This is a statement or expression we use that helps characterize a person’s values, loves, priorities, and passions. This expression tells us what that person is all about. See Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:3-4; 1 Corinthians 4:17. 

The new life in Christ infuses and encompasses every area and arena of my life. The abundant life Christ promised cannot be contained in just a private spiritual experience. It overflows into every area of your life — your private life, marriage, family, work, community.

When Christ is my Life, His peaceinfluences my attitudes and actions. See Colossians 3:15.

Christ’s entire life and ministry were characterized by peace and he offers you peace. See John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7. When the peace of Christ governs how we interpret our experiences and respond to our challenges, two things will happen. First, our relationships with others will be healthier as we refuse to let minor things bother us. Second, we’ll have gratitude even in the midst of challenging circumstances. When our natural tendency is to complain about things that happen to us, we’ll “be thankful,” knowing that God is in control. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

When Christ is my Life, I’ll be immersed in His Word. See Colossians 3:16-17.

The idea is that every aspect of our lives should be informed by and infused with the Word of Christ. So leverage opportunities to allow the word to take up residence in your heart and mind: daily devotions, small groups, preaching, teaching, podcasts, etc.

When Christ is my Life, His presence transforms my family. See Colossians 3:18-21.

Nothing is more difficult than living in a family where the virtues of compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and professions of love (3:12–14) are tested daily.

Regarding the role of a wife’s submission to her husband, Jesus gives us the perfect example in his own life. Though he is equal in nature to the Father, He submitted to His Father’s will to accomplish God’s plan of redemption, humbling himself in obedience. This is the sort of humble submission wives are called to imitate. Remember, in Christ we all have equal dignity. Paul’s statement has nothing to do with inferiority. 

Husbands are to love their wives. Paul uses the word “agape” which is the kind of love that seeks the highest good of another even at the price of one’s own comfort, safety, and benefit. This love is no-strings attached, unconditional, self-sacrificial love.

For children, Jesus isn’t giving a command that he hasn’t lived out. As a child, He was the perfect example of submission and obedience to his earthly parents (Luke 2:510.

Fathers (and mothers) are to set standards, provide guidance, and discipline their children with patience, kindness, and love. Paul warns fathers not to “embitter” their children, crushing their spirits and causing them to become discouraged (3:21). He can do this by being overly critical or by disciplining too harshly or too often.

When Christ is my Life, I am a positive influence at work. See Colossians 3:22-4:1

We can best apply this instruction to our employee-employer relationship. As Christian employees, we have a responsibility for diligence, loyalty, punctuality, and responsibility. We should be the best employees on the organization. Additionally, we should be model employees in terms of our attitude, integrity, and having a positive influence in the workplace.

For employers, Paul offers a reminder that you are under the authority of a heavenly Master, just like everyone else. It is the Lord Jesus Christ to whom you also must give an account. We who serve in leadership roles must do so with two prevailing qualities: justice and fairness — this applies to expectations, decisions, evaluations, and wages.

When Christ is my Life, I live wisely and graciously before others. See Colossians 4:2-6.

Our works and our words can either draw a watching world closer to God or drive them farther away. We need to pay attention to our walk, and we need to conduct ourselves with wisdom toward those on the outside. Only God can see our hearts, so people will size us up and evaluate the quality of our faith through how we conduct ourselves.

We’re wrong to expect unbelievers to live like Christians, but they are right to expect Christians to live like Christ. Remember that they’re watching you. They’re listening to you. They’re curious about your faith and whether it’s real to you. If your commitment to Christ isn’t real to you, it won’t be worth considering for them. If it isn’t changing you, it won’t be challenging to them.

Remind yourself every day of the centrality of Christ in all areas and arenas of your life. Wherever, whatever, whenever, however . . . make Christ your Life.
 

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