While we are Waiting

Waiting is not something we like to do. Waiting in line, waiting on hold, waiting for the results. When it comes to our faith often times we find ourselves waiting on the Lord. How do we do that and not run ahead of God? Here are a few thoughts on waiting for God to answer, guide or intercede:

1. Trust God – This is part of our faith, believing that God loves you and cares about you and is actively working for you. Trust that He is good, and knows what is best. Trust that His ways are better than your ways. Trust that He will show you what is next. Trust that it will be in His timing. Proverbs 3:5-7

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”

2. Seek God – During times of waiting it always helps me to read Gods Word. Deep dives into Scripture and times of solitude in deep reading and prayer. Worshipping through music and singing and walking in nature are ways we seek God. Reading a devotional and even books on a topic of interest. Another way to seek God is through getting godly counsel from trusted Christians. Talking with other people and having them join you in prayer is a great way to wait on the Lord. Lastly, fasting is also a great spiritual discipline that helps as you wait.

3. Pray to God – When you are waiting it’s vital to talk to God. It can be crying out with questions and frustrations, sharing your fears, and deepest inner thoughts. It can be praying Scripture to God, some of the Psalms are great for that (Try Psalm 27). You can pray in your car, at work, in your bed or on your knees. When a worrying thought comes to your mind, tell God about it. When a temptation comes your way, talk to God about it. This is part of walking with the Spirit, daily tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit to help us wait on the Lord.

As you are waiting be open to God working on you. In the waiting God often has transformational work He wants to do in you. Maybe the reason your waiting is God is refining you, growing you, helping you to mature in your faith. Trust, Seek and Pray.

Do You Enjoy Waiting?

I meet with and talk with a lot of people and one thing I don’t think I have ever heard is someone say they are really good at being patient.  Not many people list that as a strength, most often it’s listed as a weakness.  The meaning of the word patience is quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.  It’s an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.  Calmness, stability, and persistent courage in trying circumstances.  Does that describe me?  How about you?

Have you heard or made this comment: “Be careful when you pray for patience, because you might be tested.”  It’s almost like we are afraid to ask God for patience, because then we may be put into a position to have to actually be patient.  So why is it so hard for most people to be patient?  Why is this this virtue such a challenge to the majority of people.

Some of it stems from living in an instant gratification culture.  We have access to almost anything through our computers and phones, from emails to movie tickets.  I have seen people nearly go ballistic if they have to wait in line for more than a few minutes.  When looking to check-out at Walmart we work hard at finding the quickest line and when the line beside us goes faster, we get angry.  This mindset of getting things instantly has a dark side to it.  It affects our emotional intelligence and spiritual maturity.  The capacity to wait – trading a temporary delight for a more substantial success later- is a core component of emotional intelligence and spiritual maturity.

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalms 27:14

If we have a hard time waiting, we tend to act like children and throw a temper tantrum to get what we want.  Studies at Columbia University measured 4 year old’s ability to resist candy, then followed up more than a decade later.  Kids who could wait only a few seconds for the candy, had SAT scores as teens that averaged 60 points lower than those of the kids who’d had the self-control to resist for 5 minutes or longer.  Good things come to those who wait.  This is often hard to see in the moment when we really want something.  However, going with those first impulses can get us into trouble and into debt.

The good news is that we can all change and everyone can improve in this area of patience.  Our brains can be rewired and transformed, so that we actually respond and behave in a different way.  This of course takes time and patience with lots of endurance.  Here are a few suggestions on how to practice and improve our patience:

  1. Create more space between impulse and action – When hit with that impulse that I must have this or I must buy that, wait for a few hours and see if you still feel that way.  Delaying that impulse often leads to better more sound decisions, health and relationships.  Maybe the impulse is to say something to your spouse to defend yourself or attack his behavior, hold those words in and wait.  Think through how those words could be received and how they could do more damage.  Maybe it’s a purchase of something beyond the budget.  The power to walk away will begin to rewire the brain and help change the finances.
  2. Plan on Waiting – If we plan ahead for when we have to wait, it can be a huge shift in perspective.  When waiting in traffic, use that time to breath deeply and pray.  The deep belly breathing is a proven stress reliever and prayer has a way of shifting our focus to the right things.  Also, listening to a podcast or worship music can be a great way to use the time while you wait.  When you plan on waiting, those long waits can become little retreats.
  3. Plan Ahead – Allow more time, not less, to get to places; don’t leave important tasks to the last minute; resist doing one more thing before leaving the office or home, which causes us to be anxious, and often late, even before starting out.  The more we can plan ahead, the less impatient we will be when delayed.
  4. Practice saying No – Our lives are too busy because we take on too much.  Simplifying our lives can dramatically improve our patience.  Most of the things we are doing or involved in are good things, but too much is too much.  Start by listing out the most important things in your life.  What other things are distracting you from the most important?  When we are able to say no to some things we are able excel in others.
  5. Don’t try to change other people – The harder we try to change the other person the worse the relationship becomes.  Being patient with other people takes a shift from trying to figure out how to change them, to trying to figure out how to love and serve them.  Our patience level goes way up when we approach other people with a mindset to serve them and love them instead of change them.  That way when they don’t behave like we think they should it’s much easier to just keep serving and loving.  It’s not our job to fix other people or the world, it’s our job to work on ourselves.
  6. Understand why some things push your buttons – We all have hot buttons, those things that set us off and lead us into impatience and other emotions.  When we fully understand why certain things set us off, then we can learn new ways of responding when those buttons get pushed.  Our response after that button is pushed is what leads to conflict, anger, impatience and immaturity.  Our buttons are based on core fears we all have.  Things like fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood or unheard, fear of being inadequate, judged or cheated.  Fears like that cause us to respond is some whacked out ways. Some self discovery here can help you in all your relationships and be more patient with others and yourself.
  7. Be Flexible – We get most impatient when our plans are messed up.  When our schedule does not work out or something or someone blocks our goal.  When those unexpected things come up, take it as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow.  Maybe that person was brought into your life in that moment to help you grow more mature.  When we are so rigid in our goals and schedule it causes us to be very impatient with anyone that gets in the way.  We live in a fallen broken world with fallen broken people.  Expect roadblocks and distractions, and be prepared to adjust the best laid plans as necessary.
  8. Include God – On our own we will fail miserably in becoming more patient.  Asking God to help us in this area is the best thing any of us can do.  The more we talk to God about patience and other areas we need help in, the more He shapes and molds us.  When we plug into God, anything is possible.
  9. Finally, keep being persistent in your prayers even if God doesn’t seem to be answering. God does hear your prayers and is working in many ways that you do not see. Trust Him and His timing and keep doing your part of working on yourself and praying for others and the circumstances around you.


Discernment helps to do several important things:

  1. Discover what’s under the surface.  Discernment enables a person to see a partial picture, fill in the missing pieces intuitively, and find the real heart of a matter. You can dig beneath what’s happening on the surface.
  2. Sharpen your problem solving ability.  The closer a person is to their area of gifting, the stronger their intuition and ability to see root causes. Discernment helps you know what the real problems are. Good discernment also helps to resolve conflict in a more healthy way.
  3. Evaluate your options, and make better decisions.  Discernment enables you to use both your gut and your head to find the best option for your family or your organization. It helps you to slow down and think clearly before making a decision.
  4. Multiply your opportunities.  People create their own “luck” as the result of discernment, that willingness to use their experience and follow their instincts. Doing that often leads to new discoveries and new opportunities.

To improve your discernment, do the following:

  • Pray and ask God to give you discernment.
  • Learn from past successes and failures.  
  • Learn how others think and practice empathy.
  • Ask good questions, and actively listen.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Matthew 13:31-33

31 “He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

It’s like a Mustard Seed

The mustard seed is miniscule, about the size of the tip of a pencil lead. Your eye would barely notice it.

Nevertheless, if this mustard seed falls into the soil and if rain and sun nurture it, months later you could see a remarkable bush that has grown from that very small seed. How is that possible? 

When it was a seed, it looked like nothing. It seemed worthless and lifeless. But after it has nestled in the soil and received sun and water, the bird that didn’t notice the seed before might soon find this bush to be good place to build its nest.

Likewise, the kingdom of God may look insignificant, worthless, and lifeless to us. We might be tempted to pass over it in our thinking and instead dwell on things like earthly governments, the media, popular trends, political figures, human institutions, and so on.

The same would have been true of the kingdom of God in Christ’s time. If you had lived then, perhaps your atten­tion would have been focused on the Roman government as it controlled the then-known world. 

Uprisings, taxes, political intrigue – many such things would have seemed a lot more significant than a wandering rabbi from the back country of Galilee with a band of twelve followers. 

How many people in the Roman Empire do you think noticed what happened one Passover outside of Jerusalem, when Jesus was crucified between two thieves, with all His followers scattered and offended? 

Don’t you think what happened there seemed like just a mustard seed compared to things that must have seemed more important?

What lasting good could come out of an odd group of people spreading the news about things they saw and heard?

Yet, when we survey the growth of God’s kingdom since Christ’s death, what a gigantic “bush” has grown up! And it continues to spread, over lands and nations, across oceans and deserts. 

People from every corner of the earth have seen this “bush” branch out right in front of them, and, like birds, many of us have found a place to hide and shelter in its branch­es – all from a single, miniscule “mustard seed” planted in the soil outside of Jerusalem long ago.

Jesus goes on to teach another aspect of the kingdom of God and its growth. 

It’s like Leaven

Leaven or yeast is a fermenting fungus. What Jesus refers to would have been a piece of fermented dough from a previ­ous baking, which a woman would knead into a new batch of dough. 

Imperceptibly, the leaven would move throughout the whole dough, powerfully impacting all of it and making it rise.

Sometimes the Bible uses the picture of leaven for some­thing evil, such as “the leaven of the Pharisees” (Luke 12:1) or “the leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Cor. 5:8). 

Evil can indeed move imperceptibly and powerfully. However, in this passage, Jesus is not referring to something evil; He is again referring to the kingdom of heaven and its growth within individuals throughout the world. 

So how does the kingdom of heaven work like leaven?

  1. Its work is hidden from view. The process of leavening cannot be seen with the human eye. Neither can the growth of the kingdom of God in a person’s heart. The Holy Spirit changes a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. This new heart is soft and pliable.
  1. It changes from the inside out. Jesus accused the Phari­sees of cleaning only the outside of their “cup,” while the inside remained dirty. Their lives might have seemed righteous on the outside, but their hearts remained unclean and evil. This is not how the kingdom of God works in the heart. Like leaven working from the inside out, the changed heart brings forth a changed life.
  2. It works as a comprehensive change in the end. Leaven makes the whole loaf rise. It makes it light and airy and tasty throughout; not one bit of loaf is left unaffected. In the same way, someone whose heart has been affected by the gos­pel, will ultimately show in his whole life that a change has taken place. 

It’s true that, on this side of eternity, believers will still continue to be plagued by sin. Yet, the growth of the kingdom within us will impact all of us: our thoughts, our habits, our actions, our words, our pursuits, our priorities – in short, our life as a whole will be dramatically changed.

So Let’s not despise the day of small things. Just because we don’t see anything happening on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is going on below the sur­face. Let’s continue to pray earnestly that the Spirit of God would do His mysterious invisible work. 

Let’s adore the secret work of God. The Spirit’s work in each heart is mysterious and powerful. It reaches where no one can reach. In the secret depths of sinful hearts, God implants a new principle that radically changes peo­ple in every possible way. 

Has this change been worked deep in the recesses of our hearts? Do our lives pass on the leaven of the gospel in our families, churches, workplaces, and communities?

The Mustard seed is small but powerful, and leaven penetrates and permeates everything, and a little of either will go a long way.

Why Does the Church Exist?

Church has become a negative word to many people these days. For followers of Jesus it can also be challenging, because they may have been hurt, let down, or disappointed by church people or leaders in the past.

However, God set up the church as the way to reach the world with the Good News about Jesus Christ. The church exists to bring glory to God. That is not only true in a worship service, but it is also true of us in life. Look at what 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” . Whatever Christians do, they should be doing it to bring glory to God – in their careers, in their marriages and in the choices they make in life. The church was created to bring pleasure to God and bring glory to his name.

It’s really the people that make up the church, and the people that make up a church are to bring glory to God, we do this in several ways. Jesus gave this compelling vision to the church just before He returned to heaven. in Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Five Purposes of the Church

  1. To Make Disciples.

Very clearly one of the main purposes of the church is to make disciples. What is discipleship? It’s exploring God’s ways, it’s becoming more like Christ. It is a life-long process of maturing and growing in your faith. Disciples are learners, learning the ways of Jesus, and walking with him on the narrow road.

2. To Share the Gospel.

In order to become a disciple you first have to meet Jesus and believe in Him as your Lord and Savior. So another important purpose of the church is evangelism. The church is here in order to expand God’s kingdom. Introducing people to the authentic, real Jesus will transform their lives. The people in a church play a big part in this, because as they grow as a follower of Christ, they become more like Jesus and therefore allow other people to see Jesus in them. Everything we do should bring glory to God and draw people closer to Jesus. When we share the love of Christ with others, the Holy Spirit can do transformational work in their hearts.

3. To Worship God.

Another purpose of the church is worship. Christ followers glorify God through worship in all areas of their lives. Worship brings the church to life and life to the church. Worship is exalting God’s worth. We do that many ways in a church setting. We worship through music and singing, through giving and serving, through prayer and reflection, through reading and preaching God’s Word, through communion and baptism. We were created to worship, and the church helps us to live that out in our lives, not just in a church gathering.

4. To Fellowship Together.

We need each other. God created us for community. It is not good to be alone. The church is a great place to build meaningful, life long relationships. It’s a place were we can connect with one another. A place where we can be real and authentic. We do that by worshipping together, serving together, eating together, caring for each other, encouraging each other and doing life together.

5. To Minister to Others.

This last purpose of the church is vital. Everywhere Jesus went, he extended his grace and mercy to those who need it most. When we serve unselfishly, we become extensions of Jesus. Ministering selflessly to a broken and bruised world should characterize every follower of Jesus Christ. This is how the church lives out the mission of making disciples, by being the church to people inside and outside the church. Finding ways to show the love of Christ is ministry.

The church is not perfect, it’s filled with people that are in process with flaws and problems. Yet as we grow and live out these 5 purposes, the church can have a huge impact on the world around us. I hope you will consider being a part of a local church. Pray and ask God to direct you to a church where you can be a part of making a difference in the world, and grow as a disciple.

Thoughts about Church – Part One

Most people have experienced some confusion or frustration with the church. The word itself can pull up bad memories or hurtful circumstances for some. Maybe you feel it was ineffective or irrelevant to your life. The church has been, and continues to be attacked from the outside and compromised on the inside at times.

It’s easy to criticize the church. It’s full of human beings that make mistakes and bad decisions, and sometimes hurt one another. Church leaders can be controlling and overbearing sometimes. Church leaders can also be weak and afraid. sometimes.

Yet God wants us to love the church. It was His design for reaching the world. The purpose of the church is to be an extension of the purpose of Jesus Christ. That purpose is to spread the good news about Jesus. To make disciples, baptize them, and teach them the ways of God.

To understand what the church is, we should look at what it is not:

  • The church is not a physical building. The building is simply place for the church to gather.
  • The church is not an institution or organization. It’s not a denomination or an affiliation.
  • The church is not a set of services or activities.
  • The church is not just a congregation.

The Bible describes the church in four ways:

  1. The words church refers to the universal church, which is all believers on earth at any given time.
  2. The word church refers to a particular location. The New Testament places the most emphasis on the church in its local setting. The churches in Galatia, the church in Cenchrea, the church in Sugarcreek.
  3. The word church refers to the actual gathering of believers in any place of worship.
  4. The word church refers to the body of Christ. Christ is the head. It is through the church that Christ does His work. As His followers, we are Christ’s hands and feet and voice.

How should the church function?

  • Believers in a church should use their gifts to serve.
  • Believers in the church should submit to one another.
  • Believers in the church are priests, each one loving, serving, and caring for each other.
  • Believers in the church should be striving for unity and growing in their relationship with Christ.
  • Believers in the church should be supporting the church through giving, serving and praying.
  • Believers in the church should be inviting others to come and meet Jesus.

The church is also compared to a flock of sheep, with Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The church should have elders/shepherds that care, oversee, serve, and lead the people. These shepherds set the vision and direction for the church. They provide protection, provision and care for the flock.

The church is also referred to as a family. God’s Word says we are sons and daughters of God, united together by our faith in Jesus Christ. As family members, we are free to enjoy a mutual, intimate relationship with God our Father and other children in His family. In a family, people are always more important than policies. Relationships are always more important than roles.

A healthy church will thrive and have an impact on the lives of the people that gather together. Those lives will have Kingdom impact in lives outside the church in our world. The church can also be unhealthy and cause a lot of damage to peoples lives which causes damage to the world we all live in.

In Part Two I will talk about Why the church exists.

Living intentionally for Christ

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, he forgives our sins and redeems us. We are born again spiritually. That the biggest most important decision you will ever make.

So as a Follower of Christ how do we live intentionally and walk in our new identity?

For a Christian, living intentionally begins with living a life submitted to Christ. In Christ we find our identity and purpose.  Knowing your purpose is key, because your purpose determines your priorities. As you seek God, He will reveal your specific calling and purpose to you.

However, as a follower of Jesus Christ your main purpose is to bring glory to God by loving and worshiping Him with your life – all that you are and everything that you do.

That’s where we start. Before your career, financial, and relationship goals can fall into place, you must be intentional in your relationship with God. He will guide you and give you wisdom for your decisions.

Colossians 2:6-10

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

What’s the secret to living the Christian life? We all start off so well. We receive Christ as our Savior, and we are filled with excitement at the prospect of new life in Christ. Our sins have been forgiven, we have been restored to relationship with God, we have assurance that we will go to heaven when we die, and we know that our whole life just changed. The old is gone, the new has come!

We start off enthusiastic for Christ and ready to take on the whole world. And then many of us seem to struggle and flounder at times. Why is that? We want to live the Christian life. Why is it so hard sometimes? What’s the secret to living the Christian life?

In the Scripture you just read, Paul tells us three things about living the Christian life. The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, it is marked by freedom in Christ and it is marked by fullness in Christ.

We received Christ Jesus by faith – now we should continue to live in him by faith.

First of all, the Christian life is marked by faith in Christ. Look at verses 6-7:

 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” What is Paul saying here? Your Christian life began with faith in Christ, and it must also continue with faith in Christ.

By faith you received Christ Jesus as Lord. Declaring: “Jesus is Lord.”

We confess our faith in Jesus as Lord at our baptism, when we mark ourselves as Christ followers and when we go under the water it is symbolic of death to our old self and coming out of the water resurrection and a new life a new heart..

By faith you received Christ Jesus as Lord. Now Paul says, you need to live in Christ the same way you received him.

The Christian life is not simply faith in a set of teachings but faith in a person. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Christian life is lived in Christ. Christ lives in you, and therefore you live your life in him. Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, you continue to live in him.

First of all, you are rooted and built up in him. “Rooted” refers to the foundation of your Christian life. The Christian life is founded on Christ and Christ alone. It is not founded on your goodness or your works or your merit. The Christian life is founded on faith in Christ and Christ alone.

As Jesus says in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is the root and source of the Christian life. You cannot live the Christian life apart from Christ.

Next, Paul tells us you are “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” The word translated “strengthened” in this verse means “established” or “made firm.” Not only must you have faith in Christ. You must also be well-grounded in your faith.

Paul is telling us to stick with the gospel. Stay grounded in Christ and the Bible. Don’t go looking for new teachings outside of Christ. Grow in what you already know!

He also says a life that is lived by faith in Christ is one that is overflowing with thankfulness. Begin each day thanking God for your life and salvation and for the many blessings he has given you in Christ. Living in Christ means being thankful and grateful every day.

Someone said – How do you know if your bucket is full? If your feet are getting wet.

Don’t be just a little thankful. Be overflowing with thankfulness. You can never thank God enough.

The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, and secondly the Christian life is marked by freedom in Christ.

Look at verse 8 where Paul writes: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

In other words this is a strong warning to guard your freedom, to stay alert, to be on the lookout for those things that can rob you of your freedom and take you captive.

Things like deceptive and false teaching, the lies of the world, busyness of life

It’s fighting the daily spiritual battle from our enemy, we do that by walking in our true identity as children of God, loved by our heavenly father and bringing glory to HIm

C. True freedom is found in Christ alone

Too many people think the Christian life is all about rules and regulations when Christ really offers us a life of beautiful freedom.

In Christ you are free from condemnation, free from guilt and shame, free from fear, free from sin. We are constantly attacked in those areas, but we must remember who we re and whose we are. Children of God, deeply loved sand accepted.

in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

The last thing is this:

1) The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ. 2) The Christian life is marked by freedom in Christ. And 3) The Christian life is marked by fullness in Christ.

Look at verses 9-10: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”

A. All the fullness of God lives in Christ

This is a remarkable statement. First Paul says that all the fullness of God lives in Christ. Not just God’s attributes but his very essence; not just part but all – all that marks God as God dwells in Jesus Christ.

Not only that, Jesus Christ is also the head over every power and authority. Paul is probably thinking about spiritual beings once again, earlier in Colossians he spoke about spiritual beings as thrones, powers, rulers and authorities. All these powers and authorities were created by Christ, and all these powers and authorities are subject to Christ.

And then there is one more part to this remarkable statement. You have been given fullness in Christ! Christ lives in you; all the fullness of God lives in Christ; and therefore you have been given fullness in Christ.

Paul’s point in Colossians is this. Why give in to the hollow and empty philosophy of the false teachers when you have been given fullness in Christ?

You’ve already been filled! You have Christ! What more are you looking for? As Max Anders writes: “Don’t go looking for treasure you already have!” Everything you need from God you have in Christ.

Closing Scripture:

2 Peter 1:3-8:  3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. NIV

CONCLUSION: So what is the secret to living the Christian life? Christianity is not simply living out a creed, but it is living in a person Your True Identity is In Christ!

You are united with Christ by faith, and you receive the strength to live the Christian life every day through your relationship with him. Your Christian life began with Christ, and it must continue with Christ.

The Christian life is marked by faith in Christ, freedom in Christ and fullness in Christ. Anything less is not authentic Christianity. What’s the secret to living the Christian life? It’s simple. The secret to living the Christian life is living in Christ. That’s the heart of Christianity.

What Keeps us From Hearing From God?

Most people that profess to be Christian, or following Jesus Christ, have a desire to hear from God. Many would say they don’t hear from God, or that he never speaks to them. I firmly believe that God speaks to us on a regular basis. I also believe there are some things that keep us from hearing from God.

  • Pride – We don’t think we need God. We don’t want to bother God, or we think we can handle most things on our own.
  • Self-Focus – When you’re self absorbed, the world revolves around you and your problems, circumstances and issues. When we think more about ourselves than others or God it’s difficult to hear anything else.
  • An un-surrendered will & life – This is huge. When there are things in our life that we have not surrendered fully to God, they have influence and control in our lives. It ties in with the pride and self-focus we just talked about. To do this it means completely trusting God with everything you have.
  • Not believing God will speak to us – Some people just don’t believe God speaks anymore. Maybe some through Scripture, but nothing beyond that. That unbelief will block you from hearing from God.
  • Maybe we just don’t know how to hear from God – Some people just don’t know how to even start hearing from God.
  • Unforgiveness or bitterness – When we don’t forgive others and forgive ourselves it can block us from really hearing from God. That root starts to grow and builds negative emotions that distort and deflect much of what God is trying to speak to us.
  • A non-repentant heart toward God – When we are not repenting from our sins, and being vulnerable and honest with God, it keeps us from hearing from Him.
  • Simply too busy – The busyness of life is one of the biggest culprits to us not hearing from God. There are so many things distracting us from God.

A great place to start when wanting to hear from God is to start praying. Spend regular time praying, which is talking to God and listening to God. Prayer is two way communications. The more time you are spending in prayer, the more likely you will hear from God. However, the most important part of prayer is listening.

To listen to God, you also need to remove the many distractions around you. You need to find a place, and time where you can focus completely on God. Maybe it’s a walk in the woods, or a walking path. Maybe it’s in your closet, or a quiet room. Find a place where you’re not distracted and start listening.

God wants to speak to you because He loves you, you are one of his children. In your time with God ask Him some questions. Prayerfully ask the question and then wait. As thoughts come to your mind write them down. Those thoughts are usually from God.

Here is are some examples questions that I recently did in my time with God:

  • Heavenly Father what do you want me to know in my life right now? After waiting a few minutes this is what came to my mind and I wrote it down: “That I am bigger than anything you will ever face. That I love you more than all of creation and that you are doing what I want you to do right now in your life.”
  • Lord Jesus, how do you care for me? Please show me how you love me. “Chad, I have provided for all your needs and most of your wants, I’ve protected you from things you don’t even know about. I’ve brought certain people into your life to support, encourage and care for you. I am always with you and I’ve given you strength and wisdom for the struggles of your life. “
  • Father God, what do you want me to know about how I am to mentor the people you bring into my life? “Be more authentic and pour more of yourself into these men. Share your story with them and show them how you connect with me, how you work on your relationships – But to do that well, you need to be more consistent in your time with me. Listen more & I’ll tell you more, you will be amazed at what happens when you listen more in our prayer times. “

When you ask good questions and listen carefully, God does speak. The more you do this, the more you start to be even more clear about God’s voice, verses your own voice. Practicing silence and solitude is a good step into this. Reading Scripture is vital, because that is how you know it’s God’s voice and not just your own voice.

God also speaks through other people, so pay attention when someone is praying for you or giving you counsel. Again if you are reading God’s word you can know if what they are telling you lines up with God’s word or not.

So if you are longing to hear from God, start by getting alone with no distractions and pray, but be sure to listen. Have a journal and pen ready to write down what is coming to your mind. If you are stuck, start reading Scripture and see what jumps out at you, highlight it or write it down in your journal. Stay consistent and persistent and see what God does.

Wisdom for Difficult Times

James 1:2-5

“My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”

What do you do when hardships hit you? Who do you talk to when life takes a turn for the worse? What do you do when people attack you? Who do you turn to when things get out of control?

Some people go to social media for information. Some people turn to the news, or to government leaders. Some people turn to their friends or parents or a trusted mentor. And some people turn to God.

Turning to God is the first and best thing we can all do in difficult times. I think we can also talk to people we trust to process and gain insight into what is best. But talking to God should always come first. Asking for help, for wisdom and discernment to know what is right and what is not. I often ask God for spiritual strength to keep going, or for God to bring the right people into my life to give me direction or encouragement.

James tells us that we should be grateful for hardships and trials, as it will make us better, it will give us wisdom and valuable experience, building our endurance. However we only gain wisdom, and our character is only strengthened, if we handle those adversities in the right way. When we learn from our failures, and gain deeper understanding about who God is, who we are, and what our purpose in life is, then we gain true wisdom.

Wisdom cannot be purchased, but wisdom can be developed. Reading God’s word and praying to God, gives us the right perspectives when dealing with difficult times. That is why it is so critical to be reading God’s word and praying during the hard times of our lives. Going to church and listening to messages from Biblically based leaders can give you new insights, wisdom and encouragement.

Good leaders will point people to Jesus, and the incredible transformation that comes from a relationship with Him. When spiritual growth and personal growth come together there is real transformation.

In these days of political unrest, division, hatred, and deception, we need to understand that this is not new, there have been and always will be difficult, trying times in this world. However, if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, it changes your perspective. Why? because now you know where you will spend eternity. Fear is taken over by love, and we experience a freedom like nothing else.

So use common sense and be wise in difficult times, but also look to God for your wisdom, courage and strength. Talk to Him regularly, read what He has to say, then listen and obey.


There are many opinions about whether the Bible is true or not. Some people think it’s partly true. Other people think many of the stories in it are a myth. Read the following verses and identify where the Bible came from and how we got it?

 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” NLT

2 Peter 1:20-21: “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” NLT

The Bible claims to be inspired. Inspired or “God-breathed” means that God spoke through the writers of the Bible to communicate absolute truth to us. Although the exact method is unknown, the entire Bible is God’s thoughts given to us through people. Because the Bible came from God, you can be certain it’s true.


A lot of people say the Bible is outdated or irrelevant. Yet many people have never read an entire chapter of the Bible. Read the following list of subjects. If you think the subject is outdated, mark it with an “I” for irrelevant. If the subject is relevant today, mark it with an “R” for relevant.

     _  marriage     _    addictions _ forgiving others     _    money management     _    dating

  _    handling stress     _    family relationships      _   time management

It may surprise you that each of these subjects is addressed in the Bible. The more you read the Bible, the more insight you will find regarding the issues and challenges you’re facing.

Many items we purchase come with an expiration date. You can be certain you won’t find an expiration date on your Bible! Everything in the Bible is relevant for us today and throughout our lives.

When most of us hear the word study it produces a negative connotation. However, when we study something, we learn and discover facts about it. Studying the Bible involves a process of learning that includes observation, interpretation, and application. Read the following verses and identify what you observe, can interpret, or apply? 

Psalm 1:1-3


Getting to know the Bible is more than just reading words on a page or learning facts about a subject. The Bible reveals the truth about Jesus Christ.  So as we get to know the Bible, we’re really getting to know Jesus.