Church of Christ, Arise

Written by: Conny Varga

To many of us, they have no name, no face. They’re a statistic, a number, an uneasy feeling to be brushed aside. Orphans are a shocking and heart-rending reminder of the broken world we live in, and in an effort to quiet our conscience, we turn away, shielding our eyes from the horrors and closing our ears to their cries. But what if we allowed ourselves – if only for a moment – to look at them, see their faces, hear their beautiful names, and listen to their stories? What if we were bold enough to step out of our comfort zone and into their world?

Orphans have a special place in God’s heart, and He has much to say to the Church about them. From cover to cover, there are dozens of verses that instruct us to care for them, remember them, defend them, speak up for them, and not take advantage of them. Both in the Old and New Testament alike, the same commandment is made.

In Isaiah 1:17, God instructs us to “defend the cause of the fatherless.

In James we find: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (Jas 1:27)

Maybe you feel the Holy Spirit urging you to take action, but you don’t know where to begin. Maybe you have been sponsoring a child in a third-world country, but you would like to do more. God is inviting you to join Him in His fight for the most vulnerable people on earth – will you accept His call?

Begin by praying and studying what the Word of God has to say about the issue. Surround yourself with people who are involved in and passionate about orphan care. And as you listen to the Spirit, He will direct you in the way that you personally can serve “the least of these”. But beware, it will never seem convenient or easy. Helping orphans is a spiritual battle. Whatever God cares deeply about, Satan will try to destroy – be prepared! To become involved in God’s work is not for the faint of heart. But it is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do!

November 12, 2017 is Global Orphan Sunday. Take this opportunity to join in with the countless other Christians around the world to remember the little Forgotten Treasures.

  • Pray for the millions of orphans worldwide. Pray for the thousands of orphans in your own country. Pray by yourself; pray with your family, with your friends, your church.
  • Pray for the many foster and adoptive families who have stepped forward to embrace some of these children.
  • Raise awareness in your sphere of influence. Maybe even organize a fundraiser or information session.
  • Research good and reputable organizations who are involved in orphan care and begin supporting them. Find a good child sponsorship program and become involved.
  • Consider visiting an orphanage and helping with their needs.
  • Help out at your local Child Protection Agency, or a good local Christian Adoption agency. They always seem to be looking for volunteers.
  • Open your heart to the possibility that God may be calling you to foster or adopt.

Fifteen years ago, Orphan Sunday had its humble beginnings in a small native church in Zambia, and it has since opened the eyes and changed the hearts of many Christians worldwide. Church of Christ, let us arise and defend the cause of the fatherless!


https://cafo.org/orphansunday/ (scroll down to 2017 Orphan Sunday video & click “play”)

https://cafo.org/orphansunday/broadcast/ (watch Zambia’s gift to the world for more information on the beginnings of Orphan Sunday)

Remembrance

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

One of my husband’s favourite days of the year is Remembrance Day, commemorated on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th hour.  He takes this day very seriously and spends time reflecting on the lives lost in sacrifice to save his.

He proudly wears his red poppy, ensuring that each of us, in his family, has one to display as well.  He has attended Remembrance Day Services at the local Cenotaph to pay tribute to those who fought, and continue to fight, for our freedom today.  He ensures that on the Sunday before Remembrance Day, the church also pays it tribute and spends time praying for those who continue to work to ensure our safety.

No matter where he is on the 11th day of that 11th month he stops to pay his two minutes of respectful silence for the fallen in the 11th hour.  I commend him for his remembrance, year after year, and thank him for instilling in our family such a respect for the lives lost, and the lives that still fight, for all that we enjoy in the present.

This coming weekend will hold another Remembrance Day; November 11, 2017.  Another opportunity for us to stop and reflect on all that was done for us by people that didn’t even know us.  They laid down their lives in sacrifice so that generations of people to follow could walk in freedom.  This is mind blowing when you really stop and think about it.  They did this for us!  People unknown to them; people unrelated to them; people far removed from them.

Upon further reflection, I can’t help but remember afresh another life that was laid down for me many, many years ago.  A spotless life devoid of evil and sin.  A sacrificial life devoid of selfish ambition.  A loving life devoid of corrupt hatred.  A forgiving life devoid of condemnation.  A gracious life devoid of cruelty.  That life was Jesus Christ, who left heaven to walk this earth in order to understand the very humanity He created.  He who loved His people so much, He endured a horrid death and glorious resurrection for the sake of spiritual freedom for all who would choose to follow Him.  All this was done for us by a God who did know us before the foundations of the world! (Ephesians 1:4)

As I approach this weekend, and the Remembrance Day it holds, I will definitely pay my respect to all those who laid down their lives for my freedom in this temporal world.  For the privileges afforded to me and the security I find living in Canada.  For the ability to work and play in a land at peace.  But, I will also give greater thanks to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the incredible gift of spiritual freedom He has given me through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross and for the eternal peace I will have in heaven through my salvation in Christ.

Let us also approach our monthly times of Communion with even greater respect as we remember what Jesus accomplished on that old rugged tree.  Let our remembrance be more meaningful and reflective than ever before as we take the emblems to our lips.

“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”  1 Corinthians 11:23-26

God’s Direction vs God’s Voice

Written by: Nathan Hill

Whenever people come to me confused about God’s will for their life, I usually begin the conversation the same way each time. You see, some of what God has planned for our lives is the same stuff he has planned for the life of any Christian, and we can discover these things in the Scriptures. Jesus commissioned all of us to go into the world and create disciples, baptising and teaching them (Matthew 28:19–20). God also wants us all to live lives of holiness (Psalm 102:2), and never lose sight of the immanent return of Christ in everything that we do (Matthew 25:13). These are just a few of the many things we can find in Scripture that ought to characterize our lives. I call these God’s directions.

When it comes to God’s voice, this is something entirely different. This is where the uniqueness of our gifts and the way we were created comes into play, and through hearing God’s voice we are able to become more completely in tune with who we are—professionals would call this self-actualization, although they would not always list God as the source of this. Discerning God’s voice is a little different than hearing God through Scripture—it takes a sustained relationship with God and input from the faith community to accurately discern God’s voice. Oh, and God’s voice will never contradict God’s direction in Scripture…and so to the couple I knew from years ago who wanted to divorce and take new spouses because God’s voice and direction was telling them to “do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19)…you’ve mistaken God’s voice for a lie and completely misread God’s directions in Scripture. We know we have stumbled upon something great when we find a synthesis between God’s direction in Scripture, the prompting of God’s voice in our hearts, and the confirmation of these two things from trusted praying peers in the faith community.

Elijah was a prophet that was well-versed in God’s direction and God’s voice. 1 Kings 18 records the story of Elijah and the prophets of Ba’al—they each built an alter to their god and agreed that the god who responded with fire and consumed the sacrifice was the one true God. If you have not read this story, beware of the forthcoming spoiler alert—Ba’al did not answer, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did. This is a wonderful demonstration of God’s sovereign power, and I have often felt envious of Elijah, wishing that I would some day have the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of God in a powerful setting of unbelievers.

I was reminded of something, however, when I recently read the Elijah story in 1 Kings. This showdown was not orchestrated by the genius of Elijah alone—rather, Elijah was responding to the voice of God directing him. God instructed Elijah to engage the prophets of Ba’al in this very way. This is important because when we want to take bold steps of faith and do things for God, we ought to make sure that we are hearing a combination of God’s direction and God’s voice. At times this will be easily discernable, but at other times we will need our faithful prayer peers it the faith to weigh in with their discernment as well. This is somewhat refreshing, as it simplifies our life—we just need to follow God’s voice.

Still, if we were called to do something in our world today like Elijah did with the prophets of Ba’al, we might find that obedience is more than just a simple matter.

Greater Than Our Circumstances

Written by: Christianne Williams

Soft ocean breezes.  The smell of salt in the air and the sound of gulls flying overhead.  Walking barefoot in the sand everyday in the summer, getting a free pedicure. Every. Single. Time.  I grew up on the coast, surrounded by water, on an island connected by a mile -long white sand beach with a causeway to the mainland.  Hearing the crashing of the waves on summer nights as I drifted off to sleep; watching the sun glisten off the water; collecting shells, standing in the small pools left behind when the tide went out.  Hunting for sea glass, dodging jellyfish, and having seaweed fights marked most summer afternoons and evenings.

As I got older, I enjoyed sitting on the shore on a towel because I really don’t like sand all that much, as I would stare out at the sea.  There were days when it was calm and the waves rippled in.  Other times the waves reached the shore with a little more force, it was a little louder and the whitecaps were more frequent.   And then, in a storm, the waves would crash against the shore consistently, with little rest between breakers.

Matthew 8:23-27 gives an account of a storm that arose suddenly as Jesus and the disciples were rowing across a lake.  It was a furious storm, with waves sweeping over the boat.  When I read that, I put myself in their sandals, trying to feel what they might have felt.  Feeling the boat toss, not knowing what to do, and having no idea what was going to happen.  They went and woke Jesus, who was sleeping, fearing they would drown.  They were amazed when He spoke to the winds and waves and they obeyed Him, yet just a few verses before, it says they had just witnessed many miracles He performed for others.

They had moved from a place of watching to a position of receiving.  They were now the ones in need of intervention from the Anointed One.  They were now experiencing some of what they had earlier witnessed.  They knew they needed to ask Him to save them, but from their reaction, did they really expect that He could do anything to prevent them from what they perceived to be a certain death?

I know how powerful waves can be during a storm, for them to be instantly calmed would be a miraculous thing.  Sometimes after a tropical storm the waves linger for days, so for the lake to be again smooth so suddenly couldn’t be explained as anything but a miracle.  The power of the wind and waves is no big deal for God.  The situation looked bleak but there was One who brought peace in the middle of that furious storm on that lake that day.  The same One who brought that peace is there to bring peace to us in the middle of whatever storm we find ourselves in right now.  Just like the wind and waves, our circumstances are no match for our God.

He really impressed on me the other day, while I was at work, not really asking for anything specific, that His goodness is greater than our circumstances.  Our situation may not be good, but His character is unchanging, and He can’t be anything other than who He is.  His heart toward us is one of love, it’s compassionate, and never failing.  He will never turn a deaf ear to you, He will never forsake you, He will never leave you alone.

One word from Him and things change.  He calls all things into order, He speaks peace and life into all the dark places of our hearts.  He overwhelms us with His goodness and compassion, loving us far too much to leave us alone in the middle of our storm.  Call out to Him, tell Him how much you trust Him, even if you don’t ‘feel’ like you do.  I can tell you from experience that the more you hear those words come out of your mouth, the more convinced you’ll be that He will calm your storm.

A Quenchable Thirst

By: Cindy Morrone

One of my most treasured Bible stories is about the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42) at the well that met up with a man that changed her life. She had come to draw water at a time of day where as to most likely avoid others, but this day there was a man at the well and the man asked her to give him a drink.

This startled her for so many desperate reasons. He was of a kind that was to despise hers; He knew of her sinful circumstances and yet, He reached out to her and offered her an alternative. I love this story so much because I was like her.

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” “(John 4:13 &14)

I was so much like her, living in sin and hiding from my shame, until I met Him.

..a spring of water welling up to eternal life….

And when I confessed with my mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believed in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I was saved! (Romans 10:9) I received eternal life!!

This story recently came to my thoughts again, as I was praying during feelings of doubt, fear and insecurities. And as I cried out to my Lord, He met me again and whispered a reminder that I shall thirst no more. I have everything I need in Christ no matter the circumstances, no matter what I can ‘see’ with my eyes, no matter the situation. He is all that I need and His promises and faithfulness cause victory over all!

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father,
We cannot in our mere words thank You for the offer and gift of salvation; eternal life. For forgiveness that comes by Your shed blood. That we can come to You, and You are waiting for us, just as we are in our sin and shame. Lord, God, we confess with our mouths that “Jesus is Lord” and we believe in our hearts that You are raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of our Father. As we confess we have faith that eternal life is ours and life abundantly (John 10:10). We don’t want to thirst anymore! Amen!

 

The Plastics

Written by: Sarah Walker

“For we have all sinned and fall short the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)

When I was in high school, a movie came out called “Mean Girls.” It was about a group of popular girls at a high school, who are nicknamed “The Plastics.” On the outside, they appear flawless. Their outer appearance is always perfect; they seemingly have it all together – the right clothes, cars, boyfriends, and social life. As the movie title implies, even though they look pretty on the outside, they are not so nice on the inside.

“The Plastics” sometimes remind me of a lot of us Christians! Maybe not the “mean” part so much, but the plastic-y part for sure! By all appearances, we try to look perfect in every way. We always have a smile on our face, we are dressed in church-appropriate clothes, and we say and do all the “right things”. We put on a good show!

Deep down, however, you can still find all of our flaws and sins, and all of our struggles, as hard as we try to show the world that they aren’t there.

I knew two lovely ladies both going through difficult times. I asked them both how they were doing.

The first replied with a big smile and an upbeat tone, ““Oh just great, things are going well! Thank you for asking!”

We both knew what she was facing, but for my genuine concern, I was met with a very “plastic” answer!

When I asked the other lady how she was doing, she said, ““Some days are a lot harder than others. I am just trusting in God to help me through.”

With this honesty and transparency, her response was refreshing. She easily admitted that she was struggling, and because of her faith and trust in Jesus, she actually ended up encouraging my own faith life!

There is something really attractive to me about a Christ-follower who is not afraid to be exactly who they are – just a regular person, striving to know Jesus better, someone who is putting all their hope and trust in Him, despite their very real imperfections and tough circumstances.

I keep an actual list of sins that I struggle with. I don’t like having this list written down of my flaws, but when I read through them, I am always reminded that I fall short.

Does this mean that I justify my sinfulness and say “this is just who I am”?

No!

This means that I admit that at times I can be judgmental, prideful, rude, mean, impatient….. (OK, you get the picture!) I am not going to just give in to these behaviours. My list is a reminder that I can do nothing to change who I am without God’s help. I am trusting in Jesus:

“For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

I am in the process of “being made holy.” Thankfully, I am not the person I was ten years ago when I first said “yes” to Jesus! I am also not the person I could be yet. I am in process.

As I continue in my relationship with Him, I trust that tomorrow, I will not be the same person I am today. I trust that I will have more patience, that I will be quicker to love and less quick to judge, that I will remember that I don’t have it all together, and that I should be loving, even to those who are not loving towards me.

King David is an incredible example of being “non-plastic”:

“For troubles without number surround me, my sins have over taken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails with in me…” (Psalm 40:12)

“Why are you downcast; O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)

I love how David (called “a man after God’s own heart,”) never sugarcoats his circumstances or his sin, and yet he stands firm in his trust and hope in God. He is honest, and he is real – honest about his many shortcomings, but also honest in his absolute dependence on God in spite of them.

If I don’t admit that I am sick or in trouble, how will anyone know to pray for me? If I don’t confess that my kids are driving me crazy today, how will anyone support me? If I don’t tell someone that I’m really struggling to resist sin in some area of my life, who will come to help me? Our bumpy circumstances don’t magically go away when we refuse to admit we need help. We need to confess our brokenness and go to God in prayer, and ask others to help us through, because none of us have this all figured out!

There is incredible beauty in our brokenness. The heart of the Gospel is ACKNOWLEDGING our sin, our weakness, our inadequacy – through our weakness God’s power is made perfect, so let’s avoid trying to cover it up with a big plastic smile when we’re having a rough time. Then, we can get the help and support we need, and can be there to help and support others too!

Do THIS Often for One Another…

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James‬ ‭5‬:‭16-17)

During our thirteen years of marriage, my husband have been through some pretty rough waters.

I specifically remember when I was pregnant with our daughter. My soul was stirred often to pray for her safety….I would share this with my husband and he would usually take the lead and pray.

There was nothing about my pregnancy that gave us reason to believe we were in for a rough journey ahead. My pregnancy was textbook; until I woke up the morning I entered 32 weeks gestation, delivering her just a few short hours later, prematurely. The days that followed were exhausting and scary. However, God had prepared our hearts, He urged us to pray; and we now have a beautiful miracle named Sophia to remind us of those times we spent seeking The Lord for her safety.

There are many more moments we can recount, where we sought the Lord together. Many times when I felt too weak to call out, and my husband took the lead. Others, when my husband would ask me to intercede on his behalf. There’s something incredibly intimate about seeking The Lord together.

I love the scripture from James 5:16-17: “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”

Sometimes, in ministry especially, there are few people I feel I can really trust. My husband, however, has been proven to be a real pillar of strength when life seems overwhelming. Holding his hand and praying together is not only comforting, but it also makes our relationship stronger. I count it my privilege to intercede on his behalf as well, it’s something I don’t take lightly.

Can your spouse count on you to lift up his/her needs if they ask? If this is something difficult for you both, plan a time to discuss solutions in making it easier.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful treasure of marriage. Jesus, I ask that You will constantly remind us to share with our spouse our prayer requests, and spend precious moments in prayer for them daily! Let us take these requests seriously, and count it as a blessing and a privilege to lift our spouse up to You. In Jesus name, amen.

People Pleasing

Written by: Conny Varga

I am a people-pleaser. Many times, that can be a good thing. But sometimes it’s not. If you are anything like me, you know what I’m talking about. You know the times when we choose not to speak up just because we don’t want to upset others. When our actions are driven by the worry about what others will think of us. When we compromise our values for the sake of pleasing someone else. When we feel guilty every time we fail to meet the needs of a loved one. Or when someone criticizes us for something that isn’t even our fault and we feel that we need to appease that person. That’s when being a pleaser can be an incredibly heavy burden on our backs that we cannot easily rid ourselves of. We never feel free to be the person God really created us to be. By forever trying to make everyone around us happy, we take our eyes off the unchanging truth of God and His word, we forget that we are unique and loved by Him just as we are, and in essence, we consider man’s approval to be of more value than God’s.

Does that sound familiar to you? I do believe that God instructs and expects us to put the needs of others before our own and serve them with selfless love. However, we were never meant to elevate people’s needs above God’s will and desire for our lives.

Besides, doesn’t it make us feel tired, weary, and stressed? Isn’t it overwhelming to constantly worry about others’ opinions, and feeling pressured to say “yes” all the time? To live in fear of others’ disapproval? That is NOT what our loving Father intended for our lives! He did not intend for us to take on burdens that we were never meant to carry.

If you’ve ever been to Germany, you may have noticed that no matter where you go, homes and yards are well-kept, streets are swept, people are dressed nicely when leaving the house, and cars are washed. There is a high cultural expectation to take care of yourself and your possessions, and not to embarrass yourself or your neighbours. I grew up in that culture and was steeped in that mindset. And then – I got married! I have the extreme privilege to be married to a man who is pretty much the opposite of me, in pretty much every way. Very early in our marriage, when I began to stress over what I perceived to be expectations of others, my dear godly husband would look at me and ask, “Why are you so worried about what other people think??” Well, I’ve been married for 16 years, and I am still learning. It is not easy to let go of other people’s opinions and only seek to please our Heavenly Father. Yet that is what He clearly expects of us! In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul described how some people had criticized him for his writing style and personality, for the words he was speaking and the actions he was taking. Paul rose above the criticism, went on to point out that we are quick to “judge by appearances” (v. 7), and then he made this statement:

“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us…For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (vv. 12-13, 18). In other words, don’t look for the approval of others but focus on the service God has assigned to you.

That can be a tough lesson to learn, and as much as I hate to admit it, it takes discipline and conscious choosing to find contentment in God’s approval of us and not replace it with man’s praise. But it is so freeing and worth it! Let’s give our burden to the Lord and wait expectantly for His “well done!”

My Personal Testimony

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

For many years, growing up in the church, I was embarrassed to share my personal testimony of faith.  I had heard countless dramatic testimonies of salvation and life transformation that my very basic testimony seemed to pale in comparison.  Struggles with drugs overcome, ruined relationships restored, negative lifestyle choices abandoned, all for the sake of the cross.

Until one day it dawned on me; the fact that I was able to remain in Christ, my whole life, was a huge testament to God’s incredible grace and His faithfulness to the Godly heritage gone on before me. I became very thankful to Jesus for his mercy and love that I began to proclaim his providence in my life to those who would hear of it.

With that stated, I would like to share my testimony with you, Daughters, and give glory to my Lord and Saviour for His work in my life, and that of my family!

I was born in Grand Falls-Winsor, Newfoundland to a father from Peterborough, Ontario and a mother from Newfoundland.  They met at Eastern Pentecostal Bible College in Peterborough and were married in their final year of school.  Before my birth, my parents pastored a few churches before my father took a career in radio.  Due to the nature of his career we lived in several cities during my childhood years.

In all the places we lived my parents were always very active in the churches we attended, involved in quite literally every ministry department going.  As children, my younger sister and I equally spent many hours working in the church and actively participating in many of the programs offered.  As a family we loved God first, took care of each other second and served Him in our church and community third…these were the priorities I grew up with and have brought into my life as an adult.

I gave my life to Christ when I was five years old, one night after a church service, in Newfoundland.  I had been in the service that night with the adults and heard the pastor talk about heaven and our need to know Jesus in order to get there.  When I went to bed, and my mother was tucking me in, I expressed to her that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart so that I could be with Him in heaven.  She led me in a prayer and I became a follower of Christ, serving Him ever since.

At ten years old I realized my need to be baptized in water, to make my walk with Jesus known to the greater believing community and to ask for their prayers for me as I grew.  That realization shortly became a reality and I can remember that wonderful moment to this day when I declared that Jesus was my Lord.

During my teen years I desperately wanted to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues.  This began a learning process in my life that took several years.  At first, I wanted to simply speak in tongues.  It was the next logical step in my walk with God, a formula so to speak.  I was seeking the gift, the formula, and not the giver of the gift.

As the years progressed, with many disappointing trips to the altar, I learned to focus on the giver and simply rest in His presence; to know Him better; to ask Him for direction in prayer; to relinquish the control to Him; to follow His lead and the tongues would come in His time.  And they did.  And it’s awesome!  I am still learning this gift given but know that it is through intercession that the Holy Spirit moves in my life in this manner.  It is with Him that I grow in my walk with Christ and navigate this life on earth.

I love the Lord with all of my heart and I am honoured that He has blessed me with a wonderful Godly husband and two great children.  We, as a family, have devoted our lives to His work and ministry and will do so until the end.  It’s exciting to see where He will take us and how He will use us for His glory.  And I am thankful to have found my Saviour at such a young age and to have grown older with Him constantly at my side!

Daughters, never be embarrassed to share your testimony of faith and the good that the Lord is doing in your life!  Let’s share with others today!

Life on Purpose: Commit to the Learning

Written by: Emily Pelley

I’ve recently read a passage in The Message that has really stuck with me, so I’d like to share it with you:

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG

I LOVE this verse! What a beautiful description of how we are to live our lives. Simply put, the focus of this plan for life is to position our hearts, our focus, and our energy on watching God; learning from Him, keeping company with Him.

Living this life of commitment to Jesus has a foundational principle: everything…and I mean EVERYTHING… comes AFTER our relationship with Jesus.

God intended for us who have chosen to follow Him to daily, continually, search after Him. To learn more about who He is, how He loves, and how much He wants to know you. This comes before anything He will call you to do. He wants you to be securely connected to Him and reliant on His power and grace to pursue each day.

If you try to live a life on purpose outside of this source of strength, you will only go as far as your personal resolve will allow. And you will never reach our potential when we try to do things on our own strength. The power and strength we need comes from a daily connection with the Holy Spirit.

Now, if you are like me, having an extra couple hours a day to go sit by the water with your bible, or curl up in your comfy chair undisturbed is not reality (though these options sound heavenly to me right now). But that is not what we have to do in order to connect with God. If you get to do those things, than go for it! But find that time every day- no matter how small- to sit in quiet and connect with Jesus. Involve Him throughout your whole day. Continually talk with Him, pause to think of how great He is, and always seek to learn more about His character.

My challenge to you this week is to write down this verse and place it somewhere that you will read it often. Remind yourself that everything in life comes back to walking with Jesus- being still and confident in who He is and who He has made you to be.