Tag: devotional

History’s Anthem //
A Worship Devotional

It is always a surreal feeling when you hear about people encountering God through a song you helped create. It still blows me away. Somehow God, in His infinite wisdom, has wired us in such a way that even a simple melody can propel our hearts toward Him. Music moves us in a way that almost nothing else can.

But the song, History’s Anthem, is more than a melody –

IT’S A HEART CRY WE FIND THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE.

Let’s dive into the lyrics and explore what they say about our Father, His character and the praise process He invites us into on a daily basis.

There is an anthem, rising in our hearts

Born from our stories, Your presence through it all

A heart-cry of freedom, lifted up in praise

A song of redemption, in wonder of Your ways

We see the theme of this song right off the bat. It alludes to the natural, almost compulsive cry of thankfulness that rises up in the people of God when we pause and think about His faithfulness in our lives. We can’t help it. It’s our natural response. It’s what happens when we take time to remember.

Throughout the Old Testament, the people of God were instructed to pause and remember what God had done. Early on in the Bible we see Abraham and his descendants setting up memorial stones, or altars, as they traveled around the land of Canaan to help facilitate this process. These memorials served as physical reminders of powerful encounters the people had with God. When their descendants saw these stones, they remembered stories of God’s faithfulness (See Genesis 13, Genesis 28, Joshua 4 and Judges 6 for examples).

One of my favorite stories about a memorial stone is found in Joshua chapter 4. The Israelites had just crossed the Jordan river and stepped into the Promised Land. God had, for the second time, parted a large body of water so His people could walk into their inheritance on dry land. It was an absolute miracle! I’m sure the people were rushing forward into the Promised Land with some mixture of excitement and fear. Interestingly, Joshua immediately stops them, instructing a man from each of the twelve tribes to take a stone form the Jordan River and lay them together on the other side.

“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you? Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)

IT IS RIGHT TO PAUSE AND REMEMBER.

The people of Israel regularly made time to do just that, whether it was through setting up altars, reciting their history around a table, engaging in festivals or even eating yearly feasts. Why? Because it was impossible to look at their history and not run smack into the faithfulness of God.

And I suspect the same can be said for each of our lives.

You have been faithful

You are always good

Your ways are constant

Your promises are sure

Even in fire You have never left us

Steadfast forever, You will never fail

This chorus is a simple declaration, inviting us to speak out loud what the Lord has done for us. It reminds me of what David says in the first few verses of Psalm 33 –

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy. For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:1-5

I love that this Psalm doesn’t allude to our feelings in any way. It simply says, “it is fitting for the upright to praise Him,” and to do so in an extravagant way. We can all choose to worship. I can say from personal experience; I don’t always feel like worshipping. But something funny happens once the declarations start rolling – it just gets easier and easier.

PRAISE BEGETS PRAISE. THANKFULNESS BEGETS THANKFULNESS.

It’s contagious. And it’s what our Father deserves.

I’ll follow You

With total abandon

I trust Your heart

You know where You’re leading

Your promise is the ground I will stand upon

To me, the bridge of this song culminates in the natural progression of the praise process. We spend the verse and chorus reminding ourselves of His faithfulness in our lives and choosing to declare His goodness out loud. We soon begin to realize, “Oh yeah! That’s right! He has been faithful to me. He has rescued me from the junk I couldn’t get out of. He has been extremely kind to me. He hasn’t failed me yet. Can you believe He has been this consistent?”

I CAN FEEL THE TRUTH SINKING IN AGAIN AS I WRITE THIS.

And our natural response to all of this thankfulness is to trust Him again. David says as much in Psalm 25:1-3 –

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for You shall ever be put to shame…”

David had been through some difficult stuff, but he chose to find and remember God’s faithfulness through it all. And this faithfulness compelled him to lift up his soul to God again, to find God as His source of trust.

Your faithfulness

Is History’s Anthem

Your constant love

The song of creation

Let Heaven shout

You will never fail

THE SAFEST PLACE WE CAN EVER BE IS FULLY SUBMITTED TO THE WILL OF GOD IN OUR LIVES.

Why? Because His track record is flawless. He has never failed in all of history. He is too good. His way is perfect. His plans are flawless. His faithfulness is sure.

All of creation testifies to this. Our own stories reflect it. And one day, we will join with all of heaven as we declare that truth together.

IN RESPONSE:

Take a moment to worship through History’s Anthem. As you do, try to follow this simple, four-step, praise process –

  1. Start by pausing and remembering. Remind yourself of His faithfulness. Bring it to mind.
  2. Begin to thank Him out loud for whatever you thought of. Even if you don’t feel like it or it doesn’t seem overly profound, begin to declare His goodness in whatever way you can.
  3. Now, from that place of gratitude, take a moment to surrender your life – even today and its complexities – to Him again.
  4. End by thanking Him for always being more than enough.

By Caleb Seibert – AntiochLIVE

Caleb is one of the song writers on AntiochLIVE’s new album, History’s Anthem. Originally from Waco, he is now attending school in Austin, and is a part of Antioch Austin. 

BEING LIGHT

Imagine sitting in complete darkness.

Most of us have never confronted true darkness. We see its creeping shadows at the edges of our modern world, yet rarely held its prisoner for more than a moment. Streetlights hold back the night while lamps chase away the gloom. Darkness today is vaguely uncomfortable, a forgotten dread where seldom do we feel its full weight. This was not always the case.

In Genesis 1:2-3, the universe existed in total darkness. Complete and absolute. There was no substance to the ever-present blackness, its identity wholly defined by the absence of light.

Into this void of nothing God spoke, His breath radiating into the world as light. Light is the seed of creation, something into the nothing. Light brings beauty. Light provides perspective. Without it, life is impossible.

LIGHT ORIGINATED IN GOD AND CANNOT EXIST APART FROM HIM.

Sin plunged man back into the emptiness, cutting us off from the Source. Sin’s penalty is death and darkness. Man now lives in the fading glow of creation, alive for a brief moment, yet born into spiritual darkness. We exist as a mere shadow of what was, a faint memory of what could have been.

In John 1:1-4, mankind existed in darkness. There was no real substance in the ever-present spiritual blackness. Man’s identity lost in the absence of God’s light.

Into this void of nothing God once again spoke. This time His Word entered the world as a man. Jesus is the Seed of the new creation. Instead of sin’s darkness, He is the light of the world (John 8:12). Rather than sin’s curse of death, His light is the life of men.

With this in mind, consider the profound implications of Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” If Jesus had not spoken it, we’d consider His words heresy. We introduced the darkness into God’s creation, what right do we have to claim the title “light,” the very name reserved for the Savior?

Jesus became a light source amid a dark world. When we received His Spirit within us, we too became a light source. Darkness has no power over the light. They are not equals, in fact, darkness only exists in light’s absence. The only way to stop the light is to cover it up or turn it off.

Let’s represent Jesus to the nations of the earth. Let’s illuminate the people groups and tribes that live in spiritual darkness. Let’s light up our campus, workplace and neighborhood. The darkness cannot stop us. But if we aren’t careful, we can be covered up, smothered by the busyness and distractions of the world around us.

One light effortlessly dispels the darkness around it. Never minimize the impact you can make, even if you walk the path alone. Those living in the surrounding gloom will be drawn in, ultimately becoming lit up themselves.

AND MANY LIGHTS TOGETHER BECOME A CITY ON A HILL THAT CANNOT BE HIDDEN.

No amount of darkness can cover it up, its light completely transforming all that is around. Let’s commit today never to take for granted the deposit within us, and let’s let our light shine in the darkness.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

  • Where does the fear of darkness keep you from shining the light of the Gospel?
  • What can you do to shift your focus off the emptiness of the darkness and onto the light of Jesus?
  • Identify places of influence God has given you—your job, your class, your neighborhood, etc. What steps can you take to shine the light in these places? As a starting place, consider praying for individual people by name and finding opportunities to share your testimony.
  • What opportunity do you have to take the light of the Gospel into some place of darkness around the world?

By Drew Steadman – Adult Pastor

A Faith That’s Steady

In Exodus 17, we’re told of an epic battle God’s people had to fight against the Amalekites. But there was something peculiar about this fight: As long as Moses held his staff high, the Israelites would win. But if he became tired and had to lower his arms for a rest, the tide of war turned and the Amalekites would begin to route Moses’ people. Finally, Aaron and Hur joined Moses and held his arms up for him and in verse 12 we’re told that, “his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO FIGHT FOR SOMETHING IN YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY?

If you haven’t, you should teach me your secrets because I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t! But seriously, have you ever had to believe God for something over a long and difficult period of not seeing the promise fulfilled? Maybe you’ve been waiting on the Holy Spirit to heal you. Perhaps you’ve needed Jesus to reveal Himself to a family member who is far from God. Or maybe you’ve been begging the Father for provision. This is the position in which my wife and I found ourselves not long ago. Having made the hard transition to overseas life, we finally felt it was time to grow our family. But the negative pregnancy tests began to roll by month after month, until those months turned into years of empty-handedness.

We sought God for advice on how we should grow our family and where we landed as being the best option for our unique situation was to fly home for a procedure that we felt confident the Lord had led us to. The only catch that was that it was by no means a sure-fire procedure and—living overseas on a budget—we would not be able to return home for some time to try again. It was now or never. We shared vulnerably with friends and family about how nervous and scarred we were and it wasn’t long before we were told by many well-meaning people what I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of times in your struggles: Just. Have. Faith.

JUST HAVE FAITH.

It sounded so easy and yet try as I might, I just could not conjure up the feeling that everything was going to be okay and not worry about anything going wrong. But that is when I read about the battle against the Amalekites. Specifically, I learned that ‘emuwnah—the Hebrew word used to tell us that Moses’ arms were steady—is also one of the words used for faith in the Old Testament. Indeed, verse 12 could be translated to say that Moses’ arms had faith. But this story isn’t about a feeling that Moses fought to conjure up. It’s about an action that he continued to do over a long period of time.

What if we viewed faith this way?

WHAT IF HOW WE FELT DIDN’T MATTER BECUASE ULTIMATELY, THE DEEP BELIEFS AND VALUES THAT DICTATE OUR ACTIONS ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO US THAN OUR FEELINGS?

Wouldn’t we be able to understand passages like, “faith without works is dead,” or “if you love me you will obey my commands” so much better? So, my response to just have faith began to change. I didn’t try to make myself experience emotion or avoid the fact that I was scarred to death. Instead I held my head high and said, “I do have faith. Because no matter how I feel, I’m getting on that plane to go home and obey what God said to do.”

So if you find yourself in a fight to trust God for a promise, my question to you is not “how are you going to force yourself to feel about it?” My question is, “What are you going to do about it?” Because it doesn’t matter how scarred you are.

WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU CHOOSE TO OBEY GOD OVER THE LONG HAUL, NO MATTER WHAT.

As for my story, it really doesn’t matter how it ends. Because the point was never really for us to see if we would actually have a baby. It was to learn how to activate a real faith that shows itself through actions, not feelings. Although if you must know, we’re currently in the market for a baby stroller!

By an Antioch Missionary

Isaiah 9:6 // The Promises that Never Fail

God does not do things like we do. His ways are upside down to us. That may be one of the reasons the season celebrating the birth of His Son captivates people. A child born in a barn.  A child who comes into our lives low. No legions of soldiers or loyal subjects at His command. He introduces His upside down Kingdom from the beginning. Don’t be fooled, though.

THE BOY-CHILD MAY BE WRAPPED IN FLESH, BUT HE IS WHAT WE NEED, WHAT WE MUST HAVE.

Seven hundred years before His humble entrance, God told us who He was and what He would offer to all of us. Isaiah 9:6 gives us details because human beings have a lot of questions— Who can I talk to? Who is really in charge? Is there anything more to life than what I am experiencing right now? Where is peace in the midst of the chaos that I see around me? The God of the universe addressed these questions. Instead of just giving answers, He gave a Promise/the Promise of Isaiah 9:6. You have seen the words of this verse during the Christmas season on cards, marquees and posters, or you have heard them sung during Christmas concerts.

“For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Messiah, the Promise, carries with Him the answers we need. He is the One who always offers the best advice for any situation. He is our Wonderful Counselor.

He is the One who is in charge. He is the Mighty God and He will always have the last word. The government of nations and of our lives rests on His shoulders.

He is the everlasting Father. No, this life is not all there is. There is an everlasting life option of Heaven if we make the choice to trust in the Messiah. He wants us, but we must choose Him and then we can have a Father who never fails, disappoints or leaves.

AND, WE DON’T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL HEAVEN TO EXPERIENCE THE FATHER’S LOVE.

He is the One who brings a deep peace to every circumstance of life. The promise is not that the winds of life won’t sometimes blow furiously, but that He will always be the peace who holds us in the midst of the gales.

IN RESPONSE:

Take a few minutes to read this verse out loud and let the promises capture and comfort you. Then, using the links below, worship the Promised One by listening to portions of Handel’s “Messiah.”

By Penny Allison – Adult Pastor and Women’s Ministry

Hungry Yet Always Filled

Have you ever experienced the physical pain that comes along with being hungry? After not eating for a while you can hear your stomach turning and you start to feel weak and tired. It is not a pleasant feeling but it is our body’s response to tell us that something is off and we need food. Normally, we listen and eat to satisfy our hunger.

FROM A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE, BROKENNESS IS A WAY FOR US TO SEE THAT WE ARE HUNGRY AND LONGING FOR SOMETHING TO FILL US UP.

Depending on what the brokenness stems from, it shows what you are hungry for. If you fill yourself with things that don’t fully satisfy you, you’ll notice. Just like a stomach growls when it’s hungry, brokenness is our warning sign to fill ourselves up with something that will satisfy.

AS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, HUNGER FOR GOD IS ONE OF THE MOST ATTRACTIVE ATTRIBUTES YOU CAN POSSESS.

In Isaiah 55:1, God invites us to come to Him in our search for satisfaction: “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” This is God’s gracious invitation for you to seek Him just as you are. He knows that you have absolutely nothing to bring to the table but He desperately wants you to come anyway.

THE BEAUTY OF OUR INADEQUACY IS IT SHOWS US THAT GOD’S AFFECTION TOWARD US IS UNCONDITIONAL AND CONSISTENT.

He always pursues us gently yet relentlessly. There is never a question of whether or not God will satisfy us in our places of need. Scripture is very clear that God satisfies anyone who is seeking for His presence.

SO HOW CAN WE BE PEOPLE WHO ARE HUNGRY FOR MORE OF GOD?

  • 1. Look Up // set your eyes on Jesus: As humans, we tend to look at ourselves a lot. We focus on our failures, weaknesses, strengths, successes, etc. No matter what we focus on, the fact is we look to ourselves too much. We can never make it to Jesus by what we do or don’t do, and we can never muster up enough inside ourselves to consistently pursue Him. We must look up toward Jesus and focus on what He did already for us. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). That truth alone should bring us to the throne of grace each day. God is willing and able to pursue you every second of every day. It is possible to be hungry for God because He has been and always will be pursuing our hearts first. That gives us the confidence to come to Him knowing that we will never be turned away!
  • 2. Look In // depend on Jesus to meet your needs: Psalm 22:26 says, “the afflicted will eat and be satisfied.” Brokenness is God’s gift to us so that we can see our need for Him. Hebrews 4:15-16 also tells us we can draw near to Him in our weakness and He will give us grace and mercy to help in our time of need. Once you’ve looked toward Jesus, search yourself and find out what areas of your life you need Jesus to satisfy. What parts of you are broken and need God’s grace to fill? When you find these places of your life that are painful and hurt to go to, let Jesus meet you there in them. Physical hunger always comes after being filled; it’s a process. In the same way, having hunger for God always comes after being filled by God. He uses our weaknesses and our brokenness so that in those hard places, He can show us our needs. Like the good Father He is, He comes into those places and gives our souls the satisfaction we can’t find anywhere else. “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. Psalm 107:9” Since He continually fills us with what is good (Himself), we can continually seek Him in our disappoint, our brokenness, and our everyday life.
  • 3. Look Out // be expectant for God to move: When we look up toward Jesus to realize His relentless pursuit for us, and look in ourselves dependent on Jesus to satisfy our needs, we can look out and expect God to do the same in others’ lives! In Matthew 10:8 Jesus tells His disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons all because they freely received so they can freely give. Jesus doesn’t want us to hoard all His goodness for ourselves. He wants us to operate out of the overflow! He fills us to the point of overflow so that we can freely give away what He has given to people in need. Since we each personally experience God’s satisfaction in our places of need, we can be confident and expectant for God to satisfy other people. That is why we pray for others and go out to evangelize! Being filled to the point of overflow is an everyday thing and it happens naturally when you are hungry for the purposes of God; they never disappoint and only lead to more hunger!

Being hungry is an indicator that you need to fill yourself with something that will satisfy your hunger. Jesus often uses our hurts and brokenness to show us that He alone will satisfy our desires. The more we fill ourselves with God and His purpose for our lives, the more we will want God. It’s a glorious mystery of the Gospel: we are always hungry for God, yet constantly filled by Him!

By Toni Fortunato – Antioch Orlando

Better Than You Think

Have you ever had something that was better than you thought it would be? It’s like the best thing ever. Nothing makes you feel like more of a winner than when something you bought is better than you thought it would be!

This is how I feel about Chipotle EVERY time I go! I know I’m going to spend less then $10 and have a delicious meal. But somehow, every time I walk out of Chipotle I leave feeling like a winner because my chicken bowl is always better than I thought it would be.

I think God is a lot like my chicken bowl at Chipotle. Other than the fact that the two have nothing in common, they are the same in that over the years I’ve begun to realize that God is ALWAYS better than I think. Always!

One way He continually shows me that He is better than I think is through His outrageous love.

I used to think I had a pretty good grasp on God’s love. He’s a good father, He loves me, you know, all that stuff. I was ready for the deep stuff, ready to move on from the elementary truth that “Jesus loves me” and dig into some big boy, pastor stuff like the rapture.

Then Rose was born.  Rose is my almost 2-year-old daughter and she is something special! When she was born I started to think and feel and do things I hadn’t ever thought, felt or done before. Saying that I love Rose just doesn’t seem to cut it. I love her SO MUCH!

You know that SO love? That love that pulls on you, moves you and makes you look silly? That love that hurts so good? Yeah that. That happened.

One morning when I was feeling good about how great of a dad I was the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Andrew, you’ll never be a better dad than Me.” He wasn’t saying it to discourage me with comparison, I could tell He was inviting me into something deeper. If as Rose’s dad I SO love her…and I can’t be a better dad than God…how much must He SO love me? How much must He SO love you?

In John 3:16 God says He “…SO LOVED the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

What if Jesus doesn’t just love you? What if Jesus SO LOVES you?

What if the God of all creation, in all of His majestic perfection and power, looks at you and has such a deep, compulsory, powerful and dare I say foolish affection for you that He passionately dives head first into your dirty diaper, can’t really speak very well, don’t know how to walk, spills everything all the time (figuratively or literally…) life not because He is obligated to do so as the all-powerful, stately Ruler Of The Universe but as your Father that SO loves you?

In Response:

What would be different about your life today if you believed God SO loves you, that He voluntarily gave His life to pay your debt and forever be with you – because He really likes you?

Would you be free to ditch that grudge? Would you like yourself more? Would you worry less? Would you laugh a little more easily?

Maybe God is SO good that the knowledge of His SO love doesn’t actually have a ceiling on it…or a floor…or walls (Ephesians 3:18-19). Maybe today, no matter where you are, what you think or what you’ve experienced the love of God is better than you think.

By Andrew Znachko, Antioch College Station Executive Pastor

andrew z

Andrew and his daughter Rose

Six Ways God Describes Himself That May Surprise You

Exodus 34: 6-7a says “And He (The Lord), passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.'”

This description may come to mind when we think of Jesus in the New Testament, but these are the words God chooses to describe Himself in the Old Testament. They are even more precious and impacting when we put them in context.

God reveals Himself to Moses in this way, the second time he went up to meet with God in order to receive the 10 commandments. That means the newly formed children of Israel had already seen God’s mighty works and fallen away worshipping a golden calf of all things. They worshipped a statue instead of the living God! They had indulged and over indulged in revelry, just two chapters before.

Yet this is how God described Himself to them: a compassionate, gracious, forgiving God.

Does anyone else breathe a big sigh of relief when you read this passage? These verses have been life changing for me. This declaration from God Himself means I can run to Him, rather than away from Him in fear.

Despite their sinful choices, Moses begs God to go with them and show them His Glory.

At this point, God had already enforced the 10 plagues on Egypt while not allowing them to touch His own people. Was this not God’s glory? They had already passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea safely while the waters washed away the enemy pursuing them. Wasn’t that pretty glorious?  They had been directed by the cloud that covered them by day, and then they were protected by the fire that surrounded them by night. Is there more glory to be seen? They had been given water from the rock, manna and quail from heaven and their shoes still hadn’t worn out in all their years of traveling. Really, had they not seen God’s glory yet?

Sadly, even after experiencing all of these miracles, they turned away from God and worshipped a man made image.

Yet, in the midst of their brokenness, God comes down and stands with Moses to show him His glory.

God declares, “This is who I Am”…

I am compassionate,

I am gracious,

I am slow to anger,

I am abounding in love,

I am faithful,

I am forgiving…

They didn’t deserve His glory. They didn’t earn His glory. He could be none other. This is who God is!

On one of our recent trips to India a group of prostitutes approached one of our pastors for help. Several had AIDS, most were abused, hopeless, broken and poor. Our Indian friend explained even though he didn’t have money to fix their problems, he did know the Answer to their deepest needs. They were stunned and overwhelmed to hear there was a God who loved them and would forgive them of their sins, even their sins. In the face of such compassion and grace they surrendered and encountered a forgiving God. We watched them as they joined us at church in the front row, kneeling with hands raised, worshipping God, with tears streaming down their faces washing their hearts and lives.

This is God’s glory!

This is who God is, He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, forgiving and abounding in love and faithfulness. Our God is glorious!

IN RESPONSE

Have you misunderstood who God is? In the midst of your brokenness let God come stand with you and show you who He is. God’s love is bigger than your sin. Today is the day to stop running from God, confess your sin and run into His compassion, grace and forgiveness.

By Julie Steadman, Church Planting School Staff Member

Follow Me

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus uses the words, “Follow me”?

I don’t know about you, but every time I read those words about Jesus calling His disciples, my heart is stirred. At the same time a very real, tangible peace settles over me.  Jesus didn’t say, “Fight for Me.” or “Admire Me.”  He said, “Follow me.”  There are at least two reasons He called His disciples to follow Him.

First of all, Jesus is always calling people who will go to work with Him every day, sharing His love and message of salvation everywhere we go.  Matthew 4:19 says, “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  This verse indicates that He wants us with Him, to bear fruit in His name, to minister to people’s needs in His name and to be His hands and feet as we walk through life. It’s great to have purpose!

But perhaps even more importantly, Jesus wants us to be with Him every day.

He loves our presence, just as we love His. He doesn’t just want us to be worker bees in the Kingdom. He actually enjoys being with us and wants us to enjoy Him too. It’s great to be wanted!

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”

John 12:26 “Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be.”

John 15:15   “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends.”

IN RESPONSE

We were created to follow Jesus, closely, intimately, 24/7. Take a moment to thank God for calling you to follow Him and ask for a greater revelation of His desire for you to follow Him.

By Danny Mulkey, Caleb Zone Pastor and Elder

God Believes in You

I’ve played sports since age nine, so I’ve worked with lots of coaches. My favorite was Mr. Cain who coached my little league baseball team. I liked him so much because he always encouraged me by sharing the positive things he saw in me. During my first year is playing baseball, I played with kids I didn’t know and I was not very good, so I felt bad about myself. However, Mr. Cain always built me up so I loved hanging out with him. His belief in my caused me to believe in myself.

What Mr. Cain did for me was similar to what God did for Jesus after His baptism when He said “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” What is interesting about this passage is that it occurs before Jesus began preaching and performing miracles. Why then would God tell Jesus He was pleased with Him if He hadn’t done anything to be pleased with?

I think God believed in who Jesus was and not what Jesus would or could do.

This confidence that God the Father bestowed upon Jesus actually empowered Him to go and have a successful ministry. If someone believes in us, the we are empowered to simply strive for success out of a place of joy and freedom. If we don’t know or experience someone’s belief in us, then we tend to have a need or an unhealthy drive to excel in hopes that it will draw the favor or belief of someone around us.

IN RESPONSE:

If you walk in the confidence that God and others believe in you, then share that belief with someone else. If you have not experienced someone’s belief in you, then receive this truth:

Just as God was pleased with Jesus outside of His performance of ministry, God is pleased with you.

You can also reinforce this truth by asking others who know you to share what they see in you, just like Mr. Cain shared what he saw in me. Those words have the power to change your life.

By Vincent Carpenter, Teaching and Administrative Pastor

Your Place on the Team

One thing I could not stand when I was growing up was sitting on the bench, no matter the sport. I always wanted to contribute to the team in a meaningful way. This is still true for me today. This makes me especially grateful for the contribution that both you and I are able to make as part of God’s team. 1 Peter 2:9 says

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Throughout history, the contribution God intended for each member of His team, the Body of Christ, has been marginalized.

This marginalization is primarily due to a sacred-secular divide: priests due God’s work, everyone else does their work.

Thankfully this divide is not as noticeable in our generation, but it still exists – so let’s briefly discuss God’s design for His team as a royal priesthood.

Having not grown up within a monarchy, royal families have always intrigued me. In the absence of a monarchy in our country, I have learned about royal families primarily through literary stories. As a child, I remember reading Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and wondering what it would have been like to have servants attending my needs. I also remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia where children entered into royal identities with elevated purposes.

These stories touch on a core aspect of who God has re-made us to be in Jesus: a royal priesthood.

So while kings and queens impress us with their power, we should be more impressed with God’s work of combining royal power with priestly service. God did this primarily in the person of Jesus. In the Old Testament, the priesthood was separated from the executive branch of kingship because so much power could not be entrusted to one person. But in the Person of Jesus, Priest and King were brought together. Jesus is called our Great High and the King of Glory at the same time. Not only does He grant us access to God the Father through His priestly intercession, He has all authority in heaven and one earth – an authority that He has delegated to the Church, His royal priesthood.

What are the implications of being a royal priesthood?

  • Royal. Your identity has been changed. You are what the Bible calls a “co-heir with Jesus.” You have God’s power flowing through your life, whether you feel like it or not.
  • Priest. Your purpose has been elevated. You no longer live for yourself, but for Him who died for you and for others. You have access to God through prayer – both for yourself and for those you serve.

IN RESPONSE:

Do you know your identity and purpose? Do you access God through prayer and walk out in the power He’s given you? Ask God to reveal what this new identity as a royal priesthood means. Are there any lies that are keeping you from believing this?

By Jordon Ogden, Pastor of Antioch Ann Arbor