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CONTENMENT IN THE LORD

Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by the world around us and forget who we are and who we belong to. The world wants to convince us that we’ll be more successful when we have particular possessions, look a certain way, or learn to control how others see us. 
For the Christian, our goal is to become more like Jesus. The apostle Peter says it this way, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
We wanted to share with you some resources that can help remind you that it’s who you are in Jesus that makes all the difference.
Do you ever struggle with contentment? 
It almost seems like the world wants us to be unhappy and dissatisfied. It’s like we’re on an endless treadmill to acquire more and more. But that’s not the life we’re called to. 
In Why Can’t I Be Content?, Tez Brooks uses a beloved pet’s example to examine what contentment looks like. This brief but powerful article is a helpful place to start if you need a refresher on what truly makes us happy. 
Do you ever wish you were someone else?
The short film B Me examines fulfillment from a whole new perspective. What if you had an app that allowed you to become the perfect version of yourself for any situation? Imagine being able to push a button and perfectly fit into any situation or group.
This three-and-a-half minute film helps remind us that there are no shortcuts to fitting in. The goal might not be about finding an ideal version of ourselves. 
The video is available in five languages, and we think you’ll find it to be an excellent resource for stirring up a conversation with family and friends on what true fulfillment looks like.

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FIVE FIRST STEPS IN FOLLOWING JESUS

Okay so I believe in Jesus now, but how do I start my relationship with Him? What do I do now that I’m saved? 

Here are 5 first steps in following Jesus that can help answer these questions: 

Pray
Prayer is when you talk to God. He not only can hear you but wants to hear about your day, about what’s getting you down and what you’re grateful for. And speaking of gratitude, if you’ve never prayed before, start by thanking Jesus for saving you from your sins. Thank him for the fact that he will always be faithful to you. His love for you will never change even if everything else does. 

Read the Bible
Prayer is when you talk to God but did you know that God wants to talk to you? One way he speaks and guides is through the bible, which is a collection of his words to us. Psalm 119:105 says, “your word is a lamp unto my feet, a light on my path.” There will be dark moments on this journey where you don’t know which steps to take. Let God speak to you through his words in those moments. But don’t just wait to listen to him when things go wrong; make it a habit to read your bible daily- on your phone or with some friends at youth group. You can even listen to the bible on audio when you take a walk. 

Some parts of the bible are confusing, which is fine, just like it’s fine to not always understand what a friend is saying. When miscommunication happens, we need to let go of an original idea we had in our head and listen to our friend intentionally. This is how God wants us to read his words. A good way to start is by reading a section of the bible called The Gospels. They are historical accounts of Jesus’ life. You can learn more about The Gospels by watching this video. And if you don’t have a bible yet, you can read the bible on apps like this one or this one.

Join a church 
Maybe you’re already part of a church and have been in churches your whole life. But if you don’t know what a church is, here’s a general idea: it’s a community of Jesus-followers who help each other go deeper with God and show his love to others. You might think that finding a church during a pandemic is really tough, and you’re right. But this pandemic can also be an opportunity to pray about which church you’d like to be a part of in the future. One thing you can do is google, “churches in _____” and add your city or town. Then pray and check out different websites to see how different churches are connecting online. Or look at their instagram and start thinking about what going to church could look like in the future.

The future may be a very scary thing to think about right now. If that’s where you’re at, remember the bigger goal: to join a community of people who can help you grow your faith. If you’re thinking along those lines, you’re on the right track to experiencing more of what God wants for you! 

Share your story
God not only wants you to experience his love; he wants your friends to experience it too! God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). He wants to give you the opportunity to join him in this great endeavour!

Participating in this opportunity is called “the Great Commission.” It’s basically going to those around you and talking about faith and what it’s like to follow Jesus. There’s the word “co” in there because you’re not alone on this adventure. Jesus promises that he’s with us as we talk about him.

Inviting your friend to discover faith can be as simple as sharing the Faith Adventure with them. Download the Voke app and start the Faith Adventure with one friend or a group of friends. This can have a huge impact on their life – and even their eternity.

Keep following Jesus 
Finally, always remember that Jesus loves you. And the right way to respond to his love is by repenting from your sins and obeying him. That means doing a 180 degree turn from the life you were living before and living the way he wants you to live now. In the Gospels, Jesus said the following words to people like you who were new to faith: “whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).

The way we respond to a friend’s love says a lot about if we love them in return. As you begin experiencing Jesus’ love and power in your life, our prayer is that you get to know him through prayer, his word, your new church, participating in his work and obeying him in your everyday life. May these first steps in following Jesus be taken in confidence knowing that Jesus is with you on this lifelong journey! 

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GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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UNASHAMED TO SHARE

We are driven to create opportunities for everyone, everywhere to encounter Jesus. We believe there is no higher calling, and we’re excited about all the opportunities we have to proclaim His name together as we partner with you. 

We’d like to invite you to pray for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. You can use these prompts in your personal or family devotions, and even incorporate them into church gatherings and groups. 


Pray for boldness

Pray for workers

Pray for receptivity

Pray for the coming kingdom 

Pray for boldness
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19)


The Book of Acts tells us a powerful story about how the disciples’ conviction and boldness impacted Jerusalem and beyond. Despite significant resistance and danger, they shared the gospel message with anyone who would listen—and the effect was dramatic. People responded to the message with enthusiasm.


Spend some time this week praying for boldness. Ask the Lord to: Remove any fears you may have about sharing your faith. Give you the courage to share your testimony with the people who need to hear it. Empower your church to reach into your community to demonstrate and share the good news of the gospel.  Continue encouraging missionaries around the world who have dedicated their lives to teaching people about Jesus.  Help in equipping us to reach new people groups who are ready to hear the gospel in their heart language.  It’s risky to pray for boldness. After all, we’re asking the Lord to take us out of our comfort zone. We naturally want to play it safe and avoid risk. But if we genuinely want to help others know and experience Jesus’s goodness, we need to be brave. 
Join us as we pray for boldness!

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PRAY THAT GOD SENDS WORKERS INTO HIS FIELDS FOR HARVEST

We are fully committed to fulfilling the Great Commission. We want to see people all over the world discover what it means to follow Jesus. We’re focusing on prayer for global missions. 
Please join us as we pray for God to send workers into the mission field.

 
Pray for workers 
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:35–38).
Matthew tells us that Jesus toured the towns and villages around Judea, sharing the good news of the kingdom and healing all the sick. He then tells us that Jesus was driven by His sense of compassion. These people were hard-pressed and vulnerable. Not only was He caring for these people, but He was also demonstrating to the disciples what ministry looked like.


It was about sharing the gospel and meeting needs.
The Lord looked forward to the disciples picking up His work and carrying it throughout the world. And even then, He wanted to make sure that the disciples were praying for others to continue their work as well.


The spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of people all over the world haven’t changed much. They’re still harassed and helpless. They’re still sheep without shepherds. Please pray with us for God to send out workers.


Now, let’s focus on a few specific areas:
Pray for people to recognize God’s call 
God is calling all of us to fulfill the Great Commission, but we’re not all called to the same tasks.

Pray that people become serious about discovering what their role is. Ask the Holy Spirit to seek God’s will for their lives and ministry. If they’re called to give, pray for conviction. If they’re called to go, pray that God clearly reveals it.


Pray for equipping Many people are willing to bring in the harvest, but they don’t know what the next steps should be.

Pray for churches and ministries to help prepare people to share their faith, and discover the work God has prepared for them to do. 


Pray for those who are called to go
All over the world, there are people called to be harvesters. Many never end up pursuing their calling because they might be too comfortable, afraid, or busy. Jesus asked us not to simply pray for harvesters, but He asked us to pray that they’d be sent out. Ask the Lord to send out workers for the harvest. 

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Saved By The Word Of God

Brant’s story is a dramatic example of the power of God’s Word to change lives, even in desperate circumstances. You are part of his testimony through your prayers and gifts to get Scriptures to people in great spiritual need.

“If God can save someone like me, He can save anyone. I thought everything was going fine. My wife and I were married for 19 years and had two sons. I got a construction job working out of town, and things quickly went downhill.

While on a job, I reconnected with a former classmate from junior high. She said she was going through some difficult times and needed to talk to someone. I agreed to go to dinner with her, but that one conversation led to a motel room.

I went home and told my wife about the affair. She cried. I had broken her heart. I felt so ashamed and so dirty. She told our sons, and I could see the pain it caused them. I knew I was unworthy of such a good family. I decided I was going to commit suicide.
She Told Me She Had Been Praying for This-Praying for Us.

I walked into our bedroom and pulled my pistol from the bedside table. I sat down and put the barrel to my head, but a thought stopped me. I couldn’t shoot myself in our house with my family inside. I needed to go outdoors. I hid the gun in my pocket and walked past my wife through the front door.

A LIFE-SAVING INVITATION

As I did, the mailman dropped our mail into the mailbox, saw me and waved, then pulled into our driveway. He said he wanted to invite our family to his church the next morning. I tried to brush him off, saying that we might go. Then, he started pleading with me, ‘Please, please come to church.’ I thought of the gun in my pocket and told myself that I would just do it later.

I went back in the house and told my wife that we were going to church the next day. Again, she cried. She had been praying for this.

A HEART SAVED

One Sunday, our pastor preached on John 3:16. When the invitation came, I sat frozen, white-knuckling the pew in front of me. Those words stayed with me as I left for another off-site job the next morning.

On my first night at the motel, I tried to find something on television, but I couldn’t settle. I heard something within me say, ‘Brant, there’s a Bible in that dresser drawer. I want you to go and get it.’ I pulled open the drawer and found a Bible and started reading.

I read in Luke 8:22–25 about Jesus calming the storm. I felt Jesus tell me, ‘Brant, if I can save these disciples from this fierce storm, I can certainly save you from your sins. Just yield unto Me.’ I placed the Bible on the bed and fell prostrate on the floor, weeping, and invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. He saved me from my sins that night, and I’ve never been the same.”

Brant later became a soul winner and shares the Gospel in a prison ministry. The Great Commission Coalition offers a unique structure that encourages spiritual growth and accountability in each man’s personal relationship with Christ. Our members are people from all walks of life who have an intentional focus on the objective of winning others to Christ.

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GOD WILL SPEAK TO YOU

Someone once told me that if you are struggling to hear God’s voice, or if you don’t feel you can sense His leading, then go back to the last thing He spoke to you.

Elijah experienced the power of God in ways most of us can only imagine. On one occasion, the king (Ahab), accused him of being ‘the troubler of Israel’ (1 Kings 18: 17). Elijah, not one to back down even before the highest monarch in the land, then poured out a catalogue of wrongs committed by Ahab, including abandoning the Lord’s commands and leading the nation into idol worship.

Elijah then challenged the king to a showdown. ‘Bring me your best prophets of Baal and the nation will see who the real God is’ (my paraphrase).

So, crowds of people showed up from all over the country along with 450 representatives of the idol, Baal. You know the story: the Baal prophets and Elijah each set up an altar with a dead bull on top and each called upon their God to ignite the sacrifice by fire from Heaven.

So confident was Elijah in the Lord’s power and the foolishness of idol worship, that He even started teasing the prophets as they grew more desperate for their god to hear them: ‘Shout louder people, he’s a god, isn’t he? Maybe he’s just busy today, perhaps he has dozed off, or is travelling somewhere’ (1 Kings 18: 27, my paraphrase).

Elijah then made His sacrifice even harder to ignite, with copious amounts of water and, after a short prayer, the fire of God exploded onto the scene, as the people fell on their faces exclaiming, ‘The Lord – he is God!’

Elijah promptly had the prophets executed, prophesied an end to the nation’s famine and ran like a wild sprinter to Ahab’s hometown (Jezreel) just ahead of a heavy downpour.

Not bad for a day’s work, except that in Jezreel, Elijah received word from the king’s wife (Jezebel) that she will stop at nothing to ensure he is brutally executed.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the miracles Elijah had just experienced, fear gripped his heart like a vice, and he ran for his life.

At first, the text of 1 Kings keeps us in suspense as to where he is headed. He leaves his servant in Beersheba, then continues alone into the desert, praying with a fearful and discouraged heart that God might take him. Eventually, he arrives at Horeb. Why here?

The author of 1 Kings tells us that this is the mountain of God – it is the same place as Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 commandments. Elijah hasn’t run away; he has run to the place where God speaks. The man of God fled to the one location he knows of where God words can be heard. Maybe God will speak here again – to him.

At Elijah’s lowest point (and even those who know God’s love and power experience those times), where a dark cloud threatened to envelop his soul, Elijah found his way to the place of God’s Word.

The good news is that God did speak again to Elijah and so, God can whisper words to you and me too. Perhaps we just need to go back to the mountain – to His Word. For some of us, that might be to the last thing He said.

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WITH MY EYES I’VE SEEN THE GLORY

A few years ago I took a hike with some friends up into The Smoky Mountains on a Saturday afternoon, to a lake in the mountains The weather forecast was iffy, but it turned out to be mostly sunny as we were hiking in and while we ate our lunch by the lake. But as we finished eating, the clouds were rolling in, down the cliff on the other side of the lake, and enveloping us in fog.

We hoped and prayed the fog/clouds would clear, and we resumed our hike, which would take us in a wide circle around the lake basin and up above the cliff side to a lookout area where, on a clear day, you have an incredible view for many miles. The clouds partly cleared by the time we got there, and we had a pretty majestic vista. We were able to see most of the mountain as the sun came out again. Then we started back down, praising God for the wonderful treat we had seen. Little did we know that a much greater gift was in store.

Several of us decided to go back the way we had come, as the brushy area ahead was wet. The children with us scampered on ahead, and soon called the adults over to the cliff area where they were, to see the rainbow they were looking at.

What we saw was no ordinary rainbow, which would have filled a major section of the sky. Rather, we saw a miniature rainbow, appearing to be maybe 6-10 feet across, nearly full circle, with a bright glow on the inside of it. In the center was our shadow, with each person seeing his or her own shadow in the very center, and the others’ shadows around that. It was slack-jaw awe-inspiring, unlike anything any of us had seen in our lives. With the late sun at our backs, the “rainbow” would fade in and out as the fog came and went over the lake. We watched for several minutes until the fog seemed to be clearing for good, and we thanked the Lord for the glorious spectacle, far better even than the beautiful view we had seen of The Smokies. My friend, took some pictures of the by-then-fading scene, but they don’t do it justice.

We did some net research and found that these phenomena are called “glories.” It’s possible you have seen them from an airplane, looking down on the clouds, if the sun is just right. I’ve seen that, but this was more spectacular. In fact, we have concluded that it was a type of glory called the “Brocken Spectre,” once believed to be seen only from the rim of the Haleakala Crater on Maui, and from Brocken in the Harz mountains of Germany. It still gives me chills to think about it, and I’m sure I will never forget that moment.

It seemed as if God was trying to tell us that, despite the horrible things we often encounter on this earth, the glory that is in store for us will surpass anything we have ever known here. In trying to describe God, Isaiah wrote that no eye has seen nor ear heard anything like our God. The apostle Paul quotes that in 1 Corinthians 2:9 and applies it to the glories that await us.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

And in 2 Corinthians 3:11, he says,

“So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!”

It truly was an awesome day and reminded us of the amazingly glorious things that God has planned for us — things we can only dimly imagine now. I long for the day when Christ will come and make all things glorious!

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WE ARE BEING WATCHED

What message are we as Christ-followers actually airing to the world through our interactions? Are we salt or just salty? I’m speaking to myself.

Let me be transparent here. I co-lead a worldwide evangelism and discipleship ministry. Last week, I responded to one of my co-leaders on a string of email messages regarding an upcoming event. Prior to this, impatience had wormed its way into my heart regarding a totally unrelated incident and an unrelated set of people; but instead of dealing with my impatience and letting that die away, this ugly attitude sponsored my reply to my co-leader. As I pressed the send button, my spirit fell into complete unrest. The message was fine; my tone behind it stunk. Holy Spirit started nudging me with conviction, You wrote that without Me. We need to make things right so the enemy doesn’t have a foothold.

You know how God works. It just so happened that I had been reading the book of Matthew. The Word from my morning quiet time came alive in me.

Jesus said, “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God,” (Matthew 5:23-24)

Later that night, while trying in vain to enjoy a personal time of communion with the Lord, my unrest increased. Go to this friend and make things right. Even if my co-worker didn’t detect the saltiness behind the mask of my well-written “sweetly corrective” email, I needed to make amends. The next morning, I asked his forgiveness in a private text and then made it official in person. 

God is more interested in how we amend our relationships within the church than He is with our nicest offerings. Amending a broken relationship in the Body is keeping His family together. Do we care enough about the interests of our blood-shedding Savior to take action?

Hypocrisy is leaving a trail of broken, unamended relationships, and then cheerfully dropping a generous offering in the plate to the Lord. Relationships are hard enough without adding the pretense element, so why would anyone in the world want to be a part of something so superficial? This might even fit into one of the six things God hates:

“… there are six things the Eternal hates … anyone who stirs up trouble among the faithful,” (Proverbs 6:16,19)

What is the proof that God’s heart is active in us? As soon as we remember that our brother or sister has an issue with us, we leave our gift before the altar and hurry to go make amends. That’s love. And agape love among brethren is what will turn our world upside down.

Did the name of anyone who is at odds with you come to mind as you read this? 

Is Holy Spirit prompting you to hurry and make things right? 

Don’t delay. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Let’s do our part to dwell in peace with our fellow Christians and keep our Heavenly Father’s beloved family together.

Precious Lord, make our hearts so sensitive to Your desires and loving toward our brothers and sisters that we feel burdened to make things right between us. In Jesus’s name, give us Your love for Your Family—our family.

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GOD’S PROMISES FOR YOU

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year would be an understatement. But we are echoing Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Ephesus. That you would be “rooted and established in love,” and that you would “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17–18). 

Did you know that there are special promises that apply to everyone who follows Jesus? It’s true! 

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CHOOSE TODAY

MAKE YOUR DECISION TODAY WHILE YOU STILL CAN – WE HAVE ALREADY MADE OURS!!!
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