Weekly Devotions

You Can Overcome Family Stress

All families deal with stress at one time or another. With the images of “perfect” families we so often see in magazines and on TV, parents and children can begin to develop unrealistic expectations for both themselves and their family members.

 
What does stress do to families?
 
Every family reacts different to stress, but some of the most common effects include:
  • Arguments, fighting and other poor communication skills
  • Fatigue, health problems and general exhaustion because of busy schedules
  • Confusion (especially in children) about relationships with other family                 members
  • More dependence on food, alcohol and other substances
 
Why doesn’t anyone else seem stressed?
 

They must be hiding it! Just as all families experience different effects of stress, they also deal with stress in different ways.  We’ve all seen children acting out at a busy grocery store or a couple arguing over finances.  But families can react in different ways. Some might stop communicating at all, while others communicate only by fighting and arguing.

 

It’s important to remember that your family is not alone!  Today’s family is dealing with busy schedules, high costs and long to-do lists, all natural triggers for more stress!

 

If your family gets stressed out, that’s okay!  The important thing is how you choose to handle the stress.   Work together as a family to fight stress.

 

Make the decision this year to help your family be less stressed with greater happiness together.  If too many activities and events start to stress your family out, put a stop to it. Work together as a family to prioritize (and trim) your to-do list, get things done and enjoy time together.  You and your children will be much happier with the results, and begin again a less-stressed, more connected family.  Why not concentrate on how much time you are spending with your family rather than on how much money can I spend on them.  

 

And don’t leave God out of the equation.  Remember Jesus said, “Come to be, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  ~ Matthew 11:28

 

~ Pastor Greg


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Release Your Stress by Pleasing Jesus

One of the great struggles in reaching those disconnected with God is that they feel that HE is just so hard to please.  They feel that God has all these rules and regulations, codes of conduct that must be heeded to through stringent disciplined, boring lives.  But let’s see what Christ had to say … 

 

Key Memory Verse:  “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden?  Then come to me.  I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.  Simply join your life with mine.  Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please.  You will find refreshment and rest in me.”  ~ Matthew 11:28-29, TPT

 

Did you notice in that verse of scripture, WHAT JESUS DID NOT SAY?  He didn’t say you are living the good-life.  Everything is perfect.  So come and follow me and I will give you rules and regulations to make your life more frustrating and irritating.  I want to add stress to your life.  NO!  THAT IS NOT WHAT HE SAID, AT ALL! 

 

He identified what all of us feel.  Weary!  Heavy Burdened!  Stressed out!  He says if we come to HIM there is refreshing … He is the Oasis.  Rest is to be found in connection with Christ.

 

From my own experience I have found this to be true.  Living to please Jesus is less stressful than living to please people.  It always has been this way and it always will be. 

 

The Apostle Paul made this statement in Galatians 1:10, “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

 

We know in this life we can’t please everyone; whether it be, family, friends, co-workers, bosses or neighbors.  It is just impossible.  For much of my life I lived as a people pleaser.  It used to bother me that people were unhappy with me about something, especially in the work of the church.  I wanted God’s church to be the most successful venture in the area.  And if someone was unhappy I thought it meant we weren’t being successful.  I added significant amounts of stress into my life and ministry trying to keep others happy.  It was only when I truly relinquished this hold over me that I began to realize God’s true blessings of refreshing and rest in my life.  I began to use the phrase “never again” in my daily declarations.  Never again will I live to please people.  I will live to please my God.  I am His servant.  He is the King of my kingdom.  And I have found that God is easy to please.  My faith is in Him.  He supplies power, love and sound thinking.  Wisdom and grace are His gifts.  Life does not have to be complicated, overwhelming or stressful! 

 

We have been blessed!  God is our benefactor! 

 

            ~ Pastor Greg


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RESURRECTION REASSURANCES

Reassurance?  We all want encouragement … a shot in the arm … comfort and assistance.  In discouraging times we look for something to give us a boost.  There is not doubt in my mind that our annual Celebration of the resurrection of Christ does just that for us.  Listen to these Words from the Apostle Peter in his epistle:              
 
“Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose             again from the dead.”  ~ 1 Peter 1:3, NLT
 
Wow!  What a powerful hope.  We live with a wonderful expectation.  Do you?  I mean do you really live with a sense of anticipation?  Is it for something wonderful?  Or has the disappointments and discouragements of life eliminated your positive expectations?
 
Here’s what I know!  God has a plan for your life.  God has a purpose for your life.  God has power for you so that His plan and purpose will be fulfilled within you.  The scriptures are replete with examples of these powerful promises:
 
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “God made us to do good works, which He planned in advance for us to live our life doing”  ~ (NCV).  Jeremiah tells us “I have plans for you, not plans to hurt you.  I will give you hope and a good future”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11, NCV.  And Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good, if we love God and are fitting into His plans.” (LB). 
 
Not only does God have the plan and purpose but He empowers you to experience “wonderful expectation.”  God has power for your life.
 
Paul reminds us “I can do everything that God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (Philippians 4:13, LB); and “God will strengthen you with His own great power so that you will not give up when trouble comes” (Colossians 1:11, NCV). 
 
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:19 was that we would come to understand how incredibly great God’s power is for us who believe on Him.  It is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  The Resurrection reassures us of God’s plan, purpose and His power!  So walk in newness of life today as you “give yourselves completely to God … to be used for His goodness” (Romans 6:13, LB).
 
Here’s my greatest concern, that “some people have missed the most important thing in life – they don’t know God”  ~ 1 Timothy 6:21, LB.  Learn to live with wonderful expectations.  Get to know God.
~ Pastor Greg

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MY STORY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Many of you know my story.  I made a commitment to Christ at the age of six when my father prayed and led me into a relationship with Christ.  At the age of nine I felt a genuine feeling that I would be in ministry as an adult.  At age twelve I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.  At age nineteen my calling into ministry was confirmed by a fleece I had placed before the Lord and with immediacy God responded.  This Christian journey that I’ve been on has been interesting, rewarding and challenging.  Christianity is not for wimps.  But I would not want to do life any other way.
 
Now that’s my simplistic story, but let me remind you of another.  In John 9:1-11, 24-25, 35-38, we find the story of the healing of the blind man.  It shows us how our ordinary actions can lead to eternal impact.
 
As Jesus was walking along …” (v. 1).  He meets a blind man who has been blind from birth.  His disciples wondered of the sin that must have been committed to bring about this curse.  Jesus replied by stating that neither his parent’s sin or his was the cause of his malady.  But behind all of this was that this man who was walking in darkness would meet the One who is the Light of the world, (v. 6).  The blind man received his miracle and sight was restored.  Others wanted to know how his story changed?  They were asking essentially theological questions and the once blind man responded, “This I know, I was blind, and now I can see.”
 
The blind man didn’t have all the answers.  He just knew that Jesus had made a difference in his life.  This wonderful story reminds us that we don’t have to know everything or have all the answers, we just need to tell others what Christ has done for us. 
 
Here’s the deal.  If you are a follower of Christ … you have a story to tell.  When you tell that story in your everyday life, it can have an eternal impact.  Here’s what I want you to say …
 
“My testimony is a powerful tool that God can use to impact someone else’s life for eternity.”  
 
When you dissect the story of the blind man you find a number of results:       
       
(1)  His neighbors were surprised            
(2)  The Pharisees were angry.            
(3)  The Blind man worshipped Jesus            
(4)  Others were influenced for eternity.
 
Here’s something very interesting about your story.  Nobody can argue with it.  It’s your story.  Your friends and family will be interested in your story.  And most importantly God will use it every time.  1 Timothy 1:16 tells us, “But that is why God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst of sinners.  Then others can realize that they too can believe in Him too and receive eternal life.”

~ Pastor Greg


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MY INVITATION CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Wow!  We are just two weeks away from our Celebration of the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  I just want to remind you how important you are.  Simple actions on your part can make an eternal difference in someone’s life.  Just by giving an invitation to someone to come to church with you can have eternal impact.
 
We give invitations all the time.  We do e-vites, sometimes, electronically.  We send friend invites on Facebook.  Sometimes they don’t accept them … but that’s another story.  We also have times in our life when we send out bigger invitations:  Graduation invitations or wedding invitations.
 
Here’s an actual wedding invitation (blooper):  “On Saturday the 14th we request the honor of your presents.”  Did you catch it?  Not presence, PRESENTS!  We knew all the time that’s what it was all about.  (LOL)
 
Look, invitations matter.  We live in a culture where people expect invitations; they receive invitations, all the time!
 
In John chapter 1, verses 40-49 we find two invitations that has had eternal significance.  In verse 41, Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, ‘We have found the Messiah which is the Christ.’    And then there is Philip who responded to Christ’s invitation to follow Him and he immediately looks for his friend Nathaniel and exclaims, ‘We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about.  His name is Jesus … come and see for yourself.’
 
As a result of Andrew’s invitation Simon, who would come to be known to us as Peter had his life turned inside out and he turned the world upside down and became the leader of the early church.  Nathaniel also becomes a follower of Christ as a result of an invitation.
 
Your invitation can make an eternal difference!  If Philip did not invite Nathaniel he probably never would have become a follower of Jesus. 
 
Here’s what I know:  Jesus changes lives.  He changed mine.  2 Timothy 1:10 states “Jesus broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.”   
 
Jesus wants you to influence people around you towards Him.  Have you ever asked yourself?   “Why am I here?”  You are where you are because God wants to use you there.  Paul tells us in Colossians, “Live wisely among those who are not yet Christians, making the most of every opportunity”  (4:5).  Let’s bring others to Jesus.  Let’s rock the house on Easter Sunday.  “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:23, NIV).  Who are you inviting?  It can change their life!  It can change their eternity!

~ Pastor Greg

 


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Love Has Won

Through Jesus, God has obtained victory in the earth.  The dominion the devil had over humanity was crushed by the cross of Jesus Christ.  Colossians 2:13-15 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”  Jesus has triumphed over everything that stood between us and a life lived in relationship with God.   One of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture, Romans 8, tells us, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).  We’ve been given victory over the enemy and all his schemes.  But even though we have obtained victory in Jesus, the devil still works to lead you and me back into our former ways.  Even though Jesus has defeated the enemy, we still must live out that victory every day and help others around us do the same.  Even though love has won, we still must fight for the victory in others.   We need each other to experience the freedom available to us in Christ. Scripture admonishes us to engage in confession, community, worship, and spiritual battle together.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” James 5:13-16 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  We must engage with one another and fight for a life lived victoriously in Christ together.  The Bible is clear that sanctification is a process worked out, and it’s a process meant to be worked out together.   We must call out the greatness in each other.  If you see a brother or sister struggling with temptation, fight for them through prayer.  Speak life into them.  Encourage them in who God has made them to be.  Stand with them through whatever circumstances and consequences come their way.  See them through the fight until they experience victory over the power of sin and darkness in their life.  Open up to those around you and ask for their help in your own life!  You don’t have to fight spiritual battles alone.  There are people around you who will fight for victory in your own life.  We are His great Church!

  ~ Pastor Greg Morris


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