Modern Christmas - Week 3

From the moment we were in our mother’s womb, God had the blueprint for our lives mapped out. He carefully constructed plans on where you were going. With those blueprints comes opposition.

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This weekend, we got another peek into Mary and Joseph’s lives. They too, had a blueprint that was mapped out from them. They thought that they would just get engaged, get married, and live a happy life together. God had another great plan for their lives. Because Mary was all in with God and was obedient, she became the vessel, the one God used to carry our Savior into the world.

When we become obedient and surrender, the blueprint God has for our lives is activated. It doesn’t always come easy. When we give up our plan for God’s plan, we can expect a lot of opposition; enough to throw you off the path and make you want to give up.

God says not to fear, he says to trust in Him. When we focus on the promises of God, that trust is easier to take in and put into our lives. We become more God focused, and less fear focused.

Mary responded to God’s plan with obedience, and even a song, praising him for what He was doing through her. We find her song in Luke 1:46-56:

46 And Mary sang this song:
    “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God!
47 My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God!
48 For he set his tender gaze upon me, his lowly servant girl.
    And from here on, everyone will know
    that I have been favored and blessed.
49 The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me;
    holy is his name!
50 Mercy kisses all his godly lovers,
    from one generation to the next.
51 Mighty power flows from him
    to scatter all those who walk in pride.
52 Powerful princes he tears from their thrones
    and he lifts up the lowly to take their place.
53 Those who hunger for him will always be filled,
    but the smug and self-satisfied he will send away empty.
54 Because he can never forget to show mercy,
    he has helped his chosen servant, Israel,
55 Keeping his promises to Abraham
    and to his descendants forever.”

56 Before going home, Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months.

God meets in the day-to-day. What does it look like for each of us to follow Mary and Joseph’s examples of obedience and gratitude? Take this week and watch him work in your daily life. You’ll be surprised by what God can accomplish!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team

Grinch Devo

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In the Grinch, we see that the Grinch is isolated in the mountains by himself. Each year he can hear the Who’s down below singing joyously about the upcoming holiday. For him, he can’t understand why they are so happy.

He devises a plan to take away everything that the Who’s have for Christmas morning. He figures if he strips that away, then the Who’s will be just as miserable as him.  

Satan likes to operate in the same way. He is miserable and wants us to be miserable with him. But, instead of us isolating ourselves and keep our hearts locked up, we can link with others who share the same love of God and let that joy spread to those who need to hear it.

As we approach Christmas morning, know that our Savior was born to demolish sin and death. We no longer have to bring an animal sacrifice; he was the ultimate sacrifice! Give something back this week to someone who really needs it.

In Luke 1, we read an example of two people whose lives were interrupted so that God could show His love to the world. Zechariah greeted the angel’s news with doubt and demanded a sign from God. While Mary asked the angel some clarifying questions, she accepted the angels news by saying, “I am your servant, may it be as you have said.”

Take a few minutes to read Luke 1 and invite God to help you greet his calling on your life with willingness and readiness to serve him. What does it look like to follow God’s call on your life this week?

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team

Modern Christmas - Week 1

Are You Ready for a Miracle?

Has God ever told you that a miracle is coming your way? In our human minds we think, “What God wants to do or wants me to do isn’t even possible! There’s no way!” God says that nothing is impossible with him.

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Imagine if Joseph had said, “Uh…this child isn’t even mine and I know people will talk. I’m not marrying this girl.” Or if Mary would have rebelled and done something so drastic that she no longer was chosen by God to carry his son? It could have changed how we live life now very differently.

The awesome thing about God is that miracles are only defined by him and done in his time. We can’t change anything about it. We have to be willing and surrendered to God’s timing and will in order to receive a miracle. We can’t sit around all day watching T.V., sleeping, or even binging Netflix and expect God to drop his perfect will into our laps! Like everything we have to be willing to step out in obedience to God. 

Mary responded to the angels news about Jesus in Luke 1 by saying, “I am your servant-girl, may it be as you have said”. One major thing you can do now in the waiting is have a fertile soil ready to go in the valley of your heart, trusting God to miracles in his way and his timing. It must be ready for the seed of revival and miracles to be planted into its depths. Once it begins to grow, it’s hard to stop it from growing in you and around you.

Can you take a few moments to respond to God’s work in your life. Maybe you can pray “I am your servant, lead me in your ways God”.

Take this week and read Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38 to see the accounts of Mary and Joseph and their take on the miracle that God was performing. Pray a prayer of surrender and obedience to Him today.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team

In The Wilderness - Week #3

Have you ever felt like something was too big to accomplish? In Numbers thirteen, 12 men were sent out to size up what the land across the Jordan looked like.

Out of the 12 men, 11 of them reported the land to be plentiful and fertile, but also stood in fear of the men they had seen. Only 1 of the men, Caleb, understood that the land was for the taking. He stood before the whole tribe ready to take on and conquer the people living in the land and take back what was promised to them.

The other men though convinced the tribe of Israel otherwise.

Numbers 13: 26-33

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Because of the fear that was spread, the people began to complain and grumble and go back into Egypt.

Do you feel like that? Is there something you want to achieve; a dream or a passion fulfilled and you have let others talk you out of it? If God has placed something in your heart, or you have a passion for something, God will see you through. It’s easy to let doubt creep into your mind and keep you from pursuing what is at your fingerprints.

As you begin to step out of the wilderness, fix your eyes upwards and leave the chains of doubt behind you. God’s promises lie beyond the river. All you have to do is cross it and fight for what you want. It is in the victory, dance, shout, and worship you give to God that releases those promises.

This week. STOP COMPLAINING. Give praise and gratitude for what you have and for what lies ahead. 

Blessings,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team!

In the Wilderness - Week #2

Grateful for Nourishment-

God always means His very best for us. Maybe there was a time in your life where God promised you something and you still have yet to see that promised fulfilled. Maybe you feel like the Israelites; wandering in the desert, wishing to move forward, yet their eyes kept reverting back to slavery in Egypt.

The same thing happens to us. We get saved, set free, and move forward. But, when things aren’t done in our time, we revert our eyes back to our time in bondage.

With the Israelites, God showed them again and again just how much He loved them. He kept them fed, gave them water, and through Moses, performed miracles. One such thing he did was gave them Manna from heaven. Look at Exodus 16:4-5

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”

God provided! Whether you see it or not, God provides for you. Sometimes we just have to get our mindset off how the world times out promises, and instead focus it heaven word to God’s promises. He sees you. He knows you. He knows your heart and all the things you want to accomplish! Don’t be like the Israelites; grumbling and complaining in the desert, wishing for the option to go back into slavery. Instead be thankful for every little thing. Give praise to God each morning for the little things you have or see. Keep your eyes forward and you will see just how good our God is!

This week take out some paper and a pen and write five things each day you are grateful for. You will begin to see more positive in your life than negative. If you have a problem with being ungrateful or even negative, ask God to show you where that root comes from. Then, surround yourself with positive believers to help prayer over you.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team!

Into the Wilderness - Week #1

Life seems to throw all kinds of ups and downs our way. It’s easy to look at the down moments and complain about every single thing that comes our way, and not look at how good we have it.

Let’s use the Israelites as an example. God’s people were placed in slavery in Egypt. They endured some pretty harsh treatment from their captors. It got to a point where they wanted a deliver to set them free. 

But, freedom wasn’t enough for them. After being in the desert for two years they began to grumble.

“In the desert, the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”  Exodus 16: 2-3 NIV

They could never look past their current situation and realize all the goodness God had for them in the Promised Land. Instead, they kept their eyes focused on the present and allowed unrest and non-gratitude to lie in their hearts.

How often do you stand in your situation and complain? Maybe it’s your job. Maybe it’s your marriage. Maybe it’s your kids. Maybe it’s the church. How much better would it be if you look past all the things that you complain about and instead turn it to praise and gratitude for God? Just think of the impact you would have on others in your life if you were positive. Think of the influence you’d have in different areas of your life?

Try a challenge this week: take time each day to write out 3 things you are thankful for. See what that does in your perspective of gratitude.

Be blessed,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team

LOVE DOES - Week #4

Take a moment and close your eyes. Think of all the people in your life and all the people that you come in contact with. Out of those people how many would you say that you love?

Tough question, right?

As Christians, we are called to love others the way our Father God loves others. As carnal humans, full of sin, it’s a hard task to comprehend. 

How can we love someone if they’ve hurt us, beat us, broken us? Our hearts so many times have been trusted in different hands and maybe those that we trust took our hearts and tore them in half. In the place of love, they left a deep, dark hole of bitterness and un-forgiveness. 

So how can we change our hearts and our perspective?

In John 15:5-8 (NIV) we read Jesus’ words, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and me in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers, such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

We need to connect to the vine— to God. Once we connect straight to His heart we will find the ability to first forgive those that have hurt us. We can’t even begin to fathom or forgive in own power. It’s not possible. Only through God can we find the strength and courage towards the path of forgiveness.

We also need to stay connected through our quiet place. We just can’t show up on the weekend and expect to thrive through the week. If we don’t refuel in His presence each day, we will begin to fade and fall short. In this quiet time, we connect to God’s heart. It is through His heart that we begin to see people through His eyes. We see the love and compassion that fills His heart. That same love and compassion begins to fill our hearts. That’s how we live out this idea of Love Does.

If we truly want to love those in this world, we just need to learn to say yes to the broken people of this world.

This week find someone who needs to know that authentic love exists. Let them see you live it out!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team

LOVE DOES - Week #3

How does God see me? Does He look at you the way you look at yourself? Does God see those little imperfections that only you see? Does He say things about you that only you whisper to yourself?

Psalms 139:1-4 (TPT)  says, “Lord, you know everything about there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!”

God knows you intimately! He knows the plans He has for you before you even do! Before you were a thought, He was laying down the foundation of your beginnings that would push you towards the destiny and dreams that he has already laid out before you. 

But we don’t see that. We allow toxic thoughts about ourselves to cloud our mind and thoughts and take us from seeing ourselves through God’s lens to see ourselves through our lens. When we see ourselves as mistakes or junk, it takes away from what God created. He created us in His own image. To Him, we are beautiful! We were planned to be on the earth for the time we are in. You were created with purpose and design in mind. Only you can do what He has called you to do! 

Toxic thoughts will do nothing but destroy us. Their only ploy is to make our minds think negatively. What we must do is rid ourselves from toxic thoughts. Each day we rise, we must renew our minds with God’s word. The more we soak in His word, the more we see how much God loves us which in turn allows us to love on others. That is the main purpose is to love on our community and share how good God is! 

For each of us, there is a song God sings over us. Have you heard that song? If not, take this week and listen to what He has to say over you. God’s words are power and life! Nothing, not even darkness and negativity has power over you like the words of God. They are proposed to break chains and bring freedom and to pierce the darkness. Explore Psalms 139 and study the verses. It’s a good start to renewing your mind. Then say this prayer over yourself:

Father,

Let me hear the words you speak over my life. Let me see myself the way you do. I no longer want to see the distorted image that I’ve created. I want to break the glass and rebuild it with your love and life. I want to see people the way you do. Free my mind from toxic thoughts so that I can do what I was created to do. Most of all God, show me how to love the way you do. You are so good Father! 

In your name,

Amen.

I hope that you see that freedom this week and that God’s love pours out over you and reaches those around you. I hope that you are changed and challenged!

Be blessed, 

Pastor Mark and the Daily Encourage Team