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God uses everyday people like you and me for his work. When I realized this I was amazed and liberated. What is required?- belief in Him and a willingness to follow His directions.
See I use to look at other people and think that they were Christian superheroes and I thought that I had to wait to receive these superpowers.

God uses everyday people like you and me for his work. When I realized this I was amazed and liberated. What is required?- belief in Him and a willingness to follow His directions.  

See I use to look at other people and think that they were Christian superheroes and I thought that I had to wait to receive these superpowers. 

 I even thought that maybe it was only meant for a select few and maybe I was one of the ones that could never be used. As I prayed and read the Bible the Lord showed me that he has already placed everything I need inside of me. He has specific tasks that only I can do.  

He can also use you. He has put gifts inside of you to share with the world and these are gifts and talents that only you can do.  

You don't have to be rich or a rocket scientist but if you were that would be okay too.  You  just have to be willing and seek Him for what He wants you to do.  

Spend some time getting to know God and yourself and you will find that there are certain things that you do that is a part of your design. This will give you a clue of what you can give to the world.  

God calls all sorts of people from various backgrounds to be a blessing to the world.  

Here are some examples from the Bible:  

Jacob, known as a deceiver-was called to father the Israelite nation.  Genesis 27-28 

Joseph, A Slave-Saved his family.  Genesis 39 

Moses, Shepherd in exile (and murderer) -lead Israel out of bondage, to the Promised Land. Exodus 3 

Gideon, A farmer-Delivered Israel from Midian. Judges 6:11-14 

Jephthah, Son of a prostitute-Delivered Israel from the Ammonites. Judges 11 

Hannah, a homemaker-the mother of Samuel. 1 Samuel 1 

David, A shepherd boy and last-born of the family-Israel's greatest king. 1 Samuel 16 

Ezra, A scribe-called to lead the return to Judah and to write some of the Bible. Ezra, Nehemiah 

Esther, A slave girl- saved her people from massacre. Esther 

Mary, A peasant girl - called to be the mother of Christ. Luke 1: 27-38 

Matthew, A tax collector- called to be an apostle and Gospel writer. Matthew 9:9 

Luke, A Greek physician- a companion of Paul and a Gospel writer. Colossians 4:14 

Peter, A fisherman- chosen to be an apostle, a leader of the early church, and a writer of two New Testament letters.  

There are many more examples but you see my point. The Lord did not let the past of these individuals stop Him from using them.   

Be the person that seeks God for your purpose and find out how you can be used or if you are already walking in your calling be the person that tells someone that God can use them.   

In what ways do you feel the Lord wants to use you? Leave a comment or share on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bible Study

I love what Joseph did in each hard situation that he faced. His positive response transformed each setback into a step forward. He didn't spend much time asking why. His approach was "What shall I do now?"

 

"So Pharaoh asked his officials, " Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?" (Genesis 41:38, NLT) 

Joseph's story is a familiar one. As a young child, Joseph was a bragger. His natural self-assurance-increased by being Jacob's favorite son and by knowing God's will for his life-was unbearable to his ten older brothers, who eventually plotted against him.  

But this self-assurance, molded by pain and combined with a personal knowledge of God, allowed him to survive and prosper where most would have failed.  God gave him favor and he won the hearts of everyone he came in contact with-Potipher, the prison warden, other prisoners, the pharaoh, and, after many years, even those ten brothers.  

Maybe you can identify with one or more of these hardships Joseph experienced: He was betrayed and deserted by his family, exposed to sexual temptation, and punished for doing the right thing; he endured a long imprisonment and was forgotten by those he helped.  

But the thing that stands out to me in his story is his wait. According to some sources Joseph was around 17 when he was first taken to Egypt and it wasn't until he was 30 that he was placed in charge. He knew God's  plan for his life but he had to hang in there until he saw it come to pass. I'm sure things weren't happening as fast as he would have wanted them to.  

He could have been bitter. He could have given up. He could have used what he had gone through as an excuse for bad behavior but he maintained his integrity through it all.  

When you meet a person like Joseph you can't help but to ask, How were you able to maintain your integrity all of that time and through all of that adversity. I'm sure his answer would be that he had a strong trust in God and His promises. 

When you read Joseph's story it is easy to see that the Lord was in the background working things out for his good. The Lord was teaching Joseph humbleness, patience and increasing his faith.  

Perhaps Joseph had to serve before he could lead.  

God was preparing him for the great task that was ahead. The Lord does not see time the way that we do and in that we have to wait for his promises sometimes. But if we do so with integrity we will receive our reward.  

We will become an example to those around us as our testimonies  encourage others to stay in the race.  

I love what Joseph did in each hard situation that he faced. His positive response transformed each setback into a step forward. He didn't spend much time asking why. His approach was "What shall I do now?"  

Those who met Joseph were aware that wherever he went and whatever he did, God was with him and whatever you face God is with you. 

  

Joseph's Strengths and Accomplishments 

Rose in power from slave to ruler of Egypt.  

Was known for his personal integrity.  

Was a man of spiritual sensitivity. 

Prepared a nation to survive a famine.  

 

Weaknesses and Mistakes 

His youthful pride caused friction with his brothers. 

 

Lessons from his life 

What matters is not so much the events or circumstances of life, but our response to them.  

With God's help, any situation can be used for good, even when other's intend it for evil.

 

 What promise are you waiting for from God? Let's share, encourage and pray for one another. We can connect here in comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

(Partially adapted from The Life Application Study Bible, NLT, 2007)

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Devotional

Love is a universal word. Everyone has their own unique way of showing love. We even have our own unique way of wanting to receive love. But how we give and receive love may not necessarily line up with how God defines love.

Love is a universal word. Everyone has their own unique way of showing love. We even have our own unique way of wanting to receive love. But how we give and receive love may not necessarily line up with how God defines love. 

God is love so there is no one better to teach us.  

Times are changing and unfortunately love can be harder to recognize in our world. I know I have been off a time or two myself. 

Genuine love can be tough. It's easier to take on the ways of the world and just cut people off especially if they mistreat us and then we could concentrate our efforts on loving people that are just like us or people that have something to offer us. But thank God Christian love does not work like that.  

Christians love because Christ first loved us. We love because it draws people to us so that we can direct them to Christ, the lover of our souls.   

We love because people are created in the image of Christ and they are our brothers and sisters.  

Love is very important to the Lord. He spends a lot of time teaching about it. The Bible gives us clear characteristics of what love is and what love is not. We can refer to the Word of God and pray for guidance when love is not clear.  

I believe at some point we have all asked ourselves the question, "Is this Love?' 

 

Love suffers long and is kind. 

Love does not envy. 

Love does not parade itself. 

Love is not puffed up. 

Love does not behave rudely. 

Love does not seek its own. 

Love is not provoked. 

Love thinks not evil.  

Love does not rejoice in iniquity. 

Love does rejoice in the truth. 

Love bears all things.  

Love believes all things.  

Love hopes all things.  

Love endures all things.  

Love never fails.  

                                                                             ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-8) 

 

Love is fervent in spirit and service, strong and intense. 

Love is joyful, patient, prayerful, generous, and hospitable. 

Love blesses persecutors, refusing revenge.  

Love is compassionate and humble.  

Love is peaceable.  

Love overcomes and destroys evil.  

Love hates and abhors what is evil.  

                                                                             (Romans 12: 9-10, 11-21) 

 

(Partially adapted from The Quick Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling, Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Ron Hawkins, 2009)

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Bible Study

Easter reminds me of growing up in Florence, South Carolina. Easter was a big thing for us as children. Do you remember the feeling of getting those beautiful, spring colored dresses every year? Guys have to remember sitting in the barbershop all day waiting for a turn for a haircut. Boys wore sharp suits for Easter that sometimes included ties which as I recall most boys hated to wear.

Easter reminds me of growing up in Florence, South Carolina.  Easter was a big thing for us as children. Do you remember the feeling of getting those beautiful, spring colored dresses every year? Some of us got our hair done at salons which was only for special occasions. The rest of us went to a girlfriend or a family member My favorite style was candy girls.  

Guys have to remember sitting in the barbershop all day waiting for a turn for a haircut. Boys wore sharp suits for Easter that sometimes included ties which as I recall most boys hated to wear.   

We also had to prepare to get up in front of everyone at church to say our Easter speeches. My favorite one was, "I just came to say Happy Easter Day." It's obvious that it was my favorite because it was short. I was nervous every year getting up in front of everyone.  

Today many people seem to get the same feeling around Easter time. You see people shopping for spring colored dresses and suits. The hair salons and barber shops are full and parents are now running around to purchase these same things for their own children.  

Easter is also one of the busiest days of the year for churches. The pews are full of people that don't normally attend. This is a wonderful blessing. Pastors exclaim from pulpits all over the world that "Jesus has Risen." Many go and enjoy their Easter dinner afterward and wait for the excitement of next year.  

These are all beautiful traditions but before, during and after all of this is done we have to continue to remember something or even better someone.   

We have to remember the Lord.  

This seems obvious but it isn't always. Let's use this time to re-examine our lives. The Lord overcame the grave and He lives. We can overcome those things in our own lives that are dead and divert our attention to the things that add life.   

I pray that Easter and the scriptures below encourage you to make a decision today to do something new for the Lord. He has probably already put it on your heart. Solomon does a beautiful job in these verses of reminding us to remember the Lord before we are too old to give Him our best years.  

 

(Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, NIV). 

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"--  

before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;  

when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim;  

when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 

when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.  

Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well,  

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

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Bible Study

We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.

The father instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24, NLT). 

In this passage a father comes to the disciples of Jesus asking for healing for his demon-possessed son. The disciples could not heal the boy. Why? They had done it before in 6:13. They cast out demons on their mission trip to the villages.  

Maybe the authority was just for that trip. Maybe their faith was faltering.  

Mark's story shows us that the battle with the enemy of our souls is an ongoing struggle. Our power can become depleted when we do not allow the Lord to fill us back up again.  

After the disciples efforts to heal the demon-possessed child failed the man took the boy to Jesus. The New Living Translation records the father saying to Jesus, "have mercy on us and help us if you can" (vs 22b). I love the way Jesus asks, "What do you mean if I can? Anything is possible if a person believes." 

The fathers reply has baffled me for many years. He cried out, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief." 

How is it that the child's father believed but needed help with unbelief? 

The father had been previously disappointed by the disciples attempt to heal his son so much that he even questioned if the Lord could do it.  

Haven't you been there? I have. The circumstances that have surrounded situations that I have found myself in have snatched much of my faith and hope. I have struggled with my faith because of the size of the battle or how close I was to it like if it involved one of my babies.  

I've been left sometimes with barely a mustard seed worth of faith. Just enough maybe to believe one more time.  

But this father gives us the right idea. He confessed to God that he was having trouble believing the way he should. Then he asked the Lord to help him with that unbelief.  

That is so beautiful and powerful.  

I believe the Lord was touched by the father's honesty and vulnerability.  

We can do this same thing you know. We can come to our father and say I don't have it all together Lord but I know that you can help me. You can still heal me. You can still use me. You can add to what little I have.  

Jesus is the ultimate helper and He can help you if you struggle with unbelief.  

Prayer 

Father, we struggle sometimes with our faith. Sometimes we have just been through so much that it can be hard to believe one more time. But now through your Word we know that You are not mad at us if when our faith is weak but more than anything you want us to come to you. Give us the mind and heart to come to you honest and vulnerably asking, "help my unbelief".  

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Bible Study

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements. Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

Last week in our featured book, Live Your Calling, the authors Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck defined Personal Mission Statements.  

Personal Mission Statements 

Mission statements include word pictures,or descriptions of your God-sized visions in your life.  

Mission statements help you get what you really want in life. They are designed to help you think through what you are aiming for in each of your callings.  

Mission statements help you focus your energy.  

Priority Goals  

Identifying your priority goals is the next key step for incorporating your mission  statements into your day-to-day life.  

A goal is a clear, specific objective. Goals personalize and particularize your mission statements. Setting goals is the catalyst for bringing your God-inspired visions to life.  

Action Plans 

Your action plan is a tool for translating your mission statement into priority goals and action steps. 

 

Action Strategies for Living Your Calling 

         1.Develop Personal Mission Statements 

  -Mission Statement for your primary calling. 

  -Mission Statement for your secondary calling.  

         2.Set priority goals. 

         3.Create your action plan. 

 

Your personal mission statements, priority goals and action plans build a bridge between the vision of your calling in the future and your reality today.

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Bible Study

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

"David replied to Abigail, "Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands" (1 Samuel 25:32, 33, NLT).

If someone that were close to you were interviewed how would they say you handle heated or rough situations? Are you wise and level headed or are you the one that get things started?

Adverse situations can often tell a lot about where we are in our Christian walk. We all fall short sometimes according to the situation. But what does our Christian behavior say about us to the world the majority of the time?

Are we different? Do we inspire people to want to know more about Christ so they can learn how to handle life better? Let's look at Abigail.

David and his army of two hundred men marched toward Abigail. They were probably filthy and hungry from being in the desert. They were probably also pretty angry.  Abigail was very courageous to come out to meet them and beg David for forgiveness. Nabal, her husband, was the cause of a terrifying threat of revenge against her entire household.

This certainly was not the first time that Abigail had to think fast to cover her husband's bad behavior. Nabal was a fool. Even his name meant "fool." But whatever he was, he was her husband.

Some men don't deserve their wives. Abigail was probably the best woman Nabal could afford and he got more than he bargained for when he arranged to marry her. She was beautiful and more suited than he was to manage his wealth. But Nabal took his wife for granted.

In spite of his shortcomings, Nabal's household did what they could to keep him out of trouble. This loyalty must have been inspired by Abigail. Although her culture and her husband placed a low value on her, she made the most of her skills and opportunities. David was impressed with her abilities, and when Nabal died, he married her.

Abigail was an effective counselor to both of the men in her life, working hard to prevent them from making rash moves. By her swift action and skillful negotiation, she kept David from taking revenge upon Nabal. She saw the big picture and left plenty of room for God to get involved.

Whether in favorable circumstances or in harsh ones, the challenge is the same: to use our wisdom and abilities in the service of the will of God.

Do you, like Abigail, look beyond the present crisis to the big picture? Do you use your skills to promote peace? Are you loyal without being blind? What challenge or responsibility do you face today that needs a person under God's control?

Abigail's strengths and accomplishments

  • Sensible and capable

  • A persuasive speaker, able to see beyond herself

Lessons from her life

  • Life's tough situations can bring out the best in people

  • One does not need a prestigious title to play a significant role


 

(Partially adapted from Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV and Life Application Study Bible, NLT)

Prayer

Father please help us to be the kind of people that use our gifts and influence for good. No matter what situations we face in life help us to bring out the best in people and direct people to You by our behavior and the way we live our lives.

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Bible Study

This past week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do?

Last week we discussed making decisions within the will of God. But how do we know exactly what God wants us to do. The answer is sometimes He will not be specific.  

The authors, Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck explained that the Bible does not always give us definitive instructions about our secondary calling to work. It does not give us specific answers about which career path we should choose or volunteer opportunities we should undertake.  

Instead, the Bible gives us principles for making decisions within God's will.  

This was a great conformation to me because I was one of those Christians that thought I should be hearing from God or seeing some sign that told me specifically what I should do. I was always running into fellow Christians that seemed to be constantly hearing from God in an audible voice. It's not that I do not believe that God speaks to people; I just believe that God guides and does not speak audibly on every matter.  

The Brennflecks further stated that in the absence of direct supernatural guidance, we need to assume that God wants us to decide prayerfully and thoughtfully which work or volunteer alternative is the best choice. According to Bruce Walke, It is possible to pray, read God's Word, seek counsel, and still not feel led by God. That's the time to rely on sound judgment.  

What will make your judgment sound? Reading the word of God.  

Toolbox of Strategies for Making Life Calling Decisions 

  1. Comparing options with your design-This strategy allows you to compare each of your career or volunteer ministry/service possibilities with your core work values, transferable skills and compelling interests (See Options Comparison 8.1 Grid in your book) 

 

  1. Assessing pros and cons: Writing down pros and cons for a particular decision enables us to identify what our most important criteria really are so that we can rationally evaluate them (See the pros and cons grid Table 8.3) 

 

  1. Evaluating Career Options in light of Biblical principles-the third strategy give you the opportunity to apply the life calling compass principles (keeping your primary calling primary, using your gifts to meet needs in the world, and being a proactive steward of your gifts) to career and volunteer options you are considering (See Evaluating options in light of Biblical principles, Table 8.5). 

 

  1. Defending your decision- in this exercise, you will develop a defense for each of your career or volunteer options. In this mental role play you create a defense for each, seeking to persuade someone who is not convinced it is a wise choice. This strategy helps you in critically examining your possible alternatives.  

 

As we use sound decision-making strategies and seek God's guidance through His Word, prayer, the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel, we position ourselves to partner effectively with Him in discerning and living our callings.

So what do you think? Is it okay to use Biblical principles to make decisions or should we wait to hear from God specifically?

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

3 "God blesses those who realize their need for him, a for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.  

4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.

6 God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full.

7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

10 God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. "

11 "God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.

12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

                                                                                                  Matthew 5: 3-12, NLT

In His longest recorded sermon, Jesus began by describing the traits He was looking for in His followers. He said that God blesses those who live out these traits.

Each beatitude is an almost direct contradiction of society's typical way of life.  In the last beatitude, Jesus even points out that a serious effort to develop these traits is bound to create opposition. The best example of each of these if found in Jesus Christ Himself.

Being "blessed" by God means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

If our goal is to become like Him, applying the Beatitudes will challenge the way we live each day.

                    (Adapted from Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation, 1996)

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Ann Gant • Bible Study

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality.

In our reading last week the authors discussed Vision. Vision, as the term is referred to in the text is the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality. 

Chapter 4 

A vision of what God is calling you to do may start as an interest, a tiny idea or a fleeting thought. It can be inspired by the following catalyst: 

  1. Need-driven, an individual sees a need that he or she wants to help meet.  

  1. Design driven, a person begins picturing possibilities or looking for opportunities to use particular puzzle pieces of his or her design.

  1. Experience driven- a person has had a particular life experience and wants to help others who are going through the same thing.  

Chapter 5 

Strategies for stretching your vision: 

  1. Envisioning your God-Empowerment life-How can you use your God-given gifts to meet needs in the word? 

 

  1. Envision possibilities through brainstorming-Brainstorm about work and volunteer ministry/service options. 

 

  1. Look for volunteer opportunities in your church and community. 

 

  1. Use career resources to envision career possibilities (for example use The Occupational Information Network database, (O*Net) 

Chapter 6 

Strategies for Reality Testing your Options: 

  1. Use career-specific resources to gather information-local libraries and bookstores can help you with information about different career fields. Also career books and resources for people that want to become entrepreneurs like www.Entrepreneur.com or www.sba.gov. 

 

  1. Use professional organizations to gather information. 

 

  1. Interviewing and shadowing-talk to people who are doing the kind of work that you want to do. Shadowing-spend time in a  particular work environment watching one or more people do the job that you are considering.  

 

  1. Volunteer-try out a number of volunteer activities at a church or other non-profit organization to explore your gifts and interests, develop new skills and meet new people.

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