Why We Need the Church| By Emily Lawson

This world is all about identity.

“Don’t put a label on me, but if you refer to me incorrectly, I’ll be upset.”

Everyone wants to be there own person – unique in their own way.

And while I think we should never try to conform to be someone else, God does not call us to be a singular person!

He calls us “the flock”. We are a peculiar “people”.

Yes, each of us is seen individually in His eyes, but if we go out on our own, we do not have the protection of the united front with all His children!

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:14‭-‬20 (KJV)

You are a leg, and I am an arm. Without each other, we are not going to get very far.

The church is such an important part of our Christian walk. It is about the fellowship that we gain, the support system that comes with it, and the cheerleaders rooting for us. These all allow us to walk confidently among those of the world.

The church helps us to grow, when we learn from the preacher who is lead by the Holy Spirit. It helps lift us up when surrounded by prayer warriors, and it helps keep us connected to His people by allowing us to pray for others!

At my church, our covenant ends by saying that when we feel led to find a new church that we will seek a new church as soon as possible to be able to carry out “the principles of God’s word.”

This is such an important point to remember, because sitting out on one church service can seem simple. With your second missed service, you feel guilt, but you have that excuse ready. By the third and fourth, you do not feel AS bad. It is a slippery slope.

If we stick with God’s teachings and choose to be in His presence and with His people, we grow, and it becomes easier to hear His calling for our life.

So, where are you finding your identity? Is it in your style? Is it in your job? Your label of mom/dad?

What if you seek to find your identity within the church? Within the community God has placed around us to keep us strong?

God gives us a community so that they can lift us up to find our personal calling in His kingdom. The world around us only wants to drag us further and further away from Him.

This “Me” focused world is not, and cannot be, a “God” focused world!

Be the peculiar people. Stand out from the world and stand strong with the Kingdom!

Not Meant To Walk Alone| By Jasmine Beard

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War is not an easy task, and believe it or not, we are in a war every day as Christians. The war is not against man, but against the Devil who is scheming and desiring to destroy us at any chance he gets.

I do not say this to scare you, but to give you a true depiction of the enemy’s schemes that are not always visible.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

You may see his schemes through illnesses, financial hardships, relational problems, the way you view yourself, and the way you view God.

One of the biggest tactics the enemy schemes against me in is in my relationships with others. Ever since I can remember, I have been a chatterbox and always loved meeting new people and making lasting friendships.

I remember right after high school I started attending a new church. Everyone there was super nice and welcoming, but I still felt very alone even though I had made new friendships.

The enemy would whisper lies to me like:

“They don’t really like you.”

“They’re just being nice because they have to.”

And after sometime I started to believe the lies of Satan.

I began leaving church early and just crying about not being loved and wanted. This was all part of Satan’s plan. He loves Christians to be divided and out of fellowship. Our relationship with other believers is pivotal to our walk with God. Without it, we will likely perish spiritually.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the others can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

While Satan had plans of destroying me through isolation, God had other plans. A girl named Megan befriended me from my church, and I began going to her small group. Through that time, I recognized that I wasn’t alone. I was actually loved and that Satan was just lying to me.

If you are feeling attacked or like you cannot go on another day, I want to encourage you to remember that we were not meant to run this race alone.

God has made every single one of us with an innate desire to know others and to be known. As people, we must stop fighting each other and start warring together against the schemes of the enemy.

Today, remember that people are not your enemy. Do not be afraid to reach out to others when you need prayer, a helping hand, or just someone to lean on. God has created us for community to ensure that we do not walk or fight this race alone.

 

Who Wore It Better?|By Jasmine Beard

 

2way8Comparison.

It is said to be the killer of joy, yet all of us at one time or another have compared ourselves to someone else.

Today we live in a society where people boast about the highs of life and often mask the reality of their lives.

As people, we often want others to view us as better than we actually are because of pride. It is because of this that now in our society, people are suffering with depression and anxiety triggered through social media. Instead of getting our worth and value from God as He intended us to do, we tend to measure how we are doing in life in comparison to others.

“Of course, we wouldn’t dare to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. They compare themselves to one another and make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and then they judge themselves by their own standards. What self-delusion!” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:12‬ (‭TPT‬‬)

Even before social media, people have been comparing themselves to others for centuries. Not only do we compare ourselves to others, but we compare other people to each other.

A perfect example is Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

Tabloids read:

“Who’s prettier?”

“Which wedding dress did you like better?”

And forbid Meghan Markle does not appear outside a hospital a couple hours after giving birth like Kate Middleton did after having her children. The tabloids will literally explode with comparison.

Growing up, people loved to compare me and my best friend. We did everything together and were almost like twins. We were inseparable.

Unfortunately, throughout the years, people often compared us to each other. I was labeled the the “cute friend”, and she was labeled the “smart one”.

By people comparing me to her all the time, all I strived for after that was to be smart. However, no matter what I did, she was always smarter. If I made an A, she made an even higher A.

On the other hand, no matter how pretty my friend looked (and she is beautiful), I always got more compliments than her. This resulted in me feeling like I wasn’t smart and left her feeling like she wasn’t pretty. But the truth is we are both smart and beautiful.

Comparison is not only the killer of joy, but it is a liar. You will never reach your full potential by comparing your life to someone else or by being envious.

“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Galatians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

If you keep your gaze on others, you will always find someone you think is prettier than you, someone you think has a better husband than you, and someone you think has a better life than you. But when we turn our gaze onto Jesus and are grateful for how He created us and the life He has entrusted to us, His truth can prevail.

The Power of Encouragement| By Rachel Lukinovich

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Have you ever gone through something and felt like no one could possibly understand?

And if you were to tell anyone, they would judge you and think less of you?

Well, that makes you human.

Right after my second child was born, the first few months seemed pretty relaxing and easy. Several people warned me about how hard the transition from one to two children would be, but it honestly didn’t seem that hard to me. It wasn’t until my sweet Emmy turned 4 months that things became a little more challenging. Until then, all she did was eat, sleep, and poop, just like the perfect baby you hear about it.

Naturally, she became more awake and alert, making it hard to even go to Walmart without it ending with a poo or throw up explosion, or loud crying. I did not want to even leave home, which was hard for me, so very hard. I am not a home body, and even though God was doing a work in my heart, as He always is, I didn’t really feel so great about it. It was in this moment that I truly needed someone to understand me and encourage me through it. I needed someone to recognize that this truly was hard for me, and not just put a blanket over it with a statement like “trust Jesus and it will get better.”

Yes, those are words of truthful, but I needed something deeper. I needed someone that acknowledged that this is real and hard and although it WILL get better because of Jesus’ faithful promises, the present circumstances still were worthy of how I felt. I needed someone to acknowledge that I was not alone and it was okay to have hard times, but also to speak truth into my heart and help me along the way.

Thankfully, I had those people in my life who were already there to encourage me. Before letting the lies of the enemy steal too much of my joy and time, I chose to reach out to people in my life, and I will never forget some of the moments or words that happened during that hard time.

You see, the devil wants us trapped in those moments of difficulty. He wants us to believe the lie that no one cares, understands, or may judge how you feel. He wants us to become isolated and alone, where he can continue to speak those lies into our ears.

Only we have control of how we handle our own lives and situations. Unfortunately, we can not make others reach out for help when they are hurting or feeling dry. Sometimes, it is truly hard for someone to do this.

However, we do have the power to reach out to them and always encourage them, regardless of feelings or situations. We are all doing life together, through the good, the bad, and ugly.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The fact that my people acknowledged the difficulty of my situation, but yet encouraged me in the faith, greatly increased my perseverance and even helped me look at things a little differently.

This tells me that our encouraging words have the power to cancel a thousand lies constantly being spoken in our sister’s ear.

Life can be so busy, hard, lonely, you name it, but we have the power to encourage others through it!

Sometimes it is as simple as:

“You did a really great job!”

“Your hair looks great, did you get a cut?”

“you have such a wonderful personality”

…and genuinely meaning it.

There is always something we can find positive about a person, regardless of who they are.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Your friend, your mom, your sister, your pastor…they all could use a good word of encouragement. I challenge you to use every opportunity to not only address real life, but to love and encourage them through it. Because our words have more power than you think.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17