All posts in “RENEWAL”

RENEWAL -ALEX CONEJO

RENEWAL

ALEX CONEJO

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Have you ever felt stuck in your ways? Maybe you’ve put your faith in Jesus but your life hasn’t really changed a whole lot. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are a new creation and that the old is gone; but if that’s true, why do so many people still struggle with their old sinful, bad habits and ways?

The first thing we need to understand is that no one will be perfectly sinless in this life, not you and not anyone else. While Christ took upon himself our sinfulness on the cross, that did not make us sinless; rather, Christ’s work in our lives begins to change us from the inside out. The question is, are you willing to be changed?

That is, yes we still sin, but it happens less and less frequently as we mature and grow within our relationship with Jesus Christ. Christ who works within us by the power of the Holy Spirit transforms us to be more like him. We are set free from sin and it no longer has power over us (Romans 6:6-7). Today is a new day, that is, today we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and we have a choice to make. We can choose to let our selfish and sinful desires rule us, or to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11-12) and experience the freedom which only comes through choosing to submit our lives to him. Which will you choose?

QUESTION 1. Are there areas in your life that you need to change, areas that you know are not pleasing to God? Explain.
QUESTION 2. What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 have to do with your relationship with Christ and your relationship with your selfish and sinful nature (or desires)?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to live free and be transformed by the new creation God has placed within you.

RENEWAL -SARAH THOMAS

PRAYER

SARAH THOMAS

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

I love home improvement. I love watching shows that flip houses or doing projects at my own house. I love watching the process of making something worn down or insignificant into something beautiful again. There is just something about the final reveal of a project that is awe-inspiring. It is so refreshing to see something that was once broken or unused turned into something with significance and worth.

In a way, home improvement reminds me a lot of myself. There are a lot of parts of my life that are broken or seem insignificant. However, God’s Word says otherwise. When we are in Christ, we are made brand new. Our wholeness is restored, we hold value beyond our imagination, and our old self no longer holds any weight. So often, though, we try to hold on to our old self. We cling to our past mistakes, bad habits, favorite sins, or old identity. While God calls us new, we fight to maintain the old.

The transformation God offers you is not just a patch job or repair work. You are not a fixer upper. You are an entirely new creation. There is no need to hold on to the past anymore. God wants to offer you so much more than you have ever experienced. Let go of the past and grab onto the new identity God has given you. You are significant, transformed, redeemed, and being made whole.

QUESTION 1. What do you need to let go of in order to live out your new identity in Christ?
QUESTION 2. Why is it so difficult to let go of those things?
CHALLENGE: Make a list of those things you thought of in the first question and then ask God to show you practical steps to help you leave those things behind. Ask Him to show you who He created you to be as a new creation.

RENEWAL -TIMOTHY COUTTS

RENEWAL

TIMOTHY COUTTS

II Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

We hate to admit that we’re weak. We want to appear as the strongest, the best, and the most stable. To be weak is to be flawed. But everyone has weaknesses and none of these weaknesses are flaws in the grand design of God; you are perfectly and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).   God knows that there are areas in our lives in which we are weaker than others and that’s where he is more than happy to step in and lend his endless power.

Think about this: if we didn’t have weaknesses we would be superhuman and wouldn’t have a need for God. He wants us to need Him. As humans, it’s crazy to think about admitting our weaknesses to others let alone boasting about them as God calls us to do. When we do this we are admitting our need for God’s strength and are allowing him to work through us in powerful ways. We can’t do this life alone. We are frail, time constrained beings, so stop relying on yourself, because you will continually fail. Lean fully into God’s power and allow him to do mighty works through you.

QUESTION 1. How do you handle your weaknesses? Do you seek to get better, learn more and seek God, or do you try to cover them up?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that God has more than enough strength for you, and have you ever leaned into that strength?
CHALLENGE: Give your weaknesses to God and let him build his strength in you.

RENEWAL -KELLI CHUN

RENEWAL

KELLI CHUN

1 Peter 5:10

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Pain is an indicator that something is not right. It isn’t something we enjoy, but pain is something we need to survive. It serves as an alert system for us so that we can act accordingly in order to fix a problem. When we respond to pain, we can begin to heal. Pain isn’t always a bad thing.

When we experience pain in our lives, God wants to use that pain to grow us into the people he created us to be. He does not cause pain, but when we allow Him into it He can make it worthwhile. Pain requires action on our part. When we are hurting, it can be difficult to let God in. Naturally, we turn to blaming Him or getting angry with Him for allowing us to feel so much pain. During these times, He wants to hold you close and show you His heart for you. He sees your hurt and your hardship…but He also sees the outcome. He knows the bigger picture, even when all we can see is the struggle.

When we open our minds and our hearts to God in the midst of our pain, we begin to see things the way He does. We may never see the full picture, but we will learn more about His character. He doesn’t miss a detail or let anything go to waste. He is always working on our behalf for our good. Pain is part of the process that we simply cannot avoid. It’s hard and it hurts – but it is a necessary part of the journey toward holiness that we are on. Allow God into your hurt — He knows how to use it for good.

QUESTION 1. Is there pain in your life you have been trying to hide from or avoid dealing with? If so, why?
QUESTION 2. How have you seen God work through your pain or struggles in the past? What is keeping you from fully trusting that He will do so again?
CHALLENGE: Invite God into your hardship today and ask him to show you his heart for you in the midst of your hurt.

RENEWAL -LAVOISIER CORNERSTONE

RENEWAL

LAVOISIER CORNERSTONE

Luke 4:18 (NIV)

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.

Have you ever felt like just another statistic, no hope, and no way out of your circumstances? Maybe you feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand in life and you’ve been searching for a way to escape it all. In times like these how do you respond? Do you spend most of your time walking around feeling sorry for yourself and contemplating giving up all together?

The cards you were dealt in life may not seem fair, but at the end of the day they are the only cards you have to work with. It’s your hand (fair or not) and how you are going to play them out is up to you. There is good news, however, God has an awesome habit of taking the weakest hands dealt, and the most broken of people, and flipping them into the most beautiful, amazing hands anyone could have ever dreamed of. If you don’t believe me, read the Scriptures. Read about King David’s life before he was king, or how about the turning of a murderer like Saul into the apostle Paul, one of the greatest evangelists of all times. There are so many inspiring stories like these; you just need to dig into God’s Word.

At the end of the day, you have been appointed by God to proclaim the good news of Christ (Mark 16:15). As a Christian, you are royalty, an adopted King’s kid. The Bible says that you can do all things through the power of Jesus Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). God wants you to live free, proclaim the gospel, love with all of your strength, be humble in all you do, and grow in your faith and joy in him. Today, focus on the Lord, work on your relationship with him hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute. Allow Jesus to rule in every part of your life and watch him turn your horrible circumstances, your bad hand if you will, into a Royal Flush!

QUESTION 1. Have you ever felt like just another statistic, no hope, and no way out of your circumstances? (Explain) Do you feel like you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself all the time and really begin to focus on God by turning the hand you’ve been dealt over to Jesus? (Explain)
QUESTION 2. As a Christian, do you find it difficult to remember who and whose you are (e.g. adopted into royalty within God’s family [1 Peter 2:9])? How could remembering who and whose you are change the way you live? (Explain)
CHALLENGE: We challenge you today to take all your weakness, all your struggles, all your problems and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Focus all of your energy and strength on God. Jesus is the great Physician and he is more than willing to turn the bad hand you were dealt in life into a Royal Flush.

RENEWAL -TIM COUTTS

RENEWAL

TIM COUTTS

1 Samuel 30:6

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him…. But David found strength in the Lord his God.

The Old Testament is a beautiful testament of stories from people millenniums ago. King David lived in the mid-9th century BCE, yet as long ago as these people’s stories are, they’re not really all that different from our own.

The greatest thing about the past is that we can learn from it. King David is a great example of this. He was the King of a nation and there were many who wanted to steal his power, including his own family. David knew something that we can all benefit from in times of distress; that is, he’d learned that while he could not rely on his own strength and power in times of distress he could trust and rely on God’s. When we place our strength, trust and love in things and people more than in God, we are bound to be left in distress. People and things can and will fail us at times, but God never will. Keep your focus on God; rely on his strength and on his power and you will never be truly distressed. The One you serve is stronger than any living thing, He is the creator of all things, and He is greater than any circumstance you will ever face.

God is asking you to connect with him. He is asking you to trust in Him, to focus on Him, and to love Him. During the challenging times in life, and there will be challenging times, where will you find your strength?

QUESTION 1. In what areas of your life do feel that you carry the most stress?
QUESTION 2. Do you find it hard to focus on and trust in God to give you the strength needed to make it through some of life’s most distressing situations? If you answer yes to this question, what is stopping you from trusting Him?
CHALLENGE: Everything in this world changes and every beginning has an end; however, if you place your focus on and place your trust and love in the Lord who never changes and has no beginning or end, you will live in his strength and love forever!

RENEWAL -CONNOR CIPPOLA

RENEWAL

CONNNOR CIPPOLA

Mark 2:17

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Growing up, I did not like asking people for help. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was good enough to do everything on my own. I wanted to prove that to myself. I wanted to be good enough. The reality is, that is still the case today. The only difference is, now I am able to see how much better things can be if I let others in and ask for help. That does not mean I am not good enough at being me. That just means I am not supposed to be enough for every situation. We were created to need each other.

Imagine what the world would be like if it only had what you could contribute to it. Really think about it. What would transportation, buildings, entertainment, education, clothing, and food look like if it all depended on you? How different would things be? That would be a lot of pressure to bear on your shoulders alone.

When we think about it practically, trying to do everything on our own just does not make any sense. So why do we try to do the same thing with our own hearts, minds, or souls? Why do we think we need to carry the weight of our own world all alone? Why is it so hard to ask others, especially the God who created us, for help? We tend to hide our problems, our questions, or our insecurities from other people so we can appear to be just fine on the surface when, in reality, it isn’t just our burden to carry. Find freedom in knowing that you aren’t meant to go through this on your own. You don’t have to have all the answers for your questions or remedies for your problems.

QUESTION 1. What are you hiding from others that you could really use some help with right now?
QUESTION 2. Why is it hard for you to ask someone for help? What about asking God?
CHALLENGE: Be honest, not only with yourself but with a trusted friend or adult, about what is difficult for you to handle on your own. Ask them to come alongside you as you seek God’s wisdom in this situation.

RENEWAL -JESSICA DUNN

RENEWAL

JESSICA DUNN

Psalms 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.

 If you’re like me and grew up in the church, you can probably identify with getting bored of the same Bible stories, and even bored with your faith. You’ve heard the story of Jesus dying for you so many times that it barely has meaning for you anymore. And while you slowly start to disconnect from the story of Jesus, you find your relationship with him to be disconnecting as well. But the truth is that there is nothing common or boring about the story of Jesus, rather it is our perception of him that becomes dulled by the world and things we deem more important than him.

The challenge is to quiet the world around us so that we can experience God in a fresh and exciting way. For me, I had to go out into the woods a couple of times a week and leave all my devices at home. I would just sit and soak in His presence and the beauty of what He has created. Nothing seemed to change at first, but eventually I noticed my relationship with Jesus blossoming and I was no longer bored by him. You must be intentional about finding new joy in the gospel and Jesus. Maybe for you it’ll be lying under a star-filled sky and marveling at the expanse of what He has made, or climbing a mountain by yourself. Seek out whatever way it is in which you feel closest to God and have the least amount of distractions. As Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

QUESTION 1. Are you bored or complacent in your relationship with Jesus?
QUESTION 2. What are some areas in your life that may be trying to drown out God? Too many video games? A relationship? T.V.?
CHALLENGE: Go and experience God in a new and fresh way and watch as your view of God begins to grow into something majestic and beautiful.

RENEWAL -ALEX CONEJO

RENEWAL

ALEX CONEJO

Jonah 1:3 (NLT) But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish.

Are you running in the direction that God is calling you to run or are you more like Jonah, running away and trying to escape from what God is calling you to do? We can learn a great deal from Jonah, a prophet of God who tried to run away from God’s call upon his life. You see, Jonah wasn’t pursuing God; rather, he was just running toward his own selfish desires, desires that led him nowhere quickly. Luckily for Jonah, God continued to pursue him and eventually got a hold of his life.

When Jonah decided to run away from God, he got himself into a whole lot of trouble (e.g. being thrown off a ship, swallowed by a huge fish, spit out of the fish onto a beach three days later, etc.) and all this trouble left him terrified and restless. However, the good news is that God never stopped pursuing him and he won’t stop pursuing you either. Eventually, God and Jonah’s relationship turned around for the better; however, there is one more thing that we can learn from Jonah’s story and that is: when we choose to run in the direction of God’s call in the first place, we usually don’t have to go through all the restless hardships that are associated with running away from God. If you’ve been running away from God, it’s time to turn back and experience a renewal and peace that only God can give.

QUESTION 1. Are you at peace with God (If not, why not)? Is there something you’re doing that God would not approve of (If so, what)?
QUESTION 2. When was the last time you sat down and had a real heart to heart talk with God?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to stop running from God and start pursuing him with all your heart. God is already pursuing you and all you have to do is turn around before you end up like Jonah.
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