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How to Prevent Spiritual Stagnation

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“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come,” (1 Timothy 4:8). It’s good to exercise, and to keep your body in shape. But just as the body gets flabby and out of shape without exercise, the soul can begin to suffer the signs of spiritual atrophy if not intentionally nurtured. Here are some tips on how to exercise your faith, feed your soul, and prevent spiritual atrophy.

[T]HE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I SEE THE CORRELATION BETWEEN NEGLECT AND DEMISE. Simply put, things that get attention grow; things that don’t diminish. If I don’t exercise my body, I get flabby. I begin to have health problems. And, if I don’t feed my soul, the same thing happens, spiritually speaking. My faith grows or declines in proportion to how I neglect or care for it. The things I prioritize in life simply . . . grow. The things I neglect, at best, go away. In the worst-case scenario (which is often frequent), things don’t go away at all – they end up haunting us. I have found that there are indeed a few things that make a significant difference in whether my faith grows or diminishes. I want to share a several with you, because I think they will help you in your journey, too.

1. LIFT PAPER, STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH. Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” If you find yourself spiritually flabby, in a funk, if your soul is out of shape, it could be because you have not been in God’s Word. I have found this to be true in my own life; maybe you can relate. Can I expect my faith to grow if I neglect God’s Word, the Bible? No. Not the way it will grow if I am in it. There is a relationship between whether or not I am in the Bible and whether or not I am walking and growing in my faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, which is the Bible. Lift the pages of Scripture and you will build up your faith, your soul, your spiritual strength.

2. WHEN YOU BUILD OTHERS UP, YOU BUILD YOURSELF UP.  Verse 6 of Philemon says “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” There is something about sharing your faith – in any measure – that builds YOU up.  You don’t have to be an evangelist to share your faith. But sharing one’s faith is fundamental to every Christian. If you are not sharing your faith, being a witness for Christ by intentionally looking for ways to share Him in the circle of influence God has given you, you will not grow in your faith the way you otherwise would. Seek to build others up by sharing your faith, and you will also build yourself up.

3. PRIORITIZE WHAT LASTS, NOT WHAT WILL PASS. REMEMBER THAT YOUR SOUL, NOT YOUR BODY, WILL LIVE FOREVER.  1 Timothy 4:8 teaches us that there is indeed benefit in physical exercise, training, working out. But the benefits are temporary because the body is temporary. The one who builds the soul invests in something eternal. Your soul is the most worthy part of who you are, and worth your deliberate, intentional cultivation. As there is physical evidence of physical exercise (sweat, muscle growth, increased oxygen flow, better mental acuity), so there is evidence of spiritual soul-building: the growth of faith, increased trust in God, fuller surrender, peace, reduced anxiety, clarity of thought, power against temptation, freedom, etc.). When you invest in your soul, you invest in yourforever and you invest in the here and now. It’s a great return on your investment that simply can’t be beat. In fact, you may be beaten up, unnecessarily, if you don’t prioritize the building up of your faith. It affects everything.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear your comments. 

3 Tips On Creating Momentum

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Momentum = Driving power or strength.* Right now, you have momentum. It’s just a matter of what kind and to what degree. Creating and sustaining positive momentum takes careful, prayerful tending. Momentum, different than speed, takes time and attention.

We all want momentum – in the right direction. The question is: how do you create and sustain it? Here are three things you can immediately do to create and sustain positive momentum:

1. STOP LIVING LIKE IT’S ALL UP TO YOU. God usually births and develops momentum among groups, or teams, of people. Yes, you might be a key leader – and God may use you to spark momentum in your team or group – but it is not all up to you, alone. If you’re not a team player, you’re not on God’s side of history. The momentum is up to your team, not only you. Take a breath of relief and realize that insight into what comes next may not come from you. And that is a very good, healthy thing. Be open to solutions coming from others. Be open to God using someone else, not just you. In fact, you must do this if you are a leader. If you’re doing God’s work, it’s not just your work.

2. BEHAVE AS IF IT’S ALL UP TO YOU, AND THEN REST AS IF IT’S UP TO SOMEONE ELSE. If a team of people adopt this attitude, momentum is an absolute certainty. Act responsibly. Own up to your God-given potential. Do what you can with what you have. Do ALL you can, as if it ALL depends upon you. Then move on and rest. One secret to creating and sustaining positive momentum is to take personal responsibility for it, and to refuse to allow the outcome – for better or worse – to keep you up at night. Work hard. Work smart. Give it your ALL. And rest in the same way. When you rest, really rest. Rest hard. Give your times of rest ALL you have. Behave as if it’s all up to you, and rest as if everyone else has it under control. 

3. STOP RUNNING WIND-SPRINTS. Life is a marathon, not a series of wind-sprints. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, God says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Pace yourself. Run life like the marathon it is. Exchange your idea that momentum must be created quickly for the idea that momentum that lasts often takes time to create. Yes, there are certain things in life that must be started quickly, but the majority of things that are worthwhile take time to build, time to sustain, and time to enjoy. Pace yourself. If you don’t you’ll soon find yourself on the sidelines. You will have lost your momentum – all because you confused speed with momentum. Momentum is not about speed. Speed is about speed. Momentum is about forward motion. Think about that.

The Verdict: What the Resurrection Means

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“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11. Through the resurrection, we have God’s definitive statement on the life, message and identity of Jesus Christ. To dismiss the resurrection is to dismiss not merely Jesus Christ, but God Himself.

Man’s opinion of God is fluid; God’s opinion of man is fixed. Trust and obey or rust and decay. These are the words Leonard Ravenhill wrote to me in a letter years ago. Though dead, through his words, Ravenhill lives. God’s verdict is unchanging. He made his statement on the ministry, the message and the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ with the resurrection. The resurrection and the cross join hands to make God’s definitive statement about the human condition – and His solution.

We have a problem called sin. But God handled that problem through the cross of Christ. How do we know? Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is God’s definitive statement of approval of the ministry, message and Messianic identity of Jesus. Jesus was sent by God, is God’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, and is THE way God provided for the forgiveness of sin.

Here are some Bible verses to explore, which reveal God Himself raised Jesus from the dead, and that Jesus, therefore, had the full endorsement of God:

1. John 2:19-22 2. John 10:17,18 3. Romans 1:4 4. 1 Corinthians 6:14 5. Acts 2:24 6. Acts 3:15 7. Acts 4:10 8. Acts 5:30 9. Acts 10:40 10. Acts 13-30-37 11. Galatians 1:1 12. Ephesians 1:16-20

You may ask “so what?” Let me answer that question with a few questions of my own:

1. If God raised Jesus, what statement was He making?

2. Would God resurrect someone who misrepresented Him? Why would God resurrect a liar, or a crazy man making false claims about Him? Consider 1 Corinthians 15:14-22

3. How could Jesus predict His own death and resurrection, speaking on behalf of God, if He didn’t have certainty that God would act on His behalf, and raise Him up?

It’s no small thing to dismiss the resurrection. Before you do, think deeply about the above. Consider that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only the greatest event in history, but that it is also the greatest verdict, the greatest statement made by God. Through it, we understand that the message of Christ is true: repentance is necessary. Accepting Him as Messiah, Savior, is essential. Doing so, and only doing so, removes all of our sin. The verdict is in. Jesus is God’s messenger, with God’s message. It’s time to consider the verdict of the resurrection, and what it means for you.

Listen to the companion podcast, The Verdict, through iTunes or our free Godfactor App.

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About the Author: Michael Anthony is the Founder of Godfactor, the creator of the free Godfactor App (search for “Godfactor” in your app store), and the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. He loves the resurrection of Christ, because it’s God’s verdict – that belief in the ministry, the message and the identity of Jesus as God’s Messiah, leads to the forgiveness of sin, every single time, for every single person.

Why Didn’t Jesus RUN?

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Escape was within reach. Why didn’t Jesus RUN?

We have two free, sharable resources for Good Friday and Easter. They are a sampling of some of the new, free resources we’re beginning to churn out through Godfactor.

Watch Why Didn’t Jesus RUN? by clicking here.
Or, watch it and other videos on the go with our free Godfactor App.
(Get the app in your iTunes or Google App store.)

Read The Physical Death of Jesus Christ, here

With the Godfactor App, you can also enjoy more three minute videos – and forward them to friends:

  • Enjoying Jesus.Understand how enjoying Jesus is where life starts.
  • God’s Calling On Your Life.God has plans for you. Embrace it. Live it.
  • Did Jesus Call You To Do It?Many “voices” may be calling you, pulling you, distracting you. Only One voice is important.
  • Our True Revival series shot on location in the Solomon Islands. Renew your life, your family or your congregation buy watching these brief videos on spiritual renewal.

We also want to thank our Ministry Partners who make these kinds of resources possible through their prayers and financial support. Thanks to you, we’re reaching people globally, for the glory of God. To support this ministry or learn more about being a Ministry Partner, click here.

Enjoy our resources, and enjoy Resurrection Weekend! And, if you live in or near York, Pa, come and visit us at Grace Fellowship for what we call the “Grace Awakening.” God is moving, and we are moving with Him.

The Death of Death

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With Passion Week here, I’ve decided to encourage a good listen to my most recent podcast, “The Death of Death.” You can find it in the “Recent Sermons” area of our free Godfactor App, on iTunes, or in the “Sermon” area at graceyork.com. Take some time to comprehend the death of death. Doing so could help you live.

 

You might think you understand what Jesus went through on the cross. But have you considered what He endured beforehand? And why? “The Death of Death” podcast will help you appreciate what Jesus went through, so you can soar.

I’d love to hear your comments, too. And, don’t forget to join us this Friday night (April 18), for our special Good Friday Awakening Concert at 7 pm, and again on Easter Sunday at Grace Fellowship in York, Pa.

Is This Just Chaos, or is it Demonic?

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Refusing to acknowledge the truth has no affect on the truth. Truth stands regardless of how we see it. But how we see it can definitely affect how we live. The truth is that evil spirits roam this earth – and they’re looking for someone to latch onto. You need to make yourself “greasy”, so any spirit looking to latch on can’t hold on. Here’s how . . .

[T]hree truths you need to know about demons that will most likely have a significant impact on your life:

  1. They prefer a human host.
  2. They create chaos.
  3. They are tenacious. They don’t give up easily.

You may not believe in the reality of wicked spirits, but your unbelief will not affect the truth. How do we conclude the above three things about evil spirits? Jesus, in Luke 11:24-26 explains:

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Notice that the beginning of this story has the demon (an unclean spirit) inside a person. It has a human host. It then leaves the person, for whatever reason, and finds itself dissatisfied with the world at large. So, it returns to its “house”. But when it returns, it’s home is not as it was when it was there earlier. It is now “swept” and “put in order.” This is a contrast to the chaos experienced by the person when the demon was living there. Disliking the remodel, the demon demonstrates significant tenacity by finding seven other demons with worse reputations, to help it regainits territory. They simply don’t give up easily.

What about all that chaos in your life? Could it be that it isn’t merely because of your lack of management or organization skills? If we take Jesus’ words to heart, the answer is “yes.” Not all chaos is demonic, but dismissing the potential for chaos to be caused by a demonic entity is simply not biblical. Chaos can have a supernatural cause.

What should you do if chaos is the norm in your life? What should you do if you simply can’t seem to get your head above water, and you seem to be repeatedly experiencing fierce chaos? The first thing you should do is evaluate your own life and see if there are any changes you should make. Are you using your time wisely? Have you taken on more than God has asked of you? Make adjustments, accordingly. But you should also ask God to reveal the presence and influence of unclean spirits, demons. Ask God to reveal to you, in a non-hurtful way, whether the chaos is demonically caused. Praying this prayer is an important step in the process of determining the cause of the chaos engulfing you.

You also need to understand and embrace the importance of truly submitting yourself to God. The Bible tells us in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Submit. Resist. But the question is, how do we submit to God in such a way that the devil must flee? James 4:8-11 gives us a glimpse:

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

The picture James paints is of a person truly, thoroughly repenting of sin. Repentance is humility. Notice the mourning and weeping. It’s not possible to be humble before God without repenting. And, it’s not possible to resist the devil without doing so. Spiritual warfare, in a word, can be summed up with one word: humility.

True repentance makes your life greasy. The enemy simply can’t hold on to someone who walks in repentance. If you want the devil to run with his tail between his legs, you must embrace a lifestyle of repentance. This is what it means to be humble before God. And when we are, it makes the devil shake in his boots. If he had a pair, that is . . .

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