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I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.” (Psalms‬ ‭9‬:‭1‬ NLT)

Tears flowed freely and unashamedly as the woman shared her testimony during the service. It was her personal story of abuse, violation, abandonment, and the subsequent years of alcohol, drugs, and hollow relationships that she ran to for help to mask the pain and keep living one more day. You could feel her hopelessness.

But then she spoke of meeting a Savior that loved her like no one ever had, giving her freedom to live, laugh, and even find love! Hearts were racing as she described her transformation by the Lover of her Soul!

While the story was heart-wrenching, the real beauty of the moment is what happened next. As the call for others in pain and life-torment to find their own freedom in Christ, people began to move to a church altar, allowing others to come pray with them. As years of collective grief began to pour out, it gave way to something more pure and electrifying: a joy and laughter that wasn’t there before, but was birthed anew, evidence that a life-change had happened!

And what was it that helped multiple souls stuck in hopelessness find freedom? Simply a soul that had found her own rebirth and did what the Bible said we should do, by sharing our personal tale of Thanksgiving with others! Take time this week to focus on what God has done for you. Share those stories because you never know when it might inspire a life-change in someone else! You are loved today! Feel it!

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The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD, and King David was filled with joy.” (1 Chronicles‬ ‭29‬:‭9‬ NLT)

As of December 31st, the homeless shelter of Caring Ministries in Ft. Morgan, CO, will close its doors due to lack of funding. The same has already happened to the shelter at the Opportunity Shelter in Jackson, MS. In fact, some 4,000 churches a year close their doors for the last time in America, with financial shortfalls being cited as the one of the chief culprits! And of the 1,000 that start up each year, only 20% will still be open in 5 years, largely because of the same issue.

In our text, we see a people who are excited to honor God with their giving to fund ministry and church construction. Because they willfully and faithfully gave, God gave abundant blessings to the people of Israel. But where giving dries up, so does blessing, even making way for suffering due to unfaithfulness to God’s commands. (Please read Malachi 3:8-12 for God’s take on this)

While there is bad stewardship in certain examples of ministry executives mishandling money and over-the-top salaries, this is by far a minority issue. Be faithful to give as God instructs you because souls are counting on it! Your giving to God’s work still changes lives! You are loved today!

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O nations of the world, recognize the LORD, recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong.” (1 Chronicles‬ ‭16‬:‭28‬ NLT)

Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. Of that group, Christianity ranks the highest with 32%, followed by Islam (23%), Hinduism (15%), Buddhism (7%), and Judaism (.2%), and a host of smaller religions.

From a Christian perspective, this is interesting, given our belief that when Noah and his family got off the ark, there were no other peoples or religions around. Somewhere along the way, things got off track. And while statistics prove that the world is a very religious society, needing to believe and worship something, where we began is neglected for what is preferred.

As you go about your week, ask yourself how you are helping the world to find its way back to the God of its creation. While Christians are perceived to be narrow-minded, we lose nothing if we are wrong in our stance. But if we are right, almost 70% of the world will suffer! Showing God’s love to them is the most humane and loving action we could ever provide! We are loved today by the God that is ready to welcome us all home!

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In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers!” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭9‬:‭2‬ NLT)

As a teenager, I watched as my Youth Pastor challenged our youth group to read the whole Bible in a year, only to see scores of adults rise up to the challenge due to the example of the teens. I have watched people give to missions in response to watching a child give what little money they had as a sacrifice. I even met a man that accepted Jesus into his life after watching me, a kid at the time, portray Jesus in a skit, wanting that same compassion that he saw in our drama! Crazy stuff!

The truth is, people do watch Christians to see if we live like we say we believe. Even random acts of kindness can be contagious! By giving hope and making grace beautiful, people are provided an example to follow and will do likewise!

In a day where we are worried about copycat killers or crimes being committed because of negative examples out of the media, wouldn’t it be great to be a part of something wonderful being passed on?! Take time this week, a time for thankfulness, and give simple compliments, gestures of politeness, or even paying forward at a drive-thru fast food line. Know that with faithful living being played out for all to see, it will eventually cause emulation, making others to desire to follow your lead! You are loved today! Start a beautiful trend!

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Victory comes from you, O LORD.” (Psalms‬ ‭3‬:‭8‬ NLT)

As I write this, our local high school football team, the Poyen Indians, and numerous parents are slogging through the cold rain to a second-round playoff game across the state. In our team devotion this morning, I encouraged them in playing hard and giving their best, and to be proud for achieving our school’s best record ever! But can we ask God to help us win?

In all of our battles in life, there is effort on our part, whether it’s in our marriage, overcoming addictions, or simply finding the will to press on each day. God comes alongside and helps us to overcome whatever we face. Regardless of its magnificence or urgency, if it’s important to you then it’s important to God because you are important to God!

There will probably be Christian students on the other team praying, and somebody will leave the field tonight having lost. Even losses become victories if it makes us more Christlike. So, when we pray, ask for what you will knowing that you don’t have if you don’t ask! But always finish every prayer the way Jesus did: “Father, let YOUR will be done.” If it’s so, then you will always win! You are loved! Have a great weekend! (And Go Indians!)

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Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD’s sight.” (Judges‬ ‭10‬:‭6‬ NLT)

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born to be a rebel. His résumé sounds almost too fantastic to believe:
*A failed insurrection against the Italian President, 1834.
*Rebellion in both Brazil and Uruguay, 1840s.
*Round 2 in Italy, 1848.
*Overtook Sicily, 1860.
(He even offered to help President Lincoln win the Civil War in 1861, but was prudently denied!)

In the Old Testament, it seems like every time Israel got their act together, they’d fall off the wagon again. Doesn’t sound too far from our own stories, does it? There is this thing in us that refuses to allow us to be obedient to God at all times, like rebellion is bred inside our DNA. But that sin nature must be conquered. Left unchecked, it will destroy everything in your life!

Stubbornness and rebellion is a hard way to live. Choose instead to do right. As the Bible tells us, “Those that live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Live right so that you have nothing to regret and makes people talk! You are loved today!