Steve's Blog

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (NIV)

The apostle John warns us, “Do not believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” False teachings frequently sound enticing and even close to the truth. Someone remarked, “Satan will use an ocean of truth to hide a teaspoon of poison.”

It may be true that some people will fall for any...

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Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil…Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground… Ephesians 6:10-11,13-14a (NLT)

The thought of boot camp provokes a variety of reactions. The reaction can range from satisfaction to horror. We need spiritual Boot Camp....

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Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:33–34 (NLT)

Every generation faces challenges, but it is hard to imagine that life has ever been as hectic and fast-paced as it is today. For me, the weeks seem to fly by. Someone once said, “Time flies by when you are having fun.” But it passes by fast whether we are ha...

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And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs. Mark 16:20 (NLT)

People will tell you that the power and capabilities that Jesus gave to his disciples were only for the early church. They will say the early church needed the credibility to demonstrate to an unbelieving world the validity of their claim. That Jesus died for the sins of all and was raised back to life again by the power of God. The world we li...

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The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. Psalm 27:1–3 (NLT)

David lived a life filled with danger. He faced many life-and-death situations where he had to overcome his fears. Fear can...

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And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 22–23 (NLT)

Our mission field is filled with great opportunities while simultaneously confronting us with hazards and dangers. We need to see how important it is to keep our eyes on the Lord and draw close to him for our strength and support while we do our mission. 

...

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And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 (NLT)

Reactions to the new year are varied. Some people get excited about making new resolutions while we know of others who are more blasé, “Been there, done that.” We all know of individuals who have carefully made resolutions, only to see them forgotten before the end of the month.

Sadly, I am among those who h...

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He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Luke 1:17 (NLT)

Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, is a time of preparation. In one sense, there are presents to purchase, homes to decorate, cookies to bake, and meals to prepare. For many people, it is a busy season; for others, it is also very stressful. There are expectations, sometimes beyond reason, that do not always match up with reality.

We do not want to minimize th...

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She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 (NLT)

Expectations are funny things. At times, we have “great expectations,” while we only anticipate disappointment or dread on other occasions. The Advent of Christ elicited hopeful expectations from Simeon and Anna. Granted, it is possible that they did not foresee a Messiah who would be cr...

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In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

It is not unusual for children to have a sense of desperation this time of year. They have made their wish list, perhaps even written a letter to Santa Claus. The anticipation leading up to Christmas is excruciating. Will their desires come true? Will they try and sneak a peek? Do they secretly fear that they might be on the naughty list?

A sense of desperation brings things into focus. It...

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The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17 (NLT)

We live in a world where the brokenness is evident. Some people realize their brokenness, while many do not. We need to understand three things about the brokenness in this world. At times, our sin is the cause of our brokenness; at other times, it is because we live in a fallen world under a curse. But finally, there is a brokenness that God can use to heal the world.

Ecc...

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Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 (CSB)

The venerable song of the church urges us to “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” The command sounds good until we realize we have more blessings than we could count. What did Paul mean when he told us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing?

Perhaps instead of mer...

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Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. Psalm 108:6 (NIV)

Words are interesting. While English may not be as expressive as other languages, including Greek, studying and understanding how we use language is still important. Today, we want to look at what it means to be delivered. A pregnant woman will deliver a baby. A postal worker delivers mail. An athlete who comes through in the clutch delivers results. God delivers us from evil and other assorted p...

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If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored— so clean up your life. Job 22:23 (NLT)

Restoration is big business. People spend countless dollars restoring antiques, fine art, vehicles, homes, and much more. In the end, however, there is often little practical value. For example, certain restored antique cars are valued at millions of dollars but are rarely, if ever, driven. The cars and trucks are hauled on trailers from place to place, and people admire the craftsmanship, but they no...

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They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the Lord.” Isaiah 62:12 (NLT)

When I was a boy, “trading stamps” were a big deal. I remember my mom and grandma collecting S&H Green Stamps and pasting them into books. When they accumulated a sufficient quantity, they brought them to the redemption center to exchange for a desired product. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but it is trivial compared to being “The Redeemed of the Lord.”

According to the dictionary, to r...

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It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NIV)

“Saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost!” It was not unusual in the churches I grew up in to hear people begin a testimony with that declaration. Is sanctified a word that has, for the most part, disappeared from our vocabulary? How many people know what it means? Is it still necessary?

The dictionary tells us that to be sanctified is to be set apart for a sacred pu...

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The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

It is possible, and perhaps all too common, to be underwhelmed by the thought that God loves us. It might be easier for us to accept that he saves us than it is for us to comprehend just how much he loves us. Granted, theologically, we may receive that God loves us in theory, but how often do we take a moment reverently and consider his great l...

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Jotham grew powerful because he was determined to please the Lord his God. 2 Chronicles 27:6 (NET)

Determined is a good word. Some synonyms for determined include decisive, purposeful, resolute, steadfast, and even tenacious. Determination begins with a decision that we resolve to follow through to completion.

The Bible gives us examples of determined people. Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. Daniel 1:8 (NLT) When Naomi rea...

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For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13–14 (NLT)

Rescuer or rescued? The “American Spirit” was often characterized as self-reliant and independent. It is debatable how prevalent this characteristic is today, but a significant number of us still would rather be a rescuer than be rescued.

We admire “first responders” who risk their well-being to come to the aid of th...

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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 (LSB)

Let us ponder for a moment the significance of satisfaction, and dissatisfaction in the world today. It appears every time I make a purchase online, take my car in for service, or do a host of other activities, I will soon find that email inquiring if I am satisfied.

On the other hand, in the past week, Apple unveiled new iPhones. How many people will be placing their order immediately,...

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And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. In other words, it was through the Anointed One that God was shepherding the world, not even keeping records of their transgressions, and he has entrusted to us the ministry of opening the door of reconciliation to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 (TPT)

Reconciliation is a word that is used primarily in relationships and financial transactions. In relationships, reconciliation occu...

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I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14 (NLT)

In our previous post, “Start Well,” we emphasized the importance of starting well in our faith to construct a life that will withstand the storms and earthquakes that everyone faces. To build securely, we must dig down deep (Luke 6:47-48) to lay the foundation of our life on the Solid Rock.

It may require multiple attempts and failures before we...

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In the Beginning God… Genesis 1:1

How important is it to start well? A good start is critical in a 100-meter race, often decided by hundredths of a second. But a fast start is only one aspect of starting well. One must also begin in the right place and at the right time. It may be possible to overcome a poor start in a race, but only with exceptional talent. However, starting at the wrong place or at the wrong time will result in disqualification.

In The Sound of Music, the song “Do Re M...

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Where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? Job 17:15 (NLT)

The Associated Press reported last week that the number of suicides last year in the United States reached an all-time high of 49,500 people. While other factors may be involved, hopelessness was undoubtedly a significant factor. Is there anything that we can do to bring hope to the hopeless?

Depression, anxiety, or fear will confront most of us at some point during our lives. The Psalmist faced great despair: From the depths of ...

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The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Deuteronomy 13:3 (NLT)

Does anyone enjoy being tested? In the previous article, “Test Everything,” we saw the value of examining preaching and prophecy to ensure they align with God’s word. But we start to feel uneasy when the attention is turned toward us. Some people face tests confidently, believing that they are equipped and capable, but with many of us, fear and doubt creep in and torment our in...

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