Give Thanks – Keep On

I woke up Tuesday morning to a new note on my computer.  The night before, my adorable daughter Lydia had been doing spelling practice on a web site.  As I opened up the computer I saw this below – She didn’t tell me about it or even mention anything before she closed the computer for the night.  She knew that in due time, I would see it.  I call this the 7:11 Principle

 “So you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts those who ask Him.”  Matthew 7:11
 
Now, I am not going to say I am going to get all of that stuff for my incredibly convincing girl.  She does have me wrapped around her little finger, but I will tell you this, something(s) on that list will probably end up in her stocking or under the tree.  You see I am a TOTAL SUCKER for my kids.  Ask them.  Mom says, “no” and dad is just more likely to say “yes”.  I LOVE GIVING GIFTS TO MY KIDS.  Even this morning, I spontaneously stopped off at DD with Lilly and Titus, Why?  Because I am their amazing dad. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s hard to say no!  Sometime though, we feel like ‘Dad upstairs’ isn’t listening to our requests and we have – to – wait.

What Should I Do While I Wait?

1. Keep on Asking – The more I practice this, the more I realize the ‘keeping on’ is not about God needing to hear it, but more about me needing to persevere in asking.  But I’m not going to lie, it stinks to wait.  There are a couple of problems though.  Sometimes we don’t have because we have pride and don’t want to ask, and sometimes we ask but need to develop patience.  If you never have to wait for anything you will become a conceited, spoiled, entitled and difficult person.  I don’t think Jesus gets tired of us asking, but check your motivations. Jesus said to #keepon, so I will.

The Key:  Right Motivations

“Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

2. Keep on Seeking – When you lose something, how hard do you look for it?  I can’t stop looking until I find it.  Sometimes I get so obsessed with finding the ‘thing’ that NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.  This may be a character flaw but the positive side for me is focus.  I don’t know what it is you are seeking God for, but his will is found by those who toil and struggle to pursue His plan.  Jesus said to #keepon, so will you?

The Key: Steadfast Persistence

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13

3. Keep on Knocking – Now it doesn’t say “kick down the door.”  but it also doesn’t say, to “do nothing.”  Knocking involves action.  As a matter of fact, if I want to come to your house and come in, I have to get in the car, plan the drive to your house, drive to your house and then knock on the door.  What I am saying, You MUST DO SOMETHING.  This is where preparation comes in.  Many times we don’t take purposeful action because we lack the courage and consistency to plan by faith for the result we are believing God for.  Sitting around isn’t going to prepare you for when God is ready. What do you believe enough that you are willing to do something about?  #keepon

The Key: Purposeful Action

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, faith apart from works is dead.” James 2:26

So #keepon! As we contemplate and anticipate what God will do, let us remember in this season of thanksgiving to appreciate what he has already done.  What are you waiting for?  It’s time to check your motivation, persistence and actions as you pursue God.  Don’t give up!

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (NLT)

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Food Fasting and Faith

We are in a 21 day period of fasting and prayer for with my church, 217church.  Fasting is when you deliberately deprive yourself of something in order to listen to God and understand His wisdom.  As we are studying the book of Daniel, we see fasting and prayer as a valuable regular spiritual practice for those who follow Jesus.  When you fast and pray it is difficult, but has great benefits.  Over the first week of fasting I have gained a few extremely valuable perspectives.

“I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks”  Daniel 10:3 

Three Things I Have Gained From Fasting

1 – Clarity – Wow!  Because I have deprived myself of food I am seeing with greater clarity my own dependance and desires. Some of them are good and some of them not so good.  I can also see with greater clarity steps I need to take and steps for our church as well.  When you are constantly reminded of something you are used to having but can’t, it gives you clarity on what is important.  Do you need clarity from God?  Try #fasting.

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

2 – Focus – As I am fasting, I am more focused in my work, my responsibilities, and my convictions. I am finding I know more what I am supposed to be doing and not doing.  If God can take care of the birds and provide their food, how much more is His provision guaranteed for His church, my family, and those around me?   Do you need focus in your life?  Try #fasting.

“Consider the ravens, they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouses nor barn yet God feeds them.”  Luke 12:24

3 – Courage –  As I sense my dependency shifting, it creates a perfect storm for boldness and courageous decision making, NOT people pleasing or settling for less than God has for us.  Who needs to rise to leadership?  God will call them out.  I am sensing God telling us to move forward and take courageous, bold steps and to believe.  NOT because we see, but precisely because we can’t see.  Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and take courageous bold steps.  Fasting is increasing my faith in His plan for our future as a congregation.   Do you need courage in your life?  Try #fasting.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2

Will you join me in fasting and prayer for these next 14 days?

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

Don’t Forget Who You Are

“I’m a failure.” “I won’t make it.” “I can’t finish this race.” “I can’t pass this class.” “I can’t raise these children.” “I will never get married.” “I don’t think anyone really loves me.” “I’ll never get that job.” “I have made so many mistakes, there is no way God would want to use me now.”  Ever had one of these thoughts cross your mind?  Ever adopted one of these sayings deep into the recesses of your soul?  One of these game changing thoughts that repeats itself in your head so much that you lose sight of hope?  Forgetting who you are is no joke.  It could quite possibly be the cause of most of the pain in our world.

“O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage”  Daniel 10:19

It’s hard to forget your name, but unfortunately it’s rather easy to forget who you are, what you are about and lose your purpose.  Many of us are defined too much by things people say, opinions of others, the amount of money in our bank account, a title on a business card, or even our popularity, status and notoriety in the world.  In our striving to “be somebody”, we have forgotten the point.  You already ARE VALUABLE, and you really don’t have anything to prove. When you forget who you are, you tend to lose your way, make mistakes, say and do things that are out of character.  Your identity CAN’T be wrapped up in the above things.  What are the things that are constant about us as humans that should define us?

Four Things You Have To Remember…ALWAYS

1 – You Are Greatly Loved – This is so real.  So many of us feel unlovable, find our security, self esteem and value in the approval of others, and are in constant performance mode.  This is not necessary.  God loves us, made us with the gifts, looks, and the abilities he wanted us to have.  The process of discovering about ourselves has nothing to do with the consistency of His creativity and passion.  God is Love. Period.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.”  1 Thessalonians 1:4

2 – Fear Not – Anxiety is real, but you cannot add a day to your life through worry and inner turmoil.  Contentment is a hard place to reach but fear is always easily accessible.  You don’t have to be afraid, secure is what you are.  You are not alone, abandoned, and left for dead.  God came and took care of the question of security.  He has it covered.  Don’t forget it.

Fear not, for I am with you;”  Isaiah 41:10

3 – Peace Be With You –  Chaos seems like it is winning, but it is not.  There is an inner struggle and an outward pain in the constant fighting and power struggle in our lives.  We fight for control at work, home, as parents, in our marriages, but we don’t have to.  We can choose to be peaceable.  It is who we are when we choose to follow Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”  John 14:27

4- Be Strong and of Good Courage – Things aren’t always as they seem in the temporal world.  You are probably being deceived in some situation in your life.  You may not feel strong outwardly, but it’s a truth about you that can’t be denied.  When you start to put your faith and trust in a God who created the world, died for you as a man, identifies with your pain, and comforts you in Spirit, You can’t deny your strength.  It is God LIVING in your being.  NOTHING is too difficult for God.  Remember your joy!

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

SO, when are you going to choose to believe who God says you are?  Don’t forget who you are.

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here On Sunday August 6th 2017 we will meet at the Elks Lodge in East Windsor, NJ for our outdoor Summer celebration.

Courage – Day 7 – Relaunch Video Journal

Courage  – “The perfect balance between being careful and careless.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 2:11-18

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Prayers to God will help us to act courageous for God.  I look at this person who was transformed through months of fasting and praying.  Now he is in Jerusalem acting on the orders of His God and earthly king.  What a powerful place to operate from.  “Come let us build the wall of Jerusalem.”  There comes a time in every person’s life where they have the opportunity to make their mark.  It’s one bold action that redefines us forever.  Never the same, not going back, and now things are different.  Nehemiah didn’t know what was ahead and neither do I, but may I have the courage to depend on the word of God and act with confidence in my God because He goes before me and guides my steps.

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 1 of Relaunch:  “Praying God’s Plan” Here:

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

Opposition – Day 6 – Relaunch Video Journal

Opposition – “Your opposition may be internal or external but the proposition you live for MUST be eternal.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 2:9-10

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When I am praying to God, sometimes all I can see is my own failure.  The enemy turns this on me and accuses me.  I often hear words in my head that tell me I can’t do something because of my past, this is classic internal opposition.  There will be opposition.  There is the enemy of self and my own doubt that can cripple me into cowardly inaction.  There is Satan, who is literally prowling around to destroy me, and there are others.  Yes, the doubters, haters, and those who will come against the vision God has for me; external opposition.  Jesus, help me to pray with passion and and use love as a tool to shine your light as I complete the mission you have for me in this world.  Remind me of my place in your Kingdom and your love for those you have called me to serve.

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 1 of Relaunch:  “Praying God’s Plan” Here:

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

Big Dreams – Day 5 – Relaunch Video Journal

Big Dreams – “If it pleases the king.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 2:1-8

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I have had HUGE dreams in my life.  Some of them have come to pass and others, well, didn’t work out so well.  But I won’t stop dreaming no matter what.  My timing is most often not God’s timing, and just because there is a delay in the dream, it doesn’t mean my dream has been denied.  In order to get to the big dream, Nehemiah had to take the first earthly step of obedience, asking the King for approval.  I must keep increasing my faith through leaning into asking Big and then expecting intentional sacrifice.  Nehemiah risked his life for the restoration of the wall, the dream of a restored people.  May my faith be equal to the challenge ahead.

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 1 of Relaunch:  “Praying God’s Plan” Here:

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

Favor – Day 4 – Relaunch Video Journal

Favor – “You are God’s prized possession.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 1:10-11

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O how I long for the favor of God in my life.  I want every word I speak to be like it was His word.  Nehemiah walked in the favor of God because he was able to align himself with the will of God in the matter of the rebuilding of the wall.  More importantly, the restoration of the people to the very heart of God.  Jesus longs for me to live in His favor, to walk in His truth and to rest in His presence.  God already has done the work as He rescued me through the power of the cross.  This allows me to pray for success, which is the completion of each day walked out and lived for the Almighty to His purpose and will.  May He grant us favor as we align ourselves with the purpose of God and sense His good pleasure.

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 1 of Relaunch:  “Praying God’s Plan” Here:

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

 

Promises – Day 3 – Relaunch Video Journal

Promises – “The promises of God are undeniable.”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 1:8-9

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The promises God has for us through prayer are too numerous to list.  People have broken many promises to me, God always keeps his word.  He made some promises to Moses and Nehemiah recounts one here.  It’s hard to believe sometimes that God keeps every promise.  I have never experience love like this from another human, but I have faith God loves me like this.  Prayer helps me understand His plan through recounting his promises.  May we never forget to be reminded of the promises God has for us through His word and his intimate love for us.  His promises are undeniable

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch Week 1 of Relaunch:  “Praying God’s Plan” Here:

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

 

Confession – Day 2 – Relaunch Video Journal

Confession – “I am sorry,” the three most powerful words you may ever say.

Scripture:  Nehemiah 1:5-7

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When was the last time you asked God for something?  Nehemiah begins his asking with a deep confession. Not only does he confess his own sins but also the sins of the whole nation of Israel.  Approaching God is more about posture than petition.  If I am willing to humble myself and put God in his place, I will be more equipped and better ready to handle whatever answer God has for me.  It is comforting to know God longs to hear my confession of sin and desires of my heart.  May we say we are sorry to God for the sins we have committed and live in his grace.  May we turn from our sin and lean on His forgiveness.  May we never forget and always love the great sacrifice Jesus gave to us.

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis:  READ THIS

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

Heartbreak – Day 1 – Relaunch Journal

Heartbreak – “Let your heart break for what breaks the heart of God”

Scripture:  Nehemiah 1:1-4

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Sometimes life hurts. I guarantee the people around you are hurting.  I mean it hurts really bad.  The death of a loved one, a lost relationship, addiction, or a friend in distress.  The first time I remembered pain like this was when my grandmother died.  I was nine years old.  My mom told me the news and just hugged me in her arms for what seemed like forever.  I remember that first deep emotional pain and will never be the same.  How do you respond when you receive bad news?  Jesus gives us an opportunity at any time to come to him and pray.  A new beginning often comes with a deep wound.  There is never a time Jesus isn’t available and never a time when he isn’t listening.  He promises to never leave us and to lift us out of the pit no matter what we have done, or what has been done to us.  Let your heart break for what breaks the heart of God as you go to God In prayer…

Our Journal Process:

  • S – Scripture – Follow Through the book of Nehemiah with our Relaunch Field Guide.  You can Download it here  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

For more on the Relaunch 40 Day emphasis:  READ THIS