Jesus is a personal savior. This isn’t news for any who grew up in church. We’ve heard all our lives how we need to accept Jesus as our personal savior. But how often do we take the time to marvel at what that actually means? Why is a personal savior better than any other kind of savior? As long as we’re saved, who cares, right? The difference comes down to love. Jesus is a personal savior because of how much love He has for you, for me, and for every single other soul on this planet.

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This means while Jesus died for the entire race of humanity – past, present, and future – He would have died for you alone. That’s pretty crazy. Even if no one else mattered, you would have mattered enough for Jesus to give up His life. That definitely puts the personal in Him being a personal Savior for us.

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With the new year approaching, it’s a good time to reflect and examine what you have done for the Kingdom over the last year. Is your walk closer to God or further away than it was a year ago? What have you done to make a difference for Jesus? The sad fact is most Christians never give these questions a lot of thought, much less spend any time intentionally planning how they will grow closer to God and have a greater Kingdom impact on this world.

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Why is that? Shouldn’t our relationship with Christ and what we do for Him be the most important thing in our lives? There’s not a single New Year’s resolution worth anything unless it furthers the Kingdom of God and draws us closer to the One who created us and gave His life for us.

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One of the greatest dangers facing the modern Church is the prevalence of Christians thinking they can play it safe and still have a place in the Kingdom of God. If that seems controversial, let me be perfectly clear and a bit blunt: you cannot play it safe and please God. Those two ideas are diametrically opposed. The life of Jesus was filled with danger and discomfort.

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He warned his followers their lives would be the same if they chose to stick with Him ((John 16:33; Matthew 10:16-25; Luke 9:57-58). Fast forward a couple thousand years, and the propensity to play it safe has become the order of the day in many – if not most – churches.

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It’s Thanksgiving day in America. While I recognize a good number of readers are not Americans, being thankful is something to which we can all relate. So whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in your culture or not, I suggest we all take some time today to reflect on all our blessings. Even if you are struggling in this season of life, I am confident you can find some things for which to be grateful.

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Something amazing happens when we pray prayers of gratitude. Our attitude changes. Our physical countenance improves. Most of us forget how truly blessed we are and take much of our lives for granted. But today, just for a little while, let’s reorient our focus on simply being thankful for everything God has done for us.

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What does the armor of God look like in your life? Ephesians 6:10-18 is a familiar passage of Scripture detailing the armor of God. Like many familiar passages, it can be easy to overlook and never take the time to apply it to your own life. Paul gave us a great gift when he outlined the weapons of our warfare. Though I have distant memories of a flannel-graph (remember those?) soldier in Sunday School, there is nothing childish about the depth of this passage.

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Within these words are the strategic plans to counteract the attacks of the devil.  To best make use of the armor and weapons, we should know what they look like in our own lives.

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We all have triggers that prompt sinful behaviors. If we learn to recognize the triggers, we will begin to overcome the most problematic sins in our lives. Satan does two things really well. He lies, and he manipulates.  When it comes to his attacks on us, all of them can be traced back to one of those two strategies.

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Either he’s trying to get you to believe something untrue, or he’ll try and get you to do something against the will of God. Understanding the simplicity of the enemy’s attacks should help us formulate strategies to resist him. But unless we recognize the triggers in our own lives, we will struggle defeating the schemes of the devil.

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Devoted followers of Christ hate when they sin. It’s maddening. We don’t understand why we continue to do things we know are not honoring to God (Romans 7:15). If you’re like me, you may have often pondered why we sin in the first place. It seems logical our love and devotion to God would keep us close to Him and far away from sin. It would be that simple if we did not have an enemy who was constantly seeking to trip us up and eventually destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).

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While we can’t blame Satan for our failures, we can blame him for planting the seeds of those failures. Ultimately though, the reason why we sin is because we choose to take our eyes off Jesus.

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For devoted followers of Christ, two things never change regardless of any circumstance. They are your identity and mission. Your identity is who God says you are and is dependent on no one or anything else. Your mission was set by Jesus before He returned to be with His Father; we are to tell everyone about His love and character, and to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to reality on earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 6:10).

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Human tendency is to focus on what is going on around us, what is affecting our comfort and our plans, and allow those things to define who we are and what we do with our lives. And thus we fall into another of Satan’s insidious traps.

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In “It’s Not What You Think”, Jefferson Bethke writes, “Life isn’t about going to Heaven when you die, it’s about making Heaven true on earth in every facet and level of our relationship with God, others, and self. The Christian life is asking, how can I make what’s true of Jesus and His gospel true in [every] aspect of my life?”

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It’s a question that perfectly sums up what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. As you go throughout your day, how can you reflect the gospel of Jesus in everything you do and say? Most of us never take the time to ask the question or consider how the answer to it might dramatically change our lives.

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The early Church recognized the reality of the spiritual warfare raging around them. They understood everything in life was affected by battles being waged in their midst. While unseen, these battles often manifested themselves into the realities of the day to day lives of early believers.

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They were so keenly aware of what was going on they focused on fighting spiritual battles as long as they lived, looking forward to the day they would lay down their swords and join Jesus in Heaven. Here’s a news flash: nothing has changed. The same spiritual warfare encountered by the early Church still surrounds us today.

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