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There is no quicker path to destruction than to take your eyes off Jesus. Let your focus waver for even a minute and you will be heading down a path you never intended and have no interest in following. It’s troubling how we can spend hours on our knees with God, and seconds later lose our focus and find ourselves in a dark place. It comes down to discipline, but focus is taxing of our energy, so we often tire and give up.

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Still, if we are serious about living a life worthy of Christ, we’ve got to get better at keeping our focus on Him. One slip can cause years of damage. As you approach this day, this hour, this moment, let me ask you: “Where is your focus?”

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The Bible talks a lot about bringing God your “firstfruits”. To bring your firstfruits means to give God the best of your efforts. In terms of finances, it means you give back to God before spending anything on yourself. In Scripture, it amounted to dedicating the first growth of your crops, or the first born from your flocks and herds, and even your family.

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You give back to God first, and the remainder is for your blessing. These days, we don’t often give God our firstfruits. More likely we give Him our leftovers and expect Him to bless us abundantly in return.  This is embarrassing at best, but I must admit my own guilt in this area.

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There is a time thief lurking in all of our lives. Time is our most precious asset. You cannot acquire more than you’ve been given. We each have a finite amount that dwindles by the second. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Yet so many of us treat time as if there is a never ending supply. We spend our time foolishly on the nonsensical and irrelevant.

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What if we spent our money the same way we spent our time? It would be the equivalent of throwing cash out the window every second of our day. If we are not intentional about our time, a time thief will steal away what God has entrusted to us. We all have a time thief; what’s yours?

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As a year wilts away behind us, another blossoms on the path ahead. There’s something beautiful and fragrant about new beginnings. A new year heralds an opportunity for a fresh start. What was is no longer, and what will be is largely up to the choices we will make. This is our chance to shape what lies ahead in ways totally honoring to God. My theme for this year is “Move the Needle”, and nowhere will this be more important than in my walk with God.

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Everything revolves around and springs from my relationship with Him. Moving forward into a deeper knowledge of God necessitates doing something different than we’ve done before. If this is your desire for the new year as well, there is one thing I know. If we want to move the needle in our connection with and understanding of God, we can’t stay here.

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I recently wrote a blog post about personalizing the armor of God for yourself (see, “The Armor of God”).  During my time of study this morning I was given some new insights which excited me and I hope will prove useful to you as well. The idea came while listening to Bruxy Cavey teach about using the morning ritual of getting dressed as a reminder to pray for certain things.

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It clicked in my mind we could pray through putting on the armor of God as we actually put on our own clothing. I’m going to walk through this so you can see a practical example of what praying through putting on the armor of God might look like.

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I don’t know when you are reading this, but as I write it, Christmas is less than a week away. That means it’s somewhat obligatory I write a Christmas themed post. I know this because every sermon I’ve listened to for the past month (and I listen to a lot of sermons; call it a job hazard!) have all been around the Christmas story. Therefore, since I am a Christian writer, I apparently need to write about Christmas. But here’s the problem: regular readers of this blog already know all about the Christmas story.

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You’ve heard the same messages I have over the years. If we’re honest, it is rare we hear something in a new way this time of year. So instead of focusing on the Christmas story and trying to find some new twist to illuminate a story that cannot possibly be improved, I’m going to ask you a simple question: What will you do with Christmas?

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Vince Antonucci writes in his excellent book, “Renegade”, that “God isn’t looking for the halfhearted or lukewarm… Anywhere we look in the Bible, we see that we are meant to be all-in when it comes to following Jesus. We know that, and we want to make that commitment. So we say yes, but it’s a yes with lots of buts.” As A.W. Tozer put it, “we want the crown but not the cross.” We want to follow Jesus on our terms; but that’s not a choice we get to make.

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Antonucci puts it this way: “We get to choose whether we want to follow Jesus, but we don’t get to choose what it looks like to follow Jesus.” And that’s where many turn away. They want the nice Jesus, the safe Jesus, the Jesus who will fix all their problems and take them to Heaven. You can’t just have some of Jesus. You commit to all of Him or you leave Him to the side.

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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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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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