Faithfulness (James 4:5)

“…God longs for our faithfulness in the life He has given us.” James 4:5
What a powerful statement. In the middle of James’ rebuke of faulty Christianity, he reminds us of the point of the entire history of humanity; it’s the entire Bible in a sentence! God desires with deep and holy longing for us to be faithful inside the life he gave us.
This is so powerful we need to stop and think. Often we believe we need to make some changes BEFORE we can be faithful. We wish we had different people around us. We imagine a different job. We envision different habits, fitness, health…
But God’s longing, God’s deepest hope for us, is not about different. It is about now.
Right now, right where you are, how can you be a faith-filled?
According to Hebrews 11:1 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)
Faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hoped for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faithfulness lives as FACTS that which the senses do not have revealed. God’s part is to be God. Our part is to believe it as FACT even when we can’t feel it or see it.
So go back to think about your ordinary life. What God facts can you live right where you are now?
Can you live peace, patience, and trust in Jesus’ name – while DRIVING? Can you get to your destination without road raging or getting caught up in the negativity Chicago-land – believing as fact that you will arrive unharmed and in the proper time? (Practicing trust, patience, long-suffering, surrender…)
Can you pray a blessing – even if through clenched teeth – for the coworker or family member who is on your very last nerve – believing as fact that they are placed in your life through God’s reasons and holy purposes? (Doing love, servanthood, blessing, patience, hope, and redemption.)
Can you operate as fact that God will provide for your financial needs? Can you live generously and give away some of what God has given to you knowing God has given it and is providing already for all you need? (Living trust, contentment, gratitude, and generosity.)
Can you be a peace-maker in this season of political enmity? (Being blessed as a child of God.)
God’s deep, holy desire is for us to live, perceiving as real fact, His goodness, His blessing and providence, His authority over all the things of the earth – in the middle of our ordinary, daily lives – even when our eyes don’t see it.
See you Sunday at 10! We believe this one hour a week will change every other hour of our lives. Invite a friend – you may never know the difference it will make in their life.

Forecast: Chilly with a Chance of Joy

How do you beat the chill?
Days like these remind us to relish the sunny 70 degrees when we get it!
But the coldest moments in life have nothing to do with the weather. They come when we are lonely, broken, feeling lost or attacked, and when we are lashing out in anger and hurt.
The enemy has a habit of false promises. It feels like it will help to hunker down, vent and unload our bad thoughts, and wallow in our negativity. But that just makes it colder, further breaks our relationships, and hurts our souls.
The book of James talks about how our tongues have the power to unleash hell itself on earth. There is something about bringing the negativity we all experience into the world through our words that defeats God’s plan for the Christian life.
God’s hope for us is counter-intuitive. When we experience negativity, God asks us to draw closer to Him. Jesus assured us that when we bring Him our burdens, He can carry them on our behalf, so that we need not. Rather than living in our own feelings, God asks us to bring those to Him through prayer and spending time with the Word, and through God-centered relationships. This lifts one another up, reminding us of joy, giving us peace, and staying focused on love. This is God’s kinder and gentler plan for the world… and it hinges on the self-control of His people.
So the next time something does not break your way, make a choice to move towards God. Resist the temptation to wallow in the bad, and avoid verbalizing your hurt and bad feelings. Instead, ask God for help – and for more of Him. Go to James and remind yourself of the consequences of sin with our mouths, and turn to Mark, Matthew, Luke or John and spend some time with Jesus. Even a few moments will transform your heart to look more like His peace, love, and joy.
Next steps: be bold and speak using words full of His promises. “God, I give this person to you.” “God will work all things together for my good.” “God is my god, so I will not be afraid.” “God says no harm will come to me.” “The Lord delivers me from trouble.” “God give me Your wisdom.” A quick Google search for God’s promises yields hundreds of ways God assures us that He is ready to help – and we can affirm our belief in these things through our words.

Our hope for you is that your words start to shine light and give God’s warmth to yourself and those around you. Speak joy, peace, and kindness. And they will know you are a Christ-follower by your love. Just pause a moment and envision a world full of believers who live this! Wow, what a difference that would make!
See you Sunday at 10! We believe this one hour a week will change every other hour of our lives. Invite a friend – you may never know the difference it will make in their life.

Renovating is Hard

Have you ever bought a “fixer upper?”?
It’s a great idea. Buy cheap, then fix everything. Modernize, customize, and end up with a great product you love. And hopefully your fixer-upper has a much higher value than what you bought.
But as we all know, there are inevitably problems behind the walls, unseen, until things are ripped open. A house’s true history and it’s real problems are often hidden under layers of plaster and paint. To fix it and really make it livable is often a bigger project than it seemed when you started.
Faith is the same way. C.S. Lewis describes it this way in Mere Christianity:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
It is hard and often painful to change our patterns and attitudes. Humility is a difficult renovation. Pride is painful to release as it is often rooted in fear. Loving and serving does not come easily in our ‘me first’ culture. Positivity takes a huge overhaul of our attitude. Generosity is built with painful, heavy, foundational adjustments to our understanding of God’s provision in our money. These seemingly simple things we talk about every single week at Big Life C.C. are actually dramatic renovations of our broken souls. Don’t mistake them for fluff. It’s hard work to rewire our hearts into a palace for the Lord.