It’s one of those play calls for Team Jesus that has challenged the best and most upright Pastor, Church Mother, and saint at one point or another. When we are hurt, damaged, or betrayed by someone, it’s not in our human nature to naturally forgive.

Forgiving others will rarely be as easy as breathing or blinking. It takes work and intentionality to begin – and end – the process of forgiveness.

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For most people, the difficulties of the past year have been a strong reminder that life doesn’t always go the way we think it will. First Samuel 30 records a similar period in David’s life. Thirteen years after he was anointed to be the next king of Israel, he was still living as a fugitive from King Saul. Then one day David and his six hundred men came home and found their city had been burned, their possessions taken, and their families taken captive. It was so heartbreaking and distressing that the men in his army were threatening to stone him. Yet at his lowest point of discouragement, the Scripture says David “encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (v. 6). He rose up, inspired his men to fight again, and they defeated their enemy.

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Many of my goals and plans for 2020 got sidetracked. (There’s an understatement.) Some areas for which I had great intentions didn’t improve, while I’ve seen growth in other areas for which I didn’t even set goals. The start of a new year is a perfect time to reevaluate what God is doing in your life, praise him for all he has done, and set some God-centered goals for the new year. Christian leaders such as Jonathan Edwards modeled this disciplined pursuit of godliness––a young Edwards set 70 resolutions to help him seek to glorify God.

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Some people believe that the gospel is only useful for evangelism—a message only unbelievers need to hear. Yet the Bible teaches that followers of Jesus need to continue hearing the gospel even after they are born again. Christians should meditate on the gospel every day in their personal Bible reading, and pastors should preach the gospel in every sermon. We regularly need to hear about the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, as well as the call to repent of our sins and turn to Jesus in faith.

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It’s that time of year again, Team – the holidays. Typically, people either love or hate the holiday season because it has a way of making us examine our lives. It might have something to do with it being the end of the year, maybe we’re faced with the reality of what we did or didn’t accomplish and why. Or, it could be that the cold and darker days slow us down long enough to take stock of what and who really matter.

If you have a great family and a cool job, it means so much more, and if not, it seems to hurt so much worse. Let’s touch and agree that we will beat any holiday blues this year and walk in the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through a trial or test, “joy” is not the first word that comes to mind. I’m more likely to think that once I get through the difficulty, I can throw my hands up in the air and say, “It’s finally over! Now I can have some joy.” But the Scripture doesn’t say that. Rather, it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trails, knowing that the test of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2–3).

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I learned the significance of “brother” and “sister” long before I began to use those biblical terms myself. As a child, I would half-listen to my parents’ side of phone conversations, absorbed in a book but mildly curious about who was on the other end. 

The introductory chatter never aroused my attention. Their transition to hushed pauses or solemn tones failed to fully engage my interest. But then I would hear my dad address the caller as “brother,” and I would look up from the page. 

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Every local church is comprised of a diverse group of people who have been radically transformed by the power of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. These diverse people have no reason to live and work together, let alone care for each other—and yet, they choose to live in love and unity together, to the praise and glory of the Lord’s name.

Healthy local churches make a powerful and attractive testimony to a watching world. This means that every member has to be devoted to building others up.

This article discusses six types of members that do build up the church.

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This year has been one for the records. A lot has transpired. Unfortunately, a lot of sorrow has swept through this world. It has not been easy. But believe me when I tell you: God is about to do some new and great things for His people. As I sought the Lord on what to write, He instructed me to ask you a question. He told me, “Ask them, where is your trust?”

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I was talking to a friend who was discouraged about a difficult family matter that was impacting her young daughter in a very negative way. I had watched my friend get more and more overwhelmed by the anxiety and stress to the point that I could see her own health was being jeopardized. I was reminded that when God brought the Israelites out from their oppressive captivity in Babylon that He promised they would “go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:12). So I encouraged her that if we’re going to come out of dark places like she was in, if we’re going to stand under the trials of life, we have to come out with joy and walk in peace. We have to use joy to deliver us from anxious thoughts, defeat, and discouragement. Joy is the key, and it’s inside us.

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