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    Use What You Have


    God is always looking out for His people. Always. He often does it in very unconventional ways.

    In 2 Kings 4, a widow approached Elisha in desperation. Her husband was dead, her money was gone, and the creditors were threatening to take her sons – the only things she had left. Elisha asked what she had in her house, and her reply was simple and honest: “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.”

    As the story goes on, it was that tiny leftover amount of oil combined with the widow’s faith that God multiplied and used to provide over and above for her and her sons.

    Many times we think that for God to use us or provide for us, He will need to give us something we don’t yet have.

    Maybe we need to take a second look at what we already have.

    What if the only thing you have left is the only thing God needs?

    God can use anything we place in His hands – a tiny bit of oil, a few loaves and fish, a couple widow’s mites, or whatever else. The key ingredient is faith.

    Trust that God can use whatever you place in His hands. You’ll be amazed at how He combines the gift you give and the faith that accompanies it, and does what you and I would never be able to do!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    A Life That Speaks Beyond the Grave


    See if you can guess who I’m talking about in this story…

    He was his father’s beloved son. As he fulfilled his father’s will, he was betrayed by those closest to him, sold for a few pieces of silver. He was treated roughly, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and punished with two criminals. At tragic as his story is, what the enemy intended for evil, God intended for good, that many people should live. This suffering servant was elevated to a place of power and given a name that everyone bowed to as they approached him as the sole provider of salvation and provision. He went on to forgive those who sinned against him, comfort their hearts, and provide abundantly for their salvation and future inheritance. His death, and the fact that he didn’t stay buried in the ground, stood as a reminder of God’s coming rescue of His people.

    Who is that story about?

    Jesus? YES.

    Joseph? YES.

    Little did Joseph know, as he remained prayerful, faithful, and available in every season of his life – whether in a pit, in power, or in prison – the plot twist that was his life would point toward the ultimate plot twist: the cross!

    Stay faithful in whatever season you’re in – no matter how hard it may be. Trust that God is with you and He’s twisting the plot of your story for your good and His glory!

    “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

    Romans 8:28 (ESV)

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “Famous Last Words” from our series, Plot Twist.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.





    Sequoias: Get Rooted


    We’ve spent the last few Mondays learning lessons from the sequoias. I hope it’s been helpful. Any time I think about trees, roots, and the resulting growth, I think of one of my favorite Psalms…

    The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon [or a sequoia in California]. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

    Psalms 92:12-15 ESV

    Did you see all that growth?

    • Flourish
    • Grow
    • Bear fruit
    • Full of sap and green

    Here’s the catch: those words are only said of trees that are rooted. If you want to see spiritual growth in your life, remember this:

    Growth requires roots and roots require time. Get planted so you can flourish.

    There’s no shortcut to growth. It takes time and commitment.

    If you want to live a life that will produce something worthwhile, here’s the formula: get planted in the house of the Lord, and don’t go anywhere. Stay committed. Be in relationship with God and His people. Growth will be inevitable!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Trust God’s Mercy


    There are endless lessons to learn from the people in the Bible – many positive and many negative. Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) gives us a little bit of both.

    Genesis 37 gives us the negative: parental favoritism. A note to the parents: hand-making a multi-colored coat for only one of your kids so they can display your extra love for them is a bad idea. Don’t try it. It could end up in one of your kids being sold as slave, you never know.

    Early on in the story of Joseph and his father, Jacob, Jacob is especially possessive and attached to his youngest kids. He’s understandably crushed when Joseph disappears, and later on, he clings tightly to his youngest son, Benjamin. At first, he chooses Benjamin over grain to feed himself and his family, but a turning point takes place in Genesis 43, when Jacob tells his sons,

    Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereave of my children, I am bereaved.

    Genesis 43:13-14 ESV

    Whatever it is that you tend to cling tightly to – your cash, calendar, college plans, kids – this is the best route to take: throw yourself and all you have at the mercy of God!

    Benjamin’s trip to Egypt with his brothers was the final interaction the story hinged on. Joseph revealed his identity to the brothers and sent them home to bring their father and the rest of the family to Egypt, where Joseph promised to provide for them. The brothers return home to tell their dad the news. When Jacob first hears the news, Genesis 45 says, “his heart became numb, for he did not believe them.” But as he listened more and saw the provisions Joseph had sent, Genesis 45 records that,

    “The spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

    Genesis 45:27-28 ESV

    The news that Joseph was alive only came because Jacob was willing to let go of Benjamin, entrusting him to God’s mercy. Since he trusted and let go, the end result was a numb heart that was revived!

    Revival takes place when we trust God’s promises and provision.

    Trust that God has your best in mind, then surrender everything to His mercy!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    VICTOR Mentality


    You’ve probably been around someone who has a “victim mentality.” It’s draining. They have a list of excuses for everything, and nothing is their fault.

    Biblically, if anyone had an excuse to live as a victim, it would be Joseph. Runt of the litter, hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, framed and falsely accused, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten. What. A. List.

    But Joseph didn’t live as a victim; he lived as a victor. And you can too.

    Here are two ways Joseph teaches us to live in the “overwhelming victory” that is ours through Christ (Romans 8:37)…

    1. A victor mentality requires lavish displays of forgiveness and grace.

    Joseph offered the best of the best to his brothers who had sold him into slavery two decades prior. That person who wrong you…said those hateful things…broke your trust…may not deserve your lavish displays of grace, but isn’t that what grace is all about? If you know grace, you should be known for grace. If you’re not known for grace, do you really know grace?

    1. A victory mentality requires trusting that God’s truth is greater than your truths.

    Rising above a victim mentality does not mean diminishing your circumstances or the wrong that’s been done to you. Multiple times in conversation with his brothers, Joseph brought up that they sold him into Egypt and meant evil against me. Those statement were true, but the greater truth was that God had brought Joseph to Egypt and intended their evil for good.

    Everything that’s true about you has a greater truth from God that overrides it…

    Miscarriage may be true, but God’s presence in your life despite the absence of a child is a greater truth.

    Divorce may be true, but God’s faithfulness to you despite broken vows is a greater truth.

    Sin and failure are true of us, but God’s forgiveness and refusal to condemn is a greater truth.

    Today can be your day to flip the script. Living as a victim is a choice. Choose instead to live in the overwhelming victory that is ours through Christ who loves us!

     

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from!

    Click below to watch the entire message called “Victor Mentality,” from our series, Plot Twist.

    Access hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

    Sign up HERE to receive these blog posts right in your inbox!






    Sequoias: Relying on Each Other


    Sequoias naturally form partnerships. Like most living organisms, the Giant Sequoia does not live alone; it is but one member of a complex association of plants and animals whose continued existence depends on interdependence of physical and living components. For example, the Giant Sequoia lacks the ability to drop its own cones; a mature Sequoia tree carries thousands of cones. These cones hang on a tree with its seeds sealed up for up to 20 years until something opens them. Two very small forest residents act as seed dispersing agents for the Giant Sequoia: the tiny, Long-horned Wood-boring Beetle and the Chickaree or Douglas Squirrel.

    What a description of the church!

    As Christians, we are each “but one member of a complex association of [people] whose continued existence depends on interdependence of physical and living components.”

    For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

    1 Corinthians 12:12 (ESV)

    So much of what we are commanded to do in the New Testament includes “one another.” According to Scripture, every “one” needs “another” to fully live the life God has called us to.

    We need each other – we are better together!

    As we each do our part, serving others for their benefit and God’s glory, we accomplish exponentially more together than we ever could alone.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Nothing Slowing Us Down


    I took my daughters (10 and 7) to see Hillsong Young & Free recently on their first stop on their American tour. It was 2 ½ hours of worshiping our faces off. We had a blast singing, yelling, dancing, and jumping! It was late when we got out, so naturally, we grabbed some ice cream before driving home. The girls were passed out in a few minutes, and snoring by the time we arrived home. #HillsongHangover

    Adalyn, my 7-year old was quite the sight at the show that night. She recently cut her foot open, so she has 7 stitches and an ankle brace and walking boot. A few weeks prior to that injury, she broke her radius, so her arm is in a cast as well. I was struck with a thought that night as Young & Free sang, “I’ll gonna sing until my voice won’t let me…,” and as I watched Adalyn limp-jumping to her favorite worship songs, arms (one broken) in the air. I knew she wouldn’t be able to go at that pace all night due to her injuries, but I was reminded that one day there will be nothing slowing us down from worshiping!

    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

    Revelation 21:4 (ESV)

    One day, there will be no more limits on our worship. Nothing will be able to slow us down: broken arms, cut feet, a hoarse voice, exhaustion from the workweek, mental battles, spiritual distractions… Nothing will be able to stop us.

    We look forward to that day, but until then, worship in your brokenness, knowing one day you’ll worship without brokenness!

    Worship through the pain because one day pain will be no more!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Saved = Changed


    You can run, but you can’t hide. If you want to be free from your sin, you must face your sin.

    Genesis 42-44 helps us see from the outside what running from sin feels like on the inside. By Genesis 42, it’s been over 20 years since Joseph’s brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery, marking the last time they saw each other. Joseph has healed quite well and God has caused him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction, but his brothers are another story. They’re a mess. Throughout the three chapters, there’s a back and forth battle, arguments, internal and external turmoil, and deep-seated feelings of guilt. If you journey through their story, you’ll see five stages of a changed life, and if you look through your life, you may be able to trace a few of the steps as well…

    Stage #1: Intervention of God

    God will use the worst circumstances to lead to the best life.

    In their case, He used a famine to get them to Egypt, in your case, God may use (not cause, but use) financial hardship, a cancer diagnosis, or a divorce. God is always intervening.

    Stage #2: Discomfort in Sin

    It’s been 20+ years since they sold Joseph, but the brothers are evidently very uncomfortable in their sin…and that’s a good thing! Sin killed our Savior, so if you’re comfortable in it, that’s a problem.

    Stage #3: Recognition of God

    As they put the pieces together, they can begin to see the hand of God in their circumstances. I’ll bet you can too if you open your eyes, look around, and humble yourself. God’s fingerprints are everywhere.

    Stage #4: Admission of Guilt

    Judah, one of Joseph’s brothers, finally admitted they were guilty. That was huge for them and will be huge for you. God can’t forgive you of sin you won’t admit you committed.

    Stage #5: Repentance from Sin

    At the end of Genesis 44, when their youngest brother was facing imprisonment, Judah offered to give his life for his brother’s. That is evidence of heart change. If you have been saved, there will be evidence. A saved life leads to a changed life.

    So…what are you going to do about it? Are you willing to be honest about your sin and face reality? James 1:25 says that he who hears and responds to God’s Word in obedience “will be blessed in his doing.”

    The right time to do the right thing is right now. Get to it!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from!

    Click below to watch the entire message called “Flip the Script,” from our series, Plot Twist.

    Access hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

    Sign up HERE to receive these blog posts right in your inbox!






    Sequoias: Fire 🔥


    Giant Sequoias are dependent on fire for survival. Studies revealed that fire could be used as a management tool, at least in small areas, and that it would not only reduce fire hazard, but would stimulate the regeneration of Giant Sequoias in many ways. Scientists confirmed that Giant Sequoia reproduction effectively dropped to zero in groves where fires were not allowed to burn. Rapid growth occurs after a fire, not in spite of it. Rising heat from a fire dries out the hanging Sequoia cones which open up, allowing seeds to rain by the millions. These seeds land on cleared soil fertilized by ash. On soil left bare by fire, the new seeds can take root. Giant Sequoia seed germination naturally occurs best in fire-burned, mineral-rich soils.

    In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

    1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

    Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure (under fire), your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

    James 1:2-4 MSG

    Let the fire do its work in you.

    When I look back on a little over three decades of life, I can see a trend that runs parallel to the sequoias: life from the fire. God has used the pressure and fire of life to open me up and produce growth. It’s through the fire that our faith is tested and strengthened, the soil of our lives is fertilized for growth, and new sprouts spring up.

    Fire is painful, but God will use the pain to produce growth and life.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    He’ll Get You Through


    A little over 7 ½ years ago, we launched Awaken Church. 8 months in, we lost everything to a flood. Our address was 585 S. Riverside Drive, but for about a week, it could have been 585 S. River. This week exactly 7 years ago, I waded into our church building on that fateful Monday morning, knee-deep in muddy, polluted river water. Standing in what had been our sanctuary, in the midst of floating chairs, I broke down in tears. My family had given everything to uproot and move across the country to plant Awaken Church. And now this?!

    In that moment, I felt God quiet my heart and remind me, “I’ve got this. It’s MY Church.” He stood by His word.

    Not only was Awaken one of the first businesses on Riverside Drive to reopen, but explosive growth began as we relaunched. We grew, added services, moved to a bigger space across the parking lot, then a few years later, purchased the whole shopping center!

    “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…”

    Isaiah 43:2 ESV

    No matter what you face today: flood, financial hardship, family problems, failure, or anything else, God will get you through it if you’ll trust Him.

    What scares you doesn’t scare God.

    What stresses you out doesn’t stress God out.

    What worries you doesn’t worry God.

    What feels impossible to you is possible with God.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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