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    Derailed Destiny


    If you want to see adults throw temper tantrums (I don’t know why you would), hang around an airport. As soon as you hear an airline employee mention something about flight delays or cancellations, grab some popcorn and rush to that gate — you’re in for a show!

    We hate delays. Hate them. We are constantly trying to figure out faster ways to get to where we’re going.

    I get it. I’m right there with you.

    As I read about Israel in the Deuteronomy the other day, I was reminded of the danger of doubt as we’re heading toward our destination.

    “Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir. But forty years after the Israelites left Egypt, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses addressed the people of Israel, telling them everything the Lord had commanded him to say.”

    — Deuteronomy 1:2-3 NLT —

    An 11-day road trip ended up taking 40 years. By my calculations, that’s a difference of about 14,589 days! What happened?!

    They made the original trip to the border of the Promised Land in the normal time – around 11 days. Then they doubted. You can read the story in Numbers 13-14. They spied out the land, doubted God could fulfill His promises, and subsequently threw away the opportunity they had to see God provide. Their punishment was 40 years of wandering – a year for every day the doubtful spies were in the Promised Land.

    Doubt will delay or derail your destiny.

    As you march toward your calling, don’t doubt God’s ability to lead and provide. As Israel reminds us, our doubt can have long-lasting, life-altering consequences. Trust God to do what He said He’d do, then walk forward in faith.

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    The Messengers of Mercy


    Maybe you’ve faced the challenge of planning a party and feeling obligated to invite someone you didn’t want to invite. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about!

    Amazingly, in God’s great grace, He’s extended the invitation for forgiveness and eternal life in heaven to every single human being — even the worst of the worst!

    A great example of His all-inclusive nature is found in Acts 9 and 10. Jesus shows up to Saul, (who was ravaging the church, persecuting and killing Christians), and tells him God has a purpose for his life. A chapter later, God breaks all the Jewish ritualistic laws and opens the door of salvation to all the non-Jews (Gentiles).

    God’s merciful invitations are shocking enough, but what I love even more is that God just initiates the work, then calls on some people to finish the job. In Saul’s case, God sends Ananias to pray for Saul to receive his sight (physically and spiritually). In the case of the Gentiles, God sends Peter as His messenger, and as Peter preaches, the Holy Spirit falls on those present.

    Although God could do the work of evangelism far better and quicker than we can, we are His present messengers of choice. Jesus could come down, angels could be deployed, but instead, He chose us to be His messengers of mercy! Let that sink in for a moment. What an honor.

    That should highlight the high honor of our role as His messengers as well as the urgency we should have in spreading the best news ever shared – forgiveness and life through Jesus Christ! Don’t wait. Tell somebody!

     

    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 “Exclusively All-Inclusive” from our series, Prevail.

    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.

     

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    Cloud Chasers


    I’ve never been brave/crazy enough to chase a tornado, but storm chasers fascinate me. While everyone else (who wants to stay alive) ducks for cover and drives away from the storm, the storm chasers drive into it. They want to be as close as possible to the storm so they can measure it, learn about it, and photograph it.

    In the Old Testament, as Israel traversed through the wilderness, they were cloud chasers.

    Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.

    — Numbers 9:22 NLT —

    The cloud was a visual representation of the presence of God. Like modern day storm chasers, Israel’s top priority was to be as close to cloud as possible. When it moved, they moved. When it stayed, they stayed – whether they liked where they were or not!

    I’ve learned the hard way that even if I don’t like the season or place that I’m in, if it’s where God wants me to be, it’s the best place for me.

    I don’t want to go anywhere where the presence of God isn’t leading the way.

    Don’t get ahead of God and ask Him to bless your plans. Follow His lead and His plans – that’s where the blessing is found!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Get Charged Up


    Years ago, we complained about low battery life on our smartphones; now we’ve adapted. If you are like our family, you have chargers around your house, in your car, and at work with you. Almost anywhere I go, I can charge my iPhone, iPad, or Macbook.

    Recharging is necessary for our daily lives, but also for our spiritual lives.

    Moses got recharged every time he visited God on Mount Sinai. Exodus 34 tells a story of when Moses came down the mountain from being with God and his face was shining brightly. It was so bright that he had to wear a veil over his face so people could look at him!

    Spending time regularly with the Lord will change us and recharge us.

    As we consistently get into God’s Word, God’s Word gets into us and changes us. Just as Moses’ glowing face was evident to the people around him, as we consistently spend time with God, it will be evident to those around us. They will know we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

    Although I do my best to regularly have iPhone chargers with me, sometimes I don’t. Thankfully, everywhere we are, God is there with us and ready to recharge us when we simply ask.

    Need a recharge? God is ready and able. Just ask!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Don’t Shoot the Messenger


    “Don’t shoot the messenger!”

    You normally tell that to someone when you’re the innocent messenger, simply relaying the message. That phrase may work with family and friends, but the devil doesn’t play by those rules. He wants to take down the messenger, the message, and he even (temporarily) killed the One who is the Message, Jesus!

    Jesus warned us of the battle that would come. He told the disciples in Mark 13:13 that they’d be hated by the world because of Him. Translation: “Buckle up. Being My witnesses won’t be easy.”

    In Acts 1:8, Jesus laid out His expansion plan for the church: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. As the church began living that out, the persecution in Acts 8:1 began.

    When you live out Acts 1:8, you should expect Acts 8:1.

    Persecution is a package deal with the Great Commission.

    Thank God for the boldness of those in the early church who were scattered and preached the gospel (Acts 8:4). We are here today because of their boldness and willingness to take the gospel outside of their area. In fact, Philip’s willingness to go to a deserted road heading to Gaza (see Acts 8) led to the salvation of an Ethiopian eunuch. Interestingly, Coptic Christians, who are persecuted severely in Egypt to this day (21 were beheaded on a viral propaganda film from ISIS just a couple years ago), trace their lineage back to the Ethiopian in Acts 8!

    Satan is a defeated foe, but he’s a foe nonetheless. He’s going down, but not without a fight. Expect the battle.

    Embrace the battle.

    Walk in confidence.

    God is with you, and when He’s commanded something, He enables us to do 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 “Accidental Ambassadors” from our series, Prevail.

    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.

     

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    Don’t Plug Your Ears


    They were on the brink of freedom.

    Their deliverer was standing in front of them, talking to them.

    Their descendants had been enslaved in Egypt for multiple generations for 400+ years.

    God had heard Israel’s cries and He had prepared and sent Moses to rescue them. But their pain was so unbearable, that something tragic took place…

    “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.”

    — Exodus 6:9 NLT —

    We’ve covered the topic of pain a lot in recent posts, so maybe there’s a reason. Maybe God is trying to speak to us on that topic.

    Pain is valuable because it alerts us to the fact that something is wrong. If we couldn’t sense pain, we would have all burned our hands off on the hot stove years ago!

    When we feel pain, we must respond appropriately to it. Unfortunately, if we let it, pain can become so unbearable that our last resort is to buckle under its pressure and allow it to drown out any hope of change.

    That’s where Israel found themselves. They were so beaten up, so discouraged, and had lost so much of their vision, that they couldn’t hear God speak when He sent Moses to them.

    Don’t let the pain in your life drown out God’s promises for your life.

    He’s listening. He’s present. He cares. And if you’ll listen through the pain and chaos, He will speak.

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    A New Perspective on Pain


    If you’ve read through the book of Job, you know it’s heavy. Job dealt with more pain, suffering, and unbelievable tragedy than any of us will ever know. If what he dealt with wasn’t bad enough, his wife was a piece of work, and his so called “friends” weren’t much help either! Most of the book is the conversation between he and his friends as they rail on him, telling him he must have deserved the pain.

    Toward the end of the book, one of his friends, Elihu, speaks up. He doesn’t have a lot of encouraging words, but there are a few gems if you dig…

    “But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.

    For he gets their attention through adversity.”

    — Job 36:15 NLT —

    What a perspective shift! We think we need to be rescued from suffering, but often times, God uses our suffering to rescue us! Pain is often one of the things God uses most effectively to get our attention.

    In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis spoke of pain this way:

    “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

    Instead of asking God to get you out of it, ask Him what you can get out of it. There’s a lesson in it, I promise. Hold on. Like it was at this point in Job’s story, God’s voice and your freedom may be just a few chapters away!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Growing Pains


    No, 1980s Kirk Cameron fans, this post has nothing to do with the sitcom…but it has everything to do with a 2,000-year old growing church and the pains it experiences.

    Acts 6 was a pivotal moment for the early church. What began as 120 Christians in an upper room exploded into 3,000 after the first sermon, and it has been growing every day since. Contrary to some current headlines, the Church is not dead – it’s alive and kicking, as Jesus promised!

    Growing hurts, and from the inception of the church to its global and local branches today, growth and the pain it brings should be expected and embraced.

    Acts 6 was a pivotal growth point in the early church, where we learn a few main things…

    Proclaiming the Gospel must remain our priority.

    There are many things the church can do, but one thing the church must do: preach Jesus. In Acts 6, the leaders made the wise decision not to allow other things to distract them from prayer and the ministry of the word. They weren’t down-playing other serving roles, they were heightening the importance of everyone filling their role in the church body. Are you fulfilling your role at your church?

    Since conflict is inevitable, unity must be intentional.

    Conflict happens, but unity never just happens. Instead of fighting against each other, we have to learn to fight alongside each other, with the understanding that we are not the enemy – the devil is! Wherever you find unified Christians in community with each other, you’ll learn it’s the result of work, patience, forgiveness, and intentionality.

    Whatever local church you are involved in, these principles apply to your church corporately and you individually.

    1. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus on Jesus and ministering to people in their mess, not arguing over ancillary issues.
    2. Fight hard to stay unified. It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
    3. Fulfill your role. Every role that supports the goal matters – big or small!

    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 “Growing Pains” from our series, Prevail.

    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.

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

     

     





    The Language of Solutions


    I just started reading through the Bible again, this time using a plan that will take me through the Bible chronologically in 90 days. I normally read my English Standard Version Bible, but this time I’m reading the New Living Translation. I find that reading from a new translation helps me see familiar passages with fresh perspective…such as Genesis 1.

    I’ve read Genesis 1 hundreds of times, but this time, a new phrase jumped out at me.

    Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.”

    And that is what happened.

    God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.”

    And that is what happened.

    Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation—every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.”

    And that is what happened.

    — Genesis 1, 6-7, 9, 11 (NLT) —

    Did you see that? God spoke and it happened. Period. There was no pause, no hesitation from nature, no follow-up questions.

    God speaks in solutions.

    A space between the water didn’t exist, but when He said, “Let there be a space between the waters,” it happened. He didn’t have to follow that command up with a list of instructions about the specifics of how to accomplish it.

    The same is true for us. When God speaks to us, He speaks in solutions. God’s commandments are His enablements. You can rest assured that when God has spoken a command to you, He has equipped you with everything you need to accomplish it. Be bold and walk in obedience. Everything you’ve been commanded to do you are equipped to do!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Small Prayer / Big Power


    Prayer is the most powerful, yet underutilized gift we have. It’s a direct line to the Creator of the universe! Most of us know it’s powerful, but we often don’t take full advantage of it as we should. Maybe that’s because we overcomplicate it.

    There are lots of model prayers throughout the Bible, but some of my favorite are some of the shortest.

    “I believe. Help my unbelief!” – a man whose daughter needed healing

    “Lord, save me.” – Peter, drowning in the waves as he stepped out of the boat

    I recently ran across a simple phrase in a prayer from Jacob and was struck by its power and simplicity…

    “I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant…”
    — ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭32:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬ —

    Jacob recognize something very important: God doesn’t owe us anything. We ask for God to provide for us, bless us, take care of us, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for those things. However, let’s never be so arrogant or presumptuous as to assume that God owes us any of those things.

    As Jacob went on to explain in his prayer, he recognized that everything he had was a gift from God. That’s interesting in light of the fact that he worked hard – really hard – for the animals, family, and possessions he had. Although he worked hard for them, he knew they were gifts from God.

    Like Jacob, we need to regularly acknowledge how undeserving we are of God’s blessings.

    When we recognize how unworthy of grace we are, it reminds us of how worthy of praise God is.

    One of the best ways to kill that spirit of entitlement is to remind yourself of how unworthy you are to begin with. Anything God provides for us is evidence of His unmerited favor (grace)!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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