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Month: January 2016

FRESH START – 2016

FRESH START – 2016


 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.
–2 Corinthians 5:17

Fresh start. New beginnings. Forgetting what is behind and pressing forward. What does this really mean: The old has gone, the new has come?

For some, it means a new commitment, like a New Year’s Resolution––regular exercise, eating healthy, following a daily routine, changing an attitude, using self-discipline, modifying an old habit, or reading through the Bible in a year. But is there more to it than just making physical life changes? Absolutely. Digging into God’s Word, the Bible, gives us a greater understanding of God’s Truths. Let’s examine Philippians 3:12-14.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul is writing to the church in Philippi, to believers in Jesus. Paul is not talking about working his way to a position in heaven. He secured this spot the minute He trusted in Jesus. Paul focuses here on the condition of His relationship with Jesus and becoming more like Him every day.

Paul is clear to point out that his past sins would always be before him. But he refused to let them dictate who he was in Christ. Prior to Paul’s face-to-face encounter with Jesus in Acts 9, his job was to arrest followers of the Way––followers of Jesus Christ. More than likely, etched in his memory were the innocent Christians he witnessed being stoned, imprisoned, persecuted, and even beaten to the point of death. But because of Jesus’ forgiveness, Paul was freed from his past. Every day, Paul chose to live in victory, not in defeat because of his former life.

What a beautiful picture of God’s love, grace, and mercy! Paul encourages us, as we mature as Christians, to press forward in living sold out for Him. We are forgiven––past, present, and future. Filled with hearts of forgiveness, we are new creations in Christ. The old has gone. The new has come. Don’t allow the enemy to throw the guilt of the past onto you. Leave it at the foot of the cross. Jesus paid it all. A fresh start awaits you each day. Rest in Him.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Do you live in defeat? Does guilt invade your heart and mind, or do you press forward accomplishing God’s purposes in your life? Begin by asking God to give you a heart of forgiveness for yourself as well as others. It is vital to trust and believe what Paul proclaims… the old has gone, the new has come. The moment you said, “yes” to a relationship with Jesus, He sent His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to live inside of you. The Spirit sealed the deal with a mark that says, “This one is Mine!” As a believer, you can never be snatched out of His hand. Now, you are equipped to live sold out for Jesus. Believe it. Know it. Live it.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, Pg. 42

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


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STRONGER

2016 SCRIPTURE HUNT

2016 SCRIPTURE HUNT

Image 11 - Scripture Hunt

Young. Married. Graduate school. Just enough money to make it through each month. I worked full-time while my husband, Fred, labored diligently to complete his graduate degree while working as a professor’s assistant. Despite our meager income, our relationship strengthened. Just the two of us, satisfied and secure.

From the beginning of our marriage, we set our life plan––or so we thought. After graduation, our goal was to find a job, build a savings account, and start a family.

But hidden deep within my heart was the desire to be a mother. I continued asking God to remove this yearning, during this time of our lives. To suppress it. To hide it. To cover it. Still, the passion for being a mom burned. God knew my heart, and He was in control. I prayed for the day when I would hold my baby for the first time. Then, the unexpected happened.

Scared, yet excited.

Fearful, yet trusting.

Scattered, yet collected.

How are we going to make it? Fred is still in graduate school. Oh, God, this wasn’t the plan!

After nine months of pregnancy, anxiety surged. Lord, fear is setting in. My thoughts rage out of control. Please show us how to raise our child to know and love You.

Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind. Grabbing my Bible, I started a scripture hunt. With the turn of every page, I prayed for God to show me a verse to pray over my baby. Then it happened. Deuteronomy 6:5 seemed to leap off the page. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. My heart pounded. Praises lifted. Blessings flowed.

Overcome with humbleness, I thought of Fred. He loves You, God, with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength. Tears welled up. Thank you, God, for my husband, our marriage, our baby, and showing me this life verse.

The time arrived and two became three.

I loved watching our baby boy sleep. Words couldn’t express my unconditional love for him. I started praying Deuteronomy 6:5 over him––Lord, help Luke love you with all his heart and all his soul and all his strength. Joy resonated in my heart. A memory forever embedded in my soul.

Through the years, God blessed us with two more boys and a precious daughter. This verse continues to serve as the life verse for my husband, myself, and all of our children. I thank God for the way He directed me to His Word. He receives the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

LIFE CHALLENGE

God’s Word refuels our spiritual lives. The Bible is our guide on how to live a life sold out for Jesus. The more we center on scripture, the more we know Jesus and how to live for Him. Ask God to show you a focus verse for your life, relationships, circumstances, or possibly for the year. Pray before you begin the scripture hunt. If you are married, ask the Lord to reveal a focus verse for your marriage. If you struggle with family issues, ask God to reveal a scripture for your relationships. And if you have children or grandchildren, ask Him to give you a verse to pray over them. Relish the moments in His Word through this scripture hunt. Take to heart all God is doing in your life. Reading His Word leads to living His Word, which inspires a life sold out for Jesus.

Carla McDougal – Author. Speaker. Film Producer.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: Live for Jesus, pg. 55

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