God’s Set Up

Ruth 2:16 “Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

Sometimes God will set you up for a blessing. God can connect you with the right people, the right opened door. Without you even trying to get noticed, God knows how to put a spotlight on you, your business, your talent, skill or your product.

I absolutely LOVE the story of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. It’s the story in the Bible found in the book of Ruth. Ruth is going through one of the darkest season in her life. But she remains faithful on so many levels. She remains faithful to God, shows extreme kindness in her relationships and consistent with her responsibilities. Ruth shows up for her responsibilities and God allows her to be noticed by the owner, Boaz. Ruth had a great reputation for the kindness she shown to her mother-in-law. The owner, Boaz, was so moved by her kindness and faithfulness, he went out of his way to position her for a blessing. She received special treatment and protection. Boaz gave an order to his employees to leave grain in Ruth’s way so she would see it and be able to harvest it. This special favor and relationship allowed Ruth to experience a greater harvest than what she would have experienced on her own.

God shares this amazing story with us to let us know that He can bring restoration after great loss. God’s desire is for us to have faith that His favor can open incredible doors and change our circumstances.

These three characteristics will open the door for God’s favor: 
• Remain faithful to God. Don’t allow your trust in God to slip. Stay anchored to God.
• Remain faithful to your relationships. Even in your darkest seasons find ways to be kind to others and ways to be a blessing to someone else.
• Remain faithful to your responsibilities. Keep doing what God has assigned you to do. Ruth may have been poor, but she was willing to leave the house and go out to find food.

God set Ruth up for a blessing that changed her circumstances and her life forever. There were things left for her on purpose, but she had to be willing to show up and pick them up. Allow your faith in God to increase. Believe that He is a God that will reward you for your faithfulness. Let your heart and mind wander about how God can set you up with favor.

Perfect Peace While in the Storm

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Everyone desires a peaceful mind, and many have sought a variety of ways to obtain it. Some have spent thousands of dollars in purchases, substances, vacations, books, and even seminars. A peaceful mind is not valued until our lack of peace begins to deteriorate our quality of life and relationships. A lack of peace has no prejudice, it will find the poor, the wealthy, every nationality and all ages. Our minds can easily be tormented through situations like, children being picked on or bullied at school. Students having trouble learning a new subject school. College students pressured to write papers on time while going to school and working a job to help pay for their college. Single parents juggling hectic schedules and demands with work and children. Husbands and wives dealing with financial pressure. There are a number of situations in life that can try to wreck our peace.

God is such a good Father to know we need to have peaceful minds in order to stay in good health and perform at our highest skill level. God not only desires peace for us, He has created ways for us to obtain peace. Before I share how God’s Word tells us how to live in peace, let me share a story with you that helps us understand what peace looks like.

There was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. 

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. 

The other picture had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace. 

Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? 

‘Because’ explained the King, ‘peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.’ (Author Unknown)

I like this illustration of peace because it is reality. In this life we will face troubles, setbacks, trying situations and unpleasant seasons. We may not always have a perfect life, but we can trust a perfect God to help us through challenging situations.

Sheila Walsh said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.”

Ronald Reagan said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

The 23rd Psalm gives incredible inspiration for God’s peace. This scripture teaches us when God is our Shepherd, there are huge benefits. All of these benefits offer an abundance peace.

  • Verse 1: When God is my Shepherd, I don’t want. I’m satisfied.
  • Verse 2: He helps me to lie down in green lush pastures and listening, drinking from peaceful streams.
  • Verse 3: He gives rest that restores my soul and body.
  • Verse 4: No fear of the threat of danger or even death. I’m totally comforted and protected.
  • Verse 5: Now this is a cool picture of peace… When enemies rise up against me, He prepares the meal and I get to be fed while my enemies watch.

Do you see God’s heart? He spares nothing in order to illustrate His desire for us to have peace in our life.

How we find the peace that God passionately desires to give us is found all through His Word. One of those scriptures Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

Again, God is showing how passionate in even what kind of peace He wants to give. He says, “Perfect Peace”. Perfect meaning complete. Lacking nothing. Not that we are perfect, but that He is perfect. He said, “perfect peace”. The translation here is “peace peace”. Its like peace squared to the 2nd power. God never fails in communicating how He loves us and how He desires us to give us good things. When God gives, it’s always extravagant.

God has already promised us peace, but we are responsible to align ourselves to His principles to receive it. When we practice the principle that God is asking us to practice, its like holding out our hands to receive a gift. Someone can give you a gift, but you have to extend your hands to receive. If I want to live in the kind of peace He gives, I have to trust Him. Trust is built on three beliefs. I like to use the three-legged stool to illustrate.

I trust God, because I know… 1. God is the expert. He knows more than I do. 2. God is capable. He can do what I cannot do. 3. God is good. He has my best interest in mind. God will never harm me or place me in harm’s way. Therefore, I trust God.

Isaiah 26:3 gives me guidance in receiving God’s peace. Choosing to trust God and choosing to keep Him in the forefront of my thoughts. Its hard to have fear and doubts when you know how trustworthy, capable and good God is. Life may get hard, but God is good. Consistently keeping God and His Word in our thoughts will bring transformation in our minds. Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Peace of mind comes to the transformed mind rooted in Jesus Christ.

If you are in a situation where life seems to be spinning out of control, you feel overwhelmed or something is robbing your peace, God wants you to know He is here for you. He wants to help. Look to Him. Look at who He is. Trust is not passive, its something you have to intentionally do. Trust and Think. Push your worries out of your thoughts by filling your thoughts about the goodness, capability and excellent knowledge of God. Receive God’s perfect peace.

The Test is to Strengthen you; Not Weaken You.

God’s tests are not to show your weakness; the test is to strengthen your faith and trust in Him. 

God’s heart and goal is to make us strong by helping us to develop a strong foundation of faith.

The tests of your faith will not show up in your life in the form of paper with fill in the blanks or multiple choice options. The tests that we face will show up as storms, relationship struggles, hard financial times and much unwanted crisis. Tests of life are inevitable and without prejudice. They come to everyone. However, God has given us four promises about tests in  1 Peter 5:10.

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (1 Peter 5:10)

 1. God will see to it that your test will not last forever.

Tests, trials, seasons and a crisis can sometimes feel like they are here to stay in our life. However, we can trust God with “timing”.  His timing is perfect. We know that He will not allow us to be under a test forever.

 2. God will restore you after your test.

We can get weary from tests. They can be physically, mentally and even spiritually draining. So we keep in focus that our Father will restore and renew us.

 3. God will support you. 

In order to endure tests and trials we need strong faith in God. Know that we are not alone. God said He would be with us. Never leave us. Do we trust God to keep His word?

 4. God will strengthen the foundation for your life.

A good foundation is what keeps us stable through life. A solid foundation is one built upon principles and precepts that produce good results in our life. God promises to place us on a foundation that will not deteriorate or collapse under pressure or test.

God is directing and ordering our steps in life. His heart is to not weaken us but strengthen us. God desires growth and transformation that positions us for greatness. When the tests and storms of life come, we must not see them as an opposition to weaken or destroy us; but they have come to strengthen us.

Why Should You Trust God?

Psalms 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.”

Why Should You Trust God?

I’m sure you have been disappointed and hurt by someone in your life. You thought you could trust this person, but they betrayed you. Maybe when you needed them the most they were not there for you. Maybe you have been that person who has let someone else down.

When we truly trust someone, we are not worried about their motives or their responsibilities. We know they are fully capable and competent. We may have great intentions. We are family and friends to many people, but we are human. We love, but we fail and we don’t always meet everyone’s expectations. We trust each other, but that trust sometimes has limitations. God desires us to trust Him with all of our heart. With no limitations. He encourages us to believe that He is fully capable to handle anything that comes our way.

You can trust God…

Because of His infinite wisdom about life. He knows the right decisions for your life. Not every option or choice is right for you. But God knows exactly which ones will keep you in His will.

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Because He knows the future. He knows what opportunities are great for you. He knows how to protect you and prepare you for obstacles that are in the days ahead.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Because He truly loves you. How do you know someone loves you? When someone begins to make sacrifices for you, you know that person loves you. God is the only one who has ever made the greatest sacrifice for you. Your Heavenly Father, gave His one and only Son, so you could be forgiven and free. If someone is willing to sacrifice at this measure, you can be assured that He passionately loves you and desires to help you with your entire life.

Jeremiah 31:3, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Totally give your whole heart to Him. Trust Him. Your life is in good hands when you place your trust in God.

Psalms 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you.”

David Shannon Wooten

Never Fight the Devil in His Arena

If you try to defeat the devil where he has a lot of practice, he will defeat you almost 100% of the time. He is great at over exaggerating thoughts and feelings. The devil knows if he can sow the wrong thought in our minds or over exaggerate our feelings, it has the potential to…

  • separate us from the people who love us.
  • think thoughts that are not true.
  • intimidate us from stepping in to God’s authority and calling.
  • keep us from using our gifts to help people.
  • create division.
  • abandon love and reconciliation.
  • cause us to give in to fear and not live in faith.
  • overwhelm us with worry and steal our peace.

God has assured us that He has given us the ability to defeat the thoughts and weapons of the devil. However, we must do it God’s way and with His weapons. Jesus illustrated to us how He defeated the devil when He was faced with three temptations. The devil tempted Jesus with pride, self-centeredness and rebellion against His Father. He used thoughts and feelings as the driving force. Jesus addressed each temptation with a specific Scripture.

In order to defeat the devil, we cannot not fight him with just our thoughts or feelings. That is his arena and he is very good at it. Take him to the arena that he despises and where he is defeated. God’s Word and faith is the two greatest weapons we have against the devil. Paul said in Ephesians 6:16 that our faith has the ability to STOP all fiery arrows from evil darkness. In Ephesians 6:17 He said the Word of God is the sword that we use in battle.

When you are being bombarded with thoughts of defeat, discouragement, fears and doubts don’t stay in the arena of your feelings or even try to wrestle with your thoughts. Immediately take your mind to God’s Word. His Word is not only full of His promises over you; it has the power to resist the devil (James 4:7). Your faith in God and His Word is what gives you the ability to stand your ground. This is the arena where the devil is defeated. This is the arena where you are always victorious.

David Shannon Wooten

Only One Word Has This Much Power

Have you ever faced certain situations and you didn’t know what to say? You didn’t have any words of wisdom, answers or a solution. Maybe you were going through something so devastating you were left in shock. Maybe the situation didn’t turn out the way you were expecting and you began to speak negatively over your life.

Words are meaningful and powerful. The right words can comfort, unlock wisdom and provide solutions. The nature of our words can sometimes be inconsistent. But God’s Word always has the power to create.

Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

The Bible is not just words about God; it is words that God has spoken. It is the printed voice of God. His Word still speaks to every person today, regardless of age or nationality. His Word still has authority over every circumstance.

When God wanted to create cosmos out of chaos, He spoke His Word. When God wanted to create a world, He spoke His Word. When God wanted to change someone’s life, He gave them a promise wrapped in His Word. Consider the multifaceted power of God’s Word.

God’s Word...

  • Always accomplishes its task. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
  •  Purifies, protects and breaks stubborn strongholds. “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)
  • Produces life. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63)
  • Brings comfort. “This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:50)
  • Produces joy and a happy heart. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart …” (Jeremiah 15:16)
  • Will provide nourishmen “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)
  • Will keep you alive. But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)
  • Rescues and provides healing. “He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” (Psalms 107:20)
  • Washes and cleanses. “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,” (Ephesians 5:26)

When you bring God’s Word into your mind, heart and believe it to the point of it becoming the standard for your life, it will transform your life.

When circumstances look tough and you don’t have the words to say; God wants you to adopt His Word as your words.

There are three practices that help me keep God’s Word in front of me.

  1. Printing scriptures on a piece of paper that speak to a current situation that is going on in my life. God may be impressing on my heart and mind certain scriptures in His Word. That is God trying to encourage me. I don’t take that lightly. I will print those scripture and post them around my house, office, car, etc.
  2. I try to memorize and quote certain scriptures that I feel are promises over my life. I commit them to memory and quote them frequently. When I’m tempted to speak negatively, I make a choice to not speak my feelings, but to speak God’s promise.
  3. When I pray about certain circumstances, I will not just pray my feelings, but I also pray God’s Word. I believe praying God’s Word is the highest form of faith. It’s hard for doubt and fear to settle in my heart, when I’m praying God’s Word.

God’s Word is alive and active! When you don’t have the right words to say, speak God’s Word.

Developing our Relationship with the Holy Spirit

As we lead and minister to people we must rely on the help of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Mark and I share how the Holy Spirit will empower us to do God’s work. Don’t allow working for God to burn you out; learn to rely on the Holy Spirit. Lead and minister from the overflow of the Holy Spirit in your life.

(This is a video session is created for our Newspring U department to help encourage and equip our ministry teams and leaders.)

You Can Train Your Heart to Be Happy

When we give more attention to the problems in our life than we do the blessings in our life, we are training our heart to live in despair. Living everyday wishing you had something different is a miserable life. “Wishing” can be a contagious infection that will leave you with a heavy heart.

  • “I wish I made more money”
  • “I wish I could get married”
  • “I wish I had friends”
  • “I wish I lived in a nicer house”
  • “I wish I had that job”

This kind of wishing is a waste of time, energy and most of the time only creates more problems. Proverbs 15:15 gives insight to this truth, “For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”

“Wishing” can keep you stuck in the wrong attitude and rob you from the creativity you need to create a different habit or routine. Daily routines and habits reveal your future. Allowing your heart to be swallowed up by the negative circumstances is the wrong habit and will not fulfill your wish list. However, we can live a satisfied and fulfilling life when we train our heart to be happy. Happiness is not circumstantial, it’s a choice.

We train our heart to be happy by giving more attention and appreciation to the blessings that God has given us.

We can have hope that God has more blessings in store for our future. When we decide to live with a happy heart, we are able to receive the abundant feast that God sends our way.

A happy heart will see opportunities, advancements, a fulfillment of purpose and will have the favor of God. You can train your heart to be happy.

The Power of You

The Power of YOU. God has given you the ability to influence the people in your life. Your voice, opinions, and choices matter. You can make a difference. This is a video session created for our Newspring U department to help encourage and equip our ministry teams and leaders.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

Don’t Seek the Breakthrough; Seek the God of Breakthroughs

Second Samuel chapter five shares with us the time David was surrounded by his enemies. He was just positioned as king. God called David to lead Israel and bring honor to Him. But there was an entire nation who hated David and definitely did not want him to be king. They sent their entire army to surround him with the intention to wipe him out.

David’s first reaction was not to measure the size of their army with his. He didn’t take inventory of how many weapons he had. He was not assessing whether he could defeat his enemy based on his armies strength or capability. David’s principle, belief, conviction was to seek God first.

“Many people miss their breakthrough because they are seeking their breakthrough rather than seeking the God of the Breakthrough.”

David exercised this principle throughout his life. Every time David seeks God first for direction and instruction, he finds success. This key principle will work in every area of your life. It’s the principle of seeking God first. When we seek God first we are making a statement that we TRUST God. Our decisions and actions reveal what we believe. When we truly believe God has the ability to break through for us, we will seek His council before making a decision or taking an action step.

Seek God first by…

  1. Going to prayer before your mind is made. Keep an open mind and heart. Ask God what you should do, what action steps to take, ask Him for wisdom, knowledge and clarity of mind. Ask God for His discernment and favor.
  2. Don’t make major decisions without sensing God’s PEACE first. We can make huge mistakes, deal with regrets and get stuck in life when we make a decision knowing that God never gave us permission. Following the peace of God is like following a compass. You can stay on track with God’s plan for your life when you stay in His peace. After spending time in prayer and you still feel anxious, heavy hearted, fearful, don’t make the decision. Continue in prayer until you sense God’s peace.
  3. Take several days to seek God in prayer. If it is a major decision that has the potential to alter your life, consider fasting and prayer. Decide on a time period to fast, time in prayer and in God’s Word. You will gain God’s wisdom through His Word. You will have a clear mind and liberty in your spirit by spending time in His presence. Fasting and prayer is a powerful process to see incredible breakthroughs when you fast to seek God.

This is the process of seeking God first rather than seeking the breakthrough. Everyone wants the right outcome, the blessing, the breakthrough. But it can feel like we are chasing the wind, if all we do is seek after the breakthrough. When we seek God who has the power, ability, and knowledge to breakthrough for us, we cannot fail. We will find success. He is the God who breaks through for us.