Category: thoughts by Allan Mitchell

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“‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”  Luke 4:18 & 19

Has the recent health crisis changed your perception of what is important on this side of eternity?

We now live in a world where social distancing and potential self-isolation define our new normal.

As Christ followers, how do we remain socially influential? How do we appropriately respond to those within our sphere of influence during an unpredictable and unprecedented season of perceived oppression and fear?

In Luke’s gospel, reiterating Isaiah’s words, Jesus defined his mission mandate. His words reflected the Father’s heart by emphasizing and summarizing God’s call and ultimate commission as Jesus began his earthly ministry assignment. Jesus, emulating the Father, embraced his mandate to reconcile a broken and hurting world to the Father. Jesus, while on earth, was the Father’s hands, feet, and voice, proclaiming the gospel of heaven’s hope:

freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, the oppressed free, and “the Lord’s favor.

Remarkably, toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he challenged, called, and commissioned his followers to embrace his mission mantle by continuing to be his hands, feet, and voice to a fallen and broken world once he ascended back to the Father. We now have the Holy Spirit to assist us in doing this.

As our Father sent Jesus, Jesus also sends us. The world is watching — not impressed or influenced by just what we say, but by how we authentically and credibly emulate Jesus. As his appointed ambassadors and messengers to a world immersed in chaos and calamity, our call is to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and voice proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor to a world desperately seeking a Savior.

Ask the Lord how you can emulate Jesus within your sphere of influence despite the restrictions imposed by this pandemic.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your everlasting mercy and grace, and for the honor and privilege of being your hands, feet, and voice among those you seek to save. Empower me with your Spirit. Give me the words and wisdom to credibly and authentically reflect you among the people I encounter in my daily walk. Enlarge my sphere of influence so that I may proclaim your sovereignty and grace to a world desperately seeking a Savior. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Luke 11:9-10

Do you believe God answers prayer? For many Christ-followers, this question produces anxiety because they feel that Heaven’s response is sometimes uncertain. That can evoke searching, serious questions.

If I knock on Heaven’s door expecting prompt, specific answers, I can experience doubt, discouragement, and sometimes disillusionment. Consequently, my head betrays my heart and I reluctantly assume God is not listening or answering.

In Luke 11, Jesus clarifies how to pray. His prayer model involves adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Interestingly, he then shares a story in order to explain that God truly does hear and answer prayer. It’s not primarily because of his relationship with the pray-er, but because of that person’s “shameless audacity” and persistent perseverance to petition Heaven.

Jesus assures us that breakthrough prayer requires persistent asking, seeking, and knocking. Jesus’ words affirm Heaven’s promise and response. “ … Everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds … to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”(Luke 11:10).

Does Jesus’ assurance encourage you to keep knocking on Heaven’s door, audaciously petitioning God for all your needs? Prayer is our privilege and communication channel to our Father. It is a relational necessity for Christ-followers.

Practice the posture of persevering prayer. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking until Heaven’s answer comes to pass. May your prayers audaciously ascend to Heaven like sweet incense to God’s throne of grace and align you with his Word and his will for your life.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word and that you always hear my prayers. Protect my heart from discouragement and disillusionment. May my prayers be a sweet incense to your throne by aligning with your Word and will. Empower me with patience and a posture of perseverance so that I continue to audaciously petition Heaven for my loved ones and my needs. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.”  John 17:21-23

How would you define intimacy?

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines intimacy as “close familiarity or friendship.” Intimacy involves many expressions and depths. The deepest level of relational intimacy, as ordained by God, is found within marriage and involves a lifelong experience of becoming one with your spouse and life partner. Interestingly, throughout Scripture, reflecting and reiterating his marriage intimacy model, God desires the same depth of intimacy with those he loves by becoming one with his creation.

In John 17, Jesus, through prayer, tells his beloved disciples that the Father still desires, ordains, and pursues relational intimacy with his people. The “complete unity” Jesus asks for communicates more than an agreement or harmony. It is oneness — the same relational intimacy Jesus experiences with the Father. It’s the same oneness people experience within the marriage relationship. Paul, reasserting the Father’s intimacy model, reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

Is it possible for us to experience oneness with the Lord?

As Christ followers, we experience relational intimacy or oneness through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Through obediently cultivating a relational intimacy with the Spirit by faith, we experience the essence of God.

As our ever-accessible companion, confidant, and counsellor, God graciously continually romances his beloved. Through the Holy Spirit he is nurturing, sanctifying, and preparing us as his future bride for complete unity — to become one with him forever.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for desiring relational intimacy with me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may experience oneness in you. Empower me to daily cultivate our relationship by faith. May your Spirit sanctify me daily and prepare me to reflect your beloved and in the fullness of time, to experience complete oneness as your worthy bride. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
Used by Permission


We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone. However, true prayer is one way of expressing your faith. The following is a suggested prayer:

“Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have be

en directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”

For a better understanding visit: https://thoughts-about-god.com/biblestudies_/spiritfilledlife


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Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:9-11 (NASB)

In today’s confused fallen world, love is a complex and ambiguous word. As I reflect on my life, I am fortunate to have lived in a home where my parents loved each other. Their enduring relationship cultivated an environment of refuge and happiness. My parents’ relationship thrived primarily because they were fortunate to have parents and other relatives’ model love, cultivate it, and express its profound rewards — not merely an emotional reward, but an enduring affection that remains steadfast for a lifetime.

As believers living in a confused culture, we need to know how to express and reflect love, and to experience its abiding joy. Jesus, in his concluding chat with his disciples, defines abiding love and its related affect. First, he assures them that he faithfully loved them the same way his Father loved him. Jesus clarifies his disclosure by emphasizing that abiding in his love means keeping his commandments ? just as he abided in his Father’s love by keeping his commandments. Jesus then assures them that he shared these truths with them so they could experience the relational intimacy of his immeasurable joy ? love’s abiding joy.

So, how do we, in today’s culture, emulate Jesus’ counter cultural love model? Simply, we keep his commandments ? not in a legalistic manner, but in a way that honors and reflects our love for Jesus and our Father. Loving the Lord transcends a fleeting emotional experience. Loving him and abiding in his love allows us to experience his joy ? love’s abiding joy!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Living Word, Jesus. Teach me your commandments. May your Spirit write them on the tablet of my heart. Empower me to honor you and love you the same way Jesus honored and loved you that I may continually experience the same intimate relational abiding joy. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“Therefore we do not lose heart…for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16a-18

During a difficult season in my life, affliction, anxiety, and doubt clouded my perspective. Overwhelmed by my current reality, my mind contradicted my heart. I slowly began to only see life through an earthly perspective — forgetting that my current circumstances were momentary and would pass. I focused on them instead of choosing to see that the sun still shines behind life’s dark clouds, despite my murky perspective.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul implores us to embrace a faith perspective. Christ followers are not exempt from adversity. Regardless of how we perceive life or how overwhelming our troubles appear, Paul assures us they are momentary when seen through an eternal perspective, which he defines as assessing our circumstances through our spiritual eyes and not our physical eyes. When we do that, ultimately, our distresses “are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Do you struggle to embrace a healthy perspective amidst life’s adversity? Often, perspective is a heart matter. God knows your situation. Do not lose heart. Jesus reiterates,

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”  John 16:33

Jesus, who experienced every manner of adversity and persecution yet overcame the world, will empower you to walk by faith and not by sight — to embrace an eternal persevering perspective regardless of life’s adversity so you can be

“…more than conquerors through him who loved us”  Romans 8:37

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you promised to be with me in times of trouble. Holy Spirit, help me to fix my eyes on Jesus. Help me to discern life’s adversity with an eternal perspective. Strengthen my resolve to daily immerse myself in your presence and word that I may be able to overcome any circumstance along life’s way. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

Have you ever walked through a vineyard? In John chapter 15, Jesus’ words to His disciples about enduring fruit reveal that He had clearly passed through many vineyards while paying close attention. He had no doubt observed a caretaker faithfully preparing the grape vines for harvest: tenderly and thoroughly examining each vine and its branches to ensure maximum yield for the growing season and for many seasons to come.

Jesus uses the metaphor of the vineyard to emphasize, among other things, the necessity of the Father tenderly trimming fruitful branches so they can produce even greater yield. The Father’s shears separate the unproductive branches from the vine, enabling the remaining branches to flourish.

What do you need pruned from your life to become more fruitful? Pruning can be painful and perplexing, but every believer, regardless of call or creed, and as long as he or she remain organically connected to the true vine, is commissioned and pruned to bear eternal fruit — fruit that glorifies the Lord of the harvest. Would you consider yourself a fruitful believer? If your answer is yes, then ask the Lord to tenderly and thoroughly trim your life and empower you to thrive and flourish as you faithfully abide in Him. If your answer is no, then choose to make Jesus the center of your life once again.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your enduring love. Help me to discern and to surrender to the daily pruning process so that I can faithfully and effectively bear fruit for Your kingdom. Empower me for maximum yield in the harvest fields of my sphere of influence. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Mark 8:34-35

What’s your greatest challenge as Jesus’ disciple? My greatest challenge is an ever-present formidable foe that keeps me from having a heart of humility. From birth, I’ve wrestled with self-centered tendencies. I’ve discovered that, as an authentic Christ-follower, I must resolve to defy and deny the human heart’s most persuasive hereditary affliction called “self”.

In  Mark 8, Jesus clarifies the sobering criteria for following him. One must deny self, take up one’s cross, follow, lose one’s life, and consequently, save one’s life. Initially, his declaration seems unreasonable and unachievable.

The most persuasive influence in the human heart – that ever-present predisposition that conflicts with unconstrained submission to God’s will – is self. Why? Simply said, self and Christ cannot both rule. One must submit to the other. This is the non-negotiable criteria of being Jesus’ disciple. Denying self allows God to edify and sanctify us, conforming us to the image of Jesus as a credible witness to a fallen world that overvalues self.

Wrestling with and denying self is never easy. It is the daunting lifelong cross to bear and a challenge for every believer. But it is the compulsory cost of following Jesus. A daily, moment-by-moment, intentional resolve to realign the heart to prioritize God’s will for our lives is a disciple’s rite of passage.

Realign your heart. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Allow him to renew your mind, transform your perspective, and influence your will. You will encounter a life severed from self that authentically reflects Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of following you. Help me to defy and deny self. Realign my heart and will. As I daily immerse myself in your Word, renew my mind, transform my heart, and empower me to authentically reflect Jesus to those within my sphere of influence. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you. Jonah 3:1-2

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.’

Is your heart always sensitive to God’s prompting?

I would prefer to answer yes; however, as I contemplate my own response, I recognize that the only truthful answer is emphatically, “no.” Regrettably, many times my heart is enticed by my own selfish cost, comfort, and convenience. Consequently, I endure the calamity of choice — the unavoidable cause and effect of my own disobedience — choosing my will over God’s will.

Can God use a reluctant heart? Absolutely! God’s call is greater than my tendency to disobey.

Interestingly, Jonah’s book begins with God commissioning Jonah to be his representative among the Ninevites. Jonah, refusing to embrace God’s call, encounters the persuasive calamity of his own self-centered choice. Despite Jonah’s obvious reluctance, God never revokes Jonah’s mission mantle; rather, through Jonah’s crisis of circumstance and ensuing prayer, God reiterates Jonah’s call. Ultimately, Jonah’s obedience influences repentance among the Ninevites.

What can we learn from Jonah’s initial response to God’s call? Primarily, when God asks us to embrace his call, we cannot emulate Jonah’s flight, fear, or foot-dragging reaction without consequence. As present-day Gospel custodians, individually and collectively, we cannot allow personal interests and priorities to influence our reluctant response. God calls every Christ-follower to be his hands, feet, and voice. May his enduring grace inspire us to influence our sphere of influence and especially those he calls to become his own.

Dear Heavenly Father, create in me a faithful heart that is sensitive to your prompting. Empower and equip me to be your hands, feet, and voice among those I encounter in my life journey. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“…Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us… that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.”  John 17:21-23

Do you desire an ongoing intimacy with God? All my life, I’ve wanted to be close to God — not just as a familiar, feel-good acquaintance, but as a “first love” relationship that lives and thrives on a moment-by-moment experience of his power, presence, and peace. Even after many years of following Jesus, I realized, through some untimely, undesirable life lessons, that I can never settle for a stagnant faith and yet expect to experience deep intimacy with God. Sometimes, my forgetful, faithless heart marvels that an ongoing intimacy with God is even possible.

In John 17, Jesus’ prayer for believers reminds us that intimacy with God is not only possible, but is his desire. Jesus wants every believer to experience the same deep relational intimacy that he experienced with the Father. Jesus defines true intimacy with the Father and himself by declaring, “you are in me… I am in you … they also be in us … that they may be brought to complete unity.” This intimate, irrefutable interaction is God’s design and desire for every believer who prioritizes him as his or her “first love.”

Are you experiencing a stagnant faith journey or spiritual discontent? Don’t allow life’s distractions or difficulties to affect your relationship with God. God designed us for deep intimacy. Don’t, however, confuse intimacy with familiarity.

Spiritual discontent momentarily subsides when we restore the “first love” relational intimacy with our Lord. Reclaim and restore a “first love” relationship with Jesus, and, one day at a time — one breath at a time —, you’ll begin to experience an insatiable, irrefutable intimacy with God.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your ongoing pursuing affection. You created and redeemed me for a relational intimacy. Help me to prioritize my relationship with you above all else so I may experience that deep relational intimacy with you all the days of my life. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Have you ever asked yourself, “What has this world come to?” As I reflect on my upbringing, I remember right and wrong being more black and white, with a few obvious exceptions. In today’s multicultural, multi-faith world, with its ever-evolving values, right and wrong are no longer black and white – they are discouraging and divisive shades of grey. Amidst growing oppression, many believers struggle to discern the grey and live an uncompromised godly life.

Almost daily, culture challenges believers to compromise their traditional values to accommodate social, judicial, and moral reform. In the name of social equality and justice, authorities pressure and punish believers into submission. Jesus warned that we “will have trouble” because His kingdom is counter-cultural. Despite what may be a dilemma, He encourages us to “take heart” because He overcame the world. So how do we triumphantly navigate complex cultural and moral issues without compromising our faith?

In today’s world, believers need an infallible moral compass to ensure they don’t surrender to popular opinion. Respected Pastor, John Piper, concludes, “When justice is divorced from morality, when rights of individuals are separated from right and wrong, the only definition you have left for justice is the right for every individual to do as he pleases…the end of that road is anarchy and barbarism” . In the end, we may not avert social and moral deprivation, but by remaining steadfast, in His name, Word, and peace, we shall surely overcome the world and see His justice prevail.

Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to discern Your voice and will amidst the chaos of an ever changing world. Align my will your Will. Protect me from the lures and snares of this world that attempt to compromise Your Word. May Your Spirit direct, empower, and equip me, strengthening my perseverance and resolve to overcome the world. Amen.

Prayerfully read John 16:33 and 1 John 5:3-5. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you align your values with Scripture. As you pray, write down the insights the Spirit gives you and commit to living by God’s truth daily.

By Allan Mitchell
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“This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

If I asked you to define love, what would you say? Some people may say that love is a strong feeling of affection toward another person. Other people may say that love is caring for another person. Alternatively, some people may say that love is difficult to define.

In today’s ever-changing perplexed world, accurately defining love is challenging, especially when we try to comprehend the mystery and magnitude of God’s love for every human being.

Scripturally, God frequently defines his love as a verb — an unrequited action toward humanity individually and collectively. He emphasizes that he reveals His love for us by sending his Son into the world to reconcile us to himself (John 3:16). John clearly and unambiguously asserts that, despite our lack of love for God, he, reflecting the essence of his character, demonstrated unrequited love for us by sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

The mystery, miracle, and majesty of God’s love is unfathomable to a world that prefers to define love through the unreliable chameleon influence of cultural trends and acceptance.

Ultimately, God’s love is undefinable, unfathomable, unshakable, and unmatchable. Renowned evangelist, the late Billy Graham, once stated, “He knows exactly what we are and loves us anyway.”

Do we fully realize and reflect the influence of God’s love in our lives? Love is the divine essence of God’s character and we should daily seek to fully realize his unrequited love and reflect it to those around us.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that your often unrequited and always unmerited love, in sending Jesus, saves me. Equip me with understanding and discernment to comprehend the depth of your love, and empower me to reciprocate and reflect your love to those within my sphere of influence. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Imagine an intimidating affliction that inflicts your body with weakness, invades your mind with helplessness, ingrains your emotions with hopelessness, and infects your soul with faithlessness.

My first unwanted encounter with anxiety evolved from a series of unexpected, unfortunate, and unsolicited life events. Anxiety’s shadowy specter ceaselessly challenges my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual demeanor.

Regrettably, in many Christian circles, social stigma and wrong theology imply that flawed faith produces personal anxiety struggles. However, Scripture reveals that Jesus’ divinity did not disqualify His humanity from experiencing overwhelming anxiety. Though He felt it, he did prevent anxiety from exploiting His vulnerable heart and mind by confronting it with persevering prayer and taking every thought captive. He overcame by obediently trusting His Father’s Word, will, and perfect peace. Today’s verse reiterates Jesus’ strategy – confronting anxiety with prayer – soliciting God’s will and seeking God’s peace for a vulnerable heart and mind.

Do you experience anxiety? In today’s turbulent world, anxiety is a common and constant companion for many people – an unavoidable effect of living this side of heaven. It attempts to exploit personal vulnerabilities, oppress self-esteem, and mire conviction. It is no respecter of persons. Flawless faith or mental disciplines do not banish its company. Its stalking presence constantly compels vulnerable lives to despair, but as believers, we can persevere and triumph through truth and trust – knowing that Jesus relates with and knows our struggle. Despite its persistent presence, He enables us to persevere through anxiety’s sordid shadows – shielding our hearts and minds with His perfect peace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for a Savior who can relate with my ongoing struggles. Protect my heart and mind from anxiety’s effects. Create in me an attitude of thanksgiving and praise. Help me realize that despite my anxious struggles, You are sovereign over every circumstance in my life. Help me to take every though captive by daily affirming the truth of Your Word. Amen.

Thought: Consider using one (or more) of the following strategies for coping with anxiety:

1) Read and pray through Jesus’ wilderness temptation, Gethsemane and Calvary experiences.
2) Confront anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving.
3) Take every thought captive daily by memorizing key Scripture verses that address anxiety and fear.
4) Encourage someone struggling with anxiety by sharing your insights and strategy.

By Allan Mitchell
Used by Permission www.thelife.com/dailydevotions

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FURTHER READING:

Dealing with Despair

Overwhelmed by Negative Feelings?

Fear, Faith and Migraines by Dr. Muriel Larson

Up from Depression  – Barbara Epp shares her journey with depression and the misconception that Christians shouldn’t get depressed.

Hope for the Hopeless

Good News for You


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Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my pathPsalm 119:105

Every New Year, like many other believers, I reflect on God’s precious promises and provisions. For me, a recurring New Year’s rite of passage is re-evaluating my personal faith walk. Usually, after prayerful meditation, I conclude that I need to immerse myself more in God’s timeless gift – His enduring Word. I ask the Lord to create in me an insatiable hunger for His Word, because if I neglect to daily partake of its life-giving sustenance, my spirit experiences profound spiritual malnutrition.

Throughout the ages and generations, God expressed and preserved His Word. He birthed creation through His spoken Word. He inscribed His Word into stone tablets, and ultimately, He clothed His Word in Human flesh. God gifted us with His Word to nurture and sustain our spirit. Throughout Psalm 119, the Psalmist exudes passion, insight, and thankfulness for the essential and eternal gift of God’s Word. Insightfully, He emphasizes that God’s Word illuminates his understanding – keeping His life on the right path. Jesus reiterates that

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Despite its many modern translations and interpretive nuances, God’s Word remains a divine heirloom relevant for every believer and generation. This New Year, resolve to immersing yourself daily in God’s Word. Regularly meditating on and obeying these timeless inspired words transforms our character. It enables and equips us to discern our Father’s heart and to persevere through times of testing, trial, and tribulation.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word. Create in me an insatiable hunger for Your Word. Help me to faithfully and regularly set aside daily quality time to read and mediate on Your Word. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Allan Mitchell Thoughts by Men

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Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.‘”  Luke 9:23

Contemplating my relationship with God, I envision myself standing on an endless ocean shore. The ocean represents my Christian life; the horizon represents eternity. The cool, exhilarating surf consoles my feet — retreating momentarily only to reveal my temporary impression in the shifting sand. The receding tide’s unrelenting whisper beckons me to step into the deep and discover Jesus below the surface. Regrettably, I am content with the shoreline’s safety. I fear the deep may cost me my life.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus unapologetically defines the criteria for being His disciple. His non-negotiable counter cultural declaration transcends stagnant belief. Jesus invites us to deny and die to self.

In today’s narcissistic culture, Jesus’ statement sounds unreasonable and unachievable, but He reiterates with emphasis that if we lose our life for Him, we shall surely save it. Is this a confusing contradiction? No, Jesus’ unpopular, intimidating assertion is possible, especially for believers yearning to grow through deepening their knowledge and intimacy with God.

Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reiterates, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” So how do we realistically die to self?

Self-preservation paralyzes our resolve to step into the deep and mature in our faith. Stepping into the deep involves obedience and risk; however, Jesus reassures us “whoever loses their life for me will save it” so we shouldn’t be content to live life on the safe shore of stagnant belief. Let’s live life embracing Jesus’ daily invitation to step into the deep — dying to self — thriving in Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord, for the privilege of being in relationship with You. Reveal to me the aspects of self that hinder my life in you. Empower me to step off the shore of comfort and stagnant belief and to daily step into the deep so I can get to know you under the surface. Enable me to experience intimacy and life in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Allan Mitchell

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”Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be your slave —  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:26b-28

Do you believe the Lord is calling you to greatness? I’m not referring to the kind of greatness the world knows, but the counter-cultural greatness of a committed Christ follower.

In my initial immature years as a believer, I thought receiving Christ as Savior was the beginning and the end of my eternal relationship journey with the Lord. Regrettably, many believers are spiritually stagnant. Ultimately, as I immersed myself in Jesus’ Words, I realized that receiving Christ is only the initial relational response in my intimate discipleship journey.

In Matthew 20, Jesus’ disciples, exhibiting an entitlement mentality, resentfully debate their perceived position and power in the Kingdom. Jesus corrects their perspective — clarifying that unlike the religious elite of Jesus’ day who thrive on power, prestige, and prosperity, His disciples must exemplify selfless, surrendered, servitude. Throughout the gospels, Jesus models and emphasizes intentional servitude. This compulsory discipleship dynamic reflects Kingdom greatness, and by God’s divine design, refines character — transforming the inner man to represent and reflect His Son, Jesus.

God calls every believer to embrace Kingdom greatness. As I continue to immerse myself in Jesus’ words and character, I realize that salvation is only the spark to the flame of our intimate and eternal relationship with God. Yes, Jesus saved us from sin, but more importantly, He saved us to serve — not exclusively within the comfort and confines of church community, but also to authentically represent and reflect Him within our broader communities of hurting and forgotten people.

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to understand and embrace Kingdom greatness. Create in me a servant’s heart — a heart that strives to emulate Jesus’ servant heart to a broken and hurting world. Open up opportunities for me to serve within my own community. Amen.

By Allan Mitchell
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Allan Mitchell Thoughts by Men