Pursuit Table Talk Returns

We will return NEXT WEEK! Tune in Friday Jan 18th for our next episode of #PursuitTableTalk #PursueToday #HotPursuit #PursureFirst #PursingTheShip #Leadership #Championship #SunkenShip #WeRPursuit #GiveUsAListen

The Love Of God

God has lavished His love upon us. He has bestowed His love on us. He has given us so much of it. We can’t even know or imagine how much love He has given to us. You see, He loves us, each and every one us, so much that He would allow us to be His children. God could have just sat in Heaven and watched us. He could have chosen to never interact with us or help us. He could have just let us be. Instead, God sent His Son to die for us and rise from the grave. God’s love for us is deep and unquenchable. You see, nothing can separate us from the love of God! Nothing! God hasn’t just saved us he has made us more then conquerors through HIM! Look at the victory He has given us because Jesus died for us! We are a new creation in Christ. We are His children. As His people, we have to choose to not do things contrary to the scriptures. We are not of this world but we are part of this world. We are part of this world because God created us to be. We should war against those things not of God.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul.”

‭‭1 Peter 2:11 AMP

The world has not met Jesus, and thus has not known His love and His life. So as Christians, we have to understand that we must put God first, and not take part in the evil of this world. We should take care of one another. We are a family. We should model this love for the world to see Christ’s love in us!

“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:11-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The challenge

1) Spend five minutes today thinking about how God loves you personally, and how you have seen His love in your own life.

2) Treat others lovingly. As children of God, we must be like Jesus and love others. Love is more powerful than hate, and love triumphs over hate. Christ proved that when He died and rose from the grave for us. So love.

By Ian McCarty

God is With You

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for reading the youth blog today and I’m glad I get the privilege to write to all of you! So, this week God has really pressed on my heart in an incredible way in the way He shows His love for us. Often though I find it easy to push away God’s love for me, either believing I’m not good enough or that I must work to obtain that love again. But again, and again God has opened my eyes to His love and grace. He’s showed me that no matter where I am His love follows me. No matter what I’ve done, how many times I have ignored Him this week, or any other way I’ve failed Him, He simply loves me. With an unconditional and indescribable grace, He stays right by my side through it all and sees me as His child. As in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son, He is hopefully waiting for me to turn back to Him. Not trying to make me feel ashamed or guilty, but wanting me to feel loved and encouraged by Him.

So, I just wanted to share that today with everyone, that no matter how far we can feel from God, He never leaves our side as he tells us in Deuteronomy, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” There is no place we can go where God does not go right beside us. He waits expectantly just hoping to be a part of our lives. With such grace for us that no one can fully understand, we can find joy in Him through all things. He is our God, our shepherd, our peace, no matter the situation. I pray we all come to see and know His love for us more and more each day.

-Michael Howell

This is War

By Ian McCarty

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Every single day is a battle that we go through. We, as the children of God, are at war. There’s no way around it. If you are a Christian, then you are fighting everyday. The enemy will attack you, and attack you, and attack you. Our fight isn’t against flesh and blood. The devil can use people to attack us, but people aren’t our real enemies. The devil is our enemy. There is a war going on! I can’t stress that enough. We can’t see the war with our eyes physically, but the war is real. However, there is hope!

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God has given us the weapons to attack evil and defend against evil. Side note: (I’m not going to go into each piece of the Armor of God, but I would encourage you to do so on your own.) God wants us to attack the enemy. When Jesus died and rose from the grave, He gave us ultimate victory over death and evil. However, because we live in a fallen world, that victory can be hard to live in, and satan is still trying to attack us. Satan can’t win, but that doesn’t mean he won’t attack us and try to win. Here’s the thing. God has already defeated satan. Therefore, if you are a child of God, then satan has no business controlling your life. I’ve heard that a new saying is going around on social media, and it says “How we acting today?” Well, the enemy doesn’t ask that question. The enemy thinks that every day he’s gonna control how you are acting. He thinks that his actions will dictate your attitude. The enemy believes that if he attacks you enough, in the right place, then the enemy can control your life. Well guess what? It’s time to tell the enemy how you are acting today. Don’t let the enemy’s actions control your life. You choose to be joyful, to be peaceful, to be loving, kind, patient, etc. I assure you, Jesus was attacked while on earth. Look at Matthew 4: 1-11. But look at Jesus life! The devil wasn’t controlling Jesus’ life. Jesus thirsted for more of God and let God be the One that controlled His life. In Matthew 4:1-11, we see that Jesus attacked the enemy. Jesus understood that our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood. Jesus knew that satan had to be shut up! So what did Jesus do? He shut satan up. Guys, we’ve gotta do that every single day. Don’t let satan control your life. Satan has no power over you, and he has no business controlling your life if you are a child of God. So, use the Name of Jesus and rebuke satan. Tell satan and he’s a liar and that in the In The Name of Jesus, satan’s power has been destroyed, and satan can’t touch you. Also, memorize Scripture. Pray to God as well. Another thing that’s is crucial is worship. Worship Jesus. The next time you feel anxious, worship God! If you feel depressed, worship God! If you feel joyful, worship God! When we worship God, the enemy curls up in a ball and wants the praise to God to stop. When the enemy attacks us, and we respond to that attack by praising God, the enemy is totally confused. Our clapping and songs to God confuses satan. Don’t let the enemy control your life. Use the weapons that Christ has given us, and use them now!

This is war!

The Worship of Our Hearts

11

“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?

says the Lord;

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of well-fed beasts;

I do not delight in the blood of bulls,

or of lambs, or of goats.

12

“When you come to appear before me,

who has required of you

this trampling of my courts?

13

Bring no more vain offerings;

incense is an abomination to me.

New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—

I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

14

Your new moons and your appointed feasts

my soul hates;

they have become a burden to me;

I am weary of bearing them.

15

When you spread out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you;

even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen;

your hands are full of blood.

16

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;

remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;

cease to do evil,

17

learn to do good;

seek justice,

correct oppression;

bring justice to the fatherless,

plead the widow’s cause.

18

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool.

19

If you are willing and obedient,

you shall eat the good of the land;

20

but if you refuse and rebel,

you shall be eaten by the sword;

for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 1:11-20(ESV)

In this section of the book of Isaiah, the prophet delivers a word from God to the people of Israel concerning their worship of Him, or lack there of. You see the people of Israel had gotten into a bad habit of letting their worship of God become nothing but religious ritual. There lips were full of His praise but their hearts were far from Him. Their lives showed a very different story than the one they confessed with their mouths. There was un-justice, corruption, and sinfulness rampant in their midst.

So God sends Isaiah to call them to turn from their deceitful, sinful ways and repent and come back to righteous living. To come back and worship Him with true hearts, with lives fully surrendered to His will. He promises them that if they turn back to Him they will receive what is good but if they turn away and rebel, only calamity awaits.

Here is the truth of this passage, that the worship of our hearts without the love, adoration, reverence, and praise of God at the center is not worship. He does not want thoughtless rituals. Even the most grand praise means nothing to Him if our hearts are not sincere. He wants us to know Him and to truly praise and glorify His name from a place in our hearts that knows that He is the center of our worship. He wants us to know and believe that He is the God of salvation and righteousness. That He is the Triune God of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end. That He is the part of our hearts that we know is missing and need Him to restore. That He is our life.

So when we worship God let us not do it from some sense of thoughtless ritual or begrudging obligation. Let us worship Him with our whole hearts in adoration of His glory and thankfulness for all that He has done for us. For all that He has seen us through. For all that He has done in us and through us. And may we see Him move in ways we have not yet seen.

May we seek to glorify Him in our lives and not just our words.

May we glorify Him in everything we say and do

Noah Barfield

Wrestling with God

By Evan Amon

We find Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, in the same place we often find ourselves in this broken world. Jacob is trapped, surrounded by his brother’s army. Esau, Jacob’s brother, had been following him for years ever since Jacob had stolen his birthright. Jacob, now with a family and fortune of his own, can no longer continue to run. He realizes that the next morning he will have to face his brother and ask for forgiveness. Then this happens:

24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Genesis 32:24-30

In his time of most dire need, Jacob wrestled with God. We Christians have this same wrestle with God. Often, many believe that they have to be okay with everything God does in their life, and they think that being happy in every single hardship is the only way God will truly accept them. But Jacob shows us that God blesses us even when we wrestle with him. He simply wants to converse with us and guide us through our daily lives and hardships. I also think it is important to uncover that the second Jacob came close to his brother, he embraced him and forgave him. So ask yourself, how can I wrestle with God today? What things do I not understand that I could confess to him? Take time in prayer to wrestle with him.

Indecisive

Are you indecisive?

By Ian McCarty

“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. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:5-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Are you indecisive? A lot of times, we can be indecisive. This can hurt us, because when we are indecisive, the enemy has a tendency to attack us. Indecisiveness weighs on us. Let’s say you have a decision to make. It can be a simple decision, maybe the decision is about something that doesn’t really have value. It could be as simple a decision as what to eat for lunch. Or it could be a huge decision, like should you date or not. Well, what happens when we are indecisive is the options weigh on us. Let’s take our first example, the one about lunch. What you decide to eat for lunch shouldn’t be a twenty minute decision. It should be a quick choice. When I take twenty minutes, or even ten minutes to decide what to eat, then I stress myself out over something that shouldn’t be stressing me out. When it’s time for lunch, choose what you want and stick with your choice. Now, let’s move to the next choice. This choice is more significant, and it is about whether or not to date. I’m not going to go into the whole process, but I’ll say this. Dating is a huge decision, and you should pray and ask God to help you know what to do. When God tells you what to do, obey! If He tells you not to date, then don’t date! Don’t keep begging God to let you date. If God answers you, then listen to His answer and do what He says. When God gives you an answer, obey. Don’t go back and forth with yourself, trying to make sure that not dating is the right decision. When you keep spending time about a decision already made, then you stress yourself out. As if the world doesn’t already have enough stress, we create opportunities for anxiety and call them options! We get an answer from God, but when we don’t like His, we try to talk ourselves into what we want to do! When God gives an answer, then stick with what He tells you to do. He has a reason for every answer, and for every decision. When I’m indecisive, the options stress me out. I get stressed out over even simple things, all because I can’t make a decision. Sometimes all options are good, so you can’t go wrong. Sometimes there are bad options. Guess what, we all make bad choices sometimes. That’s why God sent His Son, Jesus, and that’s why Jesus died for us and rose from the grave. That’s why Jesus has forgiven us. Indecisiveness weighs on us. Now, how do we get more decisive? By growing closer to God. Someone told me before that the closer we are to God, the more we know God’s nature, and the more we know His nature, the more we know what decisions He would make. When we study the Bible more, pray, and worship Him more, then we grow in God and learn more of His nature.

The Challenge

1) Pick a day this week and make three decisions. Stick with those decisions. The situations can be big or small. But make those decisions, and don’t worry about them after. Remember Christ forgives when we sin.

2) Grow in God more. Set aside fifteen minutes each day for one week where you read and study the Bible, memorize Scripture, worship God, and pray.

3) Have a great weekend!

Thankfulness

Thankfulness

“18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving is upon us! That wonderful time of the year where we gather around with loved ones and absolutely destroy a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, and whatever else you choose to transport to your stomach through your pie hole. A time where we gather with those whom maybe we haven’t seen in some time. A time to reflect and be thankful.

I bet at this point you are probably thinking to yourself, “How cliche, a Thanksgiving blog post right before Thanksgiving.” But I challenge you to not think in that way. You might be spoken to in a way that you did not expect.

I know that as the years pass, it is easy to go through the motions and do things just for the sake of doing them, without remembering why it is we do them in the first place. Now a days Thanksgiving is used as the pregame before Black Friday where instead of being thankful for what we have, we seek to fill our lives with more things that maybe we don’t really need. And I also know that due to the fact that we live in a fallen world, it is sometimes not easy to be thankful. With all that is going on in the world, it is sometimes hard to see what we have to be thankful for. And the Devil would like nothing more than for us to sit and stew in unthankfulness where we are focused only on ourselves. But it is in those moments that we must be persistent in choosing thankfulness and remember all that God has done for us.

For this post I am going to be straight up honest with y’all, this past week I didn’t feel like being thankful. I didn’t feel like rejoicing. There were even some moments where I didn’t feel like praying. All I wanted to do was lay in bed so as to try and avoid the attacks of anxiety, depression, fear, and doubt. My mind just wanted me to focus on the negative. The temptation to listen to the voice of doubt was strong. As the saying goes “The struggle was real.”

But God, ever so kind and patient, used His Spirit to shift my focus beyond what my eyes could see, and beyond what my flesh was trying to lead me to believe. He reminded me of all that He has seen me through. He reminded me of all that He has done in me and in my life. And then my mind became at peace, as I remembered that He is good and is with me and is guiding me. Suddenly I have a lot that I am thankful for as I look around and see God’s love and faithfulness.

Thankfulness should be the lifestyle of believers. Especially in the times when it is hard to be thankful. God doesn’t want us to be bitter and unthankful. His will and desire for us to be full of rejoicing and thankfulness. That is why He goes about doing all that He does, so that you may have the fullness of life in Him.

And I am going to tell you that it is okay if sometimes you feel like it is hard to be thankful, because sometimes it is. But it is the choice that we make in that feeling that is important. The choice to sit and stew in bitterness and doubt, or the choice to trust in God and remember all that He has done with praise and thanksgiving.

After living in both, I can tell you that I prefer the latter. I choose to be thankful for all that He has done in my life, and rejoice in the Hope of what He has promised. I can promise you that you won’t regret it if you choose to do the same.

So my challenge to you this week is this:

If you find yourself in a season where thankfulness seems scarce and doubt is creeping in, sit and focus on all that God has done for you. Get in His word and let His promises fill your heart(The Psalms are a great place to start looking at what it looks like to live a lifestyle of thankfulness even in hard times.) Turn on some praise and worship music and let God’s Spirit speak to your heart.

May you be filled with thankfulness and rejoicing in the Hope and Life that we have in God through Jesus Christ!

Noah Barfield