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THIS IS YOUR YEAR!!!

Are you going to step forth and receive it?

As you start the New Year and set your resolutions I’d like you to think about God’s Word and what He has promised you. Although I’ve only listed a few below, the Bible contains thousands of God’s promises waiting for you to claim in faith.

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When relationships become strained,
when illness robs your days,
when your stomach churns from the stresses of life,
when the unexpected happens…
Do you crumble alone,
or do you turn to Him to find strength and hope?

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. — Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes in life we just need a partner—
we need someone who can be strong when we are weak,
someone who will always believe in us.
Guess what? God is that someone!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. — Isaiah 41:10

Every now and then we need a safe place to take refuge.
Jesus accepts us even in our darkest hour.
He takes us in when we are downhearted and worn.
He surrounds us in His peace.
He sees us as we are and comforts us in His kindness and mercy.

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed;
but my kindness shall not depart from thee,
neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,
saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee. — Isaiah 54:10

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. — Matthew 11:28-29

Joy, peace and hope are being offered to you by God!
These are not just promises to “get by” or survive,
they are promises of overflowing hope,
of being filled with joy and peace!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. — Romans 15:13

THIS IS YOUR YEAR!!! Are you going to step forth and take it? It is my prayer that your faith and trust in our Heavenly Father will be increased as you seek Him to supply your every need this year. May you be abundantly blessed this year and all those to follow.

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

Make it a Very Merry CHRISTmas

GFIC Jesus Holiday Agreement

Not so long ago I spoke to you about the importance of love for one another, and more specifically, how God created us out of love, and OUR actions towards one another should emulate HIS love for each and every one of us.

Well, the season is upon us, and that means it’s just the beginning of all the holiday parties and family gatherings to come…

Girl with gift

Unfortunately, most people find that what should be a time of joy and relaxation, turns into a long month of frustration and stress. And it’s no wonder, with all the extra activities and commitments interrupting our everyday lives and routines—when the word “miraculous” only comes to mind when we think about surviving the next couple weeks of December, the traffic, the lines, the rude clerk, that infuriating shopping cart and its broken wheel, the family feud of “who gets to host what party, where,” etc., etc., etc.

Grace Fellowship In Christ Jesus invites you to join us in this year’s holiday challenge!

This year we are going to be intentionally and purposefully practicing Dr. Kent M. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments. Let’s see what kind of difference being an example of Christ will make – in both our own life, and the lives of others. I truly believe that it’s going to work so well, you’ll bring it along with you right into New Year!

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

So what do you say… up for the challenge?

I knew you would be! Print a couple copies of this—hang it on your bathroom mirror and look at it when you get ready in the morning. Keep another copy in your purse or wallet. Have a spare by the bed or in the car… The important part is to read it often enough that you’re confident in how to react when He gives you the opportunity to be His vessel. As followers of Christ, it is up to us to share this message—not through words, but by becoming a living testimony of the loving God we serve.

Remember, we’re in this together so if you need some extra support (and I’m not talking about Aunt Edith’s eggnog…) just send me an email at [email protected] or give us a call 214.498.3692

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

A “Thanksgiving” Story

You may not think of stories as a basic survival need, but our brains require them to give structure and meaning to our lives. The stories we tell ourselves about our lives don’t just shape our personalities—they are our personalities, and this plays a large role in who we were in the past, who we are in the present and most importantly, who we can become in the future.

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A life story is written in chalk, not ink, and it can be changed. You are both the narrator and the main character of the story—not just simply living it out, but actually in charge of writing
it.

Is your story a thankful one?
Thankfulness is a prominent Bible theme. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Did you catch that? Give thanks in all circumstances. Thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths.

When we are thankful, our focus moves off of the pain of our current circumstances, and helps us remember that God is in control. Using thankfulness as the base for writing your own story is not only fitting, it’s actually healthy and beneficial to your mind, body and spirit. Utilizing thanksgiving in our everyday lives, in every situation, reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing, and truly, we have an abundant life.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

Is your story one of redemption?
A redemption story starts off negative but ends positively. This means that no matter what life throws at you, no matter what sins you have committed, no matter the tribulations you’ve endured—you have found (or rewritten) new meaning and redemption in all circumstances.

And through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him. – Colossians 1:20-22

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are given a clean slate. For some this comes as a great relief, but many more are still haunted by their past. If you are still living in shame or blame, I urge you to let go. God forgave you―long before you asked, and He is ALWAYS going to love and accept you no matter what! Glorify Him by making your life’s story a redemptive and thankful one.

Your story belongs to you, from beginning to end. It is still evolving. Your past can be retold. And the rest…is still waiting to be written.

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

Rejoice In The Lord Always

Even when you don’t feel like it…

Rejoice in the Lord always
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice in the Lord always
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice, rejoice
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice, rejoice
And again I say rejoice

Do you remember that song from Sunday school? It’s still one of my favorites to this day. So much so that I even sing it in “big people” service! Even with such simple lyrics, it’s message is quite profound. Because you know what?Sometimes it’s hard to rejoice. Sometimes, you just have one of those days. And other times it seems like you’re having one of those weeks, or months, or years…and these are the times you might not feel up to rejoicing.

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I remember a period of time in my life when things just seemed so hard…so long…so difficult. Everything was more complicated than expected – even things that should have been easy, weren’t. In fact, nothing was easy! Finally I had ENOUGH—I threw my hands up to the Lord and said, Where’s my freakin’ easy button? I mean really, what had I done to deserve this kind of treatment??? I was being a good and faithful servant, I was giving so much of my time to the service of others that I didn’t have anything left for myself, I mean I was being a saint! So, why? Why me?

After patiently waiting for my tantrum to die down, God put something in my heart that I hadn’t thought of in ages…

You can choose to say:

Good morning God!
or
good god, morning (uuughhh…)

Every morning it’s up to me. It’s my choice either way, but I guarantee you, choosing the first option makes for a much better day – even the hard ones.

Truth is, we are all just mortals living in a temporary home. Sickness, turmoil, troubles and grief are all part and parcel of our place here. There will be days, weeks, months, and yes, maybe even years, that will seem to drag by at an aggravatingly slow and weary pace.

But remember, we are supposed to be rejoicing in the LORD, our Father who waits for us in our real home, and is preparing a place for us at His table—not this earth and all the trials that go with it!

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven. – Luke 10:20

Believe me, the only thing worse than a bad day is…a bad day with a bad attitude. I don’t want you to think that I’m preaching down at you. It’s quite the opposite – I know what it’s like to struggle. I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and wish you could just pull the covers back over your head. What I really want, is to remind you that there is still something to rejoice about, even in your darkest hours.

So my friend, what will you say tomorrow morning?

✦ A Special Note from Pastor Tony ✦

Listen, I understand how it feels to have those awful, terrible, no-good days. I wanted to share a few scriptures that help pull me out of rough patches and back to rejoicing in my Lord. Print them out, tape them up where you can see them first thing in the morning, even carry a copy in your wallet!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

A Message of Hope

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelations 21:4

Depression. I have dealt with it on many levels—I’ve experienced it personally throughout my life, I’ve watched it encroach upon the lives of family members, friends, and many members of my congregation.

With September being Suicide Awareness month I believe it is important that we as a church start tackling this big and tough topic and start taking a closer look at something most everyone has struggled with: hopelessness.

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Hopelessness is one of the single, most powerful clinical predictors of suicide. You see, most people who commit suicide don’t really want to die, they just want to stop hurting. Hopelessness can leave even the strongest person feeling as if there is no way out, that there is far too much damage to ever be repaired, that death is truly their only means of escape.

I want to challenge my congregation: let’s stand together and fight against hopelessness. We can revive the Spirit of hope within ourselves and our community by uniting as messengers of the Lord and spreading His promises of a better tomorrow.

I want to challenge my congregation: let’s stand together and fight against hopelessness. We can revive the Spirit of hope within ourselves and our community by uniting as messengers of the Lord and spreading His promises of a better tomorrow.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject, but talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. If you’re struggling with depression don’t let shame or pride keep you from reaching out to the people who love you. And remember, the feelings of hopelessness do not last forever, even when you cannot see hope, God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:24-25

There should be no shame or blame when we talk about depression and thoughts of suicide. Give yourself and the people in your life the gift of unconditional love, just as our Father has. I leave you with one more Scripture, and it is my prayer for you.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13

✦ A Special Note from Pastor Tony ✦

Did you know that over 30,000 people a year commit suicide in the United States alone, and there are 25 attempts at suicide for every one success? Up to 80% of people who have struggled with depression and suicidal ideation in the past were not being treated for their psychiatric condition near the time of their death by suicide. If you suffer from depression and past suicidal thoughts or attempts, it is critical that you seek out care from a mental health professional. Please contact us at 214-498-3692 for additional resources and support. If you are currently thinking about committing suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (open 24 hours a day) at 1-800-273-TALK

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

Purpose and Destiny: Part II

The Power of I Am

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
– Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Your mortal mind and existing perceptions can be the biggest roadblock standing between where you are and where God has preordained you to be. Last month I talked about having to “let go and let God” in order to receive the righteous plan He has for you. But giving God control doesn’t mean you just sit back and do nothing! In fact, you play a very important role in bringing His plans into fruition.

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Right now you’re using your conscious mind to read these words and absorb their meaning, but beneath that mental focus, your subconscious mind is busily working behind the scenes, absorbing or rejecting information based on the perceptions you have of the world around you. When you have an experience that conflicts with an already established belief, your subconscious mind will either reject it or reframe it so it goes along with your existing view of reality.

This means that your mind will work against God’s promises of prosperity, health, and joy if they are not in alignment with your preconceived beliefs.

Your subconscious mind has immense power in controlling your life experiences: from the types of food you eat to the actions you take each day, the level of income you earn, and even how you react to stressful situations. Every time someone called you stupid, worthless, slow, lazy, or worse, your subconscious mind just stored the information away for reference. You may also have received messages about your potential in life or limitations based on your physical abilities, skin color, gender, etc. The good news is that God is more powerful than man (and mind). He has chosen you, not according to good or bad works, not according to your circumstances, not according to where you are in life right now, but according to His own purpose.

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
– Exodus 3:13-14

God is I AM THAT I AM. You are created in His image and you are I AM. You help shape your destiny by the things which you attach to that I AM. When you say “I AM,” you are announcing the presence of God within you.

Start Today

  • Begin proclaiming your birthrights as a child of Christ, following your “I AM” with God’s promises. This is such a crucial step in breaking through those mental roadblocks that are keeping you from living the life God intends you to have!
  • Word your proclamations in the present tense. Say “I AM confident and successful” rather than “I will be confident and successful” because focusing on a future condition does not compute with your subconscious mind – it knows only this moment. Also, use positive statements (saying “I am not a failure” is processed as “I am a failure” since your subconscious cannot process negatives).
  • Call up the corresponding feelings. Saying “I am wealthy” while feeling poor only sends conflicting messages to your subconscious. Whatever words you’re saying at the time, strive to feel the corresponding emotions because your subconscious will be more apt to believe it.

Battling against the flesh can be challenging sometimes, but remember what the Bible tells us in John 4:4, Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. Amen!

Everyone is welcome,

Pastor Tony Hoult

Purpose and Destiny: Part I

Receiving the Righteous Plan God has for You

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28 (NIV)

If you didn’t get a chance to read last month’s post on how to start living the life God intended you to have, I encourage you to click on the link above because this is an important step, really the foundation of opening yourself up to God’s plan for you.

Many of us wonder through life searching for our place in the world. We often find ourselves on the wrong path or feel like we’re not living out our true destiny. Have you ever felt that little “tickle” inside, like an uncomfortable scratch that you just can’t reach?

You know God has a righteous plan for you, but no matter how hard you try, it always seems like you come up short.

Does the above statement ring true? Read it one more time… but no matter how hard you try, it always seems like you come up short.

The destiny God has planned for you is bigger and better than anything you could possibly imagine. You just have to stop trying! Listen, this is His plan, and no one knows how to execute a plan better than the creator, and so (take a big sigh of relief) this is out of your hands. The Creator of all things has chosen you, not according to good or bad works, not according to your circumstances, not according to where you are in life right now, but according to His own purpose.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
– Proverbs 3:5-6

I know you’ve heard the old saying, let go and let God… Are you ready to let go and receive the righteous plan God has for you?

If you’re ready, please join me in the following prayer:

Father of Glory, I ask for the spirit of wisdom. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may receive the revelation of Your calling. I understand that this is a lifelong journey, and I surrender my will to You and commit to doing whatever it is You desire of me. Grant me with the assurance and clarity of Your purpose, and the riches of my destiny as Jesus’ inheritance; and the exceeding greatness of Your power. I praise you Lord, for giving me whatever graces, patience, and stamina it takes to live out Your righteous plan for me. Amen!

This is where we started, but definitely not where we’re stopping! Keep your eye out for next month’s Purpose and Destiny: Part II, The Power of I Am

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