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  • Christian Coaching with Jim Otremba! Christian Coaching with Jim Otremba!
    Christian Coaching with Jim Otremba! Tune in Tuesday Mornings at 8:20 for Christian Coaching tips with Jim Otremba from the Center for Family Counseling in St. Cloud! Learn More HERE!...
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    Health & Fitness Tips with J.R. Tune in Monday Mornings at 8:20 am for tips on how to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your busy days with J.R. from Rejuv Medical! Click HERE to sign up for the “50,000 pound challenge!” and receive FREE workouts you can [...]...
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CC Thrive tile  31  Days  to  THRIVE  with  Casting  Crowns!

From August 1st through August 31st, we’re partnering with Casting Crowns to encourage you with Daily Devotionals based on the new song “THRIVE”! We’ll  post each day’s devotion here . Weekend devotions will be posted on Fridays. You can also enter for a chance to WIN one of 31 copies of the new Casting Crowns CD HERE! CD Winners will be announced each morning at 8:50am.

August 1
You were meant to do more than just survive. You were meant to THRIVE.
You were not meant to struggle to make it through the week, the day, or the next hour. You were not meant to be shackled by anxiety, worry, and fear. No, you were meant for so much more.
You were meant to have life and have it more abundantly. That is the promise of the eternal God.
You were meant to dig deep and to reach out.
You were meant to know God and to make him known.
You were meant to point to the one hope, the one anchor, the one true source of joy, peace, and contentment for the entire human race. His name is Jesus.
Surviving is for those who have no hope. That’s not you, not if you’re God’s child.
You were meant to thrive.
All of us will have bad days, but Jesus tells us to take heart. He has overcome the world. To live a life that thrives we should remember this: We can not live by what we feel, but by the truth God’s Word reveals.
August 2
Psalm 1 lays the foundation for a life that thrives. It says that the person who delights in God’s Word is blessed. Verses 1-3 say:
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Like a giant oak tree that stands tall and strong, growth as a believer requires two parts. You have to dig your roots in deep. And when you do, you naturally will reach out. To grow roots, we dive into God’s Word and prayer and learn from other believers. As we reach out, we show people the love of Christ. A balanced believer does both.
The empty promises of the world define success and contentment in terms of money, possessions, prestige, and power. The biblical definition of the word thrive means to dig deep into a personal relationship with Jesus and to reach out to others with his truth and love—to know God and to make him known.
August 3
God has a dream for you, and his dreams are always bigger than your dreams. His dream doesn’t necessarily include prosperity or good health or even what most people would describe as happiness. He’s not interested in making you comfortable. His dreams for you are much bigger than any of those pursuits. You were made to thrive in more than a worldly kind of way. You were made to thrive in your relationship with
Jesus, who has poured out his love into our hearts so that it will spill into the lives of others. God’s dream for you is to know him and
to make him known, to dig deep into his Word, to plumb his depths, and to reach out—to live in such a way that you point to the one true
hope for all people. It seems to be a spiritual contradiction, but it’s not: When you finally let go is when you grasp what God wants and has for you. Surrender to Jesus is the way not only to abundant life, but also to life itself.
August 4
Did you know that God is more interested in our weaknesses than in our strengths? It’s easy to focus on our strengths, because our strengths give us a sense of confidence and control. But 2 Corinthians 12 assures us that God uses our weaknesses rather than our strengths.
God uses the weak things in the world to shame the wise. At this point is where our buts, spelled with one T, usually get in the way. Christians have huge buts, where we believe whatever God says but—and then we insert an excuse. If you believe something but, there’s a good chance you don’t believe it at all. There’s a chance you just know it and it’s on your T-shirt, but it’s not the filter through which you run your actions.
The more we examine Scripture, the more we find broken people rather than whole people—people with serious issues like Moses, David, Peter, and Mary. We find that the weak overcome the strong. Everything the world calls success isn’t found in the Word. Instead, we find
that God takes you just as you are.
August 5th
Throughout Scripture, God approaches different people with the same message: “I know you have great plans for your life and some ideas about how you’re going to pull off your plans. But I have something else for you.”God didn’t explain away all the details. He didn’t curb the difficulties. He didn’t even say, “It’ll be a little awkward for a while. You’ll hit some rough patches. And you’re even going to hurt.” But he dreamed much bigger for his people than they ever dreamed. In story after story, God’s Word shows how faithful he is even to those most desperate and downtrodden.How we face the future and how we make decisions are based on what we believe about God and what we believe about ourselves. We can say God is in control, but our lives often suggest that we don’t totally buy it. God is not finished with you. Wherever you are right now, know this: Jesus loves you, and he will bring about his best for those who love him and want to thrive in him. Trust his dream for you.
August 6th
God wants to renew our minds and redefine our ideas of who he is and who we are in him. We have fuzzy notions of God and we partially believe what we’ve read, heard, and sung about him.Yet despite our shortcomings, God has been patient and kind, long suffering and forgiving. Even when we take a wrong turn, he transforms it for our good. Love from other people doesn’t work that way. Jobs don’t work that way. Even spouses don’t work that way. We’ve let the world tell us what forgiveness means. We’ve let the job market define our skill sets. We’ve let the SAT or ACT define how smart we are. We let labels pigeonhole our beliefs about ourselves and shape our views. The antidote is God’s Word and prayer. We must learn to put all of our weight on Jesus, to dig deep into his Word and obey his nudges to reach out to others in his love. All the while, he will bide his time and work out his dream for us. All the while, he will teach us to thrive.
August 7th
God’s existence and sovereignty are the most fundamental beliefs we can possess—the very core of our deepest roots. When we dig in to know God more, we tap into the infinity of his love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, power, and sovereignty. Nothing or no one is greater. He sees all, knows all, and controls all. Whatever happens in our lives, God either brings it or allows it for his good reasons, and Romans 8:28 says God does everything for his glory and for our ultimate good.Do we really trust God? Ephesians 2 says we were dead in our trespasses before he saved us. Dead people can’t do anything. God did it all. If we think that we did something to start our relationship with God, it’s only logical to think that we could do something to end it. We can either rest in our picture of God or be haunted by it. This passage helps us determine whether we have painted a biblical picture of God and of ourselves. There’s no better reason to study Scripture. It’s the only way to live a life that thrives.
August 8th 
We have to let God paint for us the picture of who he is. If we paint our own picture of God, he’ll look a lot like our dads, for better or worse, and a lot like how love works down here on earth. We all know what human love is like—people will love us as long as and until. But there is always a line that human love won’t cross. That’s not what God’s love is like. You’re going to attach your idea of God to what you know. If you don’t know what he says about who he is, how are you going to get to know him? If you let God define himself for you and let him shape your views of yourself, now you’re ready to start blooming. We operate on a faulty root system when we go by our own logic. We choose the finite over the infinite. First Corinthians 1:8 states that God “will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What God starts, he finishes. The fun part comes in between.
August 9
Let’s aspire to let God have his Word back into our lives, so to speak. We need to let him—and only him—define what we are responsible for in
our lives. Jesus isn’t life enhancement. He’s life. He alone is the way life works. You can’t take someone else’s Jesus home with you. You can’t take your pastor’s Jesus home with you. Only your own walk with Jesus goes home with you. A relationship with Jesus is not automatic because you walk into a building with a pretty steeple or religious symbols. Buildings don’t change your life. When we surrender to Christ, the spirit inside of us—the real person within the bag of bones we call a body—is renewed. Our brains are still flesh and blood that have recorded everything we’ve ever done. Our spirit is new, but we still have lost minds. Our brains become a battleground.
Sooner or later, we have to realize that Jesus is more than church. It requires consistent study of God’s Word and consistent prayer to help us thrive by deepening our roots and redefining erroneous thinking.
August 10
After Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness, Satan tempted him. At Christ’s physically weakest point, he still knew what to do. Every time Satan hit him with temptation, Jesus answered him with Scripture. You’re not the first person Satan has messed with. He made war with God, so figuring you out probably didn’t take long. He knows just what buttons to push, and he keeps his fingers right there. He doesn’t need to hit you with any new temptations. He’s got your favorites on speed dial. He uses the same ones over and over until you feel like more and more
of a failure. The battle of the heart requires digging into God’s Word to hide it in our hearts so we don’t sin against him. We have to guard our
time with God every day because it’s the first thing the enemy attacks.
If we keep planting things into our old life, what will come out of us? Old life.
We have to dig deep into our new life in order to thrive, because when we read God’s Word, we hear his voice.
August 11th
Why is it that we feel closer to the Lord after we spend only one hour at church on Sunday? It’s because we took the time to pour into our new life. What if that devotion was a lifestyle rather than a trip to a building every week or two? All we did during that brief time was pour into our new life and starve our old life. We closed out the world and the distractions and opened up his Word, and in just one hour our perspective changed. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” This is an irrefutable principle: When I sow to the Spirit, God’s Spirit begins to change my thinking, my tastes, my will, and my emotions. This is how I learn to walk in the assurance of God’s presence. This is how temptation that once enticed me now reeks to me. When I wage the battle of the heart and pour into my new life, new life will come out. And that’s when I begin to thrive.
August 12th
When we yield to Jesus, he works through us to reach others. We cannot produce fruit in and of ourselves any more than a detached
tree limb lying on the ground can produce leaves. We should want our hearts to be so close to God that we would never dream of
disobedience. This means that sometimes, through a sheer act of our will, we’ll choose to obey the Lord we love by refusing to go
there or join in that or click on this. All of us have our this, that, and there. What we direct our hands to do reveals the condition of
our hearts. Your actions are the outward expression of an inner reality. If you were a tree, your heart would be your root system, and your hands would be your branches. In Luke 6:45, Jesus says that out of the abundance of the heart a person’s mouth speaks. In the same way, out of the overflow of the heart our hands act and our feet move.
What have your hands and feet been saying about your walk with God?
August 13th 
Most believers understand the main spiritual disciplines of worship, Bible study, and prayer. However, a fourth discipline is often overlooked. It’s the practice of community. Community means sharing life with other followers of Christ. Of all the Bible’s descriptions of the church, perhaps none is more appropriate than the “body of Christ.” God’s Word calls us the body of Christ because we are a collection of individual parts grouped into a purposed whole. If God calls his church the body of Christ, what other encouragement do we need to get together and stay together? Even Jesus didn’t do ministry alone. He started the church by discipling a group of men. Similarly, we forfeit a significant part of our growth when we do not join with other believers.Why is community so important? Because one of the primary ways God ministers to us is through other believers. Fellowship is not pizza and Coke after church; it’s the certainty that we’re in something together and that our common faith will keep us going no matter what. Community is an essential part of the thriving life.
August 14th
Worship is taking God’s best and giving it back to him. This can happen in serving, in giving, in singing, and in admiring his majesty in creation. A butterfly can lead to tears of adoration of a holy God. The idea that citizens of Jerusalem lay palm branches and sang hosannas five days before they screamed, “Crucify him!” shows how quickly we can focus on ourselves. Worship is not praising the God you want. It’s praising the God who is. Worship is what we’re created for, and we’re never more at peace than when we’re doing what we’re created to do. But God didn’t give us worship because we have to remind him of how good he is. God knows he’s holy. He gave us worship as a gift so we can do what we’re created to do and enjoy community with him. A sign of spiritual maturity is when we show that we know the gift is to be given back. May our hearts spill with such gratitude that we’re never hesitant, never bashful to lift our voices to praise to one who gives us a thriving life.
August 15th
When we think about God’s work in our lives, we usually focus on some big roller coaster moment. But we really get to know Jesus when we’re in line for the roller coaster. Every day as we pray, dig into his Word, go to work, go to school, sit at lunch, and drive home, we grow in Christ as we take time in our hearts and minds to stand in line with the Lord.
The exhilarating roller coaster moments serve only to show where we are with God. As much as we think the high points shape us, they only reveal how we’ve attended to our spiritual lives to that point. It’s the same with our quiet times. We go into our quiet times wanting the earth to move. But it’s not about the roller coaster ride anymore. It’s just you and God, and you’re not in it for the buzz of an emotional experience. Think about your best friend. You’re not looking for an adventure every time you hang out with her. You just hang out and talk about nothing and you’re fine. Let’s aspire to be so intimate with the Lord.
August 16th
When we fail, Satan throws lies at us. He wants us to remain failures. He whispers, “Are you sure you’re even saved? Look at what you’re doing.”
He wants us out of the Word and into the mirror. If Satan can get us to focus on our circumstances and ourselves, he can mire us in numbing guilt and neutralize us.
Remind yourself of this truth: I may have tripped a thousand times and stumbled back into church a wretched mess, but every time, Jesus has waited on me. A song hit me. A verse pierced me. A prayer crushed my heart. In some way, God spoke to his wayward child.
Just when we’re starting to thrive, the Enemy will try to derail us. He’ll bring up our past. He’ll make us doubt our future. He’ll put obstacles in our way. He’ll even make us doubt whether all of this is real and whether we really belong to God.
Even when we do the worst we can possibly do, Jesus catches our gaze. And he says, “You don’t have to start again for me; I’ll start over with you.”
August 17th
Our failings often occur when we take a God-given need and try to fill it with the world’s answer. We most often trip over our wants—the want to be loved, the want to be needed, the want to matter or make a difference.
We usually only attribute things we consider to be “good” as God-given. Talents are God-given. Bodily attributes like strength, intelligence, and beauty are God-given. We seldom consider that God also gave us our needs—but he did. In fact, they’re gifts. It is a gift to want to be loved. Why else would we pursue and give love? It’s a gift to want to be needed. Why else would we reach out to others or fill voids? It’s a gift to feel the need for significance. Why else would we pursue excellence and God’s plan for our lives?
Yet we sabotage God’s intentions to meet our needs when we pursue our own answers and the world’s shortcuts. Those who wait on the Lord’s timing are the ones who mount on eagle’s wings. They are the ones who thrive.
August 18th
You may have heard someone say, “I tried Jesus, but it didn’t work.” But Jesus isn’t an “it.” He’s not a sweater you try on. He’s not a diet. He’s not a behavior system. If you’re going to ‘try’ Jesus, the closest you’ll ever get is religion, and religion is the stuff of God without God in it. It’s the shell.
Belonging to Jesus isn’t going out and being better. It’s not living a holy life so he’ll love you. Being a believer is just that: believing, which means trusting and placing all of your weight on Jesus for now and eternity. It means confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead.
To confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord is not to repeat a line in a dark worship center or to slip up your hand during an invitation on Sunday. Rather, it means we say in earnest, “You’re the king of my life forever. I’m handing over my future. I’m handing over my past. I’m handing over the controls here and now.”
August 19th
Colossians 2:6-7 states, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Our faith is rooted when we’re planted by the constant living water of God’s Word and prayer, providing us with stability and strength. But what does it mean to abound in thanksgiving? While it obviously means to be grateful, the word “abound” carries the connotation of action.
“Abound” is the verb form of “abundant,” the adjective Jesus uses in John 10:10 to describe the thriving life he intends for us. To abound in thanksgiving is to purposely direct the overflow of our root system into other people’s lives.
The only fruitful Christian is the one who abides with Jesus. We can’t abound unless we abide in Christ. When we do, he produces the fruit. We can reach out in a million and one ways. We hear him in his Word, we sense his Holy Spirit’s nudges, and we move. This is what it means to reach out. This is what it means to thrive.

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