Following God’s Calling is Risky, but it’s Worth it!

bibleRecently I found myself struggling with some fears relating to something God has called me to do. After days of playing out what if scenarios in my head and feeling anxious I finally decided to go to God in prayer and ask Him for peace. God reminded me through the story of Gideon that I don’t have to be afraid. I can trust Him to keep me safe even when He calls me to do something that seems unsafe. You see, sometimes the possible result of what we are called to do is scary, but if we hold on to what God has said and know that we are doing His will we can overcome our fears.

Let’s look at the first thing The Lord asked from Gideon below:

Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. (Judges 6: 25-27: NKJV)

God asked Gideon to tear down the alter and build a new one. There was a lot of risk in doing this and Gideon was afraid. He knew the people would be angry and they were, in fact They tried to kill him for it. The things God calls us to do as His followers pose a lot of risk. We are called to stand against what this world stands by and that’s no easy or safe task. Even Peter feared the Jews and acted like a hypocrite when around them, rather than fully speak the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:11). There was risk involved and he gave into fear. We are all in danger of giving into our fears when following God’s calling because there is always risk.

What the story of Gideon reminds me of is that with God on my side I can face the risk fearless, with Gods strength and power, and overcome. I don’t have to fear because I am His child and he has already given me victory. Even if the what if’s I’ve played out in my mind happen I can still face them with God on my side, believing He will get me through. Gideon feared the people, he probably played out his own what if scenario that involved a mob of angry people coming after him after he tore down the alter of Baal. This scenario is exactly what took place, but God had his back just as He has mine and yours when we choose to faithfully follow his call. This set the stage for the bigger, more risky, things God had in store for Gideon. Gideon had already seen Gods faithfulness in action because he was willing to respond to God and take on the risk of tearing down that alter. This further enabled him to head into battle with 300 men and the living God on his side, knowing he could full well defeat an army of hundreds of thousands. This reminds me that I can take on God’s calling, full of risks, and have victory.

It’s probably easy for us, seeing the end of this faith encounter, to focus on the fact that Gideon survived the angry mob. God could have easily prevented this from even happening. Why didn’t He? In my opinion, God allows us to face trials to grow our character and show us His faithfulness (1 Peter 1:6-7; Romans 5:3-5). Years ago my husband and I felt God calling us to walk away from his corporate job so he could pursue other things. This meant we would have to live on my salary which wouldn’t even cover the bills. That step was the best thing we ever could have done for our faith! God grew us and changed our hearts in so many ways, teaching us to depend more fully on Him. Although our finances suffered greatly during this time, God provided exactly what we needed when we needed it! He took care of our every need. Although this was a difficult time of trials and faith testing, we would do it all over again. God could have poured out financial blessings on us immediately, as He could have prevented the angry mob, but we would not have grown and learned the beautiful lessons he taught us. 

What has God called you to? Is fear holding you back from stepping out in faith and taking the risk to obey? Just as God was patient with Gideon when he was overcome with fear he will be patient with you too. Without God, Gideon was the least of the least. With God, he was a mighty man of valor! (Judges 6:15; judges 6:12) This is what we become when we choose to, in-spite of the risk, answer and obey God’s calling. 

What is the risk of not obeying God’s calling on your life? It’s simple. John 10:10 says “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The risk is exactly that. You can allow Satan to steal, kill, and destroy your life, or you can obey God and face trials that produce Christ’s character in you and please Him. Which risk will you choose to take? 

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Submission to God must come first

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Submit is a scary word, especially if you prefer to be in control. To submit is to let go of control and surrender all. Webster defines submit as yielding oneself to the authority or will of another. I think as Christians we can sometimes latch onto parts of verses that encourage us or offer us something of value in the moment, while ignoring other parts. One verse that offers me comfort that I hear spoken of often is James 4:7 which says “therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The funny thing about this verse is that the part I hear most often is the “resist the devil and he will flee from you part”. It’s important to remember that the Bible cannot be broken down and picked apart, it needs to be accepted as a whole.

There have been times when I have felt attacked and have prayed and feel as though I am resisting the devil, but for some reason he isn’t fleeing. Does this ever happen to you? What I’ve realized is at these times I am not fully submitting to God as I should be. The thing is, apart from submission to God, we aren’t strong enough to resist the devil and his attacks. We need to be fully submitted if we are to successfully resist Satan. In fact, verse 6 in the same chapter says “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Wow, God resists the proud! If in pride you are trying to resist the devil, the truth is God is resisting you. If this is the case do you stand a chance against the attack? What is pride but the need for control, possession, accomplishment, etc.? Can you submit to God while holding onto pride? You cannot. 

What does it really look like to submit to God? Honestly this is a difficult yet rewarding task. I find myself revisiting it and realigning myself often. It is easy to neglect submitting to God and, for me, this is when I find it more difficult to resist Satan. When I get back to a place of submission I feel a renewed strength  and freedom. Submitting to God means accepting His plan over your own. It means not taking credit or seeking to find a sense of worth in your own accomplishments or possessions. It means giving God free reign to do whatever He wants to do in your life. It offers the ability to have peace and calmness when things don’t go as you expected. It means not making a decision in life without first consulting God, and when you don’t like His answer, it means doing what He wants regardless.

Submission is a choice and it is what separates you from being a humble follower of God to an interested yet uncommitted “Christian”. Honestly, I know for a fact I cannot expect myself to be in perfect submission to God at all times, but the goal is to recognize when I make this error and get back on my knees humbled before God. If I don’t make this a regular habit I know I will not be able to resist the devil when he comes after me. Maybe you are at a place right now where you feel incapable of resisting. Check yourself to see if you are fully submitted. If you find that you aren’t, choose to submit and give God control. As His Word tells us in James 4, He will lovingly offer grace, and the devil will indeed flee from you.

You’ve come to Jesus, so why haven’t you found rest?

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If you received Jesus as savior and aren’t sure why all your pain, weaknesses, and burdens haven’t disappeared overnight it could be that you’ve been misled. Maybe you’re wondering why your life isn’t automatically easier, why you don’t have all the answers to life’s toughest questions. Maybe someone told you that all you had to do was get saved and your life would change. This is true, but it doesn’t happen in the way we might think. During His ministry Jesus said “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). I don’t know about you, but this verse offers me so much encouragement and hope. Jesus offered to take our painful, often unbearable, burdens and give us rest. Maybe rest is something you have been desperate for for so long and you’re wondering why it hasn’t come.

If Jesus offers this why hasn’t it happened yet? Re-read the verse again and you will notice that Jesus is offering something but He is also asking us to do something as well. He asks us to come and says take my yoke and learn from me. Maybe you’ve come but you have yet to learn from Jesus. Could this be why you are still suffering as you were before? Learning from Jesus is an incredible process that will completely transform you from the inside out, but it takes time. Yes, when you responded to John 1:12 and became a child of God your life forever changed. You went from being an orphan to being adopted into the kingdom of God and God’s spirit is living in you (Romans 8:11). You probably instantly felt a lesser desire to continue in sin, a desire for repentance and forgiveness, a longing to be closer to God, but this is where the journey starts, not where it ends. This journey begins with making a choice to accept Jesus as savior and is followed by acting on Jesus’ command to learn from Him. Jesus is telling us that we have to learn a new way of thinking, feeling, and behaving. He is asking you, and me, with the power of His spirit living in us, the same spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (how incredible!), to learn a new way.

Consider the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10. I just love this story because it speaks to me on so many personal levels. Go read it before continuing on. Jesus came one day to visit and Martha was busy and distracted serving, stressed to no end. she was angry! Where was her sister Mary? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus learning from Him. Mary knew that this was the most important thing she could ever do. When Martha complained to Jesus his response was simply amazing. He said to her “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Have you chosen as Mary did? To lay your troubles and worries down and sit at Jesus’ feet to hear and learn His Word? Martha clung to her troubles and often times this is just what we do. This is why people sometimes wonder why Jesus isn’t “working”. Mary knew hearing and learning from Jesus was the only hope she had. Jesus basically told Martha that she chose her troubles over the better option. Do I do this? Do you? When we choose not to learn a new way from Jesus we are choosing to remain in bondage. In 2 Corinthians 12 we learn that rather than eliminating our weaknesses, God offers us grace and strength to overcome them. 

So how do you learn from Jesus? You have to start reading His Word, the Bible, and living by what it says. You have to throw out anything that doesn’t line up. You will never learn a new way if you don’t, and nothing will ever change. To be honest, I don’t know how I would get through a day without the Bible. I don’t even want to think about what my life would be without it! The Bible is the Jesus followers guidebook to abundant life, not just another religious chore. Make a list of all those things that are troubling you, then learn a scripture that can help you with it. I promise as you learn from Jesus rest will come. It sounds simple because it is!

I’ve mentioned it before in another blog, but I have always struggled with fear, especially at night. This burden has weighed on me heavy so many times. When I finally chose to search Gods Word and learn and memorize every verse on fear, rest and peace finally came! Looking back I can’t believe how much of a struggle it had been for me. I’m still extremely susceptible and prone to letting fear take hold but I have learned a new way to face it. I turn immediately to Jesus and his truth to overcome and it works every time. I write those verses down, say them aloud, and pray them over and over until the fear is gone. If I hadn’t learned how would I have known? This is just one single example, there are countless others, of how learning from Jesus has lightened my load and given me rest. Not to mention, when you choose to follow someone how in the world could you do it without learning their way? If studying the Bible isn’t part of your life as a Christian it’s imperative that you change that.

what burdens are weighing you down and how can learning from Jesus change that?

Maybe…

Your burden says I’m afraid.. Jesus says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Your burden says I’m anxious.. Jesus says “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8

your burden says I’ll never be enough.. Jesus says “You are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 2:10

your burden says my pain will never go away.. Jesus says “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

your burden says I need more stuff to be happy.. Jesus says “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

your burden says I can’t do what God is asking me to do.. Jesus says, “with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

your burden says I can’t overcome my temptations.. Jesus says “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

your burden says I am unlovable.. Jesus says “neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39

your burden says I have no purpose.. Jesus says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

God’s strength is waiting to be made perfect in your weakness. He is waiting for you to come to Him, learn from Him, and trade your heavy burden for his light and easy load. This is a daily journey filled with ups and downs, but it is also filled with hope. Something you didn’t have before you accepted Jesus. Don’t forget, the Holy Spirit of God is dwelling in you and will teach you all things. Start going to church to add to your learning and develop friendships with other Jesus followers. Messages my pastor has preached have helped me learn and grow so much and God has used godly mentors in my life to teach me as well. This is so important! Just be sure to never allow church to take the place of the Bible in your life. Studying and learning on your own is critical. Read as often as you can, write down verses in a journal and keep it close to read through whenever you can. This is something I have always done and it has helped me learn and remember so much. You will begin to notice your mindset changing as you hide scripture in your heart. You will start responding to life’s troubles differently when you allow scripture and your deepened love for Jesus to guide you, rather than your old worldview. The load will begin to lighten and you will find the rest you’ve been seeking.

Am I in the Fight?

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I read this CS Lewis quote recently and it both excited and challenged me. It made me wonder, is Satan threatened by my faith? As a follower of Jesus I am not only a child of God, I am a solider fighting in a spiritual battle against darkness. The battle has already been won, but the fight isn’t over, and it won’t be until Jesus returns. In 2 Timothy 2:4 Paul is talking to Timothy and says “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” ‭‭(2 Timothy‬ ‭2:3-4‬).

A good Christian soldier focuses on pleasing God. In Colossians 1:10 we learn that through knowledge of God’s will, wisdom, and spiritual understanding, we can walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Pleasing God requires faith that leads to good works. In fact, Ephesians tells us God created us in Christ Jesus for good works!

If my goal isn’t to please God it means I am caught up with the affairs of this life. This is one of Satan’s battle plans. Distract God’s people in whatever way he can to keep us from the fight. If he can keep us distracted and focused on ourselves and our worries he can keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for us. And what is His plan? Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God has good works planned for us, good works that we won’t walk in if we are distracted by things that don’t matter. The Bible tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter‬ ‭5:8). Does Satan see me and my family as a threat to his plan to destroy and devour? To answer this I have to ask myself a few questions.

What is it that distracts me from the fight? The answer to this question could be anything. It could be career advancement, relationships, possessions, selfish ambitions, fear and insecurity, the need to please people, an incorrect view of God, fill in the blank. Ask God to search your heart and show you what it is that’s distracting you from your faith and the good works He has planned for you. This is something I have to do regularly to stay focused. Satan won’t let up, in fact, once you become a threat he will target your faith all the more. Don’t be afraid of him, as you resist him he will flee from you (James 4:7), rather be on guard, submit to God, and keep focused on truth.

What are the good works that God has planned for me? The answer to this question is vast. I think we can get wrapped up in the idea that until we receive some special revelation from God on what He wants us to do we shouldn’t do anything. The truth is, God’s Word provides countless examples of the good works we are to walk in as followers of Jesus. God definitely gives specific callings to believers but waiting for this is no excuse. James 1:27 tells us to visit widows and orphans and to be separate from the world. Hebrews 13:16 tells us not to neglect doing good and to share what we have, as this pleases God. 1 John 3:17 tells us that if we see someone in need and neglect them how can God’s love be in us? Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear each other’s burdens. Acts 20:35 tells us it is more blessed to give than to receive. In Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Paul echoes this in 2 Timothy 4:5 when he tells us to do the work of an evangelist. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to warn, comfort, and uphold one another in patience. There are so many more works Jesus Christ calls us to I could never list them all here. As Christians our goal cannot be to simply refrain from sin. In fact James 4:17 says “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James‬ ‭4:17‬). The Bible tells us we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, if we choose to ignore this we are sinning.

The final question to ask is am I walking in the good works Jesus has for me? This is a simple question to answer. Take the verses mentioned previously, and any others you can find regarding the good that Jesus asks us to do, and ask yourself if you are obeying. Am I sharing what I have? Am I reaching out to the unfortunate? Am I comforting and upholding others? Am I doing the work of an evangelist? Am I giving to those in need? Am I bearing the burdens of others? I sometimes have the tendency to focus on the things I am most comfortable with, neglecting the things that are more of a challenge for me. This isn’t a pick and choose situation. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me (John 14:23). One way I show Jesus my love for him is through obeying his commands, even the ones that are difficult for me. Thankfully his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), so we don’t have to rely on our own strength to obey.

Which of Jesus commands are the most difficult for you to obey? This might bring light to sin or insecurity in your heart, as this has been the case for me many times before. Take action and start walking in the good works He has planned for you and your faith will quickly become a major threat to the enemy’s plans. Not only that, but you will truly discover that life is about pleasing God.

A good soldier not only engages in warfare, as Paul mentioned, but also carefully watches out for danger. If our focus is in the right place, on pleasing God, we will be successful in our fight against Satan. He will certainly feel threatened by our faith and we will walk in the good works God has planned for us. My pastor recently said “a life spent doing nothing for Jesus is a life wasted.” Let’s not waste our lives, let’s make it our goal to walk in good works for Jesus.

Some Christians think that focusing on good works means we are trying to earn our salvation. This isn’t true at all! Our only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. Our good works are meant for pleasing God, not for saving us. This is a direct command from Jesus Christ himself and cannot be ignored. Do we really believe we can live in victory apart from obeying our God and savior? True freedom and victory comes when we start living as God created us to. We need to be on the offense and walk in the good works God created in advance for us. In my next blog I’ll focus on how to defend against Satan’s attacks, as they are sure to come once you start walking in good works.

Not Guilty: Why you Should Change your Mind about Jesus

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Our society is set up in a way that people cannot do whatever they would like and they are willing to accept these parameters. If you don’t pay your taxes, you commit burglary, or assault someone and get caught you will be held accountable for it. Most people would agree consequences should be faced in these kinds of situations. Somehow we are willing to accept this, yet unwilling to accept the parameters placed on us by our own creator. Why is this? Many believe that a good God would never send someone to hell, and because of this reject Him altogether. This is by far one of the most difficult arguments for a Christian to face when talking with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus Christ. Let’s consider this argument in the form of an illustration.

Consider you and a friend have committed murder and are on trial with a likely outcome of a death sentence. One day the judge tells you that another man has come forward and has offered to take on your death sentence. All you have to do to go free is admit your fault, accept his sacrifice, and choose to follow a new way after you get released. The judge tells you that regardless of your decision this man is going to take that death sentence on your behalf. You ask why would he do such a thing for us? Doesn’t he know what We’ve done? The thought of admitting your guilt and accepting this man’s sacrifice, and not only that, but surrendering to a new way of living, is too much for your pride to allow. You reject the offer. Your friend on the other hand, astounded by such a loving and undeserved sacrifice, is willing to do whatever she has to do to accept this gift. Including admitting her guilt and making the decision to live a different way from that point on. She knows it will be tough, but that accepting this man’s sacrifice will change her forever. The Judge declares her not guilty and she walks undeservedly free, while you receive your earned death sentence.

This is what God offers everyone through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. A not guilty verdict. Freedom from our earned sentence. If a person ends up in hell its not because God sent him there. It is because he rejected the free gift of justification and salvation. Christ suffered death so we don’t have to suffer eternal punishment in hell for our wrongs. He took all of our sins on himself. 1 John 2:2 tells us “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us and nailed it to the cross! (Colossians 2:14) Do you understand how amazing this is? Maybe you would say, well I’m not a murderer, I’m a pretty good person. The truth is, nobody is good (Mark 10:18), we are all evil inside and need to be transformed from the inside out (Romans 12:2). Deep down you know you are guilty and you’ve been living with guilt for a long time. But you don’t have to! Accept the gift Jesus offers you and walk free from your sentence.

Another of Satan’s greatest deceptions is that following Jesus is bondage and not following Jesus is freedom. The opposite is actually true. Because I follow Jesus I am no longer a slave to the sin and darkness in this world and the Holy Spirit of God himself lives in me, providing all that I need (Galatians 4:6-7). I get to experience peace during turmoil (Isaiah 26:3), comfort in pain (2 Corinthians 1:4), strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), wisdom in decision making (James 1:5), forgiveness from my wrongs (1 John 1:9), calmness in fear (Romans 8:15), and the list goes on. I don’t just say this because it’s what the Bible says. I literally experience these things daily in my life. Do you experience the same through rejecting him? When you reject Jesus you are accepting the fact that you are a slave to someone or something else. You can call it what you want but deep down you know you are not free.

Jesus offers the same freedom to every single person. All you have to do is believe and receive Him (John 1:12). You will no longer suffer the punishment you deserve for your sin because he already paid that price for you when he surrendered to death and punishment on the cross. He loves you that much! Reject the lies of Satan and choose to believe and receive Christ so you can walk free in all that God created you for. My prayer is that this post changes even just one person’s mind about Jesus, because when even one turns from sin the angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:10). That’s how much you matter to God, your creator. I hope and pray that those angels are rejoicing even now because of your changed heart.

 

 

He who Comes to God Must Believe that He is..

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“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Someone close to me recently told me that during a dark time in her life she tried to go to God. She begged him to heal her and rescue her from the pain she was feeling. But He didn’t. She never claimed to believe what the Bible teaches about who God is. From her perspective she tried God and that didn’t work. I wonder how many people would say the same. This breaks my heart, and their was a time in my life this would have left me rather upset with God. Thinking, God, why would you not heal someone who cried out to you and begged for healing. Especially someone I care so much about. To expect this of God is to expect him to force himself on those who do not really believe in who He is. I personally don’t believe he does this.

The person who truly believes, will go to God for redemption, not relief. Why? Beause she believes in Who God is and she understands her desperate condition and need for a savior. She is a sinner in need of saving grace, not a victim in need of help in a troubling circumstance. The reality of an eternity without salvation and life in Christ is far more significant than a current struggle, no matter how challenging. God wants to transform your heart and mind, not fix your problems. Does God care about helping us through tragedy and pain we face while on earth? Of course! But this only comes once you have believed in your heart in who God is and have received Jesus Christ as your savior. You can’t go to God expecting his reward without believing who He is.

“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭NKJV‬

When we believe who God is we will naturally want to diligently seek Him. Webster defines diligent as being characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort, and to seek, as going in search of or trying to discover. So we are to seek to discover God steadily, earnestly, and with great effort. Would you do this without believing who He is? Possibly, if you were set on gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge. But I think for the most part, you wouldn’t. I don’t diligently seek God because I hope He is real, I do it because I know and believe what the Bible teaches me about God, along with what creation shows of Him. Add to this the personal relationship I gained when I answered His call, believed and received Jesus as savior, and the incredible and amazing things He has done in my life since.

Maybe you are that person who “tried” God when times were tough, nothing miraculous happened, and so you determined that He must not be real or at least must not care about you. This just isn’t truth.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Did I seek God for relief from a difficult circumstance rather than for redemption? Relief from struggle is appealing, but it doesn’t compare to redemption in Christ. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
2. Did I acknowledge my sin, my need for a savior first, and the reality of not accepting the gospel of Christ? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ‭‭I John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” II Thessalonians‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ (not trying to be all fire and brimstone, but this truth shouldn’t be avoided simply because it is unpleasant)
3. Did I really believe who God is? That He is the God and creator of the universe and everything in it,  “I have made the earth, And created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded.” Isaiah 45:12, NKJV), that lack of belief condemns me, (“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬), that He sent His son Jesus Christ to live a sinless life and die on the cross to pay the price for my sin, offering me the free gift of salvation? (“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Romans‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭NKJV‬‬).

If you answered no to these questions it could be that you went to God for relief, rather than for redemption, because you didn’t really believe that He is. So what’s the good news? It’s not too late to believe and receive the reward that God has to offer you, eternal salvation in Christ and spiritual blessings that blow worldly comfort out of the water. God doesn’t offer bandaids, he offers complete redemption through His son Jesus Christ to those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. Once you have gone to Him believing who He is, your life can never be the same.

Maybe you just don’t know who God is because you have never sought out the truth. Go get a Bible, ask a Jesus follower you know, brave a Sunday morning church service. If you diligently seek, believing who God is, you will absolutely never be the same. How do I know this is true? Because He told us in His Word!

You Don’t Have to be Talented Enough to do God’s Will, all you Need is a Believing and Obedient Heart

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There are so many stories in the Bible about weak and incapable people doing incredible things for God. Reading these accounts encourages me and reminds me that no matter my weaknesses and failures God can still use me to do His work. Consider Gideon, He was the lowest in his entire family and God used him to take down an army with only 300 men (Judges 6-7). Gideon completely doubted himself. So how was he able to accomplish all that God asked? Gideon obeyed and the Lord filled his gaps. It had nothing to do with his special gifts or talents. I urge you to read the story, it’s a truly incredible show of God’s power! All we have to do is obey and the Lord will be with us to give us victory. Obviously this only applies if God is actually calling you to something… not to our own selfish ambitions or desires.

If you need even more encouragement just read about king David. God described him as “a man after His own heart, who would do all His will” (Acts 13:22). God wasn’t concerned with outward appearance and physical strength, He was focused on David’s heart. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). What a relief! God is concrerned about our hearts, not our talents and physical capabilities. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t have a heart for God it is truly wasted. The Bible tells us that David was only a youth when he killed the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33). This is incredible to me! There is no excuse that excuses us from doing God’s will.

Start obeying Gods commands that are clearly laid out in His Word and you will quickly see that He will be with you and will enable you. Start loving more, giving more, serving more, all those things you don’t think you can do. Obey and watch God show himself faithful. After all, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). As Jesus followers we have been called to daily follow, and in order to do this we have to know what Jesus desires from us. We have to read the Bible as if our life depended on it. Because it does! This is the only way to know God’s will and do it.

Maybe you feel discouraged because you don’t feel very capable of doing God’s will. Maybe you see all these people around you doing so much for God and you truly believe they have something you don’t. Some special talent that you don’t seem to possess. You wonder if you are truly capable of doing anything good for God. What I’ve learned about Satan over the years is that he can’t see into the future, but what he can see is a tender and loving heart toward God, the kind of heart that, if freed up from fear and doubt, will do the will of God. He will do whatever he can to keep that person believing lies that he isn’t capable. I have always struggled with insecurities about many different things. I questioned my ability to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a counselor, basically everything God has called me to. What I have found is that If your heart is for The Lord and your desire is for His will He will meet you where you are at and will enable you to accomplish all He has planned for you.

please, I beg you to stop believing Satan’s lies that you have nothing to offer. Jesus gave His life for you because you are valuable to Him. If you accept that free gift He will enter your life and transform you from the inside out. Nothing in this world can even come close to the beauty that comes through being reconciled to your creator and spending the rest of your life doing His Will and not your own.

Will you Give it up for God?

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I’m sure you’ve all heard the story of the rich young ruler? (Matthew 16: 19-23). He comes to Jesus and asks him what he needs to do to be complete. Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor so he may have treasure in heaven. We all flinch when we read this, fearful of the chance that we may be asked to do the same. How about when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac? (Genesis 22: 1-19). The son he waited years and years to have, the son his wife doubted was even a real possibility. Can you imagine? Thankfully God provided another way in this specific situation.

In the last five years life has been quite challenging for me and my husband as God has asked us to give up a lot to follow His plan for our lives. Things we thought we really needed and wanted and placed way too much trust in. Despite the struggle, these have been the best years of our lives and will only get better from here! God has stretched us, challenged us, walked us through many trials, and has been transforming us into the people He created us to be. It’s been incredible!! Although we have had to suffer in a lot of ways, (and have failed in a lot of ways) we have experienced more peace and joy and have seen more spiritual fruit than we ever could have imagined.

To be honest I expected things to go a lot differently and a lot more smoothly than they have. But guess what? I would do it all over again despite the struggles. With each small step of faith I’ve been shown that God is faithful, He always comes through. One of my favorite lines from a Sunday morning service that I heard years ago from my pastor is this: “God doesn’t know you believe Him until you give up your Issac.” God didn’t know Abraham trusted Him because he said he did. It was because Abraham did exactly what God asked him to do, even though it was the hardest thing he could have ever been asked to do. Are you willing to do this? Am I? Jesus asked the rich young ruler to give up his wealth because that was his “Isaac”. The thing he held onto so tightly and placed his trust in. Abraham went from believing God would make him father of the nations to believing this responsibility fell on Issac. His trust was misplaced. He depended on Issac for this promise to be fulfilled instead of on God. Maybe you believe that what you can’t give up is truly what you need, rather than God’s best for you.

What are you holding onto so tightly that it’s hindering your relationship with God? Maybe you really struggle to believe that His way is better than your way. Maybe it’s legalism, materialism, alcoholism, pornography, an affair, control, fear, pain, harmful relationships, a career. Whatever it might be that you’re holding onto I promise you it doesn’t hold a candle to the possibilities you have with a deep and intimate relationship with God. No matter how good or promising it might feel, those things will always end up betraying you. He has outrageously incredible things planned for your life if you will take Him up on the offer. The freedom you experience when you surrender these things to God and make the choice to do things His way is remarkable.

God didn’t ask the young ruler to give up his wealth and Abraham to give up Issac for fun or to play games with them, there was a purpose behind this. He knew these things were getting in the way of Gods ultimate plan. What’s getting in the way of His plan for you?

I challenge you to sit down with God today and ask Him to show you what your holding onto too tightly and putting your faith in. I pray that as you do this God will reveal Himself to you and transform your heart so that you can live out the life He has for you. A life that reflects Jesus Christ and impacts the world.

Secret Faults

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Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from my secret faults.
Psalm 19:12

This verse sheds so much light on why so many of us struggle in the various relationships in our lives. All the way from our familial And professional relationships to our relationship with God. We all have secret faults that we are blind to and none of us are immune to this fact! If each of us were praying this prayer, as David did, and opening our eyes to see these faults in ourselves, don’t you think it would eliminate a lot of our relational struggles? Perhaps the biggest of which being our relationship with God. To make it worse, often our faults that are secret to us are not so secret to those around us, causing frustration and conflict. So what can we do about it?

Here are some things I’ve learned and have had to work on in order to see my faults more clearly. By the way, I’m still a work in progress!

I have had to accept that I am not immune to secret faults and I am not everybody else’s savior. Maybe you have a tendency to always see the faults in others but not in yourself. If we were more focused on our own sins and flaws and changing them maybe we wouldn’t be so bothered by the faults of others. If you always find yourself feeling the need to confront others and “help” them by sharing your thoughts on their sins it might be because you are not looking at yourself and the areas you need to change. Are there times when we need to confront the people we care about in love? Of course! but this should not be happening all the time. It is God’s job to save not yours. If you have this savior mentality it is likely hurting your relationships and blinding you to your own faults.

I have had to stop being so defensive: when someone confronts me on something I’ve done wrong, whether it’s the Holy Spirit or a person, It can be really hard to see and admit my fault. Something I’ve always kind of struggled with when confronted with faults is the tendency to become defensive. Maybe this is true for you? When someone shares a hurt with you and you make an excuse it tells the other person that you think they are crazy and that you don’t care about their feelings. There’s a pretty good chance that you have in fact done something wrong. Especially when it’s the Holy Spirit doing the confronting! Instead of defending yourself, try objectively looking at the situation to find your fault in the matter. This will enable you to not only be more caring, but to see the areas you need to work on changing. (This is a hard one for me!)

I have had to specifically pray that God would reveal my secret sin and help me make changes. This doesn’t happen naturally, it takes serious work. It
All comes down to how badly I want to change and whether or not I’m willing to do what it takes. I personally believe that Satan can really create strongholds when it comes to secret, indiscreet sin because it’s different than the BIG in your face sins. Maybe you don’t get hammered every night, cheat on your spouse, or lie on your taxes. Maybe instead you judge people who think differently than you, live with discontent, or neglect spending quality time with Jesus (all of which at times I’ve been guilty of). These are the sins satan can easily trick us into believing aren’t really sins at all. If we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to reveal them to us we are in serious spiritual and relational danger. The good news is God always comes through if your heart is willing! He continues to do so for me and desires to do the same for you.

 

Suffering From Spiritual Memory Loss

IMG_0761.JPGIt seems that lately little things here and there keep going sideways. My husband and I have been waiting for a breakthrough for so long but it just hasn’t seemed to come yet. It can be so easy to allow ourselves to get discouraged and become afraid. Has this ever happened to you? It can be so hard to focus on the good when I’m focused on the not so good. Alone each struggle seems manageable and small, but combine them and it can seem like I’m going to drown. This is exactly where my problem begins. Rather than shift my eyes to the Lord and all The awesome things He is doing and has done I focus on all the little annoyances and struggles I seem to be facing, suddenly it feels like I’m being drowned by crashing waves and the boat is going to sink. Does this ever happen to you?

I was reading in Matthew the other day and came across a verse that convicted me while at the same time gave me a renewed sense of victory.

“Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” So the men marveled, saying, “who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
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Right before this incident happened the disciples had watched Jesus perform amazing miracles, but as soon as the storm came they suffered from spiritual memory loss. Suddenly they had forgotten what Jesus was capable of and were certain they were going to die along with Jesus.. seriously?? Sounds crazy right? I read this and realized I was doing the same thing. I’ve seen Jesus perform amazing miracles in my life and in the lives of others around me yet when waves start to roll in I become afraid and lose faith that Jesus has it covered. The disciples had forgotten who Jesus really was. Do I forget this sometimes? I hate to admit it but my fear and lack of faith proves that I do. This spiritual memory loss can really get me discouraged and cause me to wonder if God really will come through for me. Will He allow me to sink? When I remind myself of who He is and His faithfulness to me my faith is restored.

I’m thankful that I can open my Bible and be reminded that I don’t have to be afraid of the waves because Jesus is on the boat with me and will bring the calm. If you have chosen to follow Jesus then this is true for you too! And if you haven’t, know that you can make that choice today. His love and strength will fill you up and you will never face a storm alone again.