Serious Threats to my Faith

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I found myself struggling yesterday to keep my faith that God will come through for me. Does this ever happen to you? It left me feeling defeated and discouraged rather than victorious. I’m not sure why but I frequently forget about God’s faithfulness to me and focus on what doesn’t seem to be going right. Thankfully I recognized the error in my way and asked God to forgive me for allowing my faith in Him to slip. Sadly I’m sure this will happen again soon enough as it always does. Having faith in tough times is a continual process of ups and downs, and something I need to be mindful of.

Below are some things that can kill my faith so fast I don’t even realize its happening. (When I say faith, I’m not talking about my faith in Jesus Christ as my savior, I’m talking about my faith that God will get me through difficulty). Avoiding these things is critical to keeping my faith in God strong.

Focusing on the Negatives: When Peter walked on the water he looked at the crashing waves around him and started to sink. I can feel like I’m sinking sometimes despite the great things going on around me. Peter was walking on water and yet he was focused on the chaos around him instead of the miracle that was unfolding. I don’t know for sure if this was the case, but I wonder if Peter expected Jesus to calm the waters for him once he stepped out in faith. Maybe this is something I believe sometimes? I think that God will fix all the chaos around me in response to my faith. Just as this wasn’t the case for Peter its not the case for me or for you. In fact, we are told we will face various trials in order to test the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7), not that our step of faith will eliminate trials. When we focus on the negatives we are doubting and displaying a lack of faith. Recently I started a thankfulness journal. Every day, or at least it should be every day, I write down things that I am thankful for that day. This helps keep my mind in the right place. Just today God faithfully provided something I was in need of but all I focused on was what He didn’t seem to provide. I know He was saying the same thing to me that He said to Peter. O Ye of little faith, why did you doubt? My prayer is that I will learn to focus on Jesus and his faithfulness to me, rather than on what isn’t going right.

Thinking it’s all about me: When it’s all about me and my selfish desires I forget that the reward I should be seeking is heavenly. Hebrews talks about how the men of faith in the Bible looked to a greater heavenly reward. In fact, many of them never even saw the promises God had made fulfilled until they entered into heaven and stood before their savior. It can’t be all about me and all about Jesus at the same time. Last night I was struggling to have faith because things seemed to be going all wrong. I realized that my joy was tied to things going my way, rather than trusting that if my life’s goal is to bring God glory and further His kingdom instead of my own I can believe that everything is going exactly as it should be.

Expecting the worst: Does my faith run out when I don’t see the evidence? What’s it going to take to get it through my head that God created me and that He has good things planned for me. Again this only strengthens my faith if I believe those good things He has planned revolve around Him getting glory and others lives being impacted for Christ. If I’m stuck thinking that it’s all about me then I’ll probably miss it. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” God has good planned for me according to HIS purpose, not Jamie’s purpose. If my focus is on Jesus Christ and its not all about me then I will only expect good things and so will you!

If Sin Doesn’t Bother us there’s a Problem

biblePsalm 119:136
Rivers of water run down my eyes because men do not keep your law.

I love David’s passion for God. His clear and, as he puts it, freewill offerings of his mouth to the Lord are awe inspiring. This verse really spoke to me. I should be devastated when I see others willfully sinning against God, choosing not to obey Him. Even more so other brothers and sisters in Christ. Earlier in this same chapter in verse 11 David says “your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” . This is the difference maker right here. If Gods Word isn’t hidden in our hearts and we aren’t passionately in love with Him and seeking to obey Him seeing others willfully sin probably won’t bother us.

Are you desperate to obey God? Does it break your heart to see people living against His Word? Other Christians even? Funny story, recently I was told that after my husband and I left a get together the rest of the group started acting differently than they had when we were there. First of all, I was devastated and sad by what I was told. Secondly I was okay with the fact that they felt they had to hide this behavior from us, knowing that would be bothered by it. We have to wake up and take an honest look at our lives and determine who we really want to please. David wanted to please God and he knew that in order to do so he had to make a serious commitment to living each day with Gods Word in his heart. He couldn’t afford to flip flop and neither can we.

What this means is that we can’t be okay with our own sin or the sin of those around us. We can’t hide from God. If people living against God’s Word doesn’t break our hearts it might be because it really doesn’t bother us. What choice will we make each day? Will we hide Gods Word in our hearts and strive with all our effort to not sin against Him? We won’t get it perfect, but if we make this our daily goal we will certainly be on the right track to living a life with a heart after God, according to His will with an abundance of joy.

As Lecrae Says it, are we Outsiders or Insiders?

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Before you read this post check out Lecrae’s song outsiders here

Also, if you aren’t a follower of Jesus Christ this post wont exactly pertain to you, but you can continue reading if you would like.

Something that really breaks my heart is seeing a fellow believer of Christ not living in a way that pleases God but rather in a way that dishonors Him. I’m not talking about not sinning. I’m talking about making a conscious choice to disobey God’s Word and showing little or no remorse and sadness when sin does take place. Lecrae has it down in this song “Outsiders”. I just love his bold passion for Jesus Christ and speaking truth. He doesn’t care what people think about him, believers and nonbelievers alike.

What we as Christians and followers of Jesus need to realize is that we will never impact this world if we are insiders rather than outsiders. If we want to experience abundant living like Christ offers us we have got to start living as outsiders, set apart from the ways of this world. The definition of an outsider is a person who does not belong to a particular group. If it appears as though we belong in this world based on the way we live then we simply don’t get it. Sadly, our Christian culture can be so watered down and distant from the truth of Gods Word. Because of this so many Christians are living lives absent of joy, faith, and peace and are having little, if any, impact on others for Christ.

Do you think God is any less sad over believers who fail to obey his commandments than lost people who choose not to accept him as savior? 1 Peter 1: 14-16 (NKJV) says “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” What has happened to Christ’s call for us to be holy? We are so desensitized to this world that we are willing to lower our standards. Instead of judging ourselves based on God’s Word we try to find someone who is just a “little worse” than we are so we can justify our actions. We have one person to be comparing ourselves to and that is Jesus Christ. We will never achieve true holiness as Christ did, but we sure as heck better spend our lives striving to. Anything less than this is a direct act of dishonor to our savior who rescued us from darkness and death.

The moral standards of Christians today is downright confusing. If we want to make a difference we have to be different. Its as simple as that. And I’m not talking about going to church and reading the bible. That’s all great of course, but if aside from that you are no different than the world then honestly what’s the point? Being different means not getting wasted every weekend, not entertaining ourselves with pornographic shows and movies, not laughing at perverted jokes with friends, not being hateful to people who are different, not making our goal in life to achieve more wealth and possession. Do the people around you have any idea that you live a totally different lifestyle than they do? Because they should. If not, its probably because you don’t.

This isn’t some self-righteous post; I’m talking to myself the same way that I’m talking to you. This is about speaking the truth of God’s Word. A truth that I believe really needs to be spoken in the midst of this watered down generation. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, need to stop just reading the Bible and start living it. James 4:4 says “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We have a choice to make. Do we want to be God’s friend and servant, or his enemy?

Think about those people you know who are continuously showing the love of Jesus everywhere they go and impacting this world for eternity. How do they live their lives? Like the world? I highly doubt that. These people know what it means to live abundantly and we will too if we make the decision to give up our love affair with the ways of this world and live in obedience to God’s Word. What you will find when you make this choice is that it really isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. The real sacrifice is living for the world rather than God. A sacrifice of joy, peace, abundant living, and being close with the God who created you and loves you, who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving His son for you. Don’t shame His sacrifice any longer by claiming to be His follower while being an insider rather than an outsider.

Experiencing Joy When the Blessings Don’t Come

bibleThis is such a difficult concept for us Christians to grasp. We’ve been told over and over again that God wants us to live abundantly. That he has nothing but good for us. But sometimes the truth is, if we admit it, it doesn’t really feel that way. I’m not saying it isn’t true! But it simply doesn’t feel like it is. What do you do when you face these times? How do you hang on to your joy and not give into Satan’s lies that God isn’t for you but rather against you or simply not there at all?

A few years ago when my hubby and I were facing some challenging times I remember feeling almost ignored by God. As if He just didn’t want to bless me. Things weren’t going down like I had expected them to and I was really confused with God. Why, if His Word told me He wanted me to live abundantly and have joy to the fullest, wasn’t I feeling like this was the case? Have you ever experienced a time like this? Well I don’t have the perfect solution for overflowing with what our world describes as blessings, but what I can offer is a Biblical solution for living abundantly and having overflowing joy despite your circumstances.

I honestly still remember reading the following verse for the very first time. It was during the times of struggle that I mentioned and it knocked me to my knees.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Wow. What powerful verses! What I realized after reading these verses was that even if I never receive anything else ever again the salvation I have in Jesus Christ is worthy of all the joy I could ever experience. I have already been given more than I could ever deserve. When I remember this beautiful truth I am no longer affected by my circumstances. I believe this is what Paul was talking about when he said he has learned in every state to be content( Philippians 4:11). Paul had a heavenly perspective that enabled him to experience the joy of The Lord and God’s strength to endure all he faced. He looked to his salvation in Christ, not to whether or not his current needs or desires were being met. When I do this the joy and strength I experience is unfathomable.

Obviously not many of us are toiling in the fields, praying for a harvest, and herding animals. It might be more real to you if you think of it in a personal way. What is currently stealing your joy and strength? Here are some examples: Though my financial struggles never change, or I never overcome my physical illness, though I may never get pregnant, or I can’t seem to find a job during my unemployment, yet I will rejoice in The Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Really ponder this and make it personal based on what you are currently facing.

The bottom line is, even if salvation in Jesus Christ is all we ever receive, this is beyond more than we could ever deserve. Understanding this truth has enabled me to experience joy and strength regardless of my circumstances. I can tell you that since reading and taking these verses to heart my outlook on blessings has changed. I no longer feel like God has deserted me when things don’t seem to be going the way I’d hoped. Because no matter what, we have the ability, as Paul did, to be content regardless of the circumstances we face. We can do this by remembering what God has already done for us through sacrificing His son Jesus Christ, rather than focusing on what we don’t have or what isn’t going our way.

if you don’t know Jesus Christ as your savior He is always waiting with arms open wide to accept you as His son or daughter. Personally I believe the only way to have true joy in a world full of pain and disappointment is through Christ. Give Him a chance and you will quickly see what I mean!