Submission to God must come first

0A492EEC-BFEB-4FB2-A1A5-6B28389706B2

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.

Advertisements

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

06FB80B7-ACB5-4055-A3B4-14FF1B9977A5

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.

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

4F876A9B-563C-4A2A-B1C6-E7C478EF616C

“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 there 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

D7ACBF53-7757-400E-AC35-394BE8AEFD69

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?

IMG_0248

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

bible

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?”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:23-27

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.

When Life Isn’t Fair

IMG_0374.JPG

Maybe you are like me and you have caught yourself saying “this isn’t fair” about a situation. You find yourself looking at the situations of others and wondering why they aren’t dealing with the same unfair circumstances. We all know those people who seem to have everything go in their favor (Could it be that it just appears this way?) Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, we tend to focus on what doesn’t seem fair rather than what is beyond fair in our lives. Maybe if we could view those things which appear unfair in a different light we would see that they aren’t unfair at all. When we are able to do this we also tend to recognize all the huge blessings in our lives as well. If you allow the Bible to be your guide, which I strive for, this isn’t so hard to do. Difficult at times, but not impossible.

As I thought about this whole idea of “unfairness” I thought about all of the stories in the Bible. Stories of God working impossibly amazing miracles. I found that all of these stories involve two things: A willing follower and seemingly unfair circumstances. Honestly I couldn’t really think of anybody who this wasn’t true for. At least not anybody in whose life God was working in great and mighty ways. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, are unfair circumstances worth the work that God wants to do in our lives? If you are a willing follower of Christ (only you know if you are) you can pretty much expect this to happen. Not forever, but for a time.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV) tells us “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,”
‭‭
Your genuine faith is worth more than gold! To me that’s an amazing fact to dwell on. God wants to use trials in our lives to bless us with unwavering genuine faith, the kind of faith that can move mountains. This doesn’t sound too unfair to me. Knowing this helps me to rejoice when things seem unfair and believe that God is working.

Think about Joseph (Genesis 37-45), could his life have been anymore unfair? He was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, a servant of another man’s household, falsely accused, and imprisoned for years. The best part about the whole thing is that God was with him the entire time and the Bible says he prospered in all of those situations. If that’s possible for Joseph then don’t you think it’s possible for me and you? God had to test his faith and grow his character before he could be used in such an amazing way, to save the lives of countless people. Maybe this is the case for you? For me?

When my daughter was born with a heart condition I didn’t think that was very fair at all. She was tiny, wouldn’t grow, Unable to nurse, needed medication 3 times a day, had dr visits every week, was behind in all physical milestones, threw up every single day (a lot and often all over me!), and ended up having open heart surgery at 7 months old. My 2 month old weighed as much as her sister did at 7 months when she had surgery. None of this seemed fair but I can tell you that God truly did a work in me during this unfair time. He grew my faith and practically abolished my anxieties regarding health and illness. I look back and cannot believe the grace I received to get through all of that with a positive attitude and my faith intact. I am a different person today than I was before that happened. Think about unfair and tough times God brought you through. Are you the same person today that you were before? Maybe you say, well I’m worse. And that might be so, but choose now to face those trials differently than you might have before. Allow God to test and prove the genuineness of your faith and shape you into the person He created you to be. The person you need to be in order to live the life God has planned for you. Lean on Him through these “unfair” times and see how gracious and loving He truly is. I promise He won’t let you down!

Sometimes my husband and I talk about the ways that God has refined us through trials. We think about how we were versus how we are now. This encourages us to keep pushing through the “unfair” trials we are currently facing, reminding us that God is working. Always remember, God is more concerned with the genuineness of our faith than He is with “fairness”.

I’m not saying that at the end of your trial awaits riches and monetary wealth, what awaits us is far greater. A genuine faith that can move mountains and impact countless individuals for Christ. If this is what you want your life to represent keep moving through those trials and get ready for God to do great things in your life.

A final note, if the trials you face are consequences of sin in your life or an unwillingness to follow Christ and you want that to change, repent and allow God’s grace to transform you. It surely will!

My Weakness, His Endless Grace

IMG_0023

I’ve begun to wonder if fear is my “thorn in the flesh”, similar to whatever Paul was dealing with. For some reason I am so weak when it comes to fear. I seriously cannot even watch a slightly scary movie without being unable to sleep for at least a week. And please, whatever you do, do not even tell me a story about something bad happening to a child! I won’t leave the house for a month.. I hate having to be home alone over night when my husband travels! I am a grown woman! I know it sounds silly, but it is truly a serious struggle for me. It comes out in other ways too but I’m not going to share all of my embarrassing examples with you! I have to be on constant guard. Whenever I think I’ve beaten it, back it comes as scary and overpowering as ever. I’m left feeling discouraged and beaten down, wondering if I will ever truly conquer it. Well if this is indeed my thorn in the flesh I probably won’t. Even though I know that Gods grace is sufficient sometimes I just wish it would be gone for good.

When Paul asked God to remove his weakness God response was not what Paul was looking for. Here is what God said, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) I can’t say that I have quite reached the place that Paul did, boasting in my weaknesses, but I would like to!

So how can I embrace God’s grace like Paul did and rejoice and boast in my weakness instead of desperately try, in my own strength, to eradicate it. Below are some things I’ve learned I have to do for this to be possible!

1. I have to accept it as something I will likely struggle with forever- Recognizing and accepting that I will always need to rely on Gods sufficient grace to overcome the fears and anxieties that grip me has been a freeing experience. Paul asked three times that God remove his “thorn” but God said no. Does this mean I have to live bound by my thorn? No. What it means is that I will forever need to tap into Gods grace, as Paul did, to battle it. Honestly I can go long periods of time where it seems as though I’ve won, and then out of nowhere, I begin to lose the battle. Thoughts start to creep in, feelings emerge, and discouragement starts to take hold. Maybe you can relate? Achieving acceptance helps me go straight to the throne of grace, rather than give into the thorn and allow it to gain control.
2. I have to offer grace to others- Listen, you probably think the fears I deal with are totally crazy! And you are right. I would probably think yours are crazy too. Don’t judge others because it doesn’t make sense to you, try to be understanding and offer encouragement. Allow God’s grace to flow through you to others, this may be exactly what they need in order to overcome! We want others to be sensitive regarding our fears and weaknesses but sometimes we don’t offer the same in return. I’m still working on this..
3. I have to face it, not hide from it- I used to just avoid fear at all costs. While sometimes this is okay and possible, other times it is straight up unhealthy. Rather than flee from it I had to learn how to face it with the strength of God and His grace. This is my only hope of experiencing His strength in my weakness. If you run from your weakness you will totally miss out on this blessing. Totally still working on this one too… but getting better!
4. I have to God FIRST, not last- Now that have I accepted that I will never truly eliminate my weakness of fear I am more prone to go straight to God whenever it starts to creep in. Where in the past I would try other things first, thinking I actually had a chance, now I know I need God immediately to stand a chance at all. This has brought me closer to the Lord and has enabled me to feel his love and care more deeply. I have found that His grace truly is sufficient for my weakness. If we don’t do this we will just go through life crippled by our weaknesses, unable to reach our full potential in Christ. The enemy knows our weaknesses and will work hard to use them against us. We have to rely on the only one who has already defeated him. Through Him we have true victory.

What is a weakness you just can’t seem to defeat? Ask God for His grace and strength to help you and you will not be disappointed!

Serious Threats to my Faith

hebrews-11.jpg

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!