Resting in the Finished Work of the Cross

When my husband comes home from work, immediately after greeting me and the boys and changing out of his work attire, he goes straight for his favorite chair in the whole house, the recliner, to kick up his feet. His workday is over and it is now time to relax and rest for a little while before dinner is ready. He is a “worker bee” by nature, so he has had to practice this routine of relaxation and remind himself often that it is important to take breaks. Sitting down is a position of rest. 

The Bible tells us that Jesus, our great High Priest, is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12Mark 16:19). Before He had taken His final breath, he declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). He accomplished all the Father had asked of Him and paid in full all debt of sin.

Jesus is now sitting because the work is finished. In His graciousness, He is now forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), but that is not an act of striving. The end has already been written- He has won the victory for us!  

Did you know the Bible also says that we as believers are now seated with Christ? We can find that truth in Ephesians 2:

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 2:4-7, NASB

Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross that poured out God’s great mercy upon us, we no longer have to strive to earn God’s love or forgiveness. We are forgiven! We are God’s beloved children! This truth will echo into eternity as we see and experience His rich grace and love towards us forever.

We have been given an inheritance in Jesus, our salvation, and abundant life forever joined with Him. We are seated in heavenly places with Him meaning that, like Christ, our striving is done, the work has been accomplished. Because we are in Christ, we receive the fruit of His labor of love. We can rest in that blessed assurance. 

Do you find yourself striving to earn God’s love and forgiveness on your walk with Him? We need the good news of our salvation to permeate our hearts every day to remind us that we did nothing to earn it and we can do nothing to keep it. It is all the work of Christ, the finished work of the cross. His grace is sufficient and powerful to both save and keep those who are His chosen children.  Spend some time meditating on the truth found in Ephesians 2:4 and write down in your journal areas of your relationship with God where you are struggling with control issues and trusting God’s grace. Receive God’s fresh mercies today!

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Imitators of Christ

Change the baby’s diaper, take the dog outside, feed everyone breakfast (including said dog), start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher with more dishes, fold and put away the laundry, clean counters, vacuum, sweep, mop, snack-time, school-time, nap-time, lunch-time, snack-time, dinner-time, snack-time, bed-time. Do it again tomorrow. 

As a mom and wife, I am given countless opportunities to set aside my wants and give my love, time, and attention to the needs of my husband and children. Pouring yourself out like that on a daily basis can sometimes be physically exhausting; I find myself praying for supernatural strength often! Yet, at the end of the day, even though I am tempted to wonder where my “me time is,” my heart is always full. 

This is when I begin to see more clearly what the Apostle Paul meant when he said:

“I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”

1 Corithians 15:31, NASB

The Biblical principle of dying to yourself has always been true, but I didn’t always live it or even understand it. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has challenged me in more ways than I can count in the area of putting others before myself, and I am always learning and finding that it is truly is more blessed to give than to receive. 

As Jesus’ disciples, we are called to follow Him. That was Paul’s mission in life – to imitate Christ. And it is what he and the rest of the apostles literally gave their lives to preach to the world through their words and actions. We may not ever get the honor to literally die for Jesus Christ because of our faith in Him, but by God’s grace, we can imitate His selflessness every day.

To be able to imitate Christ, we must look to Jesus as our example. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He still leaned upon God the Father for everything He said and did while He walked this earth. Jesus would rise early to pray and seek God for His will for the day.

In addition to seeking God in prayer, Jesus obediently submitted Himself to the will of the Father, even unto death. Each day, we are faced with the temptation to satisfy our flesh and go outside the boundaries of God’s perfect will. We discover what that will is when we read the Bible and study it for ourselves to learn God’s ways. We are not perfect, but thankfully Jesus was, and because of His sacrifice on the cross, we have been given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit as born-again believers.

Ultimately, Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve others (Mark 10:45). Jesus ministered to thousands upon thousands of people during His time here on earth. John 22 tells us that if all the things Jesus did were all written down, the entire world could not contain the books that would be written!

Dying daily definitely isn’t easy, but it is worth it because Jesus promises us that whoever loses his life will find it and find it abundance (Matthew 10:39/ John 10:10)!

But remember, we cannot die daily in our own strength, friends. The Holy Spirit is who empowers us to choose God’s way through the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). With each passing day, by God’s grace, we mature and cultivate a life worth dying for, a life found in Christ alone!

Who is God asking you to serve?

What selfish desires do you need to lay aside to put someone else’s life before your own?

Are you too busy or too distracted to serve others?

Take some time and write down those who may come to mind who you can minister to, even if it is just a simple phone call to encourage someone. May God empower us to die daily and choose others above ourselves.

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The Freedom of Forgiveness

Although it was six years ago, it’s still fresh in my mind- the day that the man who murdered my father received his official guilty sentence- life in prison. He was sentenced to 60 years of his life, not free, but behind bars, given a great opportunity to think on his actions for the rest of his life on this earth.

The murder occurred in November 2008, so it took many years for the sentence to be finalized. While many of my dad’s side of the family still doesn’t fully understand, I chose not to become involved in the pursuit of making sure that this man “paid for what he had done.”

There was much commotion and to be quite frank, drama, via social media between family members over the course of a few days that resulted in hateful and bitter comments regarding events in my dad’s life that occurred almost 20 years ago- my parent’s divorce being one of them. My heart was heavy to think that in the midst of such tragedy, people would choose to argue over issues that they have no control over any longer, and truthfully, no business being involved in whatsoever. The tragedy of losing my father actually paled in comparison to the unforgiveness and bitterness that surfaced between my family members.

Unforgiveness is bondage.

It is a yoke that slowly tightens around our neck and chokes the life out of us.

Bitterness is like a cancer that spreads throughout your whole body and affects you completely and everything and everyone around you.

We are given many opportunities every single day to take the bait to become offended and hold grudges, but it is so important that we hold onto Jesus and His powerful Word- God’s perfect truth.

The Apostle Paul explains to us the freedom we find in Christ and urges us to not become entangled in sin in Galatians 5:1:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (ESV).

Although Paul is not speaking of unforgiveness specifically in this verse, we do know that unforgiveness is sin that will separate us from God.

Jesus explains to us at the end of the Lord’s Prayer:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6: 14-15, NIV

Allowing unforgiveness to hold you captive keeps you from fellowshipping with your Heavenly Father and keeps you from walking in total freedom that Jesus died for us to have.

When He was crucified and His blood poured out to accomplish God’s ultimate salvation plan for the world (John 3:16), our sins were thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and we no longer had to be slaves to sin- we were made free! 

When we stand before God in prayer (and eventually at the end of this life here on earth), He sees what Jesus has done. He sees His Son’s precious blood, and the price that Jesus paid with His very life just so that you and I could have a relationship with Our Heavenly Father through Christ.

So why would we deliberately choose bondage by allowing unforgiveness and bitterness to plague our hearts and hinder fellowship with God and the love of others?

I don’t know who you may need to forgive. I don’t know how deep the pain goes, how big or small the offense may be. I don’t know how long you have carried that burden with you, but I do know that you need to forgive, and you don’t have to do it in your own strength. God has given you the Holy Spirit to help you, to heal you, to change your heart. You are given the choice to be the one to make the move. You must choose to forgive. Don’t wait. Do it today. Do it right now. You will experience such great freedom that Jesus so passionately laid down His life for you to have.

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Praying for the Father of Your Children

 [a] Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
    who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
    and his righteousness endures forever.

Psalm 112:1-3, ESV

My husband and I have this “game” that we play: “Tell me something you love about me” where we list a quality that we admire about each other. Since we have been married for ten years now, I’m sure we have repeated some of the answers, but I always try to come up with something new or something that may pertain to our current season of life.

Without hesitation, I replied, “I love that you are a hard-worker.” He is always working hard to provide for our family and help me take care of things around the house (I have never mowed a lawn in my life!). I am thankful for that quality of his because this man is anything but lazy. Yet, if I am being honest, because my love language is quality time, it sometimes can get under my skin that he has trouble slowing down and resting. 

Most men (and women) have a drive to work, work, work and find pleasure in accomplishment and productivity and a longing to provide for their family, but I think it is important to find a balance between work and rest, much like we see how God rested on the seventh day in creation. 

God has given us wives to our husbands (and vice versa), so it is important to pray for them in this area so that they do not become exhausted both physically and mentally. But more important than praying for them to find balance and rest, their walk with the Lord is of upmost priority. Apart from God’s grace we are all limited, so we need to make sure we are leaning upon the Lord and looking to Him for wisdom and strength for everything we put our hand to. We see in Psalm 112 the benefits of a man who fears the Lord:

“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever”

Psalm 112:1-3, ESV

A man who seeks the Lord and trusts in His word is a reason for praise. God calls this man and his children blessed. This isn’t a passage about “getting rich quick,” but we see that in addition to the blessings of God’s peace, joy, and love in our life, God provides and blesses us materially as well. As a father’s love for God grows, and he leads his children in God’s righteous ways, his children will want to imitate their dad and follow in his footsteps. Much more than teaching them how to work hard and use the gifts that God has given them, a father with a fear for the Lord and a hunger for God’s word is one of the best treasures he could give them. As women, we should pray for the men in our life, especially when they have children, that we would learn how to find a balance of work and rest, but most of all, a desire to seek God first in all things.

Father, we pray for the men in our lives. If the father of our children does not know you, we pray that You would draw him to Yourself and that He would have a hunger for Your word. We pray that He would learn the importance of rest so that he can be restored. We ask that he would lean upon Your grace in all that You have called him to do. We thank You that You are a faithful Father who always provideshttp://emilyrosemassey.com/2020/06/praying-for-the-father-of-your-children/ for our needs. We pray that the father of our children always looks to you first for wisdom and strength as he learns how to walk in your righteous ways and leads his children in the admonition of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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His Grace is Enough

I saw a graphic shared on Facebook the other day that said: 

“She believed she couldn’t, and she was right. But God, when she gave Him every broken piece, of herself, He used it all for His glory.”

This isn’t a popular message right now- admitting your weakness, admitting your limits. You won’t get many followers, likes, or shares for it, that’s for sure!

You know what will?

 “Girl, you are in charge of making your dreams happen!” “Hustle and slay all day, girlfriend!” “Stop accepting less than you deserve.” “You are in control of your own life!”

..loudly shouts the widely successful author/speaker/entrepreneur/reality TV star/blogger/Instagram influencer/Facebook viral sensation.

That is the message that echos in our culture of women empowerment and it really is a message of false hope. The ultimate answer to our success is not found in our own abilities and talents. We cannot even take credit for those things because they were given to us as gifts from the Creator of the universe.

Beloved, if you are a believer, know that your life is much more useful in the hands of the Savior’s than in your own. His power and strength are really what we need.

This reminds me of the verses in 2 Corinthians 12 that the Apostle Paul penned:

“But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(9-10, NIV).

This message is so countercultural, but so much truth can be found in it. Much like the apostle Paul, I believe it is important to gladly boast in our weakness for it shows the world that our faith truly lies in Christ and not in ourselves. Jesus tells us that there is strength to be found there, not because we are awesome and capable and in control, but because He is. 

Your strength isn’t about how hard you can slay or hustle. Real strength comes from total dependency on God.

For His strength will always be made perfect in our weakness. What blooms in your life will be beautiful because of Him. 

Author and artist, Ruth Chou Simmons says it this way: 

“God demonstrating His glory through your dependency is your real story, and He’s writing it day-by-day through deepening roots and newly formed buds.” 

Your story of walking with Jesus is not about your works or what you can do to look more like Him in your own power or strength, it is about working with grace and allowing it to do its work in you and through you.

The more you lean into His grace, the more you will see growth and maturity in your heart and life. Through this dependency on Him, you will make Jesus famous and not your own name. God alone will receive all the glory that is due His name.

We must remind our hearts that His grace is enough to walk through this life, even when we feel so incredibly weak and powerless and incapable of what we feel God has called us to do. May we learn how to surrender our life to Jesus every single day and trust that He will use it all for His glory. 

Are you finding yourself “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” to accomplish a task that the Lord has given you?

When was the last time you asked God for His help in an area you were struggling?

If you find it difficult to admit your weakness, know that a safe place to run is into the arms of God. May we not walk in our own strength and learn how to humble ourselves before God so we can see Him work in our heart and life. This will help shine a light on how real and faithful God is to the world who are looking for real strength to get through the trials of life. 

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An Anchor of Hope

I sat there on the bathroom floor browsing social media on my phone next to the bathtub as my boys splashed around in the bubbles, playing with their tub toys- just a typical day in the life of this stay-at-home mom. Suddenly, my heart sank as I scrolled Facebook and caught the headline, “CDC Confirms first St. Louis Case of Coronavirus.”

COVID-19 had made its way to our home-state of Missouri and suddenly, the anxiety many people around the world had been experiencing for months became very real to me. 

As this virus has spread across the nation, so has much uncertainty and panic as many have been told by government officials to stay shut up in their homes because of the danger of this extremely contagious virus. Many churches have closed their doors since no more than ten people at a time are allowed to gather. Many businesses have been shut down and employees have lost their jobs in the process.

Empty grocery store shelves, massive job loss, social isolation, endangered health, and sadly, even death have been reality for so many people during this time. Suddenly the comfort of abundance and security has been stripped from our society and many are looking for hope right now. 

Some believe that hope can be found in a vaccine or medication for all of this to go away. Although modern medicine is a blessing to our society and could solve the issue at hand, the real concern is that this pandemic is revealing that people are trying to find hope in the wrong source.

This is one of the greatest opportunities as Christians to shine the light of real hope to a fearful and hurting world- the hope of Christ!

Hebrews 6 tell us of this hope:

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters [p]within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 6:19, NASB

This verse shares the truth that Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be able to enter into fellowship with a thrice holy God. He lived the perfect life we could not live by fulfilling the law and laid down His own life as a sacrifice for us. Because of this, we are able to have hope no matter what we face in this life. And if that wasn’t good news enough, as our high priest, Jesus is also forever making intercession for us daily (Hebrews 7:25)!

As Christians, we must constantly remind ourselves of this blessed hope when anxiety comes in like a tidal wave and tries to overwhelm our hearts. We must fight the temptation to find our hope in anything else but Christ. Our hope should not be in a vaccine, medication, a booming economy, job security, a full pantry, positive statistics, or the government’s financial support.

Our hope should be built on Christ, our Solid Rock, the anchor of our soul, the only security we have in this life because that security is eternal. Our health and finances may be taken from us. No matter what happens, life in Him can never be taken away from us. For when this is all over, He is the only One who can save us from the curse of sin and death. 

In Him, we are forgiven and justified before a Holy God. In Him, we stand faultless before the throne of judgement that awaits us all one day. The hope of eternity in His presence should be the anchor in the storms of life. The only real hope we can stand upon is eternal life found in Jesus Christ. 

Have you been tempted to allow anxiety and panic to sweep you away during this difficult time?

Are you feeling hopeless because of your current circumstances and looking for relief in the possible solutions presented to us? Take your worries to the Lord today and ask Him to help your unbelief.

Are you spending more time looking at statistics and the news right now?

Instead of reading the newest headlines every day, open up your Bible and fill your heart with hope, not fear. The temptation during times like this is to focus on all the trials around you, especially if you are experiencing uncertainty, lack, or discouragement. Resist that temptation and use it as an opportunity to offer your gratefulness to God: everyday find three things to be thankful for and write them down to remind your soul of God’s goodness.

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Waiting for the One with the One

In December 2019, my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage. We spent a few nights in New York City for our special 10 year wedding anniversary trip. Since we have two young children, it was the first time we had been away alone in three and a half years. It was much needed to be sure! Our time together brought back so many memories of when we first met, and I loved every minute of it.

As I reflected on the last ten years with the man God gave me, I enjoyed reminiscing of the special time in my life when I found “the One”…

…Or really when “the One” found me, since it all occurred around the same time frame.

With a theater degree in my back pocket, and the blueprint of my move to LA before my eyes, I most definitely wasn’t looking for my husband back then or even cared if he ever found me.

Because bitter disappointments were around every corner, I tried to drown out any desire of marriage with as many distractions as possible: parties, one-night stands, over-involvement in extracurricular activities and clubs, and the most of important of them all, my career plans as an actress in Los Angeles.

That all came to a screeching halt when I came face to face with my true destiny—the realization that I was a daughter of the King of Kings and He was not going to allow this prodigal to run away from Him any longer.

Broken, full of pride, and desperately lonely, He found me in my mess.

I left all of the distractions behind and began to surrender my entire life to the Lord, seeking His face and eager to truly know Him in a deeper way than I ever had before. The longer I spent time with God in times of prayer, worship, reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other believers at church, I began to fully understand the depths of God’s great love for me and that satisfied my soul more than . 

I think so many have been hurt and disappointed in relationships and the cares of life like I was. It wasn’t until I began to wholeheartedly focus on my relationship with Christ that I began to see that His view for marriage was much greater than just two people coming together and pledging their love for one another. Marriage points us to Christ and His love for us.

If we don’t have a clear understanding of who Jesus is to us and how He gave His life up for us, our perception of our future mate and marriage is going to be extremely out of focus.

The apostle Paul explains to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33 exactly how marriage reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for us.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

NKJV

This passage of scripture paints a beautiful picture of who God believes we should wait for when it comes to entering a lasting marriage relationship. Marriage here on earth is God’s way of showing us how much Jesus loves His Church and how much The Father loves the world. The love shown between a husband and wife is a direct reflection of God’s love for them.

Are you truly accepting that love? Is it penetrating the very depths of our soul or is it just head knowledge?

Are you embracing God’s limitless, unconditional love or are you chasing after all other pleasures and empty relationships wondering if you are going to find love and happiness?

If you are running after all of the cares of this world, then I urge you to stop. Stop, and wait. Not alone, but with “the One.” Seeking after truly knowing “the One.” The One who created marriage and the One who says that you are treasured and loved in His eyes above all. He knows what He’s doing.

Because “the One” created you and your “one.”

So enjoy the wait with Him.

Looking back on ten wonderfully beautiful years of marriage, I’m so glad that I did.

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Eternal Gains

A year and a half ago, my brother-in-law was involved in a tragic drowning accident. He was only twenty-five years old and had only been married for a little over a year. I watched my husband, his parents, and my sister-in-law experience the deepest pain imaginable – pain so difficult that it physically hurt. Through this great loss, we’ve learned to walk through the pain with Jesus, trusting that He will continue to heal our broken hearts and believing we will see our precious brother again in heaven someday.

As Christians, we are not ones who grieve without hope because, ultimately, our hope is set in eternity. Because of the cross, we do not have to taste death because our spirit lives on and we live forever in eternity. 

It is the cross that accomplished the forgiveness of sin and made a way for us to have peace with the Father, which is the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing this gospel sets our hope towards the life that is to come. This place is not our home.

The Bible is full of truth about eternity and wisdom on how we should live our lives while we are still here on earth. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will escape pain here on earth, but He does promise that He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

The Apostle Paul shows us in Philippians 1:21 how we should view our life here on earth:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

NIV

While we are here, we know our mission is to live to glorify Jesus and tell others about Him by preaching the glorious good news to all those God places in our path. When we face great pain and loss of loved ones or are facing our own mortality because of a terminal illness, we can find hope and rejoice that heaven is our reward.

The honest question is do you focus too much on this life? Do you believe it is better here on earth? Are you only concerned about your legacy you will leave?

When we die in Christ we live forever.

Yes, there is pain.

Yes, there is great sorrow and many questions as to why now, Lord? We have lost loved ones what felt like way too soon. We’ve had a lot of ‘whys’ just because we are human, and humans have a very difficult time processing death. But the Bible is very clear about the glorious hope we have that awaits us as believers in Christ and the truth of God’s Word is what gave us great peace in the midst of our pain. Our faith is forever set on our sovereign Lord, knowing the cross has the final word in the end.

Death doesn’t have the victory because in Christ, we are given eternity with Him!

Death doesn’t lose its sting on our human hearts, but our spirits should be so full of joy at the thought of being in the presence of Jesus where there is no more suffering. What great gain!

Take some time and pray this prayer if you are struggling to fix your eyes on eternity: Father, help me to see this life with eternal lenses and embrace the promises of everlasting life with Christ. Help me through times of pain and suffering as I hold onto the hope I can find in Jesus. I will continue to hide my life in Christ until I take my last breath here on this earth or until Jesus returns in His glory.

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From Suffering to Glory

Even though I have so many wonderful memories during the holiday season, this time of year also holds some painful memories of experiencing the bitterness of death and loss. Sadly, I know this is the case for so many people. For me, November is the month that my dad was murdered (actually it will be 11 years on the 17th) and the month my husband and I lost our first baby early on in my pregnancy. Those were times where I had to endure some pretty heavy emotional suffering. Even though I was a Christian during those times, the pain was still very real and I struggled in my faith. I had to constantly press into God’s truth and surround myself with other believers who loved me and encouraged me during those dark times.

Pain and suffering are not something any of us look forward to, but while we live here in this fallen and broken world, it is inevitable. It is so easy to get caught up in the storms of our life and lose sight of the hope that is available to us through Jesus Christ. He is the anchor in that storm and promises to never abandon us. 

The suffering may not disappear, but the good news is that Jesus is right there with us to walk through it together. In the midst of the pain, the temptation is to give all of our focus on the battle we may be facing. I believe it is so important for us to keep a heavenly and eternal perspective when we are in the midst of a painful situation or even a painful season. We have to remember that our life here on earth is not all that there is to our existence.

There is a life to come where we are promised no more pain or suffering when we see Jesus face to face and when He returns in all of His glory. This is the glory that Paul tells us about in Romans 8:18:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:18, NASB

We will experience God’s glory in all of its fullness one day and what a glorious day that will be! Let us hold fast to that hope of eternal life that awaits us, free of all pain and suffering!

So take heart! We must press into God’s promises of what lies ahead.

Jesus is the anchor of our souls; He helps us not waver and is secure and strong.

We must remember that this place is not our home…we are just passing through!

The suffering you are experiencing cannot stand against God’s glory. Let us keep our minds fixed on heaven and fixed on Jesus Christ our Savior, in the midst of our storm.

Sadness and grief will come, sometimes like a tidal wave, but you have an anchor of glorious hope and His name is Jesus!

If you are currently experiencing a trial that seems too much to bear, take that pain to the throne of God. He hears every cry; the Holy Spirit is our great Comforter. Also, fight the temptation to isolate yourself and try to find a friend whom you can share your heart with and confide in. God never intended for us to walk through the valley alone. He is always with you, and He will send someone to be a listening ear and shoulder to cry on if you ask Him. 

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God’s Work in Progress

I have always been a list maker and fueled by accomplishment. Being successful and driven became the meaning behind every breath I took; I found purpose in my performance and productivity. I loved the high from “the hustle” and having my schedule full to the brim. I spent years upon year upon years crowding the margins of my existence with:

Dance class, gymnastics, cheerleading, running track, Student Council, Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Art Club, Peers Group, musicals & plays (“I can’t. I have rehearsal.”), auditions, performances, church choir practice, tutoring, youth ministry, college and career ministry, worship team rehearsals, Bible studies, prayer meetings, church leadership meetings, drama practices, event planning committees, speaking engagements…

…just to name a few.

This vicious cycle of constant hustle-mode was all I knew for well over 20 years of my life. I still wrestle with temptation to find my worth in my productivity and seeking my happiness when everything is “perfect.” I am what you may call a recovering “Type A” person. 

Then came the day, a little over five years ago, that my husband and I decided it was best for our family for me to leave my job after our first son was born and become a stay-at-home mom. Even though there was always a daily task-list before me:

Laundry, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, vacuuming, mopping, dishes, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, lunch, emails, phone-calls, feeding, burping, diaper-changing, dinner, feeding, burping, diaper-changing…

…I didn’t feel accomplished at all.

It felt like a non-stop whirlwind of tasks that never got crossed off. My days felt like a constant work-in-progress and I felt so defeated and disappointed in myself for not working harder to get it all done.

That is an exhausting way to live and if you are not careful, that type of mentality will creep into your spiritual life and soon you will be trying to work to earn God’s favor and love. Have you ever experienced these thoughts when it comes to your walk with God?

 I didn’t pray enough today. I haven’t read my Bible in over a week! Man, why can’t I get over this sin?! I am such a failure! Am I even saved?

But as Ephesians 2: 8-9 tells us, we know that we cannot earn our salvation because it is a gift from God:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

NIV

Just as God is sovereign in salvation, He is also sovereign in our sanctification. He is the one who is in charge of seeing us mature on our walk with Him.

The same grace that saved us is the very same grace that keeps us and molds us into the image of Christ, day by day.

From the moment of your conversion, you became God’s work-in-progress and the greatest news of all is that He doesn’t grow weary, stressed or exhausted with you. He will complete the work He began in us!

That is why I love this encouragement from the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:

“….being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6, NIV

Your salvation has been gifted to you for the sake of Christ, for His glory, not ours. The gift to have faith in Jesus… He began that work!

Your inconsistences and failures are not going to change. Your disobedience, your lack in trust…none of that is going to change the work nor thwart God’s plan in your life. God starts it, God finishes it.

We simply need to lean on His strength and grace and ask for wisdom to walk in obedience. The Holy Spirit is our Helper and He will help you walk in God’s will. You don’t have to muster up your faith muscles to see that happen. You simply need to trust that God’s plan with your life will be accomplished, not because there is anything good in you, but because of His goodness and faithfulness! 

Do you struggle with trying to earn God’s love?

When you fail and sin, do you hide from God or try to fix it yourself by “trying to do better?”

Beloved, you do not have to run away from God. He sees it all and knows that you are going to undoubtably mess up. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live the perfect life for you; to fulfill the law completely for you. His death on the cross paid for your punishment of the curse of the law that you will never be able to uphold.

Come boldy to the throne of grace today and receive new mercies that Christ died for you to have. Lean on His strength and grace today and see the work that He started in you continue until His glorious return or when you meet Him face to face. Trust that He is working and yield to it. 

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