A Mouth Full of Mercy

As believers our speech should be as one who has been forgiven. We have received the gift of mercy from on high, which has triumphed over our dooming judgment. When we do not show mercy to others, and condemn them for their sin, we will not receive mercy.

We often give mercy to the measure that we understand we’ve received mercy. If we come up short at showing mercy, the way to increase our merciful responses towards others is to meditate on the mercy we have received from the Lord. We were once enemies of God and by grace through faith, we have been justified, forgiven, and redeemed. This should cause us to walk in humility and kindness with even the most difficult people in our life. 

One way that we can walk in mercy with one another is to guard our mouths from speaking evil against one another, especially if someone has wronged us or hurt us. We should never resort to gossip or share with someone else about another person. 

How do you know if what you are saying is judgmental?

Ask yourself: Would I say it to the person’s face? Would this hurt their feelings at all if they overheard me?

Titus 3:2-7 instructs us:

“…to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”

(Titus 3:2-7, NKJV).

If guarding your mouth is difficult for you when you are upset, and you tend to get offended easily, we must remember that we can ask God for grace to be able to not allow our flesh to rule us. The Holy Spirit will convict of us of our sin, but also strengthen us to be able to walk in obedience by showing humility and mercy to all. One of the fruit of the Spirit that we has been given is self-control, and if you are born again, you have been endowed with that ability by the power of the Spirit. We are either yielding to the Spirit or we are yielded to the flesh. We will be given as many opportunities as possible and tests on our faith journey to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. As disciples of Christ, we should see genuine growth with each passing day that we choose to walk in the Spirit and deny the flesh. Let us reflect upon the mercy that we have received and ask the Lord to help us speak words filled with mercy. 

Heavenly Father,

I do not deserve Your mercy, but You have been so extravagant with Your love for me. Help me to reflect upon the gift of Your forgiveness daily, so that I can extend the same love to others. When I am tempted to lose my temper or gossip, set a guard over my mouth, Lord. Help me cultivate and develop the fruit of self-control by the power of Your Spirit so that I can continue to walk peaceably, with all gentleness and humility as Your Word commands. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Boldness for Christ Beyond Our Screens

Dear Christian social media users, do we delight in making Christian content more than we delight in making disciples? As a blogger myself, this is a question that has been on my heart lately, followed up with am I too intimated to evangelize for Christ outside of social media and face to face with those around me? Perhaps I am hiding behind my screen when God is calling me to step out of my comfort zone and reach those He has physically (not just virtually) put in my path.  

I know that the Lord can use our online content to evangelize and disciple others, especially if we are sharing His truth with others, but if we are not careful, our eyes (and time) can become so fixated on “pumping out good content” that we lose the focus of investing in others’ lives to truly take spiritual responsibility for each other as followers of Christ. This happens primarily in our day-to-day relationships with the people physically around us but can also be fruitful online if we make the time to build relationships that way. 

We must remember that we don’t want to be a part of creating information consumers, but truth pursuers who long to follow Jesus. God can use your content that you post on social media to help others learn about the Lord and His Word, absolutely. We just need to be careful that we are not giving our heart and time to the disciplines of social media content curation more than the dedication of true evangelism and disciple making. Let us not become distracted by a good thing that might lead us to forsake the main thing that Jesus has called us to do.

 Jesus gives us an important command to His disciples in “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:

“…“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV). 

God cares more about souls, not about “the squares” or even what strategy may increase the numbers of “followers,” “likes,” “shares,” or video views on your platform…and we should too. So much good can come from what we share online, but we must make sure it has its proper place in our life. This means that we must guard our time on social media so that we can prioritize time for in-depth Bible study and prayer too. We can be a light for Christ on social media, but if we are neglecting spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible study, we will quickly become dry spiritually, and soon evangelism and discipleship will not be a priority in our life either. Let us ask the Father for boldness to share truth with others and be able to balance our virtual connections and face-to-face relationships so that we can grow closer to God and so that others may know Jesus in a more life-changing way. 

Heavenly Father,Thank You for the gift of technology that allows us to reach others with Your gospel both far and wide, all over the globe. The connections we make online can be so fruitful and impactful, but often, it becomes so much easier to get swept away by the virtual world and neglect the people truly in front of our nose. I ask that You would help me prioritize my time spent on social media. I want to share Your truth with everyone both online and in person, but I don’t want to allow my screen to keep me from reaching out to those who are physically around me. I ask for Your boldness when I feel intimated or embarrassed. I trust Your Spirit will empower me to share the gospel with those who need it. Thank You for the believers You have placed in my life. May I take discipleship more seriously so that I can grow closer to You with others as we continue to learn more about You and Your Word, which will fuel our passion to evangelize to those who need the hope that only exists 

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Taming the Tongue

In college, although I was a professing Christian, out of curiosity to learn more about my own spirituality, I began to study things that I now know were a part of New Age teaching. Some of the books that I was reading did mention God and even quoted the Bible, so I believed this new information on how to live out my faith to see progress and success in my life would strengthen my Christianity. One of the major teachings, called The Law of Attraction, centered around my thought-life; making sure to focus on positive things versus negative things. These positive thoughts would act like a magnet to draw to myself positive outcomes and results regarding my dreams, aspirations, and even material possessions that I desired. 

A step further would be to speak out loud positive declarations and affirmations about myself and what I would like to see happen to shape my future for the better. After I graduated college, when I met my husband at the church he grew up at, there was a lot of emphasis on this very same teaching (although they never called it The Law of Attraction) as well as being very cautious on what words you spoke. We were told that we needed to pay attention to our tongue- our words needed to be “in faith” and “in line with God’s Word.” 

We now know that these teachings are rooted in what is called the ‘Word of Faith’ movement, which was influenced by a metaphysical movement called ‘New Thought.’ Thus, Word of Faith doctrine essentially embraces New Age’s Law of Attraction and is contrary to sound, Christian doctrine. Sadly, scriptures on the tongue were taken out of context to promote the idea that you can attract what you say and declare. God alone, not man, is the One who calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). The Bible does have much to say about the power of our words, but it has a lot more to do with reflecting Christ in our speech, words filled with the fruit of the Spirit, than attracting things or situations to you or “manifesting” the things you are declaring “in Jesus’ name.” Let us be wise to know the difference and understand these verses in their proper context.

James 1:26 offers us a sobering statement about our speech:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

(James 1:26, ESV)

A religion is simply a particular system of faith and worship. If you are a believer in Christ, your religion is Christianity. James equates your profession of faith in Christ to how you choose to use your tongue. Our words point to what we truly believe and live by.  

Are your words pointing others to God and His truth, always giving Him glory, or do your words always seem to point to yourself and the things and systems of this world? Do you control your tongue, or do you let your mouth rule you or cause you to puff yourself up in pride or get you into trouble with others? Our speech should reflect Christ and be seasoned with grace, humility, and love. If we confess our faith in Christ, there should be evidence of our changed speech as well as our changed life and behavior. When people meet us, they should hear and see something different than the rest of the world who does not follow the Lord.

Even in disagreements, we should continue to speak with a heart of love for others and not use profanity or offensive remarks that would hurt or cause pain. We should also be careful to not grumble or complain, but to use our tongue to proclaim our thankfulness unto the Lord. Taming the tongue is something we must grow in each day as the Lord sanctifies us. The good news is that we are never left on our own to walk in that type of self-control regarding our words. It is not something we can do apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The temptation to use our tongue for our own benefit and reputation is strong but let us be quick to ask the Lord for His help daily as we continue to grow in the likeness of Him, especially in our speech.

Father, without realizing it, I may have embraced a very self-centered and self-gratifying teaching on the importance of how we speak. I repent for using my tongue to puff myself up above others or hurting others with painful words that cut deep to the heart. I need Your help to control my tongue in times of strife or disagreement with others. I want my words to glorify You and share Your truth and gospel. I pray that my actions would also reflect my speech. I long for my walk with You to match my profession of faith. I do not want be self-deceived; I do not want my Christianity to be called “worthless” in Your eyes. Thank You for continually working in me and through me, so that I may look more and more like Jesus in word and deed. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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What does it look like to be led by the Spirit?

What does it look like for the Holy Spirit to lead in the Christian’s life?

From the onset, I believe it is helpful to define Biblically as it relates to human experience, the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:7-8, we see that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement. With this being established, in the life of the Christian, we are continually being conformed by God’s grace, to the likeness of His Son. We seek to obey the commands of scripture and live our lives in obedience to Christ. Being led by the Spirit is the antithesis to being led by the flesh (Galatians 5:17-18). When we are being led by the Spirit, it means that we are putting to death the ways of the flesh because the sins and desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. 

Being led by the Spirit is not a passive or mysterious leading or “subjective feeling,” but rather an active, ever-present fight in the life of the Christian. Some believe they are led by the Spirit by the dreams they have as they believe that God is trying to tell them something or that they saw a butterfly flying in a certain direction and that’s “how they knew God was leading them” vs. the Bible. Unfortunately, this subjective, experience-based reliance leads to many misunderstandings of what it looks like to be led by the Spirit. Therefore, Bible study and prayer time is critical. 

Thankfully, we as disciples of Christ are not left to human subjectivity and confusion, we have God’s Word as a lamp to our feet in a world of darkness and sin. The Spirit will always use the Word to guide us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

If we need direction in our life, the best way is to fill our heart and mind with God’s Word. This will increase our trust in God, and we will no longer live in fear of the “what ifs” of life but rely solely on His divine providence to overshadow every step we take. As we study the scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth to us, we learn to rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting He is in control and will care for every detail, give you wisdom, and help you resist the temptation of the flesh. 

Father God, I need direction in my life. I often want some type of external, tangible evidence or sign that will give me the answer or show me the way. I know You have called me to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides me by the Truth that is found in Your Holy written Word. I repent for looking to signs, omens, and dreams, which are subjective, and build my life upon Your Word that is a strong foundation that cannot be shaken or changed. Give me a hunger to study the scriptures so that I may know You and Your will and walk in wisdom to make righteous decisions that please only You. Please strengthen my faith and trust in Your sovereignty so that I can rest in knowing that Your providential hand leads me every day even when I cannot always see it or understand it. Thank You for Your Word that is a light to my path and lamp to my feet so I can see the narrow way clearly that You are calling me to walk on. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Our Life Starts with Death

Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked in a small medical office for four and a half years. That job was difficult for me because I came into contact with a lot of hurting people. And as we all know, “hurt people hurt people.” There were many days that I would drive home crying and collapse on my bed because of the exhausting day of what felt like being a human punching bag.

I constantly asked the Lord to get me out of there, but He had other plans for me. I longed for the day when I would be used in ministry, but what God was trying to get me to understand was that my ministry was right in front of me!

Every single patient who walked into our office was an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with. Once my eyes were opened to that truth, my experience in that office changed and the Lord, in turn, changed me. I would pray every single morning that God would bring someone across my path who I could pray for or share truth with. And guess what? God always provided! I was given countless opportunities to pray for people and share truth with. If I would have stayed in my selfishness, wanting to escape the uncomfortable, I would have missed out on real life- that only comes from denying ourselves and following Christ’s ways over our own. 

It is human nature to seek after what our hearts and flesh crave, but we do not have to give into that kind of nature for we have a new nature in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24). Jesus told his disciples a better way to live if we truly want to be a Christ follower:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16: 24-25, ESV

Jesus died to bring us life, our life starts with our death. In dying to self, we feel pain and joy, as the light of God shows up in other peoples’ lives, so that He would receive Glory. His Resurrection life leads to our resurrection life and power; our resurrection life and power is an ongoing commitment to death to self. Although we have been given this command from our Lord, He does not leave us to our own strength to follow through. The Holy Spirit empowers us to set aside our selfishness and learn how to surrender our desires and be selfless like Jesus, preferring others above ourselves. We are then empowered to fully surrender and die to self. This lifestyle of surrendering our love for self helps us bear much fruit, and we will see others come to Christ as well.  How have your freedoms/prosperity made you comfortable? Have your freedoms and prosperity in life made you a comfort-seeking consumer? Is it a joy for you to die daily and come after Jesus? If this is a struggle for you, let us go boldly to the throne of grace and ask Him for help to surrender to dying to self and following Christ where true life is found. 

Father God, I repent for trying to hold onto my life when you have asked your followers to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow you. I surrender my love of self and lean on Your grace to walk in Your ways, preferring others more than myself. I set aside my desire to be comfortable and avoid pain, and trust that you have joy for me in a life of selflessness and service. Help me have boldness to tell others about You and share Your love and truth with whoever comes my way. Thank You for laying Your life down for me to find true life eternal. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Where are my Titus 2 ladies at?

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”

(Titus 2:3-5, ESV).

I am the only born-again Christian in my immediate family. Although we did have a Bible in our home, it was more of a centerpiece on the coffee table; It was occasionally wiped down when dust collected on it; it wasn’t ever opened or read, obviously. I don’t have memories of my family praying before meals or hearing about Jesus from any of my relatives or grandparents. Sadly, I didn’t have a “praying grandma” who lead me in the faith. 

So, when I became a follower of Christ at age 22, the road was definitely a lonely one for me. I felt very misunderstood and different from the rest of my family members for a very long time, and still do to be quite frank. I’m so thankful for the Christians friends the Lord placed in my life who encouraged me and prayed for me on my journey with Christ, but I have always longed for someone older in the faith to mentor me and this still seems to be the case in my life, sadly.

I read Titus 2 with a longing in my heart, wondering if I could ever have a mentor relationship with a woman like this:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”

(Titus 2:3-5, ESV).

You can hit Google, YouTube, and social media for older women in the faith, of course, but I want to move beyond online connections and would love a one-on-one personal mentor that I can enjoy conversation about Jesus and the Bible over coffee. It seems that our generation is settling for online connections (which are wonderful too) but there is more to be found in doing life together. Where are the Titus 2 women, I find myself asking.

Since it is something that should be found in the context of the local church, and we are once again new members at our current church because we recently moved to a new state. Instead of being tempted to complain about this lack in my life, I am reminded that I must go to God in prayer, especially when it seems so out of reach for me to find a mentor who can come alongside of me and teach me to love my husband and children and love Jesus and His Word even more. 

We are living in a very isolated time all over the world. So many of us are lonely and looking for connection. We were created to be in relationship with one another, especially in the Body of Christ. The “metaverse” will never replace the real-life universe where we are there for one another to bear one another’s burdens, pray for each other, and spur each other on in the faith, face-to-face.

The call for women in Titus 2 is one that is important within the church and one that our society desperately needs. We need godly women strong in the faith to raise strong, godly children with strong, godly marriages. Families like this could change the world for Christ! 

Do you find yourself longing for a mentor who has walked with Jesus for a long time, maybe decades longer than yourself? Does it seem impossible to meet someone like this? Well, let me remind you that nothing is impossible for God! The Father knows the desires of our heart, especially desires that line up with His Word, and He wants those desires to become reality for you. Instead of growing discouraged and tempted to complain, let us run to the Father and pray that we would see this relationship of a mentor fulfilled in our life, not just for us but to ultimately, give Him glory and see the Gospel advanced.

Father God,

I am finding myself lonely on my walk with Christ. I look for others to encourage, evangelize, and disciple who may be younger in the faith, but I long for a mentor who can come alongside me and teach me more about You and how to be a godly woman, one who loves her husband and children so deeply. It may feel impossible to find, but I trust that nothing is impossible for You, God. Thank You for hearing my prayer and I believe I will see this desire of my heart fulfilled because it is something that you call women to do for each other. I pray You would raise up women who reflect those found in Titus 2 all for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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