Driven to Pursue Christ

What excites you and drives your passion? Being made in the image of God means that we all have passion. The important question we must ask ourselves is: is my passion directed inward or does it fuel me to pursue Christ and His purposes? Our drive and passion for the Lord and His Kingdom is related to our devotion to Him and reveals our purpose of knowing Christ and serving Christ. Most of all, reading and studying the scriptures should fuel our passion because it sets our eyes upon the Lord and helps us take our eyes off of ourselves.

What motivates your drive towards Christ? For the Apostle Paul, it was the prize of the upward call of God:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14, ESV).

We can remind our heart that if we are born again, Christ purchased our life for a purpose and has made us His own. He did this so that we would bear fruit for His glory. Christ reached down and rescued me so I should always be reaching for Christ. We press on to make knowing Christ relationally and serving Him faithfully, and we must press on even more when we feel weak. We can look to Christ and ask for strength to keep going and He will be faithful to give us His abundant grace. We shouldn’t be entangled by our past sin, sorrows, or even successes as those things will distract us and hold us back from pressing on in our race to pursue Christ and His purpose. 

May the Lord give us zeal and an increased pace and an increased engagement in Kingdom pursuits as we press towards the prize. Ultimately, Christlikeness is our prize. Let us seek the Lord and ask Him to increase our passion to become more like Him!

Dear Lord, 

I am reaching to the upward call, longing to become more Christ-like in my pursuits and in the fruit of my life. Help me to see what may be hindering me from being conformed to the image of You. I do not want to resist the call of taking up my cross and following You. My flesh is weak, but I know that I can find strength and grace in You to keep pressing forward, straining for the prize. Will you please ignite a zeal in my soul for You and Your Kingdom? In my striving and running I trust that You choose my pace as I move forward, linking arms with other believers. You empower me with Your Spirit, and I know You are faithful to complete the work You have started in me. In Your name I pray, amen. 

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The Beauty of Sanctification

I am a mama of three precious boys, and each one is special to me. My oldest son recently turned eight years old, and one of my favorite things to do leading up to my sons’ birthdays is to look through old photos of them and the memories we have shared. My heart swells when I see sweet memories pop up on Facebook on the day each one was born. As I was reflecting upon these last eight years, not only have I watched my boys grow up, but I can’t help but see how much the Lord has changed me and grown me in the midst of motherhood too.

According to the Bible this process of change and growth in the Lord is called sanctification. According to the website gotquestions.org:
“The word sanctification is related to the word saint; both words have to do with holiness. To “sanctify” something is to set it apart for special use; to “sanctify” a person is to make him holy.”

Knowing how many times I have failed as a mother (losing my patience and temper with my children countless times), I am thankful that just like our regeneration when the Lord makes us born-again, sanctification is a work of the Spirit in our heart and life. We partner with the Holy Spirit in the process of our sanctification, but God is the faithful One who does the deep work of transformation.

Paul’s final exhortation in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica reveals this beautiful truth to us as he proclaims:
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NIV).

God will sanctify us because He wants to see us conformed to the image of Christ. When we are saved, we are given Christ’s righteousness and that will never change no matter what. Our position in Christ is forever fixed. Nothing can snatch us from His hand We will never be perfect this side of heaven, which is why we rest in the finished work of the cross of Christ, but we should be walking in holiness little by little each passing day. One way this occurs in our life is through studying the scriptures and other spiritual disciplines such as prayer, serving others, and consistent discipleship and evangelism. The Spirit of God guides us into all truth and convicts our heart of sin. The more study the Bible and exercise spiritual discipline, the more the Holy Spirit renews our mind. This renewal of the mind helps us to think on eternal matters and soon, worldly thinking and fleshly desires become less of a temptation for us the longer we walk with the Lord. Our behavior and attitude begin to change, and God gives us a desire to love, obey, and serve Him with fervor! This is transformation is something I am so grateful to have experienced these last eight years. I cannot wait to see what the next eight years (and beyond, Lord willing) has in store for me. May the God of peace continue to sanctify us through and through!

Father God,
I long for my life to reflect You so that others see how excellent and perfect Your ways are compared to the ways of this world that is fallen, corrupt, and void of Your perfect love and truth. I often fail and give into fleshly temptation, and I thank You that I have been justified and made righteous in Your sight because of Your Son, Christ Jesus! You still desire for me to mature and grow in my walk, despite my shortcomings. You are a God who transforms and purifies, so I ask that You would help me renew my mind with Your Word so that I can know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of Yours and see my life conformed to the image of Your Son. You are faithful to do this work of sanctification in my life, so thank You for strengthening me in my spiritual disciplines. May I have a testimony of a great transformation to give You all the glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Appreciating Your Pastor by Praying for Him

When the news of another pastor’s moral failure makes its way into the public eye, is your first reaction one of sarcasm and jadedness or does it cause you to weep and hit your knees in prayer? It seems easier to get angry or grow cynical when those in the pulpit fall into grave sin and disappoint those who have attributed much of their spiritual growth from their teaching. Instead of wagging our fingers or shaking our head in disappointment, it should truly break our hearts when leaders in the church fall.

There is a stern warning found in the book of James that should cause us pause to reflect upon the great and weighty responsibility that pastors carry as teachers of God’s Word:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1, ESV).

This verse begins a chapter in the book of James that focuses on the importance of the tongue and its ability to either bring encouragement and growth or hostility and destruction. We will all be held accountable for the words we speak, but for those who teach the Bible, there is a higher standard. With a higher standard comes a stronger judgement from God. This should motivate us to pray for teachers, especially those who pastor our own local church. 

In America (and perhaps even around the world, thanks to television and social media), the gospel of Jesus Christ has become extremely muddied by false teaching full of false gospels, New Age/occult/pagan practices, lying signs and wonders, and distractions from worldly desires that are all leading many to false Christs.


For almost half of our marriage, my husband and I were among those believers who were believing lies from the result of the twisting of scripture and emotional, mental, and spiritual manipulation from leaders in ministry whom we trusted. By God’s grace, we were rescued from this deception and now attend a sound and Biblical church that has been such a blessing to our family. Every week, the elders preach the Word of God with such conviction and clarity and are unashamed about the gospel. Although we finally feel “safe,” we know that these men of God are susceptible to the same temptations as we are, and instead of growing comfortable or letting our guard down, we must fiercely pray for the men in our life who teach God’s Holy Word because Satan has put a giant target on their back. The enemy knows how much damage can be done to the Body of Christ if God’s Word is abused or distorted, but the same is true for the carriers of that message; A teacher’s life is held to a higher standard because the Lord uses teachers to help us understand who He is. The weighty responsibility and calling of bringing truth to the sheep of God is one no one should have to bear alone. Let us shoulder Kingdom responsibility with our elders by making it a priority to daily pray for the teachers and pastors who give much influence to our spiritual well-being. 

Father God,

In the age we live in, we can know personal details of public figures very quickly and easily. It seems there is always a new Christian leader who has given into fleshly temptation and taken advantage of the trust of their sheep. This should cause us heartache and wake us up to the reality that the enemy wants to cause destruction among God’s people. These moral failings cause distrust among sheep, but they also hurt our witness to the world when they see the hypocrisy and corruption within the visible church. Lord, please give us a burden to pray for church leaders, but more importantly, the leaders of our very own church who have given their lives to shepherd souls and teach others about You and Your ways. We are called to make disciples and need to be equipped by Your Word to do that. You have called teachers and pastors to a higher standard to equip the Body for the work of the ministry by teaching us what Your Word says. May we be quick to lift them up every day, knowing the seriousness of their high calling as teachers of Your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Diligently Asking for God’s Sustaining Grace

When we are taking strides to walk in obedience to God, the resistance to push forward gets stronger, and it feels like we are treading through mud just to take a step. My husband, Paul, and I have been experiencing this since starting to lead a new ministry at our church, in addition to juggling all the rest of our responsibilities caring for our boys and our own individual lives.  

Even though it’s exhausting and sometimes discouraging when things feel so chaotic and stressful, I must remind my heart that our God is stronger and will use whatever seems to be standing against us (especially our own sinful flesh!) to grow and deepen our faith and sanctify us. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t painful or that I am quick to learn how to depend on Him!

For me, personally, I am working on resting in the new mercies of today and being quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. I feel like I have failed a lot in my behavior towards Paul and my boys these last few weeks. I don’t want to blame it on hormones and lack of sleep (although I know this adds fuel to the fire so to speak). Because God’s grace is available to me. But am I asking for it diligently? Probably not as much as I should.

If His grace is truly sufficient (and it is), do I live like I’m dependent upon it daily and praying without ceasing throughout my day? The book of James is a wonderful book of instructions for believers. In chapter 4, we discover that we must protect our hearts from worldly thinking. Often when we are trying to take control of our life and not rest in God’s grace and provision daily, we resort to either neglecting God’s ever-presenting help or asking God with wrong motives:

“…You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:2b-3, ESV). 


James 4 merely tells us that, if there is something we want, we need to ask God for it, instead of resorting to sinful means. It stands to reason that there are some things that we will not get unless we ask for them, but, if we ask, we will receive them. So, if there is something that we want, we need to ask. Christians should be praying and asking God, especially for His supernatural grace.

Instead of trying to control what feels so uncontrollable in our lives and allowing our circumstances to dictate our mood or behavior, let us boldly come to the throne of grace and ask our Father for His unwavering and sustaining grace. He is faithful to provide.

Father God,

I know that Your grace is sufficient and that You are my ever-present help in time of need, but sometimes my actions do not reflect these truths. It’s much easier for me to either complain about my stressful and difficult circumstances or try to take matters into my own hands to try to fix or change what seems to be causing me to feel so overwhelmed. But I know that I need to come to You and ask for grace when I have reached my limit. You are faithful to provide all things that I need because You are a gracious Father who cares deeply for Your children. I come to You as Your child today, boldly and humbling asking for Your sustaining and powerful grace carry me through each challenging moment. You are faithful in every season, and I thank You for reminding me to come to You first and foremost and pray without ceasing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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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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Live Not By Feelings

A few years ago, after lovingly warning a friend of the dangers of a particular false teacher she was going to see at a conference, she got offended with me and said something along the lines of “Don’t you think I have discernment?? I have the Holy Spirit! I will be able to discern or sense conviction if something’s not right??”

In this instance, my friend was putting an emphasis on what she believed the Holy Spirit was telling her by how it made her feel at the time and calling it discernment and conviction.

Beloved, that is not how we as Christians are to live. We are to walk in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16) which is found in the Word of God. Relying on our feelings means we are putting our confidence in our flesh, and our flesh will only lead us away from righteousness and God’s truth. Since the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), it can lead us astray if we rely on or try to follow its sometimes emotional leadings. 

If the Word of God has spoken on something, you have been convicted. You don’t need to wait to feel conviction to obey, you have been led by the instruction of God-breathed scriptures to obey. We must search the scriptures to be able to learn how to walk in God’s ways.

Studying the Bible is how our mind is renewed and how we are sanctified as believers. We cannot walk in righteousness by how we feel if something is right or wrong and call it conviction.

I am sure there are ways I am accidentally or unknowingly violating God’s perfect law even though I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit- I still wrestle with a sin nature even as a believer. I must abide in Christ and die to self daily. We abide in Christ through faith by abiding in His Word by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Faith in Christ comes by hearing the Word of God after all:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ”

(Romans 10:17, NASB).

Since we cannot fully depend on our feelings to determine if something is sinful or not, we also cannot depend on our feelings to determine if something is true or false either.

In regards to discernment, are you testing against scripture?  That is where we gain knowledge to be able to test all things and judge righteously. We must make sure everything we are hearing preached in the name of Christ lines up with His Holy written Word.

Friends, if I were just to depend on feelings, I would be wrong quite a lot. As believers we do not “sense it in our spirit”…that’s called human intuition.

intuition

nounSave Word

in·​tu·​i·​tion |  \ ˌin-tü-ˈi-shən   , -tyü-  \

Definition of intuition

1a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

b: immediate apprehension or cognition

c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition

2: quick and ready insight

We don’t rely on intuition; we walk in the Spirit, dear ones. 

Unless you are testing what the Holy Spirit is guiding you into by God’s Holy Word, you can’t be certain you aren’t being misled by Satan.

“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

(2 Corinthians 11:14, NASB).

Let us stand firm upon God’s Word and trust He has given us all we need in it for life and godliness as we lean upon the help of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth that conforms us day by day into the image of Christ. 

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Encountering God’s Power

Years ago, I used to believe that encountering the power of God was limited to a financial breakthrough or witnessing someone walk out of a wheelchair or being moved so deeply in His presence while worshiping Him in song that I was moved to tears and fell to my knees or danced for joy before my King…

…yes, those were powerful moments in my life that impacted my faith in God in a very real way, but the more I have walked with the Lord and spent time in His Word getting to know who He is, I have come to realize the power of God extends far beyond those moments; God reveals His mighty power when He takes a rebellious sinner and purifies his wicked heart and conforms his life to look more and more like Christ day by day. Talk about witnessing the miraculous!

In last chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul, prays for the believers’ walk with the Lord to be strengthened and experience this kind of life-changing power from the God of peace.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass”

(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, NASB).

This passage of scripture is speaking of sanctification, which is the process of being made holy only through the merits and justification of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit that are then reflected in man. Sanctification cannot be attained by any works-based process, but only through the works and power God Almighty.  It is the Lord who will bring your sanctification to completion, as we learn to yield our lives over to His grace and strength to walk in obedience to His Holy Word. The same grace that saves us is the same grace that empowers us to live holy and set apart as a witness to this fallen world. 

To be sure, as far as a powerful encounter with the Lord, I still sense His nearness when I weep on my knees in prayer and sing of His goodness and faithfulness on Sunday mornings with my church family, but there is nothing quite like knowing the Holy Spirit is with me every day sanctifying this selfish heart to look more like Jesus. I look back on how much He has changed my sinful life and strengthened me to learn how to choose obedience when my flesh wants to reign…that, my friends, is powerful. What a mighty God we serve!

Father, many of us cry out for an encounter with You. Perhaps that is some tangible experience where we sense Your nearness or witness a miracle, but what if that powerful encounter with You is not something we see or feel, but it is the very work that You are doing in our heart? Lord, I pray that I would experience that kind of powerful encounter with You where you take this hard heart, soften it, and mold it to look like Jesus. I pray that You would give me a deeper hunger for Your Word that would help me renew my mind. Holy Spirit give me the strength to not only walk in wisdom from what I learn in the Bible, but that You would empower me to continue to obey what I am learning so that my life would be a reflection of Your glorious Kingdom. May my life bring You glory, Jesus. I thank You for the grace that has saved this rebellious sinner and the grace that continues to keep me and guide me in truth and in obedience, learning to walk in Your perfect ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Seeking Self-Control

2 AM. 

There I was, scrolling Instagram mindlessly once again and getting sucked into the black hole of the pages of “influencers” advertising product after product, sale after sale, deal after deal. It was getting so out of hand that I was finding myself clicking “add to cart” and hiding the packages from my husband when the boxes showed up on our doorstep a few days later. I knew it was wrong, but it felt like the temptation was too strong to stop this familiar cycle of impulsive buying. But this was a lie. No temptation is too strong for us to overcome. 

It is important to remember that we don’t base truth off our feelings. We must look to what God’s Word says to renew our minds with His truth and gain wisdom on making healthy and righteous choices. When it comes to self-control and overcoming any temptation that we face, we can find truth in 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul states:

“No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”

(1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

God is faithful to help us walk in righteousness. He gives us the grace to walk in freedom from alluring and enticing nature of sinful habits. If we allow our flesh to rule us, we will follow it into a pit of unrighteousness. There is forgiveness for us in Christ, but we must repent when we find ourselves continuing on a path of unrighteous choices. We may feel like the temptation is too much to bear, but God always provides us a way of escape; we must ask the Lord to give us wisdom and spiritual eyes to see the way out. For me, personally, the wisdom was to unfollow these influencers’ Instagram pages so that the temptation of what they were sharing was no longer before my eyes continually. 

The Holy Spirit is faithful to continue to give us wisdom and guidance and strengthen us when we submit our ways to Him. He will convict our hearts, remind us of what the Bible says, and cultivate the fruit that we have received, especially the fruit of self-control. As believers, we have received the fruit of the Spirit, and just like fruit in the natural, it must be cultivated. The longer we walk with the Lord and study His Word, the more our fruit is developed and strengthened within us. May we continually ask for God’s help when we are tempted and trust that He will help us overcome sin when we are struggling. 

Father God,

This life on earth comes with many trials and many temptations. We are not promised a life free from temptations, but we are promised that You will always give us the strength and grace to overcome those temptations, as well as a way of escape to make Godly choices in obedience to You. I am not able to walk in obedience without Your Spirit. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for convicting my heart when I am walking in disobedience and giving into what satisfies my flesh. I long to be obedient to You, Lord. Help me cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, especially the fruit of self-control. You are a God of self-control, and I long to look like You in everything I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Come Out of Hiding

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

A few months ago, my eyes were opened to the stark reality that I was struggling with an area of my past…

… the pain of rejection.

This continues to be a battle for me, yet I realize that healing from the pain of rejection is a partnership and most definitely, a process. Thankfully, I am not alone in this fight.

One thing for sure is that the Lord fights for me and the Holy Spirit guides me into all truth, illuminating and highlighting lies that I was believing that are rooted in rejection.

Rejection had overwhelmed so much of me that I wasn’t being fully honest with people in my life. The lie I believed was that I would be rejected if my sin or wrong-doing was discovered. Therefore, I chose to either keep silent or tell a lie to keep my secret hidden so that I wouldn’t be a disappointment.

That lifestyle was keeping me from being fully transparent and honest with my husband and most importantly, with God. I believe this is why 1 John 1 reminds us of the importance of confessing our sin:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

Hiding our sin causes us to hide from God, similar to Adam and Eve when the first sin entered the world. They felt ashamed, and shame made them feel rejected. Because of Jesus and the finished work of the cross, we are forever made righteous in our position as we stand before the Father and are forever forgiven, yet when we sin, it causes our fellowship with God to be hindered, and then we can very easily stray from Him. God’s love toward me never changes when I sin, yet I may still experience consequences and correction for my disobedience. Repentance, as a believer, is for our benefit to keep fellowship with our Father open and unhindered. Sin can often cause our hearts to grow callous, and we may not be as sensitive toward the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy wants you either in pride thinking you are better off doing life your own way or in isolation, bound in a pit of depression, unable to receive love or give out love, feeling like no one loves you or cares about you, especially God. But God’s love is unconditional and perfect, and nothing can stop His pursuit toward you. He wants us to be honest with Him so that we can see real transformation happen in our life, as He conforms us into the image of His Son.

Like I said above, positionally, in Christ, you stand before God forgiven and righteous, but experientially, sanctification is a process because our flesh is weak. Although as born-again believers, we continue to sin against God because we are constantly at war with our flesh in this life, the good news is that we have a great advocate, Jesus Christ, who is forever our righteousness. To be sure, our position in Him as declared righteous before God will never change, yet, we are still called to confess our sin, which purifies our conscious before the Lord.  Is there a particular sin that you have been struggling with? Pause and take some time to write it/them down and repent before the Lord, laying it all down at His feet. 1 John 1:9 says Jesus is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Let us come out of hiding and rejoice in the truth that Jesus is forever our righteousness despite our shortcomings!

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The Blessing Found in Suffering

When a tragic, unexpected death happens, do you shake your fist and proclaim “Not today, Satan! We will make the devil pay!” or do you trust God’s ways are higher than yours and say like our Lord, Jesus, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done” and trust that He will use that trial for your good and for His glory?

Suffering is a reality for everyone on this earth, including believers. To deny that, is to deny reality of the fact that we live in a fallen world and Christians are not exempt from the results of it. Remember, the Apostles suffered greatly and many of them died horrendous deaths as martyrs. But it was all for God’s glory and a part of His sovereign plan for their lives. 

James 1:12 shares us a beautiful promise about suffering:

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).

God will use all things to conform us to the image of Christ and often in the life of the believer that includes pain and suffering. In times of suffering, we can pray for God’s mercy to come and cry out for His help in time of trouble, yes, but we must remember Jesus promised that “in this life, there will be trouble” (John 16:33). Yet, we know that He overcame the world for us and we will one day taste of that victory in full when we meet Him face to face! 

That is why we must keep our eyes fixed upon the hope of eternity and not on this life. And that is why faith in God is so important because it is the rock on which we stand when trials and the storms of life come because they will. We must remember that our faith in Him means that because of the cross, we are forgiven and now we can have the hope that He never leaves our side and walks with us through the valley and the mountain top experiences and we have the ultimate hope that there is a glorious eternal life that awaits us in Christ Jesus. That is our anchor…the hope of eternity. There is a day that awaits believers where all pain and suffering will cease. But until then, we continue to declare “And if not…He is still good” and trust our life in His sovereign hands no matter what comes our way. 

Father, please help us find your mercy and goodness when trials and the storms of life come our way. If we are prone to grumble and complain, may the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and remind us to be thankful for your promise of eternity because of the cross. May we look for opportunities to comfort those around us who are suffering as well, so we can help hold each other up. We live in a fallen world, and although we cannot escape suffering, we know that heaven is our home and that the crown of life awaits those who stand firm in the faith, trusting that you have overcome the world and there is no reason to fear. We give you praise and thanksgiving that you will never leave us alone to walk through suffering alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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