Driven Towards Christ

I have always considered myself a goal-oriented person. When asked to describe myself during interviews for jobs I would often use words like passionate, driven, hard-working, and loyal. There are many times in my life that I intensely kept my “eye on the prize,” ran hard after what I wanted, and achieved my goals. Tragically, this tenacity of running after my goals would result in me becoming distracted from the most important prize, Jesus Christ. The Spirit would convict me, and I would ask the Lord to help me rightly prioritize my time and focus. It’s a beautiful thing to be driven and hard-working, but it is all in vain if your first passion is not your drive towards growing in your relationship with Christ. The stronger you develop your nearness to the Lord, the more you will become like Him. We must remember that the most important race run in this life is for the Kingdom of God, for the glory of Christ’s name, not ours. We must remain motivated by the glory of God.  

What motivates your drive toward 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. 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 3:12-14, ESV)

Intersecting Faith and Life:

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 are related to our devotion to Him and reveal 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.

We can remind our hearts 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 sins, 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 toward the prize. Ultimately, Christlikeness is our prize. Let us seek the Lord and ask Him to increase our passion to become more like Him!

Further Reading:

  • 1 Timothy 6:11-12
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8
  • Matthew 6:33
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Fixing Our Gaze Upon Christ

At the beginning of a new year, so many of us often set lofty goals that we want to pursue. Some common ones are: lose weight, exercise more, read a certain number of books, get out of debt, eat healthier, travel more, learn a new skill or hobby, or drink more water. 

All those goals or resolutions are quite admirable, and many can be achieved and maintained if one sets their mind to work hard and stay committed and focused to keep chasing after the lifestyle shift and goal ahead of them. Unfortunately, after the excitement of the fresh new year wains, many people get discouraged and distracted and soon enough, they quickly throw in the towel and stop running towards their goal. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions actually stayed committed to the endeavor of pursuing to completion their resolution or change of lifestyle.That means over half of the people who set a goal for the new year will fail! The study also involved people who did not make a New Year’s resolution but set out to achieve a simple goal- only 4% of those people were successful at achieving their goals. The question that needs to be raised is: what got in the way of the pursuit? 

Considering our Christian journey is far more important than mere earthly plans, I cannot help but apply this situation to spiritual pursuits, our spiritual race. How often do we set our hearts at running the race set before us-towards pursuing more of Christ and the knowledge of Him- and become distracted, discouraged, and entangled in worldly temptations that pull us away from Him? I know for me, the distractions around me sometimes feel inescapable and overwhelming. But we have inspiration…we have a model to look to- Christ!

In chapter 12 of the book of Hebrews we see an encouragement regarding our Christian race that we need to fix our gaze upon Christ because He is our example:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” .

(Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

Jesus is not only our example on this Christian pilgrimage, but He is also the One who endows us with the power and grace to keep running our race and to finish well. We are able to keep pressing forward, casting off distractions, discouragements, and disappointment because He is the One who is faithful to complete the work that He began in us. This doesn’t mean that we are free of responsibility on our race. We often determine the pace in which we are running. What has slowed you down on your Christian journey? Are you looking backwards? Have you been caught in the trap of sin that has stolen your zeal for Jesus? These are all questions we need to ask ourselves. Hebrews 12:1-2 commands us to lay aside every weight and snare and to fix our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He loved us so much that He endured the cross to purchase our freedom from sin. That should be enough motivation for us to keep running after Him and glorify Him with our life. Worldly temptations, distractions, and discouragements will inevitably come, but we do not have to be ensnared by them and give up on pursuing God. Let us make a commitment this new year to lay it all aside to run after the Lord and the things of His Kingdom like never before. 

Father God, 

I have such a desire to pursue You and grow in the knowledge of You, but I feel surrounded by so many distractions and temptations that keep me from being faithful on my Christian journey. I repent for allowing myself to be ensnared by sin that does not satisfy. You are the only One who can truly satisfy my soul. Help me to cast off all things that would entangle me and keep me from running the race set before me with fervor. Please give me wisdom on how I can limit my distractions and set boundaries in my life so that I can prioritize spiritual things. I find my hope in You and trust Your joy will keep my heart from growing discouraged. I fix my gaze upon You, Jesus. Thank You for Your faithfulness, for Your nearness, and for Your Holy Spirit that empowers me to say no to distraction and stay focused on Kingdom matters. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Finding the Good in Suffering

What word comes to mind when you reflect upon suffering, trials, storms, pain, difficulties, and struggles? Most likely, the word “good” seems a bit out of place to describe such life challenges. Yet, we see in the life of Job that although he experienced tremendous pain and loss in his life at the hand of the enemy, God allowed it to happen and used it for good so that Job would know the Lord more deeply. 

The “double for his trouble”(that Job received double the material blessings for his suffering) teaching that you hear so often in the prosperity gospel message tries to take the focus off the entire point of the book of Job that reveals to us the beautiful attribute of God’s sovereignty over all things that happens in our world, including pain and suffering. When we try to give more power to Satan than we should, we infer that he “got one passed God” like God was completely unaware it was going to happen. The fact of the matter is that God allows suffering and pain to come into our life for a reason.

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!

The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans reminds us that even in the midst of our suffering, we can keep our mind set upon the future glory that awaits us in heaven one day:

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

(Romans 8:18, ESV)

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 and know that He is working all things for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

Let’s pray:

Father, 

Please help me find Your mercy and goodness when trials and the storms of life come my way. If I am prone to grumble and complain, may the Holy Spirit convict my heart quickly and remind me to be thankful for Your promise of eternity because of the cross. May I look for opportunities to comfort those around me 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. Help me see the good that will come out of me walking through every dark trial. I give You praise and thanksgiving that You will never leave me alone to walk through suffering by myself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Clinging to Contentment

As Americans, our culture seems to have a desire for more, more, more, especially when it comes to material things. Even if we don’t need it, if it is on sale, oftentimes, we feel drawn to purchase the item. We are becoming consumed with consumerism. Perhaps it is time to ask ourselves, if we are always seeking and reaching for more, are we truly satisfied in Christ alone? Are we looking to material things, people, or great circumstances to find peace or joy? Are we content with what God has already provided for us? 

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he begins to share with the church at Philippi encouragement about learning how to rejoice no matter what is going on in life and gives the people direction in what they need to focus on. 

In Philippians 4:8, he exhorts:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

If the Philippians would put this into practice, they would experience the peace of God.

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, he reflects on God’s perfect provision:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

(Philippians 4:11-12, ESV)

He ends that thought with the famous verse, proclaiming that he can do all things through Christ that gives him strength. What is most encouraging about this verse is its context: contentment. The secret to finding contentment regardless of circumstance, having plenty or being hungry, that Paul is talking about is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the One who gives us the strength and ability to remain content no matter what we are experiencing. True contentment is knowing that Jesus alone can satisfy our souls. True contentment is satisfaction of having our emotional well-being detached from our circumstances and bound to God and His wonderful grace. The world, the flesh, and the devil will perpetuate dis-satisfaction in your soul. Dis-satisfaction happens when you fixate on the source of the problem, and you begin believing your deserve more than what you have. When we search for fulfillment in things, people, or even our circumstances, we will always come up short. All of these things we try to fill our lives with aren’t necessarily bad things, but when they become the end goals, and the reason for our being, they become idols in our life. We end up being discontented because those things were never meant to fulfill us. Jesus is the only One who can bring true contentment into our life. We must learn how to disconnect our hearts from the allurements and attractions of this world and cling to Christ instead. We must remain humble and grateful no matter our circumstances. Let us ask the Lord to help us to seek contentment and hold onto it regardless of what we may be experiencing. 

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord,

I am struggling with discontentment. Help me to guard my heart from discouragement and complaining. Teach me how to find ways to praise You when my expectations are not met or I become uncomfortable in my current circumstances. I know I need to trust in Your sovereignty and lean upon Your ways over my own. Your grace is sufficient for me, and I thank You for always guiding me into truth and convicting my heart when I fall into the sin grumbling and complaining, thinking that I know better than You. My lips long to praise Your great name. I know that at the point of great need, You pour out Your grace. Help me to remain humble and grateful. Thank You for Your love for me and for changing my heart to reflect Yours. I pray You would use all things to transform me and strengthen my faith in You. May I find contentment in You alone and cling to it each day of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Putting Off Sinful Anger

The other day, a post from a mommy blog with the title “We’re Allowed to Be Angry” caught my eye in my Facebook feed. The headline caption read: “Maybe it’s not ‘mom rage.’ Maybe it’s that mom is doing everything for everybody else and is having her needs met less than everyone else in the house.” Essentially, the short blog was highlighting the fact that the overwhelming demands and expectations put on mothers are deserving of anger. Understandably, this article was not written by a believer, so the advice given to justify moms being angry when life gets challenging would not be Biblical. Although it was a bit disheartening to read the comments on this post, I am thankful that I do not have to run to mommy blogs for insight on how to navigate the challenging seasons of motherhood especially when it comes to my emotions that can lead me to sin. Instead of justifying my anger and outbursts in the trenches as a mom, I can run to the scriptures to find direction and wisdom.

In the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul makes an interesting and helpful correlation between anger and the schemes of the enemy:

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

(Ephesians 4:26-27, NASB)

The Lord created us with a ray of emotions and understands that it is completely normal to experience overwhelming feelings when we are stressed, disappointed, offended, rejected, and hurt- especially anger. Here, in Ephesians chapter four, we read that being angry is going to happen, but that is not the issue. The issue arises when we do not control our emotions and allow our anger to consume us so much that it causes us to react to that anger in sinful behavior or actions. For me, when I struggle with this sinful behavior the most, I can often allow myself to outburst by yelling at my children, slamming doors behind me, or saying hurtful words towards the ones that I deeply love. When I allow myself to lose control in those situations, the enemy is given an opportunity to cause destruction in both my own life and others’. If anger is not controlled, it can lead to more destructive behavior. Jesus even tells us in the sermon on the mount that anger towards a brother is equivalent to murder (Matthew  5). God is after our heart, and He does not want anger to remain in it and breed more sin.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Obviously, I see how my flesh and the enemy can lure me into those kinds of sinful behaviors when my emotions get the best of me, but I don’t have to take the bait. Anger will inevitably come, but I can choose to process those emotions with the Lord and with those whom I am feeling angry towards. It is not healthy to go to sleep angry either, so it is important to settle those frustrations quickly so that reconciliation and peace can be found. When anger leads us to act out sinfully, we are given an opportunity to run to the throne of grace and receive Christ’s mercy when we repent for our sin. God is faithful to forgive us and strengthen us with His grace to overcome every temptation to lash out in anger. May the Lord help us renew our mind with His Word and give us the patience we need to endure frustrations with self-control. Anger will present itself in our heart, but we do not have to be trapped by it. The Lord will provide a way of escape, so let us look to Him for help to handle those overwhelming feelings. 

Further Reading: 

  • James 1:19-21
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9
  • Proverbs 15:18
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Freedom from the Burden of Condemnation

For many years I was driven by perfectionism and the feeling that I had to work successfully or perform well in life to be loved by other people…and to be loved by God. On the outside, I looked like I had it all together- high honors throughout school, hyper-involvement in extracurricular activities, serving in any ministry I was asked to be involved in, star of the high school plays and musicals, head cheerleader, first chair clarinet player in the band, and the list goes on and on. But on the inside, I was so empty and constantly searching for true fulfillment. I knew God was there for me, but somehow, I thought I could be perfect in my own strength on my walk with Him. 

Because we are human, we fail time and time again. We make a mess of things more often than not. Guilt and shame can often push us further away from God, instead of closer. For so long as a Christian, I was allowing self-condemnation to take root in my heart, and it weighed me down as I walked around carrying all of the baggage of my past sins and failures, thinking that I had to continue to strive to keep God’s forgiveness. Thankfully, today, I no longer live burdened by a works-based mentality. I find my identity in the finished work of Christ, and I want to encourage you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you should too. Grace is a gift that cannot be earned, and you do not have to strive to keep it either.

In Romans 8:1, the Bible tells us that we do not have to carry condemnation in our lives when we’re truly in Christ. If you are a born-again believer, condemnation does not exist because the punishment for our failures and sins does not exist. 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

(Romans 8:1, ESV)

This means that when we embrace and believe what Jesus did for us on the cross, as He took the punishment for our sin that we deserved, are lives are now hidden in Christ. When we come to God with a heart full of repentance, resting in this glorious, finished work of the cross, we can stand before the throne of God without any shame because Jesus bore all of it for us. The debt we owed has been paid in full- we are free from all bondage.

Jesus took all of your sin and your shame upon Himself and cast it as far as the east is from the west, friend. You no longer have to live with the weight of your failures. You can come boldly to the throne of grace, beloved, because it is grace that did the work for you. You can rest assured that God sees you as blameless and perfect because you are in Christ. There is no reason to carry that heavy burden of condemnation you’re your shoulders…surrender it to Christ today. Let’s pray that you learn to no longer walk around carrying the weight of your past and stop striving for perfection. Remember, Jesus is blameless and perfect for you…lean upon Him. 

Father, 

I know that I need to stop running away from You when I fail and sin. You see it all and know that I am going to undoubtably mess up. That is why You sent Your Son Jesus to earth to live the perfect life for me; to fulfill the law completely for me. His death on the cross paid for my punishment of the curse of the law that I will never be able to uphold. So I come boldly to the throne of grace today and receive new mercies that Christ died for me to have. I lean upon Your strength and grace today and trust that the work that You started in me will continue until Christ’s glorious return or when I meet You face to face. I rest in Your beautiful mercy and cast off any condemnation that may be trying to weigh me down. In You, I am completely free and forgiven! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Delighting in the Lord

When I am pulled into the temptation of complaining about my circumstances, I must ask myself some questions to gain perspective and do a serious heart assessment: if I am always seeking for an escape from the discomfort or trial, am I truly satisfied in Christ alone? Am I looking to material things, people, or enjoyable experiences to find peace or joy? I am truly content with what God has already provided for me in Christ? We know as believers we can always find answers and direction in the scriptures.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to:
“Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” 

(Psalm 37:4, NKJV)

The Hebrew word translated “delight” literally means to be delicate or feminine. It carries the idea of being pliable or sensitive.  In this specific context in Psalm 37, it means to be dependent upon God and to derive one’s pleasure from Him.

When we read this verse, we usually picture the word delight to mean to enjoy God, which in a way it does. But as I went deeper researching the Hebrew meaning of the word, I realized the verse seems to be a command to us. God is commanding us to find our pleasure and contentment in Him alone.

Here, also in this verse, the Lord is telling us that He will give us the desires of our heart once we fully depend on Him and His ways. When we have a full understanding of who God is and what His ways are like, we can take genuine pleasure in Him. Not because of what He can do for us, but just because of who He is. 

What begins to happen the more we take delight in the Lord, He begins to change our heart and change our desires to reflect His desires. Instead of thinking more about ourselves and what we want, we begin to think more highly of others and become less self-focused and selfish. Suddenly, one of our greatest desires then becomes to please God and tell others about Him, using our life to give God all the glory He deserves. 

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Jesus is the One who gives us the strength and ability to remain content no matter what we are experiencing. True contentment is knowing that Jesus alone can satisfy our souls. When we search for fulfillment in things, people, or even our circumstances, we will always come up short. All of these things we try to fill our lives with aren’t necessarily bad things, but when they become the end goals, and the reason for our being, they become idols in our life. We end up being discontented because those things were never meant to fulfill us. Jesus is the only One who can bring true contentment into our life. May we learn to delight in Him, and over time, we will begin to see how He changes our desires to look more like Him. Take some time to reflect and journal and express your gratitude to the Lord. If you are feeling discontented, ask the Lord to help you find satisfaction and peace in Him alone.

Further Reading:

  • Philippians 4:13
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-11

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Resting in Christ’s Perfect Peace

My husband and I are each the first-born children in our families. Although there isn’t any science behind first-born personalities, psychologists have taken note of the common traits regarding those who have been born first among their siblings. 

In general, firstborn children have been found to be responsible, assertive, task-oriented, perfectionistic, and supporters of authority. With all of those leadership characteristics, a great amount of weight can be placed upon the shoulders of the individuals prone to be the rule-follower and goal chaser. This can often lead to much stress and anxiety if not constantly kept in check. When two first-borns marry each other, they can run together with fervor to achieve dreams and become very productive as a family, but the home also needs peace to reign in it most of all. And not just “problem-free” type of peace- a peace that passes all understanding regardless of what is happening. Only the Lord, Jesus Christ can offer us this kind of perfect peace.

In God’s providence, one of the reasons we named our first-born child, Isaiah, was because of a very special verse found in the book of Isaiah regarding this kind of perfect peace that my husband and I know that we need every single day. Right in the middle of a prophecy regarding the land of Judah, the prophet Isaiah uttered these beautiful words about the Lord and His peace in chapter 26:

“You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you”

(Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

For many of us, these last few years have felt a bit unstable. We have all experienced some form of worry, stress, and anxiety from the unknown future. From viruses, suddenly losing loved ones, empty store shelves, job losses, rising home prices, and hefty grocery bills week after week- we have all needed to find a perfect peace. Our answer is found in fixing our gaze upon the Lord and anchoring our minds to His unwavering truth. No matter what is going on around us, we can find an unshakable confidence in the Lord because He is ever-faithful to us. This is why staying in the Word consistently is so important when experiencing stressful or unstable times. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and the more we are studying the scriptures, the stronger our trust in God becomes. The Word of God is so powerful and the more we study and meditate upon it, our foundation will be strong in Christ, and we will continually know how to look to Him any time stress and anxiety tries to overtake us. Let us always be quick to ask the Lord for His sustaining grace and help in our time of need, looking to Him always because He cares for us. No matter what is going on around us, even if it seems like everything is falling apart, we must remember that God holds the entire universe in His hands. He is completely sovereign. Nothing passes through His hands by accident. He is in total control and has a great plan regarding all of it; We can trust in Him and rest in His great, perfect peace. Let us set our mind upon Him.

Lord, thank You that You want us to set our minds upon You at all times. Thank You that there is nowhere I can go that You are not there with me. Thank You for having a hold of my life, even as I feel like everything is crumbling around me. I confess that I have let stress take a hold of my life, rather than You. I have tried to control things in my life and at the same time, I have let anxiety control my mood, my attitudes and my actions. Lord, I repent of this! Please Father, help me see what is stressful or worrisome in my life and hand it over to You. Help me actively think on Your goodness to me. I am so hopeful for my eternity with you, Lord, where the presence of sin and fear will be no more! Help me look back on all the ways You have rescued me from my fearful moments and remember where You have always been faithful to me in the midst of great trials. Help me to rest in the truth of Your goodness and power today. Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Serving Like Christ

“Ministry” is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve.” At my church, our pastors believe that every member of God’s Church is a minister, so obviously that would mean that every believer is called to serve- serve Jesus and serve His Body. Jesus was the servant of all. In fact, He was the Servant King. Christ shares in the gospel of John of the importance of serving and following Him as He serves others.

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him”

(John 12:26, ESV).

Jesus asks us as Christians to lay our lives down continually, denying our wants and desires, or as the Apostle Paul said to do, “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Do we know how to do that?

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).

Some people have wrong thoughts about God and service, perhaps believing their service doesn’t matter because others have it taken care of. Or perhaps they see pastors as the ones who are qualified for service and ministry, so they don’t need to join in. But we are all priests to our God (1 Peter 2:9)! When we put our hands to the plow, so to speak, in ministry, we are worshiping God. Those who are saved by Christ will eagerly and joyfully serve Christ and His people. We have been clothed in Christ’s righteousness to match Him and follow Him. What clothes are you wearing- the world’s or Christ’s? 

No matter the excuse or wrong thinking regarding ministry and service, we can ask God to help us see the importance of serving the Lord and others. The Holy Spirit empowers us to set aside our selfishness and learn how to be selfless like Jesus, preferring others above ourselves. That kind of lifestyle starts in the mind, in the way we think, as we learn to think of ourselves less and look for ways to put others first. The Lord promises that the Father will honor the one who serves Christ by serving His people. As we learn to prefer others above ourselves, the Lord fills us with His love to the overflow to reach more people for His Kingdom. Let us ask God to help us value the call to serve so we can look more like Him. 

Heavenly Father, 

You are selfless, humble, gracious, and merciful and You ask us as Your children to follow Your example. I cannot do that in my own strength. Thank You for empowering me with Your Holy Spirit and with Your grace to be able to deny my own desires and selfish ambitions. When I mess up or find myself walking pride, thank You for convicting my heart of my self-seeking nature. I need Your help to prefer others above myself. Your Word transforms my mind so that I can learn how to think less of myself and seek to serve You and Your people. I trust that You will help me see what that looks like specifically in my own life. My heart longs to be the servant You have called me to be. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Walking in Forgiveness

A few years ago, the Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity to mentor and disciple a few young women from a former church that my husband and I attended several years prior. It turned out that word started getting around that these young ladies had been associating with me, and the pastors of this church did not approve. One young lady was told that she needed to disconnect from me immediately because my husband and I were dangerous individuals…we were called “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” 

Once the shock wore off from hearing such statements said about us, I knew I was faced with two options of how to handle these accusations: allow those words to embitter me towards my former pastors or lay down my offense at the foot of the cross, forgive, and pray for them. 

In one of Jesus’ sermons in Luke 6, He gives great wisdom to those who are recipients of hurtful words and actions from others:

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28, NIV).

A few verses later, He simply states that one should do unto others that we would want done to us (Luke 6:31). As one who is a peace-keeper by nature, I typically struggle when I know someone has a problem with me. I am not one to burn bridges or cut people off. Of course, there is such thing as boundaries, but I have always tried to keep my heart free from offense; I admit, that I haven’t always been able to shake off those stings from words spoken about me. Knowing that offense will undoubtably come, I must be quick to forgive and quick to pray for those who mistreat me. It’s difficult to hold onto offense when you are purposely and intentionally praying for the person who hurt you. It doesn’t mean that we can always forget the action or words wielded against us, but it does mean that we cannot hold onto it. One of the best ways to guard our heart from bitterness is to ask God to bless those who curse us. You won’t have space in your heart for offense when you are approaching the throne of grace on behalf of that enemy. 

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. 

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. Let’s ask Him to help us lift our enemies up to Him so that we can be free and honor God.

Father,

I come to You today first and foremost with a grateful heart that You would lavish Your mercy and love upon me, someone who has sinned against You, oh, Holy and righteous Creator God! Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus, who stood in my place to die a death that I deserved so that I could be forgiven, justified, and restored back to You to now be called Your child. If I am holding onto unforgiveness against someone who has hurt me or gravely sinned against me, I repent and forgive that person immediately. I have no right to harbor unforgiveness against anyone, and as Your child, You call me to forgive others because I have been forgiven by You. I choose to obey You, no matter how difficult it may be for me. I trust Your Spirit will empower me to forgive and love others how You have forgiven and love me. Help me heal from the wounds that may have been caused by the hands of others. I pray for their heart that they would walk in repentance and walk in forgiveness and know and trust You like I do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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