Faith Over Fear, Part 8: Be Faithful in the Little Things

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There is such a lack of faithfulness in today’s culture. So many are content with living below average lives, just working the bare minimum to pay the bills, just studying the bare minimum to pass the class. So little motivation for living a thriving, healthy lifestyle.

I can’t say I’m totally exempt from this attitude. I feel so dragged down by college schoolwork, so I overly distract myself with social media, YouTube, and other various things, leaving schoolwork in the backburner and letting ugly procrastination rule my life.

Ouch. Lord, help me.

The other day, He told me: Do small things with great joy.

This reminded me of when Jesus said:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” Mark 9:41

Wow! We will get a reward for doing just that? Giving someone a cup of water in Jesus’ name? Incredible. This goes to show how watchful our Father is over each one of us, and how He delights in every act of faith, no matter how small. What a good Father!

Speaking for myself personally, I have long struggled with doing every day things joyfully and eagerly. It all stems back from fear–fear that our actions don’t matter in light of eternity. Fear that this whole thing is a waste of time. Fear that we could be doing something better and more satisfying with our time.

All of these fears are lies. As we see in the verse earlier about giving a cup of water, every little action matters for eternity when we set our hearts on Christ and do it for His glory, as His followers. Every action for Jesus stores for ourselves a reward in heaven!

If that isn’t enough, when we choose to let Christ be with us in the little things and do it for Him, we find a life far more satisfying than wasting our time on the Internet, which leaves us miserable and regretful. We aren’t wasting our time. We are connecting with Christ, glorifying Him, and storing for ourselves a future reward in heaven.

Sometimes it feels the smallest things are the hardest and most tedious to do. But if we do not have faith in Jesus in the small things we do, we will not have faith in Him into the big things we do for His kingdom’s sake. And even in the small things, we can experience God’s presence—which after all, is what our heart’s ache for, isn’t it?

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10

The truth is, we can live a satisfying life when we allow God’s grace to fuel us in even the small tasks of every day living. When we enjoy His presence at work, school, or talking with friends. When we delight in Him as we drive to run errands or as we wash dishes. And in turn, these small things prepare us for larger moments of acts of faith God may have for us in the future.

Even in these miniscule moments, God is able to come through for us in making ever moment count and every moment significant for the Kingdom of God. He can use anything and everything to grow us to be more like Him and draw us in an ever more intimate relationship with Him.

God wants us to be faithful. It’s one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, so that tells us He can empower us to be faithful in ever task.

So how can we be faithful? The simple answer is this: Have faith in Him.

Rather than bowing to fear of wasting time, trust that He who gave this task to you will strengthen you and satisfy you through it. He can teach us how to be organize and clean for His glory. He can teach us to be committed to meetings, appointments, and the like. He can show us how to get to places on time and prioritize the right tasks to make for fruitful living that glorifies Him and shines a light for Him for all the world to see.

Every moment counts as a Christian. Even if no one is watching, God is always with you watching over you, cheering you on to live every moment in His presence, His freedom, and His grace. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Truthfully, we must invite Him into our small tasks and let Him strengthen us in order to find rest for ourselves even in our labor.

So, how can we be faithful in the small things?

Stay connected with Him. Keep in mind this verse: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

See, this is God’s will for your life! To be rejoicing always in the Lord – that Christ died for you, even you, a sinner, and rose again on the third day to give you eternal life. To be praying always – living and abiding in His presence, staying in constant communion with God. To give thanks in all circumstances – thanking God for His mercy, grace, and compassion. He is slow to anger and abounding in love!

As rejoicing, praying, and thanking God activates the Holy Spirit within you, you will have all the strength you need to remain faithful to the tasks God has set before you.

Work with all your heart, dear brothers and sisters. Know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

What are struggling with being faithful in right now? School? Work? Commitments? Time management? Cleaning?

Ask the Lord to be with you and give you great joy for the tasks ahead of you. He will strengthen you and help you (Isaiah 41:10). You can always be sure of that. ❤

Faith Over Fear, Part 7: Do Not Grow Weary in Doing Good

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I have been reflecting on how to go about writing about the last four fruits of the spirit: goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Honestly, it seems daunting. We can’t just muster out of us these fruits of the spirit. There aren’t five practical steps for how to exhibit these fruits of the spirit. If we tried to be good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled on our own strength, we would fail. The only way for the fruits to spring up in our lives is if we are connected to the vine: Jesus Christ.

It all goes back to abiding. Resting. Remaining in Him. Staying in Him. Sticking with Jesus. You can read my article about abiding here.

So in the following articles I write, I am going to express, by the grace of God, how these fruits of the spirit can naturally spring up in your life as you connect with the true Vine. To check out the first six articles about the Holy Spirit counteracting fear click on these links: Be filled with the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness

What does it mean to be good? In today’s society, people have all kinds of different definitions of what it means to be a good person. Most people consider those who are against murdering to be pretty decent humans. But God’s standard is so much higher.

I asked some people over Instagram how they would define “being good”, and I got some interesting answers from pretty solid Christians.

What it means to be good:

A deep connection with God where we are constantly trying to align our thoughts and everything with Him

Centered on God

Abide in Him, and trust Him to do the rest

I find these answers fascinating and pointing me back to the idea of abiding in Christ once again. After all, Jesus Himself says in Luke 18:19b, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

Thus, we don’t even know how to be good. God’s goodness is so far above us and far beyond our understanding. His goodness is so much “more good” than our idea of at least not wanting to kill anyone. Have you stolen anything? Have you lied? Have you lusted after someone in your heart? Have you gossiped? Have you hated someone in your heart? Jesus says that anger towards a person (vs. anger towards their sin) is the equivalent of murder.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:20-22 (ESV)

Scripture cuts through our self-righteous ideas of goodness and gets straight to the heart. We are not good. Only God is good. And by His grace, His righteousness lives inside us to will and to act according to His good purpose.

The more I grow in the Lord, the more I realize the depravity of my sinful nature and that I truly have no righteousness on my own. I must be completely helpless and weak before Christ, totally dependent on Him to live through me. And I must let Him do it. Then, by the grace of God, my actions will proclaim to the world that God is good.

Invite Jesus into every situation. I am learning more and more how vital this is. Take every time you spend with family or friends as an opportunity to cry to Jesus “Your will be done in this time” and watch how God works out His will and surprises you because of your dependence on Him. His will, His ways, and His plans are perfect. Trust in Him! Don’t waste your life getting distracted by these situations and forgetting about Jesus in your social interactions. Stay in close communication with Jesus and watch how He moves in you and works in others’ live as well.

Bring Jesus into your social times, your work times, your school times, your relaxed times. Every moment of every day choose Jesus. Seek His face. Seek for His glory to be known to all people. Ask Him what’s on His heart. Make the most of every opportunity to do good to all people.

Keep choosing to obey Jesus by doing good to others. Don’t let fear hold you back to reach out to that one friend, or to share the gospel with that stranger, or to start a hard conversation with a family member. Don’t let fear hold you back from offering a helping hand, for serving others, for doing the little things for God’s glory.

When you feel that nudge to do something, do it. Be bold, dear brothers and sisters! Take risks. Doing good is what the Holy Spirit nudges us to do, and failing to take those opportunities brings conviction on the Christian’s soul.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” – James 4:17

Keep listening to the Holy Spirit and take every opportunity to do good. Don’t give up, Beloved! You may not understand it now, but there is boundless joy in choosing Jesus in every situation.

Each time you do so, light shines brightly into the dark world, and people notice it, and some–even some–will realize it is beautiful.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

What do you feel God is nudging you to do? What is holding you back from doing it?

Faith Over Fear, Part 6: Clothe Yourselves With Kindness

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I’m back!!! Back from where? Back from about a month long break from blogging. It’s been a journey, for sure, of God teaching me and growing me in many ways. Most of all, He has humbled me to see the depths of His grace and mercy and how much more deeply than I thought I needed to be totally dependent on Him each and every day. The gospel is NOT a one-time gift to receive, it is a gift we get to receive each and every day as believers! With that being said, here is my new post about how choosing kindness can counteract fear in your life. Check out my other posts about the fruit of the Holy Spirit here: Be filled with the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience

In our society, we see and hear the message “Be kind” everywhere we go. People endeavor to perform sweet gestures as “random acts of kindness.” Kindness certainly makes the world a better place. But did you know, that as a son or daughter of God, kindness should be something that you don’t just exercise, but that defines you?

Why? Because, my friends, God has been abundantly kind to you.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” – Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

So, we know God has been abundantly kind to us in lavishing on us mercy we don’t deserve. Wow! And we also know that “Love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4) and that one of the fruits of the spirit is kindness (Gal. 5:22).

And when we look at Colossians 3:12 we also know God calls us to clothe ourselves with kindness:


“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)

 

So God is Love, and Love is Kind, and the ability to be Kind is within us as the Holy Spirit resides in us. And now, we see that as Beloved sons and daughters, it is our choice to dress ourselves up in Kindness every day.

I know it is easy to be rude to people, particularly family members or reckless drivers on the street. Rudeness stems from fear, (fear we won’t get our way, fear we won’t be understood, etc.) but as children of God who have faith in Jesus, we are called to a higher standard. We can have faith which expresses itself in love (Gal. 5:60.

To be honest, it isn’t easy for me to be kind all the time. One thing I have noticed, is that when I hoard any unforgiveness in my heart towards my family, it is impossible to be truly and genuinely kind to them. I am learning to continually express to my Heavenly Father about what is bothering me, and then let Him continually prune my heart and fill me with lovingkindness towards my family members. I am learning to live in constant forgiveness towards my family members, because of God’s constant grace and mercy poured out onto me. Can you forgive those who constantly bother you, constantly?

This is exactly what Jesus calls us to:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

Wow! That is a high standard of forgiveness, but it is NOTHING compared to how much God forgives us, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Jesus Christ is always there to intercede for us and provides us access to our loving Father, no matter what we have done (Hebrews 7:25)! Praise God! He is so good and so faithful!

And God never chose to be kind to us for any reason other than that it is in His very nature to be kind. In the same way, He would not require us to be kind if He did not give us access to His Spirit which enables us to have kindness in our new, redeemed nature.

In order to be kind, Beloved, we must learn to be real. Yes, kindness is in our redeemed nature, but oftentimes we have feelings we have to acknowledge in order to be really, truly kind. As Niel T. Anderson says in his book Victory Over the Darkness, “You must be real to be right.” Take off the mask and be vulnerable with God, and in turn kindness will be your natural response towards others.

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 

As you trust God with your heart, He is kind and gentle with you there and He begins His healing process. His love fills you up and kindness naturally flows out of you towards others. “Being kind” isn’t just an exercise anymore, it is who you are, because of Christ living in you.

I am learning to be myself around my family members, rather than put on a mask to protect myself from pain or in response to my bitterness. This isn’t a flippant “be yourself” where you just don’t care about how you act anymore. This is being yourself out of an abiding relationship with God. As you learn to constantly commune with the Holy Spirit, telling Him everything that is going on, and letting Him love you, kindness begins to be a natural part of your life. Rudeness becomes a foreigner to you, and you begin to live the kind-hearted life God has always called you to live in your relationships with people!

Today, Beloved, take action and find ways to show kindness to your friends, family, or strangers. Clothe yourself with kindness everyday, and keep your clothes on even when others are rude to you (weird metaphor–but hey, it works!). Because the Lord never stops being kind to us, let us never stop being kind to others, no matter how rude they are to us!

Have a blessed day, Beloved, and enjoy this song that speaks of our Savior’s kindness!

What Editing Has Taught Me Spiritually

A new post over on my author blog!

Grace Caylor

In my last post, I talked about some practical tips editing has really grounded in me more as a writer.

Now, to move on, I would like to share what editing The Thrall’s Sword has taught me spiritually. (If you would like to learn more about my soon-to-be-published novel itself, click here.)

I have realized many things about God through this editing journey. I have learned that Jesus is the best Author whom I can totally trust and rely on to make my life into a beautiful masterpiece. When I trust in the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse my soul, He deletes all the bad stuff out of me bit by bit and adds good stuff to me to make me more like Himself–holy and righteous before God the Father.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we…

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Faith Over Fear, Part 5: The Sacrifice of Patience

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Check out my other fruits of the Holy Spirit posts here: Being filled with the Spirit, love, joy, peace

How does patience counteract fear in our lives? It is an interesting question to ask, and actually very relevant to our current age if you think about it. With all this technology, we have learned to be quickly and easily gratified by one tap of the finger. We rush around trying to earn money to make a living. We rarely have time—or make the time—to just slow down for people.

Fear of lack of time or fear of vulnerability can get us to rush past important things in relationships in order to gratify ourselves, meanwhile dismissing the needs and wishes of another, like their desire to be listened to.

The famous love chapter, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes love right from the beginning as patient (v. 4). Why is patience so important in learning to love others?

Because impatient people show by their behavior that they don’t care about the person in front of them and they want to get on with their lives. Ouch. Haha!

You see, exercising patience reveals the deep value and care God has for people. God slows down for people because He knows that they matter more than “the next thing.” People’s hearts matter to God more than getting things done.

Real success isn’t finishing that work project, it is taking the time to listen to a friend or neighbor pour out their frustration about their finance issue. Real success is choosing to go deeper with a teenager when they say they’re fine but you know they don’t really mean it. Real success is listening to a coworker talk about what they are passionate about even though you don’t totally get why they like sports so much. Real success is intimacy, not efficiency.

(I heard something similar to the last statement one time somewhere, at a conference I think. So I don’t get full credit for it! :P)

Sometimes, though, people aren’t opening up their hearts to you in a heart-to-heart way, but more in a fist-to-fist way. They have no interest in being intimate with you. Your boss yells at you to work faster even though you already are going as fast as you can. Your parent tells you you can’t go out and meet your friends today. Your friend or sibling talks about you behind your back.

Being patient with people who are just flat out behaving badly is pretty hard. While irritation may come easy to many people, the Lord calls us to a different standard. Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Being patient in the face of difficult people is a tremendous task, but one that can be done with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a high calling the Lord invites us into, but it is totally possible through Jesus to bear with even the most difficult people in love. To live in constant forgiveness towards others and always desire and aim to have peaceful relationships with others.

Patience counteracts fear because through patience you can choose to care, slow down, and see the value of the person in front of you in spite of all their flaws and in spite of all you have to get done. Choosing to be patient with someone is trusting God’s love reaches to this person so deeply that nothing else matters. It’s refusing the fear that leads to frustration and choosing the love that leads to peace and harmony.

This is what denying ourselves as Christians looks like in everyday life! It’s saying “no” to what we want and saying “yes” to what Jesus wants for that person. And He wants them to know how deeply and truly He cares for them through our living, breathing example.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'” – Matthew 16:24

Today, Beloved, choose to be patient with a friend, family member, coworker, or someone else you encounter. Ask Jesus for the patience you need to deal with him or her graciously and lovingly. God wants this person to know how loved they are by Him, and rushing past things won’t bring the message across. You are God’s vessel, and He wants to use you to show love that surpasses all fear, a love that chooses patience at the cost of your own preferences and desires. Watch and see how your patience towards someone leads to joy and blessing!

Be blessed today, as you make the sacrifice of patience and choose love over fear in your life!

 

Update: Editing Editing Editing! My Editing Journey + 3 Helpful Writing Tips

Check out what I’m learning as I edit my soon-to-be-published novel! 🙂

Grace Caylor

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Hello everyone!

I hope you all are doing well. In spite of all that’s going on in this world, God is still good and life is still worth enjoying.

I certainly have been able to enjoy myself, editing my novel these past few weeks. Getting lost in a fictional world is one of the joys of both reading and writing a novel. Even so, the real truths of fiction conveys can help one cope with reality.

An editor from the publishing company, Ambassador International, got back to me in April with her feedback on my novel. After I finished my finals for my college sophomore semester, I set to work.

At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of comments and changes she made or suggested. But gradually I realized how helpful they were and how needed. Through editing this manuscript, I have…

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Faith Over Fear, Part 4: Let the Peace of God Rule in Your Heart

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Hey, dear readers! I am so sorry it has taken me awhile to write this. It has been a busy but enjoyable couple of weeks editing my novel for my publisher (you can check out more about that here). Check out my previous posts about being filled with the Spirit, love, and joy. This series is about how the Holy Spirit counteracts fear in our lives, which is especially applicable as we are in a global pandemic and many are afraid. The Holy Spirit also fills us with peace that overcomes fear as we trust in God, which is what I am discussing today.

Do you want more peace in your life? Is your mind scattered, disordered, or are you filled with obsessive thoughts? Do you worry a lot? Do you get anxiety or panic attacks?

Well, have no fear, my friend! Jesus doesn’t want to leave you there. He wants to lead you into perfect peace.

Peace is something we all want. This world is full of strife, bitterness, and malice, especially observed on the news lately in gruesome and unjust ways. People try to take control of their lives, which often leads to broken relationships with others and/or a fragile, anxious mind.

We don’t realize that what we are really searching for is the One who can relieve us of the burden of being in control. The One who is entirely good and knows what’s best for us. The One whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts and ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

This good Father in heaven is a foreigner to hate, and He is the definition of Love. He so loved us that He sacrificed His perfect Son, Jesus, to make peace with human beings who otherwise could not stand before a Holy God.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20

In short, the only way to find peace, both inner and outer, is to find Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1-2a

Dear friends, to attain true, inner peace and the ability to maintain peace with others in our lives, you need to be at peace with God through believing solely in Jesus’ work on the cross to save you.

Are you at peace with God? Have you trusted in Jesus to reconcile you with God? Have trusted in His blood, shed on the cross for you to set you in a right relationship with God?

Many people try to do good works to be at peace with God. Let me tell you what I’ve learned the hard way: this doesn’t work! Doing good things in and of themselves have nothing to do with being connected with God. Doing good things must come as an outflow of our relationship with God in order for them to be fruitful and lasting, and in order for us to experience true peace.

I used to try to be at peace with God by doing good things, and let me tell you, I ended up feeling miserable. I felt discouraged. And I actually felt disconnected with God.

The only way to be at peace with God is to trust that Jesus in and of Himself is sufficient to clear your guilt and unite you with God Himself. This means you will desire to do good and, even when you stumble and fall, you always have your Heavenly Father to come back to with total forgiveness and acceptance. He will never leave you nor forsake you! (Deut. 31:8)

Once you attain this salvation that is by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you have entered God’s forever family. Jesus is the Lord and Shepherd of your life, to lead and to guide you on paths of righteousness. He absolutely knows what’s best for you, knows your future, and is taking care of you!

As a believer, our job is to trust God with every detail of our lives. To give our burdens to Him continually. To leave everything in His hands.

Beloved, if even a small discomfort makes your heart uneasy, you must bring this to your loving Father, and He will help you to trust Him with it. From then on, you must let God’s peace rule in your heart at all times. Don’t let the little things get to you–in regards to both your own anxieties as well as the irritations that others cause you. Trust in the Lord! With Jesus in charge, things are going to work out just fine. Truly!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” – Colossians 3:15

The enemy will do anything to destroy your peace. But you must persevere in trusting Jesus. Persevere and push through the ridiculous reasons the enemy throws at you to be afraid. Even if you feel you have very real reasons to fear, the truth is your life is in the hands of God, no matter how terrible your circumstances are. You have nothing to fear, because the Lord is with you and is watching over you, day and night (Psalm 121:8).

Peace happens first in the mind, and then it affects the rest of your life. This following verse always reminds me what it looks like to be a peaceful person:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

When a person trusts in the Lord, he has a steadfast mind. This settled, unwavering mind is the mind which is at peace–not only that, but perfect peace!

I want this kind of mind! I want this kind of trust. I want to trust in the Lord no matter what, maintaining a steady mind, and a heart at total peace. No evil thing can unsettle this mind. No matter what happens, God is good. No matter where you go, God is with you. No matter what you do, God loves you.

With this great certainty that God is dependable and reliable, nothing can stop you from accomplishing all the wonderful things God has planned for your life. Nothing can stop you from reconciling with others in your life and maintaining peaceful relationships. The only thing that can stop you is yourself, refusing to trust God and to do the will of God!

I have experienced peace before: incredible peace. When I lay burdens at God’s feet, it is like a breath of fresh air. I’m not in control anymore. I never was in the first place. Now the God who knows what He’s doing is accomplishing His purpose in this hard situation. Though I can’t see what He’s doing, I know He’s working out something good for me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Sometimes the feeling of peace is so strong, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why God is so good to me, even though I don’t deserve it. I don’t know why He cares. I don’t know why He treasures me so deeply.

But He does. And He does the same for you. Press on and trust Him with every detail of your life, every worry in your heart, every burden on your back. Release it all into His hands, and watch Him move in incredible ways!

Trust in Him today, Beloved, and experience the peace that passes all understanding, which guards your heart, in Jesus’ name! Amen.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

In every situation, say “It is well with my soul,” and watch as you grow in deeper peace with God.

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 3: The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength!

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I hope you all are doing well, brothers and sisters in the Lord! I pray you all are seeking Christ every day and are preparing your hearts for His coming. Jesus could really come back any day, and we always need to be prepared for that! Now today let’s talk about a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit that we probably all desire more of in our lives: joy.

“How can I have joy, Lord?”

I asked this to the Lord earlier this year as I was journaling and spending time with Him. His reply? Well, He told me to go inside. So I went inside and shared with my dad about some things God had been speaking to me during that time with Him. Soon my dad and I had a good refreshing laugh, and I was overflowing with joy!

God cares about His children and wants for us to have joy. He created joy, and He created us with a desire for joy!

Not only that, but He wants us to have joy even in the midst of great trials. This is because having joy isn’t about having a feeling, it’s about having Jesus. Even in the midst of trials, if we can cling to Jesus and rejoice in Him, the trials will seem so much less in comparison with God’s goodness. It really is possible to have joy in the midst of great difficulty! 

In fact, James urges us to make the choice to be joyful in these times: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:1-3)

Consider it pure joy? What!? I used to look at that verse in awe, but never did anything about it. It just amazed me. I didn’t know if I could truly put such a thing into practice.

Well, James wasn’t just saying something! He meant it, and he knew it could be true because of our connection with the Holy Spirit, who has an unlimited supply of joy!

How can we feel joy when fear seems overwhelming? The other day I was experiencing a lot of fear. Fear may indeed be an easy thing to give into, but if we are children of the light, we must–and I repeat, MUST–learn how to conquer the fear in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. As I was reminded the other day, we must stand firm in the Lord and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).

Yes, God can meet you in your weakness. But, if we never fight against the fear with the authority of Christ we have been given, we will understandably be overwhelmed by it and be very far from joy.

In spite of our weakness, we have been given the authority of Christ and we must use it! Jesus is with us wanting to strengthen us, and it’s our job to choose to be firm and to choose to fight in the name of Jesus! We must do our part, being instilled with faith, and He will meet us with His strength! And what is His strength?

Nehemiah 8:10b gives an example of people who found that in God, they could find strength, and that strength was in fact joy: “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

This is exactly the words the Holy Spirit gave me to fight the fear last night: The joy of the Lord is my strength! As I said those words against the enemy and stood against fear, I experienced so much joy in the Lord! Praise God!!!

Listen up, folks. Joy is not just a good feeling, it is a weapon God has give us. Joy is a weapon we have been given through the Holy Spirit to counteract the fear in our lives!

It’s OK if you have to fight again and again… and again. Do NOT let the enemy make you feel stupid. PERSEVERE in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing strong against the enemy and praising God with the joy He has given you. Hallelujah! Wishy-washy words aren’t going to give you victory over fear. Only a spirit standing firm, rejecting fear, and praising God can bring you victory–all in the name of Jesus!

Let me tell you, I haven’t always been a “strong” person. In fact I hesitate to call myself strong now, because I still have so many moments of weakness, and I know I am completely weak and helpless without Jesus.

But ever since I have discovered how necessary it is to fight against fear, doubt, and unbelief, that come at me, I have learned to be a fighter. And learning to be a fighter has taught me how to be a joyful person.

A year ago, I would probably have said something like: “Oh, that’s not my thing.” I am so against hurting things, guys, really! The thought of going to a shooting range to shoot even just targets does not appeal to me.

Still, when you are a child of God, you must learn to fight against the spiritual forces of evil. (These are the only things God calls us to fight in Scripture–people themselves we are called to love.) You must admit that these dark forces will ALWAYS be dark and they deserve NO compassion. God is calling you to rise up and drive them out of your life in the name of Jesus! Give up on fear. Get on your knees. Get sanctified in the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Even in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your devastating circumstances, your everyday job, your finals during school, your family relationships–whatever you are going through, put on the full armor of God! Stand your ground. Stop letting these circumstances drown you and rise above them in the victory you have in Jesus.

Bring your hurts to God. Every hurt. Bring your burdens to God. Every burden. Bring everything to God in prayer and rejoice in His love! He is good! He is kind! He is faithful!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

This verse encourages me many times. Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t let your circumstances overwhelm. Rise up and trust in the Lord! Rise up and praise Him!

Today, my challenge to you is to rejoice, as Philippians 4:4 talks about: “Rejoice always! Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul doesn’t just tell us to rejoice one time, he repeats himself, and he says to rejoice all the time! Don’t be defeated by lies or circumstances, but rise up and praise the Lord! Sing praises to God to combat fear and worry.

Choose to believe that He is in control and He is so, so good. Choose to believe that He is better and more satisfying than your circumstances, and that eternity in heaven with Him is something worth rejoicing about. Hallelujah!

He has saved you and bought you at a great price with the precious blood of Jesus. You can put to death fear because Jesus died and you can rise up with joy because Jesus came to life again. Praise the Lord! Praise Him forevermore!!! (I am extremely happy writing this post, if you can’t tell. These exclamation points aren’t just here, they are trying to express what is going on inside me. 😀 😀 😀 YAY! Thank You, Jesus!!!)

Choose joy today, Beloved!

Choose a joy that fights and believes and remains steady and strong no matter what tries to diminish it. Choose a joy that strengthens you and nourishes you with the holy presence of God. Choose a joy that is totally worshipful and in awe of our precious Savior who bled and died for us so we might live in unity with Him now and forever!

I used to have trouble believing that God wanted me to enjoy Him, but one time at a conference my new friend (who later became one of my dearest friends) said to me: “I am going to pray for you to have fullness of joy in God’s presence.” I was thinking something like: “Ok… That’s nice, I guess?” I didn’t really believe such joy was possible.

But guess what? By the end of the conference I was bursting with joy in God’s presence. I was worshiping my heart out to Him! I was discovering how truly satisfying He was and always is, far more satisfying than anything this earth can supply. I had never experienced such unfathomable joy before. I had never before realized how much God delights in filling His people with joy. He wants to fill your cup today, till it overflows, like in Psalm 23!

God is good, friends! He is so, so good. I pray you all experience boundless joy, energy, and life from the Holy Spirit today. I pray you all learn to stand firm in the Lord, fight against fear by the power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God in the middle of the storm! Joy overcomes fear! Light overcomes darkness. Good overcomes evil. Jesus overcomes your weakness with His strength!

Jesus is with you always, and I personally believe Jesus is coming very soon, so be prepared! Endure and persevere through the end, considering it pure joy as the Lord refines you through these times. No matter how bad things get, you will end up a more beautiful masterpiece on the other side, with a closer intimacy with our precious Savior.

Fix your eyes on Him, each and every day. Live each day to the fullest for Him. And please, by all means, share about the incredible joy and life God has given you with every person possible–stranger, friend, or family! You have a story worth sharing. And there’s people out there who need to hear it.

Remember, Beloved: You are so precious to God, far more than you can imagine. ❤

Have a blessed night, brothers and sisters!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 2: Love Drives Out Fear

photo of mom and child baking with egg and flour

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Have you ever seen a young couple in love? Or a mother who really loves her child? It may be easy to love a person when we are “in love” or to love a child when he or she is behaving well. But what is true love?

How can we love ALL people—old people, young people, children, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, spouses, strangers, our enemies—at ALL times, deeply and genuinely, the way the Lord loves us?

As you may know from my last post about being filled with the Holy Spirit, I am going through a series about the fruits of the Spirit and how those overcome and banish the fear in our lives. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit–filled with purity, love, and a clean heart–to be able to truly love others in the ways God loves us—sacrificially, unconditionally, unreservedly.

The topic of loving others and being loved by God go hand in hand. Through experiencing the love of God, we learn to love others. Through loving others, we experience the love of God.

Honestly, when my eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus, I have absolutely no idea how to truly love others in a genuine way. Without Him, I am going to fail. I am going to be self-seeking. I am going to not care for others. But with Him filling me up to overflowing, His love naturally flows out of me into others lives.

To be totally honest I am REALLY new to learning how to love others. I am so prone to failing, and I am still just beginning to learn what it means to love others without reserve.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to love. Fill us with the love of Your Holy Spirit. We need to know the depths of Your love for us that is right now so beyond our comprehension. We have so much more to learn of Your love. Speak to us tonight. Speak to us, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You and I need to be filled with God Himself in order to know how to love people. This filling of the Holy Spirit is in contrast to following the ways of our fleshly desires.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:19-26

Have you crucified your flesh with its passions and desires? Right here it says that if you belong to Christ Jesus you have. Plain and straight. In Christ Jesus, your passions and desires are dead.

Do you believe that? Or do you still live by your passions and desires? I know I do. I mess up. And it’s not because my passions and desires aren’t dead, it’s because I don’t believe that they are. It’s because I don’t believe that Jesus paid the price for those passions and desires to be put to death. I don’t believe that Jesus’ finished work on the cross is enough, because I don’t desire holiness enough. When I don’t desire Him, I don’t trust Him. When I don’t trust Him, I don’t know what love is.

The truth is we need Him–we desperately need Him! We desperately need to desire Him in order to get to know His love. We need to desire God in order to experience His love and in turn love others.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to be holy. Right now fill us with the holiness that is in the very name of your Holy Spirit. Holy, holy, holy, are You, Lord. Uproot everything within us that isn’t of You. Completely uproot it and destroy it. Make us clean in Your Spirit. Sanctify us, Lord. Purge every impurities and sanctify us in You. Burn a fire in our hearts to desire holiness, through and through. Nothing else but You, Lord Jesus. Nothing else but You. Burn away every fear, doubt, and unbelief, and fill us with faith, Lord. You are all we want and all we need, Jesus. Help us, Lord.

In order to love well we need to be holy. In order to love well need your holiness inside us, Jesus. Make us holy, in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

In order to love well we need to be holy. God says in 1 Peter 1: 15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

I bet you never expected a post about “love” to talk about holiness. Well, that goes to show how little we know about God’s love. The world’s version of love is perverse, lustful, self-seeking, out of control, spontaneous, short-lasting, and leads to ruin. God’s version of love is patient, humble, pure, kind, self-controlled, powerful, sacrificial, eternal, and leads to life and peace.

The only way to be rid of fear in our lives is to cast it out with the perfect love as describe above: God Himself.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4: 16-18

God is Love. God wants us to know and rely on His love, to live in His love, and so have Him live in us. He makes us like Jesus in order to make us complete in perfect Love, which in turn drives out fear from our lives. His perfect Love drives out fear from our lives!

Wow! I want some of Your perfect Love, Lord. So what exactly is it? Perfect Love…

…fights for our holiness, fights for our purity, fights for our sanctity.

…drives out every impurity in our hearts with a jealousy and passion for us to be intimate with God.

…banishes all condemnation, guilt, shame, and every lie from the devil that says we aren’t worthy of Him.

…fills us with the truth that we are worthy, valuable, and precious to God.

…protects and covers us with the blood of Jesus.

…comforts us when we are sad, heals us when we are broken, and encourages us when we feel discouraged.

…speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness of hard times and speaks boldly to us when we turn our face away from God.

…leads us onto paths of righteousness of His name’s sake.

…cherishes, guards, and keeps us

…delights in us passionately, intensely, and unreservedly

….accepts us for who we are and doesn’t let us stay the same

…makes us like Jesus.

…makes us holy.

Have you been made perfect in God’s love? Do you have any fear inside you—even an ounce of it in your being? Seek God today for purity and holiness. Seek Him for the fire that will purge you of impurities and make you clean. Seek Him for confidence, for boldness, for strength. Ask Him to uproot every fear in you and replace every area of fear with faith—full faith in His perfect love.

Do you believe that God loves you? Do you deep down, in your soul, have a peace in the Father’s tender regard for you?

If not, what is holding you back? Fear? Doubt? Guilt? One of the most helpful things I have heard about trusting in the Lord’s love for you is something like this: You feeling like God doesn’t love you doesn’t determine that He doesn’t love you.

Your feelings of condemnation don’t determine the truth. Go straight to His Word to discover His enormous love for you! There is NO condemnation in the Father’s eyes for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). Christ’s love is wide and long and high and deep for you (Eph. 3:18)! His love will NEVER let you go (Rom. 8:35-39). Check out what His Word says and then believe it, no matter what you feel!

God the Father is looking at you right now with the deepest love for you and you are sitting there believing that He doesn’t actually care that much. (Ouch.) Well, open your eyes, Beloved! Open your heart. This love isn’t like any love you’ve ever experienced from people before! God’s love knows no limits. He never stops loving you. He never stops delighting in you! He has pure, unrestrained delight in who you are: His Beloved son or daughter.

I pray that you would truly discover the infinite measure of love which God is pouring in your heart tonight. Because you hope in Him, He pours His love out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Because you trust in Him, His love fights off the impurities and fills you with holiness.

God loves you and so He demands your whole heart. He gives His whole heart to you, now will you give your whole heart to Him?

Lord Jesus, set us free. Set us free. Set us free to love in a radical way. Make known Your love for us in Christ Jesus who bled and died for us on the cross to restore us back into a relationship with You. You give and give and give and NEVER hold anything back from us! Let us receive the depths of Your love tonight and let it fill our beings so completely that nothing else has a place to stay. Nothing else! Has! A! Place! To! Stay! Lord Jesus, draw us close to You. Captivate us with Your love! Make us so in love with You that there’s nothing else we’d rather do but be with You. Pour out Your love in our hearts, Lord. Pour out Your love, over and over, until rivers of living water flow out from us and spill over into the lives of those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The truth is, without total surrender, we can never be totally set free from fear. Without complete abandon to the will of God, we can never be made complete in the love of God that is deep, genuine, and sacrificial. Surrender. Let go everything but the One who is holding on to you and will never let you go.

Give your whole heart to Him tonight. Start afresh and experience God’s love more deeply than you ever have before! He loves you SO dearly and holds you close to His heart.

I hope and pray you are blessed, refreshed, and encouraged tonight, Beloved!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_oYr-P16M