Faith Over Fear, Part 2: Love Drives Out Fear

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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

Confidence in The Father’s Love: Part 2

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In my last post, I related my personal revelation of the Father’s perfect love for His imperfect children. In this post I will go into further detail about being in Christ as well as the ways God-confidence affects our lives practically.

Our deepest need is to be loved and valued. This need for acceptance will either manifest itself as insecurity if we do nothing about it, or manifest itself as security, if we let God fulfill that need. 

Although God perfectly loves all people, His perfect love cannot fulfill our need for acceptance unless we allow it to reach deep down inside of us and transform us from the inside out. We are not made perfect in His love if we choose to sin and to refuse His great act of love of Jesus dying for us. His love is finally made perfect in us when we turn from sin, put down our guard and accept Christ in our life.

Jesus was, is, and will always be, but right here and right now is when you need to let Him into your life. You need Him. And wow, I need Him, too–as desperately as ever! Inviting Him into every corner of my life is a continual process for me.

When we believe that He loves and values us just as perfectly as He loves and values Jesus, we have nothing to fear! With this total confidence in the Father’s love for you, you have a solid rock of courage from where you can bring glory to Him—to love others well and proclaim His truth both gently and boldly. With Him, anything is possible. You are a new person in Christ capable of doing wonders for His kingdom if you rely on His strength and power rather than your own.

So, what does it mean to be a new person in Christ? How is that possible when we are so sinful and prone to wander?

Well, when you put your trust in Christ, you are made righteous in God’s sight. You are given a new identity. Your sin filthily covers Christ, and His righteousness graciously covers you.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

We must identify ourselves with Jesus now; as little Christs. When we do wrong, that is not a part of our true identity, and this must be thrown off from our lives so that nothing can hinder us in our victorious walk with Christ.

God is slow to anger, and patient to forgive you. Never be afraid to come to Him brokenly and honestly to let Him heal and restore you! It is NEVER too late to confess your sins and let Him forgive you. It is NEVER too late for you to be made new. He gives everything to anyone BECAUSE HE IS GOD, and not because of yourself. He loves you so much!

In your time of need, remember that this is a particularly crucial time to have confidence in your Father’s love. Jesus has paved the way for you to approach your Heavenly Father, so have the confidence to come to Him for help!

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

Because of this new identity and this full acceptance you have in God’s throne room through Jesus, you have all the confidence you need to obey His commands no matter where they might take you out of your “comfort zone.” His ways for you will bring healing to your soul, while your former ways have only led to self-destruction. Jesus Himself says that following His commands is for the sake of your joy to be made complete!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” – John 15:9-11

Praise God for the confidence we can have in Him to follow His ways! He filled me with confidence that night when I received and trusted in the perfect love of my Heavenly Father. Remaining in Him is the greatest joy!

If you struggle with low self-esteem, remember who you are—a beloved son or daughter of a good and merciful Father! 

The next morning after God revealed His perfect love to me, I woke up, and my first reaction as always was to panic: Yet another day. Yet another day to have wavering beliefs and a mundane life lack of courage.

But wait a minute! Why does my reaction to living a new day have to  be negative when I have a God of infinite love and power on my side? When I remembered the love God showed me the night before, my heart was filled with so much joy once again. The truth set me free!

And so each day after that I am making the aim to press onward, each morning renewed by the Lord’s mercy. Life has full meaning and purpose with Jesus on your side. The gospel is for us each day, not just that day long ago when we came to first believe in Him. Jesus Christ sustains us now and forever!

When you feel like you will never measure up, be confident that God is still ready and able to work powerfully in your life. He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!

“[Be] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6

And, finally, Beloved, when you are tempted to throw away your confidence in Jesus Christ, stand firm and do not waver. He is coming soon. There is unspeakably marvelous things awaiting those who stand firm till the end. Trust in the Lord — by the grace of God, you will remain confident in Him till the end of the ages. You are not the one who is going to shrink back and be destroyed!

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” – Hebrews 10:35

Remember who God is and who you are, Beloved. Let Him take all your burdens on yourself. Have a beautiful day! (Also, this song is amazing!)

P.S. I didn’t have time to go more into this, but I highly recommend you check out this short blog post from Joseph Prince Ministries about John 17:22 (I mentioned this verse in my last post). Basically Jesus has given us the same glory the Father gave Him, which means the glory of God shines through us and makes in impact on others. We have weightiness as children of God, and the essence of our beings is influencing people for the Kingdom of God, even when we don’t realize it. All the more reason to be confident in the Lord! Here’s the post: https://www.josephprince.org/blog/daily-grace-inspirations/gods-glory-has-been-restored-to-you

Living in Fear vs. Abiding in Love

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It can be easy to make check lists when we try to follow Christ. All too easily our journey with Him can turn into trying to be the best people we can be without Him. Keeping track of our actions and being critical of every one of them. Never being sure if you’re “okay” or a total failure.

It can be easy to live in fear.

Oh, beloved of God, do not live in fear! Those mess-ups will be graciously redeemed when we run to the love of God, and those uncertainties can be cleared up when we run to His wisdom. Do not let the spirit of fear take over you instead of God’s Spirit which is of power, love, and self-control.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Notice that fear and self-control are contrasted as opposites. Keeping ourselves from sin should not be a death-giving exercise (fear), but a life-giving one (self-control). The kind of discipline that God gives does not lead to fear but to freedom. Anything else is from the devil, who invents the most right-sounding lies to keep us in bondage. The devil might even convince you, like he did to me, that “denying yourself” means “not being yourself,” while in fact it really means denying your flesh which leads to you being yourself free in Christ, abiding in His love, and walking by His Spirit.

It all comes down to our need for Christ to set us free. Christ desired for us to live in freedom—that’s why He died for us!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Put on the armor of God, and do not let the devil convince you that God is keeping a record of your wrongs. When you trust in Jesus, you are covered by His Love. And Love does not keep a record of wrongs! (1 Cor. 13:5)

In John 15:9, Jesus instructs us to abide in His love: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (ESV)

What does it mean to abide in the love of Christ? What does that look like?

It means to live in freedom, without fear, perfected by His love, and not trying to perfect ourselves by our own strivings. It looks like soaking in His presence after a long day’s work or before the beginning of one, drinking deeply of the Spring of Living Water, and feasting upon the Bread of Life. It looks like walking into the world resting in the acceptance of your Father, and gladly pouring that love into other people, so affected by Your Savior that others can’t help but be affected by the love expressed through you.

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5:4-6

Through the Spirit we wait for God to grow plants of righteousness and goodness in our lives. It is only God who makes anything grow! (1 Cor. 3:7) We wait eagerly through the Spirit which hungers for righteousness, trusting that we will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) When we trust in Jesus to be our righteousness rather than strive to be righteous on our own, our faith WILL express itself through love. If we truly have faith in Christ, we will long to express that faith to others. Our desire for expression is satisfied when we love people the way we have experienced the abundant love of God.

The Lord’s love is a place to take refuge in, not to shy away from in fear you don’t deserve it. Yes, Beloved, you don’t deserve an ounce of it—but that’s what’s so precious about it! That’s the kind of God we serve. He is more than capable of being our Refuge and our place of safety. He is more than willing to hold us and speak tenderly to us in our moments of weakness. He loves you.

Do not be afraid! That’s a command given many times in the Bible, not a suggestion. Bring your fears and anxieties to Him and He will accept you as His child in His open arms. I believe the phrase “Do not be afraid!” can imply the same thing as “Do not walk away from your Father’s embrace.” Only with Him can you be free of fear!

“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 4:18

Life isn’t about trying to be the best you can be, as good as that may sound. The best a person could ever do on their own would even then only be a façade, while deep inside brokenness and hurt abound in their souls.

Life isn’t about striving. It’s about being healed by Christ in the inmost parts of your being. It’s about Him setting you free from the bondages of fear, shame, and guilt. It’s about abiding in His love, and letting that love perfect you into His image.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” – Psalm 36:7

A Message to Those Who Have Been Hurt by the Church

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Dear friends,
I’m sorry for the Christians who didn’t love you,
For the Christians who followed a Jesus who
Didn’t eat with sinners
Or shunned the ones who didn’t have it all together.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who created an atmosphere of fear
Where you had to wear a mask or try to be someone you weren’t,
When deep inside,
You were filled with hurt.

I’m sorry for the Christians
Who didn’t know what grace was,
Who thought they had to convince you to join their side
With hate when the truth is only found in love.

I’m so sorry you were hurt
By those Christians–
those imperfect persons
Who failed to show you who God really is.

Dear friends,
I hope you find who Jesus really is;
A person who lavishes love on you
No matter what you did–
A love so genuine and beautiful that it doesn’t make sense.

I hope you discover that a life with Him
Is like living in an atmosphere of grace,
Where you don’t have to pretend to be anything but who you really are;
And when you show Him your hurt,
He can heal your scars.

I hope you rejoice
In the grace He pours out on you,
And find that the truth only comes
When you turn from the hate and walk in His love.

Dear friend,
I hope you find safety in God’s embrace,
And find the courage to embrace
Every imperfect person,
Including myself–
And that, together, we can learn to show the world
Who God really is.

 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11

 

 

Nothing to prove

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It’s hard to get the noise out of my head sometimes. Well, a lot of times.

God asks us to be still but I keep trying to prove myself to Him and to others. I keep trying to be something, but God is everything, and the only thing that is worth boasting about is Him.

It’s remarkable that though we are in fact unworthy of enjoying God’s presence forever, God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. We are unworthy of God, but God thought it was worth letting His own Son die in order to change that. In His sight, we are worthy of being in a relationship with Him, because Jesus’ righteousness now covers all who believe in Him.

But the whole idea of “worthiness” should be set aside, because our value isn’t even something to boast about, but to praise God about.

Our value has nothing to do with us. It is only because of Jesus that we are worthy to enter communion with our Heavenly Father. Our identity is in Christ, but it is not our own capabilities that influence that perfect, beautiful identity. It’s all Him.

In other words, we have nothing to prove to God. Nothing at all. And we can actually find peace in that.

We can stand before Him in simple, childlike awe. We don’t have to do anything, and He already loves us. He already loves us!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Repent and believe! Settle in your mind that the Lord is taking care of you. Be still.

It’s ok to not think about the details of life. It’s ok not to worry. It’s ok not to be able to smile sometimes. We’re not supposed to have everything figured out or fake anything, but to let God’s Spirit work in us as we humble ourselves before Him. In His timing, we will be exalted.

He is faithful.

He is faithful no matter how small our faith is. He is faithful to liberate us from sin and all that hinders us. He is faithful to work in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. Think of that–we can’t even desire God perfectly on our own, we need to ask Him to change our desires! In the end, the Lord is in complete control, and if we admit to Him that we’re not, He’ll prove to us that He is.

This song “My Heart Burns For You” contains only five repeated words in the lyrics, but it’s pure worship. And what the guy talks about at the beginning really moved me.

“Nothing to gain. Nothing to lose. Nothing to show. Nothing to prove.”

Let these words linger in your mind. Get the noise out of your head and quiet yourself before Him. He sees, knows, and loves you right in this moment.

A few thoughts on Evangelism, Control, and Humility

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I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for awhile, as I get settled into the new semester. I also just need to take a break from sharing what I’m learning so I can sit back and allow God to just teach me things. Because–surprise, surprise–I still haven’t figured this life out yet! There is always so much more to learn. We’ll still have a lot of questions on our death bed, but thank God there is an eternity full of answers!

Before I take my leave from the blogging world, I want to share a few videos that capture some concepts I’ve been learning better than I can explain with a lot of words.

  1. Evangelism made easy! This video sounds too good to be true, but when I watched it, I was really touched by his words, which seem very well backed up with the Bible. We’re not supposed to be sleazy salesmen of the gospel. We’re called to represent Christ’s unconditional love to people, with no ulterior motives, and out of those pure intentions come the words of life and hope that people desperately need to hear.

2. Control. This song really brought into light some things I’ve been wrestling with. I want so badly to be in control of situations, and it’s so hard to trust that Jesus is my good Shepherd guiding me on the right paths. Do I really believe that God is Sovereign? Do I believe that He orchestrates the details of circumstances for my ultimate good? Really, all we have to do is take little steps of faith, be open-hearted towards people, and let God work the rest out. He is our strength and our shield. Even if the earth crumbles beneath our feet, we are still secure in Him.

3. Humility. As C.S. Lewis explained, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Which means thinking of others more! And a person who is always thinking of others is not passive. A humble person is actually a very active person! Definitely some food for thought.

I hope one or more of these videos is an encouragement to you! Goodbye for now, and may you fix your eyes continually on our wonderful Redeemer, Jesus! ❤

 

How God Grew Me in 2018

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I want to lift my praise higher than I can reach
That you would save one soul is more than enough for me

I cry out to Him, adoring the blanket of stars in the sky.

This is it. I’m here. You’re here. For years I didn’t understand You. For years I struggled in prayer, wrestling and clawing for what was real. But You were there all along, just knowing. You knew everything.

And in truth, I always knew You were real. The thing I couldn’t grasp was how You were beautiful. How you could mean something to my life. How you could woo me and awe me into an adventure following You. I just didn’t get it. I knew I needed to follow You, but I didn’t love You enough to be able to do so for the rest of my life.

People often assume that if God is beautiful than you will know without a doubt the moment you pray your first prayer to Him. But, while that may be the case for some people, others like myself take longer to realize this. It takes faith, even as small as a mustard seed, to grow and push through the ground and soak up the rain and break through the earth and withstand the storm and survive the drought and branch into stems and produce fruit.

It takes work. It takes a complete heart transplant, a total transformation of your vision, to finally see that God really, truly, deeply cares.

More often than not, it doesn’t take just one prayer to make our spirit sing with unfathomable joy. It takes many. It doesn’t take one Bible verse, it takes a yearning for truth and a searching for the Word of God every day, with earnest pondering. It doesn’t take one act of service, it takes many to finally grasp that we can’t do this on our own. We need the knowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness, and nothing we do can add or subtract to that. We need the overwhelming grace of God to flood our souls so we can pour out into other people’s lives in the same way.

In 2018, I’ve realized more of my need for God’s grace, as it has filled my heart and transformed my life in ways I’d never imagined.

This year has been an adventure. I graduated from high school and started going to college. God blessed me with friends I never knew I needed. He grew me in confidence as a person and as a Christian. He pinned down some of my weaknesses and met them with His strength. He guided me gently to surrender things I never knew I needed to surrender. He gave me the wisdom and delight to focus on Him as I watched Him fix problems I didn’t even know existed.

Yes, it was all by God’s grace. And I don’t add that in as a casual obligation. His grace was, and is, everything to me. It’s becoming more and more to me as I realize that I myself really don’t have it all together. I need Him. Maybe people think I am pretty good on the outside, but the only times anything good comes out of my life is when I defeat my own impulses and let Christ’s love take control. Only through Him can I produce anything of eternal value.

But I have not always understood these things. As a young teen, I could not in all honesty say that I even loved Jesus. I wanted to say it, but if I did it wouldn’t have been true. I desired the things of the world rather than the things of God far more than I do now. Most of my life was centered on myself.

Now, as I fully rest in the assurance of Christ, I can honestly say that I love Jesus. His love fills my heart with wonder. The seriousness of my high school years built in me the strength to hold tightly to truth, and now my surrender to God’s love for me plunges me into a life of childlike faith adoring and serving my King.

But 2018 was not a year of all sunshine of rainbows. Some days were tougher than others. Some days the enemy seemed to be attacking me on every side–the hopelessness of a looming and impossible deadline, the uncertainty of my future gnawing at me, or the burden of perfectionism weighing on my shoulders.

But the beauty of following Christ isn’t just the glorious sunset or the magnificent rainbows. The beauty of following Christ is that even in the most treacherous storm, with rain pounding and lightning striking and the ground beneath you shaking—even then, you can see the sunshine behind the dark clouds.

Even at my lowest points, I still have a Hope to hold onto. Even when I’m a sleep-deprived college student with no clue how I will finish an assignment that’s due tomorrow, not all is lost. Even when the people around me close themselves off from God’s love, I can trust that He is good, and He can do more for them than anything I can imagine.

When I was younger, I didn’t know God like I do now. God has been so gracious to me, especially this year. Still, I know God is not in the least finished with me yet. I have so much more to learn. It is overwhelming to think about how much more God needs to work in my heart. But I know He is faithful to complete the good work He has started in me—and in all of us.

Please, don’t stop searching for Him. Even the person most closest to Jesus on this earth right now needs the prayers of other believers, so never hesitate to ask for prayer! God is always there for you, and if your heart is open to it, He will show you the beauty of who He is. He takes pleasure in us when we simply put our hope in His love.

“…the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:11

In this coming year of 2019, I resolve to make Christ my center. I resolve to grow in my understanding of God’s grace that we are so undeserving of and to draw deeper into an everyday fellowship with my Savior, as He directs my paths.

Whatever your heart is full of, your life is full of. And Christ’s love dwells in all who trust in Him (Rm. 5:5). So, this year, may your life be filled with the sweet presence of Him.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear of Evangelism

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’m terrified of evangelism. And I’m bad at it… Not to mention I’m really, really introverted.

However, (as you’ve likely heard many times before) God calls us as Christians to evangelize.

My guess is you’ve heard this verse before, when Jesus commands the disciples to spread the gospel and make disciples of all people:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

In a post I made a few weeks ago, I urged you all to fight against the fear of evangelism and reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ, because so many are condemned to death without hope of a Savior.

Now I want to take a step back and say, yes, evangelism is scary. In fact, it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done…

But I have done it.

Not because of anything about me—no way! I don’t want you to leave this post thinking I have some special gift, because I truly do not. Everything within me repels the idea of going up to a stranger and sharing about the love of God. My flesh squirms in utter discomfort. Won’t it be awkward? I think. What if they already know about it? What if they reject me?

Everything about me prevents me from sharing the truth that sets captives free and heals the hearts of the wounded. My own self is a barrier between me and another soul.

But as Christians, we aren’t called to live for Christ. We are called to let Christ live in us.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 5:20

I can’t emphasize enough how much this post is not about me. How much my evangelism is not about me. How much reaching the hearts of this broken world is not about me.

And I can’t thank God enough for what He has done through me! Allowing Christ to live in me is the most breathtaking adventure I’ve ever been on. Letting Him take control continually blows my mind. His beauty and power are enormously greater than anything I could ever accomplish.

I’m continually amazed at what He does when I simply submit myself to Him and say, “Okay, Your will be done, not mine. Let Your love shine through me, and not my fear. Let them see the fragrance of Christ within me, and not the trembling fear within me.”

And the beautiful thing about God is, that He has no fear in Him. He is not fear. He is love. He is precious, atoning, unfailing, merciful, sacrificial love. When we trust in Him fully, His perfect love for us casts out fear of evangelism.

“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 4:18

Still, that doesn’t mean we have to wait to be the perfect person to evangelize. We don’t have to try to make our motivations right before spreading the word about the God who saves. Sometimes we just have to take that step of faith into the unknown in order to experience peace and strength.

Believe me, evangelism brings so much joy. While it is the scariest thing I have ever done, it is also the most joyous thing I have ever done. I’m not kidding about this—I rejoice in the hope I have for so many people to experience a lasting relationship with Jesus! I rejoice in the God who is giving these people a chance or more chances because of His power working through me.

After most of my encounters with people in handing out gospel tracts, I’m flooded with overwhelming confidence in the God who truly cares for His people. Even if I receive a rude response, I am only more assured that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that their resistance is not against me but against Him. Each time I allow God to reach out to a soul through my act of faith, the Lord becomes so sweet to me, and I fall more in love with Him than ever.

Evangelism is what has strengthened me most in my faith out of anything I’ve ever done—and this is no exaggeration! The power of evangelism in our lives and the lives we touch radiates the name of Jesus Christ and bears eternal significance.

I sing for joy—joy, it’s something I don’t think I fully understood until I started evangelizing! Instead of looking at the thousands of people I pass by without hope, I have a stronger reason to pray for them and a deeper love for them and a greater hope that God would reach their hearts.

It’s that amazing.

I’ve learned so much about God through each step of faith. He is truly greater than anything this earth can supply. Forsaking all to shine His light instead of my own is beyond worth it, because God is far worthier and far more satisfying than even the good things I cherish around me.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:21

God is so good to us, and He knows how scary it can be to take that first step of faith. I have some verses in my phone that have encouraged me when I’m feeling afraid about evangelizing.

“He must increase, but I must decrease” – John 3:30

“Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with you” – Acts 18:9-10

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” – Romans 8:31

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

So please, please, don’t let fear stop you from sharing the wonderful news that God’s Son came down into our mess to completely purify us from all our sinful deeds.

Together, we can be terrified of evangelism, we can be bad at it, and we can even be really, really introverted (though if you’re extraverted that’s a bonus! 😉). That’s okay, as long as you surrender it at the feet of Jesus and choose to trust in Him no matter what. Because together, we can and will fight against this fear, because that’s the kind of mighty God we serve.

Savor the magnitude of what God has done in your life, for He has saved you out of the pit of death by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Let your joy and hope overflow to those around you. Let your life be grounded in prayer, full of the Spirit, and abiding in His word.

With all your heart, let your life be a living sacrifice to God as you give of yourself to others without any care of awkwardness or discomfort, and with full care for the souls of those you may see in heaven one day.

Here is a song that tells about God’s perfect love casting out our fears and failures. People are often surprised when I tell them what God has been doing in my life, but as Christians, anything is possible, for any of us. It’s not about who we are, it’s about who He is. Be encouraged today, and let Christ’s love shine brightly through you to this broken world!

What do you think about evangelism? Is it scary to you, or does it come more naturally to you? What kind of settings have you considered or are you evangelizing in (to strangers, friends, family, etc.)?

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

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

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)

 

Memories and Pearls

Here is my first post, a short story I wrote a few months ago about life, the ocean, memories, and pearls.

She stood in the sand. She didn’t know why, but she just stood there, unmoving. Gently, the cool tide washed over her bare feet. The wind blew back her hair, the sun embraced her with warmth. Over and over, the sea rushed forward and back, forward and back, salt and sand caught up in its current. Her feet oozed in the wet sand, sinking further and further as the ocean fell into a tossing rhythm over her ankles, and then, gradually, over her knees. She stood motionless, lost in some enchantment. Continue reading