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 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

Faith Over Fear, Part 1: Be Filled with the Spirit!

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Hello, friends! I hope you all are doing OK with this whole quarantine going on. No, actually, I hope you all are feeling WONDER-full, amazing, and blessed by God today. Doesn’t sound like you? Well, I want to encourage you today to be filled with the Spirit, rather than be driven by fear. God is bigger than COVID-19, bigger than your anxiety, bigger than your timidity, and bigger than any burden or worry or stress you have been carrying. Be blessed today!

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be led by the Spirit? To not only live by the Spirit, but keep in step with the Spirit, as Paul urges us to do? (Gal. 5:25)

OK. First of all, you may be wondering what this has to do with being afraid, since the title of the post includes “Faith Over Fear.” Well, as it turns out, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

You might say, But I still feel afraid, and I am a child of God. This coronavirus gets me so anxious! Well, have no fear, my friend! If you trust in Jesus, you have full access to a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. The Holy Spirit within you is capable of boldness instead of cowardice, love instead of timidity, and a sound mind instead of unstable, scattered thoughts. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and the fears will melt away. Look to the Lord at all times in your heart, and you will remain steadfast and firm.

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

Ask Jesus to help you. Let “I believe; help my unbelief” be the cry of your heart if you are daily attacked by fears, doubts, and unbelief. You will soon notice a big difference and a greater degree of faith in your heart. To “have confidence” is really to be filled with faith. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with faith. This is how we we can have victory over fear in our Christian walk – to be filled with faith! And this is faith totally and completely in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. He has power over your fear, should we only trust in Him–that He is greater than any problems we face! Have faith in Him and seek Him to set you free from the bondage of fear! (Psalm 34:4)

So if to be filled with Spirit is the same as being filled with faith, how can we be filled up with the Spirit in our daily lives? Well, here is what Paul has to say about being filled with the Spirit:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 15:18-20

He tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit, instead of filling ourselves up with alcohol! This suggests that this filling is not a one time thing at the point of salvation. (I am not about getting all theological here, but I am simply expressing what the Bible is saying and how I have experienced God myself.) While you always have the Holy Spirit available to you as a child of God, you may not be totally filled with Him all the time. I know I’m not! Too often I walk in my flesh and follow the desires of my flesh. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you find yourself deeply compelled to follow God, to love others, to speak truth, and to obey Him wholeheartedly. It is a filling of faith, a filling of God Himself, and a filling of deep desire for God.

So how do we get this filling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis? There are five ways to do that that I will talk about today:

  1. Worship and thanksgiving
  2. God’s Word
  3. Prayer
  4. Fellowship
  5. Obedience

1. Worship and thanksgiving. Scroll up a bit and take a look at Ephesians 15:18-20. One way of feeling God’s presence near to me is in worship to Him through songs or simply giving thanks to Him. Worship and thankfulness are so powerful and uplifting, feeding our souls and nourishing us. Through these things, we can become filled with the Spirit, and all fear is banished from our beings. Lifting up praise to Jesus changes things!

Have you worshiped God lately? Can you set aside time in your schedule to worship Him during this quarantine season? What about thanksgiving? Ask yourself daily: What am I thankful for? There is so much to be thankful for in Christ Jesus!

2. God’s Word. Now, how else can we be filled with faith? God’s Word! Whenever you feel doubtful or weary, get yourself in the Word of God and pour over the pages. In fact, get yourself in His Word on a daily basis no matter how you feel. There is so much to learn to bring life and refreshment to your soul! Drink it in! Let the truth instruct you and convict you. Draw near to Jesus through His life-giving Word.

Have you read the Bible lately? Can you invest more time in it during this quarantine season?

3. Prayer. Along with God’s Word, prayer is a vital tool. Pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit! Pray for more faith! Pray for more of God–more of His love, more of His joy, peace, patience, and kindness, etc. And be in prayerful dependence on God in all you do. Abide in Jesus. Any prayer can fill you with more of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you are praying about. Talk to the Father about how your day is going! Being filled with faith is all about becoming more deeply connected to God in a vibrant relationship with Him. He loves you so much and wants you to draw near to Him in deeper ways and be filled up with Him to overflowing!

Have you prayed lately? Do you pray regularly? Does your spirit “prayerfully depend” on God even if you aren’t consciously focused on God? Consider how you can grow your prayer life during this quarantine season!

4. Fellowship. Real fellowship among other believers should be encouraging, edifying and uplifting us in our walk with God. What God desires for us is to feel the Holy Spirit so present among other believers that their zeal for the Lord feeds off onto us and helps us learn to love more deeply and follow God more wholeheartedly. If you don’t have them in your life already, seek out the kinds of people who genuinely care about you and are authentically pursuing their relationship with Jesus. You will be infinitely glad you did! And if you already do have this type of fellowship–praise God! Continue in that and seek out ways you can love your brothers and sisters in Christ more sacrificially, and have more meaningful conversations about the Lord with one another that really encourage and edify one another. 

In what ways is God asking you to engage in fellowship with other believers today? This week? This quarantine season? Even in this COVID-19 season, there are many ways to connect with believers through technology and such! Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out to someone. The Lord delights in us reaching out to Him, just as other sincere believers delight in us reaching out to them. In fact, anyone loves to be reached out to!

5. Obedience. Finally, obeying God is of utmost importance. Hearing Him and obeying Him. Take time to sit at His feet and listen to that still, small voice. What does He want from you? What is He saying? Sometimes–in fact most of the time– the answer is simple. Maybe it’s to clean your room. To love your sibling. To serve your neighbor in some way. To reach out to a friend. To open up a spiritual conversation with a non-believing classmate or coworker. Maybe it’s just to sit with Him a little while longer and receive His love for you.

Once you quiet your mind, God is only an answer away. Rest in Him. Slow your racing thoughts down. Be still, and know that He is God. Lean into that whisper. And then obey.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Oftentimes we don’t need a long period of waiting on the Lord to know what He wants for us. In-the-moment situations happen to us all the time. Like your sister interrupting you in schoolwork… or writing this blog post. What do I do? The Spirit of God in me urges me to stop what I am doing and look at her. Make eye contact. Care.

As we learn to rest in and rely on the Holy Spirit, we become quicker and quicker to knowing what God wants for us in a situation and then obeying Him. This is what it means to be “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14). Obey God and walk in His truth! He will bless you abundantly for it, as you do it out of love for Him, and in reliance on Him.

Walking in the Spirit is like an actor learning to play their role. The only thing is you aren’t learning to be someone else, you are learning to be yourself! Your true self–who you really are in Christ Jesus. You are special to Him!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are chosen! You are royal! You are holy! You are God’s own possession! Because you trust in Jesus to have the victory over sin and death in your life, you now live by the Spirit. Now keep in step with the Spirit, follow God’s guidance each day. Be led by the Spirit–listen to Him! Tune into God’s voice and be in touch with Him every day.

As you do so, your life will be blessed, your mind at peace, and fears dissipated. Be filled with the Spirit, so your faith will triumph over your fear! Stand firm in Him against any fear that does come at you, using the shield of faith to protect you from the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16)!

Let this reassure your heart today, Beloved! You are SO loved, valued, and precious to God. Nothing can separate you from His love. In fact, His love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)! And His love is what my next post will be about, as I continue in my series “Faith Over Fear” and discuss how the fruits of the Spirit counteract the fear in our lives.

Have a truly blessed, Spirit-filled day!

 

Intimacy with God, part 3: How to Abide in Jesus (Even When the World is Going Crazy)

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How do you abide in Jesus? Some people, I’ve realized, when they hear this word, they get an unsettling feeling of, “Ugh, yeah, I’m not doing that. That’s another thing on the list of things I need to work on.”

Work on? Wait a minute, what are you talking about? Recently, I remember telling my friend jokingly, “You don’t need to work on abiding; you just need to abide.”

You just do it. You just rest. In truth and in love, friend, God is with you; there is nothing you need to work on using your own human effort! In Christ, you are complete. In Christ, He provides everything you need. There is nothing you need to muster out of yourself to complete the work of abiding. Through your trust in Him, Christ completes you and makes you in a constant state of abiding in Him.

“…and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)

You are already with Christ and in Christ! You are already dead to sin and alive in Christ, so now let’s live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit in an intimate, abiding relationship with God (Gal. 5:25).

Not that I have never been guilty of striving, rather than abiding in the Lord–because this has been such a consistent struggle of mine! But I am so blessed that Jesus is teaching me I can find my home in Him and let Him be my Living Water in this dry and weary land.

This is something that is true NO MATTER the circumstances–at work, at school, with friends, or with family at home during the COVID-19 epidemic. You can find your home in Jesus wherever you go and whatever you do. You don’t have to be ruled by fear or pride or guilt or shame. You can be ruled by the Holy Spirit in a restful, life-giving relationship with God. Really!

Last month, I talked about what barriers you might have in your relationship with God that could prohibit you from having full intimacy with Him. (Click here to see that post.)

Now that we know what keeps us from abiding, today, I want to talk about what exactly abiding is. So, what is abiding? Here are three things Jesus says about it in John chapter 15:

1. Abide in Me – Prayerfully Depend on Jesus

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5 (ESV)

You enter an abiding relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ. You remain—or abide—in Him by faith. (Not by human effort!) The Greek word for “abide” is meinete which means to “remain, persevere, stay, continue, or abide.”

Do you want to stay with Jesus? There’s certainly no other place I’d rather go! Without Him I can do nothing! Absolutely nothing of eternal value. It’s all meaningless and unfruitful without persevering by faith to stick with Jesus Christ.

Let’s keep going with Jesus! Let’s continue on. Let’s stay connected with Him.

Abiding in Jesus means a persistent stance of humility in letting Him take control of your life as you rest in the safety of His presence. As my Navigator leader put it, abiding in Christ is “prayerful dependence” on Him.

Thus, sticking with Jesus is to “pray continually” as Paul exhorts us to (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is being connected to God in your spirt. You cannot always be focusing your attention onto Him in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, or supplication, but you can always be connected to Him in your spirit, depending on Him fully in all things, and walking by the Spirit.

When we prayerfully depend on Christ—something new begins to happen. Joy comes, Life comes, and our branches bear fruit!

There is a drastic difference between a Christian who is dependent on themselves and a Christian who is prayerfully dependent on God. A Christian whose mind is formed by the pattern of this world and a Christian who is transformed by the renewing of his mind. A Christian who drives themselves crazy with trying to do everything perfectly and a Christian who abides in Christ and takes each step of faith exactly as it is—one step at a time.

In fact, if a Christian consistently shows he isn’t prayerfully depending on Christ, you begin to wonder if he is any Christian at all.

Abide in Him. Seek Jesus with all your heart. Stop trying to modify your behavior and let Jesus transform your heart by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). This is all about the Lord leading your life in ways that are for your good, and you resting that He’s doing that and He’s got you covered from head to foot with His grace. Surrender your own plans and trust that His are so much better. Keep looking to Jesus and enjoying His presence with you wherever you go–and you’ll be amazed at the fruit that comes up in the process, flowing from, not human effort, but a life dependent on Him.

2. Let His Words Abide in You – Meditatively Rest in Truth

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7

Jesus asks us to let His words abide in us. Not my words. Not yours. Not the medias. Not your friends. Not your uncles. Not your grandmas. His words and His words alone!

And guess what? God’s Word has a lot to say about you. In the book I am currently reading, Victory Over the Darkness, author Neil Anderson lists many “Who am I?” statements throughout the book that affirm our identities in Christ. He talks about how believing who we are in Christ and the acceptance we have in Him enables us to be who God means us to be. Below are just a few of the statements in the Bible that reveal the new identity God offers you. Let His Word sink deep into your heart…

“Since I am in Christ…
I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)
I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God (1 Cor. 6:19,20)
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come (2 Cor. 1:21,22; Eph. 1:13,14)
Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ (2 Cor. 5:14, 15)
I have been made righteous (2 Cor. 5:21)
I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life (Gal. 2:20)
I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3)…”

These are true statements about yourself! Do you believe them? Abiding in the truth of the identity God has given you in Jesus Christ will free you to live your life according to who you already are, not according to who you want to be.

Because of who you are in Christ, you can draw your strength from Him and be empowered by your union with Him. Fleshly efforts mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. They don’t work! Our only hope is to surrender our human efforts and depend fully on God.

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” – Galatians 3:2

Believe what you have heard Jesus tell you! That is the only way to true life. Depending on our futile works of the flesh don’t bear fruit. Only believing what Jesus tells us and abiding in that truth produces anything of eternal worth. Believe Him, Beloved!

The truths about your identity in Christ, and many more, are so important to meditate on and rest in throughout your day. If our minds are not filled with truth, then what are they filled with? Yes, lies. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and fill your mind with the truth about who you are in Christ, and who God is in every circumstance you face (Hint: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever! – Heb. 13:8). His truth will set you free to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirt and connected to Jesus, the true source of life!

3. Abide in His Love – Eagerly Delight In His Favor

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” – John 15:9

Looking through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), anyone can see how deeply God the Father loves His Son, Jesus. The Father calls Him “My Beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17).

Take another look at the above passage. Read it slowly. Can you believe it—Jesus loves us the same way the Father loves Him? We, the Church, are the Beloved bride of Jesus, the Lamb of God! Jesus calls you His Beloved.

Abide in the love Jesus has for you. When I enjoy sweet fellowship with Jesus, soaking in the riches of His love, my connection with the vine grows stronger and my love for God grows deeper. Slow down and rest in His love for you. He really means every word He says.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long; and the one the Lord loves rest between His shoulders.” – Deuteronomy 33:12

Rest secure in Him, because He is protecting you, His beloved child! Marvel at His acceptance of you. Take a load off and relax with Him. Wait on Him. Stop and just…

Breathe.

In the presence of God, there can be no doubts or fears. Only peace. Trust in Him! In Him all things hold together (Col. 1:17).

If we’re going to stick with Jesus, let’s abide in His perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)! There is more love in Him than in any person in the world. More hope. More life. More freedom. Confess to Him your lack of belief and plead with Him to show you how much He loves you. He has rescued you from sin and death and raised you up and seated you with Christ in heaven, securing you a place in the Father’s family for all eternity (Eph. 2:6)! He loves you. Believe me. Well, don’t believe me. Believe Him! The riches of His Word provide us with so much confidence in His love for us.

Abide in His love, Beloved. Let it wash over you and break down your defenses. Melt in His loving embrace. And never, ever hold anything back from Him, the Lover of your soul.

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

 

So, this is the gist of what abiding is. This is a picture of what intimacy with the Creator of Heaven and Earth looks like. This is only a shadow of the far more wonderful relationship with Him that is to come in heaven, but even now it is like a taste of heaven and brings satisfaction and life to the soul here on earth. God is so good to us!

Abide in Jesus. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

Keep asking, seeking, knocking to see what His good, pleasing and perfect will is. Keep wanting Him more than anything.  Keep believing who you are in Christ and believing who He is—holy and perfect and loving. Keep basking in His sheer delight and favor towards you. Keep trusting in Him with all your heart and leaning not on your own understanding; keep acknowledging Him in all of your ways, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Persevere. Stick with Jesus. Cling tightly to Him, to your only source of life in this desolate, fear-driven world. He will always always be there for you; and you can always run back to Him no matter what junk you have hoarded up in yourself for a time. The way to purify yourself not by trying to feel clean and erase the sin from your memory, but rather to confess your sins, and let Him forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Receive His forgiveness and invite Him to lovingly rule your life again!

Keep believing, dear friend. Keep trusting Jesus and keep loving Him. Abide in Him. Abide in His Word. Abide in His love.

He really loves you so much.

And from this abiding, deep fellowship with the Lord, fruit will emerge, fruit that points the world back to God.

Freedom From Anxiety: How God Freed Me + 5 Steps of Faith for You to Take Towards Freedom

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Do you struggle with anxiety? Have you ever felt like you could never be at peace again?

Anxiety affects 19.1% of Americans today. It is a mental illness of, more often than not, irrational fears. It hurts, and it hurt me too, for several months this year. There were certainly a few times when it felt impossible to overcome, and impossible to ever be at peace of mind again. Peace seemed like a far-off dream or fantasy that I could never again obtain.

I didn’t really experience anxiety much until I entered college. Suddenly, I was thrown into a secular atmosphere with people very different from me, loads of school, and little sleep. Added to that were other pressures of life, such as the aching knowledge that so many people around me needed Jesus, and my hopelessness to make a difference in their lives.

The anxiety got its worst last May, during finals. In a future post (an essay I wrote for a Creative Nonfiction class this semester), I will go into more detail about what happened then. In short, I was taken to the hospital for a muscle spasm caused by stress and anxiety, and I never wanted to experience that type of pain ever again.

What I learned a few months ago through the wisdom and faith of a godly lady, I will surely never forget. I left her that day experiencing so much freedom and inexplicable peace. God had always had the ability, it was only a matter of me trusting that He did.

To this day, I have a lot of freedom from anxiety. Though it still creeps up on me from time to time, I now have a newfound faith in God’s ability to trump anxiety in my life.
I cannot go on living my life without sharing how I was healed here, for any of you out there who are in the same boat as I was: crippled by anxiety, uncertain of your identity, doubting the truth.

God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace! Let your minds and hearts be at rest in the name of Jesus as your prepare to read the rest of this post. I bind the enemy in the name of Jesus from any distractions trying to get in the way. Jesus Christ has the full victory in your life, now and forever!

So here are some key things that helped me trust in God’s power to defeat my anxiety:

1. Recognize that fear is fake

Fear is a huge deceiver, enslaving so many people’s lives with irrational beliefs about reality. Fear makes you believe that the shadow in your room must be a monster. Only when you turn the light on do you realize how ridiculous it was for you to believe that—it was only your jacket hanging up in your closet! As children of God, we have nothing to be anxious about. God is in total control! Jesus Himself is sustaining all of life—even the mundane parts. Rest in Him!

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

2. Recognize the anxiety is NOT yours

If you are believing anything like I was – that anxiety defines you, that it is your anxiety, that you simply are an anxious person – then, Beloved of God, turn away from these false beliefs! Did God give you a spirit of fear or anxiety? Absolutely not! In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 says just the opposite:

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

You already have this powerful, loving, self-controlled spirit through your faith in Jesus! This strong, life-giving spirit is already yours–because you are a child of God, you have full access to it. If you experience anxiety, it is coming from an outside source – an anxious spirit – and it is imposing itself onto you, taking advantage of your lack of faith. But all along you are more than a conqueror through Jesus, and are more than able to claim the authority over it which Jesus has already given you (Matthew 28:18-20). Anxiety has no place in your life! Anxiety is not your true identity. Instead you are one with Christ, fully able to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13). Praise God!

3. Recognize Jesus is stronger than your feeble efforts

Over the summer, I read a classic book called, The God of All Comfort (which I highly recommend!). The author, Hannah Whitall Smith, encourages readers to simply trust in God, especially trusting in His comfort, love, grace, and forgiveness. She touches on some key truths about God that may give us the faith to fully believe Him. She describes God’s presence as a dwelling place incapable of arousing fear or doubt, and completely full of the peace that passes all understanding. When you put your faith in Jesus and trust that you are as a state of being in the presence of God, there is peace.

But for many people, this requires a battle against the spiritual forces of evil around us. At another point in the book, Hannah exhorts the reader to put off all doubt and fear all together, to slam the door on it once and for all, and to claim once in for all the victory over them in the name of Jesus! I remember when I first read that, I paused in shock, reading it over again to see if I’d really just read that. Was this actually possible? And yet, a part of me had been thinking that it might be true. She had affirmed that it was.

And so, I made an attempt to do just that. The anxiety must go away—now and forever! But before I knew it, the anxiety came creeping back to me same as ever. What was wrong with me?

After talking with the wise woman of God, I realized that I had been trusting in my own power to slam the door shut on anxiety. I myself am utterly weak, but Jesus is strong in me! Trust in Jesus’ strength to overcome your weakness. Trust that His peaceful presence can submerge all doubts, fears and anxieties. Trust that He can and will have the full victory in your life if you only let Him!

As the same wise woman told me, the healing doesn’t have to be a process, it can happen in an instant. The instant we put our faith in Jesus’ full victory is the instant we are healed. More often than not, anxiety may keep trying to get a hold of you and may come in at times when we are not alert of it, but with faith in Jesus it has no long-lasting hold in your life! With faith in Jesus, you can keep slamming the door on it, no matter how many times it takes, until it becomes easier and easier for it to go away—until at last it is gone. Anxiety can go away the instant we recognize what is going on and put our full trust in the Son of God, it’s just a matter of perseverance and faith, no in our own strength, but in God’s.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:4 (ESV)

4. Desire anxiety to be rid of in your life

Something particularly intriguing I realized as I made steps to freedom from anxiety, is that I truly had to want very badly for the anxiety to disappear. If I were indecisive of how much I wanted it to go away and I let it hang around like an old friend, then it would—naturally—get worse. The spirit of anxiety also, in a way, seemed so bent on enslaving me that it felt similar to what people would normally call temptations. It was as if the anxiety was tempting me to be anxious! I don’t know how the enemy gets you to be anxious, but that was a particular key part of my own personal struggle.

Realize that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t just about you, it’s about obeying God. It’s about submitting to Him so that you may experience a life of freedom that glorifies Him. Turn from anxiety and let peace rule in your heart, because it is what the Lord commands us!

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

5. Believe that God desires anxiety to flee from you, too!

Not only is anxiety something you want out of your life, and not only would being less anxious make you more fit for His kingdom, but the Lord genuinely cares for you, as the verse from the last sections indicates. Your Father in heaven can’t bear to see you suffer from anxiety! It breaks His heart. He is moved with pity and tenderness towards you. He sees it as no little thing for you to have such mental sickness. He wants to heal you! He loves you just because He is God, and you are His precious child, whom He created in your mother’s womb. He knew you before He even created you! Have no doubt in your mind that He values you and considers you worth freeing from anxiety. He longs to show compassion on you!

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” – Isaiah 30:18

Now, Beloved, I have taken you along my journey of how God freed me from anxiety and how He can and wants to free you, too. Hear me out: there is a bright future ahead of you! Do NOT believe that anxiety is impossible to overcome because that is a lie straight from the devil. Have a little faith, even if it be just as small as a mustard seed, because our God is an awesome God!

The Lord is waiting patiently for you in hopes you will lay back in His arms and rest in His grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, nothing you do or don’t do can remove His love for you, or blot out His forgiveness that stretches as far as the east is from the west. He knows exactly where you’re at right now, and He can meet you right where you’re at with patience and tenderness, and at the same time with victory.

He freed me, so He can free you, too.

God is with you, Beloved! Where His presence is, there can be no doubts, fear, or anxiety but only peace. And so, may the peace of God truly be with you, at all times and in every way. (2 Thess. 3:16)

Have a wonderful day, abiding in the Lord’s peaceful dwelling place!

 

Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you have questions for me about how to overcome it? Comment below—I would be so happy to encourage you further into the freedom you have been given in Christ!

 

If You Trusted That I Cared

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I wanted a kiss from God,
So here I am awaiting it.
Somber mind and somber heart,
Doubting good things come from this.

From this
Wait.
Patient wait.
Feeling nothing,
Longing for something to satiate
This emptiness.

You’re here, and I want You—
But do I want just You
Or do I want something from You?

What is this desire—
Unholy or pure?
To feed up my hunger,
To find me a cure.

Shouldn’t I just want You,
Whoever You are,
Rather than grasp from Your hands a wish-upon-a-star?
You’re more than a genie—
I’ve heard it before—
But then why can’t I be happy just following Your rules?

Child, You say,
It’s because those rules
Are not Me;
They are only an illusion.
The real Me is found when you lose your perception of what you ought to be or to do or to say,
And with simple faith listen, trust, and obey.

In that way you can see
That the only way to genuinely want Me
Is to forget about your self, your plans, your rules—
And to bask in my care
To receive my kiss
To not doubt it, because it’s there.

Trust and see,
Wait patiently.
The only way to feel is to know I’m here;
To know I want you, to know I want to feed you,
To know I want to cure you from your curious disease that makes you see me
As selfish,
When all along I really felt that
We could be together
If you trusted that I cared.

How to Release the Burden of Self-Focus: Gazing at Jesus

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“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

Are you burdened by a yoke of slavery?

So many of us are heavily enslaved. In fact, Paul makes it clear that we are all slaves. You are either a slave to righteousness or a slave to the flesh.

In many people’s minds, being a slave of righteousness basically translates to an anxiety-riddled life, full of empty religious duties, constant fault-finding in yourself, and lives heavily burdened by human-imposed rules.

But, surely, this is not the path to righteousness. There ought to be a way to free our minds from guilt and shame and to set us free to genuinely love Christ and follow His commandments out of that love for Him.

And, praise God–there is!

In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus paradoxically reveals the freedom of being enslaved to righteousness: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus does indeed tell us to learn righteousness from Him, but it is only after laying our burdens of our own conceptions of righteousness and finding the freedom of simply hearing His words, trusting, and obeying. Instead of constantly analyzing your actions, let His grace sustain you and constantly push you forward into grateful acceptance of His love and eager desire for more of Himself.

After all, what kind of righteousness do we desire to seek? Is it the kind that gives glory to ourselves or glory to God?

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

So many people seem to seek first their own righteousness, failing to trust in the righteousness only given when we simply behold the glory of the Lord.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

I can testify to the truth of this verse. It isn’t merely a beautiful passage, it’s a practical reality. When I remember to behold Christ in all His righteousness, holiness, kindness, and beauty, I unconsciously reflect what I behold. Christ is large in my life, and everything else looks dim in comparison. His power far surpasses any problems I face. His freedom sets me free from every chain that held me so strongly before. His love is all I know, and it is all I radiate to the rest of the world.

Beholding. Trusting. Abiding. Resting.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

The Bible urges us to gaze upon Him, just as Peter gazed at Him as he walked towards his Rabbi on the water. This is the ultimate act of trust, to simply look at Jesus. I believe it goes along with what Jesus is talking about when He commands us to abide in Him.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:4-5 (ESV)

Abiding in Jesus requires the eyes of your heart to be united with the character of Christ, just as fixing your eyes on Him brings a fellowship of loving who He is and becoming who He is all at once.

In fact, I truly think looking, trusting, and abiding in Jesus is what Hebrews is talking about when the author urges us to “strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11 ESV). In Hebrews the author reveals that the way to enter the rest of God, is by believing. There’s no other way. Non-belief keeps you from experiencing the freedom that God promised us in Christ Jesus. It kept the Israelites from the promised land, and it keeps us from a beautiful fellowship with God. All God wants to do is shower His love on us, but we simply refuse to accept it, thinking it must be too good to be true.

Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the power of sin can be put to death, and we can have victory and freedom in a relationship with Jesus. In fact, the Bible says we can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Trying to take control of your religious life demonstrates that you do not believe that victory is found through Jesus alone. That’s like a thief or a robber trying to climb over the fence instead of going through the gate—that is, Jesus, the good Shepherd (see John 10). Only Jesus provides the “new and living way” by tearing apart the veil so we can enter the presence of God (Hebrews 10:20).

Trying to be in control of following God looks so good on the outside – you’re doing all the right things, you’re being generous and kind and dutiful – but in reality it’s being a slave to the fleshly desire of pride. Because if you have your hands all over everything, that means your eyes are all over yourself.

As an illustration of what I mean, this summer as I entered a discipleship program, I was very excited to grow in my faith in God. Or, perhaps, a better word would be earnest. Later on, God revealed to me that I was idolizing my growth. I was more focused on my growth than on Him. He showed me that the most important thing is to be with Him, and to enjoy Him in the present moment. He’ll take care of the growth part (see Philippians 2:13). Our job is simply to listen, trust, and obey.

If we try to follow what we think is right while staring at ourselves the whole way—even if in fact the action we are doing is what Jesus commanded us—are hidden motive is to bring glory to ourselves. But if we gaze at Jesus and in our wonder and love for Him find ourselves running after Him and enduring the race just as He endured the cross—our attentions are totally absorbed in Christ and are motives are entirely to bring glory to Him.

So how do you get out of self-focus and into freedom in your walk with Christ?

My simple answer: stop focusing on yourself.

My less-simple answer is: behold the glory of the Lord and have a soft heart to the changes He wants to make inside you.

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” – Psalm 51:2

Ask God to restore the joy of the salvation He has given you in Jesus Christ. It is all too easy to give into complacency about the miraculous gift of eternal life we have received! Once this joy has restored your mental health into fullness of life, ask Him for a willing spirit to naturally pull you through in your excitement and love for Jesus to obey His commands and give Him glory.

Following Jesus is the greatest joy. He sets you free from the yoke of slavery, which is often simply the burden of self-focus. He leads you into the freedom of self-denial, the peace of walking with Him, and the hope anchored in your soul for the future glory in heaven that far outweighs your present suffering.

So, forget about yourself and start looking at Him in all His glory and majesty and splendor. He is far too wonderful for you to waste your time getting your hands all over your life. Let Him take control. Let His beauty overwhelm you.

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” – Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)

He is so good! Rejoice continually at the salvation He has given you through Christ Jesus. Magnify His name, for He is awesome and powerful!

In the words of Paul: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Widen your eyes at His breathtaking-ness, and sing for joy at the tender, personal love of the Father. Turn you wailing into dancing! Salvation has come, justifying yourself completely so you do not need to focus on yourself anymore.

People are desperate for the true sacrificial love you of few people have experienced. Strive to enter the rest of God. Let His love flow through you into the lives of others, and you will never be the same again.

Finding Freedom From the Fear of Man

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“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” – Proverbs 29:25

I want to be free.

I think each of us, deep down inside, longs for that. Whatever that means.

I am in a period of growth in my life, where God is stripping down so much of what I thought I needed and showing me that all I really need is Him. In reality, as much as I don’t like to admit it, I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life. I’ll never be strong and independent, I’ll always be desperately needy and dependent on Jesus.

God isn’t sanctifying us so we will be strong enough to not need Him, He is sanctifying us all the time, because we always need Him!

It’s hard to be free when we turn from God’s rich supply of grace and base our lives on people’s opinion on us. Many of us know the bondage of fearing men, instead of God. Being dependent on what people think of us, rather than what God thinks of us. Relying on people to determine our worth and value.

Why do we have this constant drive to be accepted by others? Why can’t we simply attach ourselves to our Creator and detach ourselves from others’ opinions of us?

I think because it is the quick and easy way to feel “safe.” They are right in front of our eyes, approving us, so what’s the big deal? Why find our security in anything else?

It’s a snare. It doesn’t set you free. If you enslave yourself to the opinions of others, as soon as someone disapproves of something you say or do, your self-esteem plummets to the earth like a crashing rocket. So much for finally being accepted. Now you feel humiliated, never able to “be yourself” again.

Whoa, hold on! Why do we care so much about what people think of us? It’s ridiculous. Even the people who have opinions of you don’t think so seriously about what they think of you. And the next day, maybe they’ll change their mind and see something about you so amazing that they tell everyone they know how great you are.

There are good and bad parts about yourself, but if you trust in Jesus, your core identity is not in what you do, but in Him. And He is perfect and deserving of the highest praise! Isn’t that incredible? God lavishes His love on you, even though you don’t deserve it! You are His child. That is something to fully embrace and never let go of. Dive into this blessed assurance, each and every day!

So, yes, people are gonna fail you. Your hunger for approval will never be satisfied in people. Let me say it again: Your hunger for approval will never be satisfied in people!

On the other hand, your hunger for approval will ALWAYS be satisfied when you come to Jesus. All because He made the way for God to totally and completely accept you when He died on the cross. And He offers Himself to us today for our hungry souls to feast on.

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” – John 6:35

This is a promise from God that you will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you come into the presence Jesus! And when God says NEVER, He means NEVER. He delights to fill you up. I know I have trouble remembering this and often turn to lesser things, but whenever I turn to Him and spend time with Him, He is faithful to overflow me with peace and joy.

In your time with Him, trust that He meets you where you’re at in your brokenness, and He loves you even there. Don’t be afraid of Him! He doesn’t despise a humble heart, and He shows kindness to people who only have a miniscule mustard seed of faith.

Let His Spirit guide you into prayer about anything that He brings to your mind. Pour your heart out to Him. Be honest. He loves you. I seriously challenge you to spend deep, meaningful time in His presence after reading this post (out in nature is my favorite!). Or right now, if you want (the sooner the better—He is always waiting for you!!)

As mind-blowing as it is, your identity is not in people’s opinions of you, but in Jesus Christ’s righteousness. WHO HE IS IS WHO YOU ARE, whether your actions reflect that or not. And believe me, your actions WILL reflect this when you put your full faith in Jesus. There’s no getting away from life-transforming grace when you get really truly blown away by the love of God and connect yourself to that one and only source of Life, Love, Joy, and Peace.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

Once again this is a promise. If you remain in Jesus and He in you, you WILL bear much fruit. This isn’t dependent on your own effort, but on abiding in your relationship with God and letting Him transform you.

This past week God laid it on my heart that He was protecting me. He, in the midst of all the unknowns in life, is your Provider and Protector. He keeps you in safety. Trust in that beautiful promise. Meditate on it. Here is the verse from the beginning of this post again for you to dwell on:

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” – Proverbs 29:25

That isn’t just a thing we Christians say–it’s a reality! The Lord is right there with you, keeping you safe. There is no need to try to protect your own dignity by winning the approval of others. No matter what people think about you, He always loves you, and His opinion is truly the only one that matters. He protects your dignity as His beloved child.

If you’re anything like me, you long for freedom from the fear of man. God longs for that for you too, for you to trust deep down inside that He is the good Shepherd taking care of you.

You don’t need to try to find your worth in people, or shy away from people because you think you could never be worthy enough for them to accept you. According to Him, you are worth dying for!

It is dangerous to find dignity in the ever-changing opinions of human beings. It is utterly safe to enter a social setting resting fully in God’s acceptance of you.

Today I pray God gives you the faith to believe He alone can satisfy, and the grace to experience the security and peace found in His presence. Because Jesus is the only way to be truly free.

He is Alive!

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Trust and receive.
Please.
Don’t let the doubts of whether you’re trusting the right way
Be the wall between you and His grace.
There’s no right way to trust–
It’s ok.
It’s ok if it’s as small as a mustard seed.
It’s ok if you keep messing up.
It’s not about what you can do
It’s about what He can do!
God gives us endless chances
If you’re willing to confess and to trust
And to truly receive.

Because receiving Jesus’ righteousness is what you get when you trust.
The cross kills your sin,
But because He is risen
Your life is not a whiff of dust,
But it’s one of victory.
Not just victory over things, but victory in things;
Victory in doing things
Not out of deathly, mundane obligation,
But out of the poured-out love that lives in you.
The joy to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly,
Because He first loved us.

Because He first loved us,
Trust and receive.
Please.
Don’t make up excuses like a teenager who finally realizes that life is pretty morbid without God.
Trust and receive
Like a child who finally realizes that life is pretty glorious with God.
Soon victory will be yours
The darkness within you will be overthrown.

So, please:
Trust and receive.
It’s never too late to start again.
I would say it a million times if I could:
It’s never too late to start again!

Trust and receive.
Don’t do it just once in a life
Or once a year or once a week.
Do it every day, every moment
You need His love and grace,
Or His truth to discern between right and wrong.
Do it every day, every moment
A crisis hits, a worry nags at you, or shame creeps up.
Whenever darkness threatens to triumph and to tell you lies—to tell you He died,
Trust and receive,
Because the truth is He is alive.

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

A Message to The Hurting

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I want to address you, my dearest friends
The ones who hurt in ways beyond what I could ever understand.
You have experienced so much,
Wounds deeper than canyons,
Rejection shattering your trust,
Dreams left to waste.
Dignity stripped away; identity swallowed by shame.
Questions left unanswered.
Hearts that repeatedly break.

I don’t understand it all
And I can’t pretend to,
But I ache with you more than you know.
And there is One who aches for you far more than I do.
Dear friend, you are not alone.

Deep in the night when you cry,
When you stay up with your heart laid bare,
Broken,
Bleeding,
I could never be there for you in that moment;
But there is One who is and always will be
Reaching out to You.
He pleads for you, He beckons you
To come into His open arms.

This isn’t even that great of a poem but I’m just concerned right now with speaking from the depths of my heart.
All I really want is for you to know without a doubt that
He cares.
He cares for you, Beloved.
He cares about you, your pain, and your brokenness beyond your wildest dreams.
He’s an ocean of grace
So don’t be afraid to jump into it.
Receive the embrace He longs to give you.
Receive.
Release.
Rejoice.

He longs to hold you tenderly and sing over you;                                    To heal you completely, to forgive you regardless of this or that, to love you intensely.

My heart goes out to you tonight, whoever you are;
Don’t be ashamed!
God wants you to know you are His Beloved.
Your identity isn’t in what you do, but in His love for you.
Your identity isn’t in what’s been done to you,
But in His love for you.

Never say “but…”
Because He doesn’t see this or that.
He doesn’t see things the way you do.
Because of what Jesus did for you on that cross
Now He covers you.

The Lord
Completely covers you from head to foot with
Purity
Righteousness
Love
Grace
—That’s the bigger picture!

As soon as you realize You need Him
He doesn’t say “Oh, I forgot about you.”
He says, “I got you.”

The bigger picture is that
He loves you anyway.
He loves you.
Anyway.
Regardless.
Even though.
Nevertheless.

God isn’t who you think He is!
He sees that You are hurting.
He knows and sees you.
You don’t have to hide or fake that you’re all right.
He knows you’re not.
But if you release your control
And let Him hold you in His arms,
He promises you that
Everything will be all right.

He’s with you,
Even when you feel too broken to lift your face.
He’s there
Through even the ugliest, messiest moments
Loving you like you’re a beautiful treasure
Worth dying for.

And if this poem that isn’t much of a poem means anything at all to you,
Then when you’re finished with it
Talk to God about it.
About you.
About what’s really going on.

Lay your broken pieces honestly before Him,
And receive His love that
knows you fully
and cares for you
regardless of this or that.
He sees the bigger picture–
He sees you.

My dearest friends, He wants to heal you.
He is no stranger to pain.
He understands you far more than you understand yourself.
Lay it all before Him, and I promise–He will never fail you.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

P.S while this poem is addressed to those who hurt in especially deep ways, we all hurt at some level or another. the world is full of hurting no matter where you turn, and we are all desperately in need of healing–whether from sin, shame, guilt, fear, despair, anxiety, depression, or loss of trust. we all need to hear the simple words “I love you” and we all need Jesus to fill in where we are weak. let your pain, your needs, and your hunger be satisfied at the foot of the cross. have a blessed day, friends! ❤