Guidance and Choice

“God, help me to love others.”

“God, help me to trust You.”

“God, give me patience.”

I often pray these prayers of guidance, but I often miss the prayers of choice. We have to make the choice to love people, to trust God, to be patient. How often do we pray with intention?

“God, help me to understand further what showing Your love looks like and give me opportunities to show others Your love.”

“God, I’m trusting You with this situation, lead me where You want me to go, and remind me of Your promises and faithfulness.”

“God, I’m going to choose to be patient in this situation. When I am tempted to become impatient, remind me that impatience is not from you.”

Prayers of guidance and choice go hand in hand.

We can’t just pray comfortable prayers and expect big things to happen. Pray the bold prayers. Pray for opportunities. Don’t be passive. Make the choice.

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Photo Credit: Chris Barbalis

Real Life

As time goes on, I realize that life isn’t always what I think it should be. It seems that the Christian life is portrayed as a life with no problems or that if problems do arise, we are sad for a moment and then are miraculously  better. I’ve come to realize that this is not true in the slightest. Life as a follower of Christ can be just as difficult as that of a non-believer. Tragedies still happen, depression is still a real thing, stress still exists. The list goes on and on. The difference is that having hope in the Creator of all things, having hope that the One who paints the sky and crafted nothing into a functioning universe holds our lives in His hands, having hope that He can make beauty out of ashes brings us peace. But even as followers of Christ we sometimes still have a problem with holding onto that hope. We let the problem consume us and it enslaves us, making our God seem small. Our God is so much bigger than any problem or circumstance, but if you hold onto the problem, your heart hardens, when all you can talk or think about is your situation, you become bitter. God waits with open arms and I bet it breaks His heart to see us clinging to our problem instead of Him. God has shown me to worship Him through the storm I’m in, because the thing is, worship isn’t based on how we feel, it’s based on who He is, and He is good and deserving of our praise. Bad things happen in real life, but we get to choose how to handle them, we choose what to cling to.

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Photo Credit: Daryan Shamkhali

God Says

My, oh, my. The Christian walk doesn’t always feel easy, does it? There are some days that I just get so fed up with myself and my inability to do what I know God wants me to do. Some days I am just too tired to be nice or to go out of my way to help someone. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by guilt and shame because I deliberately go against what God says. I feel like a dirty, broken sinner.

And I am.

I am a sinner with blood on my hands and lies in my heart.

But I am also so loved by God.

The other night I was talking to someone about letting go of guilt and shame and embracing the love of God. I remember saying something along the lines of, “When we wallow in the fact that we sinned, when we let the guilt chain us down, we are focusing on ourselves. We get this self-righteous attitude because we’re making it all about us. We ignore God’s promises in favor of our self-pity. It’s so hard to face God with blood on our hands rather than running the other way, but we have got to stop making it about ourselves. Jesus didn’t die so that we could get caught up in ourselves and our inability to live the life we are called to live. You see, it’s not about us, it’s not about what we can’t do, it’s about what He did. Jesus died to cleanse us, to free us. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on the One who saves us, the One who set us free, the One who loves us despite our sin, the One who died knowing already every act of treason that we would commit against Him, the One who said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’ as He was dying.” 

I finished speaking and I sat back. I said, “That wasn’t me. Those were not my words. I needed to hear that so much.”

God put words into my mouth to say to someone else that I desperately needed to hear. It’s not about me.

When I look at myself, all I is that I feel worthless, undeserving, broken, tainted.

But when I look at God, all I see is mercy, love, grace, forgiveness.

I stopped in the middle of writing this post to go to church. Tonight we sang – and I heard for the first time – “Who You Say We Are” by Steven Curtis Chapman. The song really resonated with me and paralleled so well with the message in my heart that I had been writing about just 3o minutes before; I smiled and praised God about how amazing His timing is.  While I was singing I just thought about the words, “Hallelujah! We are who You say we are.” God says we are His forgiven, clean, and loved children; hallelujah indeed

I encourage you to embrace God’s truth:

 God is calling you to live outside of guilt  (Hebrews 10:22  “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”);

He has made us clean (1 John 1:7 “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”);

He gives us peace (Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”);

All because He loves us (John 3:16 “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.”)

And wants us to live for Him (1 Peter 2:24 “‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.'”).

My brothers and sisters, do not turn your face away from God, He loves you despite all you have done, all you will ever do; turn towards Him. He loves you so much.

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Steven Curtis Chapman – Who You Say We Are

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Photo Credit: Christopher Campbell

Give Abundantly

Before I actually begin this post, I want to start by saying there’s been a change to my blogging schedule.  I realized I was blogging for a deadline I had set for myself, not necessarily because God laid a topic on my heart.  I’m only going to blog when I feel like God has given me something to say, whether that be twice a month or twice a week.

 

Now, onto the message God has laid on my heart.  It’s been an idea that’s been swirling in my head for awhile now, but God fully developed it today when I decided to listen to a podcast rather than music while I walked.  I’ve been reading a devotional by Rick Warren called Habits of Happiness and I remembered that he was a pastor and potentially had a podcast.  That he does.

I chose to listen to Daily Hope with Rick Warren, scrolling all the way down to #140.  The podcast was titled “Generosity is Love in Action, Part 1, Leaving a Lasting Legacy.”  I ended up listening to all three parts and walking for over an hour.  In the podcast, Rick said something that really stuck with me – and I’m paraphrasing – generosity is the practical application of faith, hope, and love.

 

The podcast talked of generosity in terms of relationships with spouses, children, and other people in general as well as with our finances.

 

It really got me thinking in terms of relationships – romantic relationships, friendships, and in general.  When we truly love someone, we give.  We give not just in terms of money but with our time.  You cannot love without giving.

Are we giving as we should? Are we investing our time in the relationships we have, in the people we love? Or do we say we love them yet refuse to take our eyes off of ourselves  and our needs? I guess the real question is are we serving them?

 

Think about this in terms of all of your relationships:  How are you serving your friends? Your significant other? Your family?  Your coworkers?  The people you encounter on a daily basis?

 

Generosity is a characteristic of God.   God is generous.  Everything we have is because of Him.  To be like Him, we must give.

Give abundantly.  Show love.  Serve others.

Photo Credit: Ben White

A Few Thoughts on Isaiah 44

Hi, guys, I just wanted to share some thoughts I had while reading Isaiah chapter 44 the other day.

There were three things right off the bat in verse 2:

“The Eternal who made you, who formed you in the womb and promised to help you has this to say: ‘Don’t be afraid, My servant Jacob, My dear Jeshurun – My chosen.'” (VOICE)

  1. God formed us, He created us, He designed us.  We are not random, we are not unplanned.
  2. God promises to help us.  We do not have to go through this life by ourselves with our own strength, God is with us.
  3. God tells us not to be afraid.  It’s like numbers one and two lead into three: God created us and promises to help us; therefore, do not be afraid.  We were created by a loving God, a God who has a plan for us and who plans on helping us live out that plan, there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Something else I noticed throughout Isaiah, when Isaiah is announcing what God has to say, he doesn’t just say “Hey, guys, God says.”  God is introduced as “The Eternal, Commander of the heavenly armies, King of Israel, who paid their ransom (verse 6),” or “The Eternal, your rescuing hero who formed you before birth (verse 24).”  These things are important because we are given attributes about God that, along with the words He speaks and the way He works in the lives of His people, help us to understand His character.

The Bible is not meant to be read like some book, it’s living Truth that gives us life and gives us deeper insight about the God who saves.  Until next time, lovelies.

 Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

Thoughts from my Journal

I just wanted to share with you guys some thoughts I had last night while journaling.

As humans, we are creatures of inconsistency, we change like the weather in East Tennessee, yet God is constant; His love does not change, His promises never prove untrue, He is the one constant in our ever-changing lives.

I change my major? God is constant.

I lose someone? God is constant.

I lose my job? God is constant.

I’m not giving God 100%? God is constant.

I constantly sin and mess up and stray? God is constant.

God’s love, His relentless love, never stops. He will never stop pursuing me, loving me, waiting for me with arms open wide. No matter what.

Photo Credit: Good Free Photos