"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." -Galatians 5:6
We can make life so complicated, can't we? As if life were just one long, running checklist of things we need to do, places we need to be, and people we need to see.
While certain things in life do need to get done, I think sometimes we over-complicate and make things more stressful than they need to be.
I love today's Scripture that comes from Galatians 5. Paul is reminding the church at Galatia that in Christ, we are set free (vs. 1). That means the long checklist of religious obligations that they once had to follow is now void--it doesn't need to be done anymore. Now it's all about living in the freedom that Christ has provided and using that freedom to serve on another in love (vs. 13). Talk about lifting a huge burden off your shoulders! Yet think about this: what if we could live in that same freedom, even today?
Last week on the blog we talked abut the importance of throwing away our own comfort and convenience to serve in the places where Jesus would likely be if He were on this earth today. Paul's reminder goes right along with this idea: to serve one another in love. Jesus Himself told us our greatest commandment was now to love God and to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31).
This week in the middle of your hustle and bustle, in the middle of your summer vacation planning, and throughout your sleepless and stress-filled nights, take a moment to breathe and remember what is truly important: Loving God and loving others. When we ask for God's help in doing both of these things well, it'll be amazing how simple life really can become.
Until next time,
"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." -John 12:26
As followers of Jesus, it's really easy to get into a pattern of reading the Bible, praying before meals, and going to church on Sunday's. We think of Jesus as a convenience rather than a lifestyle. We view serving as a way of feeling better about ourselves. We attend events to make sure other people notice us, so that we can get their gold star of approval.
If any of this sounds familiar, know that at one point or another, we've all been here. It's our natural sin nature that wants approval from others, convenience instead of sacrifice, and routine instead of risking change.
But when we study Jesus in the Gospels, we see a very different kind of life. We see Jesus living a life of service and inconvenience. We see a life that was focused solely on the mission of God and the pursuit of people, the truth of the Gospel, and love.
In John 12:23-26, Jesus is answering a request brought to Him by His disciplines, Philip and Andrew. The Bible tells us in verse 20 that there were some Greeks who had come up to worship God at the Passover festival, and they wanted to see Jesus. What's interesting is, when Philip and Andrew bring this request to Jesus, He never directly answers it. Instead, He tells them that the hour has come for Him to be glorified (vs. 23), that unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (vs 24). And finally that anyone who love their life will lost it, while anyone who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (vs. 25).
Right after saying this, Jesus says this: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." Jesus uses the words "serves" and "servant" three times in this verse, all in reference to Himself. In the next chapter, we see Jesus doing this exact thing when He takes the job of a slave and washes His disciples feet.
I don't know about you, but washing dusty and worn down feet doesn't sound like the most convenient thing to do. Yet, this is the example we find Jesus setting. This is where Jesus was--and this is where we should be, too.
Going back to John 12:26, Jesus makes the statement, "Where I am, my servant will also be". If you look around at your life today, is it a true statement to say you are where Jesus would be? Jesus calls out in particular a few groups of people in Matthew 25 that are close to His heart: the hungry and thirsty, strangers in need, those who lacked clothing, those who are sick, and those who are in prison (vs. 35-36). He wraps this up saying, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me" (vs. 45).
It's easy to think we're serving Jesus by posting words of encouragement online from our air conditioned houses while we sip our iced coffees, and it's easy to think that by donating to the church on Sunday mornings, we're doing our due diligence to keep ministries up and running. While these things aren't bad, I would suggest they're simply not enough if that's all our hearts are desiring to do on a daily basis. If Jesus was here, where would He be? What would He be doing? And as followers of Jesus, are we in those places, doing those things on His behalf?
This week, take some time to evaluate what your service to God looks like. If it's merely made up of things that are convenient for you, maybe consider going to God in prayer and asking Him what He would have you do. Is there a buried desire you have that could lead to service? Is there a spiritual gift that you could use to fill a void near your neighborhood? Following Jesus doesn't necessarily mean moving across the globe to reach people for Him (though it might!). It might just mean we get a little bit out of our comfort zones to reach the hurting and broken right close to home, the people the world would define as dirty and unworthy, and meet Jesus right at the intersection of service and inconvenience. We can be assured that whatever we do for His Kingdom will be rewarded many times over.
Until next time,
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." - Hebrews 11:6
I don't know about you, but I have been so distracted.
I was reading my Bible last week when it all hit me, and since then, like a tidal wave, it's continued to hit me. My focus has been off. My mind has wandered. I have become distracted.
So many of us had to fight distraction this last year. The thing about distraction is you don't often realize it's happening until it's too late. Hours have gone by and you're still on social media. It's three in the afternoon and you're still in your pajamas. It's been a whole year and you still haven't gotten to that home project you wanted to get done. Where has the time gone, and what's happened in the meantime?
For me, distraction has looked like spending too much time on social media. It's also looked like spending to much time thinking about what I want my future to look like instead of actually preparing for that future. And in the midst of all of this, I've faced heartbreak, disappointment, and discouragement.
When we become distracted, it's because we've lost our focus. We've forgotten that this earth is not our eternal home. We've forgotten there is a Kingdom that is coming, and a King who awaits us in there here and now. That we have a God who has a perfect plan for our lives, if only we'd stop wasting our time and start being intentional about preparation and surrender.
I know this all sounds intense, and of course we're allowed to have fun and take a break throughout our day. But the point is, what choices are you making today that are preparing you for the future God is calling you to? How are you spending your time today that is growing your relationship with God and allowing Him to work on your heart to impact people on this earth for His Kingdom?
I read a quote that woke me up from my distracted slumber, and it went like this: "Patient is getting under a burden or affliction and turning it into glory." (author unknown).
I read this from an article in my Study Bible, and I knew exactly what God was trying to tell me. Instead of waiting around, wasting my time, there was purpose in my current season. The lessons I've learned are stories to be shared. The afflictions that have plagued me are worth writing about so that His glory may be known.
So my turnaround goes like this: Less time worrying about what my future looks like, more time using my gifts to serve people in the season I'm in. That's why I'm starting to blog again. It's part of my plan to stay focused on the here and now and tell of the lessons I'm learning in my current season.
What does your turnaround look like? What has been distracting you, and how can you be more focused? Do you want to get married someday? Chances are, this is a good time to start learning how to be a good spouse. Do you want to pursue a career that'll take experience? This would be a great time to start equipping yourself with the knowledge and experience it'll take.
Where do you want to be in five years, and what can you do today to get there?
Take your dreams to God in prayer, with an open and surrendered heart, and ask Him to show you where you're distracted, and what you need to do to align yourself with all He has for you.
No distraction is worth delaying what God has for you. When we recognize that we've wasted or time, we'll be a lot more diligent on staying focused. And that's my prayer for us this week. We stop wasting time and start getting focused. God has great things in store for us when we do.
Until next time,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” // James 1:2-4
Happy Sunday! (+ Thanksgiving Week!)
Last week we talked about seasons of hurt, and how God is not only present in our hurt, but can relate to our situation. This week, let’s talk about reasons God sometimes allows seasons of pain and hurt, and maybe we can get a good perspective change on how to handle and go through life’s trials.
Take a moment today to reflect on seasons of hardship and hurt in your life. How have you seen God work in those seasons? If you’re going through one right now, ask God to show you what He wants to, and ask Him to open your heart for all He wants to do in you through this season.
Until Next Time
“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” // Psalm 130:5
Hey guys! Welcome back to the blog. If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that this isn’t the first blog that I’ve written on the topic of waiting, (and it probably won’t be the last, tbh). The topic of waiting is something that I am so passionate about. It’s something that is incredibly difficult, but is something that is completely rewarding if we wait the right way.
We’re all waiting on something in life. A job to come through, a dream yet to be fulfilled, a spouse we haven’t met yet. And in the waiting, it can seem like the thing we’re waiting on will never happen. Worse than that, it can seem like God has complete forgotten about us, and it tempts us to despair and ruffles our trust in God.
But friends, please hear me when I say this: God has not forgotten about you. God is not a God who forgets about His children. The Israelites were wandering the desert for 40 years before they inherited God’s promise for them in Israel. David waited 20 years from the time he was chosen to be the king of Israel before he ever took the throne. And Jesus waited 30 years on earth before starting His ministry and living out the very reason He was here on earth.
So if God’s chosen people, God’s chosen King, and God’s only Son had to wait, chances are, so will we.
But if God didn’t forget about His people, His King, or His Son, He won’t forget about you, either.
Hear me when I say this: In the waiting, it is vital that you keep your eyes on God and your heart in the Scriptures. The waiting season can feel like you’re in a desert with no water – that’s a fact. But we have Living Water through both Jesus Christ and His Word – two things that are readily accessible to us right now. God promises to sustain us when we trust in Him.
Along with the waiting season, I’m just as passionate about the reason we wait. I believe God has His very best in mind for us. The best spouse, the best job, the best place for us to live. God’s “best” meaning the things He has for us that He knows we’ll love and that will bring us closer to Him and the person He wants us to become. God is infinite – He knows every single thing from eternity past to eternity future. He knows what’s best for you, when it’s best for you, and what’s not His best for you. That’s why in the waiting season it’s so important to trust God and keep our focus on Him.
While we’re waiting, we’ll often be tempted with things that look good or even okay. And when we stumble across these options, know this. If it’s not God’s best – don’t settle for it. You will know what God’s best is when it comes. Just like you’ll know what’s not His best when it comes. When Jesus was fasting for 40 days in the wilderness, Satan came to tempt Jesus when He was weak, hungry, and vulnerable. He offered Jesus bread – because Satan knew he was hungry. He tested His identity. He offered Him every thing this world had to offer, if only Jesus would bow down and worship Him.
Satan found Jesus in a season of testing, and offered Him things that seemed “good”, but the consequences would have been disastrous. Jesus met Satan with Scripture, not giving in to any of the enemy’s temptation. Jesus knew His mission, His identity, and His God. Satan’s temptations to settle for anything less failed against it.
When we’re in the waiting, it’s easy to only see good or okay. And so often, we’re blinded by good or okay, that we forget about God’s best.
Don’t settle for the guy that shows you attention because you don’t think the “right” guy will ever come along. Take this time to grow in your relationship with God, until He is enough. Get to know the Scriptures about traits a Godly spouse should have, and wait for that guy (and prepare yourself for that person in the process). The wait and the process will be worth it. Promise.
Don’t settle for the job that pays the bills when God’s called you to do something great. Trust that God will open the doors in your life when it’s time. Until then, work well where you are, showing Jesus every chance you get (Colossians 3:23).
Don’t settle for staying comfortable where you are. Instead, prepare yourself for when God moves. Invest in those around you, allow the Holy Spirit to work in you, and spend time with God so He can do everything He wants to do in you while you wait. He will come through in His perfect time. He will.
And every single second you spent waiting will be worth it. He’ll be worth it. His best will be worth it.
And when we do, someday we might just change the world. ❤
Until next time,
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” – John 5:7
We live in a day and age where feelings of discouragement, loneliness, and jealously can be triggered in a moments time. I know I get like this sometimes. Especially lately. This blog post finds me in a (very long) season of waiting. One where prayer after prayer isn’t answered yet … one where I see the answer to my prayer literally happening to everyone around me … but not me. And because of this, I’ve had small moments of self-pity, as we all sometimes do. And in one of those moments, I remember saying, “Why does it always happen to everyone else, but never me?”
Though my words were spoken out of emotion, and I trust that in God’s timing, He will answer my prayer, these words are very real feelings for many of us. Whether these words are uttered over something like a job promotion, or a financial breakthrough, or maybe because healing that hasn’t come yet, we have all felt like this at one time or another.
We find in John 5 the story of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. 38 years! Can you imagine this? I’m not even 38 years old, let alone being able to imagine being paralyzed for this long. In this man’s day, there was a legend- a superstition really- that an angel would come and stir up the waters at the Pool of Bethesda, and when that happened, the first person inside the water would be healed. It was around this pool that the paralyzed man, along with many others who were blind and disabled, would gather and wait for their opportunity to be healed.
Jesus met this man one day at the Pool of Bethesda-which literally translates, “House of Mercy”. And when Jesus saw the man there and learned of his condition, Jesus asked the man in verse 6, “Do you want to get well?” To that, the man replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Does this sound like you? Every time you want something, or are praying desperately for something, you feel like you get trampled on or beat to the prize. Like when you are desperately praying for a new job, and your co-worker gets a promotion. And when the next promotion comes up, another co-worker gets it. After a while, it all gets frustrating. And while all this time this paralyzed man was waiting by the Pool to get healed by a superstition he believed, Jesus stepped in during year 38 of the man being paralyzed, and He offered healing. This man didn’t need a Pool, he needed Jesus.
I believe this is the lesson we as Christians need to learn today. Are we still going to want and pray for that promotion? Absolutely. Are we still going to plead with God for healing? You bet. But when we’re left waiting-maybe for 38 minutes or maybe for 38 years-that’s where Jesus wants to step in and meet you. It’s in that waiting where He is standing with arms wide open saying, “Come on in. Let me be enough for you.”
It’s hard when opportunities and time pass us by- believe me…I’m in the valley of waiting with you. But it’s not until we find that we want Jesus more than we want anything else that we’ll ever truly be satisfied. And I’ve found that in this waiting process, waiting for God’s best is better than any quick fix or substitute we could ever really want. Let’s keep steadfast in prayer, our heart’s seeking His truth, and let’s offer praise for all He’s already given us. If we trust in Him, wait on His timing, and find our hope and strength in Him, He will provide us with everything we need in time. And until that, He’ll provide us with Himself. And that is worth more than anything anybody else has.
Until next time,
“At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.” -Numbers 9:18-19
Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe it’s the end of 2017 already? I feel like we were just ringing in the year, and now it’s coming to a close. It’s crazy how fast this year went by. I felt like I blinked and it was gone.
However, this year was indeed filled with many things. Many good, and a few bad. Over all, I can say that 2017 was a good year for me. Probably the best in recent years. And during this year, I had this idea to write down these lessons that I had been learning, and boy am I glad that I did. While I’m only going to give you 17 of the ones I had written down that I had learned from this year, I was stunned when I looked back on the pages of pages of things I had written down! It’s been such a blessing to me to look back on these lessons, and to carry them forward with me into the future.
If I had to choose one word that summed up 2017, it would be surrender. This was a year that was, especially in the last half of the year, characterized by surrender. Surrender of relationships, dreams, and plans. And these things were not always easy. However, it was out of some of these things I had to surrender that some of the most powerful lessons came about, many which are listed below.
So without delay, here are the 17 things I learned in 2017 that I wanted to share with you today. May these strengthen you in your own walk with Christ and in seasons to come in your own life.
Well, that’s about 17, ya’ll. I hope these are an encouragement to you. Thank you for all of you who take the time to read what I write and for those who have been an encouragement to me over the past year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2018. May it be a year of growing in Christ, loving Him more, and watching His marvelous plan unfold.
“An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD.'” – Luke 2:9-11
Many people are familiar with this passage taken out of the Christmas story in Luke 2. As I was thinking about Christmas and heard this passage, two things stuck out to me this year. Good news and Great joy. This angel was sent from God in heaven to announce the birth of the Savior to a group of Shepherds in the field at night, and when the angel arrived, they announced that there was no need to be terrified at its appearing, but in fact the angel was bringing an announcement. This announcement was good news that would cause great joy. And that this announcement was good news that would cause great joy for all people.
Just like today, the people in Israel 2000 years ago could use some good news that would cause great joy. The people of God had been long awaiting a Savior to rescue them from their oppression of their time. In fact, at the time Jesus had been born, the people had gone 400 years since a word from God. But all the while, they trusted and waited that God would send a Savior to them. And that the Savior had been born was the greatest announcement ever made, and the Shepherds tending their sheep in the field—a people group who was considered too unclean to even worship in the temple at the time no less— received this announcement. The announcement proceeded with this: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD” (vs. 11). The long-awaited, long-promised Savior had been born. The one who would free them from their bondage had come! God hadn’t forgotten about them! God hadn’t forgotten His promise! God hadn’t forgotten His people! This indeed was good news that would cause great joy, not only to the Shepherds and the people of Israel of that day, but to us as well. We are included in this good news that causes great joy today just as much as the Shepherds were that night when the angel appeared. Jesus wasn’t just born for His people, though He was born for them too, but He was born for us. He was born for you.
But there’s more to the story then just an angel appearing at night to a group of Shepherds. I mean, nothing ordinary was happening surrounding the birth of Jesus. A young women yet to be married and who was a virgin was pregnant and called favored by God while society would see her much differently? The angels announced the birth of Christ three separate times? A star indicated where the Savior had been born? The Shepherds were the first people group to know the Savior had been born?
Let me say this: the birth of Jesus just isn’t some event that took place 2000 years ago by chance. Every detail about His birth was carried about by the exact plan and will of God. It was 2000 years in the making. Every event in history leading up to that point happened so that this event could take place at this exact moment. The roads built years before Jesus came so that this message could be spread to people around the world. The census that was called right before Jesus was born. And the list of God preparing the stage goes on. And why did it take place? That you and me might be saved and forgiven by that same baby and have an eternity in the unending presence of God Almighty. That He might show us His love and power in an unimaginable way. And that we might have a relationship with Him once again.
That’s what Christmas is all about.
Its about a God who keeps every promise to a T every single time. Proving that He does what He says He’ll do. That His love for us is more than we can fathom. And that He deserves the highest of praise. Every detail of the Christmas story was set in place at the perfect time. That a perfect Savior might be born. And God’s perfect plan would unfold. It was a plan set in motion from the beginning of time. From when God knew Adam and Eve would sin in the garden. He knew it before He created Adam and Eve with a free will. He knew it before He spoke the world into motion. The same world He would send His Son into at that precise moment in history to undo all the wrong humanity had done. And He did all of it knowing that the greatest and most costly price would be paid at the end of this baby’s life. But He did it because He’s a God of His promise. Because He is a God who loves us that much. Because He’s a God who went to the ultimate length to buy us back to Himself. And this is the good news that causes great joy for us today and forever. So when you think about the birth of Jesus this year, remember the reason He came. The love that was given. The price He came to pay. And the victory He came to win. This is the good news. This is the thing that causes great joy. And it’s the thing that will last into eternity.
So, yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate. This is the single event in human history that allows us to be free from every sin that held us captive, and be engulfed forever in a love that is unimaginable. Indeed, we who are forgiven have received good news that will cause great joy. May this good news and great joy consume your heart this Christmas season and in the year ahead.
And for fun, here are my top picks of Christmas songs this year:
When I Think Upon Christmas- Hillsong Worship
Little Drummer Boy (Live) – For King and Country
Baby Boy (Live) – For King and Country
White as Snow – NewSong
Noel – Lauren Daigle
I Celebrate the Day – Relient K
His Favorite Christmas Story – Capital Lights
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” -Psalm 27:14
Last week I put up a blog post title, “Why I’m not freaking out that I haven’t found “the one” yet, and why you shouldn’t be, either.” If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please go back and do so. This was actually going to be all one blog post (last week’s and this week’s), but it was really long. So I thought I’d split it up. That being said, please try and read last week’s to get some context as to what’s happening! 🙂
The topic this week is what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re single and waiting for “the one” as Christians.
So what should we do while we’re waiting? Here are a few vital things.
If you’re single—stay faithful to God. He knows. He sees you. He hears you. Stay faithful and stay obedient. God promises His best to those who wait on Him.
We’ll talk soon 🙂