Faith, Revealing Jesus

Setting an Example

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Sometimes my greatest impact, positive or negative, comes when I think no one is watching. One hand was on the wheel, the other in the air. It was just another drive to the grocery store blasting my favorite gospel music. It didn’t seem like an important moment until I looked back and saw my daughter. Her little hand was stretched high as she sang along with me. Sometimes I forget how powerful our actions of faith can be.

Don’t let my example fool you. I blow it about twenty times a day in parenthood and in life. Who knows what my three-year-old tells his preschool teacher. Maybe something about his mom yelling at the dog who peed on the carpet again. Or perhaps how I gasp fearfully at any sudden movement.

Truth is, I’ve modeled frustration, impatience, doubt, and fear more than I’ve wanted to.

But that day in the car made me more aware that my actions and words are important in God’s kingdom. I claim to be a Christian, but is my faith evident to others by what I do? Do we as God’s people show God’s love instead of just telling about it?I claim to be a Christian, but is my faith evident to others by what I do? Do we as God’s people show God’s love instead of just telling about it? Click To Tweet

I need God to help me live out my faith. I want to live life outwardly trusting Him so that my kids, neighbors, friends, and family can know the Jesus I do–Jesus who loves fiercely, forgives genuinely, and is completely pure and faithful. He is who I want to be like.

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This is a something we should desire as Christians.

Peter, one of the disciples, urged, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3 ESV).

So we have to ask ourselves who’s in our flock? Who are the people God put in our lives who look up to us? And how can we show God’s goodness and love to them? Most importantly, are we willing to be an example?

For me, this starts with my family. I desire so much for my children. I want them to grow into joyful, kind, helpful, and patient people. First, I must model those qualities to them.

Scripture says, “But the fruit of the Spirit”– what God produces in us– “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, ESV).

A few years ago, I didn’t feel like I had any of these qualities. I wanted these traits to be true of my family, but they weren’t true of me. I had little joy, peace, or patience and couldn’t be the model God had called me to be. I had to start desiring the fruit of the Spirit in my own life before I could give it away to others. I needed the source, God’s Holy Spirit, to work in me so my life could display God’s grace.

I needed the source, God’s Holy Spirit, to work in me so my life could display God’s grace.I needed the source, God’s Holy Spirit, to work in me so my life could display God’s grace. Click To Tweet

I love that the Bible says there’s no law against God’s love. It’s good for us to want all of His traits–His good fruit–to fill our hearts so we can pass unconditional love along to everyone we meet. But how?

I’ve found, the more time I spend with God, reading Bible passages of His love for me, the more I am prompted to show extravagant grace and love to others. Likewise, the more I pray asking for Him to fill me up with His goodness, the more my default is to extend patience in chaos and forgiveness in hard times. When we let God be our leader through His Holy Spirit, we naturally model His love to others.

We’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but as I seek to live out my faith, I keep my lifeline to God active so I can reflect His love when mine wears thin. Thank you Jesus for teaching us how to walk in Your ways through your Spirit!

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Let’s talk about this! When have you realized you were or needed to model faith in action to those around you? Share your thoughts in the comments below, so we can learn from and encourage each other. And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement.

Hardships and Trials, wisdom

Wisdom to Survive Trials Well

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His sons, dead. His land, devoured by fire and thieves. His body, covered in painful sores. Most people who hear the name Job assume his story is about overcoming intense suffering. We use it as a beacon of hope in our times of trial. But I see a more important idea emerging from the pages. A story of humble pie.

Job certainly had reason to be upset, but he aimed his mistrust in the wrong direction. Like we tend to do during hard times, he started to wonder if God was good, if He cared, or if He was just plain cruel. Basically, Job wondered if God knew what He was doing.

And now my soul is poured out within me; days of affliction have taken hold of me… God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes. I cry to You for help and You do not answer me; I stand, and You only look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of Your hand You persecute me. You lift me up on the wind; you make me ride on it, and You toss me about in the roar of the storm” (Job 30:16,19-22 ESV).

Job let his suffering shape his view of God instead of trusting God in his suffering. I’ve been guilty of this too. When lost in grief following miscarriages, I wondered if I could really trust God anymore. Didn’t He see my pain? Worse, if He saw my pain, why did He continue to let me suffer? I started to think I knew better than God, which made me bitter and left me grasping for control.

But somewhere in the middle of the trial, I surrendered my pain to Jesus. I decided to trust His will for my life and accept that He really did want what was best for me, even if that involved a season of hurt.

I think that’s why Job’s story is important to reflect upon. Not because everything turns out great for him in the end, but because difficulties will come, but we can choose now to trust in God’s wisdom instead of our own limited view.

I look back on my season of loss, as backwards as it sounds, I am grateful for it. Without AndreaQuote3Ins9-3that hard time, I would not have sought a relationship with God. I would’ve missed out on Jesus and all the love and joy that came through a life spent with Him.

God knew wholeness would come when all I could see was brokenness. He could see the end when I could only see the next minute.

Job put it this way once he regained a little faith: “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air…God understands the way to it, and He knows its place. For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens…then He saw it and declared it; He established it, and searched it out. And He said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding’” (28:20-28 ESV).

Coming near to Jesus is the key to wisdom. Meanwhile relying on ourselves will cause more problems than good. Job couldn’t lead himself out of suffering, nor could I, nor can you. We need our God for that.

In our hardest moments when we wonder where God is and if He’s still in control, let’s remind our doubting hearts that His way is best. Our God sees everything under the heavens including our need, so we needn’t worry. Instead, hold onto him with all we’ve got. And then hold on a little more.

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Fearing Forward with Jesus

Heart pounding. Dry mouth. Hands shaking. Words fumbling. Anxiety at its finest. The first time I spoke in front of an audience about God was a total flop by earthly standards. I rushed  through as fast as possible so I didn’t have to stand up there alone for one more second. I had let fear take over and drive me into failure. Or so I thought.

I went home and cried.

Why did God call me to write, speak, and encourage others in His name if I couldn’t physically do it? Didn’t He know  I wasn’t capable of this? Didn’t He know I’m comfortable hiding right here in front of my computer?

He did know that, but He also knew I needed to learn an important lesson before moving forward. That none of this– the failures nor the wins– are about what I am capable of alone. It’s about Jesus working with me for my good and the good of others as we  step forward in faith.

After seeing their beloved Jesus die on a cross, I imagine His followers were confused and afraid, too. Maybe they even felt abandoned in the faith they were once so sure of. Jesus, knowing every one of their fears, showed Himself to His disciples to encourage their faith and to instruct them.

Some followers believed when they saw Jesus, others needed help believing so they could move forward in faith.

“And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:17-20 esv).Matt28-20Blog

When faced with fear, followers of Christ have a choice to make — will we doubt His presence? Or believe Jesus is truly with us in the struggle? What we choose determines if we can overcome our fears.

Many times I’ve doubted in my life. I’ve believed I was alone in parenting struggles, marriage lows, job crises, health scares — and most recently the first time I stood in front of an audience. Somehow I got the idea that God was here for the overall picture but not the day to day ugly. Wrong.

I poured over Matthew 28:17-20 thinking about how Jesus tells to go out boldly in his name. It struck me that before Jesus asks His disciples to go, He tells them all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. This is important, not just because it allows us to trust that we have a powerful God, but because of the words that follow.

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” If Jesus is with us, that means His power is too.

As a language teacher I know words cannot be translated perfectly. I wanted to know exactly what that meant that “I am” would be “with” us “always”. So I looked up the original Greek to better understand these important words of our Savior.

Here’s the gist….

The word here for “I am” is “ego eimi” which is the same name Jesus refers to himself when He says “I am the way” in John 14:6. Interestingly, the Greek word for “with” in this passage is an active with. It’s a “with” that means Jesus is working in us, not just standing by watching as we labor solo . Lastly, “always” means each and every part of the total. Each moment that makes up our entire lives. Not just the pretty ones.

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Putting this all together, Jesus promises to work with us every time He calls us to step out of our comfort zones.

Knowing this breaks down my fear when I step out in faith. Believing Jesus is working behind the scenes every time I put myself out there in obedience grows my confidence and propels me forward.

We’re not alone, but when we feel as if we are, let’s remember Jesus’ promise. The great I Am will be working with us in every moment, always.

 

Read more from Andrea at www.afruitfulwoman.com

 

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Let’s talk about this! How is God asking you to step out in faith? Do you believe that He will work in that area with you? Tell Jesus your doubts and fears through prayer and ask him to strengthen you when you are unsure.

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

fear

The Most Dangerous Fear

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I made my kid throw a boot at a spider because I was afraid to go near it. I hate ferris wheels for fear I will fall out. And tornado sirens make me stop in my tracks. All of us are afraid of something. But I’m guessing if I asked you your biggest fear, you wouldn’t automatically respond, “People!” even though it’s the most dangerous fear there is. 

Deep down we are approval seekers. It’s the reason I check how many people like a post on social media, or why I change my outfit three times before going out.  We want to be liked, approved of, accepted. The question is, by whom?

The Bible clearly states we have two options, we can fear other people, or we can fear the Lord– meaning we can live for the approval of others or live for the Lord.

 Our choice determines if we live ensnared or set free.

Proverbs 29:25 warns that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”. That word “snare” in original Hebrew is “yaqosh or moqesh” which means a noose or hook to snare, catch, or trap animals.

Let me tell you, I have lived snared. I have let others opinions drag me down into negativity, tie me up in anxiety, and gag me in fear to put myself out there in faith. Being afraid I won’t measure up to this world’s standards has kept me stressed and overwhelmed instead of living like an empowered child of God. 

Fear of man keeps us focused on man’s unattainable agenda instead of God’s will. But what is it that God cares about? What does it look like to “fear the Lord?”

I found the answer in the Old Testament. After the Israelites had worshiped man made objects instead of the one true God, they needed a new direction.  

Moses told them, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 NIV) 

Fearing the Lord instead of man looks a lot like walking daily with God. Steering our actions to love God and others. Serving with strength and humility, and following God’s good ways instead of what we think is best. The last line is so important. For our own good. 

I used to be afraid to follow God because I didn’t know if I could trust him with my life plan. But God isn’t a mad parent telling their kid to follow, “Because I said so!” He calls us to live close to Him because He wants something good for our lives. Because He is a Father who loves His children. That makes me trust and want to follow Him.  

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So everyday I try to let go a little. I want to release myself from what I think I should be and hold onto what God says I already am. What we already are. Loved. Chosen. Called. Purposed. Empowered…all in Christ. 

We have nothing to prove. No agenda to meet. No earthly standards to live up to. We get to live free and bold knowing God is after our hearts, not our resume. 

When we start living on purpose with the Living God, Philippians 2:15-16 says you and I will “shine” like “stars” as we give the good news of Christ to others through our actions. To me, that’s a life worth living.

Let’s talk about this! How have you been stuck in the fear of man? How would living in, and for, God’s love set you free?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE.

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Showing love

Living Out God’s Crazy Love

I hope someone has told you how crazy you are or recently given you a baffled look. There’s no doubt that we live in a society overrun with comparison and consumed by peer opinion. But Christian, what people say of us shouldn’t fit the mold. As the public watches us live for God’s glory, they should see a bit of crazy.

As I read through 1st and 2nd Corinthians my heart was curious what Paul’s audience thought of his actions inspired by God.

I wonder if they were shaken that Paul would endure beatings and imprisonments for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps they thought he was a little strange choosing to be a nomad, walking the globe, telling people about Jesus. Did they think he was wrong for preaching love and faith in a time of persecution?

Paul hints that the Corinthians couldn’t quite understand such a bold and divinely purposed way of life. Image of a laughing woman with verse 2 Cor. 5:13He wrote, “If we are out of our mind it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (2 Corinthians 5:13 NIV).

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for?

This hits a chord in my heart. How many times have I sought the world’s good opinion instead of my Father’s—sought my glory instead of His? If my life looks picture perfect to the world, who am I living for? Whose purposes am I seeking? But if our lives look strangely different than the world in a faith-filled, exhilarating, divinely loving, powerfully reaching kind of way; perhaps it is a glimmer that we are living for God’s sake instead of our own.

Seeming ‘out of our mind’ to the world is a small price to pay for living out divine love in Christ. But that leaves the question of ‘Why?’ I think the Corinthians were wondering the same about Paul and his gang. What in the world would make mere men live so boldly?

Paul explained to them, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV).

Knowing the depth of God’s love has the power to change a person. When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

When you understand that God loved you enough to jump in front of the death train for you, it gives your life importance.

As we let the truth of the cross and the love of Christ permeate to the hidden parts of our soul, we can’t help but have a new perspective on what is important in life. When you understand that God loved you enough to exchange His life for yours, it gives your life importance. And that importance gives way to a new purpose—to live extravagantly for the one who took your place. This is not out of obligation, but out of complete and utter thankfulness and joy as we live in such a love.

Paul puts it another way saying, “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. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:56-58 NIV).

We handed God our sin and death, and in return he showered us in victory and life! And Paul says in thankfulness of that amazing and undeserved switch taking us from the losing team to the winning team, we know that every battle we sweat in the name of Jesus on this earth will be victorious. And that makes us bold. It makes us act a little different.

Living in Christ’s unconditional love helps us live out life-changing love to others.

His love urges us to forgive instead of condemn, encourage when we see sorrow, keep peaceful words on our lips when attacked, and speak truth in love when it’s hard. It makes us desire to live for others like Christ lived for us.

It makes us want to live a bit ‘out of our mind’ for Christ knowing our purpose is found in Him and not in the opinions of this world.

Let’s talk about this. How do you see your life choices changing as you know Jesus more and more?

What do you feel He is asking you to do in response to His love for you even if it might look crazy to the people around you? Join the conversation here in the comments below or on our Facebook page, because we can all learn from and encourage one another! And make sure to join us for one of Wholly Loved’s upcoming conferences. Explore how you are wholly loved, purposed, and unique in Christ and how knowing that empowers you to be bold and brave in His name! Find out more HERE.

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