surrender

Fighting Enslaving Behaviors by Leaning Into Jesus

Flower image with quote pulled from post.

Though I trusted in Christ for salvation as a child, you never would’ve believed this, had you encountered me in my young adult years.

It was like I’d grabbed hold of the fringes of eternal life but not the full expression of it.

I had a tainted, partial view of God. I saw Him as lofty, for sure. The One who not only set the rules but had every right to do so. I also knew I didn’t deserve the gift of grace He’d given me. In fact, I felt so undeserving, I was certain that was how He viewed me as well. As if He tolerated me on occasion but was mostly disappointed.

He certainly had cause to be. I wasn’t living anything like my Bible said I should. I went to church on Sunday and Bible study on Tuesday then got drunk with my friends on Friday. I took my daughter to playdates and acted like a responsible and emotionally stable adult. Then, while my husband and daughter slept, I spent the quiet night hours binging and purging in a desperate attempt to fill all my empty places inside.

I was trying to live the Christian life in my own strength, apart from Jesus, and I was failing miserably. Each night, I’d promise God the next day I’d do better, only to find myself falling into the same self-destructive behaviors.

Then one day, I stumbled upon Jesus’ response to temptation. You may be familiar with the story. Scripture tells us the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was bombarded, again and again, by the forces of darkness. Yet, He remained strong. Unshakable. Victorious. As I read Matthew 4:1-11 and all the ways Christ engaged in a more intense spiritual battle than you and I ever will, it was as if He were holding His hand out to me, saying, “Come on. Watch what I do. Follow Me.”

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So I began to do just that. I started to look at my faith differently; less about what I needed to do or not do and more about what God wanted me to learn. My first and most important lesson—discovering who He was. Gaining full knowledge of His love and glory, because only then could I truly live in Him.

In John 14, shortly before His death, Jesus spoke to His disciples. He left them final instructions regarding a rather overwhelming assignment—launching His church during a time of intense persecution. This by a group of men who, in a few short hours would abandon Him. In other words, individuals who, like me, were nowhere near strong or wise enough for the task.

But Jesus said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; Believe also in Me.” In fact, He used the word believe six times in the span of fourteen verses. “Believe not in yourself or your might or plans but in Me,” Jesus said (paraphrased).

Jesus' invitation: Believe not in yourself or your might or your plans but in Me. Click To Tweet

As I fought against old behavior patterns, it was as if Jesus was saying the same to me. “I have so much more for you, Jennifer. I’ll show you precisely what that is, in due time. But today, believe in Me. Lean on Me, and learn from Me. (Matthew 11:28). We’ll take this journey together.”

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That was just under twenty years ago, and I’m grateful to say, Christ conquered each one of those enslaving habits and more as He’s molded me, slowly but steadily, into His image. This transformation hasn’t been quick or easy, but it’s been freeing and sure.

He’ll do the same for you.

Host Wholly Loved Ministries’ Fully Alive conference and learn how to move from striving and merely surviving to thriving, and visit Jennifer online at her weekly devotional blog found HERE. Check out her latest book release HERE.

 

Living loved, Relationships, surrender

The Forgiven Forgive

There was no peace. What started as friendship ended in full out anger. We seemed to disagree about everything. There were dirty looks and silence. Those were far from our finest moments. We couldn’t let go of the small things, so they became big problems. Weary from conflict, I read a Scripture passage that pierced my soul and helped me forgive.  

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)Operating as if I hadn't needed God's forgiveness kept me from pardoning my friend. Have you been there? Click To Tweet

I realized I was withholding mercy because I forgot the full weight of grace God has afforded me every time I’ve messed up. Operating as if I hadn’t needed God’s forgiveness kept me from pardoning her. Have you been there?andreaquote1-apr29-fb

It’s much easier for me to offend with a quick retort when someone hurts me. Or self-protect when I don’t feel appreciated or others are unkind. But it’s not what God calls us to do. We are to respond like Jesus, and He doesn’t shun them with the silent treatment or cut with snide remarks. Instead, He sees their behavior as an outpouring of hurt and sin and offers love and grace to soothe their souls.

This doesn’t mean we let others abuse us. Sometimes setting healthy boundaries is the best way to love someone. But we do allow God to reign over our relationships so that we can see the way to peace.

andreaquote2-apr29-fbTo follow His lead, we must first take inventory of all the ways God has shown us mercy. What harsh words have we spoken that He’s forgiven? What poor choices has He redeemed once we confessed? Who would we be without God’s favor? As I answer those questions honestly, I realize I have no business withholding forgiveness of others because my God has taken away my sin, free of charge.

Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Here’s what I’ve learned, the offended offend, and the forgiven forgive. Which we choose is important because one has power to crush, and the other to redeem. Click To Tweet

Paul, and early evangelist who wrote much of the New Testament, encourages us to pick wisely, saying, “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:7-8, ESV).

You hold the power to soothe your soul and others every time you choose love over hate and forgiveness over bitterness. Take a moment to thank God for the grace He’s shown you today and extend that line of mercy to those in your path.

 

I want to hear your thoughts about forgiveness and conflict on our FACEBOOK page. What has helped you resolve problems peacefully? What Scripture do your rely on when faced with relational conflict?

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers. Read more from Andrea online! 

surrender

Letting Jesus Be Your King

kristenquote1-apr15-fbThe guitarist started to strum the background music. The pastor was closing the first message of the conference on Lordship—surrendering full control of your life to God. I’d zoned in and out the whole time. I knew the information already. I’d been doing the Christian walk for over half my life. I’d worked through the study and attended the same conference before. In fact, I’d taught at it.

So, my mind wandered. God had been Lord over my life for a long time…or had He?

I caught something he said along the lines of, “Maybe you’ve surrendered some of your life to Jesus, but not all of it. Maybe you’ve yet to trust Him with your family, or your marriage, or maybe your career. Maybe today you need to fully give Him all of it, not just certain parts.”

Tears flowed. I’d been really good at relinquishing my family and marriage to Him, but it hit me then that I’d held on to my career with a death grip. When it came to my writing profession, I didn’t fully believe He could keep His promises. I still tried to forge my way, relying on my strength to propel my career to another level, a bigger platform, and to an income-producing job my family could count on.

How could I have missed this? I told Jesus often I believed His Word and the promises He’d spoken to me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t.

Moments after my realization, it was prayer time, and I knew I needed it. I hadto surrender my career to His Lordship, to allow Him to be my King in all things. I went to my conference prayer partner and could barely spit out that I needed to relinquish my career to Jesus, and she started to pray.

There, in the quiet presence of God, words poured out, then she said, “God, You will use her writing for You. She will pen Your words for all to read.”

Here’s the kicker. I hadn’t told her anything about me. She didn’t know I was a writer. But that didn’t stop God from using her to speak promises over me once again. He is thatfaithful. Even in my weakness, He was there, waiting to bless and love on me.

In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will save it.” In fact, a version of this verse is found in all four Gospels, and in two of them more than once, making no other saying more emphasized by Jesus. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; John 12:25) God needed me to get this Truth.

When we take up our cross & surrender our whole life to God, He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. Click To TweetWhen we hold tightly to parts of our life in an effort to make our own plans happen, we inevitably fail at all we’ve strived for. But it is when we take up our cross (v.23) and surrender our whole life to God, that He gives us the abundant life He’s promised. This is not a life without problems, but one full of peace in the circumstances because He’s on our side, leading the way like only a King of Kings can.
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Months later, I find that my mind doesn’t drift to the “what ifs” or “whys.” I don’t dwell on if one of my novels will be published, or how and if my platform will grow. I just take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Living without the weight of anxiety and fear has blessed me with a worry-less attitude, a joyful spirit to love my family, and a fresh mind to write those words God needs me to pen.I take steps with Him, striving each day to let Him be my Leader and King. Click To Tweet

Maybe you find yourself as I did, having given Him control over only parts of your life but not the whole? Or maybe you’re needing to submit it all to Jesus? You can do so easily. Pray earnestly to Him. Repent for not giving Him your entire life and begin today a new path following your King.

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts in the comments below, or join the conversation on social media!

Faith, Resting in Christ, surrender

Empowered by the Holy Spirit

 

I was worn out from the chase. For as long as I’d practiced Christianity, I’d felt like I was running after God and perfection and both were slipping through my grasp. I thought His love for me ebbed and flowed based on my merits. But I found a power working in me that’s separate from my striving and never tires. He’s the Holy Spirit.

He’s a member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—whom we may avoid because He seems elusive. Early in my faith, I wasn’t sure how to rely on an unseen Being with immeasurable and invisible power. I felt like a failure most of the time. Seemed like everyone around me was crushing it while I was smothered by the stress of life.

Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be?Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be? Click To Tweet I needed Him to be real because I was tired of trying to change for the better on my own. So I opened my Bible and read everything about the Holy Spirit I could find. The most important truth I found is that He is with us.

Scripture asserts that God was Emmanuel (God with us) when Jesus walked the earth, and now is present through His Spirit poured out after Christ rose from the dead. In order to rely on His strength, we must believe that God resides in our being. And that with His Spirit, God will build us into who we were made to be.  

As we tuck daily into the Holy Spirit’s presence and yield to His leadership, we’ll experience abounding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These were all the qualities I wanted to embody and everything I couldn’t become on my own. So I trusted God to work them out in me as I came near to Him.  

Here’s what walking in God’s leadership has looked like for me. As I spent each day intentionally reading my Bible, praying for every need, growing friendships with other faithful women, and building a relationship with God, I began to hear the His voice. It was never audible, but a gentle nudge guiding me from my old sinful ways to His loving ones. He’d replay truth from Scripture in my mind when I needed help. In moments of anger, I heard to be quiet. While grieving my Grandma’s death, He assured me people are never lost and that Jesus has overcome the grave. When I felt alone, He proved God’s love for me affirming that I’m chosen and adopted into God’s family.

We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge.We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge. Click To Tweet We’ll never fully understand the vastness of His reach in this life because we are human and He is God. But we can choose to believe He’s active in our need. Knowing God’s Spirit is with us in every situation empowers us to keep going and fixes us on the right path.  

I’ve found the closer I stick to God through His Spirit within me, the more peace I feel in this chaotic and messy life. Problems still arise, people still disappoint, my sin still tries to drag me away, but now I live with God’s power fighting for me. I simply step in His footprints and keep my gaze on Him. Find comfort this week knowing perfection is not required of you, but that the perfect Spirit of God will transform your life into something better than you can fathom.

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Let’s chat about this! How do you come near to God in your everyday life? How would it change things to know that you are not alone in the battle? Visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts. Or connect more with Andrea at her personal blog.

fear, surrender

Fear of Missing Out

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My schedule had ballooned, leaving me fighting for air. Though I managed to juggle all the demands and responsibilities bombarding me each day, I made numerous errors. I epitomized the phrase, “Jack of all trades but master of none.”

Or perhaps that’d be better phrased as “Doer of all but proficient in few.”

My joy, peace, and relationship with Christ was suffering. In my constant rush to tackle one task after the other, my prayer time had shifted from treasured and protected soul care to something I squeezed into my already rushed day, out of guilt and obligation rather than a desire to genuinely connect with my Savior.

Though I claimed God’s sovereignty over my present and future, my schedule and mistakes—my choices, my will—became my God.

If I did X, Y would happen. If I failed to do C, D would never occur. And if I stepped down from a certain role that, potentially, led to promotion, my life’s dreams would be irrevocably derailed.

In other words, when I evaluated the root of my busyness, it came down to this: Fear of missing out. Fear that if I said no to a particular opportunity, I was potentially robbing myself of something good that could lead to something even better.

My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God.My fight for control and fear of missing out, of in some way hindering God’s very good plans for me, revealed deep-seated, faulty views of God. Click To Tweet

Either I believed He was sovereign or I didn’t. And if I did, then I didn’t need to stress over the small stuff or my ever-changing circumstances. Instead, I’d rest in the One who walks beside me, stands behind me, goes before me, and holds me secure.

Either I believed He was supreme and worthy of all my praise, or I didn’t. If I did, then I’d recognize that everything I engage in or pursue on earth is but a shadow of what God has prepared for me. I’d remember how insufficient temporary pleasures were in filling my deepest needs and heart’s desire.

My schedule revealed my priorities—my true gods. But perhaps most convicting, my stress and fears revealed what I truly believed about God, His heart, and ability to care for me.

That realization empowered me to make changes. I analyzed my thought processes and the things that caused anxiety in light of truth, and I asked God to center me in reality.

Text pulled from postHere’s reality—God is in control. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says , speaking of God, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all” (ESV).

Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins.Because God is bigger than any obstacle or setback I might face, and no matter how things might appear today, in the end, He wins. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about this! Do you struggle with a fear of missing or disrupting God’s plans for you? How might focusing on obedience help you find peace in the uncertainties and abundance of opportunities assaulting you each day?

For those participating in our Becoming His Princess Bible study, if you’re on week four, which deals with overcoming fear, you can listen to the audio segment HERE. If you haven’t grabbed your free copy yet but would like to, you can do so HERE. You can watch the videos for sessions one and two HERE.