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Also, I will be quoting and paraphrasing from various authors in this blog. I don’t necessarily agree with all elements of his/her theology or life practices of selected authors. Please understand that the purpose of this blog isn’t to debate theology or various points of view that exist within topics as they appear in this blog.
If you’re seeking spiritual renewal, healing, and growth, here’s some free You Tube resources to challenge and encourage you! Consider investing time daily to read, reflect, and internalize some of the excellent videos and written materials!
The Purpose of Renewal
Walking with God transforms and renews our lives. Holy Spirit brings truths and healing into our lives as we seek Him daily! In walking with God and serving Him, I’ve experienced different seasons of serving and resting. Rest and growth are critical to staying “fresh” and healthy. God graciously provides us with time to renew, heal, and prepare for present/future service opportunities.
At times, God will “pull” us aside to work on us–to get our focus back on Him! I enjoy these suggested resources as I work through and grow in areas of personal issues– to become more emotionally and spiritually healthy. God graciously calls us to times of reflection and pause to grow deeper “roots” to nourish us from times of activity and service.
Mark DeJesus creates excellent videos in relation to emotional healing and growth. He provides helpful advice on dealing with shame, perfectionism, and relationships. Mark teaches about OCD and numerous other emotional and mental health issues. He discusses “safe” relationships and how to develop good practices in relating with others. He has various online courses, books, and helpful you tube videos that will challenge you and direct you to mature and grow spiritually.
Pastors have you tube channels. I personally enjoy Love Worth Finding with Adrian Rogers. Most of Dr. Roger’s sermons are around thirty-minutes and easy to understand/follow. Perhaps you have a “favorite” couple of pastors that encourage you!
Many of his sermons are online- it’s a great way to start the day by listening to him preach on various topics. This ministry also has pdf versions and outlines of his sermons if you hear a sermon and want to do additional reading/studying.
It’s beneficial to plan time to hear God’s Word proclaimed. John McArthur (Grace to You) and many others have sermons online as well. Thankfully most of these sermons are free!
Here’s some ideas on how to incorporate you tube sermons/explanations into your spiritual journey:
As you daily read God’s Word–write down questions, topics, terms, etc. as you read through the text–then search you tube for sermons relating to your notes. Keep a prayer and spiritual journal!
Set aside 30 minutes a day to listen to a pastor exegetically teaching through a book of the Bible. John MacArthur famously preaches verse by verse–that’s what the term exegetical means–seeking to understand the meaning and proper application of a specific biblical text. I recommend reading the text yourself first then later listening to gain deeper insights/applications.
Make a list of issues or difficulties that you are facing–search on you tube for biblical advice or coaching on how to navigate. Pray through the passages and consider applying the truths to your situation/how to encourage someone else. Sharing what you learn is a great way to encourage others! However, understand that not everyone will appreciate or respond to what you share.
Remember that you don’t have to agree with everything that a biblical teacher or coach teaches/or discusses. However, it’s important to ensure that the teachings are consistent with a proper interpretation of God’s Word. Most faith based ministries/organizations have statements of faith on their website. I strongly recommend that you read this vital information.
Why Resources for Renewal?
God desires that we are growing and maturing in all areas of our lives! How we think, live, and relate to others matters because God glorifies Himself through us! I don’t want to make this overly complicated. However, we all have areas of our lives that need God’s healing and restoration. Like other believers, I have numerous aspects of my life that needs God’s touch as well. Here’s some ideas on spiritual growth:
Understand that everyone has difficulties/or is facing issues in life–trying to appear as though we are “perfect” or trouble free leads to self-righteousness. Rest and seek transformation in God’s grace instead of self-improvement, or legalistic fixes to “problems.”
Accept God’s grace in your life. God walks with His people through the broken and sinful areas of our lives. God exposes and brings to light what we often want to keep in the darkness! Why do we often hide and try to cover up the brokenness? This leads to shame and guilt which doesn’t lead to healing and growth.
Consider who is “safe” when sharing your trials and areas of your life. Develop discernment about what you reveal to whom and appropriately within community to share. Mark DeJesus helps with this:
Understand that “unsafe” people aren’t irredeemable or hopeless. We all experience times in our lives wherein we have bad habits, lack patience, and struggle and need time to heal! Active listening is a work in progress that requires practice! Work to be a “safe” person by cultivating active listening, having integrity/discernment in how you respond to what others share!
Discernment in sharing means that we are discerning in what we share and that we share things appropriately! For example, we share things in a manner within community that edifies and encourages others not accusing or harshly criticizing.
when God works in your life and encourages you–share the truths/testimony with others! A testimony occurs when we proclaim what God has done for us in simple terms–doesn’t have to be something grand!
Thanks for reading and considering how to grow and renew yourself! In coming weeks, I will be posting you tube videos to encourage you with various topics of life. I appreciate your prayers and even comments as I discern and plan on how to most efficiently and effectively encourage you! What are some of your favorite or most helpful resources? Feel free to comment on this page.
Last post, I discussed risking hope. This week, I encourage you to grow in hope and faith! What if God has something much greater for us that our material prosperity and comfortable living? Are you wrestling with doubt and disbelief about your life: that there really is any meaning? Are you righteous in Christ? Why do we need hope in our journey? God is calling us on a journey of increasing hope that leads us to desire Him more and love others in Christ!
Christ is Our Righteousness! This is our hope.
Charles Spurgeon speaks,
“My hope lives, not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died. My trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, Christ is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am or shall be or feel or know – but in who Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me. Hallelujah …”
Hope in this context recalls Abraham’s faith. Hope lives in Christ’s righteousness for us! Where does your faith rest? What has Christ done for you? What is Christ doing in your life presently?
17As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”He is our father in the presence of God, in whom he believed, the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not yet exist.
18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19Without weakening in his faith, he acknowledged the decrepitness of his body (since he was about a hundred years old) and the lifelessness of Sarah’s womb. 20Yet he did not waver through disbelief in the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised. 22This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
23Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for Abraham, 24but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited—for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.
Paul explains how righteousness comes through faith in Romans 4. Abraham didn’t have the Mosaic Law to obey so he demonstrates his faith by believing in God. Abraham’s hope recognizes the impossibility of the promise, yet considers God as being greater than the obstacle to the promise. “Against all hope” Abraham hopes in God’s Promise! We believe in God’s Promise to redeem and ultimately resurrect us! Do you believe that God can radically transform you? God invites us to die to self and rise again being made into the likeness of Christ! Faith leads to hope and to live a life that gives glory to God!
Charles Spurgeon and Paul guide us to a wonderful truth! We risk hope by placing our hope in God and Jesus His Son. God makes the unrighteous and wavering righteous and new through Jesus’ righteousness! This is a key component of redeeming faith! We have hope because Jesus saves us! Just as God does the impossible in causing Abraham and Sarah to convince a baby boy in advanced age, He does the impossible in our lives by bringing us from death to life in Christ! In a spiritual sense, we are all dead in our sins and trespasses (Romans 3).
Triumphant Faith/ Hope in God’s Glory
I want to give you a brief introduction to some of the wonderful truths of Romans 5 that relate to hope! Emphasis is mine.
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
3Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
When reading scripture, it’s beneficial to write down questions and concepts as you encounter them. By this I mean, carefully consider the words, context, and terms. Ask questions as you read. Here’s several questions from the above passage:
What is justification and how is it through faith?
What does it mean to be at peace with God? What is Jesus’ role in making us be at peace
How does faith give us access to grace? What does it mean to stand in grace?
What does it mean to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God?
How can someone rejoice in sufferings? Why is this possible and necessary?
Why doesn’t hope disappoint us? How does God pour out His love into our hearts?
Consider these questions and add your own! I will address these questions in future posts. Email me your questions firstname.lastname@example.org.
God is Our Hope! Hope Pushes Us Ahead!
God doesn’t leave us as we were/are: lost in sin, despair, and darkness! Paul’s testimony is one of a man who suffers greatly for Christ, yet counts the cost as nothing in comparison with the wonders of knowing Christ. Paul endures considerable suffering and later death because he came to value Christ and knowing Him as being superior to all else. That’s the power of hope! Hope transforms us by focusing us on what matters for eternity!
7But whatever was gain to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things as losscompared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ9and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith.
10I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Have you noticed that hope is contagious? Souls with hope want to share it with others! I include the following quotes from Dan B. Allender’s :The Healing Path:How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to A More Abundant Life. I include these quote for educational purposes and to discuss the inherent meanings to encourage others not for profit. Please consider purchasing, and reading chapter “The Dream of Hope” for your personal growth.
Truth 1: Hopes frees us to live for God and to hope for future
Hope frees us to live for God’s purposes. Hope frees us to serve a greater good than our own happiness or comfort. It frees us to love and anticipate our future even if we are awaiting our execution.
“The Dream of Hope” pg 158
Hope frees us from our present trials, troubles, and difficulties to focus on Someone Greater. Despair and hopelessness lead us to seek personal comfort and to withdraw from others. Difficulties and disappointments cloud our souls! Are you free to love and serve? What holds you back?
Truth 2: Hope Trusts that God is Changing our Character
Hope compels us to live for the future by pouring ourselves out as offerings to God in our relationships with others. The primary way we give God glory is through loving others.
“The Dream of Hope” pg 158
When we remain trapped in cycles of despair and rumination about past failures or difficulties, we become focused on past “what ifs” instead of trusting in God to redeem and move us forward. Hope leads to freedom which becomes apparent in how we relate and love others. Are you free to love and serve others? Other people will disappoint and fail us, but how do we respond? Daily reflection helps us to stay on track and grow in grace. Reflection questions:
Am I quick to forgive others understanding that I need forgiveness and grace because I too fail others?
When others ignore and fail/neglect to encourage me, do I give up on them and write them off or pray for them hoping that God will bring change and healing? Boundaries are appropriate and necessary.
Do I love others for what they are doing for me or could do? Does my love for others meet the requirements of 1 Corinthians 13? Or is the love self-seeking or other pleasing?
Is my heart becoming hard and cynical of others because of past and present disappointments?
Asking these questions and facing the truth of our situations leads us to be more compassionate and kind as God reveals our hearts and we respond in repentance.
Truth 3: Evil’s Disruption
Evil intends for us to succumb to betrayal by giving up on relationship; it intends for us to resign to powerlessness by giving up on the future. Once we lose faith and hope, then we are more susceptible to ambivalence and shame.
“The Dream of Hope” pg 159
Dan explains the struggle that we must all face in the realm of relationships. Ever felt or experienced betrayal from others? The more we invest in others the more likely others will disappoint us. After multiple disappointments, a person becomes tempted to just stop reaching out and caring for others. Ever heard the enemy whisper something like the following: “it’s easier to just not expect anything. Keep to yourself, you’ll be much happier, Don’t waste your time, they don’t want to hear it anyway”? The enemy tells me “most people will ignore you and what you’re trying to accomplish.” I wrote an entire post about feeling betrayed and disappointed with others.
I write about such things and seek truth, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when I experience it. Hope comes into these situations when we choose to hope and trust that God will redeem these things. God redeems our failures and the difficult things that we experience. Even when others betray us! Consider how Jesus redeems Peter’s betrayal! Jesus uses this great failure to build up Peter and remind him that caring for others is expressing love for Him.
Dan writes about how ambivalence and shame keep us from hoping and ultimately loving others in Chapter 6: “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love.” I recommend reading this book because it will lead you to face hard truths and grow in your love for others. Shame also keeps us from reaching out to others in love. The enemy truly desires that we will simply give up on ourselves and others.
Words of Personal Truth
I daily struggle with the things that I write to encourage you. In my difficult moments, I seek out authors/articles and media to remind me of the truths that will encourage/challenge me. I write to you as a fellow pilgrim on a journey of faith that calls me to repent, grow, and trust Christ. Encouragement isn’t about making a person feel better or comfortable. Encouragement is about laboring to increase someone’s courage and ability to press ahead in his or her journey of faith. There are numerous areas of my life that desperately need God’s grace and redemption. Understand that God redeems all of us–every single part! He sees and reaches into all the “broken” and sin infested parts of our being. May God’s grace and mercy increase your hope and faith in Him! For His glory and to encourage you I write,
What does it mean to “risk” hoping? Why is hope crucial to our faith journeys? What is the purpose of hope and why do we have to take risks to grow in hope? Several weeks ago, I explained the three virtues of faith, hope, and love and how they are necessary for spiritual growth in the post below:
I admit that hope is the most challenging of the virtues for me to practice. After reading and reflecting, I want to share some insights with you on hope and the necessary risks involved. Many of these insights are explained in detail in Daniel B. Allender’s: The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life. I recommend purchasing his book and reading chapter Eight “The Dream of Hope.” I am including various quotes and paraphrases of his ideas for the use of religious education and encouragement that is made available online without charge and for non-profit purposes. Please consider purchasing this book. Dr. Allender presents challenging truths that will help you to process and grow through your difficulties.
If you have experienced any form of loss then you personally know how hope can become a daily battle. Life is a series of storms that rage against us. No one will escape these trials nor can we expect our journeys of faith to be easy when seeking to follow and become more like Christ. Hebrews Chapter Eleven: The Roll Call of Faith explains what we can expect on our journeys.
To have hope is to believe that what comes in the future is going to be immeasurably better than what you are currently experiencing. God promises us eternity with Him in a state of absolute perfection that makes even the best moments of our earthly lives seem as dim shadows. C.S. Lewis writes about this as well–there are numerous good articles online. For a quick read:
Role of Desire and Risk
C.S. Lewis writes (quick summary) that we don’t desire enough of the right things! When we experience loss and disappointments in life, we arrive at a crossroads. One road leads to bitterness, retreat, and attempting to kill our desires in an attempt to abate the pain. Another road leads to our desires growing in a new direction. Dr. Allender reminds us that our hurts can be paths to love God and others more. It’s our pain that leads us to Christ! What do you desire? What is in our lives that God calls us to surrender to Himself?
What do I mean by “risk”? We have to take risks in growing in hope! We can’t grow in hope when we are totally focused on being comfortable and safe! If we are totally satisfied with the things of our lives here on earth then we don’t hunger for the God’s much better things. God is the Giver of All Good Things as taught in James 1:17 BSB
17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.
God graciously blesses us with good health, jobs/careers to provide for ourselves and family as well as spiritual gifts, talents, and other wonderful things! But do we start to love the gifts and good things more than He who gives them freely?
The Risk: God Calls Us to Grow
Do we risk growing in hope? Do we choose to remain distant, hurt, comfortable and content instead of pressing ahead in becoming more like Christ? What if Abram had ignored God’s call? He was already established and set in his age living with his family. What about Moses? What if he had ignored the burning bush and kept tending the sheep in the desert? Let’s consider Jesus’ Disciples for a moment. What if Peter, James, and John kept fishing and going about their lives instead of following Christ? What about Mary and Martha, they could have rejected and turned away from Jesus when Lazarus died?
Thankfully we will never know the answer to these what if questions because these men and women dared to hope and faith! They risked all to follow Christ. Jesus calls us to come to Him and find true life which involves us surrendering to Him. Consider this quote:
It (hope) grows only to the degree we lean into the unknown and risk the present for the sake of the future. The risk of hope is seeing what can’t be seen. It is seeing the future from the redemption of the past and then setting out toward what God has called us to become and do.
Dan B. Allender “The Dream of Hope” pg. 148
God works through our past and present hurts/failures to move us toward becoming more like Him. God invites you to His presence wherein we surrender ourselves to be transformed. Surrender to God means that we are trusting in His Grace, Mercy, and Righteousness to save and renew us. This is a miraculous work of God! He takes the unrighteousness and sinful and makes new creatures! We risk becoming something better than what we are!
Part of healing from past hurts and disappointments appears in our journey to become more like Christ. Do we keep walking in faith, seeking, believing, and loving God even when experiencing long periods of silence and set-backs?
Mary and Martha’s Grief
Martha questions Jesus when He arrives (John 11). Jesus uses this moment of death and grief to teach a greater truth: that He is the Resurrection and Life. Consider how Jesus responds to this difficult moment in John 11:33-44
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34“Where have you put him?” He asked.
37But some of them asked, “Could not this man who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus 38Jesus, once again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” Jesus said.
“Lord, by now he stinks,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man. “It has already been four days.”
40Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus lifted His eyes upward and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42I knew that You always hear Me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, so they may believe that You sent Me.”
43After Jesus had said this, He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet bound in strips of linen, and his face wrapped in a cloth.
“Unwrap him and let him go,” Jesus told them.
Notice that Jesus responds to their grief by weeping with them. He doesn’t minimize their pain. He is troubled and grieves with them. Why? It’s clear that Jesus deeply loves them and is angry with sin/death that leads all to die. Jesus understands that we are lost and perishing! The Gospel of John indicates that Jesus deeply loves His followers. Jesus understands loss and grief. He came to make all things anew–to end the separation of lost humanity to a Holy, Perfect, Righteous God.
Hope Cries Out To God
Hope cries to God in despair and protest. . . Hope cries out for God to turn from his silence and speak. . .Hope is not an absence of sorrow, but a refusal to allow powerlessness to silence our cry or to shake our confidence in God. Instead, we are to call on God to be God–to protest his silence and anticipate the day when he speaks.
Dan. B. Allender “The Dream of Hope, pages 150-151
Martha questions Jesus and presents the obvious: why did you let your friend die? Jesus explains in verse 40 that Lazarus dies so that God’s glory will be visible. Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus explains the man’s birth blind: John 9:1-3
1Now as Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth, 2and His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him.
Jesus knows we have questions and want answers. The Enduring Word Bible commentary explains each verse of John Chapter 11
God has a plan and purpose for all the difficult moments we endure. I lack the wisdom and understanding to fully understand and explain this mysterious truth to you. I have doubts and question God when things come against me. Yet, I can testify that God has never forsaken me or given up on my failing, weak faith. Sometimes all that we can do is hang onto God in our moments of darkness and despair. Do we trust that God will redeem and restore the difficult things? Do we risk waiting upon God or seeking our own path out of the storms of life?
CityAlight has a song that reminds us of a wonderful truth: that God knows all our ways!
Jesus Turns Grief and Loss to New Life
Jesus triumphed over death and sin on the cross. Until He returns, we will suffer loss and death, but death isn’t the end. I want you to understand that our lives, difficulties, grief, and losses isn’t permanent. Our hope rests firmly in the knowledge that God has redeemed us and will return to establish His Presence on Earth. All things will be made anew. The challenge of hope is that we firmly rest ourselves on Christ’s Resurrection and Redemption instead of living/hoping solely for the things of this present age.
Has God redeemed you? Has He given you True, Abundant Life? Are you trusting in His Marvelous Grace? If not then why not? The Good News of the Gospel is that God welcomes the Prodigals to come home and seeks out the Lost. May God increase your faith, hope, and courage as you seek Him daily! For His glory and your encouragement, I write,
What is your motto for life? I selected the Latin phrase Omnia Vincit Amor with the cross and alpha and omega letters to symbolize God’s Amazing Love and Eternal Nature. I am writing this post to encourage personal reflection on forgiveness and victory in Christ. The focal verses are Romans 8:35-37, emphasis mine.
I discuss various quotes from Caleb Mathis’ article: “How I Got Over My Church Hurt Without Losing my Faith.” I write these words for the sole purpose of encouraging others: specifically those who have experienced hurt, disappointment, and other negative experiences while participating or serving in a community of faith. This article is about encouraging personal growth and transformation in Christ as we reflect and seek God’s renewal of our personal lives. I include quotes in this article for the purpose of religious education, discussion, and encouragement: not for personal profit.
If you would like to comment or engage with this article email me at email@example.com.
Main Scripture Passage
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For Your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalm 44:2)
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s marvelous grace, forgiveness, and love for His redeemed ensures final victory when history draws to a close. Why did I select these verses?
An Honest Writer
For the past months, I have wrestled with doubt, and grief concerning multiple areas of my life that haven’t worked out. My career choices haven’t worked out for me, and serving in ministry has left me exhausted, and distrustful of other believers. As a person with a sensitive disposition, events in life deeply affect me. I find myself stuck at times reflecting on past hurts and failures. I realize that just as others have disappointed me, I have fallen short as well. I write of these difficulties to encourage you in your journey when you face similar situations.
I am not claiming to have all the answers. Giving simple answers minimizes difficulties and grief; so I don’t propose a simple, five step process for moving through hard times. Some of my worst hurts have come from other believers. So how can a person remain faithful to God when misunderstood and ignored/marginalized by other so called “Christians”?
I want to clarify what I mean by the term “marginalized” and how people experience it. First, marginalization happens when a person/category of people is ignored and neglected. Have you ever asked for understanding and kindness but been dismissed and disregarded? This makes it hard to be transparent and vulnerable with others in our faith communities. Secondly, marginalization occurs when a group excludes/refuses to consider others valuable due to marital status, employment status, and other life situations. This “lack of valuation” appears when individuals are ignored or pacified instead of being investing and incorporated in the larger church body. Third, this process also happens when a person who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or some other emotional issue is cast aside or excluded, or shown pity instead of respect. Fourth, individuals are welcome only when or as they “serve or give of themselves” in a position that benefits others. In other terms, when a person is considered a hired hand instead of a valued partner.
Why are married couples with children seemingly valued over single people in our churches? What about single mothers? Divorcees or others who don’t fit the typical family structure? Why do others neglect or refuse to reach out when he/she is aware that someone is in a difficult season?
Jesus give us numerous examples of how we should relate to others in the Gospels, but I find that this is rarely practiced. And we wonder why non-believers hesitate to visit our faith communities or come then never return! How can someone deal with all of this? I suggest that we practice forgiveness and seek to be like Christ as individuals! Change starts when God transforms individuals and this impacts the larger community.
Truth About Forgiveness
I struggle to forgive others; consequently, God convicts me of this frequently. I find myself more willing to remember and dwell on wrongs than rights. Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Telling someone to “forget and forgive” is mistaken advice that minimizes another’s painand distorts the truth. Forgiveness is both a choice and process. It begins when we first recognize the bitter seeds taking root and recall God’s grace to us. Caleb Mathis reminds us:
We toss around the phrase “forgive and forget,” but that’s not what I experienced. I needed to “forgive and remember.” Forgive the hurt, and remember the ancient faith I claimed to belong to. Remembering the forgiveness I had received empowered me to give it to those who hurt me. Remembering the identity God had given me loosened my grip on the identity hurt tried to force on me. Remembering the promise of God’s justice and healing meant I didn’t have to figure that out and could move on.
God has shown us great grace and mercy in that He convicts, redeems, and restores us. When I think of the many times He has graciously forgiven me, I realize just how important it is to invite Him to empower me to forgive others. Forgiving others doesn’t mean that we deny the hurt we experienced or fail to set appropriate boundaries. Forgiveness means that we invite God to begin the process of restoration. Forgiveness includes remembering who we are in Christ (Romans 8:37). We are conquerors, victorious warriors, not the conquered! God is victorious over our failures and slowness to forgive. God is also victorious over our cold, hard-heart tendencies and imperfect love for others.
Greek Word for Forgiveness Aphiemi:
An Invitation to Move Forward to Something Better
The Greek word for forgiveness in the New Testament is aphemi. It’s a miraculous word. It means letting go or leaving behind. It’s used for “forgiveness” in the teachings of Jesus, but it’s also used in the same books to indicate “moving on.” When Jesus called His first disciples, a group of fishermen, to follow Him, the Bible says they aphemied their nets and aphemied their boats (Matthew 4:20, 22). They left them behind and moved on to something better.
Just like those first disciples abandoned their ownership of nets and boats, God was waiting for me to do likewise.
Recently, I have realized that it’s easier to stay hurt and bitter than to be restored and move forward. Moving forward means that we let our past hurts and struggles rest in God’s Presence trusting Him to sort it out. This process requires that we recognize/claim our hurts and consider how we too have hurt others. This is crucial to remembering and reclaiming our identity in Christ! Do we define ourselves by our failures and how others have hurt us? Why is this an issue?
To stop letting my hurt define me and remember that that had always been His job. To stop owning my desire for punishment and retribution and remember that God isn’t just a loving father. He’s a righteous judge. To stop allowing the situation to dominate every thought, every conversation, every moment of my days, and get back to the art of living.
Our identity is in Christ, not in what others have done or failed to do in our lives! If we make our life about success, prosperity, fame, and popularity we’re building on the sinking sands of circumstance and dependence on things/others. Jesus is our Firm Foundation that endures the storms of life. Consider the truth “that because He lives I can face tomorrow” and that we aren’t promised an easy or comfortable faith journey.
More than Conquerors!
Have you considered the meaning of this phrase? First, we recall the setting and placement of this truth in Romans. Paul is writing to the believers in Rome. They would have witnessed Roman triumphant parades wherein victorious Roman legions would parade through the streets of Rome. Paul proclaims various truths in Romans Chapter Eight:
no condemnation for those in Christ as Jesus was our Sin offering,
Holy Spirit makes us alive in Christ–walk by Spirit not by flesh
Promise of life and heir in Christ
Promise of future glory in Christ, renewed creation and redemption
Holy Spirit helps us in our weak moments by interceding for us
Truth that God is working for our Ultimate Good which is to be made into His Son’s Likeness
God conquerors all including our failures and difficulties and what others do/fail to do in our lives! He is greater than our lack of forgiveness and grace! He calls us to repentance and restores us! God’s love and judgment are sufficient for our hurts. His grace works to soften our hearts and flow through our lives. We don’t have to avenge because we know that He will righteously judgeus and those who have hurt us.
Choosing to trust God’s justice frees us from the consuming desire and need to strike back against others. As we trust in God, He increases our compassion, kindness, mercy, and love for others-even to those who hurt us. This is a process and a daily choice. May God grant you hope, courage, and mercy as you seek to be more like Him!
I write this post for fellow souls who are determined to press ahead in their journey of faith when facing difficult setbacks. The life of faith is a journey that takes the pilgrim through the highlands of joy and through the valleys of despair. We will suffer loss and experience defeats in this journey. Others will fail us. Some will betray and misuse us. Ever feel neglected and forgotten? Have you poured yourself out to serve others; yet in your moment of need find yourself alone?
The purpose of this writing is to encourage others–not to place blame or criticize others. I want to be clear in the motive of this writing: I am sharing truths that sustain and encourage me as I walk through a valley. After enduring difficult years in my life, I have been considering scriptures and how God responds to us in our moments of failure and despair. How can we find strength, courage, and hope in moments of failure that lead us to despair?
What is despair? What am I writing about here?
I am writing about the intense feelings that ravage our lives when things don’t work out as we expect. These feelings emerge when we encounter difficulties and problems that can’t be solved. We can’t change ourselves, other people, nor can we solve the numerous problems and broken situations of our society.
I feel despair about the rampant, senseless violence that plagues our nation. I feel despair about the broken relationships of my life. I feel as though others have used me, yet became scarce when I needed them. I despair when I consider how many opportunities I have missed to show compassion, kindness, and love to others because I am tired and emotionally drained. I also feel despair in not being the kind, gentle leader that others need and deserve. When I consider God’s Standards of Holiness and Perfection and then consider my sinful ways, I feel despair in ever being righteous.
Are we wrong to feel despair about these things as Christ’s followers?
There will always be a tension in our lives concerning how we will be (glorified in Christ for eternity) and our present stumbling, weak natures. The stain of sin still haunts the redeemed.
Despair in self is a gift when it leads us deeper into Christ.
When God confronts us with our true nature as fallen beings, we either turn to Him to be redeemed and transformed or retreat away from Him. Recognizing my inability to change myself or others leads me to depend on God for His redeeming and transformative work. Despair is an opportunity to invite Christ into the darkness of our lives!
Despair can lead us to dark places. This is a dark valley where our past (failures) tries to define us instead of our future with Christ. The Glorious Return of Christ will set things right. Despair with our present difficulties lead us to desire a better place and eternity without suffering, loss, and failure. Because we want a better place, we live for God and share the Good News of the Gospel.
How Jesus Helps His Disciples
God graciously beckons us to remember the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. This account appears in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46.
Jesus invites Peter, James, and John to join Him in the Garden as He prays prior to His arrest. Jesus asks the three disciples (Matthew 26:36, 40) to stay with Him and pray. According to Matthew, Jesus finds them falling asleep three times! Luke informs us:
45When Jesus rose from prayer and returned to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46“Why are you sleeping?” He asked. “Get up and pray so that you will not enter into temptation.”
Jesus was asking them to be there for Him–to join Him in prayer and to find strength in their Heavenly Father. They weren’t able to stay awake and on task. Luke gives us a vital clue as to why they were sleeping! They were emotionally exhausted and saddened by Jesus’ last words to them. The Messiah was going to be betrayed and killed. All that they had been experiencing for the past three years was coming to a sudden and violent conclusion. Their expectations were crashing down!
If you read Luke’s Gospel and consider the encounter on the road to Emmaus, you find Jesus reaching out to His grieving followers. It’s important to notice that they weren’t able to properly understand God’s Word (Old Testament Prophecies) in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Their understanding of God was incomplete even though they believed and hoped.
Jesus invites us to watch and wait on His return! He gently restores us when we go astray due to our grief and lack of understanding. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep behind to search for the one lost, straying soul. Notice how Jesus keeps inviting Peter, James, and John (3 times) to pray and wait with Him.
Jesus later restores Peter after his betrayal. Jesus restores those who are astray because of broken dreams and betrayals. God isn’t done with us when we’re overwhelmed, burdened, and disappointed with life. These moments are avenues for His presence to restore and renew us.
Our experiences and expectations impact our view of God.
Knowing God’s Word and applying to our lives is vital! I enjoy Oswald Chamber’s Devotional because it challenges me to see past my present situation and consider God‘s truths. Chamber gives us some excellent insights into the disciple’s despair. Check out the following devotional
The Way Through The Valleys of Despair
Chambers encourages us to take “spiritual initiative against Despair.” In summary, Oswald exhorts us to trust Him and pray on knowing that He has redeemed us. He concludes this devotion with these wise words:
Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.
Oswald Chambers, Feb. 18
The way through the dark moments of our lives is to pray and watch with Christ! The next step is to keep seeking Christ in prayer and trusting in Him. God doesn’t define success as we do. Our failures are opportunities for His grace and mercy. God surprises the women disciples!
Consider how that Jesus appeared to be defeated by death and the powers of evil. What were the faithful ladies doing between Friday evening and Saturday,? They were preparing to visit Jesus and anoint His body. God graciously gives them the honor of finding the empty tomb. The disciples were hiding from fear of the Jews, but the women were going to anoint Jesus with spices per tradition. The article explains:
“Watch and pray.” We can only remain faithful when we are devoted to prayer. In prayer, we continually allow God to forgive us, cleanse us, teach us, and strengthen us to obey Him (John 14:14). In order to keep watch, we must pray for endurance and freedom from distractions (Hebrews 12:2; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18). We must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we live with the eager expectation of the Lord’s return and expect persecution until then (2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 24:9; 1 Peter 4:12), we are more likely to keep our lives pure and our hearts ready to meet Him.”
Praying and watching are simple tasks but effective! We pray through God’s Word reminding ourselves of God’s Promises and Truths and watch for Holy Spirit’s leading! Remember Elijah in the cave. God’s voice bids him to move forward in ministry to anoint Elisha. God reminds Elijah that he’s not alone and that all is not lost. I hope that you find comfort in those wonderful truths and hear God’s Voice in His Living Word bid you press ahead!
What truths are Moses proclaiming when he encourages Joshua to lead God’s people into the Promised Land? Why does Moses say these words to Joshua as the mantle of leadership is passing? How can you apply these truths to your life?
The Scriptural Address:
Moses is speaking to the entire assembly including Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:1-8 BSB
1When Moses had finished speaking these words to all Israel, 2he said to them, “I am now a hundred and twenty years old; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’
3The LORD your God Himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will dispossess them. Joshua will cross ahead of you, as the LORD has said. 4And the LORD will do to them as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, when He destroyed them along with their land.
5The LORD will deliver them over to you, and you must do to them exactly as I have commanded you. 6Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or terrified of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
7Then Moses called for Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 8The LORD Himself goes before you; He will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Context and Meaning
The name Joshua is the Hebrew name “Yehoshua” which means God delivers or The Lord is my Salvation. The name Jesus comes from this same Hebrew name! Joshua is Moses’ assistant, one of the two scouts (Caleb the other) who gives a favorable report and demonstrates faith in God’s promise. God informs Moses that he will not get to lead the people into the Promised Land because he “broke faith.” Why did God punish Moses?
God is establishing Joshua as the leader to follow Moses. God promises two vital promises in this passage:
God will go before His people and destroy the inhabitants
God will not forsake or leave Joshua or His people–it’s important to recall that God has condemned the previous generation to death in the desert (excepting Joshua and Caleb). When the people disobeyed God by refusing to trust and depend on Him, God kept them out of Promised Land until next generation was ready.
Recall that proper Bible study, interpretation, and application requires that we consider
1.the audience: Joshua and the Hebrews gathered together,
2.the setting: Moses’ final instructions, pivotal transition from desert wandering to entering Promised Land,
3.the purpose of text/teaching: preparing Joshua and people for next stage of journey, and
4.understand that God is speaking through Moses to a specific group of people at a specific time to encourage them to trust and obey God.
The following truths apply to those who follow God. First, God will instruct us on how He would have us to live and follow Him. God graciously provides us with Holy Spirit, His Living Word, and a community of believers to walk this journey. Secondly, God will provide us with the strength and courage to obey Him as He leads. The key here is “how He leads.” God promises to go before us, guide us, and bring victory.
Success and Victory: On God’s Terms
Understand that God defines victory and success in a manner that is unique to His nature and character! Consider that God calls us to live for Him, serve as ministers of reconciliation, and ultimately become the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). This doesn’t mean that we will fully understand the extent of success. If you examine Moses and other men of faith, they weren’t successful (in the world’s sense). For example, Moses confronts Pharaoh and leads the people out of bondage in Egypt, yet fails to lead them into the conquest of the Promised land. Moses sins and dishonors God’s Holy Name. Was Moses a failure? In a sense yes, but also a resounding success. Moses walks with God and fulfills God’s call. Deuteronomy 34:10-12 proclaims:
10Since that time, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face— 11no prophet who did all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent Moses to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his officials and all his land, 12and no prophet who performed all the mighty acts of power and awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
What if Moses had ignored the burning bush and walked away? Moses gives multiple “excuses” to God (Exodus Chapters 3-4) for not being the one to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Moses had to leave his current position as a shepherd of sheep in the desert. I discuss this more in the previous posts:
One sees a similar situation with Elijah who confronts the false prophets but flees to a cave and despairs of his life, call, and ministry. King David was a “man after God’s own heart” but commits adultery, murder, and fractures his family. Consider the life and ministry of Jesus, Our Savior. He didn’t gain Judah’s freedom from Rome nor establish a governmental kingdom as expected. He died, rose again then ascended into heaven leaving the disciples behind awaiting His future return. What really matters then? How might God define success and victory?
God defines success as becoming more like Christ, specially conformed to His nature! God desires that we seek His Kingdom and Righteousness first! Depending and trusting upon Him to accomplish His purposes is success! God’s Kingdom is eternal and different from the world/physical kingdoms of this age. Regardless of how our lives may seem to us or others, we will be found faithful and obedient to the extend of our faith, hope, love, and trust in Him!
God’s Instructions to Joshua
In Joshua Chapter One, God instructs Joshua:
5No one shall stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so will I be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
6Be strong and courageous, for you shall give these people the inheritance of the land that I swore to their fathers I would give them.
7Above all, be strong and very courageous. Be careful to observe all the law that My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may prosper wherever you go. 8This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in all you do.
9Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
I want you to recognize the repetition in these verses. First Moses then God Himself speaks to Joshua. Notice the pattern of instruction:
First, the promise of God’s presence,
Second, the promise of God’s guidance (God’s Law) and prosperity (success in terms of completing God’s mission),
Third, the command to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid or discouraged!
Why does God command Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged? God is promising to be present with Joshua! God promises the same truth to us as well. God’s Holy Spirit comes into our lives and guides us. We will face trials and difficulties as well as times of uncertainty and doubt. God’s presence is what matters! For more information on how to apply these wonderful truths, check the link below:
Remember that these promises are primarily to Joshua, following Christ doesn’t mean wealth or prosperity in an earthly sense or for our glory. Nor does God promise us that others won’t oppose or persecute us. God’s purpose(s) for modern believers excludes a military conquest and destruction of the “canaanites” around us. God had a purpose in the military conquests of Joshua and Judges. However, that historical conquest and judgement is over.
Why did I choose the Latin inscription Omnia Vincit Amor ? I need a daily reminder that God’s Love Overcomes all–especially the hard, lost hearts. God redeems souls and calls the lost to repentance. We must speak out against the evils of our age, but do so in a manner that leads others to God’s grace and truth. How will the lost hear and see the Gospel if not through us?
Why didn’t Jesus strike down the Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, and pagan Romans? Why doesn’t God strike down the tyrants and evil doers of our age? God has a plan beyond human reasoning. He alone is the Author of History and Righteous, Holy Judge of all humans. We do well to remember His grace, compassion, and lovingkindness toward us sinners. God’s grace and mercy softens our cold, hard hearts. Our change is apparent in how we love and serve those around us.
May God increase your courage and dependence on His Presence in your life! For His glory and your encouragement, I write these words.
Quotes from Dan B. Allender The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life. If you find the quotes helpful, please consider purchasing this excellent book and working through it yourself!
Fair use copyright for the purpose of discussing concepts and religious themes for encouragement not profit.
Thoughts Concerning this passage (Luke 15)
Excellent commentary on this passage for personal reading:
When reading scripture and seeking to find and apply God’s message we need to consider the following areas. First, who is Jesus addressing? He is addressing a crowd and the Pharisees and scribes. Then we need to consider the setting and what Jesus is saying to the original audience. Please consider that Jesus is addressing first century Jewish religious leaders and the crowd. They live within a specific culture and historical era with different cultural norms and expectations than our modern society. The following site has a quick overview of the culture, groups, and concept of messiah.
Third, we need to understand the scope of the entire chapter. Jesus presents two other parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin) with basic elements. The basic elements are (1). a sheep, coin, and later a younger son are lost. (2). The shepherd and woman diligently seek out what is lost. The Father eagerly awaits the return of the lost, foolish son. (3) There is great rejoicing within the community when the lost sheep, coin, and son are restored. Notice that Jesus uses the “joy” and “celebrate.” Various other translations use the words “great rejoicing.”
Quotes from Berean Standard Bible
7In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent.
10In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”
22But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let us feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.
Can be a person be righteous and not need to repent? Why is the older brother angry at his father celebration–refusing to come? Notice that father reaches out to the older brother and invites him! God sees our hearts and motives, faithful service (duty and obedience) isn’t enough! God demands and desires a changed, renewed heart!
What is the main point of all this?
God seeks the lost! He rejoices when sinners repent! Early Jewish culture understood God as rejoicing over the destruction of the wicked. Barclay explains this thought as “There will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated before God.” Full commentary below:
The tragedy of the Prodigal Son is that the mature, faithful, hard-working son is the one who is lost and bitter! This detail would have shocked and scandalized the original audience. Jesus is clearly referencing the religious leaders who seem to be faithful to God by obedience yet are far away in their hearts. Obedience to rules doesn’t transform hearts, it just modifies behavior(s) but not interior motives. The entire purpose of God’s Law is to make His people aware of their desperate need for His grace and transformation. See Isaiah 29:13, Jeremiah 31:33-34, and Ezekiel 36:26. The Book of Hebrews explains how Jesus fulfills the role of High Priest and saves us through His perfect sacrifice. For more, consider the following article:
What is self-righteous and where does it come from? It comes from our broken hearts (past experiences and trying to protect ourselves) and the evil one. Daniel Allender comments:
“Self-righteousness is not the bastion only of the religious; it is the fortress of all who don’t want to involve themselves in the roller-coaster ride of ambivalence that comes when they care for people who will fail them.”
pg 107 “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love”
People will fail us especially those who seek to minister, serve, and care for others. When we need help ourselves it will often be denied. Have you experienced this? You invest time and energy investing in others; yet when you need a kind word or encouragement yourself you find yourself alone. We learn to protect ourselves and remain uninvolved after experiencing this treatment. We guard our hearts to the effect of keeping people distant wherein they can’t easily or quickly hurt us.
After experiences of being ignored, neglected, and cast aside after being used, even the noblest and deeply caring people will become bitter and critically suspicious of anyone who tries to draw near. I understand this feeling and process from my personal experiences in ministry, teaching, and serving in churches. I mention this not to criticize others, but to honestly identify this as a personal struggle.
How can we avoid this? We seek Christ’s healing and grace. Daily, we seek to be more like our Savior than the fallen world and evil that surrounds us. We then labor to encourage and restore others.
The Trap of Self-Sufficiency
Daniel identifies our thoughts during this experience:
“I am all I need; I am enough,” is the presumption of self-righteousness. If I need someone or something, it is only temporary and need not obligate me to anyone. It is acceptable to be involved with others as long as no one wants much or is dependent on the other. Reciprocal. Equal. Safe.”
pg. 107 “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love”
This thinking separates us and leaves us in shame which then leads to feeling contempt for others. We think of ourselves as better than and separate from others. This is the path of the self-righteous pharisee: one who knows God’s ways and expectations, but chooses to obey the “law” instead of inviting Christ to transform and renew.
The Path of Healing
God offers healing and grace through His Redemption!
“Faith and hope are the foundation of love.”
pg 108 “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love”
When we seek and long for God’s redemption and grace, God moves! Just like the younger foolish son realizes his situation and comes home to his father, so we repent and seek Christ daily. We ask God to increase and strengthen our faith and hope!
“It is grace, the inexplicable tenderness of God to receive us and gift us with his presence, that redeems our hearts. Oddly, God uses the damage provoked by evil to win us to himself and to this purposes.”
pg 108 “Ambivalence and the Loss of Love”
We can chose to seek God or remain stuck in our despair, bitterness, and separation. It’s God’s mercy that reaches out to restore us. After we experience this restoration, we are objects of God’s grace, mercy, and compassion. Our lives become a testimony of His Goodness and Grace!
This post wasn’t an easy writing process, nor can I give you simple, easy answers for the past hurts, disappointments, and tragedies of your life. I write as a fellow pilgrim who is battered by the storms of life: uncertainty, failure, and disappointment. Yet, I promise you that Christ is Our Solid Rock and Perfect Place of Refuge. As ugly and cruel as life and people can be, God is Wonderfully God, Kind, and Compassionate!
May we turn our eyes upward to the One who Graciously Loves and Restores those who seek Him trusting in a better place and existence with Him in eternity!
How do you respond (in faith) to the difficulties of your life? Are you pressing ahead toward God’s call even when you fail and find yourself frustrated by uncertain circumstances and difficulties? Hope that you will consider God’s perspective! Join me as I encourage you to push forward in your journey of faith!
Why setbacks and failures?
Simply answered: we are fallen people living in a fallen world. We sin ourselves and others sin against us! Romans (Paul) teaches us that all of creation “groans” and awaits redemption. Consider that God has cursed all humans since Adam and Eve rebelled against Him (Genesis 3). We will certainly face difficulties, failures, and frustrations.
Why does God “frustrate” and allow/bring hardships?
God desires that we worship, serve, seek, and love Him above all things: family, friends, career, etc. God loves us enough to draw us to Himself. Difficulty and failure moves us towards trusting and desiring Christ more and away from depending ourselves or others.
Perspective and How God Defines Success
What if our failures are “failures” in our own sight, but are actually success in God’s eyes? Remember that God will be our Judge, not society, friends,or family. Ultimately, we will stand before a Holy, Righteous, and Perfect God to give an account of our lives. Got questions discusses how the Bible defines success:
I would define success according to God’s Standard as including the following:
Seek God’s kingdom and righteousness–consider Matthew 6:33 KJV:”
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Love God and others–consider the command of Jesus to love John 13:34-35 KJV
“34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
live a life of faith and worship–regardless of our current circumstances we seek in all ways to honor and glorify God in our lives,
remain faithful through walking by faith and not by sight, pursuing a Good, Perfect Heavenly Father, then
finally, that we daily become more like Christ. We continue to grow and mature as we seek to live for Christ and not for ourselves, others, or worldly pursuits.
We don’t have to understand or have the answers to be faithful! We can press ahead in our journeys of faith knowing that God will guide us through the dark valleys and deep waters that we must cross. My testimony is that God has never forsaken or given up on me even when I have failed. We don’t have power over how jobs/careers and ministries work out. We can’t control how others treat or abuse us. But we can choose to forgive, let go, and press ahead in our journey.
God reminds me that each new day is another opportunity to live for Him! Each encounter with others is a chance to demonstrate grace, kindness, and righteousness. We can show kindness, grace, and share truth with others. That’s why God leaves us here instead of immediately bringing us to heaven!
Have you recently considered the honor of living for Christ? God gives us opportunities to be like Him so that others will see and experience Him! May God’s grace, mercy, and wisdom flow through your life onto that of others! For His Glory and your edification, I write
God gives us three areas to focus on developing (virtues) in our lives as His followers. A virtue is a character trait that is refined and strengthened by daily practice. God working through the person of Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit moves in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ!
Writing concerning spiritual topics requires honesty, introspection, as well as an awareness of what others are facing in life. The entire fallen world system (Satan, fallen powers, and the sin/evil around and in our own hearts) seeks to keep us from having hope and ultimately showing that hope to others. It’s a demonic trap that seeks to ensnare and enslave us to a false reality in which we live without hope. I agree with Daniel Allender’s idea that hopelessness is the work of our enemy. Hopelessness leads us to become bitter and closed off to others and even God. How many times have you held onto a hope that wasn’t realized? We hope for good health, stable employment, a loving relationship, or even a meaningful career, but this isn’t the reality for many. Broken dreams and shattered expectations can leave us deeply broken and wounded.
To have faith requires that we believe in things beyond our sight. Faith calls us to believe that God has redeemed us and is fundamentally good. Faith leads us to trust and obey God especially when His call doesn’t seem clear or sensible to us. Faith also beckons us to step forward and accept hardships and uncertainties in life instead of taking the easy path. Faith requires dependence and decreases self-reliance!
To have hope means that we realize a greater reality than the suffering and brokenness than we’re currently enduring. Hope reminds us that God will return and restore us in due season. Hope helps us to grieve knowing that death isn’t the end. Hope proclaims that Christ overcame sin and death! Hope carries us through the dark seasons of our lives and flows outward to others who are watching us!
To love others we must receive love from God. We love others as God loves us and works in our lives. Each day, every encounter with another person is an opportunity to demonstrate grace, truth, and compassion. At times, I fail to love others because I “feel” fundamentally unloved myself. This is part of being a selfish, fallen human. Yet, God patiently and gently restores me and sets me forward! We shall all battle self-love and selfishness until we are completely perfected in Christ. 1 John is an excellent read concerning God’s love!
May God bless you as you seek to live for His honor and glory as you daily grow in faith, hope, and love!
Why are we powerless to change situations and even ourselves? The truth is found in Genesis 3, specifically the rebellion. When Eve and Adam rebels against God, God pronounces a curse upon them and us. For a detailed explanation:
In summary, we rebel against God and He rightfully judges us. God curses Eve in the realms of child birth and relationships. God curses Adam in the realm of work and cultivation. God curses them both with death and separation from the Garden of Eden. Just like our ancestors, we too rebel against God–often on a daily basis. God’s Word (Romans 1-3) and the Prophets (Isaiah 53 for example) teaches us that we are fallen and sinful by nature and heritage. Why do I keep mentioning this truth? Because it’s vital!
We must understand the reality of our fallen nature apart from Christ! The Gospel is good news; but only for those who understand that God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness are essential! As long as we wrongly think that we can redeem ourselves, better organize or improve our lives, and do right (in ourselves) we will remain in darkness.
Why are family and work relationships often difficult and challenging? James tells us that our wrong motives, envy, jealousy, and greed cause turmoil and warfare.
James 4: 1-3 BSB A Warning against Pride
1What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the passions at war within you? 2You crave what you do not have; you kill and covet, but are unable to obtain it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.
No human can fully satisfy or complete your life! We look for love, meaning, purpose, and ultimately security in others. We also wrongly and foolishly seek satisfaction and purpose in our careers, relationships, health, finances, etc. Then we wonder why we are crushed with disappointments and failures!
God is on the move and reaching out to us
It when we realize that we’re helpless and truly powerless that we open our hearts to receive Christ. What if the reason God allows or brings difficulties into our lives is to draw us closer to Him and away from the idols and things we wrongly seek out? The worst thing that can happen to a soul is to remain deceived and separated from God’s grace, mercy, and redemption. I want you to carefully consider the following passages:
The Triumph of Faith Romans 5:1-5
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
3Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
Christ’s Sacrifice for the Ungodly–Romans 5:6-11
6For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him! 10For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! 11Not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
God’s Marvelous Love and Grace!
When we are experiencing grief, frustrations, loss, and anxiety in our lives, God reminds us of our desperate need for Him. I don’t understand why God allows specific tragedies into my own life much less yours, but I know that He is working for our redemption and ultimate good. However, we must consider that God’s definition of good and purpose for our lives is different from our human desires. For a good article on this:
For example, we desire and seek to experience safety, comfort, and trouble-free moments and days. BUT, we become complacent, lazy, and self-centered when things go our way. Consequently, we foolishly increase our self-reliance and dependence. Have you considered that God perfectly loves us and consequently “upsets” and frustrates our plans and desires when they aren’t in accordance with His good for us? What if failures and frustrations are necessary for our redemption and God’s best for us?
Worship through our tears and fears
The Bible shows us examples of the faithful who worship God in hard times. Consider how that Abraham obeys God when God tells him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham worships by being obedient and trusting in God. Consider David when Nathan confronts him with his sin with Bathsheba. David mourns and worships God knowing that God will forgive him and have mercy. Recall how Jeremiah endures the great judgment and destruction of Jerusalem, yet professes God’s mercy, love, and compassion:
These are but a few examples! We can worship God even as our lives are difficult and sorrowful! Because God is Perfectly Good and hold us close, we can worship and give Him glory as our world collapses around us! Remember the wonderful truth that “because He lives I can face tomorrow” a wonderful hymn written by Bill and Gloria Gaither.
We need to be careful and discerning considering God’s ways and movements in our lives and others! God’s Ways are far above our ability to understand and fully recognize much less comprehend. Please consider this passage from Isaiah 55:6-8
God invites us to repent and seek Him, yet we had better understand that God is Mysteriously Good! Our small, finite minds are limited and we need to remember this! Some guide lines that have helped me in this area: