By La Toya "Boyce" Wells
There is an abundance of love needed
We search through sources of lustful cravings
Only to end up drowned in depression.
We all take a journey that leads
Us into different directions and
Many are blinded by impeccable beauty;
Soon you’ll learn that beauty is from within…
Search no more for merriment.
When sometimes one continuously
Fails to notice that it stands
Before one’s pondering eyes…
Just take a look in the mirror.
Guest Post by Kristen Leigh Evensen
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him…So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.” - 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, NLT
You deserve separation from God. We all do.
Upon Christ’s birth, the world’s standards were turned upside down.
The weak became strong. The poor became rich. The wise became foolish. All because Jesus—the perfection of God--surrendered to His Father’s will, becoming totally human and serving mankind by His humble death on the cross.
Reality would never be the same.
While once we deserved death and separation from God, forevermore Jesus bridged the gap. We were eternally bestowed what we absolutely never deserved. And guess what? We will never be deserving of Christ.
I love Christmas—everything about it. We celebrate the humble birth of a once tiny Savior, who would grow up to receive every part of His Father’s plan—including death. We celebrate the incarnate Christ this season, especially from a human point of view. Christ’s birth, His divine entrance into this world, seems a bit easier to wrap our minds around than what He chose to finish on the cross.
But do we see the implications? Do we truly receive, through spiritual eyes and through the mind of Christ, what we never deserved? That Jesus has made us brand, spanking new creations, simply because He loves us that much?
Understanding this changes everything.
When we realize that this is all a gift from God—something we never deserved—we rejoice! We receive a new life. A new identity. A new mission. We outpour love. “And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him…So we are Christ’s ambassadors” (v. 18).
When we receive what we never once deserved, in light of our inadequacy to live up to Jesus’ perfection, our hearts change as well as our heart-cry.
We grow softened to other people, despite their faults.
We see the need all around us, and we step out in faith to give.
We take time to thank Jesus simply for Who He is.
What is your heart-cry this holiday season, and every day? Is Christ making His appeal through you?
Receive what you never deserved, and may the eternal beauty of Jesus’ gift transform your mind and heart this season.
Kristen Leigh Evensen is a life coach, singer/songwriter, blogger, and all-around creative communicator. She authors The Identity Project, a women’s forum centered on faith, identity and community. Follow her on Twitter @kristenlevensen.
By Christina Stolaas
The tragedy in Newton CT has profoundly impacted the hearts of Americans everywhere. There are questions without answers. Tears without ceasing. Anger and rage. During the holidays we long for joy and innocent childlike spirits, and instead our hearts are filled with grief and shock at the evil that ripped through our schools last week.
Understandably, many struggle with God’s sovereignty when unthinkable things like this occur. The echoes of angry parents, sisters, brothers, and friends ring through the air, “God, WHERE were you?!” It’s difficult to understand how God could be in control and yet things like this continue to happen. We want to reason and explain such tragedies. We want to understand that which we cannot.
Some offer that God knows all that will happen but is not strong enough to stop it. Others reason that tragedies such as this surprise God, that somehow His divine plan overlooked the horror of Friday. Neither are true. God is completely in control, and completely aware of every millisecond before it occurs. Never surprised and never incapable. Please friends, though our hearts are broken, and our minds can’t comprehend such evil; don’t dumb down the maker of the Universe into a God that fits into a human mold to make faith more palatable.
Even Christians want to see the divine map, where it goes, how it ends. Just a glimpse. Please, we cry out to heaven, please, unveil our eyes and heal our hearts.
This Christmas, in light of the tragic events of this past week, I believe we need to be reminded of one very important thing. God gave us more then a glimpse. He gave us His presence on earth. Emmanuel. God with us. God, here on earth. In our midst. In human form, walking, talking, and inhabiting the earth we live on.
You see, though God could have remained in the heavens, separated from the callous and evil hearts of man, He chose not to. He chose to send His son to live among us, and ultimately die for us. You and I are never the victim of ‘mother nature’, the recipient of ‘bad luck’ or a product of fate. God is with us, ever-present, and reigning with calm authority even when the world around us appears to be recklessly spinning out of control.
His presence did not leave after His death and resurrection. He doesn’t watch our lives on earth as merely a bystander unable to help those who cry out to Him. Incredibly, God choose not just to live among us, but to live in us via the Holy Spirit. Never alone. Never forsaken. Never abandoned. In a world where unimaginable evil, hatred, and tragedy increasingly abound, we must not lose sight of this vital truth.
As I reflect on what I cannot understand, I am reminded that faith doesn’t require understanding tragedies, faith requires simply understanding WHO God is in light of tragedy. As I have seen in my own life, no struggle or heartbreak has touched my life that is apart from His sovereign purpose, divine presence and ultimately permission. This Christmas, take heart and celebrate the miracle of “God with Us.” For, He is.
By Sondra L. Lewis
"And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored [one], the Lord [is] with you; blessed [are] you among women! But when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS…"—Luke 1:28-30
Do you recall the moment in which you received the revelation that you were “Chosen”? Oh, an angel may not have visited you, nor did you hear a trumpet sound or get a prophetic word. You may have been in prayer, sideswiped by trouble and at a point where situations and circumstances knocked you to your knees. Or, you may have been on your way to work, or doing some menial task such as washing dishes or folding laundry. Yet, the Spirit of the Lord spoke an innate word into your spirit that resonated enlightenment beyond yourself. Suddenly, you knew something about yourself that you never knew before. “Rejoice, highly favored (your name here), The Lord is with you;”
“My sheep know my voice and they follow me” John 10:27. When the Spirit of the Lord speaks, there is no doubt who it is. Something in our spirit exudes the confidence and the audacity to believe that we really are called to something and someone greater than ourselves. And the Master of this universe (the one who orchestrates the symphonies of rushing winds to gentle breezes, who paints the sky a new every day and has never duplicated the same design) has reached out of eternity into time and designated a moment just for you. And we (at that moment) feel empowered to accomplish the impossible, to believe the unbelievable and conquer the unconquerable mountains in our lives. Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
“But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was”. Here is a young girl with her whole life (as she knows it) ahead of her. She is engaged to be married, she is greeted by the angel Gabriel, and he speaks a word to her that she is “highly favored…” I have seen women who have had a word of prophesy spoken over them in church services that afterward began to behave like spiritual “Diva’s”. However, hearing this good news “troubled” Mary to the point that she had to ponder what it meant. Then to be told she would conceive a child and she was a virgin, provoked fear in her. This was a time when it was dangerous to be pregnant, unmarried and to be pregnant by someone other than the one you were betrothed to. This could cost her life. What does it really mean to be Chosen? And how do really know that you are?
Being chosen brings with it expectancy, opposition, contradiction, isolation, and finally fruition. Earlier in this chapter, we read that Mary’s older cousin Elizabeth was also carrying a child. She was (as indicated in vrs.7) barren and stricken in years. When she found out she was expecting a child in her old age, she hid herself saying “Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on [me], to take away my reproach among men.” Vs.25 Do you feel as though your time has passed? Have you been told “you can’t do this or that” because you’re too old or your? Well, God has put something down on the inside of you. And like Elizabeth, it may seem dormant, but when his Spirit bears witness with yours, it will cause the gift to become “alive”. Are you preparing now for the encounter? You should be. No pregnant woman waits until the baby is born to start getting ready. She starts preparing right away.
Although it may not seem like the right time; issues over here, trouble over there and “this couldn’t have happened at a worse time” situation, this is just the right time for God to do what he wants to do in you. He had to let you get “self” out of the way for you to realize this is not by power, nor by might but by His Spirit. This next thing he is birthing out of you, will amaze you! Unlike the clamor you are hearing, this couldn’t have happened at a better time than now! Get ready to receive it!
By Christina Stolaas
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Christina has been a regular guest blogger for some time now, and we've just officially added her to our WHOLE Contributor Team! Read more about her in her bio here!
I’m going to be a bit transparent here, so, if you’ve always thought I have it together, you might not want to read this one. Yesterday I was rudely reminded that I suffer from a not-so-rare disorder. Every human has it, the holiest of saints, and most vile of sinners. It’s known by many names, and the symptoms manifest and are displayed differently in each person, but, it can be summed up with simply three words: Defective Character Syndrome or DCS for short.
After a particular rough day yesterday, in which I reacted in an enormous emotional and hurtful tantrum, I found myself reeling with frustration. Why do I do these things? Why am I this way? More importantly, what is wrong with me?
I react in ways I shouldn’t. I have a sharp tongue. I’m quick to lash out, and slow to calm down. I don’t always think through decisions. I lack patience. I’m selfish. (these are just a few of my individual symptoms, but there are many many many more and you probably have your own list).
When conflicts arise, my defective character syndrome, and the ugly effects of such a disease– rise to the surface. In my head, I see the disease being unleashed and spewing contagious venom on those around me– yet, I can’t seem to control myself as well as I ought to. Have you ever been there? If you’re human, you probably have. Some of us just happen to have more frequent, or more severe outbreaks of DCS. (Perhaps I am one of the “some.”)
Last night, I wallowed in sleeplessness and regret.
I began to read my Bible, as I have learned from prior experience– outbreaks of DCS can be controlled and minimized with the medicated words of God’s truth! I found myself in Romans, reading the words of Paul, who obviously suffered from DCS as well, and was equally frustrated with his inability to control himself. Paul gives a description of his inner struggle with DCS and how rapidly the disease of sin takes charge in his spirit:
Romans 7:21-25 (message)
21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
Last night, I felt exasperated like Paul! Frustrated, irritated and a bit hopeless:
24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
But then, then, the sweet medicine of truth spoke a ray of hope into my anguished and disease ridden soul:
25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
I have hope, you have hope, because Jesus has already done the work! The price has been paid for our sin natures, and the victory has already been won! PRAISE GOD! We will spend our Christian lives continuously pressing forward, continuously moving towards the goal of being Christ-like, and as we do, the evidence of such growth is less meltdowns, shorter episodes, and better control of our sin nature.
But, the truth is, though the cure exists (Jesus), we will not be made completely well, completely disease free until we join Him in heaven made perfect and sinless in His sight. On earth, we will struggle, and are each in need of grace in abundance. If like me, you’ve found yourself having a pity party because of your struggle remember this– you’re human. God loves you, forgives you, and His word is the medicine that fosters self-control. Take heart,His grace, His grace is sufficient for you! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
A few days later Felix and his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish, sent for Paul and listened to him talk about a life of believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul continued to insist on right relations with God and his people, about a life of moral discipline and the coming Judgment, Felix felt things getting a little too close for comfort and dismissed him. “That’s enough for today. I’ll call you back when it’s convenient.” At the same time he was secretly hoping that Paul would offer him a substantial bribe. These conversations were repeated frequently. - Acts 24:24-26
For the past few months I had been feeling really bad about something. Someone really close to me wanted prayer, yet I didn't want to pray for her. I know, you're probably thinking, that's pretty harsh, right? Let me explain.
She is near and dear to my heart and although you would think we speak daily, she only called when she "needed prayer." Which usually meant her usual break-up with a man that is no good for her at all. Something she clearly has known for some time now.
So what do you do when you begin to feel used, worn out, and just drained? I had to pray! I would talk to my husband about how bad I felt. More importantly I talked to God. I told Him, "God, I'm sorry. I just don't want to continue to pray for someone who isn't looking to change her life."
It brings me to the story of Felix. In the Book of Acts, Felix was the governor of the region where Paul was ministering. Felix appeared to be interested in what Paul was telling him and it seemed as though he wanted to learn from Paul. But in reality, Felix was greedy, selfish and was only seeking to get money from Paul. (Acts. 24:26)
I realize now that this is just another way the enemy tries to wear us down as Christians. These Felix-types are nothing but phonies. They come into our lives and ask for prayer and help from their current situation, but they never seem to grow from their mistakes.
Satan will send people into our lives to drain us of everything we have and to wear us out, and the worst part is knowing that they have no intentions of changing. They'll call you only when the going gets tough, and you will spend hours listening to them talk about their afflictions, but they don't even want to get over them. They go on and on, rehearsing their problems, but they don't even look forward to getting well or wanting to do better for themselves. Because like Felix, their motives are wrong. Their heart isn't in the right place. The saddest part is that once they wear you out, they will start right back over with somebody else.
I realized that I had to really start growing even more in my discernment about people, because the enemy enjoys playing on our love for God, and our love, and desire to help others. And as a Christian I would feel guilty telling someone, "You know what? I feel like you are using me. You don't want my help! Just go do you, and when you decide that enough is enough and you are serious about my help, then give me a call." Yeah right, I could never say that right? That wouldn't be nice. That wouldn't be Christ-like.
Guess what? Jesus would have done it! Just like He told the crippled man who had been lying by the pool of Bethesda, "Do you want to become well?" (John. 5:6) The Amplified version adds, [Are you really in earnest about getting well?] The crippled man then responded to him saying, "Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me."(v. 7) Jesus, didn't boo hoo him and pity this man. Instead He told him: "Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk!" (v.8) Jesus was basically saying, Look man, I'll help you, but you need to do your part as well. Don't expect to do the same thing and expect different results. We have to work together.
This situation had left me hurt, and maybe even a bit angry. I began to pray and ask God to help me sharpen my discernment so that I wouldn't continue to allow myself to get entangled in the turbulent lives of others unless I am helping, because they are truly, and I mean truly seeking to change their life. I encourage the same for you.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am by no means implying that we should forsake patience. On the contrary, we need to be patient and long-suffering towards all of our brothers and sisters. However, if you read the story of Felix in its entirety, you will see that Felix and Paul continued to talk every day, with the same issues he had and after two years he was still unchanged.
At the same time he hoped to get money from Paul, for which reason he continued to send for him and was in his company and conversed with him often.
But when two years had gone by, Felix was succeeded in office by Porcius Festus; and wishing to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul still a prisoner in chains. Acts 24:26-27
So, you see that after continuing to send for Paul and taking up all of this man's time, Felix just went off and left Paul in jail. All of that energy and time Paul had invested in Felix didn't even do him any good anyways, because Felix never really had any intention of ever changing in the first place.
So today, I want to encourage you, my sisters. Be careful for the "Felixes" in your life. Pray and ask God for discernment. Pour yourself out to only those that God lays on your heart to help. Pray and ask God how to handle those "certain" people that do come into your life to drain you and wear you out, so that you don't invest significantly in that person's life only to find again that it's been a waste of your time. Pray and ask God to give you what I like to call "divine connections." These are the people God sends our way that will be able to help us and vice versa. These are the sisters that will add to your life. They will pray for YOU. They will love on YOU. They will bombard Heaven on behalf of YOU! And you will do the same for them.
Keep in mind that Jesus Christ has called us to help people, but He has by no means called us to waste our time! I pray that you all will be great stewards of all your resources in 2013. . . including your love and time! This year let's release all the "Felixes" in our lives and prepare to receive the divine connections God has for us in the new year.
Do you have any "Felixes" in your life today?
Guest Post by Christina Stolaas
I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane today.
It. Was. Awesome.
For those that don’t know, I am casually afraid of heights. Looking down at high rides at theme parks always makes my palms sweat, heart race, and that familiar uneasy feeling appears in my stomach.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t overwhelmed with nerves or fear when preparing to dive. Perhaps the cause for which I was sky-diving overshadowed any tendency to be fearful! A wonderful friend, Tiffany Schwantes, is fighting for her life with cancer and was supposed to do the jump herself as a fundraiser. However, when she got on the transplant list, her doctors made it clear it wasn’t a wise idea. When she asked me to jump on her behalf I excitedly told her I would be honored to!
The night before our jump Tiffany became sick and ended up in the hospital so was unable to come watch the jump in person. Understandably, we were both really bummed out! As I put my gear on and awaited our departure I prayed for her and also prayed that God would teach me a lesson that I could bring back and share with others.
When it was time to board our plane I kissed my four kids and husband and bravely followed our jumping crew on to the plane. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but coincidentally, I was the last one to board the plane (closest to the exit) which meant, as you may have guessed.... I’d be the first to jump out! As we began our ascent it dawned on me... and I asked my instructor hesitantly, “Uhhh, are we the first ones to jump?” I think this is where my heart began to race a little!
My instructor and I exchanged names and some basic chitchat as the plane continued the climb. The view out the windows was gloriously gorgeous! What a beautiful day to be up in the sky! As the plane shifted/tilted I slid an inch or two on the bench toward the airplane jump exit and realized suddenly that I wasn’t actually strapped onto my instructor yet. Here I was-- up in the sky, with no seatbelt, with no parachute, and a plane window wide open. I leaned back into my instructor and confirmed my fears, “We aren’t strapped to each other yet, are we?”
I scooted back quickly on the bench and searched for something to hang on to, but there were no handles or anything in sight. So, I grabbed the only thing I knew to keep my hands busy and hoped it would help steady my racing heart--- my own chest straps.
Within a minute or two, I distinctly felt my instructor attach my harnesses to his own. Immediately I felt relief. Immediately, I knew I was safe. Harnessed to the individual who had a parachute. Harnessed to an expert jumper. Harnessed to my only option for landing safely on the ground.
I realized at that moment it wasn’t the parachute I was trusting in to deliver me safely to the ground. (though I realize if the parachute malfunctioned things could get bad really fast.) But, my faith and security actually rested almost solely on the instructor! In jumping out of the plane I would be risking my life and placing my confidence in his experience. But more importantly, my safety depended on one very critical point: staying harnessed to him.
If, for any reason I unexpectedly became unattached I would tragically and immediately face sudden and certain death. A tandem skydive requires one to place absurd amounts of confidence in the equipment that bonds the jumper to the instructor. Honestly, as we fell freely through the air there were a few seconds where briefly I hardly noticed/remembered I was attached. The speed was intense and an overwhelming rush! But, when it was time to slow down and prepare to land-- when the chute shot out and immediately brought the blazing speed to a halt--- my heart screamed with joy in realizing I was still safely connected and the parachute worked! Hallelujah!
On the drive home I thought of what the beautiful parallel life is to a skydive. Whether we like it or not, essentially we are all on a plane free-falling through life. Each of us has a choice. We can choose to jump out of the plane and free fall solo, intensely flailing our arms and legs as gravity moves us closer and closer to our destination....until boom....slamming into the ground is inevitable! People who choose to jump solo have no access to a parachute so the result of their jump will end the same way every time. Absolute total destruction.
Or, we can make the choice to trust Jesus with our hearts, tether our life to His and jump. As a Christian we get the privilege of enjoying the ride and relaxing on the fall through the sky! Because we are successfully attached, and because our jumper has the experience necessary to operate the parachute-- we can savor the intense adventure with the confidence that Jesus is completely trustworthy and faithful to deliver a safe landing for us in this life.
Confidence doesn’t come from the parachute, confidence rests in the Man wearing the parachute! As a Christian, we can bravely face any circumstances in this life because we are assured that Jesus will hang on to us no matter how intense the ride down may be. Every single ones of us will have times where the speed, the fear, the adrenaline from circumstances will be so overwhelming that our emotions scream a crash is imminent. However, when we begin a relationship with Jesus as our Savior we can rejoice in the beautiful truth that it is He who hangs on to us, and not vice versa. Our faith allows us to truly live F E A R L E S S because our landing is guaranteed!
Christina Stolaas is an energetic mom to four adorable young kids. In her free time, she enjoys writing, training for roads races, and passionately pursuing a deeper walk with Jesus. Through a rough childhood, she has learned to earnestly trust in the Sovereignty of God and seek to be "fruitful in suffering" as God continues to mold her to His likeness and bring beauty for ashes! (Isaiah 61:3)
By Marquisha Harden
Put down your running shoes, take a deep breath, and have a seat. Relax your mind and say a prayer to give thanks to God for everything you have right at this moment. Very often, we get busy chasing our next blessing that we forget to thank God for what we have right now. Our mind processes a million thoughts a minute, thinking of the steps we need to take tomorrow, next week, or years from now. The here and now is often a distant thought, until it has passed. We forget to enjoy the moments we have in front of us. However, we must praise God in our current state, before we can walk into the next blessing.
Running to your next blessing creates an anxious atmosphere and we are not supposed to be anxious for anything (Philippians 4:6). We take for granted the many blessings God gives us each day and hardly ever appreciate them because we are ready for the next one. We try to pray a little harder, do a little extra ministry work, and be nice to people we really don’t like. All of that is great! However, we cannot seek to do those things in order to expedite a blessing. It’s not going to work. God does things in His own time. Rushing the next blessing is only going to wear you out. It will really frustrate you because you’ll turn to God and ask if He’s forgotten you. You’ll complain to your friends and family that nothing is working out for you. You’ll start forgetting that God worked everything out for you before. You will forget that just today, He already
blessed you. Yet, you were too busy to realize it because it didn’t look like the blessing you were seeking him for. Ecclesiastes 7:14, “When times are good, be happy, but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.” God just wants genuine praise.
Psalm 103:1-5 “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
God wants to know that no matter what your circumstances are, it does not change the way you praise him. He wants to know that your heart truly belongs to him. God wants to know that you appreciate the blessings He gives you regardless of when or how they come to you. He loves you, but He wants to be appreciated just as you do when you are constantly caring for someone else. He wants to know that your relationship is more than what He can give you; what are you going to give back to Him? We already know that there isn’t any work that we can do to earn his love (Ephesians 2:8-9); He’s going to love us anyway, but He doesn’t want to be taken for granted.
So how can you praise God?
Praise God in your obedience. Stop trying to do things your way and obey what you know He’s telling you. Allow him to guide you.
Praise God in your patience. Wait for him to move in your life; your waiting tells God that you trust him.
Praise God in your witnessing. Tell other people how God has moved on your behalf.
Praise God in your lifestyle. Allow your life to reflect how great God has been to you. Study and live the Word. Stop the drinking, clubbing, shacking, fornicating, dead relationships, and anything that is contrary to the will of God.
Unbelievers are watching and want to know why we serve. They need to know how He healed your body, took you off the streets, kept you, your children, family members, and friends from sickness and death; kept your lights on, gave you food to eat, and so much more! They need to know that your peace, joy, and love are evidence of God working in your life. They don’t understand that it’s just because of who He is. He’s our protector, creator, guide, strong tower, Alpha, Omega, redeemer, healer, deliverer, provider, and so much more. He is the only true God who deserves all the praise regardless of what our now looks like.
You can start praising God by telling Him Thank you, because He’s so
worthy. Godly Reminder Psalm 40:3, “He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.”
By Brittany Chaunte'
I struggled a lot with guilt. Before I came to Christ, I had what I like to call a very colorful past. I had done A LOT of mess. It was to the point where I was having a hard time just accepting the change that God made in my life. Many Christians are in the same boat, not able to fully come to terms with their new life in Christ because of their shame. When you don’t recognize who you’ve become, it’s hard to accept all the things that God has given you. We must release who we told ourselves we are in order to receive the newness and power of a relationship with Christ.
Our Bible teaches us that once we come to Christ, old things are passed away and all things are new. That means our nature, our slate, our name, our being. We are a new person altogether. Once we get passed who we used to be, we can truly receive the gifts that God has given us. There is so much freedom and power in truly taking the time to accept what He has given. And what He has given is unmerited. There is nothing that we have to do in order to receive the new life that God has promised us.
Ephesians 2:1-10: 1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.[a
] He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
In this season of releasing and receiving, we have to release the idea that God grants us new life based on who we are; nothing we can do will be enough to measure up to that. We must be open to receive His love just because He is that merciful.
2 Corinthians 5:17
By Carmen Beckett
“I’m sick of it! I’m sick of it all!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, alone in my room, angry at how much of a world wind my life had become! You see, I was furious. And I was tired of holding it all in. So there I was, in my college dorm room throwing any and everything I could find. From shoes to bottles to mirrors; I wanted it all broken! I’m sure my roommate had to think I was a nut-case, but I was a woman gone mad and I didn’t care who knew.
The above episode was just one of my many crazy rampages. It was only God who was able to save me from the turmoil my life was in. For the past year, I had worked myself into an exhaustion that had me going half-insane! Meetings after meetings; preparing for tests after tests; and finishing goals and making new ones; that’s all my life consisted of. I felt like a robot because in all that time I did a lot of moving but never really got anywhere. I was so busy working that I forgot to live. So I foolishly refused to do anything that didn’t involve my goals.
Family functions? No. Spending time with God? No. Hanging out with friends? No.
In my mind, I didn’t believe that successful people had fun. I equated having fun with failure.
I was a bona fide workaholic.
Instead of pushing me towards success, my workaholic ways were just driving me to an early grave. Before I knew it, I was already loosing hair in terrifying amounts, my skin was breaking out all over, I began gaining excessive weight, and sinking into a depression. I no longer knew who I was.
My to-do list was all I had and it was ripping my life apart.
At that point, I knew I had to hand my struggles over to God. So I started reading my Bible more and I fell in love with the scriptures. Particularly, Matthew 6:33-34, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
I literally read that Scripture every single morning and night. I even wrote it out on note cards and took them with me during the day. It was my only chance of hope and freedom from my distressed mind. As I let Jesus take the lead, my worries and obsession with success began to fade. I could live again. He died for me so that I could live. How awesome and refreshing is that?
Sadly, today’s society praises the workaholic. The busier we are means the more important we are.
Well sister, I came to tell you that it’s simply not true. God does not care about how much money we make or how many awards we get if it’s distracting us from truly living for Him. It’s totally okay to want success but it’s not okay to let it take over your life where you can no longer operate in the purpose that God has for you. This isn’t some excuse to be lazy, it’s a reality check that we all need sometimes. Live for Him and everything else will follow.
Stay encouraged, be blessed and I’m praying for you.