In Christ Alone

Having just come out of a season of fasting and prayer, I was warned that difficulties were ahead.  Those warnings were definitely right,  this week has been one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a very long time!  I have been stressed to my very core,  I’ve encountered unrealistic expectations, insomnia, impossible deadlines, disappointment, physical pain, fatigue and difficult people.  Life hit me like train this week.

For some reason God likes to speak to me in short phrases, and this week I’ve been hearing “In Christ alone”  over and over again.  This makes me think of the song by the same name:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I standIn Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
’til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

I love this song!  It reminds me how much God has done and is doing.  It reminds me of His infinite love for me.  And I don’t know about you, but I needed to be reminded of His love this week.  My first mistake was taking my eyes off the cross and onto the temporary things around.  In light of eternity, my “problems” don’t look so bad.

My hope isn’t in my job, my school work, or any plans that I can conjure up in my head.  My hope is in Christ, and so often I lose sight of that and try to do more than I handle.  I may never be able to please my boss or reach his unrealistic expectations, and if that’s where my hope is found then life is going to be very disappointing.  But when I look to the cross everything changes!  He’s holding open his handing waiting on me to give up the control I’m clenching in my hands.  All I have to do is hand it over to Him.

I hold onto stress, He offers me perfect peace.

I hold onto the opinions of others, He offers me His opinion, that I am chosen, loved blessed, forgiven, made in His image, etc…

I hold onto my plans, He offers His perfect will.

I hold onto physical pain, He offers me healing.

I hold onto disappointment, He offers me purpose.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him. // Psalm 62:5

I can choose to accept the negative circumstances of my life as truth or like Psalm 62:5 says I can command my soul to find rest in God.  My way obviously doesn’t work very well, or this week wouldn’t have been so difficult.  I’ve got two choices, what’s it going to be?

What are you holding onto that you need to let go?  Are your hands clenched around your circumstances?  What’s standing between you and freedom? You’re always one prayer away from freedom.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” // Matthew 7:7

Finish The Race

 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  Acts 20:22-24

Ever feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel?  Like you’re stuck in a never ending season with no way out.  I have, multiple times.  It’s like walking through life blind folded, it’s dark and it’s lonely.  It’s in these times of life that we have to decide if we truly trust God or not.  Is God who he says He is or is He not?

The scripture above was recently brought to my attention and it really spoke to me.  Paul was going through a season of uncertainty. “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”  Paul was living on blind faith, he didn’t know what he was doing but he trusted that God did.  His life was Spririt-led not self-led.  He heard God tell him to do something, and he did it!  He didn’t know all the details, there was no itinerary, just faith.

What is leading your life and your decisions?  Are you being led by emotions, the opinions of others, fear, or are you choosing daily to be led by God?  I say choosing because it is a choice, and it has to be made daily.  I often worry about things I can’t control, but I’m in a season of learning to say “No this is God’s, not mine, have Your way.  Forgive me for not trusting you and help me to trust you more.”  It’s a choice I have to make, I can choose to worry myself sick or I can give it to God.  When I do this I’m choosing to be Spirit led, rather than be led by my own desires and opinions.  Is it always easy?  Nope, I wish it was, but every time I choose God’s way I take a step in the right direction.  Baby steps lead to stronger, wider steps.  These steps lead to growth.

Unfortunately the Spirit wasn’t leading Paul to Disney World, but “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”  Sounds like a blast, sign me up!  The world we live in is full of sin, and because of this we will also face hardships.  Paul realized this, he knew it would be tough.  The Holy Spirit even warned him of this.  He was prepared, the circumstances of his life had prepared him for this.  Satan will come against you when you’re in the will of God.  So be prepared, and be aware that opposition is coming.  But God had already to won the battle, so stay strong.  Your weakness gives God more room to move.

“That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:10

Next Paul says “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me”.  Serving God was more important to Paul than his own life.  He was completely sold out to God.  A life without God wasn’t a life he wanted to live.  Are you willing to trade your life for the life God has for you?  Are you willing to lay it all down and walk away?  Paul was!  It is impossible to stay God centered when you’re not willing to give it all to God.  Withholding areas of your life from God shows a lack of trust in Him and His goodness.  I often do this myself, I have to remind myself that God loves me and He going to replace what I want with something even better than I could have imagined.  Or maybe He’ll give me what I want but in His own timing.  God’s silence isn’t always a “no”, sometimes it’s simply a “not yet”.  But don’t forget that he always has your best interests in mind.

Paul kept his eyes on the finish line ,” my only aim is to finish the race”.  He knows that good is going to come from his circumstances, because he understands the calling God had on his life.  He trusted that despite the present and the past God was going to make something good out of his future.  He stayed focused.  How often do we lose focus on temporary things and push aside the eternal?  Probably a lot more than we even realize.

He also held onto his purpose, “complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”  He knew that his calling was to share the gospel to the world around him.  He walked in his calling confidently, he knew how much he meant to God and he sought out to make sure others knew how much God loved them too.  As Christians our ultimate goal in life is to share the gospel with the people around us.  If we confess Jesus as our Savior then we are called to the ministry.  We don’t need a ministry title, job or certification to be called to ministry it’s who we are.  Paul himself murdered Christians before coming to know Christ, I’m pretty sure murder will keep you out of seminary and Bible college.  But God’s grace was far greater than his past, and God’s plan for Paul was above and beyond what he imagined.  Don’t let your past determine your future, if God has forgiven you then you need to forgive yourself.  Don’t limit God and what he can do through you.  Who knows what you’re missing out on!

So press on dear brothers and sisters and fight the good fight.  He hasn’t brought you all this way to abandon you.  Trust Him.

  1.  Listen to the Spirit, and don’t be afraid to follow it into the unknown.
  2.  Be on the look out for the enemy, and know that God has already won.
  3.  Put God first in everything you do, seek His will above all else.
  4.  Keep your eyes on your Savior and the amazing plans He has for you.
  5.  Share the good news with everyone you come in contact with so that others may find  freedom as well.

(Romans 20:22-24)

Living On Prayer

“Prayer is an open door which none can shut,”Charles Spurgeon

Today my church kicked of it’s “21 Days Of Prayer and Fasting”, and I’m convinced that there is no better way to kick start your new year or even just your day than by joining in prayer with hundreds of believers.  This is where miracles are born and lives are changed.  

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” ~ Matthew 18:20.

I am praying and believing God for some pretty big things in 2015, and I’m starting with 21 Days of Prayer.  I want Him to take my faith to new heights,  I want to pray and see my prayers answered,  I want to find my God-given purpose and to walk in it confidently.  For so long I’ve felt like I was on a scavenger hunt with God, only getting clue after clue.  I don’t know what my future holds, but I know He holds it.  And I want to be okay with that, I don’t want to look into the uncertainty with fear, but with total trust knowing that He’s walking right beside me.  I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, I don’t believe in coincidence and all too often I try to figure it out.  I try to make sense of everything.  But this year I want to give it to God completely.

Have your way Lord, Your will, not mine.  

I remember hearing a quote as a kid and never forgetting it : If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.  It’s interesting when you think about it, I wonder how many times we try to make plans and God’s like “You want that?” or “Really, that’s all you want?”  I wonder how often we settle in our prayers when God’s willing to give us so much more than we have ever thought to ask.  How often do we, as stupid humans, limit what God has for us?

“…Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:2

How many times have we asked for this when God was willing to give us that?  I don’t want to limit God anymore, I want to come boldly to His throne and I want to pray bold prayers.  I want doors to open, and I want to accept the ones that have been closed. Because if it’s not God’s best for me then I sure don’t want it!  I challenge you to pray big prayers in 2015, don’t limit God and what He’s willing to give you!

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

I also believe strongly in praying for my future even though I don’t know what it holds. Because God does,  He’s already there.  So why not pray for tomorrow! I often pray for my future husband, I don’t know what he’s up to but God does.  So why not cover him in prayer?  There have been times when I’ve even prayed for my future children, imagine being covered in prayer before you’re even thought of.  Because before we were even planned by earthly parents we were planned by God.  I believe that God hears my prayers and I believe that He will answer those prayers.  So speak out in faith over your future!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Also remember to cover your family and friends in prayer.  I’m praying for my parents, that God would continue to bless their marriage, their finances, their health and that they would continue to grow closer to Him.  My siblings, I’m praying for their education, health, spiritual growth and decision making.  I’m praying for my friends, their needs, their relationship with God, school, work, etc.  Also remember the lost, most of my extended family is not saved so I’ve been praying for them.  Just think of all the people you come in contact with, and pray for them!  And if you don’t know what they need, God does, so pray that He’ll meet their needs.

Pray for leaders.  I’m praying for our President and all the other government leaders.  I’m praying for pastors, for teachers, for parents and other leaders in my life. These people’s decisions affect us greatly so why not pray for them and their influences.

“Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:2

But in the midst of all your prayers and needs don’t forget about the awesome God that we serve.  Praise Him, thank Him and remind yourself of all that He’s done for you and is still doing.  I never get tired of thanking Him for just saving me, He didn’t have to, but He did! Because He loves us more than we could ever possibly imagine!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3

These are just some of the things I’m praying about right now, things that God has laid on my heart.  What are your hopes and desires for 2015? Start praying and if you can’t find the words He’ll give you the words.  Just Pray!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”         Philippians 4:6-7

A poem about Grace

I will guide you along the best pathway...

To forgive a soul, for committing a sin

To relinquish a crime, made against Him

To stand in our place and take our shame

To die on a cross to suffer: no blame

To be given a hope, a way since man’s fall

we’re made righteous through faith in Christ, that’s all

But much more is given, than a payment of sin

We are given freedom, a new life, a purpose to live in

So accept His Grace that He’s offered for free

so we may live happy with Him eternally

– Wm. Blake Weaver II

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