Unity with Christians

Our unity with Christ and each other, as Christians, is so vital that Jesus labored in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death over those who would be His.  John 17 provides a detailed look at the prayer of Jesus.  He labored in prayer to the point that His sweat became blood.

Unity with Christ

UnityBefore you or I can be in unity with each other, we must first be cultivating our own individual relationships with Christ.  In Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus first instructed those around Him to love the Lord with everything in them.  After quoting these words from Deuteronomy, Jesus finished the rest of the command which was to love your neighbor as yourself.

If you or I fail in loving God, we will fail in loving each other.  God is love, therefore, it is vital that I am found in Him so that I can love Him in return, then, love my Christian brothers and sister.

A relationship with God has to be cultivated through prayer and time in the Word.  If I avoid speaking to God and fail to listen to Him, what kind of relationship would I have with him?  If you avoid communicating with your spouse, friends, or family members, can you truly have good relationships with them?  If you avoid listening to your loved ones, is a good relationship with them possible?

Unity with Each Other

I have heard some Christian teachers say that unity does not mean uniformity.  In other words, I do not have to become just like others in order to love them.  In fact, I do not even have to agree with all they do to love them.  Love is not dependent upon uniformity.  The love of God is so much more.  Love still chooses to seek a relationship with an individual although there are differences.

God made us all unique (see Psalm 139).  He did not want us to become clones of one another.  He knows we all look at things differently.  He knows that we are not going to serve Him in the same way.  I believe He did this intentionally.  Unity 2

When you listen to a band or an orchestra, you notice that the instruments are not all the same.  They have different sounds.  With practice, those who play the instruments learn to harmonize their sounds so a beautiful symphony is heard.  It is the same with God’s people.  Our different gifts can come together and harmonize to accomplish the spreading of the gospel and building up of the kingdom of God on the Earth.

How to be in Unity

There is no magical formula to the challenge of unity in the body of Christ.  It is a matter of working together despite differences.  Accept that there are issues on which you will disagree with your brothers and sisters.  Accept that they are not just like you.  Be willing to work together despite the differences.

It is time for a disclaimer.  I am not saying that we are to accept the message of those who claim there is another way to God besides Christ nor am I suggesting that we go along with teaching that is blatantly false.  I am suggesting that we lay aside those differences that are not a matter of eternal salvation and work with each other to win people to Jesus Christ.  There comes a time when we must decide to only know Christ and Him crucified. The rest can wait while we point the lost to Jesus.

Upcoming Bible Class

On December 31, 2018, I will be leading a Bible class on a Facebook group.  The topic is “Emotional Eating”, and, along with the Bible, Barb Raveling’s study Freedom from Emotional Eating will be the resource.

If you are interested in taking this course, please click here and request to join the group.

You will need to purchase Barb’s study, Freedom From Emotional Eating, available on Amazon in both kindle and paperback format.  Either choice is inexpensive.  Click here to purchase the study.

 

Keep Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but the morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

Do Not Throw It Away

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed on Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

Be Encouraged

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.

 

 

 

Just Ask

Are you unsure of the direction you need to take in a certain area of your life?  Do you need to know the best way to deal with a difficult person or situation?  There are a great number of situations in which we find ourselves that require divine wisdom from God.  The solutions to our problems are not always obvious.  Often, they require that we hear from the Holy Spirit.

If You Lack Wisdom

James 1:4 states that if anyone lacks wisdom, all that needs to be done is ask God.  There is a condition.  We must ask in faith without wavering.  In a previous post, I discussed wavering.  We all waver in faith from time to time.  Read that post if you need encouragement and help for a wavering mind.  Once you have your mind set, ask God.  He will not withhold what you need.  As a matter of fact, Psalm 84:11 declares that the Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly.

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Wisdom is a good thing, and it is a necessity to walk successfully in this life.  God will not withhold wisdom from you.  As for the part about walking uprightly, no one is perfect, but if you are placing your trust in Christ and walking daily with Him, then you are walking uprightly.  You will not be perfect, but you will not be living in a state of sin.

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

After you have asked for wisdom, you must wait. Sometimes the answer comes quickly.  Most of the time, it comes rather slowly.

In my own personal experience, I have found that when I am waiting for God to show me what direction I need to take, or what I need to do about a given situation, the answer often comes when I am not even thinking about what I am needing.  For example, I have spent time praying about wisdom and for God to show me clear direction.  I have gone about my business to have the answer come to me when I was cleaning house or working on another task.

If you are waiting for God to show you direction in your life, do not give up.  He will guide you. Often, when you do not know what should be done, it means you should do nothing until you hear from God.  Now, I understand that some situations need an immediate answer.  I believe God will bring the answer as needed.  It is important that you seek Him everyday, and ask Him to prepare you for anything unexpected.  Then, when a need arises, God will show you the answer.

How God Speaks

Just Ask Blog 2When I mention that God speaks to me, I do not mean that I hear Him in an audible voice.  There are several ways I hear from God.  He speaks through His word.  That is why we need to read and study the Bible on a regular basis.  Another way He speaks is a knowing that you will have in your spirit (that is the only way I know to describe it).  He will speak through other people.  When He speaks through someone else, it is usually a confirmation of what you already know.  This is not always the case, but your spirit will bear witness if a word from someone else is from God.

In my own life, I have been seeking God for an answer to my own health issues.  He has been speaking to me for a while, but I was certain that I was not hearing from Him.  Finally, I got it.  The very answer I had been refusing was the one He had for me.  Suffice it to say, I have great joy and peace now that I have surrendered that to him.  (I will share more about this in the future.)

What about you?  Is your situation far from needing a cut and dry answer?  Our God has the answers that go beyond what is obvious.  Keep asking Him!  He will give clear direction.

Being Thankful

There are numerous verses in the Bible about being thankful.  I am not certain of the number of times that we are told to be thankful, but I do know the thankfulness concept appears throughout the entire Bible.  It is easy for me to get so wrapped up in stressful situations and grief that I forget to look at the numerous blessings God has given me.

Thankful for Jesus

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I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ.  This might sound generic, but I must be grateful for that relationship.  Without Him, I am unable to be wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher.  Without Jesus, nothing else works.  Through Him, I have hope beyond this life.  Faith in Jesus brings not only eternal life, but power to live this life through all circumstances—the everyday, the mundane, the challenging, the hurtful, the joyful, and heartwarming.

Thankful for Relationships

Most of us have someone in our lives that encourages us and to whom we can be transparent.  No matter who that person is for you, be thankful.  Where would be without that relationship?  My husband and my children are in my household with me, and it does not take much for me to take them for granted and simply focus on what is going wrong, what is not perfect.  That is when I need to step back and put life into perspective.   The people around me are some of my greatest blessings.

Other relationships that we have are meaningful as well.  We need friends, acquaintances, coworkers, family, and church family.  These people contribute many needful things to my life. Without them I would not be where I am today, so, it is important to stop for a moment and thank God for the people in your life.

Thankful for the Little Things

There are many cases in which people are thankful for what is obvious, but we forget to be thankful for the smaller things in life that we take for granted.  For example, I forget to be thankful for the luxury of showering in hot water.  Many people do not have the option.  Sometimes it takes plumbing and water issues that must be repaired for me to remember not to take those small things for granted.

The ability to move around and remain busy is a blessing.  It might not seem so at the time, but when I am sick and unable to get out and about, I am reminded of the blessing of health.  Although I might have physical sickness from time to time, I do not have it as difficult as I often think.  Sometimes God is using sickness or other tests to remind me that I need to be thankful for my health.

Thankful for Adverse Circumstances

Yes, you read that heading correctly.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to be thankful in all circumstances.  That includes the difficult ones. I can not say that I love adverse circumstances, and I would rather not go through them; however, they are what make me better. When I face the challenges of life, I find that I am a better person.  The trying and testing of our faith brings patience and purifies us.

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I am not saying that we are to love being stuck in a difficult time in our lives, but we can ask God to help us learn something from it.  We can know that God is working for our God, and we can be thankful for His mighty hand that is at work in our situations.

 

What about you?  For what can you be thankful?  Do you have adverse circumstances? Know that God is working in your trials, and be thankful that you have Him to intervene for you.

I Believe, But…

We all have a measure of faith that we are given by God.  Without it, we could not be saved.  Without it, we would not believe in anything.  After all, we must have some faith to simply get up and face the day.  We must have some faith to believe that we can accomplish the day’s tasks.  Faith can be grown.  Faith can mature.  Faith can become weak.  Faith can become tested.

When Faith Wavers

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No matter how strong our faith is in God and what He can and will do, we will have times that our faith is weaker than usual. This can be caused by a series of trials and tests which can either be extremely serious situations or minor nuisances.  Even what does not seem such a big deal can get to us if we have had very many minor nuisances hit us all at once.

When faith wavers, as it sometimes will, it is time to go before God and confess it to Him.  His compassion never fails.  He does not refuse the one who comes to Him humbly and openly.  Once you have went before God, get into His Word.  Find scriptures that apply to your situation.  Read them out loud, or, write them down on index cards to keep with you.  If need be, write them down on a sheet of paper and put the paper on your refrigerator.   This might sound extreme, but when faith wavers, it must be built up again.  The only way to do this is by the Word of God.  After all, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

Help My Unbelief

In Mark 9, a man’s son was possessed by an unclean spirit.  The man brought his son to some of Jesus’ disciples while Jesus and the other disciples were on the mountain during the transfiguration.  When Jesus came down, the man informed Him that the disciples had not been able to cast the demon out of his son.

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The man asked Jesus to help his son.  At the end of his request, he adds the words “if you can” in some translations.  Jesus told him that if he believed all things were possible.  The man instantly replied, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).”  Immediately, Jesus cast the evil spirit out of the young man. Jesus did not wait for the man to confess that his own faith was great.  When the man said he believed, yet, he admitted there was some unbelief in the mix, Jesus moved on behalf of the father and his son.

Although we do not want to make unbelief a practice in our lives, there are times when faith wavers.  There are times when some unbelief is mixed with our faith.  That is the time to tell Jesus that you believe, but, add that you need Him to help your unbelief.  The Lord was moved because the man was pressing past his unbelief.  He did not deny it, but he pressed past it.  That is what you and I must do when our faith wavers.

Willfully continuing in unbelief is dangerous; however, confessing the unbelief to Jesus as the man with the demon possessed child did, brings deliverance.  The man’s faith was built up and deliverance came.  Cry out to Jesus even in your wavering faith.  Deliverance will come and your faith will be stronger.

By Faith

What is faith?  According to Hebrews 11:1, the definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  The phrase “the evidence of things not seen” is an interesting one. Evidence that is not seen sounds impossible, yet, faith pushes us on to believe what is impossible.

Faith Based on What is Not Seen

FaithIn Hebrews 11, many people from the Bible are used as examples of great faith.  They believed the impossible although no physical signs were available to back up what they believed.  Many of the people mentioned in the famous faith chapter were persecuted for their faith.  They believed in a God they could not see with their eyes nor touch with their hands.  They believed what He told them.

God requires us as modern-day believers to walk by faith just as the patriarchs, prophets, and others did thousands of years ago.  Habakkuk 2:4 reminds us that the just will live by faith, and this is quoted in Hebrews 10:38, just before the beginning of the faith chapter.  We are not to be moved by what we see and feel around us.  We are to be moved by faith in God.

Does Faith Ever Doubt?

The people mentioned in Hebrews 11 were not perfect.  They were human beings just like you and me.  There were moments of doubt.  Abraham and Sarah were an elderly couple who were past the age of having children.  To doubt that they could have a child would seem logical.  Sarah even laughed when she overheard an angel speaking to Abraham concerning the promised child.

What about Noah?  He was building an ark and telling people that rain was coming in a world that had never seen rain.  People found Noah amusing, yet, Noah continued, by faith, to do what he knew God had said.

There is a great deal of other people mentioned in the faith chapter.  Some were tortured, imprisoned, or persecuted in some other manner because they believed what God said over what they saw, or what other people told them.  Although they were people of great faith, they were still human.  Doubt came.  What made their faith great?  They did not entertain doubt when it came to visit.

What About Your Faith?

Do you find it challenging to live by faith?  Does it make you nervous when God requires you to step out on what you do not see with your eyes, but only what He has spoken to you in your spirit?  Do you ever experience doubt then condemn yourself for it?Faith 2

You are human.  You can pick up and walk by faith even after having tremendous doubt.  Peter, one of the disciples of Jesus, did.  He denied Christ three times, yet, after the resurrection and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he was able to preach the gospel and die for his faith.

When your faith is weak, confess it to God.  In Mark 9:24, a man was very honest with Jesus.  The man told Jesus that he believed, but he then asked Jesus to help his unbelief.  What a strange request!  However, it applies to you and me.  When doubt comes in, ask God to help you with your unbelief.

Another way to strengthen your faith is through the Word of God.  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  Bible reading and Bible study is a great way to combat doubt.

Life happens to us all.  There are devastating circumstances that test our faith.  Disappointments come and go.  Yet, we are still required to live by faith.  Like any other biblical characteristic, faith must be built and cultivated.  We all have some degree of faith, or it would not be possible to be saved.  It is just necessary to keep building that faith because it does get weak from time to time.

 

What about you?  Are you able to live by faith?  Does doubt try to overwhelm you?  You can overcome that doubt by building yourself up in the faith through study of the Word.

Pursue Holiness

What is true holiness?

In Hebrews 12:14, we are told to pursue holiness.  How does one pursue that lifestyle?  Of what does holiness truly consist?  Although much of the Christian teaching we hear would have us to believe that holiness is what we say, what we do, and how we behave, holiness is so much more!

Where is my righteousness?

During my experience as a Bible teacher, I have heard people make the following statement: “I would love to give my life to Jesus Christ, but there is no way I could live it.”  My reply is always this: “You are right.  You can’t.”  I have received some priceless facial expressions with this reply, but the fact is, I am right.  In myself, I am completely unable to live the Christian life as the Bible commands, and so are you.No Confidence in the Flesh

What is a person to do?  Should you just give up and sin recklessly because you are unable to live the life the Bible instructs you to live?  No, not at all.  It is at this point that you should look and see the source of your righteousness—Jesus Christ!

Christ in me!

Galatians 2:20 (MEV) contains an important truth about pursuing holiness.  It states the following: “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  What happens when I come to Christ?  My sinful nature dies, and I come alive to a new nature—Christ in me.  He is the one who makes me righteous.  It is impossible for me to make myself righteous, and that is why many Christians are in such religious bondage–from pursuing righteousness by their own merits.

No Confidence in the Flesh 2If you are in Christ, you will walk free from sin, but it will not be of your own goodness.  It will be Christ in you (see Romans 6).  If you or I were capable of living without sin on our own, it would not have been necessary for Jesus to leave heaven and come to Earth to live and die, then, live again.  We were hopelessly enslaved to the power of sin, but God gave us Jesus.  He is our righteousness.  He is holiness.

Pursue Christ!

Since Jesus Christ is my righteous, my holiness, then to pursue holiness as Hebrews 12:14 says is to pursue Christ!  Go after Him!  You will not have to go far.  He is waiting on you to draw near.  Because of the cross, you can approach Him with confidence.  He is in you if you have accepted Him as Savior.  If you haven’t accepted Him, there is no time like the present.

What good is it to try to pursue self-righteousness?  No good!  Self-righteousness is a pathetic attempt to glorify you.  The righteousness of Christ glorifies God, the Father.

If you pursue Christ, you let go of yourself and allow Him to live through you.  As a result, your life will display the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The life you live will be a result of Christ in you, and nothing of your nature! Amazing Grace is More than Enough for me!

 

Pursue Christ Himself!  Seek Him.  Love Him.  He will change you, completely transform you.  You will never be the same.  You will lose your self-righteous attitude because you will clearly see that your righteousness in Jesus Christ!

 

Coping with Stress

We all know that life can be stressful.  Some times are worse than others. Sometimes, everything seems to come at us all at once.  There are some steps we can take to reduce the stress in our lives, yet, there are some stressful situations that we might not be able to escape right away.  Whatever your situation, God has promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

When to Reduce Stress

cropped-your-word-is-life-11.pngThere are just some behaviors and treatment we receive from other people that we simply do not need to put up with.  For example, if you are in a relationship with someone who is either physically or verbally abusive, it is time to make some changes.  To continue to tolerate the treatment you are receiving in that situation is detrimental to your well-being. If you are married to someone who is abusive, seek help through a trusted pastor or other spiritually mature Christian.

If your job is too much for you, then, it is time to decide what you will deal with and what you will not tolerate.  Will ignoring the situation help?  Sometimes, it does.  There are people who get a thrill out of bothering others.  Not allowing them to know they have succeeded is just the response they need.  Other times, it is necessary to confront.  How will you know?  You must seek God in prayer concerning the situation.  He will lead you by peace.

When You Just Need to Cope

There will be some stressful situations in which you must cope.  In other words, there might be a reason that God will not allow you to leave this situation.  It could be a job, a bad marriage, or a church.  When the Holy Spirit leads you to remain in a stressful situation, God is going to bring good out of it.  He is going to use you in this situation.  He will get glory from it in some way.

When coping is the case, you must really draw near to God, or, you will not stand strong in the situation.  You will need God’s grace moment by moment.  Get into the Word of God and find scriptures that apply to your situation.  Quote them out loud. Get before the Lord in prayer. He will give you what you need for the situation, and He will allow you to come out in victory rather than defeat.

His grace is sufficientWe all face situations that we do not like, and we all go through adverse circumstances.  What we must remember is that we do not have to allow those things to destroy us.  We can choose to allow the Lord to refine us and make us better Christians from these situations.

 

What about you?  Are you in a stressful situation from which you should flee?  If so, go in the name of Jesus.  Are you in a stressful situation in which God has told you to stay?  If so, trust Him in this situation, He will bring you through, and you will not be destroyed.