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.

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.

Just Ask Blog
Image Via Pexels by Nitin Arya

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.

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.

 

No Confidence in the Flesh

Once we come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it seems that we should realize we have no righteousness in ourselves.  Deep down, we know, but our human nature tends to push the correct knowledge somewhere in the mind where we are not confronted with the facts.  Although we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we begin to think that we are responsible for our own righteousness, conveniently overlooking the fact that we are saved by grace through faith.

Paul’s Confidence

No Confidence in the FleshIn Philippians 3, Paul discusses the subject in great detail.  In verse 3, Paul states that he puts no confidence in the flesh as many Jews of his day did.  Insisting that new converts to Christ follow the Jewish law was a popular trend in Paul’s day.  Although popular among some Jewish people, it was controversial, and it was not biblical.

Paul, formerly known as Saul, was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He followed the law to the letter.  He crossed all his t’s and dotted all his i’s, so to speak, before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Although he had great credentials, Paul acknowledged that his greatness was nothing compared to the greatness of Christ.

Our Confidence

Romans 3:23 clearly states that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Why is it that when we begin to gain victory over sin in our lives, which, by the way, only comes through Jesus, that we begin to get pride, a sin within itself?  Any accomplishments we make spiritually are only because of the grace of God poured out on us.  The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts and helps us.

My confidence cannot be in my good works.  No matter how many good deeds I do, they will neither make atonement for my sin nor allow me entrance into heaven.  If that were the case, Jesus would not have come to be the sacrificial lamb for our sins.  The good I do should be a result of my love for Jesus, not a pathetic self-righteousness.

Confidence in Christ

I clearly believe that we can be confident in who we are in Christ, but we also must have a realization of who we are without Christ.  This will keep the balance.  We will have godly confidence without self-righteousness.  We can be confident of who we are in Christ, who we are because of his death and resurrection.  Our confidence should not be in our works which represent a false ability to save ourselves.No Confidence in the Flesh 2

Just as the religious leaders of Paul’s day thought that being circumcised along with following the letter of the law made them righteous, we often think that we are righteous because we do good deeds.   No, our confidence is not in our flesh, but in who Jesus is through us.  We should not be doing good works to be righteous.  We will do good works as a result of the change that has been made inside of us because of Jesus Christ.  Anything else is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

 

What about you?  Where is your confidence?  Place your confidence in Christ, rather than yourself.  The righteousness of Christ is one that does not fail.

Overcomer: Pressing through Life’s Struggles

Overcomer, my recently published book, is now available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  During the past summer, I poured my prayers into this writing and tried to yield to the Holy Spirit as much as I knew how.  Overcomer Book Cover

This twenty-chapter book can serve as a devotional or Bible Study if you wish.  Each chapter speaks of various area of life in which Christians often struggle.  Overcomer gives scripture, prayers, and practical steps to yield to the Lord and walk away from sin and bondage as an overcomer.

You will find the links to purchase the book at the end of this post, but first I want to share a portion of chapter 7 from the book with you.

Overcomer, Chapter 7

Chapter 7:  Extreme Versus Balance

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight,” Proverbs 11:1.  During ancient times, merchants used balancing-scales to weigh both items bought and sold.  If a dishonest merchant decided that he wanted to make more money than he should, he adjusted the scales in his favor so he could appear to have more or less of an item depending on whether he was buying or selling.

Although we might never consider cheating someone, we are living dishonestly, without realizing it, when our lives are out of balance in certain areas.  We can become extreme in any way and on any issue.  “Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes,” Ecclesiastes 7:18 (NIV).

Before I began writing this book, I was enjoying the summer off from school, and this particular summer, we had more time as we did not have to return to school until September.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a time of rest.  However, I am one who struggles with moderation in many areas.  I began noticing that I did not want to get out of bed, no matter how late I had slept or how early I had gone to bed.  When I did manage to get out of bed, I did not want to do anything but sit on the couch.  Brushing my teeth and showering seemed like major chores.  This not only went on for a week or two which might have been understandable.  My desire for no activity continued for a month.  I knew something had to change. I took this concern to the Lord, and He began directing me with small changes I could make that would eventually solve the problem.  I made myself a schedule.  It did not have to be followed to the letter, but I had resolved to follow it as much as possible without being legalistic. Keep moving! Don't give up!

Instead of lying in the bed when I woke up, I simply got up and spent time in prayer and Bible study.  I would allow the Holy Spirit to lead me concerning people who needed prayer.  Once I had prayed, I began completing other activities that I enjoyed and some that I did not enjoy.  Allowing time for activities I enjoy helped motivate me to get up earlier.  Eventually, I became more productive.

Am I saying that you need to make a schedule for your home?  Absolutely not!  This step was just what worked for me to get me out of the slump I had fallen into.  I could just as easily get out of balance the other way by insisting that I follow my schedule to the letter and refuse to make adjustments should someone need me, or some other unforeseen circumstance would arise.  However, when a person has been too far on one side of the spectrum for a while, something must bring balance.  It is a fine line that is easy to cross if we are not being led by the Holy Spirit.

Another way I tend to get out of balance is with my eating habits.  There are times when I only want to eat junk food and lots of it.  There are other times, when I am trying to lose weight, that I will be very rigid about every bite that goes in my mouth.  Does this sound familiar?  Take it to Jesus.  Trust me, He will get you back in balance.

If I only watch television all day and do nothing else, something needs to change. If I become a workaholic and never want to have recreation, something needs to change. As good as reading is for our minds, if I simply spend the whole day reading and never clean my house, do laundry, or spend time with my family, I am out of balance.

As a teacher, I know the importance of establishing structure at the beginning of a school-year.  If there is no structure, the students will not learn, and I would not be tending to my job.  However, there is a time when I need to allow my students some flexibility.  If I insist they work without any type of reprieve, I am causing them to despise education.

Church leadership can become unbalanced as well.  From my own experience as a leader and as a lay person, I can give several examples.  Not wanting to be a control freak, a pastor can go too far in the other direction and never hold the people accountable to God’s word.  The other extreme would be hammering the people constantly and not allowing room for the love of God to work.

Parents can become unbalanced and either allow children too much freedom, or they can become so strict that their children are not allowed out of the house for any reason causing nothing but pure misery.  As parents, my husband and I have struggled with extremes because we desperately wanted to be a good parents to our children. The painful reality is that I am unable to be a good parent or be good at any other role I have without Jesus.

Link to Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1129669475?ean=2940161974551

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Allison-Mitchell/e/B07HLR234Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1538524579&sr=8-1

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His Grace Is Sufficient

Most Christians are familiar with the scripture that says God’s grace is sufficient for His people.  We have either quoted the scripture that is accompanied by the Apostle Paul speaking of Christ being strong in Paul’s weakness, or, we have heard other people teach on the subject.  All of this is well and good, but far too often, we become so familiar with a scripture that we overlook a fresh glimpse we could get from it.

Strength in Weakness

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul received the reply about God’s sufficient grace after asking God to remove his thorn in the flesh.  As a matter of fact, Paul approached God concerning this issue three times.  How many times have you asked God to remove your “thorn” or that which causes you pain, discomfort, grief, or irritation?Amazing Grace is More than Enough for me!

God’s answer was not what most of us would expect.  He told Paul that, not only was His grace all that was needed, but He also told Paul that His power was made perfect in weakness.  Despite the sting to his flesh, Paul chose to rejoice in his problems because he knew the power of Christ was resting on him.  What if God is telling you that His grace is all you need?  Does that bring a twinge of disappointment?  Although I completely understand feeling less than thrilled, I must tell you that God is right.  His grace is sufficient—it is all we need.

Grace gives us the power we need to overcome sin.  Grace brings us through the impossible.  The grace of God is what will bring us face to face with our God when this life is over.  When we finally discover the power of grace, we should rejoice when God reminds us that His grace is sufficient.

Can You Take Pleasure in Weakness?

I admit it sounds a bit strange to say that you can take pleasure in weakness, but that is exactly what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10.  Because grace is just what he needs, Paul can rejoice.  Not because he is weak, but because God is able to bring glory from Paul’s weaknesses.  That is why you should rejoice.  God can bring a message to others through your struggles.  He will give you all you need to get through the challenges and impossible situations you face.

Weakness Made PerfectOf course, that does not mean we are horrible human beings when we feel disappointed or grieved.  Those are natural human feelings.  What it does mean is that, although we might be grieved, we can place our hope and trust in God.  Joy and peace come soon after.

What Was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?

Although many have speculated over the source of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, we truly do not know.  Some have suggested that Paul was blind.  Others have suggested that he had epilepsy. Perhaps his thorn was not so much a physical issue as it was an emotional issue.  It could be any of the issues mentioned, yet, it could be none.  No matter the issue, God had what Paul needed.

Whatever your thorn is, God has what you need.  There is no sickness nor any other affliction greater than the God we serve.  He is able to bring you out on the other side as a victor!  Although it is not easy, cooperating with Him in the process is vital.

 

What about you?  What is afflicting or grieving you?  God has what you need.  He has an all-sufficient grace that never fails.

To purchase “Overcomer”: https://www.amazon.com/Allison-Mitchell/e/B07HLR234Q/ref=dbs_p_ebk_rwt_abau

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Encourage Yourself

Are you feeling discouraged lately?  Maybe you feel let down by people you are close with, or, perhaps your circumstances in life never seem to get better.  If anything, life seems to take a decline into the worst possible scenarios.  Truth is, I have faced those times, and, often, I still see those days.  Everyone gets discouraged.  The question is: what will you do about it?

 

David Encouraged Himself in the Lord

Encourage yourself!King David, the author of many of the Psalms in the Bible, had to encourage himself in the Lord. David was anointed by the prophet, Samuel, to be King over Israel, but he did not immediately step into that position.  Before becoming King, David went through many battles, many of them with Saul, who was King at the time David was anointed.

Saul was extremely jealous of David and attempted to kill him.  David remained on the run from Saul for a long period of time.  In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men came to Ziklag to discover the place had been burned, and all the people in Ziklag had been taken captive, including David’s wives.

The men with David were grieved.  In their grief, they lashed out at David.  They even threatened to stone him.  Needless to say, David felt extremely distressed.  However, he found something inside him that caused him to encourage himself in the Lord.  Victory came soon after.  The captives were rescued then, soon, David became King.

 

How You Can Encourage Yourself

Like David, you might be going through one battle after another.  It might seem that everyone is lashing out at you due to their own grief.  You might be waiting on some type of breakthrough or promise of God to come to pass just as David had to wait for a time before stepping into the position God promised him.

Throughout the Psalms written by David, he would express his true feelings to the Lord, but then he would praise God.  One way of lifting a heavy spirit is to praise God.  It is a challenge, at first.  Soon, you will feel better.  You can speak praise or sing praise. Praise defeats discouragement

Another way to encourage yourself is to reach out to someone else who is hurting.  Sometimes, forgetting about yourself for a while and focusing on others will put your problems into perspective.  Often, I have found that when I pray for someone else or reach out to another person, my situation will be resolved.

Finally, it is important to find scriptures of encouragement for your situation.  Reading the Psalms or other uplifting scriptures will breath life into your situation.  Speak those scriptures out loud, and you will notice what power the Word of God has.  After all, the Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13).

What about you?  If you are discouraged, what steps will you take to encourage yourself in the Lord?  You do not have to remain in a pit of discouragement!

 

Overcomer Now Available

Overcomer became available this morning on Amazon.  I can not begin to describe the excitement I feel when I pray for God to use this e-book to bless people.  It is my desire to see struggling Christians overcome the sins and other issues that keep them from living the abundant life that Jesus Christ called us to live.Overcomer Book Cover

The link to the purchase the book will be listed below.  Another link is also listed that will take you to a site in which you can download (at no charge) the PDF study to Life’s Curveballs, a study I wrote in 2014, as well as the audio sessions.  The downloads for Life’s Curveballs are completely free as my gift to you to express my appreciation for your support.

When you download the Life’s Curveballs products, you will be asked to enter your email address. Please understand that I will not sell your email address to anyone.  I am only asking for it so I will be able to send you updates which will include freebies.

God bless you, and I pray that you will be blessed by Overcomer and Life’s Curveballs.

Link to Overcomer:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=overcomer+allison+mitchell

Link to free resources:

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