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!

 

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.

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.

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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!

 

It’s a New Day

We all have those days that are completely horrible!  You know the type of days I am talking about.  You’ve made the same mistake over and over. You’ve sinned in one of those ways that you thought you had overcome.  Your co-workers seem frustrated with you.  It does not seem that your family appreciates you.  Before we get wrapped up in self-pity, let’s stop and assess these situations through the lens of God’s word.

Learn to be Content

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Image Via Google by Slideshare

In Philippians 4:11-13, the Apostle Paul tells his readers that he has learned to be content in all circumstances.  He goes on to list some hardships suffered.  Trust me, Paul did not have it easy.  Not only were people angry with Paul, but many of those same people were also trying to kill Paul.  When he penned the book of Philippians, Paul was in prison.

What was the secret to Paul’s contentment?  Philippians 4:13 (MEV) gives the answer: “I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me.”  The secret should truly be obvious to those of us who know Christ.  Jesus is our answer in all things!

In Christ, we can learn to be content even when the day is a mess.  We can be content even if everyone seems against us.  Did you notice I used the word seems?  I realize this is not always the case, but, more often than not, our minds play tricks on us to cause us to think that particular situations are worse than they truly are.  Even if it is as bad as you think, you can still be content in Christ.

 

New Every Morning

His Mercies Are New Every Morning
Image Via Google by Christian Book Distributors

Whenever you have had a bad day, take the time to remember what the word says.  When you sin, go to the Lord in repentance immediately.  When you make mistakes, own them, and move on.  We all make them, even those who attempt to pretend otherwise.  We all have those days!

Remember that God’s mercies are new every morning.  We can begin again.  Every day is a new day, another day to learn and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether you work at a nine to five job, or you are a stay-at-home parent; whether you are unemployed, or working more than one job, the Lord’s mercies, compassion, and faithfulness are new every morning.  As a matter of fact, they are available throughout the day.  Simply stop and take a breath, then ask God for them.  He will not refuse!

“Remember my affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  Surely my soul remembers and is humbled within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; His compassions do not fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:19-23 (MEV).

 

What about you?  Do you need a fresh start?  All you need to do is go to the Lord and ask Him for it.  After all, it is a new day.

Overcomer

Soon to be Published

I am excited to share some news, and I hope you find it interesting.  Over the Summer, I wrote a book, Overcomer.  After I completed the book, it has been through an editing process.  Finally, it is almost complete and should be published by the end of September, if not sooner.

Living as an Overcomer

Overcomer Book Cover
Image by Nichole Cline

In the book, I dedicate one chapter to an area of struggle that many Christians face.  There are twenty chapters, nineteen of which concern various areas of struggle.  To begin with, I discuss identity in Christ which is essential to living as an overcomer. You must be confident in your identity in Christ to overcome areas of weakness.

Throughout the book I address other areas in which people struggle.  Some of these areas are patience, mercy, forgiveness, judgement, authenticity as a Christian, kindness, and so much more.  The reader is given practical steps to take in prayer and scripture to apply to the needed area.

Availability on Amazon

The manuscript will be available in Kindle format on Amazon for a low price.  It is my hope that people are blessed and encouraged through Overcomer. The Body of Christ needs encouragement, and I am thankful to be someone who might be able to bring it.

More Than a Conqueror
Image Via Google by Elizabeth Baptist Church

God never intended for us to live in total defeat, dominated by the sinful nature.  He sent Jesus as an atoning sacrifice so we could consider ourselves dead to the sinful nature and alive to true, righteous, abundant living.  God did not cause our struggles, but He allows them to come so we will grow in our relationships with Him.  Overcomer gives practical guidance through the scriptures as to steps that can be taken to walk away from an area of sin and be totally free.

 

What about you?  Are you living in victory or total defeat?  You have been made more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ.  You do not have to remain in defeat.

Developing Thicker Skin: How to Avoid Being Overly Sensitive

Are there days when your feelings are hurt easily?  Does it seem that everyone has something negative to say about something you are doing or failing to do?  I used to have those days quite often, and sometimes, I still have a few.  While it is perfectly normal to have hurt feelings in some situations, it can interfere with normal living to be overly sensitive.

Confidence 2
Image Via Google by Jill Conyers

It Happens Unexpectedly

Most of the time when I have been offended in some way by comments made, it was completely unexpected.  I would be going about my merry way, enjoying life when someone would hurt me with words or actions.  There was a time when I let it ruin my entire day.  Eventually, I learned that I was allowing my offender to control me, and that was something I did not want!

How long are you going to let the words and actions of others dictate your day and your joy?  As long as you allow it, you will never truly be happy.  You can not change other people.  You can not control the actions of others.  You can only control your reaction.

How Can I Change My Reaction?

What steps can you take to control your reaction to the negative behavior of others?  Know who you are in Christ.  If you begin to change the way you think about yourself, and see yourself as God sees you in Christ, your skin will become thicker, so to speak, and the negative behavior of others will affect you less and less.

Who are you in Christ?  Ephesians 1 tells us that we are blessed with every spiritual blessing, forgiven, chosen, adopted, redeemed, and made acceptable to God.  2 Corinthians 5:21 reminds us that we are righteous because of Jesus Christ.  He bore our shame on the cross.  We no longer need to bear that shame.  When you allow this to get into your spirit, you will become confident, not arrogant.  That God-confidence will be the key that unlocks the door to the new level in which you love people but can enjoy life regardless of how those people feel toward you.

Use the Words

If someone is just being cruel or malicious toward you, the confidence you have in your new identity can cause the maliciousness to roll off you like water off the back of a duck; however, if there might be some hurtful truth in the words spoken, take that to God.  Allow Him to use it to make you better rather than allowing those same words to devastate you! Do you see how God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28)?  What people meant for your harm, God can use for good.

God never meant for us to live our lives bogged down by the opinions of others.  Of course, we do not have to go to another extreme and have no regard for people.  We are simply not allowing every word or action toward us that we perceive as negative control us, our day, or our lives.

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Image Via Google by Emily’s Quotes

 

What about you?  Are you ready to get confident in who God made you to be?  Are you ready to use any truth in criticism to make yourself better?

Stepping Out

What keeps people from stepping out and fulfilling a calling God has placed on their lives?  The answer is usually a very simple one:  FEAR!  Although the answer is quite simple, dealing with the problem can become complicated.

 

What Holds You Back

 

Stepping Out 1
Image via Google by nuDesign LLC.

Not only can fear hold you back from what you truly desire to do, or that to which God has called you, but procrastination is a stumbling block on the path to breaking out of the norm.  Fear is often the root of procrastination, however, lack of the organization of time is another source.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and embracing God’s calling on your life takes time and involves rearranging one’s schedule.  Thankfully, God is patient and understanding, but the problem is that you miss so much fulfillment when you procrastinate or allow fear to keep you from what God has for you.

Take small steps toward your goals. After all, Rome was not built in a day.  If you are called to teach, begin studying the Word and conducting small Bible studies in your home or church.  As the Holy Spirit opens doors, you can increase the amount of your teaching.  If your calling is to speak words of knowledge and wisdom to other, simply start speaking encouragement to people.  You will see your gift manifesting and growing more prevalent.

 

Just Do It

 

“Just do it” sounds simple in theory, doesn’t it?  However, when overcoming fear and procrastination that has controlled you for months, maybe even years, you will find that it can seem overwhelming. Just remember that “seem” is the key word.  Our minds can cause many things to seem more difficult than they really are.

Most of all, it is vital to remember that you have Christ—Christ in you, the hope of glory.  If God called you for the task, He will give you just what you need to complete it.  Often, He waits until the very moment you are operating in your gift to give you the tools you need.  Why does He operate in that manner?  He is building faith and trust in you.  He wants you to truly know that He can be trusted completely with every aspect of your life and every calling and gift you have.  Boldness can replace fear.  Efficiency can replace procrastination.   Complete surrender to the Holy Spirit is what brings these desired results, and not only that, surrender brings joy and relief!

Stepping Out 2
Image via Google by Living in the Light

Begin today by asking the Lord to direct you with rearranging your schedule and eliminating those time-wasters so you can begin operating to your fullest potential for the glory of God.  Perhaps you simply need to make adjustments concerning social media time or television time.  I did not say you had to totally eliminate everything relaxing, just make some adjustments.  However, there might be activities the Holy Spirit leads you to eliminate.  He will guide you, and you will have peace about the changes.

 

What do you believe God has called you to do in life?  Would you be willing to take small steps toward the goal?  Will you allow the Holy Spirit to replace fear with boldness, and efficiency with procrastination?

A Weak Mind Versus the Mind of Christ

How Can I Have the Mind of Christ
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The following is a portion of my book, Overcomer, that will be published in September:

 What in the world does it mean to have a weak mind?  To be weak-minded in biblical terms can have a vast array of meanings some of which will be discussed in this chapter.  Any Christian can be capable of having a weak mind, just as we can become weak spiritually, or even physically.

Not a Lack of Intelligence

To have a weak mind is not to insult one’s natural intelligence.  To fail to allow yourself to be transformed by the renewing of the mind is a sure way to become weak-minded.  To allow any thought to go unguarded leads to a path of great destruction.  Victory or defeat begins in the mind.  Attitude, positive or negative, begins in the mind.  Adultery begins in the mind.  Coveting begins in the mind.  Do I need to go on?  I think you get the point.

James 1:8 speaks of being double minded, or wavering.  The context was speaking of asking God for wisdom then doubting that He would give it to you.  The Children of Israel wavered back and forth between doubt and belief when they were in the wilderness after having left slavery in Egypt.  It cost some of them their lives, or at best, not being able to enter the Promised Land.  What is your wavering mind costing you?

Mind-of-Christ-Pic
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My Own Wavering Mind

When I graduated from college with my Bachelors’ Degree in Education, I believed God for a job to come quickly.  Instead of enjoying the summer, I spent it worrying about working.  During the middle of the summer, I got a job at one of the schools I in which I completed my Student Teaching.  It seemed the perfect job!  It was an English-teaching job!  The only drawback was that I would have to travel forty-five minutes one way.  A few weeks after accepting this job, another teaching job came open at the school my children attended, which was only a five-minute drive. If I got the job, I would be teaching Kindergarten.  I prayed fervently about this decision, and even decided I wanted the job, but I procrastinated when I realized I needed to notify the Principal at the other school.  Why was I putting this off?  Although God was leading me to bid on the job at the school closest to my home, I did not want to forfeit the other job.  I wanted to keep my eggs in two baskets so to speak.  I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.  I wanted to have my way, yet I wanted to trust God.  I was being weak-minded, or double-minded.  I was unstable!

Despite my wavering, God worked in the situation for me to have the job closest to home.  My husband and children were happy, and at last, I was happy.  I was only ashamed that I had not trusted God more fully.  Thankfully, He is merciful!

How can one overcome a weak and wavering mind?  If you said that we need to be transformed by the renewing of the mind, you would be correct.  Romans 12:2 covers a vast array of mind issues.

You Can Overcome!

If your mind is wavering with doubt, unbelief, or you are just going back and forth on any issue, it is time to remember that God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).  It is time to evaluate your thoughts on certain issues and ask God what His thoughts are concerning it.  He will guide you if you will wait on Him.  You might not receive the answer, immediately, but accept His peace and trust that He will lead you to the answer when the time is right.  Often God does not reveal certain things until He knows you are ready.  If you are simply doubting God Himself, confess this to Him and ask Him to help your unbelief (Mark 9:24).

Developing the Mind of Christ
Image Via Google by Upper Room Communications

The following is an example of how you could pray when faced with a weak, wavering mind:   “Father, I know You are not the author of confusion.  The wavering I am leaning to is not of you.  I confess any unbelief to You, ask You to forgive me, and help me overcome this.  I am more than a conqueror in You.  I receive Your peace right now, and I tell my doubts to be gone in the name of Jesus!”

Once you have went to the Lord, you must replace your doubtful thinking with thoughts of faith.  You might have to stay in the scriptures for a while or listen to a praise and worship song.  You can even engage in an activity that you enjoy such as reading a good, clean book, or playing a game with your family.  There are other activities you can be involved in to keep your mind from drifting to thoughts that weaken.

Our loving Father understands that we are human, but we must deal with wavering and double-mindedness immediately and allow Him to transform our thinking.  Nothing is impossible with Him, even the strengthening of our weak minds.

What about you?  Do you go back and forth on certain issues?  Are you confused?  Are you in doubt about what God can do?  You can renew your mind and be totally transformed!