Devotion: Did I Cause That?

Whenever something goes wrong and suffering comes, do you ever wonder what you are doing wrong? Or, am I the only one that falls into this trap?

Last few days I find myself asking, “What am I doing wrong, Lord?”

Then if I am blessed enough, the Holy Spirit will stop me in my tracks. I think, it is an easy trap to fall into. But just because we find ourselves in a bad situation, it doesn’t mean we have somehow failed.

I wonder what would happen if I could stop and ask: “What does God want to teach me through this?” Rather than “How is this evidence that I have somehow failed?”


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10, English Standard Version

Based on the Bible’s truth, I can state clearly that this is faulty thinking. And I, as a follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, need to speak His truths into my life. I need to replace the lies, with His divine truth.

Today, I watched Priscilla Shirer and her sister Chrystal Evans Hurst talk about identity. As they were talking, they brought up the power of reading Ephesians 1-2 and listening to who God says we are.

When we allow God to define who we are, we will have an unshakable identity.

An identity that will never depend on someone else or our abilities. Our identity will firmly rest on who God is and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ!

In Christ Jesus, we are so loved. We cannot make honest mistakes [keyword focusing on honestly, not deliberate sins], and walk around as though we will be punished or the world will fall apart for our lack of perfection. We are human beings. Human beings who are passionately loved by their Creator, God, and Savior!

In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:4b-6

So, what can we learn from Ephesians 1-2?

In a brief statement:

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is everything I am not. He has covered me, so I don’t have to worry about not being enough!

Maybe, you are feeling as though you aren’t quite enough today. Oh friends, if we could only replace this faulty thinking with the glorious truth that we are His! We are Christ’s. We are loved. We are accepted. We are forgiven. We have been completely redeemed. We are no longer broken and incapable of receiving our Creator’s love.

May we run and enjoy tonight’s chapters that remind us of our Forever Identity!

Disclaimer: You can now support Gracefully Overcoming through your Amazon purchases. At no cost to you (and effortlessly), Amazon will allow you to shop and Gracefully Overcoming get a bit of a benefit from your shopping. It can be any purchase you make. But, I am still enjoying this title by Charles Swindoll.

Following Perfection Versus Jesus

I have been feeling led to study 1 Timothy for quite a while. As I study, I generally blog about whatever it is – that I am studying. The Timothy study is tugging at my soul frequently these days, reminding me of where I need to be.

Why haven’t I committed to this study? I have perfectionist tendencies and set lofty expectations I cannot realistically meet. My heart and physical abilities are in two separate places, and must be able to meet.

Developing Courage

We miss so much when we put everything on hold – in case we can’t follow through as planned. Our expectations cannot be more important than God and relationships.

Here is the thing: Perfectionist level expectations can strain those relationships and hold us back, to the point where we won’t immerse in our friendships or read our Bibles without the promise of expectations being met.

The Real Question

How willing are we – to step out in faith, where we trust Jesus Christ to make us courageous people?

We have been called to be strong and courageous. Every little bit we give to God is a worship offering. Just because we miss our own expectations, does not mean that we somehow miss His or those of loved ones. We have to be willing to lay down our own expectations, and exchange it for time with Jesus and those we care about.

Allowing Ourselves to Worship

It goes back to the truth of being a living sacrifice. When we give ourselves to God, we become an acceptable offering.

Jesus Christ is the key ingredient. We need Jesus to be the One leading us, even in our expectations. He is the One who enables us to set reasonable expectations for ourselves and those around us. So, let’s make our lives about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

While my best efforts aren’t enough, I have a Father whose resources are unlimited. This Father of mine is willing to help out His sons and daughters in any and every way – as we call upon His name. We may not meet our own expectations, but this is the place where we meet the grace and amazing love of our great God.

Choosing Wisely

Standing in this place of  God’s love and grace is where we can allow ourselves to make a trade. We can trade in our high expectations, for the opportunity to stand in awe and worship God – as we trust Him to make a way.

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, NRSV).

Friends, we must choose whether we want to follow our perfectionist tendencies or Jesus Christ – the Living God. Our lives are messy and out-of-control, which may lead the perfectionist march, but Jesus Christ is more than enough. He doesn’t have to try to be, for He is perfect!

As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (Ps. 18:30-32, NIV).

Featured image by The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer.

Until next time,

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Introvert Speaks: Wired by God

This has been one-of-those-weeks, where I have spent my days making sure the wheels-keep-on-turning, the laundry isn’t piling up, cooking meals, and other tasks that seem mundane, yet overwhelming, all at the same time.

I have this problem.

It’s called – “I forget how God has wired me.”

So, I have missed self-imposed deadlines this week.

Like??

 

* This week’s “Making the Journey” post (possibly Sunday or Monday, it “should” be up and ready to be devoured by hungry spirits like yours and mine – as we seek the Lord God to be the One to fill us up entirely!)

*The month of March’s reading plan posts (found on the Facebook page) are lagging too. Finally last night around midnight (erm, I guess, that would make it this morning), I posted March 1-4. I have not been able to stay caught up on the reading plan for a long time. See, I am a writer. In order to get the most out of my quiet time (time spent in the Word of God), I need to be writing and studying deeply.

I let the inability to pursue perfection, to keep me from something designed – to help me meet more with my Perfector!

*Lagging on editing one manuscript, and beginning the process of formatting a new study that I wanted to embark on (possibly for March…).

*Behind in my personal Bible study. It is the final week of the Armor of God study. It’s been such a good study, too. But, I am hoping to get back into it slowly on a not-overwhelming-my-human-spirit level.

*And seriously, you don’t even want to get.me.started. on being behind in reading and reviewing books I have selected or agreed to review. Whichever, on some level, I have committed to this and other things that I somehow just haven’t gotten to yet.

Back to the Wiring Thing…

When God was making me, He made me a highly sensitive, need for serious down time, introvert. God knew exactly what He was doing, when He knitted me together in my mother’s womb. He made me a highly sensitive introvert.

“For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s
womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully
and wonderfully made; 
your works are
wonderful, 
I know that full well. My frame
was not hidden from you 
when I was made in the
secret place, 
when I was woven together in the depths
of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. How precious to me are
your thoughts, God! 
How vast is the sum of them!”
(Psalm 139:13-17)

The Blessing

It is truly a blessing to be a highly sensitive introvert. I just don’t have the ability to keep chuggin’ along. But, here’s my downfall: I try being like everyone else. And, the way I am wired reminds me that I have a Creator who made me perfectly and formed me in a specific way. I was not meant to be like everyone else. I may try to put on this “energizer bunny” performance act, but then I remember….

Oh.

Right.

Introvert.

Highly Sensitive, at that.

This Means…

I need to take the time to unwind and mentally process everything I have been exposed to. It isn’t enough to survive the day, but I must process the day. I must allow myself the time and space to take those precious extra steps to take care of me.

I have been neglecting the “process” aspect of my life. I expect to continue with loud noise and stimulation, and keep on truckin’. Yeah, okay. My spirit does not work that way. God created me this way for a very reason!

God knew I would be an introvert. A highly-sensitive introvert. God knows I need to take a few several extra steps, to really care for the precious spirit He has given me. And, I need to be more devoted to doing that than feeling overwhelmed – because my method of living (“keep on truckin’”) just isn’t working anymore.

 

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened.”

“Find a quiet space, to meet with God.”

“Be still…”

These are the things my sensitive spirit is mindful of today.

Friends, are you an introvert? Highly sensitive?
How do you recharge your spirit?

Matthew 8: When God Heals…

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him
and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you
can make me clean (Mt. 8:2, NIV).”

The truth of Matthew 8 is – our God is a healer! Not only is our God the One gives life its power, He is the One who stands willing to heal.

A leaper is healed.

A paralyzed servant is made well.

Peter’s mother in law goes from sick in bed with a fever to actively serving and waiting on Jesus.

Many go from demon-possessed to fully sane and now well – no longer being tormented by the evil one.

By a word from Jesus, all these who were once sick were made well.

By a word from Jesus, there is spiritual, emotional, and physical healing taking place. How have we come to Jesus for His healing in our circumstances, relationships, emotion well-being, and many other areas that need healing? We don’t have to settle for “good enough” when we could have the absolute BEST!!

In the Scriptures…

There are a few particular verses that stand out to me. I love the truth found in the Words of God. God, though is holy, is speaking life into our dead – sin – induced situations. He is pouring His life into ours, so we don’t have to walk through a bottomless pit anymore! God is bringing life and healing to us. Though we are needing healing, we often don’t go right to the Source.

He took up our infirmities and bore
our diseases (Is. 53:4).”

In these Scriptures, we learn that healing is found in Jesus alone! We are reminded of the prophesy given to us by God’s prophet Isaiah that – God’s Son (Jesus Christ) bore our sins, its death, and diseases. He took everything to the cross. We don’t have to wait around for God to heal us, because He is doing His healing work right now IF we will just come before Him!

‘But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead
bury their own dead (vv. 22).”’

Jesus came to give us life and healing, but we need to recognize where the freedom and healing lies. It is found in Jesus alone. What is keeping you from choosing to follow Jesus in your daily life? What is keeping you from surrendering that relationship or job to God alone and how He is teaching you how to handle it through His Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit?

When we come to Jesus… for life and healing, we need to stay with Jesus. When we stay in His Presence, we are reminded of just how much more God can do on our behalf than what we can do. But, we gotta keep the faith. We need to keep seeking. We need to keep trusting Him. That’s one thing that He rebuked His disciples for. When the storm came, they got scared and misplaced their faith in whom they were with. Jesus is all-knowing, as well as all-powerful. He will take care of us, just like He took care of them!

‘The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man
is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him (vv. 27)!”’

His Care

Read Matthew 8:28-34.

As we remember that Jesus will take care of us, we need to keep this reminder close – He won’t always do things our way. There will be time in our lives, when things are done the very opposite of our way. But, it’s okay. This is about the good work God is doing in you. This is not about how close you can achieve this world’s version of perfection in your life. Perfection isn’t possible. We are human. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and the out-of-this-world things He is wanting to do.

Life is messy.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ on a bloody rugged cross to take yours and my sins off our shoulders, and to pay the brutal price. If Jesus is willing to go through all that on our behalf, He has AMAZING things in store.

But, we have to count the cost of following Him.

And, let Him lead in our lives.

Knowing – the blessings that will result.

Trials Tuesday: Endurance (James 1:2-5)

Trial Tuesday - Endurance 11.10.15

Last week, we began to unravel this truth that…

God can work good in our trials.

Reread James 1:2-5

What is God teaching you through this passage of Scripture?

Let me share some key things going on in this passage of Scripture. Before we talk about enduring and spiritual maturity, we need to talk about the one thing in this passage that ties it all together.

God’s Wisdom

God’s wisdom is the key to enduring trials and coming out of them successfully.

Like a diamond, God is refining us in the process. As He refines us, we need to seek His wisdom and focus on our relationship with Him. He is what makes the difference between painful (profitless) trials and good-coming-out-of-our-trials.

In verse 5, we are reminded that God is open to giving us His out-of-this-world wisdom if we will simply come and ask.

Endurance

Testing our faith reveals endurance (consistency).

How have trials taught you consistency in placing your trust in Jesus Christ?

One of the “jobs” of trials is to remind us that we cannot survive without Jesus Christ. We need our Maker. I love this definition of endurance, where we are reminded that one who endures – “is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” This quote leaves me with a related question.

Would I live out my God-given purpose, if I did not have trials?

Lacking Nothing

This concept of “lacking nothing,” means…

When the testing is through, we will be one step closer to being perfect and complete in Christ – “without fault”.

The truth is – all of us need Jesus to finish the work He has started. In Philippians 1:6, we are reminded that this is what He will continue to do: He will finish what He has started. We will lack absolutely nothing, with Jesus guiding us through our lives.

God is helping us in our adversity to lack absolutely nothing. This is an important component to grabbing ahold of Jeremiah 29:11 in our lives. God has a plan, but often His plan involves growing pains. Teleios, the Greek word for this kind of “perfection,” actually means “full grown.”

In this light, trials can help “make us” – so to speak. I don’t enjoy trials in the least bit, but the growth experienced makes it worth the messy ride.

In our trials, we still have a hope that has been in place every single day of our lives. We are given hope through Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior through His death and resurrection!

Some good questions to ask on this spiritual growth include – “In your trials, how have…”

  1. you noticed God is bringing you closer to the likeness of Christ and further away from the person you were before coming to Jesus?
  2. you felt like you were lacking? Bring it to God right now. Arm yourself with Scriptures that speak truth to your circumstances.
  3. the trials brought you closer to experiencing growth?
  4. you experienced God’s strengthening you through His Word?

Activity

Write out Romans 5:35, and focus on those things this week.

**All definitions were found using the Strong’s Concordance.**
http://www.biblestudytools.com/interlinear-bible/