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Posts from the ‘Believe’ Category

I love you, I’m just not…

“I love you, I’m just not in love with you” is one of my favorite quotes to use — if I’m talking about food. I’ve just never quite known what to do with those words, but today, I’m grateful for the much-used statement. It helped shock a little sense into me when I replaced one word in the sentence: Believe

I believe you. I just don’t believe in you.

Throughout the book of John, that little word “in” makes a big difference.

“And, his disciples believed in him.” John 2:11

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name.” John 2:23

“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him.” John 4:39

“This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29

“For not even his brothers believed in him.” John 7:5

What is the difference between believing him and believing in him?

I believe you (head), and I put my faith in you (heart). Both are needed.

It’s not enough to believe the words and never throw our lives full-fledged into the arms of Christ. We must put our faith in him.

Our Ever-Hovering God

I can relate very much with the father of the demon-possessed boy when he said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” I refer to myself as a believer, but I struggle with unbelief.

God’s promises are true. They are clear. So used are they in this part of the country, we find them trite and often meaningless.

Two of God’s promises have been impressed greatly on my life this year. I think it happens that way. God has chosen this particular time in my life for these truths to have more meaning. I hope I don’t lose the seriousness of what he is teaching once this time passes.

Never will I leave you. Moses reminded Joshua. (Deuteronomy 31:7-8) David encouraged his son Solomon. (1 Chronicles 28:20) The author of Hebrews reiterated the truth, this time concerning contentment. (Hebrews 13:5) Perhaps no promise is greater in all of scripture. The fact that the God, who holds all things in his hands, never leaves us should be completely overwhelming. In the Old Testament, we learn this truth should keep us from being afraid and dismayed. It should make us strong and give us courage, help us complete the tasks God has called us to. In Hebrews, we learn the presence of God means that God is enough. He is enough to make us content with what we have.

You belong to me.  I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1) I can scarce wrap my mind around this truth, yet the comfort, confidence and endurance it breeds is powerful. Those who are in Christ belong to God. Nothing can shake that promise.

The promises God gave to his beloved, chosen Israel have been given to his beautiful bride, the Church. When I look back over the ways I tried so hard to do good and be good, then gave up in frustration, I see clearly that was never the point. Just like the Israelites who couldn’t live up to the Law, I needed/need to see my need for Jesus; we’re all always being pointed to the Savior. God hovered over them as a cloud and a pillar of fire because he promised to never leave and because they belonged to him. And, he hovers over us for the same reasons. We can’t keep ourselves in him. He keeps us in him. He is faithful. He keeps his promises. He keeps his covenant with us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

National Day of Busy, I Mean Prayer, 2012

Whose idea was it to have the National Day of Prayer on May 3rd? was my first thought when I read the headline this morning. It certainly wasn’t a mother who had a doctor’s appointment, two field days, a field trip, a pre-marital counseling appointment, and a women’s ministry gathering among others events this week. How can I ever focus on such an important day in our country when I’m racing with other moms around me?

This morning, I had a small break to hide in the dark for such an important day, but it was more of a reflection. My intent was to pray, but there were no words. I was reflecting how much my prayer life has changed over the last year. For most of my life, I thought praying was just something I was bad at, like running. I came to realize my failure was not in my praying but in my not praying. So, I started doing it. I started doing it more, and I kept on. What I realized this morning is that I didn’t care how much time I had, I couldn’t not pray. I had to stop and sit down. Many times, I don’t pray for my circumstances. I just pray for my heart. It needs a lot of work. Since God is faithful to change my heart, circumstances begin to fade in comparison. Andrew Murray said, “Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian.” My belief in God has grown deeper as my time in prayer has increased.

I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.—John Wesley

Thanks Be To God!

I tried to be good and follow the rules.  Always failing.  It would work for a while but either became unappealing or too hard.  I couldn’t understand why God wanted to keep me from fun.  Why his way was so hard.  Sin was a magnet one minute and my shame the next.  What looked like love always came back to haunt me.

My eyes were opened to the truth of sin.  It’s not just what I do but the very nature of who I am.  That’s a different story.  If it’s the very blood running through my veins, there is nothing I can do to fix my problem.  I can’t be good enough.  I can’t do enough. It’s the natural inclination of my heart — only evil, all the time.  I realized it wasn’t about following the rules in the first place.  It was about seeing my need.

God made a way for my sin to be covered – in Jesus.  He came and washed that very nature away.  It will still be partially here until his return, but it’s forgiven.  I have been made right with God, pure, by blood.  His Spirit lives in me in power.  Christ stands between God and me and tells him I am righteous, justified. Guilt, shame, sin, fear, death and despair will no longer be my master.  Christ alone.  Grace alone.

He lived a perfect life I could not live and died a death I deserved to die.

Thanks be to God!

Brought Near By Christmas

A friend presented a beautiful depiction of the gospel recently, and I want to attempt it in my words.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

The Wise Men were far away and were brought near by the star.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'” (Matthew 2:3-6)

The religious men were near (in proximity) but their hearts were far away.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Read Ephesians 2 in its entirety here.

THIS is what should cause us to fall on our faces during this season.  That God came in flesh to bring us near.  We were far away in our sin and filth, not desiring him, not wanting anything to do with goodness, standing at a distance from peace on earth, wrapped in dissension, mocking righteousness, turning our backs on good will toward men, laughing at the thought of joy in the world.

The ruler humbled himself to bring sinners near.

Wise men still seek him?  Certainly.  But, for myself it seems to be more the other way around.  He still seeks me.  I am prone to forget my name, and he gently reminds.  I am capable of turning my back, standing at a distance, mocking.  And, he is faithful to continue the work he started the first Christmas.

He came to bring men near.

He has brought us near.

He will continue his work in bringing us near.

A Lesson I Hope I’m Always Learning

Submission is a word that strikes all of us to the core, isn’t it?

I’ve recently gone through a time of ups and downs, what feels like waves of anger and fighting, and in the midst of it, I realized what I needed to do was lay down.  I wasn’t quite sure what the problem was, but I knew my answer was submission to God.  And, in doing that, I was convicted that what followed next was submitting to others.

Submission is a command that is quite contrary to the world, and scripture is laced with it.  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21).  Wives submit to your husbands (Eph. 5:22).  Submit yourselves to God (James 4:7).  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution (1 Peter 2:13).  For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them (1 Corinthians 9:19).

I have been given several gifts in submitting.  One is strength.  We tend to see submission as puny, as weak, but submission comes through the strength of Christ, which is the greatest of strengths.  Joy.  Although in coming down from my anger, I’ve been in a somber state, my joy has not been erased.  In submission, God is continually reminding me of his gospel, providing joy.  Relaxation.  If you have ever submitted your control, you know true relaxation — not the kind where you have coffee and a good book or cheese dip and a close football game — but the mindset  and heartset of relaxation.

Who would have ever thought that such a tense word could bring such immeasurable goodness?  That’s the nature of the gospel.  Contrary to the world.  Upside down. Better.

I Am Right Here

When my kids have been inconsolable at night, I have often embraced them and offered the words “I am right here.”  A couple of years back, I was surprised and a little let down that my words and presence weren’t enough.  One of my children began to ask for more — promises I couldn’t keep, comforts I couldn’t offer.  I was hurt that I was not enough.  But, I was not willing to make promises I couldn’t keep, such as I promise no one will break into our house tonight or I promise you are safe sleeping by the window.

As I was growing frustrated with her irrational (and possibly, rational) fears that night, it occurred to me that my children must be equipped to call on the One who is eternally here.  The One who can keep his promises.  The One who can offer comfort.  I realized that in saying, “I am right here,” I am only offering a temporal fix, if that.  But, in saying, “God is here. With you,” my children can become aware of the power and presence of the Almighty.  They will be equipped in my absence.

“He will not leave you or forsake you.” and “I will be with you.” is one of the greatest promises in all of scripture.  (Deuteronomy 31)  Sometimes, like my child, we don’t believe those words are enough, but His presence is sufficient.  And, sometimes, we want to plead for more promises. Promise me health! Promise me wealth!  He doesn’t do that either.  He gives us more – Himself!

I believe there is a different peace about my children in recognizing the presence of God over mine.  I certainly feel more secure in offering them promises, I know, He will keep.

A New Name, A New Way

For much of my life as a Christian, I lived as an orphan, not realizing God looked upon me with favor, lovingly — as His. I didn’t realize that God is pleased with me because He is pleased with Jesus in me.  I was unaware of my identity as a believer, and I read scripture as an attack on my life.

Now, verses like “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you,”  and “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death,” are strength to my soul.

In the mindset of an orphan, I believed I was controlled by sin, condemned and enslaved to sin and death. But, in Christ, I am a child of God.  My identity is that I am not controlled by sin.  I am not condemned.  I am not a slave to sin and death.  I believe that, and scripture is not attacking me but breathing life into me.  God loves me, and I am His.

C.J. Mahaney says, “It would have been extraordinary enough for God simply to redeem us, to forgive our sins, to declare us righteous.  But he does not stop here — he makes us his children (Gal. 4:4-7).

Romans 4:17 says, “the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” Also worded this way — God names the things as though they are and then makes them that way.  This is such good news!  God gives us a new name — a new identity — then He makes us that way!

He adopts you and transforms you by the renewing of your mind.

He calls you righteous and causes you to believe Him.

He calls you “not condemned” and causes you to love your brother.

He breaks the chains of enslavement to sin and brings forth joy.

He redeems and forgives and His kindness leads to repentance.

Do you believe this, or are you living like an orphan?  Pray for the spirit of God to pervade your unbelief.  If you are in Christ, you are His child.  Live in the joy of your inheritance today.

Resurrection Power

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

What does it mean to you that God raised Jesus from the dead?

If our view of the resurrection is small, our view of the Spirit living in us will be small.

Neither of these are small truths.

I’ll admit.  My mind and heart cannot encapsulate the resurrection.  I cannot grasp what a big deal it is.  I am holding on to truths essential for my faith, loving them and hoping that through growth, they seep deeper into my soul.

Scripture helps me to better understand scripture.  1 Corinthians 15:17-19 helps me to know what a big deal the resurrection is:  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  

If Christ didn’t get out of the grave, I’m a sad soul, forever indebted to my sin, BUT

Since Christ conquered death and sin and rose victorious out of the grave, there is more to be said:

The same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!!!  In Christ, we become recipients of that power. That gives new meaning to Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  The same God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same God who works grace in us, forgiveness in us, patience in us, compassion in us, etc.  He is the same God who dispels the lies we believe, breaks our addictions, breaks our family cycles.  He is the same God whose Spirit reminds us of our identity daily, reminds us of the gospel daily and directs us toward His will daily.

He overcame death, and we will overcome because He dwells in us. “There is coming a real, objective, historical day when God’s people will be raised as Jesus was.” -Piper

The resurrection of Christ is magnificent.  

When we are aware of that truth, we will recognize the power of His Spirit in us.

Try Harder Do Not

The first 20 years of my Christian walk could be described in many ways, but right now, I’m going to focus on two words that still creep in and haunt me — try harder.  If you’re like me, you don’t really like these two either, but you still invite them over occasionally, have them at your table, and before you know it, they’ve overstayed their welcome and somehow made you believe they fit into this Christian life.  So, like any lie, we must dispel and withdraw the invitation of this guest.

We are not relying on performance but grace.  

God’s love is not contingent on our human effort.  

Stop trying harder.

If those sentences did not just register with you.  Read them until your eyes bleed.  When I really realized it was not within my power to be good enough, the chains fell off.

I cannot be good enough as a Christian.

I cannot be good enough as a wife.

I cannot be good enough as a mother.

Christ. is. my. righteousness.

He won it for me.

It has been accomplished.

We must cling to the gospel promise that God is pleased with us because he is pleased with Jesus.”  (The Gospel-Centered Life)  The pressure is off.  Rest in what He has done.  Repay Him for what He has done with love and gratitude from the depths of your heart.

“so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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.” Ephesians 2:7-9