These Trials Are Precious

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 1:6 NKJV)


I believe that there’s purpose in pain.

In God’s Word, we’re reminded that there will be tremendous difficulties on this earth. In John 16, Jesus warns us that this world will bring great trouble. But there is a reason that He tells us to be of great cheer.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).

As believers, if we’re to take up our cross and follow Christ’s example, we will be dying to something. The cross was an instrument used to put Jesus to death. However, Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t a moment of defeat. He rose again in victory, conquering death. As we die to ourselves–that is, our old, sinful ways–we, too, are rising from death, becoming the people He called us to be.

Oftentimes, the trials meant to destroy us are the instruments God uses to perfect us.

Continue reading “These Trials Are Precious”

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Meet Tyler | Confidence Without Compromise #2

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Tyler, Georgia

Content Creator, Transcending Into Purpose

A vlogger, naturalista, and follower of Christ. In this week’s feature, Tyler talks about how standing firm in faith transforms our lives–and impacts the lives of others.

Continue reading “Meet Tyler | Confidence Without Compromise #2”

The Life God Designed for You

How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

(Psalm 104:24 NIV)


On Tuesday, January 23, I was in prayer during my morning quiet time. Just as I began praying, I felt a sudden chill. I was sitting near an open window, but I didn’t feel a draft whatsoever moments before.

Before I knew it, the sky darkened, and rain began pouring down. Heavy, hitting the cement in hard, rhythmic drops. Loud. Out of nowhere.

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The window I sat next to that day.

Within three minutes or less, the rain stopped. Silence all over again. The clouds parted slightly letting in some light back into the room.

Talk about a dramatic change.

It got me thinking about how miraculously God works. When God moves, He moves. It’s obvious, it’s clear. You know He’s present. You see His fingerprints. You see doors open. What might take a human years to do, God can do in the blink of an eye.

Now, almost two months later, Thursday, March 22, I was again reminded of this phenomenon. This time, my morning devotions didn’t involve a sudden shift in the weather. Instead, it involved a look into Psalm 104.

Continue reading “The Life God Designed for You”

Don’t Doubt Your Value | Video

What defines your worth?

What you look like? What you have? What others think of you? How educated you are? Your first instinct might be to say no…but it can often feel the opposite.

Let’s change that.

Click below to watch my new YouTube video!

 

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Free Devotionals and Bible Study Resources | New on the Blog!

Happy Sunday!

I’m so happy to announce that I released a new, free devotional that you can download on the blog!

After completing the Love Letters series, I was inspired to compile the posts into a digital devotional that anyone can download and read anytime, anywhere. Online and offline.

Suddenly, the Love Letters 14-day devotional was born.

Love Letters Devo Promo_2

You can get it now at the new tab on the blog, Free Devos + Resources. There, I will be placing other Bible study resources you can download in the future.

When you sign up for the brand new, LizMargaret email list, you’ll get immediate access to the devo! Please download, share, and let me know what you think!

I can’t express how excited I am to release other resources this year. (Yes, there’s way more to come.)

 

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Understanding Your Season | Video

Life has different seasons. Times of joy, times of loss. Times of preparation, times of blessings. But what happens when our current season is tough? What is the purpose of difficulties and trials?

The Bible has a lot to say about seasons. In today’s YouTube video, I talk about how we can use God’s Word to identify our current season–and understand the beautiful transformation that can take place in our lives today!

Click below to watch!

 

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Day 14: I am your strength | Love Letters

Strength:

  1. Physical power and energy.
  2. The emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing or difficult.
  3. A good or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing.

I know I’m not the only one who is completely lazy when it comes to charging my phone. A typical day involves me waiting until my battery hits 1% then scrambling to plug in my charger before my phone dies. Throughout the day, I notice my phone battery is draining over time, but I don’t make the effort to recharge it until the very last minute.

This seems silly (and inconvenient), yet we do it all the time!

We often act the same way when it comes to reaching out to God. We go about our everyday lives, using our power, our strength, our insight–then all of a sudden, we find ourselves running low. But before the crash–hopefully–we then remember God is there.

Before this realization happens, there’s usually damage that has been done. Stress, fatigue, doubt, worry, anger, and confusion. These emotions are the result of relying on yourself as your power source. These are the negative emotions that lead to rash decisions, mistakes, consequences, and eventually wanting to quit after all that you’ve experienced.

God’s love for you means He will help you endure. 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV) instructs us, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” This verse doesn’t just tell us to be brave and be strong–it tells us to stand somewhere. In our faith. Ephesians 6:10 reminds us to be strong in the Lord and mighty in His power. We’re not told to simply be strong and mighty–we’re told strength is found in God and might in His power. Isaiah 26:4 tells us to trust in the Lord forever, for “in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

This power we receive from God is in God–not just from Him. This means we find it by being plugged into Him. Similar to connecting a phone to a power source, we must connect ourselves to God to receive this power. When you unplug the phone, your device is no longer connected its the power source, and it will stop charging. When we unplug ourselves from God, we are no longer connected to our source, and we will no longer receive His power.

The beauty of relying on God is that His strength is unending. He doesn’t run out of strength, and He wants you to understand this. In Jeremiah 32:27 (NIV), He says, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” In His Word, God reminds us that He is capable. Nothing can overtake Him. We need to get used to saying, I can’t. God can.

God can take you through it!

You don’t need to sustain your faith alone. You don’t need to maintain anything or anyone on your own. You can’t care for yourself by yourself.

Don’t inconvenience yourself by waiting to trust in God. Power is found in the Lord to cover you in every area. Your physical power and energy. Your emotional and mental ability to overcome hardship. Your helpful qualities and skills. God gives you strength, He develops your strengths, and He sustains your strengths.

Now is the time to partner with God in your life. The love you need is found in Him. God’s love for you is here today. Give your heart to Him, and let Him write an amazing story of your life. Rest in His promises. Know that He has more for you. He will meet your needs. He will secure you now and for eternity in heaven. With Him, you can accomplish more than you can ever accomplish on your own.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

Love Letter 14

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 13

Special Note: Thank you so much for joining me in the Love Letters series. Over these last two weeks, I’ve been challenged and pushed every day as I studied the Word to write these daily posts. I hope you’ve been encouraged and have learned about God’s love and purpose for you. I encourage you to revisit any letters for encouragement whenever you need it, and share them with others. Most importantly, go deeper. Seek God for yourself. Open the Bible, communicate with Him in prayer, and allow Him to lead you to discover His unique plan for your life. Let me know your thoughts on the series below!

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Day 13: I enjoy spending time with you | Love Letters

Re·la·tion·ship: The condition or fact of being related; a connection, association, or involvement.

[Source]

Relationship requires investment.

When you want to build new relationships with people, you make time for them. Conversations over texts and calls. Time spent together. You ask questions, you share details about your life. Eventually, you’ve gotten to know them well and have developed a closeness with them.

The same thing goes when you want to deepen an existing relationship with people you already know. You make the time, you show up, you involve yourself in their lives. You connect. You associate yourself with them.

Our relationship with God takes on a similar process. When you decide to follow the Lord, you are able to build a relationship with Him that can grow and get even better over time. You involve yourself with Him. You connect with Him. You associate yourself with Him.

Like a friendship, you must invest in your relationship with God if you want to develop it. When you care about someone, you sacrifice for that individual. If you want God in your life, you sacrifice to make time for Him and to get to know Him.

Did you know that God rejoices in spending time with you? He absolutely loves it!

As a loving father cares for his child, God sees you as His child whom He loves deeply. He wants to have a real relationship with you.

The Bible talks of a God who takes delight in His people. Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) states, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Psalm 147:11 (ESV) says, “But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Fear in this passage does not mean to be afraid; we’re not meant to simply be afraid of God. Rather, it means to have reverence for or to respect. In other words, God notices those who have reverence for Him–those who acknowledge Him for who He is–and He honors those people!

Genesis 1:27 mentions that God created humankind in His image. This means that we were created to have an association with Him. We are meant be in relationship with our Creator. We are made to bear His image, or represent Him well–to show who He is and the attributes of His love. The only way we can reflect this image is if we know what it looks like. And so, in order to know our true identity, we must know God, the One who knows who we’re made to be!

Our hearts yearn for something greater that cannot be found on this earth. And God yearns for you, too. James 4:8 says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. He is available, but He does not force. He is near, but He does not push Himself. He waits patiently. And when you come, He will come.

Do you ever feel neglected when a friend doesn’t show up for you? Or forgotten when someone doesn’t reach out to you? God gets it. He understands how you feel, and He has compassion towards you: “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalms 103:13 NLT). He also notices when you don’t reach out to Him, too.

Revelation 3:20 mentions that God is calling out for you. When you answer, He will “eat with,” or fellowship with, you.

A relationship with God cannot be built through someone else. For example, just because your parents have a relationship with Him, doesn’t mean you have it, too. God is acquainted with them already, and He wants to get to know you. Consider this: if your friend is friends with someone else, it doesn’t make you friends with that same person (even if you know a little or a lot about them). You must take the initiative to get to know that person for yourself.

It’s never too late to build or rebuild a relationship with God. Study His Word–get to know what He says and who He is. How He sees you, what He wants you to know. Talk to Him, reach out to Him. Even if you can’t find words, you can sit in silence and ask for the comfort of His presence.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 ESV)

Love Letter 13

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 12
Read Day 14

 

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Day 12: I will forgive | Love Letters

For·give·ness: The act of forgiving or the state of being forgiven; willingness to forgive.

[Source]

What is considered unforgivable to you?

Think about someone who has hurt you. Someone you could never dream of speaking to–let alone see–ever again. Imagine forgiving that person, as if what had been done in the past never happened.

Quite difficult.

Now think about a time when you have hurt someone. Maybe you didn’t apologize, but to this day, you know what happened. It might be something that appears in your mind now and then. Some days you forget what happened, other days the memory of what you did hits you.

Even harder to think about.

Considering the first scenario, we can easily say, People can be heartless. I could never forgive them. Considering the second scenario, we remember, I can be heartless. How could anyone forgive me? Putting both together, we can conclude that sin is a part of human nature.

Looking closer at the wrong that we’ve done and that others have done to us, forgiveness can seem like the last thing anyone deserves.

A man in the Bible who was deemed unforgivable by society was Zacchaeus.

We’re introduced to him in Luke 19:2; he is a chief tax collector. Tax collectors made a lot of money at this time, so for Zacchaeus to be in a role of leadership, we know he is very wealthy. Tax collectors were typically wealthy for a reason–they were known to be greedy and deceitful. They often cheated people of their money so they could gain more, and as a result, they were intensely hated by others. Pretty much completely unforgivable.

Zacchaeus, a man ostracized by others, is found near a synagogue–the last place he should be according to society, as he is considered “spiritually unclean.” He knows that Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho today, and he wants to see Him:

“And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way” (Luke 19:3-4 NKJV).

Zacchaeus’ determination to see Jesus is fascinating. He not only comes to a place where he is unwelcome, he runs and climbs a tree to make sure he sees Him. Although Zacchaeus has all the money he needs–and probably loves his wealth over anything–he is still empty. Something is missing in his life, and he is searching for it.

God never pushes away those who come seeking for Him–no matter who they are. Jesus displays this characteristic of God by His response to Zacchaeus, a hated man in the world’s eyes: “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v. 5).

Jesus sees Zacchaeus and asks him to come. He wants to fellowship with him at his own home. This is unheard of.

Zacchaeus’ life changes the moment he makes contact with Jesus. In verse 6, he comes down from the tree quickly and joyfully. He is filled with utter joy that he is invited by Christ Himself with such amazing love–a love he has never seen before.

However, this interaction is met by criticism. Luke 19:7 states, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’” The crowd thinks it’s wrong that Jesus is willing to accompany a sinner, but they don’t understand what true love is.

Nevertheless, Jesus doesn’t worry about what others think. Jesus offers forgiveness, and Zacchaeus takes it by making a decision to come down and fellowship with Him.

How do we know Zacchaeus is truly repentant? By his actions. In verse 8, he tells Jesus that he will give half his wealth to the poor and return anything he has taken from others, restoring it four times the amount he actually owes! Zacchaeus chooses to abandon his former life as a sinner, in love with money and his lifestyle, to love the God who loves him.

Jesus acknowledges Zacchaeus’ changed heart, saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 18:9-10 NKJV). He honors Zacchaeus, mentioning that he is displaying the same faith that Abraham showed in God. This was a huge recognition for someone who was seen as undeserving of any forgiveness. Jesus also confirms what He came to do: forgive.

Jesus came to save those who are lost–to save those who are unlovable, broken, undeserving, and have made mistakes. He came to forgive us.

God tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 NIV).

Zacchaeus’ story is one of many. The Bible is filled with people who have been forgiven by God, even though they were sinners:

  • King David – An adulterer and murderer, David is called a man after God’s own heart, because he sought God’s forgiveness and turned back to Him.
  • Peter – He denied Jesus three times as if he never knew Him before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus still died for Peter and forgave him when he came back to Him.
  • Paul – He was known as a persecutor of Christians, responsible for several deaths, yet he transformed because he chose God. Not only was Paul forgiven but he was used to establish the church and wrote over half of the New Testament.

Can you imagine that God offered his forgiveness to every single one of them? If God could save them, He can save you.

Just as Jesus called Zacchaeus to come down from the sycamore tree, He’s calling you to come down and come to Him–from wherever you currently stand. The “tree” you are currently staying in could be pain, pride, regret, addiction, prejudice, violence, selfishness, lack of forgiveness–whatever. The Lord saw Zacchaeus where he was–he couldn’t hide. And He sees you, too.

Zacchaeus not only came down from the tree and came to Jesus, he turned away from his sins. He abandoned his former life–where sin and shame lived–for a better one. This was true repentance. And there was joy there.

Are you ready to abandon the former things to let God in? Are you ready for real joy?

A relationship with God isn’t an elite club only open to the best, the brightest, and the most righteous. It’s open to everyone. I encourage you to take a hold of God’s forgiveness today. You are not out of His reach. You are not too far gone and unable to be restored. God’s love for you means He offers His forgiveness to you.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)

Love Letter 12

[*Please note: Today’s post is based on a sermon I recently heard at my church.]

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 11

Read Day 13

 

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