Stop Being Afraid of Ruining God’s Plan for Your Life | Trust Series (Part One)

We often say we want God’s plan for our life. God’s best for us. God’s purpose for us. God’s blessing for us.

But when it comes to actually discerning His will, things can feel a little blurry.

We easily can fall into the trap of overthinking God’s plan. Feeling confidence one day about a new direction, then complete confusion the next. Asking countless questions without finding peace in answers. Being so hard on ourselves that we think we’re not good enough for what God has for us.

Whether we realize it or not, we may be approaching His will wrongly. Making it an option over a command. Making it a complicated mystery over a practical lifestyle. Making it about fearing irreversible mistakes over embracing growth and truth.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn how to understand and follow God’s path for our lives in the Trust Series. This three-part blog series will cover:

  • Having the courage to GO when God says, “Yes” (Part One)
  • Discerning God’s true gifts when they appear (Part Two)
  • Examining our lives to know whether we’re walking in obedience (Part Three)

Today, in Part One, we’re tackling the fear of taking steps of faith. This part is for those with the willing heart. Those who are ready for obedience and who are walking in it, ready for God to move.

Continue reading “Stop Being Afraid of Ruining God’s Plan for Your Life | Trust Series (Part One)”

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Meet Christina | Confidence Without Compromise #10

Christina_CWC feature_10

Christina, Iowa

Creator, My Ginger Cup of Tea

Meet Christina. A traveler, blogger, and follower of Christ. In this week’s feature, Christina talks about securing our identity in the Lord and finding true belonging in Him.

Continue reading “Meet Christina | Confidence Without Compromise #10”

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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Day 10: I provide peace | Love Letters

Peace: Inner contentment; serenity.

[Source]

During my second year of college, I did what I never thought I’d do and took a studio class in drawing. Over the course of the semester, I had a rewarding experience as I was challenged to learn various art mediums and concepts.

One of the most challenging concepts to draw was perspective–essentially, the ability to make something look “real.” You give an image a sense of depth by creating the illusion of a three-dimensional view on a flat, two-dimensional surface.

Visually, it’s like going from this:

To this:

With perspective, your image changes depending on your viewpoint–the spot where you (the artist) observe your scene. If I wanted to draw a building, I could walk around it and gain a different viewpoint at different areas–perhaps one spot will show the right side of the building, the other the left, and so on. At the end of the day, I could only choose one spot and draw that, giving only one perspective.

Meanwhile, there’s an entire building my eventual audience won’t see in my finished piece.

In our lives, we might view a current situation we’re in only from one perspective, because that’s where we are at that point in time.

You likely feel frustrated when you don’t like the place where you are now. Maybe you’re being unfairly treated by a “friend.” Or your job is getting increasingly stressful. Perhaps you wish you could relocate to a different place. The scene you’re looking at now doesn’t look so good, and it’s been draining you for quite a while now.

When we enter seasons of waiting, God gives us the opportunity to gain a better perspective. God’s love for you means He wants you to grow, to become a better version of who you were yesterday. Maybe the unfair friend is growing your ability to forgive. The stressful work environment is growing your ability to trust Him and not yourself. The desire to move is growing your ability to have patience–and wait until the best time.

In these difficult seasons when you’re longing for understanding, God first offers His peace. I can’t imagine a person who doesn’t want peace. Oftentimes, when we’re stressed and uncertain, we turn to everything but God. We want an instant sense of security. We keep searching and searching for it, but anything or anyone that isn’t your Heavenly Father cannot give you the peace you long for.

Nothing in this world has the perspective of the entire “building” you’re looking at except God. He is all-knowing, and He knows you can’t figure it out on your own. He offers His help, so you can lean on Him for peace–an inner contentment, or serenity.

When you rely on God for peace, He gives you a satisfaction that cannot be taken away from you.

Peace is the result of an understanding of your own shortcomings and a confidence in God’s care for you. It can look like saying, God I don’t understand this situation, but I know that You have control in it. You have the best for me, and I expect the best from You. I’m excited for what You have in store for me.

And you should be excited. God’s preparing wonderful things for you. Plus, He’s giving you the ability to mature and gain His wisdom in the process.

Instead of moving around, making decisions on your own, and putting pieces together, be still and seek God for the perspective He’s showing you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

Love Letter 10

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

Read Day 9

Read Day 11 

 

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Day 1: I have good intentions towards you | Love Letters

Char·ac·ter: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

Character makes up a person’s core. One’s thoughts and intentions–why we do the things we do. There’s nothing more shocking than discovering someone was not who she/he claimed to be. We don’t always get a chance to know the truth up front.

But you know what’s comforting? God intends to reveal His true character to you.

He does not want to be a mystery to you. He wants to come near you. He wants you to identify His traits, to understand His thoughts towards you. You, the individual. You.

The basis of God’s character is that He wants the best for you. He has the best for you. And He’s on your side. He’s not an enemy, not a tyrant. You don’t need to be scared of Him. He’s not here to manipulate you or lead you on a path of confusion. He’s actually your biggest support-system.

His intentions are to provide good for you. He wants you to live a good life you can’t imagine.

His character, or His mental and moral qualities, are good. He’s the Creator of good things.

When struggles arise, remember this: Evil is the devil’s job. God’s not the author of the struggle, but the solution to it.

If you’re looking for God, know that He’s here–whether you believe in Him or not or are unsure. He wants to reveal Himself. Just ask. Psalm 86:5 states we will know of His steadfast love when we call upon Him.

God’s love is free-for-all. And He’s reaching out for you. Are you ready to grab a hold of His goodness?

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5 ESV)

Love Letter 1

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

Read Day 2

 

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How To Be A Better Friend | Video

What makes a good friend? What’s the purpose of friendship? What kind of friend are YOU? All these seemingly simple questions require us to look deeper at the people we surround ourselves with and the person we’re becoming. Today, I talk about friendship and God’s purpose behind it.

Click below to watch the video!

 

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The Reason You Are Unfulfilled

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. 

(Revelation 2:4-5a ESV)


I’ll tell you a juicy secret.

I’m guilty of something. And I realize that every believer is guilty of this, too, at some point in their faith.

In the midst of all the losses and gains in our lives, we forget our first love. standing alone_edit

A fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ can easily stop at the moment of salvation. By that, I mean we invite Christ into our hearts, acknowledging our need for Him for eternal life. This saves us and secures us for heaven. But we need to know that salvation doesn’t stop there. It continues now in our relationship with Him. Just as you desperately needed God to save you from sin, you still desperately need him to be everything–above any earthly desire you currently have.

Are you finding it difficult to really give something to God? You can pray and pray over and over, submitting it to the Lord. And you should. We’re taught to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), to come boldly before the throne (Hebrews 4:16), to test every spirit–any thing or person that comes our way–to see if it is really from God (1 John 4:1).

But if you’re struggling with unfulfilled desires and deep longings that seem to remain unmet time and time again, you may be missing a crucial thing.

Continue reading “The Reason You Are Unfulfilled”

God Has the Final Say

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

(1 Samuel 1:27 KJV)


“To be a success, you must surround yourself with successful people.” I’m sure you’ve heard of some version of that saying before. You shouldn’t use other people just to gain a leg-up, but I have to say, this quote definitely has truth. While people don’t necessarily dictate your future, the people in your life shape your habits and how you see the world, which influences your decisions. So, the wrong people can shape your mindset and hinder your growth.

Sometimes, you can only see as far as others around you can.

open bible

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah. She is affected by others who provoke her because cannot bear any children (v. 2). Hannah is a woman who is blessed and has a loving husband, but she suffers plenty. Her enemies disturb her peace on purpose to make her worry.

“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (v. 4-7).

Though Hannah has such favor with Elkanah, her sorrow is completely understandable. Imagine enduring such hatred by others, shamed for the one thing you can’t have but your heart longs for. Hannah’s deep pain is one that nobody else could comprehend–not even her husband. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (v. 8)

I imagine Hannah seeing other women being blessed with children and wondering what is wrong with her. She probably feels misunderstood, out of place, and forgotten by God. Ever feel that way?

Here’s the thing: Hannah doesn’t stay silent in her pain.

Continue reading “God Has the Final Say”