I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
Is this true? It’s from the Bible, so it’s either truth or a lie. I choose to believe that the Bible is truth. It is the word of God, and God is telling me that I can do anything. Wait…anything? That probably means that if I put my mind to it I can do all things that are within my limitations. Because, if I study hard enough, or practice hard enough, or think good thoughts long enough I can do things that are pretty hard.
Nope. That’s not what it means. Studying hard and practicing are works of my own effort, not through Jesus. God says that I can do anything, if I rely on Him. That means that it’s all His effort, not mine.
So what does anything look like? Well, use your imagination. Imagine that the Holy Spirit is asking you to do something that seems impossible. It probably looks a little scary, because it if wasn’t you could do it on your own. But what if you accept that God can do what He wants, and what if you agree with Him to do what He asks. Now impossible things begin to happen. Now you can do anything because Jesus is with you.
What’s stopping you right now from doing impossible things? Fear. Fear is lying to you. Fear says that God will not what He says He will do. Fear is a liar. Tell it to leave you. Turn to God and tell God that you trust Him. Ask Him to help you do impossible things, then trust Him. Just do it. Now the next one will be easier because you have experience that God will be there for you. Keep doing it. Soon, the impossible things will become an amazing and fun adventure.
I think that there are many in the church who understand what it is to serve others. They work in the kitchen, feed the homeless, and pick up trash. But we have to be careful about doing works for the sake of works.
Yes, it’s good to feed the homeless. Yes, it’s good to work in the community. But ask yourself why you would do that? Because people are hungry! Because it needs to be done! But let’s remember this: And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Cor 13:3)
Are you serving or a servant? There are a few ways to look at that. One way is to see serving as an act and servant as a mindset. To be a servant to others is to intentionally put them first. Yes, it’s nice to do good things for others, but to do them in sacrifice, in love, goes to the heart of God. I could give my body to be burned for others, but if I do it out of obligation or merit, I would suffer for nothing. My actions must be to truly care about people.
The next time you volunteer to clean up after a potluck, pick up someone who needs a ride, or pay for someone’s lunch, stop and look at who you are helping. See the person inside. They’re just like you and they want to be loved as much as you do.
Serving with a heart of love is enormously different from serving to get a job done. Love will reach out through the action to touch another soul.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)
It’s easy to read this to mean that as long as I believe in God, I have His light in me and that’s all I need — my light is shining because I say I believe in God. I used to believe this — for a long time. The problem was, my light didn’t do anything. Light is supposed to chase away darkness and my light wasn’t all that visible. I went to church and read my Bible but no one was affected by it. No darkness fled before me. Why was that?
My light was weak because I didn’t actually trust God as much as I said I did. When the storms came, my house built on sand came crashing down. (Matt 7:24-28). My light was indeed hidden under a basket. Weak light hidden under a basket does not change the world, much less your own life.
I finally began to read the Bible for the truth that it is. When God says to trust Him, He means it. He means it when He says He’ll take care of me, but my responsibility is to stop worrying about it. He said He would provide for all that I need. The job, the house, the relationships, everything that matters to me matters to Him.
Learning to trust Him for the good Father that He is will turn the voltage up on your light. Pretty soon the basket has to get out of the way. And when we walk into the room, the atmosphere changes because of Who we carry in us. Darkness has to flee. People will be affected because the God of the universe just came in.
Life is never the same after we embrace Jesus for who He said He is. His love for us is a light that just won’t go out, and the more we embrace Him, the brighter it gets.
I would like to suggest that God is unreasonable. Not because what He asks of us is just too difficult, but because we can’t reason Him fully. There’s only so much we can understand of Him, after that we just have to trust our spirits. Our spirits understand God perfectly because God is spirit. When we learn to trust what our spirit knows, it’s called faith.
When we intellectualize God without having a relationship with Him, we become like the Pharisees. They knew who Jesus was. They listened to Him teach. They saw what He did, but they didn’t want what He offered. It messed with their intellectual understanding of God.
Jesus didn’t come to set up a code of rules that the Pharisees would be familiar with. He came to be in relationship with anyone who wanted God. Relationships are messy. They get personal. Jesus wanted to connect with real people, not rules.
Coming to Jesus takes an act of will. That involves your intellect, but it also requires faith. You have to step off the cliff at some point and trust that God will be there for you. He promises that He will, all the time. Don’t over think it. He’s not asking you to stop using your brain, He’s asking you to trust your spirit.
And when you do, God goes from being unreasonable to very, very reasonable. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you get a new brain. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) Renewing is just like being born again. It’s a new brain, not the same old one born again. Instead of your old brain, you get the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Don’t reject this. This is exactly what the Bible says, and the Bible is the word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Now that you have the mind of Christ, God becomes understandable. This is going to take some getting used to. Knowing the depths of God won’t come in a blinding flash of revelation, though that will happen too. You learn and grow — precept upon precept, line upon line. (Isaiah 28:10) You begin to trust when the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. You begin to get ideas that you know weren’t yours. The mind of Christ begins to broaden your thinking and you begin to trust Him more. It’s a journey into the realms that your natural mind could never take you.
But this relationship doesn’t just happen because you read about it. It requires an active decision. You must want it and go after it.
Let’s pretend that you are isolated in a place with no access to the outside world. There’s no way to learn the things that you need to survive or help you. Then let’s say that you had an uncle who knew you were in that difficult place and wanted to help. Let’s say that he spent all of his savings to buy you a computer that would help you with everything you need. But in order to get the computer to you, the uncle has an accident and loses an arm. How would you feel about receiving that gift after it cost him so much, both financially and physically? Would you leave the computer in the box and dust it off now and then? Would you thank him kindly and use the computer to play games? Or would you hug and kiss him for the sacrifice that he made and plug that computer into the internet and discover the world?
The gift you’ve been given by God is far, far more valuable than a computer. Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed His life and then gave you access to all of heaven. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) It’s just amazing. Everything you need in life is yours. God has promised to take of you and delight you. The key to receiving all that you need is this: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) Seek after the Lord. Ask for more understanding of who He is. Find Him in the scriptures, in your prayer time, in looking at His creation. He’s there, and He’s waiting. There is so much He wants you to have. He’s a great Father and He wants the best for you. Go get it.
Sometimes we believe more about what we think the Bible says than what the Bible actually says. We believe unerringly in what we’ve been taught by others, and yet when we read the Word that runs counter to that teaching, we somehow justify the false doctrine.
One of the beliefs that we’ve held onto is that, if we believe in God, our lives will be perfect. Some of you are rolling your eyes, but this is a belief that many people have held onto their whole lives. I did for a long time.
What does that Bible say? It says that Jesus, the Son of God, was in a boat that nearly capsized in the middle of an ocean. It says that Paul was arrested, beaten, stoned, and left for dead. It says that Stephen was martyred. Did these men do something that invited disaster into their lives because of sin? No. These were men truly devoted to God.
We were never promised paradise on earth when we come to Christ. We were promised salvation. Despite our faith and trust in God, life happens. No matter how strong your prayer life is, the car will break down on the freeway, the kids will play too hard and lose a tooth, the dog will throw-up in a visitor’s purse. Life happens. It’s how you respond to it that will show your real walk with God.
Jesus said to pray on earth as it is in heaven. Is there provision in heaven for what you need? Yes, declare provision from heaven and thank God for His generosity. Is there healing in heaven for what you need? Yes, declare healing and thank God for His great love. Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and all that you need will be provided for you. He said that because you will still deal with life, as long as you live on earth.
And, by the way, you will never get yourself cleaned up enough for anything. You don’t have that ability. Even if you are not consciously sinning, we all have a history that has shaped our attitudes and desires, and those are not always righteous. But God knows that, and He loves you dearly. Don’t try to clean up your life so God can do something in you. Go to God with your heart in your hand and He will do what needs to be done in you. He’s better at knowing your needs than you are. Some of those problems in your life come from what you believe about yourself and others. You may need to forgive and let go. You may need to admit that you’re not right. You may need to say, I’m sorry. Breaking some bad habits can only be done with God’s help, so give it all to Him and be obedient to Him. It will change your life.
Everyday can be filled with love, joy, peace, and wisdom, even when you caused the fender bender or broke the boss’s favorite coffee mug. Jesus is always with you. Always. He is everything you need for everything that happens in your day. You want paradise on earth? Walk with Jesus and pray for the things of heaven to be real on earth. It’s in the Bible. Just read it.
If you’re like me, change is something to be avoided at all costs. Change requires us to let go of ideas, habits, attitudes that we held onto for a reason. We’re comfortable with what we know. We allow new processes into our routine when it suits us. The problem is how we react when it’s God introducing them?
Sometimes God has to shake things up in our lives. He may point to a certain direction for a long time, and if we are not responsive to Him, He may turn our lives upside down to get us where we need to be. In most cases, that’s not a pleasant experience. But He does it for a reason. He always has our best in mind, and He’s not afraid to make us uncomfortable to get it.
If change is thrust upon you, turn to God and look to see what He’s doing. We always need to be more loving, kind, generous, forgiving. If God is rearranging your life, it’s because He wants to give you more of His Spirit. Go with it, you’ll grow as you do.
But is change happening because you’re fighting against God? Maybe He needs you to show more forgiveness and kindness. Are you running away from something that God is using to shape you? It’s miserable to live in a situation that stresses you, but allow God to open the doors. Don’t kick them in yourself. Those times of trial are meant to bring you closer to God. Even then, you can find peace, you can find joy.
Don’t assume that when the bottom falls out of your life that you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you have. Maybe you’ve made bad decisions, but it may be God loving you more than you realize.
I think I’ve been guilty of reading scripture to my benefit, not necessarily the way it was intended. For instance, Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I’ve trusted this scripture to be true for a very long time. And it has been. God has been faithful to supply all my needs. Some how I’ve always been cared for in all the ups and downs in my life. But now I read more into that passage and I wonder how I’ve missed it.
To read that verse in context, Paul is thanking the Philippians for sending him aid when no other church did. He was grateful for their generosity and said that God would supply them with all their needs. The implication is that God will repay their generosity.
This is not a new concept. Jesus said in Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” The command is to first give.
We love the part where God says that He will supply all that we need with overflowing blessing. It’s unfortunate that we gloss over the part where we need to be generous ourselves. Many people are good that way, but I know that personally, I need to be better. I admit that when it comes to giving, I feel a catch in my spirit that I have to overcome. There is some inner selfishness that doesn’t want to let go. But when I do, I know that God smiles because He knows that it was an act of will on my part.
I pray that God will make me more and more generous. I want a heart like His heart. I want to give because I have been given so much. It may take work, but it’s all part of God shaping me into His image, and that’s my heart’s desire.
What’s God’s favorite color? What’s His favorite music? I wonder if He eats — what’s His favorite food? He is a person. That means He has a personality. He’s no respecter of persons, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t really love some things more than others. We do, and we’re made in His image.
Think of your best friend, or someone you respect most in life. What are they like? What is it about them as a person that you find attractive? Now think of God like that. Think of Him as a person you want to get to know. We were made to live in communion with Him, so that means that we’re meant to do more than stand at a distance and sing pretty songs. He wants friendship. We love to talk to our friends about everything. Time flies when we get together. That’s what God wants as well.
When we invite Jesus into our hearts, we have His Spirit living in us. If we stop and listen, we’ll hear Him speaking. We’ll learn some things if we do. We’ll learn that He has a sense of humor. We’ll learn that He loves beauty and has a wildly creative nature. We love it when He encourages us, but do we ever turn and and ask what matters to Him?
I want to get to know my Father just as He knows me. I want to have conversations with Him in the evenings and talk about the day, like He did with Adam and Eve. I want to hear His heart and learn what tickles Him. I won’t want to look at Him as if He is not approachable. He’s very approachable, and He’s waiting with arms wide open. He’s my Father and Friend. I wonder what His favorite flower is. I think I’ll ask.
Too many people feel that blessing belongs to others — others more important, or more spiritual. Many people don’t believe they even deserve blessing. We’ve been taught to earn our rewards, but blessing from God is a gift. We are blessed through grace, not works. There is not one thing that you can do to earn God’s blessing. He blesses because He loves you.
Because some feel the need to earn what grace gives freely, they reject it in their low self-esteem. Even when it’s freely offered, they will refuse it because they don’t feel worthy to receive it. This is a very dangerous attitude to have. Imagine standing before God one day and explaining why you refused to receive His gift that Jesus suffered and died to give you.
David wasn’t shy about asking to be blessed:
Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, Whose mouth speaks lying words, And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood— That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style;That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our field. (Ps 144: 11-13)
When we receive salvation through Jesus’s sacrifice, we become a new creation. (2Cor5:17) We are remade to be like Jesus, with His Spirit inside us. That package includes God’s blessing. He can’t help Himself, He loves us so much. But we have to be thankful and receive what He has given. Believing that we can’t receive His comfort, His provision, His grace because we don’t deserve it is a lie from the devil.
If you need to repent and ask God to forgive you for not believing that you deserve to be blessed, do it. Repentance is a wonderful thing. And it’s not sinful, or prideful, to ask for blessing. There is so much that God will do for you if you only trust Him and ask. It’s time to see what that looks like.
We always think that other people are more spiritual. God uses people like Daniel and Joseph, not us. But the truth is, God uses people like Daniel and Joseph AND us. Remember Jacob? Remember Gideon? God is not looking for perfect people, He’s looking for obedient and loving people.
We lose so much by short changing ourselves. Our assumptions rob us of freedom and blessing. God wants you right now, just as you are. Do you have room to grow? Of course, but He loves who you are and all the gifts and talents He put in you. Use them. Enjoy them.
We compare ourselves to other people, and it’s a huge mistake. There is joy in working with God in the big things as well as the small things. It’s your heart that matters. He wants your willingness to trust Him. That’s all. That’s all Eve had to do. Instead, she listened to someone else and allowed her mind to be changed. We have to stop doing that. If God says something, He means it. He can’t lie, so His Word is truth.
Trust Him. Be who you are meant to be. There is fulfillment and joy in doing what God is leading you to do, even if it’s difficult at first. Read His Word and start living it, no matter what others say or do. God is with you, because He said He would be.