“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”James 2:14-17 NKJV
“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
Matthew 8:2-3 NKJV
We come across this encounter after Jesus has taught on the Mount.
We are told at the end of Matthew 7 that people were astonished by Jesus’ teaching because He taught with someone who had authority.
“When Jesus had finished [speaking] these words [on the mountain], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one who had authority [to teach entirely of His own volition], and not as their scribes [who relied on others to confirm their authority].”
MATTHEW 7:28-29 AMP
All authority has been handed to the risen Jesus Christ by the Father –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Matthew 28:18 NKJV
The question that remains is, are we willing to approach Jesus and receive?
Are you willing to repent?
Are you willing to surrender?
Are you willing to accept that you are saved by grace and not works and that whilst you were a sinner Christ died for you?
Are you willing to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Are you willing to lean on, rely on, trust in God when the road twists, turns or meanders?
Are you willing to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?
Are you willing to slow down or up the tempo accordingly?
Are you willing to embrace rest?
Are you willing to be accountable?
Are you willing to pray; Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses whilst forgiving those who trespass against us?
Are you willing to pray for; wisdom, knowledge, understanding, strength to know the depth, width, height and length of the love of Jesus Christ and to be filled with His fullness?
Are you willing to hear the voice of the Lord today, not harden your heart and obey His commands?
Are you willing to humble yourself before the Lord and receive His exaltation in due course?
Are you willing to follow Jesus Christ although you cannot explain your circumstance?
Are you willing to lay aside your plans, ideas and dreams down and pick up His?
Are you willing to leave this “promise land” and embrace His new direction?
Are you willing to leave behind your old ways of thinking, being and doing in order to continue on the journey of being conformed to His image?
Are you willing to embrace the stretch and learn something new?
Are you willing to admit “I don’t know” but say “teach me Lord”?
Are you willing to; love patiently and kindly, not give up, not lose faith, hope and endure?
Are you willing to let go of some old relationships and embrace the new ones?
Are you willing to let go of the weights and the sins that beset?
Are you willing to let go of the disappointments, hurts, failure, rejection and hand them to the Almighty who makes all things work together for your good?
Are you willing to; let go of jealousy, boasting, pride, not depend your own way or be irritable, hold record of wrongs and rejoice in the Truth?
Are you willing to endure, plant, persevere and sow?
Are you willing to be misunderstood, be alone and isolated?
Are you willing to feel the pinch of your flesh and the ridicule of the world?
Are you willing to take His peace and believe when He says “My grace is sufficient for you…don’t worry, don’t be anxious, don’t be afraid”?
Are you willing to pray about everything?
Are you willing to think on what’s true, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy and admirable?
Are you willing to run with endurance fixing your eyes on the Author and Perfector of your faith?
As Christians living in an interdependent, fast-paced, social- media connected, “let’s eat out together because we spend a lot of time together because of ministry” culture – it can be hard to discern real friendships from connections based on convenience
Some may say that our interconnectedness should make it easier to develop a healthy community of disciples, because let’s face it – we can’t do this walk alone – but I would beg to differ. With faster communication, access to information about people’s day-to-day lives and the lack of discipleship coming from older saints within some Christian communities, casualties of the heart happen more frequently and often go undetected.
I am all for community but what happens when lines get blurred and wires get crossed very quickly, emotions become microwaved even quicker and hearts get broken?
God heals, reconciles and restores but it would be great to have some wisdom to help us along the way and maybe minimise it happening so often.
I say these things from a place of love and after my own experiences and speaking to numerous young men and women over the past three years – it’s something that we have to be more aware of and address head on.
Some of us are the first born-again Christians in our families and come with baggage that needs to be unpacked and we are just learning along the way.
Some of us were brought up in born-again Christian families and communities but the topic of boundaries was not discussed or was just something that everyone thought you knew or caught via osmosis
We are encouraged in community to share the burdens of our brothers and sisters by praying for one another and encouraging one another in the Word. In millennial Christian circles, buzzwords such as transparency and vulnerability are applauded, however we need to be careful and exercise wisdom when it comes to where we bleed and whose shoulder we cry on.
I’ll write another blog on confidants and gossip soon – but before I go on I would like to say that I am not against mixed sex fellowship groups as they definitely have their place but I am pushing forward the idea that we should be more intentional about creating safe environments for and seeking fellowship with members of our own gender – especially when it comes to opening up about the deeper issues of our life.
For those of you who were brought up in the Christian faith or became born-again during your teenage years, maybe no alarm bells have gone off for you and you’re probably thinking “well duh Isha?!” but bear with me as I point out a few things for those who may not be aware.
I myself have been burnt whilst trying to navigate the tight rope of building healthy relationships within the Body of Christ.
You see our generation likes to label/box people according to what makes us feel comfortable or superior. As a young adult leader I found it very difficult to balance between being “too deep” and “relatable”. I have no idea what either of those meant, and almost a year later I have no care for what people think- but again that’s another blog post.
So, on side A of the tight rope, I tried not to fall into the mud of being labelled
unapproachable, legalistic and stoic and as a result I have fallen (a few too many times, I didn’t learn after the first time!) into the mud on side B of becoming a close confidant, operating an “access all areas” (emotionally) and “laid back” stance – which is fine when discipling young adult women but not so much when it came to young adult men.
Well fortunately or unfortunately, this tight rope is very difficult to manoeuvre and I will not make excuses for myself or feel sorry for myself because now I can share this with you!
You may ask, what’s so bad about side B?
Side B is the territory of a girlfriend who will become a wife.
As a woman I am wired to be a helper and the keeper of my future husband’s heart.
Like the women reading this, I find it second nature to pray with, support and speak words of encouragement to a man.
However, as a woman who isn’t a wife, I fell into tricky
territory as these men hadn’t pursued a relationship with me and although I had seen myself as a “good friend”, at the back of my mind I was hoping that one day one of them would see me as more than a friend.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it was impossible for you to move out of the Friend Zone, but I would now say, years later – if possible, save yourself the potential heartbreak and back away from the situation.
Here’s how I believe I fell into side B:
I have a good memory and so I tend to remember important dates like appraisals, deadlines, interviews etc.
This isn’t a bad thing.
I like to intercede on matters whether it’s a mortgage, business funding, a family member who has an illness etc
Again not a bad thing.
I have the gift of encouragement and I enjoy writing words of encouragement accompanied with scripture.
Not a bad thing, but I should’ve considered the frequency and format that I was sharing this encouragement (see 6 points below)
I am a hugger and dish out compliments.
Not a bad thing, but I should’ve been aware of my triggers and my weak spots.
I also like to eat out and wouldn’t mind meeting up with a brother during the week to talk about whatever issue was pressing in his life.
I should’ve thought of my Love Languages and encouraged my brothers to maybe meet up with other brothers to discuss matters of the heart.
And as a result, I soon caught feelings but they were not reciprocated …
I am not blaming the men for these situations as it was my duty to guard my heart and be honest about what I could and couldn’t handle and not try to fit into a status quo of how other young adults were building friendships! But I would like to encourage you to be more aware of our interactions with the opposite sex and to check our motives when we decide to “bear each other’s burdens” as it is unwise of us to try and help someone else if we are also in the same pit. We must call on our church leadership to shepherd us through the valleys
I read Jackie Kendall’s book Lady in Waiting a few years ago and a particular statement stuck out for me – if you wouldn’t do x for your sister in Christ, why are you doing it for him?
My sisters can vouch that I am generous with my talk, time, treasure and talent with them also but I had to learn to be more aware of my interactions with men.
Here are a 6 things that I’ve learnt from my experiences:
1) It is very important to have a godly person or persons in your life of the same gender who you can speak to and receive counsel from.
Some of us would say that we “get on better with women/men” but as believers we are encouraged in Titus to learn from older godly women/men. If you don’t have them, pray for God to identify them to you and you to them.
2) Seek out and invest in the appropriate resources, counselling and find a single sex small group to help you walk through any addictions, trauma or hurt from your past.
Don’t offload these issues onto members of the opposite sex.
3) If you are currently struggling with lust and temptation, seek out an older godly person of the same gender who you can confide in about this – and who will pray with you through this.
Begin to pray for God to help you to cast down imaginations and fantasies about members of the opposite sex.
Don’t share this information in a mixed fellowship setting or seek the counsel of the opposite sex.
4) Know your triggers/ love language
You can take the Love Languages test for free online to find out how you receive love (words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, touch and quality time)
It is important to know what your trigger is so that you can set the appropriate boundaries and guard your heart against catching feelings; they may just be being chivalrous or hospitable.
5) Monitor your communication
Are you texting or whatsapping all throughout the day with one person in particular and you’re not in a relationship?
Do you call that person when something happens instead of praying or calling a person of the same gender?
Do you check a person’s social media more than anyone else’s?
Are you on the phone to that person until the early hours of the morning?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, I would recommend that you cool it and pray. Be honest with God in prayer and then as you’re led speak to a person who you trust.
6) Be bold and courageous
Pray for the wisdom and the ability to speak to a person who you feel has overstepped a boundary.
As a married brother shared at The Love Limitless Brains & Beauty Conference I attended in September, it’s never too late to put in place boundaries or add additional boundaries.
Again, I am not saying that we should avoid members of the opposite sex or be robotic in our interactions – as I have been blessed, encouraged and refined by the friendships that I have developed with my brothers, have learnt a lot from watching them maintain their boundaries and they’ll be able to vouch for my character when my husband does come along (LOL) but I am saying BE AWARE OF YOUR PERSONAL BOUNDARIES and be considerate of the boundaries of your brothers and sisters.
God wants us to flourish and to be whole for the glory of His Name. The Holy Spirit guides us to be conformed into the image of Christ and His grace enables us to overcome sin and let go of weights that so easily entangle us.
I hope this was helpful and it’s my prayer that we are a generation who have healthier, God glorifying friendships and relationships.
Books that have helped me along the way:
Fight like a girl by Lisa Bevere
Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere
Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer
Captivating by Stasi Elderidge
Wild at Heart by John Elderidge
Unashamed by Christine Caine
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall
Love Languages singles edition by Gary Chapman
Boundaries in Dating by John Townsend
Good or God by John Bevere
When godly people do ungodly things by Beth Moore The Wait by Devon Franklin and Meagan Good
Moral Revolution by Kris Vallaton
The Holy Spirit is the awe inspiring third person in the God head. He is not an It or Thing but a Person.
The first time we hear of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is when the Angel appears to Zechariah to announce that his wife Elizabeth will conceive a child, John who will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from the womb (Luke 1:15)
John the Baptist would be the forerunner of Jesus Christ, baptising people and encouraging them to repent from their sins.
In Matthew 4, Jesus is led into the wilderness for 40days by the Holy Spirit and then tempted by Satan.
Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that those who will worship Him shall do so in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23)
And before Jesus Christ is crucified He encourages the disciples at the last supper,
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever– The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.” John 14:16-17 AMP
When Jesus rose from the dead, defeated sin, death and the grave, after appearing to Mary in the garden by the empty tomb, He appears to His disciples.
“On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22 ESV
Fear will keep us from walking by the leading of the Holy Spirit because His ways are not our own ways and often time our logic, emotions and sense of how things should be, get in the way.
But the Holy Spirit gives us peace and reassures us that we are not alone.
Jesus will always prove Himself worthy not for the sake of our belief but because He is true to Himself and to bring glory to the Father.
God will always give us His peace before sending us out into new terrain.
The only way that we are able to walk out this life of faith is by receiving His Holy Spirit.
“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4 ESV
The disciples were the first to receive the Holy Spirit before Jesus’ resurrection and when they gathered with other believers, God’s Spirit invaded the room and gave them all the ability to utter words that glorify the Lord in order for His praises to be known to other nations.
When we believe in the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we automatically receive the Holy Spirit and for that reason, we have hope in an imperishable inheritance.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV
However, the indwelling presence of God comes with a responsibility as the apostle Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 and in 1 Corinthians 13.
We must embrace our new identity in Christ and leaving behind old ways of thinking with regards to who we are and how we live.
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Romans 8:9 ESV
As we let the Holy Spirit lead and guide us moment by moment, day by day we will begin to see more of God’s character and nature become more evident within us.
We can be bold and confident in our relationship with the Lord God because the Holy Spirit reaffirms our position before God. That we are no longer slaves to sin or our own weaknesses but we are sons and daughters of God.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” Romans 8:15-16 ESV
The Holy Spirit helps us during our moments and seasons of weakness, struggle, failure, depression, anger and confusion.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 ESV
Frustration is probably present within us because we refuse to pray in line with God’s Word, His truth, His commandments and we are seeking things first instead of His Kingdom.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 ESV
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV
This verse says “love God” and not “those who are loved by God”. The difference is, sometimes we can get arrogant to think that God shall bless everything that we ask for, but He knows our heart and He sees the end from the beginning. However, when we love Him, our heart’s desires will naturally become aligned with His.
Jesus told us that if we love Him we would obey His commands.
“If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.” John 14:15 AMP
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:7, 9-10 ESV
King David knew the importance of repentance and the importance of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life and fulfilling his God given purpose
“Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” Psalms 51:11 ESV
All in all, the Holy Spirit; reminds us who we are in Christ Jesus, gives us undeserved, unearned gifts from the Father for His glorification and the building up of the Body of Christ and the evangelisation of the nations and enables us to walk through the highs and lows of life.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”1 John 3:1 ESV
Let’s remember and be encouraged
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
“At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people.
But the Lord had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.” So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news.” 1 Kings 14:1-2, 5-6 NIV
There’s so much that can learnt from the kings of Israel and Judah. Their disobedience, worship of idols, the presence of male prostitutes and not consulting The Lord God, Yahweh is a topic for another Wednesday Word.
But for when I read this chapter and the following one, what jumped out to me was the fact that Jeroboam’s wife was convinced that if she disguised herself the prophet wouldn’t recognise her because his natural sight was very bad.
Sorry Laugh Out Loud.
It’s sad because we try to play the same game with God and we forget that God can’t bless an imitation.
Let me repeat that.
God can’t bless an imitation.
Remember the drama that Jacob had to go through for decades when he went to receive the blessing from his dying father. And let’s talk about the family drama between Leah, Rachel and Jacob when Laban deceived Jacob.
Sometimes it may seem that it’s easier to pretend to be someone who you are not. It’s possible to create a whole different identity through the clothes that you wear, the words you say, the places you hang out …but how exhausting is that?! Keeping up with two identities in order to please people or because we think that God is disappointed in us. In this instance Jeroboam thought that if his wife disguised herself the prophet would give her a different prophecy.
Unlike Jeroboam, we don’t stand before a prophet who will proclaim the consequences for our sins but we can boldly come into the Throne of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, clothed in His righteousness. We are called to persevere in our faith because of Jesus’ complete sacrifice. We come to our Father Who will declare words of love, hope and faith over us.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23 NIV
If you struggle the believe or understand this, I encourage you to read Hebrews 8 & 10 and I pray that you let the Holy Spirit unveil this beautiful mystery to you.
We must accept that because God knows us, fearfully and wonderfully made in His image – what He has said will always stand.
You can try and pull a Jonah with the calling on your life because it will require you to sacrifice your time, talent, talk and treasure. Yes the call on your life maybe slightly maverick, awkward and unconventional but soon enough there will be an unbearable unease within us- there’s only so long we can pretend.
No matter how much we try to deny or fight this truth, God is jealous for His Spirit in us.
There’s only so long that we can pretend to be sinners when The Lord calls us saints everyday. There’s only so long we can live by the dictates of our flesh when the Holy Spirit is groaning within us, praying on our behalf.
We are saints that are prone to sin. We are pilgrims and ambassadors passing through a dying, decaying, distracting and dark world. Like Adam and Eve, the serpent has always got something to say to make us doubt, to tempt us or feeding us lies that make our frustration and discouragement grow but we’ve got the ability to overcome.
In hard times, we’ve got to remind ourselves of The Truth. We have to fight to tune out of the distractions of our everyday lives in order to be in tune with the whispers of our Father. When Elijah ran away from Jezebel, he heard God in the still, quiet voice. Maybe we should shift our focus from seeking God in the grande but asking the Holy Spirit to make us more aware of the small, incremental displays of God’s grace, favour, truth, justice, love and mercy.
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he’s up to. But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own.” 1 John 3:1-3 MSG
Let’s grab a hold of our new identity. The process will be messy but God has already declared that we are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
“Don’t live under an alias name…take on the name that The Lord has given you” – Kris Vallaton
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
Maybe you’re not where you thought you would be, or maybe you’re fighting to get out of the season that you’re currently in- begging God to “hurry up”. But the question is, when the tempter comes to feed you lies, encourage you to take shortcuts and waters your insecurities; what is your rebuttal, what do you stand upon, what keeps you unshaken?
It can be very hard to cultivate contentment; as some may confuse contentment with complacency, laziness, lack of “ambition” or not “believing God for more”. But contentment is a position of the heart, in which you are grateful for what God has done for you, first and foremost giving you salvation and for Who He is. Knowing that God cares for you and isn’t holding out on you will change your petitions into thanksgiving and gives you confidence to know that your Good Father knows what you need before you ask, but He’s more interested in your heart and being conformed to His image- than giving you a Go Pass Go and pick up $200 card.
Contentment is the tension between empathy and expectancy.
What are you saying about where you currently find yourself emotionally, spiritually, financially and relationally? Do you confess that God’s guiding boundary lines are to protect and keep you, to lead you alongside still waters and give you peace that surpasses all understanding or are you speaking words of accusation, doubt, confusion and fear?
Are you satisfied in who God is? Is He enough for you? If not, then why? Do you delight that you get to have a relationship with The Lord of the universe?
Write a list of ten things you’re grateful for each day.
Remind yourself of the times when you experienced God’s love tangibly and when He got you out of sticky situations. If you’re hungry and thirsty for more of Him, He will satisfy you.
If you don’t deal with discontentment, it will eat you alive and you will not be satisfied when you get to that Place, have that Thing or become or marry that Person.
There’s the rub! Jesus is the Only One who can satisfy and promises to satisfy. Let’s believe in Him, cleave to, trust in and rely on Him.
If you are in any form of need today, confess the scripture when thoughts of doubt, worry, anxiety, envy or discontentment creep in.
1 Timothy 6:6-8
Know that contentment shall accompany your godliness. As the Holy Spirit continues to produce fruit in you, your external and mental disposition shall also change.
Remember that whenever we crave the things of this world, we either come up feeling discontent or fall into sin by trying to fill the void or move ahead of God’s timing.
Lean on His promise today that He will never leave and never forsake you. He is your helper. Don’t be afraid.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT
It’s not easy to be a Christian. The daily tight room of walking by the leading of the Holy Spirit in a world that doesn’t recognise or know Him is a challenge.
Juggling work, studies, family and friend relationships, finances and health can all take a toll on our emotional, physical and spiritual health.
How do you keep going?
How do you handle thoughts of doubt about God’s goodness and whether or not His Word shall come to pass in your life?
How do you handle ‘constructive criticism’ and comparison that you receive from colleagues, peers, family members and sometimes the media?
I believe the answer is, God’s Word (no surprise there!)
Perspective is important at all times and sometimes we look to the wrong sources to give us this perspective. Often times what we think is the problem, isn’t actually the problem.
Sometimes we’ve opened the doors for words of discouragement to live in our minds, rent free and we’ve allowed the lies of the enemy and the expectations of this world to take root.
The Apostle Peter writes to encourage Christians who are living in various communities. These Christians are minorities within the Empire and are asking for guidance and encouragement with regards to how to live and work amongst non-Christians as well as not fall into their old lifestyles.
Sounds pretty familiar, right?!
“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.”1 Peter 1:2 NLT
We must remember that God is our Father, a perfect Father and He chose us. You are not a last resort.
You’ve been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and God is wanting to give you more grace and peace in this season.
“and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.”1 Peter 1:4 NLT
Focusing our minds Heavenward helps us to navigate the terrain of life. This isn’t a focus on fat baby angels playing harps…read Isaiah, Jeremiah and the Psalms and get a biblical picture of these glorious creatures. God has promised us an inheritance, to rule and reign in His Kingdom! If that doesn’t change your mundane Wednesday evening, I’m not sure what will.
What we crave often on this earth will be unpure, defiled or defining, will change or will decay (think of that car, house, business, spouse, children) which is pretty anti-climatic.
So what do we do next?
“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.”1 Peter 1:13 NLT
“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.””1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT
When it is a question of God’s Almighty Spirit, never say, “I can’t.” – Oswald Chambers
I think at times we fail miserably in actually understanding what it means to accept a humble position in Christ. We often say “I am not supposed to be holy, I’m just human and God knows this”. Well two out of three of those statements are true. Yes, we are human and God knows this BUT we are supposed to be Holy, just as He is Holy.
According to the Strong Concordance, Holy is defined as “set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred”.
The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon specifies the meaning of Holy in the context of 1 Peter 1 to be “in a moral sense, pure, sinless, upright, holy”.
In order to not go through the process of letting God deal with our sinful habits and in an act of laziness not to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we make all kinds of unbiblical excuses for ourselves. However, if we believe that God’s Word is true, relevant, infallible and authoritative then we should embrace scriptures such as 1 Peter 1:16 and be encouraged that God doesn’t want us to advance towards an unattainable standard but He has gifted us with His Holy Spirit to enable us along the way.
“For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.”1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT
Never allow the limitation of your own natural ability to enter into the matter. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us. – Oswald Chambers
“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.”1 Peter 2:5 NLT
Very often our disbelief and unwillingness to cooperate with God comes from our insecurities to believe that what He has declared over us is true. Realising that we are being built into His Temple, brick by brick, stone by stone with Christ Jesus as the Cornerstone will produce a change of perspective. Meditating on the fact that we are saved by grace and not works, so we can’t boast and that God laid all of His wrath upon Jesus on the Cross, should produce freedom and boldness in us and not fear or cowardice.
Let’s not be half- believers simply because our finite minds can’t comprehend the infinite grace and mercy of God. If we allow unbelief and doubt to cloud our hearts and minds, we will soon resemble the Pharisees who rejected Jesus as the Son of God.
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”1 Peter 2:9 NLT
Sometimes it’s a great exercise for us to remind ourselves of our testimony and thank God for Who He is to us and how He has sustained us through the highs and lows of life. We are in His wonderful light. Do you believe that?
A person who is lazy in the natural realm is always critical, saying, “I haven’t had a decent chance,” and someone who is lazy in the spiritual realm is critical of God. Lazy people always strike out at others in an independent way. – Oswald Chambers
“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT