May you enjoy today worshiping the Lord, our risen Savior, and spending time with family and friends.
While this text was not the base for the sermon this morning, this is the passage from the service that really stood out to me. I thought I would share here, that you may also be encouraged.
Scripture quotes taken from John 17:9-13, 20-21
“I am praying for them.”
“All mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”
“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.”
“Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one. While I was with them, I kept them in Your name, which You have given Me.”
“I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost.”
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”
“The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.”
I hope this brings you encouragement this week. We are treasured, kept, protected, and glorified by Jesus, that we may give testimony to His grace to a lost world through unity with other believers.
“I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.”
– Psalm 38:18
The Christian is not without sin. There shouldn’t ever be an implication of such. True Christians should be the first to admit fault and seek forgiveness.
Christianity isn’t about the lack of existence of sin, but rather the freedom from it through Christ’s sacrifice and our confession. When we cry out to God in sorrow and repentance, He hears us.
“Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation!”
– Psalm 38:21-22
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.”
– Psalm 34:4
I’m not sure why we as Christians feel the need to sweep sins under the rug when freedom only comes through confession. There is no reason to fake perfection when Jesus paid for our sin. After all, if we are without sin, what need have we of a Savior?
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:7-8
Prayerfully consider how you act once you’ve done something wrong, and make an effort to intentionally admit fault that you may move forward in the freedom of the Gospel.
“Let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
– James 1:6-8
We are all familiar with the person in our newsfeeds who is constantly in and out of different relationships, and never seems to make their mind up about any important decision in life. This isn’t healthy, and it’s not the life God wants for those who trust in Him. We are to look over situations and utilize the brain He has given us as well as His gift of discernment to understand what path to follow. Being unstable and unsteady as a lifestyle isn’t the mark of a Christian.
“I hate the double-minded,
but I love Your law.”
– Psalm 119:113
No one else appreciates someone’s wishy-washy behavior either. As followers of Christ and examples to others, we are to stay sober-minded, using our critical thinking skills.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Peter 1:13
The difference between only hearing the Word of God and actually listening to it is faith. Not everyone who hears the message of the Gospel with their ears or who reads it with their eyes accepts the salvation of Jesus Christ.
“For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” – Hebrews 4:2
When we hear the Word of God, or read it, we must absorb the text with faith in our hearts in order to benefit from it. We also must accept that, while we can and should reach out and share the message of the Gospel with others, we can’t control whether they are only hearing it or actually listening.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:14
So far as it depends upon us, let us LISTEN to Scripture, rather than only hearing it.
This spring will mark the 4th wedding anniversary for my husband and me. I’ve been reflecting on this event (yes, I know we are currently in the middle of winter – but what better time to reflect than when it’s freezing cold outside and I’m trying to stay warm and cozy inside!).
I’ve also been unpacking from our move last summer (we moved out of our apartment, storage unit, and the store where I was selling my antiques, so there’s a lot to unbox!), and beginning the decorating process in our adorable little mill house.
As I unpacked yet another box today, I came across some old poetry/lyrics of mine from 2010. I often write poetry/song lyrics as a way to take sermon notes in church and when I’m processing personal thoughts – the good, the bad, and the in-between. Some of the most challenging times in my life and some of the times where I experienced the most joy are where most of my poetry/lyrics are written.
This particular poem reminded me of God’s faithfulness in His timing and direction for my life, many times showing me that I should pass up on something good in order for the best to come later. This was true for me in my dating life, as God eventually led me towards my amazing husband.
A college boyfriend of mine and I were rather newly into our relationship, but taking it seriously, when I felt led during a summer break in college to seek the Lord’s will if we should continue our relationship. This young man and I started out as good friends, and then he asked if I would be interested in getting to know him more seriously as his girlfriend, to see if it might eventually lead towards a future together. Once they met, both of our families liked one another, and approved of us getting to know one another as a couple.
We promised each other at the beginning of the relationship that we would each strive to be as open and honest with the other person as possible, and if at any time one of us felt we wanted to go in another direction and discontinue the relationship, we would let the other person know this, rather than leading them on. We both had seen friends hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly giving them the news, right when they thought things were really getting serious, that they actually had been wanting to break up for weeks/months, but didn’t know how to tell the other person without hurting them. My boyfriend and I agreed that this approach is actually much more hurtful than kind honesty, so we committed to honesty with one another in this matter, should one of us feel we needed to go a different direction.
So, fast forward to a little way into our relationship, when I had returned home to Florida for summer break, and I felt led to seek the Lord’s will if we should continue our relationship. It was strange, just a sudden feeling in my heart that, while I really liked my boyfriend a lot (we were careful not to use “the other L word” since we weren’t dating long enough yet to feel that was appropriate), I should really seek out the Lord’s direction and decide over the summer whether I should continue to date him when we returned to college late August or not. I saw myself at a crossroads, where it wasn’t a right and a wrong to decide between, but rather a good and best option to decide between. Remembering what we had decided upon early in the relationship, I called my boyfriend (we talked almost daily all summer, as newly dating couples are apt to do), and told him not to worry, but that I was seriously praying about some stuff, and appreciated that he do the same.
I was beginning to feel as though I did know the decision I had to make, but it was tough for me to do that, because my boyfriend was truly a kind Christian, a great guy, and didn’t have glaring flaws in the relationship. However, I was starting to think that I wasn’t sure I could see myself marrying him, because that would mean we planned to spend the rest of our lives together, and though he was super sweet, I just wasn’t sure I saw myself living in the same house with him the rest of my life mostly due to some personality differences and hobby/interest differences.
I had an incredible experience in church with my family one Sunday that summer.
This poem I wrote back on August 1, 2010, will tell you exactly what happened.
Looking For A NEON Sign – August 1, 2010
I felt a tug in my heart
From the Holy Spirit inside,
Encouraging me to look carefully
At a part of my life
And to make a decision
Whether or not to continue
The way I had been.
I thought about it many times
And it was often on my mind
As I prayed and asked God
To show me the way.
I sought godly advice
From my parents
And others in my family
And from a friend
That has long been
Like a sister to me.
I considered their advice
And tried to see things
From their points of view
As I began to form my decision
As to what I believed
God was wanting me to do.
Once I was almost sure
I became more confident
In what God was asking me to do.
I heard Him say
In multiple ways
“What you’re doing now is good, My Child,
But I want the best for you.”
I prayed for a much more obvious sign,
Asking God to make me
100% sure of what I should do.
I was looking for a neon sign,
Wanting to be sure of what was right,
I didn’t want to jump in without knowing
That was exactly what God wanted me to do.
One Sunday I was sitting in my home church,
Listening to my pastor as he preached,
When he said something that caused me
To perk up in my seat.
He said, “Young people,
Some of you are in a relationship
With someone who is good,
But isn’t the best God has for you.”
If that wasn’t a neon sign,
I’ve never seen one before,
So though the final answer
Was a little bit painful,
I was able to still smile
And thank the Lord
For answering my prayers
With a neon sign,
In the right direction.
It’s incredible to me to look back on God’s faithfulness and see how He had an amazing husband who was a great fit for me whom I began dating about 3 years later (oh, and long story, but my former boyfriend indirectly introduced us…perhaps that’s a story for another blog post!).
I am still in the process of learning this, and probably always will be, but sometimes saying no to something that’s indeed good leads to something much better down the road. We must reach out in faith and listen to what the Lord puts into our life, whether subtle or a “neon sign,” in order to do what He wants us to do, for our good and His glory.
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16
When our hearts and our mindset is righteous, God blesses us with peace.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” – Isaiah 26:3
God has already planned peace in our lives, as He works in and through us through His sovereign grace.
“O LORD, You will ordain peace for us, for You have indeed done for us all our works.” – Isaiah 26:12
We are to grant this peace to others as well, by living harmoniously, as much as we are able to do so.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:18
Simply believing in and trusting in Jesus Christ brings peace and joy to our lives as well.
“May the God of hope full you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13
Even in the most troubling of times, God’s love can sustain us and give us an internal peace that far surpasses what we could ever imagine. May His peace bless us today as we follow His will.
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16