It’s (Not) Going to Get Better

I’m not a pessimist. In fact, I tend far too much toward optimism. However, I’ve learned that belligerent optimism isn’t helpful when equally stubborn hardship prevails.

The reality is that we should expect suffering as a result of sin. Believers should expect the added difficulties of persecution and living apart from the pattern of the world. Whether we’re facing chronic illnesses with no cure or the persistent battle of loving others well, the truth is life often hurts.

Short of heaven “better” is always going to be a relative term.

Putting our hope and faith in optimism, or changing circumstances, or the next self-help fad, will leave us frustrated and disillusioned over and over again.

Yet we do have hope.

The Gospel is good news for the lost, suffering, weary sinners of this world. That means it’s good news for you and for me.

In Hope When It Hurts, by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, the good news of Jesus Christ is precisely and pointedly applied as balm to our suffering. From the very first chapter, their thesis is clear:

What I need, and you need, is the truth about Jesus Christ, because our suffering only makes sense and we only retain any hope when we look at ourselves through a gospel lens.”

Never offering pat answers or platitudes, Hope When It Hurts proceeds to offer the framework of a gospel perspective on suffering. A reality check on pride’s role in our response to suffering stretches readers to shift their eyes to the only real hope we have -and the only real purpose we live for (hint: it’s not our comfort or convenience.)

Several chapters address the opportunities afforded to us by our suffering.

Unlike messages staking our hope in optimism for changing circumstances or everything working out for the better, Hope When It Hurts stakes everything on God. In short, easy-to-read, but in-depth chapters, the authors highlight practically why we:

  • Have hope
  • Don’t have to be shaken
  • Can persevere
  • Take heart in suffering
  • Are freed from agonizing over making sense of pain
  • Worship God in everything and anything

Straight-shooting, personal messages treat the ache from the inside out with words like these:

“…when you are in the darkness…and you begin to question God’s love for you, remember what it true: Jesus Christ was sent into the world because God loves you. There is not greater demonstration of his affection for you, and there is no clearer proof that he intends to make good of what you are enduring right now. The who was struck down on the cross is the One who could not be destroyed and, because He is for you, neither will you be. He is your light. Draw near to Him.”

It’s true. Paul, while enduring final imprisonment and reaching out to his loved ones as his earthly days dwindled, proclaimed hope when it hurts: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18.)

Even if it never gets better in this lifetime. Even if a gruesome, painful death is how we’re safely delivered into His heavenly kingdom, the Lord will rescue us and bring us to Him.

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Paul follows these words with praise- “To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

This book follows suit. Although atypical and unexpected for a book on suffering, this message carries the broken to worship and eases the hurting into praise.

As much a devotional as a book of reflections on suffering and Gospel hope, Hope When It Hurts renews and refreshes believers. Instead of saying “it’ll get better,” readers are reminded of what already is better: the true, joyous, incredible hope we have despite our often-unchanging, hopeless suffering.


<This review was provided in exchange for a free preview copy of Hope When It Hurts from the Good Book Company.>

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

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Knowledge Isn’t Everything (6/6)

This post is the last in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the series here.

Knowledge isn’t everything. But knowledge is a good gift of God.

  • Knowledge of Him means everything for our eternal security and hope.
  • Knowledge from Him empowers us to do His will.
  • Knowledge of Him is used by Him to fill and shape us to be made complete.
  • Knowledge from Him is steadfast, leading us through shifting circumstances out of our control.
  • Knowledge is a propellor, a motor, a mover, a shaker, a pointer, a changer, a filling agent, in the hands of God and the hearts of those who belong to Him.

No, knowledge isn’t everything. But in it’s proper place before the Lord, knowledge can be useful and worshipful.


As the Idolizing Knowledge series wraps up- let’s leave our shattered idols in pieces for God, in His perfect knowledge, to repurpose for better use.

He can redeem what we don’t know- and what we do.  


Guest Directory

Click the links below to gain further insights into the trappings of idolizing knowledge:

Joanne

May We See and Know Him by Joanne Viola

Donna

The Dangers of Wealth and Education by Donna Reidland

Irina

Education Elevation by Irina Glazkova

Knowledge Needs Love by Ronja Oksanen

How Humility Tempers Knowledge by Sarah Geringer


Has knowledge of God been your object of worship instead of God Himself?

To read the whole series on Idolizing Knowledge, click here.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Knowledge Isn’t Fulfilling On It’s Own (5/6)

 

This post is the 5th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here.

Once upon a time I earned a B- in a tough course on Biblical Literature. It was the lowest final grade I’d ever earned. I had studied- hard. I felt all the rush of competing with classmates who invited me to their study sessions even though they all knew what the heck a “prophetic” book was and I was still trying to pronounce “day-oot-or-no-me” properly.

A couple of years later, I was well on my way to adding a Bible minor to my degree.

There was a problem, though.

All my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual leadership positions, and my wisdom on pleasing everybody in the name of Jesus weren’t fulfilling. I was still empty.

Knowledge, even knowledge about God, wasn’t able to save me. Smarts on Scripture didn’t secure my soul. Understanding of sin couldn’t get me out of it.

I needed a different kind of knowing. I needed relating, trusting, relying, nearness. I needed the person of Christ. And I needed Him to save me.

When I entrusted all my bloated brain and shriveled heart to the One who knows it all, I found the only thing that’s really fulfilling: a relationship with the everlasting, almighty, perfect God.


For those of us who idolize knowledge, it’s hard to accept that information will never fulfill us on its own.

In the first post of this series, I proposed that knowing all about surgery didn’t qualify me to perform it. Knowing a surgeon wouldn’t qualify me either.

Knowledge isn’t meant to stay still. Knowledge needs to be in action to be fruitful.

This was the grievous error James so succinctly called out:

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” –James 1:22

Saving knowledge is knowledge of Christ responded to.

Sanctifying knowledge is knowledge of God learned from and acted on.

Growing knowledge is knowledge of the Spirit expanding through personal experience with the Spirit Himself.

Loving knowledge is knowledge of the love of God transforming the way we live and speak the truth.

The list goes on.

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Idolatry makes us greedy. Idolizing knowledge turns us into information-hoarders.

When we think we know a lot and are learning tons, we’re unlikely to test information against the Scriptures. We’re unlikely to control our tongues, blazing with fun facts as they are. What we are likely to do is “establish a righteousness” of our own, given that we need someplace to showcase all the knowledge we’ve collected. Hoarding our treasure troves of facts, what we gain we’ll only lose because knowledge serves no purpose on a shelf and out of use.

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Knowledge is just one in a long list of qualities we’re to increase in.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” –2 Peter 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

Even with knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be ineffective and unproductive. Knowledge alone doesn’t make us helpful to the Gospel. Information alone doesn’t fulfill what’s needed to make us fruitful in Christ.

The next verse goes on to warn that without these qualities- which are many more than just knowledge- we get nearsighted. So nearsighted we’re blinded.

Knowledge is often pictured as light- and just as with light, staring too intently at brilliance makes everything go dark.

Knowledge was never meant to fulfill us apart from Christ. When we try to let it fill us anyway- we end up bloated with emptiness.

We know the One who does fill us and fulfill us. We get to know Him personally. We are blessed to find all fullness in Him, loading us with and lighting up for us to see what we need to love, and serve, and glorify Him.

Let knowledge of Him alone lead to worship of Him alone! <Click to Tweet>


Are you getting to know God better? Does that help you worry less about feeling fulfilled?

Join me  (<–click here) to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Knowledge Isn’t All Powerful (4/6)

 

This post is the 4th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

Sitting down to play a board game is relaxing. Until it isn’t.

One game in particular gets my wheels spinning with a frustration that is probably healthy for me.

It’s called 7 Wonders. Each turn, every player selects a card from their hand and then passes the rest to their neighbor. Around and around the hands go, whittling down with each turn. Inevitably, I realize I’ve got two cards in a hand that will allow my neighbor to win. I can only take one card though.

Come the passing of the hands, my neighbor wins. And I knew they would. But I couldn’t do a thing about it.


We can know all about something and have no power to change it or act on it.

The anthem “knowledge is power” gets us on our feet until we’re on our knees, fully informed about something we can’t change. Whether we learn all about a loved ones’ diagnosis or gain insight into someone else’s success, knowledge does not always equate to power.

Forgetting this fact is one of the most frustrating things for wanna-know-it-alls like me.

I think of the prophets.

Even with visions of what was to come and warnings given by God, they had no power to change the course of the people.

God even told Ezekiel that as a watchman Ezekiel was not responsible for the people’s responses to the prophecies. He was merely responsible for speaking the truth. There was no sugarcoating. Ezekiel was to speak knowing the people would not listen and destruction would surely still come.

Ezekiel remarked:

“They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.” –Ezekiel 13:6

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We’re like that. We treat the knowledge we have like it’s the God-given truth and as if we’ve divined how to apply it properly. Using our knowledge, we proclaim how things are going to be. Then, we get mad when God doesn’t backup our plans with the power to see them through.

The gap between our knowledge and our power is where surrender lives. <Tweet this>

God is all-knowing and all-powerful. There’s nothing He doesn’t know about and nothing He can’t do something about.

That’s why we end up on our knees, fully informed and full incapable. We know the One who is capable, and we pray He exerts His power in a way that fits our knowledge.

However, God’s all-knowingness exceeds the information we have. We know the type of cancer, the odds, the way it affects the body. He knows all that too- and He knows how it fits into His perfect plan. God knows how to make good out of what’s not good. He can do it and He will.

Since His knowledge exceeds ours and He is good, we have reason to trust that whatever power He exerts, what He knows and what He does will align for our good and His glory.

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Surrendering to the One who is in control should be relieving.

If we’re honest about the limits of human knowledge, we realize it is good we aren’t in control. We don’t have the know-how to wield sovereignty well. And when we think we do, we can end up:

  • Growing egotistical and distant from God
  • Having “our own understanding” define our path
  • Leading others astray because our knowledge is limited
  • Unprepared to face the truth
  • Getting way ahead of ourselves and the Lord’s plans

Laying down what we know before the One who knows what to do protects us. Especially from messes like these. My husband points out, “What we don’t know we can’t control.” Whew.

Surrender in the space between knowledge and power relieves the tension that wears us and tears us as we live out the limits of being human.


Do you need to take knowledge off the pedestal of power to lay what you know at His feet?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge are due March 15th! More info on guest posting here.

Knowledge Isn’t Unchanging (2/6)

 

This post is the 2nd in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

For those who aren’t familiar, cursive is a style of penmanship with pretty curves and continuous lettering. I spent many days as an 8 year old carefully memorizing and mastering the script.

The teachers of the 1990s insisted cursive was the only writing allowed in high school and college. In my understanding, knowing cursive was currency for my ticket to success in the world.

Fear swelled up in me when my high school teachers began requiring us to type our work on the computer. My child-self never mastered Homerow or Touch Typing. I figured computers were for games and cursive was for life.

I called it wrong. Now I type at 55+ WPM using two fingers at a time. Kids who see my handwriting think I’m bilingual.

The knowledge I staked my hope on as a little girl changed gears and left me in the dust.

Knowledge’s changing nature and instability have thrown me for a loop in more profound ways, too. Years of resisting the Lord because I’d have to change my mind to accept His truth evidence that.


The vivid imagery of James 1:6 pictures a “wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

I feel for the wave.

Characterizing one who lacks wisdom and craves information but doubts what God says, the wave evidences what happens when we let the shifting nature of knowledge carry us through life.

At the mercy of the wind, untethered knowledge is always changing directions. Unanchored knowledge rises and falls as opinions, emotions, and other biases swell up inside it. Pursuing knowledge alone leaves us ever grasping after something that will always slip out of reach.

We can’t count on knowledge the way we count on God.

Knowledge isn’t unchanging, but God is.

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Once, when the disciples and Jesus were caught on the open sea in the midst of a storm, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. He has the authority and ability to do that.

Can we, in our shifting knowledge, even fathom what that takes? What does one have to know to still forces of nature? What kind of understanding can hold forces of nature in place to make a way for safe, stable passage?

God, in His infinite knowledge, can.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” –Mark 4:39

The rebuke is familiar to those of us living at the mercy of knowledge’s shifting, tumultuous seasons and limitations.

Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

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This is the knowledge that anchors our hope in Christ, who is unchanging.

Relying on knowledge as if it is God tosses us about. We are swayed by the next big idea. Our hopes are thrashed by the winds of change and unwanted possibility.

Relying on knowledge of God instead of knowledge as God secures us. <Click to Tweet>

We know the One who rules over the changing tides and routes the wind. He doesn’t shift and isn’t swayed. Let’s stake our hope in Him.


Do you idolize knowledge, despite its changing nature? 

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

Fear Fighting: By Knowing Who IS

So grateful for Kelly! I'm loving her book Fear Fighting. She's been a sweet friend to me, introducing and encouraging me in the blogging-for-the-Lord-world. Hope you enjoy her guest post- God With Us is a message I especially love at this time of year!
kelly

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear here. 

My son and I drove over a bridge we’d driven over a hundred and one times. It happened to be dark. Very dark.

Son, let me ask you a question, “How do you know that water is still there?”

He said, “Well Mommy, I know it is there because it’s just how it is. Water goes there.”

I wonder if we approach God the same way? We know God is there, because he just IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  (Ex. 3:14)
God IS who he IS.

He IS with us.
He IS for us.
He IS fighting on our behalf.
He IS liberator.
He IS hope.

He IS light.
He IS creator.
He IS Savior.

The truth IS: God has you. God so has you. More than your mind can conceive.

That issue before you? God already walked ahead of it.
The idea you’ll fail? He knows your way.
The fear your children will get hurt? He is their hope.

The past that haunts you? By his stripes you are healed. (Is. 53:5)
The inadequacies that berate you? In your weakness, his power is perfected. (2 Cor. 12:9)

When trepidation surrounds, know this: God has you tighter than the clothes you wear. He has you more strongly than the house that surrounds you. He will not let fall what he has built. He will not crumble what He is behind.

He IS before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:17

kelly-post

I learned to find rest for my fears, for my worries and for my anxiety as I wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears. Perhaps, today is the day you find rest in who he IS and what he IS leading you. You see, great are his promises for us.

And, great IS the King. A King who takes care of his children. He brings them within his house and places a banqueting table before them. He does not set their seat a distance of ten feet from the table and mock them. He doesn’t lay out succulent dishes before them and make the salivate. He doesn’t place them just out of arms reach from his glorious goodness. He sits them down at his table of spiritual blessings and says – eat!

Eat! My love for you is great! Enjoy! For what I want you to be full! Celebrate! You need not feel guilty in doing that! I want you to have all I have. I want you to know my life. I welcome you as a chosen one. Come and partake. Come and, not only sit with me, but be full with me and then stay with me – forever.

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

Blessed is she who knows God IS good.
At peace is she who believes God’s love IS what casts out fear.

Full is one who sits where God IS.

Prayer: 

God, may I sit at your table all the days of my life. May I welcome in the bounty that is you. You are enough. Let me not walk away from you for a vision of lesser things. Let me not get distracted with the disorienting ways of the world. Let me not see the faults of others and therefore, miss the fantastic nature of you. Let me not get caught up with progress and miss the process of laying my head on you. Let me not hear the fans and the fanfare so I am unable to get fantastically fanatical about staying in your love. Let me not get so comfortable with sin unapparent, I fool myself into thinking I am religious. Let me not waste away days thinking I knew you, when I chose not to. Don't let me delude myself; it is easy to do. Amen.

Interested in fighting fear? Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. www.fearfightingbook.com

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Lie 8: Sin Should Be Left In The Dark

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We don’t like to look sin in the face and see it for what it is.

We’re tempted by it, yes. We have a propensity for it, yes. But we really hate to face it.

I remember one of the first times I did.

Case Study: The Christian Who Didn’t Need Saving

Early in our relationship, my husband and I kicked back in campus center arm chairs and slipped into conversation about God. I wasn’t saved, but as best I knew, I was a Christian.

My understanding of sin was wrapped in false humility and security. It was boxed in liturgical or experiential confession. My sin content was stuffed, I believed, with mere mistakes and results of others’ crimes against me. I kept it hidden behind my good deeds and spiritual talk.

But my then-boyfriend went digging. He showed me his sin stuff. With a big smile on his face, I remember him pointing to the floor like his sin was laid bare there. Then he pointed up and told me to understand the heights of Christ’s love and forgiveness meant understanding the depths of sin.

He didn’t ask me to expose my secret stash to him, but he demonstrated a reason compelling me to expose it to God.

Bringing sin into the light of Christ shows us what we are saved from, and by whom. It’s a glorious, relieving, revitalizing exposition. 

To keep sin in the dark, once a believer, is a bit like sitting in a hospital after surgery pretending you have no wound, no treatment to complete, no therapy to continue to work through.

Though the problem is taken care of, the effects are still to be dealt with. The wound needs to be seen, addressed, and cared for. It’s in the hard work of tending to exposed weakness that we heal.

That’s what bringing sin out of the dark into Christ’s light is all about: healing.

Believers still have mess and hurt and sin to face. But in all our still present darkness and pain, we also know the light, the healer. We know Him, and we know the warmth of His illumination- even in the cold of sin.

Saved sin is safely in the care of Christ.

But Saved sinners still need the care of Christ.

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In Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also…We have a strong argument to plead, for it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen—‘the power . . . by which you have worked for us.’ Do you think He will fail to protect and provide that?

There’s a reason He sent the Holy Spirit to help believers. Saved sinners still need God. In them, with them, every day.

Now forevermore reconciled to God, believers can be unhindered by shame and the bounds of saved sin. Believers can enjoy fellowship with God, stewarding their lives as those abiding in Him.

Through abiding, even addressing and confessing to God our saved sin, we “walk in the light” of Christ.

In the light, we can “have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7.)

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Sin thrives in the dark.

Come into the light where Christ is, where sin is forgiven, shame is disintegrated, and facing the truth means looking full in the face of our loving Savior.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Lie 5: Your Sin Isn’t Your Fault

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the rest here.)

We like to dismiss our sins as being someone else’s fault.

After all, so many sins are committed against every one of us. Every marriage between two sinners has hurts due to sin. Children suffer the natural consequences of their parents’ sins. It’s not hard to accurately blame others for hurting us, misleading us, and tempting us to our own sins.

But we must be careful.

To keep us from facing our own sin, evil deceitfully redirects us to others’ sins.

Yet each of us will give a personal account to God (Romans 14:12.)

We will not be held accountable for the sins committed against us, but we are responsible for the sins we commit in response. It’s important to spot the difference.

The issues we face when we fail to recognize our own responsibility for sin include:

  • A lack of knowing who to or how to forgive
  • Refusing to change though Christ has made the way
  • Excusing our sins instead of asking forgiveness
  • Maintaining only a narrow view of God’s grace
  • Resisting transformation by our Lord

Not only do we tend to remain in the bonds of sin when we cast the blame on others’ issues and ignore our own, but we also perpetuate our own sin.

Case Study: Anxiety

A parent constantly belittling a child can do great harm. It’s not surprising when children who are mistreated like this grow up to be anxious as they question their worth and abilities.

God will hold parents who mistreat their children accountable.

Likewise, believers whose anxieties direct their steps, even if their anxiety is rooted in childhood maltreatment, will also be held accountable. We are not on the hook for a parent’s mistreatment, nor for reacting as a human does. But we are responsible for sinning against God ourselves by letting anxiety be a master.

Understanding what we are accountable for is essential for dealing with sin effectively.

To excuse sin on the basis of victimization is to make too little of God -and too much of the power of sins committed against us.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness-2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sins we commit because of sins committed against us are a picture of the weakness Paul refers to.

It wasn’t Paul who put the thorn in his own side. But it was Paul who had the choice to lean, aching, into the sufficiency of the grace of God instead of choosing to act out of his hurt.

That’s what we’re accountable for regarding sin- our thoughts, our attitudes, our choices. What we begin, and what we perpetuate.

Scripture tells us God holds us accountable for our hidden faults, the sins we have trouble discerning in ourselves (Psalm 19:12.)

God divides soul and spirit, He alone “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12.)

The truth is intimidating. We truly are without excuse.

Sin really is a choice we each make,

not something we can pass off as someone else’s fault.

<Tweet this>

Praise the Lord we aren’t stuck in judgement. We know the verdict.

Taking responsibility for our sin gives us the ownership needed to bring it before Christ and be forgiven. Taking responsibility for what we can control -us- is a sure way to the grace of God.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” Hebrews 4:16 continues.

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We don’t approach with confidence because we are faultless, victimized, or progressing well in the sanctification process.

No, we approach God’s throne with confidence because of who He is, knowing that He who holds us perfectly accountable through Christ also intends for us to: “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When the temptation is tied to things that aren’t our fault, it’s hard to step up and say “no.” Sin tempts us at our weakest.

Praise the Lord- He breaks the chains that tell us someone else decided for us. Because of Christ, it’s never too late to be free to live assured in Him!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

What Is Love

We know about many characteristics of love, traits like those listed in 1 Cor 13; patience, kindness, humility, etc.

We certainly are aware of examples of Biblical love, like that provided in John 3:16. The Bible teaches us much about the actions and consequences of love, as in Romans 13 or John 15, which describe doing no wrong to a neighbor or laying down one’s life for a friend as loving.

But…what is love?

Read the rest of this guest post over at Uniquely Yours Ministries

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

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Resting With A Yoke On

I’m one of those happy people who gets to work in my pajamas sometimes. My work, however, doesn’t involve sleeping. I have to be awake. More than that, I have to be thinking, communicating, and putting significant effort in if I’m going to do a good job. You too, huh?

Maybe I was just extra-ready for bed, but when I read the classic verse recently, the reference to “rest” made me laugh:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” –Matthew 11:29

Who rests with a yoke on?

Worn by animals under the direction of their master as they labor, yokes are devices for steering oxen and other livestock through the process of completing their purpose. Biblically, people are referred to as being under the yoke of slavery to sin and the yoke of kings or oppressive nations.

Taking on Jesus’ yoke means we, as laborers for Christ, submit to Him as a master. Jesus tells us about what He’s like as a master: gentle and humble. He says His yoke teaches us. That certainly differs from other kinds of yokes used to burden or belittle.

But the idea of His yoke being restful?

Work isn’t restful- even for doers like me.

Of course, the plain text isn’t talking about sleep-rest. What Jesus refers to is “rest for your soul.”

Rest for the soul– that we actually do find when submitting to His yoke, as His laborers.

rest-for-the-soul-that-we-actually-do-find-when-submitting-to-his-yoke-as-his-laborers

Our lives are wrapped up in striving. We live by effort, working at this and that to create and fulfill until it’s time for what’s next. We work for money just to need to work for more money. Our goals are stepping stones to bigger goals. The mentality tends to be “make it count.”

Meanwhile, our souls are ever straining against the yokes of these masters. Our earthly masters don’t aim to fulfill us, but to be fulfilled.

Whether money, reputation, ambition, or meaning, our not-Christ masters and their yokes chaff against the truth of what God made us for: Him.

“That is why we labor and strive,” Paul explains to Timothy, “because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior” (1 Timothy 4:10.)

Do you want rest for your soul, rest for the soul weary from the striving to save you using money, fame, ambition, or anything else?

Put your hope in your Savior. You’ll put on His yoke. He’ll lead you without all the chaffing and straining against deadlines and expectations you weren’t made to meet. He’ll lead you in the way of perfect peace, a soul-restful path indeed.

 

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.