Recently I have been convicted of my Love Walk, and of how I view others. As a believer the reason I am here on earth is to bear the image of God, Love. If I have not Love, I have nothing. The goal of my instruction.... is Love.
It is important that as a Christian, I don’t let “my right to do what I want” become more important than loving others. Love is selfless, it considers others above self. If I am to actually BECOME Love, I need to realize that what I do matters. It matters to God because it can have an affect on others. Do my actions point people to the Father? Is how I conduct myself pointing people to God?
These are questions not to put you down, but to encourage you.
It is important to ALWAYS go to the Word to see how we can answer these type of questions. People may tell you that it’s okay to do this, you can live a certain way, but the Word is very clear on how a believer should conduct themselves.
If I want to mature in Christ, grow up into Him in all things, I need to let His word transform me inside and out.
I want to challenge you with a question.
Is it a sin to do _____?
Many times the question shouldn’t be can I do this____. The question should be what is my heart’s motive.
Paul gives great insight to us in 1 Corinthians.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
I Corinthians 6:12 NKJV
All things are lawful, okay for me to do, but not everything is helpful. Just because “I can” do something doesn’t mean I should.
“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.”
1 Corinthians 6:12 AMPC
“It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything.”
1 Corinthians 6:12 TPT
My witness to others is far more important than my personal freedom. When “my right” to do something is more important than my ability to love others, minister to others, be an image bearer, it is WRONG.
“Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].”
1 Corinthians 8:9 AMPC
Paul used an example in Chapter 8 of Corinthians of “food” that was offered to idols. He wrote specific to the time, and culture of the church in Corinth. He goes on to say later in the Chapter,
“For suppose someone sees you, a man having knowledge [of God, with an intelligent view of this subject and] reclining at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged and emboldened [to violate his own conscientious scruples] if he is weak and uncertain, and eat what [to him] is for the purpose of idol worship? And so by your enlightenment (your knowledge of spiritual things), this weak man is ruined (is lost and perishes)–the brother for whom Christ (the Messiah) died! And when you sin against your brethren in this way, wounding and damaging their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother's falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.”
1 Corinthians 8:10-13 AMPC
Apply that to our day.... Is it a sin to have a glass of wine? Is it a sin smoke? Is it a sin to use cannabis? Is it a sin to stay out late at someone who isn’t my spouses house?
I believe that is the wrong question. As a believer, God’s grace is not a license for me to do whatever I want. His grace is His ability for me to become Love.
I believe God is calling each of us to a higher place. A place to be more like him. A place where we lay aside those things which aren’t necessary, so that our witness to others may be seen bright.
He called us out of darkness and into the light.
He has set us apart from the world.
My witness to others is far more important than me doing what I want.
This isn’t written to put you down. I’m not bashing anyone. This also isn’t written for you to look at your spouse, friends or family, and see how THEY are could be wrong. This is for you! To build you up. I’m simply highlighting what Paul wrote, to encourage myself, and you to be EVERYTHING God has called us to be.
Let's become Love this week.
Traditionally, during the months of November and December, some people complain a lot about being worn out, tired, stressed and/or overwhelmed. Let’s face it… there is a lot to do!! I believe this year can be a different holiday season for each of us as we choose to apply faith regarding true rest.
I used to think rest just meant sneaking in a cat nap on an otherwise fully scheduled day; or even heading to bed a little earlier than normal. While quality sleep is a must, there is a broader definition of rest. Honestly, for me, I felt like taking a nap was “wasting time”. Perhaps you find it easy to take a nap or head to bed early. Or perhaps you are like me and push through when it seems there are things to do.
God never intended for us to live a stressed out, rest-deprived life. John 10:10 in the New Living Translation says, “The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Jesus came so we could not only have life, but also enjoy it! If we find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed, we really are not enjoying life.
The first part of Isaiah 14:3 (KJV) discusses rest. “And it shall come to pass in the day, that the LORD shall give thee rest…” Here the Hebrew translation of the word rest is to give comfort, to cease from, to be quiet and remain. The idea is that when we walk in true rest, we cease from doing that which is preventing us from resting. Within this definition a change in what we are doing can bring rest. Note that this may not always mean sleeping, but rather a change or cessation of what one is doing or a direction one is going.
In the New Testament, Matthew 11:28 gives a great picture of rest. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here the word rest translates as a refreshing. Some people think that God will just immediately give them rest. Well the next verse gives us some more direction: Matthew 11:29 (KJV), “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
As we learn to walk in the way He directs, we will find true rest. For example, God may tell us not to commit to an event three months down the road when we are going to need to be free then. Or He may tell us to take an afternoon off from our normal schedule. When He leads us to say no to a commitment or opportunity, He is helping us find that refreshing. When we learn of Him, and follow His guiding, we will consistently find true rest.
So, when we are following His leading, we can find true refreshing for our lives! I love the way this verse in Matthew is laid out in The Message Bible. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (MSG)
That real rest is what I am endeavoring to walk in everyday. While events, responsibilities, holiday duties could cause any of to feel overwhelmed and worn out, we can walk in real rest when we learn to trust Him with our schedule! He will lead us and guide us.
On the natural side it is also important to remember that each of us refresh and refuel in different ways. For example, when looking at personality strengths, someone with a dominant approach usually find that refreshing is doing something. This can truly provide rest if it is doing something different than normal. Like the Hebrew definition revealed, rest can be found when one ceases from the direction he or she is going. On the other hand, a person with a strong interpersonal personality finds himself or herself refueled and refreshed when spending time with others. Ways to truly rest are endless!
Still think you can’t walk in real rest because of your lifestyle? Consider the following:
1. Perhaps your natural schedule needs to change.
2. Are you trusting God to lead and guide you everyday?
3. Are you trusting Him to provide true refreshing for you?
4. Are you spending time in His presence daily?
Let’s endeavor to apply our faith to this part of our lives. Let’s head into the holiday season and the new year trusting God to guide us and to show us how to find real rest in Him. Let’s recognize when we are trying to function solely in our own strength and let’s change that and fully rely on God for direction, strength and rest. Let’s make sure we are daily in His presence and seeking His face as we grow in this area of life.
Pray this prayer with me:
Thank You Lord, for showing me Your desire for me to daily find real rest. Thank You Lord, for sending Your Son Jesus to die for me so that I can have and enjoy life. Father forgive me for trying to do things on my own. I will endeavor to learn Your unforced rhythms of living and walking out my life. I will trust You to show me how to find real rest. Thank You Lord for Your supernatural strength to live life.
Isaiah 14:3a (KJV)
And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest…
Matthew 11:28-30 (Amp)
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST (renewal, blessed quiet) FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30 ( The Message)
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
“What you believe about yourself determines how you live”
These words echo in my ears still to this day. God spoke these words to me about 3 to 4 years ago before I started Bible College. At the time, I was a Christian who did my best to live right, yet I still fell short in many areas. My struggle with sin was “a battle” in my mind. I felt terrible about myself. I felt like a hypocrite every day when I woke up. I hated looking at myself in the mirror because I knew I was supposed to be better, but for whatever reason I could never meet that standard I had for myself.
Many of you may also feel this way. You know that God calls you to a higher standard. You know you shouldn’t sin, yet you keep finding yourself repeating the same habits. Like me you’ll find yourself with a guilty heart when you go to church. You’ll feel terrible about yourself.
The good news is that you can completely change this area of your life by simply changing what you believe about yourself.
Many of you have heard “Well we all sin and fall short. We all make mistakes. We all mess up. Nobody is perfect”. These sayings are so common yet none of them encourage us to be what God has made us to be.
The Bible does not teach that you are a mistake waiting to happen. The Bible does not teach that you are just a “sinner saved by grace”. The Bible teaches the opposite. You are completely DEAD to sin. You are no longer a sinner. You are not a mistake waiting to happen. You are not always going to fall short.
Scripture is STRONG on this subject. God began to lead me into this truth and it has completely changed my life. He showed me that what I believe about myself determines how I live my life. If I wake up and believe that “I am just a sinner saved by grace” I am still that sinner. I am still going to mess up. And I will use the saying “Well nobody is perfect” to keep me where I am at, instead of living in what God made me to be — holy, flawless, righteous, perfect in His sight.
Let’s take a look and see what scripture has to say about it. Pay close attention to the bold words.
Romans 6:1-2 HCSB
“What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Romans 6:6 TPT
“Could it be any clearer that our former identity is now and forever deprived of its power? For we were co-crucified with him to dismantle the stronghold of sin within us, SO THAT WE WOULD NOT CONTINUE TO LIVE ONE MOMENT LONGER SUBMITTED TO SIN’S POWER.
Romans 6:12 & 14 TPT
“Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings”
“Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God.”
Romans 6:10-11 TPT
10 For by his sacrifice he died to sin’s power once and for all, but he now lives continuously for the Father’s pleasure. 11 So let it be the same way with you! Since you are now joined with him, you must continually view yourselves as dead and unresponsive to sin’s appeal while living daily for God’s pleasure in union with Jesus, the Anointed One.
Romans 6:22-23 TPT
“22 But now, as God’s loving servants, you live in joyous freedom from the power of sin. So consider the benefits you now enjoy—you are brought deeper into the experience of true holiness that ends with eternal life! 23 For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.”
Could it be any clearer? We are not sinners. You are not going to always mess up. Remember, how can you who died to sin still live in it, Free from sin, dead to sin.
God kept me in Romans 6 for almost 2 years. Think He was trying to get something across to me? Every time I would open my Bible I would eventually be drawn back to Romans 6.
See before, I never saw myself as completely flawless. I didn’t believe I was holy. I didn’t “view myself as dead to sin”. I didn’t know this truth. I thought by my actions, I had to live up to being flawless. All this did was put me in an endless cycle of struggle.
If you change what you believe about yourself you too can live completely free from sin. Free from its stain, its guilt, its unhealthy effects, its claims, and any ugly thing that comes with it.
Some of you deep down know you are called to be more, but you keep going back down the same road. You know better, yet there you are again. You find out what my cousin Josh says, “that the moment is never enough”. You are hiding it from people, but you are miserable. You go out on the weekends, and make it to church because you feel bad about yourself. You get mad and think people are judging you when the whole time its your own heart and conscience. God is there the whole time trying to lead you into this truth. You are dead to sin. Change what you believe about yourself and you can live free from it all. You NEVER have to sin again. And yes I mean never. One of my favorite things I have learned in this truth is that I never have to think about sin again. It doesn’t have any power over me. It’s a dethroned monarch. And I never have to fall into its trap again.
I am not saying you will never mess up. Many times while I have been learning this truth, I fell. God showed me that is not who I am though. 1 John 1:9 says if I fall, He is faithful to cleanse me of it all and show me who I really am.
The powerful and freeing truth is that once I view myself as free from sin, I don’t think about messing up, I think about pleasing God. I am no longer struggling to do right, I believe that God has made me right, therefore I do right. I don’t think about “well what if I….”. I think about how He has made me completely righteous, and that when I believe that, the byproduct is holiness (Romans 5).
If you can change what you believe about yourself, you will change how you live. Jesus didn’t have an easy life. The Bible says He was tempted in all the same ways you and I were, yet He never sinned. How was that possible? Because He believed in who God made Him to be. If you want to do the same, be like Jesus. Believe that God has freed you from sin, and you never have to fail again.
Below is a free mediation tool for you to use. Try it out during your devotion time.
I am not broken,
“ Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored,”
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things[k] have come.
There is a phenomenon in our society today to focus on the brokenness of man, and mans need for God. While this is true, Jesus didn’t die so that we would stay broken. In fact, because of Jesus, we are no longer broken. We are restored. All it takes to restore the brokenness of man is faith in Jesus. Once you believe in Him, all that brokenness, failure and sin is completely done away with, and you are whole and complete. You can now live a life fulfilled because Jesus has made you whole.
Father, today I thank you that because of Jesus I am no longer broken. I am completely restored because of Him. All that you made me to be I can live in, no longer striving and straining to repair myself. You made me whole. I am repaired. I am restored.
One of the greatest revelations that I have ever received is that it’s not about me. I know that much of the Bible talks about what God has done for me through the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating of Jesus at the right of hand of God. But, once I have received what Jesus has done for me and have been born again, making me a child of God, life is no longer about me.
The struggle to be and to obtain is the way of the world. The constant scheming and positioning for status and power consumes the world and many Christians.
We have a great example of this in the gospel of Matthew. As recorded in Matthew 20:20-28, James and John brought their mother to Jesus to ask for special important places in His coming kingdom.
Matthew 20:20-21 ESV Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. (21) And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom."
When the other 10 disciples heard about this request they were furious. Why? Maybe they were wanting the same positions? Maybe this type of one-upmanship was common among these where on the ministry staff of the Lord Jesus? Regardless of the reason, the Scripture points out that they were moved in their emotions over this incident.
Jesus is quick to call them together for a staff meeting and to refocus them on how He lived and ministered.
Matthew 20:25 (ESV) But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.”
Here we see His observation on how the world separated from God’s way, Gentiles, operates. The world lords over and exercises authority over others. The reason they do this is to maintain their status and position. It is a selfish type of life.
We have seen this way of life increase in our society. The “Me Generation” espoused the philosophy of you’ve got to take care of number one, you, above all else. At its root is the belief that no else cares for me. With that belief in place each one must do whatever is necessary to others to get what they need no matter what it costs. But Jesus has a different and better way.
Matthew 20:26-28 (MKJV) However, it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. (27) And whoever desires to be chief among you, let him be your servant; (28) even as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Status power, and greatness, in the God’s Kingdom is accomplished by serving others. Greatness is not how many people serve you. The greatest person who has ever walked this earth, lived the God kind of life and served others. He did not demand others serve him. His life and ministry were not about Him. He came to give His life, not enhance His life. He came to lift others, not be lifted.
In the margin of my Bible, I have been writing the phrase “Not About Me” next to verses that help me live a life of serving. I am determined to live this life the way God intended me to live it. I am finding the more I make it about others the more my needs are met through my union with Him. My desire for status and power are satisfied by the Well of Living Water that is in me that quenches every personal thirst that I have.
Here are a few of those scripture references. Let these help you in your selfless life. I have made bold the portion of the verse that applies to “Not About Me.”
Mark 3:14 (ESV) And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.
Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 13:10 (ESV) Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 15:1-2 (ESV) We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
1 Corinthians 9:19 (ESV) For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV) Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
1 Corinthians 10:33 (ESV)Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
2 Corinthians 5:15 (ESV) And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Galatians 5:13 (ESV) For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV) Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (2) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (3) For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
These are just a few of the many verses that have helped me. Start with these if you want, but I encourage you to make your own list. Keep this in the forefront of your thinking and let the Holy Spirit lead you to verses you need.
Remember, its “Not About Me!”
One of my favorite quotes regarding gifts and talents was penned by the author Dr. Charles Boyd. He stated, “Any strength pushed to an extreme can become a weakness” (2004). When considering the strengths God has given each one of us, we have to consider if we are us using our strengths as they were truly designed. I believe our gifts and talents are an integral part of our calling in life - that good plan God has for each of us. Furthermore, our gifts are designed to bless others.
Do you know anyone who is gifted and talented in a specific area, but can’t seem to get along with others or as many say, “play nice”? Many times that person has simply pushed his or her strength to the extreme. Let’s consider an individual who is gifted to lead. This leader has the gifts and talents needed in his or her life to successfully lead others. This leader can be direct and bold without fear- all characteristics needed for this person to lead. However, when boldness is pushed to the extreme it can come across as rudeness toward others. It can come across as being blunt and uncaring. So in this case, being too bold changes the very gift needed for success into a unwelcome weakness and many times a gift unaccepted by others.
The best way to be effective in a strength is to focus on operating that strength through love.
I Corinthians 13:4-5 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible states;
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs”.
For the idea of not being conceited, the Message Bible uses the phrase- “does not have a swelled head”. We probably all know dominant people- with true gifts to lead - who lead with swelled heads. They lead with a conceited attitude and thereby cause their strength to become a weakness. This is simply a picture of not walking out their gifting through the plan of God’s love.
What about an individual who has a gifting to help others? That sounds like a real strength! However, if helping is pushed to the extreme or not done in love, it becomes a hindrance to both the helper and the one being helped! The helper can start doing things his or her own way, being pushy, thinking only his or her way is correct and causing more problems than would have occurred if they didn’t even help. In this particular example, the strength of helping becomes a liability because it is not executed in kindness or patience. It is not done in love.
Another aspect that can cause a strength to become a weakness or liability is fear. When any part of life is lived out through fear, the result is never good. Martha gives a good picture of this truth. Being a person who also likes details, I always used to feel sorry for Martha. I mean, no question Mary chose the best thing- sitting at the feet of Jesus; but someone had to make sure the home was in order and the food was prepared, right?? In the back of my mind I would think...why didn’t Mary help her? Didn’t Mary care about any of those “things” that seemed so important to Martha? I would guess that Martha had a gifting or strength in the area of hospitality. It appears that perhaps in this particular event she pushed it to the extreme by maybe being fearful of what Jesus thought by focusing on how good the house looked, how great the food was, and why Mary wasn’t caring about these details. I believe Martha was upset because Mary wasn’t stressed, like she was! Fear can cause us to lose focus and use our strengths outside of the love walk.
I John 4:18 reminds us,
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (NKJV).
We can love others by sharing our gifts and talents with them. We must never be afraid of any response from others; but rather be compelled to love.
Finally, each of us can find our best success when we share our strengths in love and when we celebrate each other’s gifts and talents by valuing them. By doing this, we not only find fulfillment, but also aid in helping others to walk out their callings.
Start today. See value in other’s gifts. Over celebrate those around you. And make sure you are using your gifting in love.
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“What are you thankful for?”
That was the question I was greeted with every morning from one of my instructors in Bible College. It didn’t matter that it was early in the morning, and that no one in the class was fully awake yet. He expected every member of the class to have their hand raised, fully prepared with something to be thankful for.
I remember during the first week of class most people were thankful for God helping them with their finances. Whether someone's tuition was paid for, someone received a large tip at work, or someone got a new job, many of my classmates were thankful for their financial breakthrough.
While our instructor encouraged us all to find reasons to be thankful and to acknowlede God working in our lives, he also began to help us make adjustments to our perspective about Thanksgiving.
He told us, the highest level of thankfulness is actually thanking God for who He is, for eternal things, and for things that will never change. He said, “Ask yourself a question. What if someone hadn’t paid off your tuition? What would you do if someone doesn’t give you a big tip at work tomorrow? Would you still be able to find a reason to thank God?”
He wanted us to see that we can’t let our circumstances be the reason we thank God. Circumstances are always subject to change. If I can only have a good day and acknowledge the goodness of God when all the areas of my life are just as I want them, I am setting myself up for a life of disappointment. But, if I allow my day to be good because I’m aware that God Himself is good, then I can live a thankful life regardless of the circumstances around me.
If I am aware that God Himself is good I can live a life of thankfulness no matter the world around me.
One of my favorite verses about thankfulness is found in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
At the heart of this verse, it says not to let worry about your situation overwhelm you, but rather talk to God about the situation and pray to Him about it. It’s important not to ONLY talk to Him about it. Scripture also calls us to enter into a place of thankfulness. I believe it’s not just thanking Him that the situation you are concerned with is taken care of, but thanking Him because he cares for you. Thanking Him that before the foundations of the world, He chose and accepted you. Thanking Him that before you did anything to earn it, He chose to love you. Thanking Him that He sent his Son Jesus to wash away all your sin, and to bring you back into a relationship with Him. Every day, I can choose to be thankful that I’m righteous, healed, and a child of God. I can choose to be thankful that He is always with me, always for me, and he will never leave my side. All these things are eternal and will never change, even when the circumstances around me do.
The benefit of entering this type of thanksgiving is experiencing the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. That means that even when I should have every reason to be stressed out, worried, or anxious, I can set my awareness on God. I can talk to Him, thank Him for who He is and experience His peace guarding my heart and mind.
When I am thankful to God for who He is, I can be confident that who He is will never change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Since I know that He loves me, I know that he will always have my back. Because He’s with me, I know that I’m never in any situation on my own.
When I’m thankful to God these things, it puts me into an awareness of Him. When I am aware of Him, that puts me into position to experience Him. That means that thanking God for who He is, gives me the ability to live from a higher perspective than my current situation. When I can see things from a higher view, I can see that the situation I’m facing will not last forever.
Whatever you are going through will fade away. This difficult and trying season will pass. But God, the very source of love and peace, will always remain. I encourage you this week, no matter what you’re facing, see things from a new perspective. Make yourself aware of Him and become thankful to God for who He is to you. As you do, I am confident that you will begin experiencing his peace and goodness in every area of your life.
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“Our souls crave intimacy” — Erwin Raphael McManus
All humans desire relationship. We crave to be known and genuinely heard. We desire to be cared for. It's in us. We were created to have intimacy. Through the fall of man, that pure desire for intimacy has been corrupted so much, that many of us today have never fully experienced intimacy. It is important that we understand what intimacy is and where it should be found.
Intimacy means closeness. It means connection Most commonly it is used in referring to the close relationship between a husband and a wife. It also means all these things, ”Closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, amity, affection, warmth and confidence."
All my life I had sought intimacy through relationships. Through people. I thought a person had to be the one where intimacy would be found.
Intimacy is never to be found ONLY through people.
Intimacy is meant to be found through the person of God. And from that place of experiencing intimacy with Him, we can experience genuine intimacy with others.
Scripture is strong on making it known that God wants intimacy with us.
Psalm 139:1-4 says
“1 Lord, you have searched me and known me
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
2 You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
3–4 You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.”
One thing about intimacy we must understand is connection. When you have intimacy with someone, there is nothing between you and them. There are no hinderances, there are no walls between. If you are hiding something from the person, there can be no intimacy. Intimacy means unity, oneness, closeness.
This is how we are to be with God. Nothing between us. No hinderances in our relationship. Nothing between us. The Bible talks about “The veil”. The veil has many meanings, but perhaps the most important meaning is "what was between the glory of God & us". Meaning what was between us and intimately experiencing God.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says,
“16 But the moment one turns to the Lord with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see. 17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit, and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The moment you turn to the Lord, everything that was hindering you from experiencing an intimate relationship with God is removed. That's the freedom that Jesus provided for us. We can now draw close, because there is nothing for us to hide. There are no dirty closets God does not know about. There is nothing about you God is going to find out about, and change His mind. Once you say yes to Jesus, there is intimacy with you and God.
We must come to understand that there is nothing keeping you from intimately experiencing God everyday. You have the ability right now to have such an intimate, romantic, close, deep relationship with God. This is what you were created for. You weren’t created to live life and find intimacy only through your spouse. You must find intimacy with God.
The truth is, Jesus tore the veil. He got rid of everything that would hinder intimacy with God. Because of what He did on the cross, He provided intimacy for ALL of the world. Every person. However, even though He tore the veil for all, not all have intimacy with God.
Right now in this very moment, God is personally wooing all to Him. He is sharing His love to every single person. He is crying out. He deeply desires an intimate relationship with every person. It is our response to that love that puts us in a position to have intimacy with God.
This is so much more than just saying yes to Jesus & going to heaven one day. This is living it what Jesus died for now. This is what real Christianity is. Intimacy with God.
Intimacy with God will teach you how to have intimacy with your spouse. It will teach you how to have healthy dating relationships, how to have healthy friendships. This love relationship with God is the most important relationship because out of it will flow the development of your life.
Find Intimacy with God
How do I have intimacy with God?
This may look different for every person. It is your own personal relationship with God that you must develop. However, these are some things that helped me. Feel free to steal them. Try them out.
1. Seeing myself as His Bride
This one may be easier for ladies. But guys, you have to do this too. Not in a weird way. But I encourage you to get alone with God. Shut the door. Use your God given imagination. See yourself before the Lord. See Him pull the veil off of you. Read the Book of Song of Songs in the Passion Translation. See how the Lord speaks to the Bride. See what He is saying over you. See how He feels about you. See how you make Him feel. Talk to God about How He says He feels about you. Thank Him for it. Thank Him for seeing you how He does. Talk to Him about how that makes you feel.
What you are doing in that moment is developing your relationship with God. God is the master at relationships. However you still have to put effort in on your end to put YOURSELF in a position to experience the Master at relationships.
2. Worship personally
This one was huge for me. At church, instead of just entering into a sing along concert, personally see yourself with God- alone. Sing the song to Him. Sing the song personally. Use personal pronouns. Go off the melody. Use your imagination. Thank Him for the truths you are singing. What this does at church is it teaches you how to have this kind of relationship with God when you are alone. This is how you can be in the car, in the shower, in your kitchen. The world is filled with “love songs”. Why not develop a relationship with God where you sing love songs to each other.
A great place to start is to listen to songs that are from God’s view towards you. Listen to Him singing over you. Then sing to Him. Find a song that would be you letting Him know how you love Him too.
Example: Cece’s Lullaby - Steffany Gretzinger (God to you)
Jesus We Love you (You to God)
3. Start seeing yourself as one with God.
It's so important that you view yourself as one with God. Unified. One. Together. One great tip to developing intimacy with God is to realize that at every moment of every day God is with you. Not only is He with you but He is thinking good things about you. Start making yourself aware of this on your way to work. God is totally infatuated with you in a healthy way. What this does causes you to respond to the most pure and healthy love. God's love.
These are just a couple things I have done to help my relationship with God. Everyone is different. Develop your own. Personally talk to Him.
If you have any questions at all, thoughts, comments about intimacy with God please reach out to me. Part of my calling in life is to help people develop a real genuine relationship with God. Not something complicated. But the truth.
You can have an intimate relationship with God today.
I am persuaded that one of the missing ingredients in the world in which we live is Godly fear. Yet the Bible is not silent on this subject. The book of Proverbs, God’s wisdom book for practical living, is full of references to this indispensable attribute. As a Christian we need to live a life of Godly fear. Let’s find out what the fear of God (fear of the Lord) is and how we develop it.
To properly define and understand the fear of the Lord we must go to the Bible. As we stated the book of Proverbs is a study in the fear of the Lord. In it we find the answers for which we are looking.
Proverbs 2:1-5 “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” (Bold lettering and italics added by author)
Does that describe you? Are you crying after knowledge and lifting your voice for understanding? When you seek after God’s wisdom as you would a buried treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the first or starting point. In order to finish the race you must start. And no one should start anywhere but at the starting line or beginning. With the great revival of the teaching of God’s Word that we have seen in the last forty years there is a desire for more knowledge and wisdom. We are admonished to seek after wisdom and get knowledge with understanding. However, many have not seen what comes first.
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
Before knowledge comes the fear of the Lord. Before wisdom comes the fear of the Lord. Or we may say it this way; the first knowledge and wisdom to gain is in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the foundation upon which all knowledge and wisdom finds its stability. The Hebrew literally says that the fear of the Lord is the principle part of knowledge and wisdom.
So, let’s define the fear of the Lord. There are many definitions given and all of them have merit. There are two that speak to me:
Proverbs 8:13 “The Fear-of-GOD means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion-- pride and arrogance and crooked talk.” – Message
Ask yourself these questions to see where you are in fear of the Lord:
As you begin to have healthy Fear of The Lord, your walk with God will fall into the place it was always meant to, real relationship. You will learn & grow as a believer.
- Gregurich Ministries
If someone asked me, “Are you envious?”, I would quickly respond with a resounding, “No”. I mean, why would I be envious of someone else? But I would challenge each of us to look within and honestly examine your heart.
The word envy has to do with being jealous of one another. Envy also denotes having ill-will toward another person. We can become envious of each other when we compare ourselves. II Corinthians 10:12 indicates that it is not wise to compare ourselves to one another. Why then is it a very common way that many choose to approach life? Without even realizing it, many choose to determine who they are through comparison.
Comparison is an unhealthy way that many decide if they are “good enough”, “better than someone else”, “successful”, etc. In turn when they don’t measure up, they can become envious of the other person. Comparison is the natural side of trying to define ourselves. There is nothing supernatural about it. Comparison is a vicious cycle: compare, become envious, put oneself down, compare again and become envious again.
So, to break this vicious cycle, we must first stop comparing ourselves with others and defining ourselves by that comparison. In turn, we must start finding our identity in the Word of God. Rather than deciding how well we are doing based on where we stand – or how we compare - with others, we must determine who we truly are with the truths that only God has given us.
For example, if I am envious of my friend for having a success or receiving a gift, I am forgetting what the Word says:
Philippians 1:6 in the Amplified Bible says, “And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.”
My success is not determined by how well I stack up with another’s success. God is the One Who brings success in my life!
When I am envious of someone receiving something that I had wished or prayed for, I am not only sinning, but I am forgetting that God is the One Who supplies my needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19). Someone else’s blessing does not determine mine. God is the Provider!
Envy is also NOT a characteristic of God’s love and kindness.
Titus 3:3-5 indicates, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—"When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy" (NLT).
The difference lies in our choice to let God reveal His love through us. As we allow that love to be our guide, we choose not to envy.
It. Is. A. Choice.
Each of us has the ability to decide whether we will envy or whether we will love. Love is never envious (I Corinthians 13: 4. AMP).
When we choose to walk in love rather than envy we also bring health to our lives. Proverbs 14:30 states, “A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones (AMP)”. None of us would purposefully choose to eat or drink something that would cause our bones to rot. Why then do we find it so easy to be envious? Envy is like rottenness to our bones!
The good news is we have the choice of whether or not we will envy, & we have a Helper to help us walk this out. The Holy Spirit is our Helper. He will help us learn how to renew our mind and take our thoughts captive so that we do not dwell on envious attitudes. We can successfully walk in love!
So, how do I overcome envy?
Let each of us begin to look within and examine if we are envious in any situation.
If you were encouraged by this message please share it with your friends and family.
- Gregurich Ministries
At some point in life we all have to get real with ourselves and answer this question:
Who are you?
The world we live in trains us to answer that by saying, “Teacher, musician, athlete, boyfriend, girlfriend, waiter, or salesman.”
While all these titles may be something we do, I would argue that the titles have nothing to do with who we are.
The next two questions I believe are some of the most important questions in life:
Where do you find your identity?
Who would you be if what you DO was taken away from you?”
Identity is something I have strong convictions on. I believe that once you get your identity established you then can be and do everything God has called you to do.
For so many years of my life I would have told you I was a basketball player. Since the day I was born I had some type of sports ball in my hand. I have old VHS tapes and pictures of me throwing a tennis ball, shooting a basketball, swinging a bat, and participating in every other sport you can think of. I was an ATHLETE. Baseball and Basketball were what I stuck with. I lived and breathed sports, especially baseball and basketball. That is all I thought about all day. As I got older, I started to compare myself with other players. I remember being jealous of kids on other teams that were better than me. Everything I did was to be the best. Mentally, without realizing it, I had begun to find my value and worth based on how baseball and basketball were going for me. When we won, and I played good, life was good. And when we lost, and I played bad, you could expect to find me in my driveway shooting until the streetlight shut off, hitting off a tee, or pitching into my backyard fence.
Everything I thought and did was to be the best in my sport.
When I was 16 years old I got to a place in my life where I was so upset with who I
was. My baseball career just ended. My basketball career was looking like I wouldn’t end up playing at the high level I wanted to. I had come to a crossroad. You see, my whole life I had used my athletic performance and praise of others to determine my value and worth. I finally hit a point where I was so depressed I didn’t want to live anymore.
When we hit a crossroad, we have to know our source of identity.
When your source of identity is your job, your sport, your significant other, or anything other than Christ — there will come a point where you won’t be fulfilled completely. Like me, you will find yourself at a place where you are questioning life. Questioning why and questioning who you are.
God never intended for us to struggle with who we are. He tells us directly who we are multiple times in His Word.
“Beloved, right now we are children of God.” 1 John 3:22
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” Romans 8:16
Our identity comes from the fact that we are God’s children. Any other claim of identity is merely a lie and can lead to destruction in your life because it can never fulfill you.
It is from the place of being completely established and fulfilled in our identity in Christ that we can start to do great things.
You can’t find your joy and fulfillment based on a relationship or even how your partner treats you or makes you feel. If I am only doing good depending on how they talk to me today, I will always be searching for affirmation and never be secure. I have done it in my life. It is a slippery slope that never ends well. It will leave you in a place of codependency. That isn’t healthy, and that is never what God wanted.
Until you are completely convinced you are fulfilled in Christ, you will look to circumstances and people to tell you that you’re good enough.
“It is through him that we live and function and have our identity; just as your own poets have said, ‘Our lineage comes from him’.” Acts 17:28
Your identity comes from Christ. Notice it says that it is through that source of identity that we live and function. You will not be able to fully live and function the way you should in life if you don’t have faith in that God given identity. Your worth as a person is set. You are no more valuable or less valuable because of what you do!
Today, we look to our jobs, our spouses, our talents, our athletic ability and other things to make us feel right, good or complete within ourselves. We look everywhere other than where we should— to our Heavenly Father!
A dear friend of mine at PGC basketball teaches about the “Ray Allen Mentality”. When Ray Allen played, his demeanor and emotional expression was almost always stoic and calm. Ray never rose too high or too low. Ray is arguably one of the greatest shooters of all time. Ray was consistent because he knew who he was. He was a great shooter. He did all the things that great shooters do. When things were going well he was secure, when things weren’t going well he was secure. Ray never changed. That same attitude is something Ray unknowingly took from Jesus.
Jesus knew who He was. No matter what was happening, whether He was being persecuted or being praised, He NEVER changed who He was to fit those around Him.
Look at the Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They knew that they were God’s children. And when their circumstances and situations were telling them to compromise that identity, they faced it head-on. They didn’t worry about the fire. The fire or “circumstance” wasn’t who they were. And because of that, on their worst day, in the hottest fire, they recognized Jesus there with them. They left that fire unharmed with no evidence of even being in a fire. Why? Because the fire and circumstance are not who they were, and your circumstances are not who you are.
The key to overcome is to know who you are!
It’s time to have our identity completely established in Christ. You are not a worship pastor, a minister, a student, a girlfriend, a husband, a hairstylist, a basketball player, a coach, or even a mom or dad. While those are all important things that we do, our ultimate source of identity is in being God’s children. That can NEVER be taken away.
“Beloved, right now we are children of God.” 1 John 3:2
Until you are completely convinced you are fulfilled in Christ, you will look to circumstances and people to tell you that you’re good enough .
It is from the place of being completely established and fulfilled in our identity in Christ that we can start to do great things. Being secure in who God has made you to be is the starting place for greatness. It’s not something that’s hard to obtain, you don’t have to go to counselors for years. You can be Who God has made you to be right now. All it takes is a simple change in your mind.
Believe in who He has made you to be today.
If these thoughts helped you in any way please share them with your family & friends. If you have any questions reach out to me on facebook (Tanner Gregurich) or Instagram (@tannerwgregurich).