“13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the […]
“55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be […]
“God is bigger than any mistake you could ever make, and He is already on the scene, taking care of any unwanted ripple effects. This only happens when you have a heart that longs to do His will, not yours.”
“55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58 NLT)
One of the big questions that I hear often from Christians is regarding the concept of works, or the things done for the Lord. There are misconceptions surrounding the subject of outward Christlike actions, and it may be difficult for you to find the truth.
Like most believers, you may realize that there is literally nothing you can do to earn your salvation, knowing that your Godly actions contribute 0% to your eternal destination. However, you might struggle to live that out in your daily walk. Why do we humans continue to feel compelled to do more and act bigger, in hopes to gain the attention of God and others? Although you know in your mind, and maybe even in your heart, that you cannot earn even one iota of Kingdom credit, you may find yourself working to earn personal favor.
There are a myriad of reasons why you may find yourself in this insane, never-ending cycle that feels like a mouse in a spinning wheel that never goes anywhere. Maybe it’s out of a deep need to be wanted, or it could be because of an unhealthy fear of God, church or religion, or perhaps it’s simply a desire to have everyone around you think that you are the best. Whatever the reason, your fleshly desires may seem to win out over your Godly purpose more often than you would like. So what is a good Christian girl to do?
Let’s look back at our key scripture. The first verse starts with Paul sharing what’s going to happen when evil is ultimately defeated and all is finally resurrected and restored to its former glory. And then he goes on to explain why. He says that sin produces death, and sin is empowered by the law. But that’s not all. Paul gives thanks to God because Jesus Christ has given us the victory over both sin and death. You may need to read that again. You have been given the victory over sin and death!
That’s why I love what Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 15. We read it in the New Living Translation above, but I want you to read that last verse in the The Passion Translation as well. “So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 TPT)
Your Godly actions then, are not a human endeavor to help out the One who created the infinitely expanding universe. I believe we would all agree that He does not need help from you or from me. Nor are they a vain attempt to show off or appease Him. God is insulted when our actions are born out of a motive to pay homage to a higher power. No, your Kingdom service is to be an outflow of your love, thankfulness and devotion to a kind, patient and merciful Heavenly Father. Your actions need not be coerced or forced. Simply put, your Godly actions are to demonstrate on the outside, the love that you have for the Father on the inside. They are to be a byproduct of your confident trust in the One who knows you the best, and loves you the most.
So what’s the key to living in abundant seasons of Kingdom service and producing the kind of fruitful labor that endures? This verse is clear that it is only through your union with the Lord. And how do you stay joined to Him? Look at the beginning of the verse: you must be resolute and unwavering as you continue on your path toward God, without pause. How is that possible? It goes on to say that that kind of determination only comes from a confidence that refuses to be shaken. A confidence that comes from a child who knows the character of their Father well. A confidence in the knowledge that although humans are not perfect, He is, and He has an amazing plan.
You don’t need to do anything to earn the love of your Father. His love for you and commitment to every detail of your life is unchangeable. Immoveable. He refuses to ever stop loving you. Even for a second. He doesn’t love you more when you’re serving Him and He doesn’t love you less when you fail or disappoint him. Nothing you do or don’t do could ever change His adoring heart that longs for constant relationship with you.
It is a devotion born out of this undying love that compels a loved child to reciprocate that love and commitment. And that, dear friend, is the bottom line on the age-old confusion surrounding Christian works and duty to a distant deity versus Christlike love and devotion for your Creator and Lord. Loved people know how to love because it has been modeled to them on an extremely personal level. And it is the expression of that love that inspires them to give back in any way possible.
Adored children, adore. So what is driving your service? If it is not a grateful heart that genuinely wants to return the love that you have received, then I would submit to you that you are not completely allowing God’s love to fully penetrate every area of your heart. Open yourself up to His perfect love and receive it with sincere gratitude. Accept God’s love without condition. You are His. You always have been and you always will be. That is amazing. And that is enough.
Loving Father, You have never left me nor abandoned me and I know that You never will. Your love is undeserved, yet You abundantly give it without reservation. I am humbled and sincerely grateful. Not only do I no longer desire to live my way, I realize that it is impossible. I am only truly alive when I am living saturated in Your love. Help me to fully accept and receive your limitless gifts of love, devotion and purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (Romans 8:5-6,9a NLT)
Knowing what deserves our God-given time and attention can sometimes be confusing. We know that as a child of the King, our energies are best placed in things that edify the Kingdom, as well as those things that yield Kingdom returns. But we can’t see into the future and we aren’t always exactly sure which path will ultimately lead to the Highway of the King. Just because we know the basic difference between right and wrong does not always mean that we have all the answers, or even which choice is right. Many times we are faced with a dilemma that has multiple options that seem good. Those types of situations can sometimes be the most frustrating to navigate.
Look back at our key scripture. As a child of God, you have received the amazing gift of the indwelling of His Spirit. That means that the Spirit of God is in control. I am going to assume that as a believer, you have likely been on a long journey of gradually identifying selfish ambitions and carnal, fleshy desires, and you have methodically been letting go of the things that keep you from fulfilling your calling. I expect you have also been learning more about the character and the heart of God, and with each passing moment you are growing and becoming more able to discern His will. But how do we apply that to everyday life?
I want to share with you a spiritual principle that I have been implementing for quite some time now, and it has been such a blessing in my life. When I’m not sure which decision to make, I walk out these God-confident, Spirit-led steps of faith. But I must warn you, these are not white-knuckled control tactics of human analysis. Obsessively analyzing your situation will not bring about spiritual clarity. It is quite the opposite. These are spiritual principles that will enable you to evaluate your heart, your situation and your calling, to ensure that you are destined for God’s will.
- Pray to the Father, letting Him know that you are not sure what to do, but you are going to trust Him to show you the way
- Listen for little cues and whispers from God that may help you make the right choice, but even if you feel like you don’t hear anything, realize that God can choose to use anything to lead and guide you into the right path, so keep your spiritual eyes and ears open to receive a nudge from Him that could come at any time, from any place or person and in any way that He chooses
- If you still don’t feel as if you have direction from God, stand on the promise from Romans 8 that His Spirit lives inside of you; choose a path that seems wise to you, based on what you know of the Father, His character and His heart
- While you are on the path that you have begun, continue to let God know that you truly want to do His will, not your own, and ask Him to make it clear if you begin to go in the wrong direction
- As doors open in front of you, walk through them as you continue to pray to the Father, reiterating your trust in Him
- Continue going through the path that unfolds before you, knowing that God’s Spirit is within you, He is guiding you and He will comfort your human heart as you journey
- Be prepared to continue going forward or to pause at any moment, as you receive fresh revelation from God on a continual basis
Does this mean that you will never make a mistake again? Of course not. You will fail again, and it will happen more than once. But another thing that will happen is that you will begin to more clearly recognize the voice of the Lord. Each time you follow Him with childlike trust, you learn more about His ways, His will and His amazing plan.
Not only that, God is bigger than any mistake you could ever make, and He is already on the scene, taking care of any unwanted ripple effects. This only happens when you have a heart that longs to do His will, not yours. Remember the takeaways from the scriptures we read last week?
- Even when you stumble, you won’t fall.
- If your motives are pure, you will receive from God what you have asked for.
- God will grant your heart’s desire, if you take delight in Him.
Applying God’s will to your everyday life is a simple concept at the core. Staying in constant communion with your Creator is the key. You must continually pray, share, ask, wait, follow, listen, walk and be open to what He is saying and where He is leading. 1 Thessalonians encourages us to pray about everything, to let God know what our needs are and to thank Him for all that He has done. You should never stop talking to the Lord. Tell Him everything, and continually thank Him for His goodness.
Trusting in God to lead you is extremely liberating and it will unentangle you from the chains of indecision, insecurity, fear and doubt. You will walk in freedom, knowing that your loving Father has an amazing plan for your life. You will live with the confidence that even if you trip, He will lift you up and continue to love you, teach you and bless you as your trust in Him deepens and your God-confidence grows. I can’t think of a better way to live. Pray with me as you begin to integrate this spiritual principle into your life, and allow it to become part of your identity. One that reflects the power and the work of Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, I trust Your plan and Your will, not mine. I have been known to make a mess of things in the past, but I am relinquishing control to You now. I vow to stay in constant communion with You and to share with You my needs as I put them in Your hands. I will continually thank You for Your infinite goodness and Your lovingkindness that never ends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24 NLT)
As we get closer to the end of the year, let’s talk about the concept of spiritual focus a little bit more. There are many biblical passages that directly or indirectly address the concept of focus, or being committed to maintaining a fixed position or mindset.
Before we dive into that, however, let’s talk about how focus affects your daily life. First of all, it is driven by your wants and desires, and that focus then steers your end game, or your destination. Have you ever wanted something so badly that you made sure that you got it? It could be something as small as a pair of shoes, as insignificant as a monthly maid service or as grand as the purchase of a new home. You prayed, you scrimped and saved, you prayed again, maybe you even cried and begged, but ultimately you were determined to get that thing you wanted.
Do you see the pattern here? There is a burning desire that causes you to maintain a focus on a particular goal, and that fixed mindset leads the way for the dream to hopefully become a reality. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always give us exactly what we want, so the destination is a toss-up. You have a 50/50 chance of getting what you really want, because we all know that sometimes the thing that we thought we wanted doesn’t ultimately turn out for the best.
Recently, our family finances took a shift. When our two oldest children decided to waylay college for a year or two, their college paths became dangerously close to child #3 graduating from high school, so we are now the proud parents of three college students and one high schooler. Not only are we almost total empty nesters, but both of our paychecks, as well as all of our gifts and income are being funneled to a university, to ensure that our three oldest children are able to stay on campus. They have received grants and scholarships and have taken out student loans. Additionally, we have taken out parent loans, and sent in a lot of money to the college besides. All because we want our children to start their adult life with the foundation of a four-year college degree. We are convinced that there is no price tag on the education that our children will obtain as they begin to distance themselves from their childhood to become solid, healthy adults and receive a quality, biblically-based university experience. So my husband and I are doing whatever it takes to facilitate that goal, but we still haven’t arrived at the final destination. We are currently in the middle of the journey and we do not yet know if our dream will become a reality, because we can’t see into the future.
So what is the takeaway for believers? That’s where God comes in. Let’s read what the Bible says in James 4 regarding our desires. “2 You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. 6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:2b-3,5-6,10 NLT)
It is clear, therefore, that desires can come from two very different places. They can either come from a place of selfishness or they can come directly from God. The key to receiving the outcome that we desire, is to make sure that we are focused on a desire that has come from the heart of God. “3 Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” (Psalm 37:3-5 NLT)
When you trust God, do right and entrust every action into His care, He will be there for you. You will be protected, you will experience increase, He will grant your desires and He will be present to help you. The spiritual principle is actually very simple. When your desires come from God, He loves to pour out His rich and abundant blessings in your life. Friend, together let’s seal this God-ordained focus in our hearts and minds today.
Father, you know me better than I know myself. You see into the very depths of my heart and You know what lies in the crevices of my soul. Help me to wait on You, knowing that You have the most amazing plan in store for me—something that is far beyond the best that I could ever imagine for myself. I resolve to trust You as I listen to the gentle call of the Holy Spirit as He places those divinely-inspired desires in the corridors of my heart. I pray that I will continue to trust Your goodness and lovingkindness, even as I wait to see Your plan unfold. In the name of Jesus, Amen.