Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

How Sanctification Gives Us Hope ~ So Great a Salvation Series

It’s likely you’ve heard the admonition to “preach the gospel to yourself.” But do you have a practical, systematic way for doing that? What do you say when you preach the gospel to yourself?

The gospel message about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection has the ability to enrich us and make us wealthy in mind and spirit, word and deed (see Colossians 3:16). Yet if we have little grasp on how to effectively let it, we miss out on the power it holds.

Preaching the gospel to ourselves means allowing our thinking, emotions, and responses to daily be shaped by the truth of the gospel.

In this series, we hope to give you practical help in preaching the gospel to yourself. We’ve pulled key gospel concepts and compiled them into a list of words, such as justification, redemption, and sanctification. Don’t let the big words scare you because we’ve explained them!

We’ve also summarized each of these powerful truths in a useable way.

We hope this series will deepen your grasp on the gospel and give you verbiage for what to say when you preach the gospel to yourself.

So-Great-a-Salvation, preaching-the-gospel-to-yourself, gospel series, sanctification, justification, reconciliation, adoption

How to use this series:

To begin, read my post below. Then visit each of the links for more gospel words. Take notes while you visit! You may want to bookmark this page because you’ll probably want to come back here often.

Gospel Words:

Justification by Arabah

Sanctification by Jen

Redemption by Rebekah

Reconciliation by Kathy

Regeneration by Marci

Atonement by Leah

Adoption by Kerry

Consecration by Kimberly

Sanctification

In the Old Testament, there is little mention of the word sanctification. In fact, the NIV doesn’t use that particular word at all, while the NASB mentions of sanctification refer to only a single Hebrew word “qadash” (kaw-dash’). Qadash mostly described objects which were “set apart” for use by God. These were not ordinary objects meant for everyday use, but special items such as those used in the tabernacle by the priests (ceremonial items, the ark of the covenant, etc.). Thus, qadash refers to the uncommon, those things or people (mainly priests) set apart strictly for the Lord.

In the New Testament, we see a different sort of sanctification. Two Greek words are used by both the NIV and NASB: hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo),  the verb form which means to make holy or to sanctify, and hagiasmos  (hag-ee-as-mos’), the noun form which means sanctification or holiness.  Both words also relate to hagios (hag’-ee-os), the adjective form used to describe us as Christians.

In essence, to sanctify means to make holy.  However, the New Testament version of making holy describes a process, the process by which the common (mankind) is set apart and made uncommon!

Sanctification can be broken down into 3 P-words:

  1. Position – In Christ, we are considered sanctified before the Lord. We are already perfect, already uncommon, already complete because of Christ’s blood covering over us. When the Father looks at us, He sees not the work that still needs to be done; instead, He sees only the blood of his perfect Son. The work of positional sanctification takes place the moment we accept God’s free gift of forgiveness through His Son’s death on the cross in payment for our sins. So, for those of us who are in Christ, positional sanctification is in the past – it’s a work already accomplished.
  2. Progress – Although we are positionally perfect in Christ, realistically we know that sin keeps us from perfection. Thus, progressive sanctification refers to the process of growing in Christ-likeness. It is the present and continuing form of sanctification, that work in progress that I speak of so often here.  As we grow in Christ-likeness, His image reflected in us becomes more and more clear!
  3. Perfection – There is also a future component to sanctification. One day, when life on this earth ends for us, we will be made complete in Christ.  At that point in time, the work in progress will be finished!  Sin will mar us no more. We will bear the Father’s image perfectly, and the view God has of us on behalf of His Son will match our true character! Just imagine – no more struggling to do right, no more guilt, no more frustration with self!

How-Sanctification-Gives-Us-Hope, sanctification, set-apart, identity in Christ, preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-series, gospel words,

How does sanctification apply to everyday life? 

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

While we know our position in Christ is secure, we recognize the need for continuing change, for progress.  We know we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we allow the Lord to mold us into His image.  Therefore, sanctification is a combination of our willingness to follow Christ in obedience and His powerful work in our lives to free us from sin.  According to the verses above from Romans, we offer our bodies and minds; God transforms them. The evidence of the sanctification process in us? The fruit of the Spirit. 🙂

This quote from J. I. Packer defines it well.

“God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14).”

The worst thing we can possibly do as Christians is to relegate our Redeemer to the work of salvation, yet bar Him from the work of sanctification. If we trust Christ for eternity, but not for the day to day, then we limit His power. We fail to find freedom and the abundant life He has planned for us.

My sisters, the power of Christ in us is real. His promise to make us into new creations is not just for some distant future when we become complete in Him, but it’s for today! Right now! Moment by moment.

Our Savior came to free us from sin, not just from the guilt of sin, but from sin itself.  This is the goal of sanctification – freeing us to become whom He meant us to be from the very beginning – His image bearers.

Perfect.

Holy.

Set-apart.

Uncommon.

So, we can claim the promise of my life verse, Phil. 1:6, which perfectly sums up the 3 P-words of sanctification. (Key verse to memorize!)

“[B]eing confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)

He began the work (position); He carries it on (progress); He promises completion (perfection).

I’ve been reminded of this truth often this winter. There comes a time in the Midwest when the landscape becomes a palette of brownish gray dead things.  The grass is dead. The trees are dead. And unless there is fresh snow, the roads become ugly gray muck. At some point, it seems as if spring will never come.

But as I looked out our window the other day, I noticed a tree that was budding.  Even beneath the snow, you could see the slight redness of the buds. Although the tree looked dead, important work was taking place beneath the surface of what I first saw.

Growth.

And in several weeks, we will see the fully glory of that work when all of nature bursts forth in colorful re-birth.

Spring. New Life. Hope.

As I contemplated these things, the Lord reminded me of how often this scenario plays out in my own spiritual landscape.  At times, it seems my progress is stunted – there is too much “deadness” about me, too much sin.  I see only gray and become easily overwhelmed and discouraged.

But beneath the surface, He is doing important work in me. I may not see all of the fruits of sanctification yet, but they will come! And when they do, they will be glorious to behold!

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own sin, stuck in a rut, doomed to failure – preach the gospel truth of sanctification to yourself.

“I am God’s work in progress. As such, I aim not for perfection but for imperfect progress (growth and transformation), only by the power of Christ in me. In the meantime, I trust His promise to carry that work to completion.”

This, my sisters in Christ, this is the hope of sanctification.

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Wholehearted Wednesdays, The Homemaking Party

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Just a Closer Walk~ #TheLoft

My sisters in Christ, I’m very excited about this week’s topic for The Loft. I look forward to reading what each of you have to say about your walk with the Lord.

I know in my own life, I get easily distracted. I struggle with consistency and self-discipline so often.

And I used to believe that the sweetest times with the Lord were on the mountaintops, when I chose to abide closely in Him. I spent large chunks of time reading the Word and praying.  But lately I’m learning there is a sweetness to be found in the valleys as well because what I’m hearing from Him in the valleys would have been impossible to hear on the mountaintops.

The last few difficult years have challenged my view of God like never before.  His grace is much greater, His love much deeper than I ever could have imagined. He faithfully loves me even when I cannot love myself. Even when I loathe myself.

Perhaps it’s maturity at work in me or just life circumstances, but I find it easier to abide in Him, especially in the dark times, when I’m really honest with Him.  I realize now that much of my “young” Christian life was spent trying to please a God who was already pleased with me.  I held myself, and others, to high standards, and although I thought I understood grace, I think I was probably a little legalistic, maybe even self-righteous. I’m sure I still make that mistake sometimes even today, we all do at times. 🙂

And then came the valley of the shadow of death, or at least it felt like it, that filled these last couple of years.  At times I didn’t even want to leave my bed. At times I begged the Lord to come quickly – everyday life felt like too much to bear. I questioned the Lord like never before. I wrestled with him like Jacob as one blow after another fell upon my life. I quit trying to act the part of perfect Christian and begged for understanding. I got real with Jesus.

It was (and still is in some sense) a most difficult struggle.

Yet my faith has been strengthened!  Out of my honest conversations, out of my most desperate cries, came an understanding that I am perfectly loved, perfectly wanted, perfectly accepted.  I knew a brand new Grace, and it blew my mind – still does!

Because when I was my ugliest self, He loved me still.

He loves me still.

He loves you, too, my sisters, even at your ugliest, your most unlovely, your most unworthy.

And when we come to Him honestly, then He can begin the real work of “creating a clean heart” within us.  He gives us “grace-colored” glasses and teaches us that progress is what really matters, not perfection!

He teaches us confidence that only comes from fully understanding our Daughter-of-the-King status.

Walk with the Lord, Abiding in Him, Just a Closer Walk, Spiritual Life, Christianity, Christian Living, Growing in Christ

 

I’ve come out of that valley with a closer walk, not a perfect walk, but a closer one.  Not because I do my devotions without fail, not because I am sweet to my family, not because I serve Him at church, not because of the words I type out here.

But because I know Him more deeply.

I trust Him more deeply.

You can trust Him, too, sisters. Whatever your valley may look like, He promises to carry you through.

…For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”  Heb.13:5-6

Even this.

Even this.

Jen 🙂

Also sharing this with Tell His Story.

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

About #TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

 

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

This Week’s Topic: “Intimacy with Jesus” (What does that look like for you? How do you abide in the vine? What barriers do you face or victories you’ve discovered in maintaining intimacy with Jesus? Let’s encourage each other!)

Get a running start on Next Week’s Topic:”Fall Recipes” (Please do share your favorite fall recipes so we can enjoy too!)

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic 🙂

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 4 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are: Jen, Rebekah, Leah, Arabah

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

Click to Add Your Link Below:

 

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Because ~ We’ve Been Falsely Accused

Today I was falsely accused.

And it stung.

It’s happened before but this wound pierced especially deep because I knew.  I knew I was innocent.

I knew the accusations had more to do with the other person’s heart condition than any imagined offense on my part.  In fact, I knew I had been gracious, kind, and patient in spite of the circumstances.

To do right…and be falsely accused.

Have you been there before, my sisters?  I’m certain you have because even when no one else is accusing us, our Enemy is!  That’s even one of his names, the accuser.

So often we find ourselves in need of a defender because we’ve been falsely accused, and we’re just hoping someone will stand in our defense.

Sometimes we look to friends or family members. Sometimes we look to brothers and sisters in Christ.

But only One can faithfully defend us.

I’m learning more and more to hear the Defender’s voice. I’m waiting more patiently for Him to fight on my behalf.  I can trust Him to go to battle for me rather than feeling the need to defend myself because

He has chosen me.

He has redeemed me.

He has declared, “No more condemnation” over me.

He says the same about you, too, my sisters. You, His beloved ones.

So, today I’m clinging to this promise:

 

falsely accused, Satan, Enemy, Defender, Defense, Jesus

 

Yes, we’ve been falsely accused, but praise the Lord, we have a Defender!

His name is Jesus.

He speaks Truth over us.

The Enemy shudders at His name.

And nothing,

nothing can separate us from His love!

Jen 🙂

I’m joining in with my Five Minute Friday sisters again this week (albeit a little late).  We gather together at Kate’s blog and write on a one-word prompt for five frenzied minutes – no planning, no over-thinking, no editing.  It’s fun and frightening all at the same time.  This week’s word is “because.” Come join us!

And if you enjoyed what is written above, you’ll certainly enjoy this perspective from Jennifer Dukes Lee.

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Verdict on Your Value Series Wrap-up

Each Thursday for the last few weeks, we have been talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. This Thursday is the final installment of our Verdict on Value series.  If you missed previous posts, be sure to check the schedule listed at the bottom!

Verdict on Value

 

Haven’t we had a rich time over the past six weeks with fellow sisters and the Word of God?! As we wrap up our Thursday series today, we have a final word of encouragement and video to share with you. Please click here to view the video and thank you so much for being a part of this series!

Be sure to catch all of the previous posts in our Verdict on Value series:

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free mini Bible study printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This ( Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Ministry Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up at Arabah Joy’s place

 

 

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That New Girl: Finding Confidence

Each Thursday for the next few weeks, we are talking about breaking free from insecurity, comparison, and shame. We are sharing our raw and messy real life stories. But also, more importantly, we are sharing the truths that set us free. We have bathed this series in prayer and ask now that the Father knit our hearts together and strengthen us to slay this giant called “insecurity” in our hearts.

Verdict on Value

 

Sometimes I wish I could go back to my second-grade self, that girl who was mostly tomboy, confident leader-of-the-pack. She could be friends with whomever she wanted, even boys. She wore dresses, but she also climbed trees. She lived free.

She never considered what the scales said about her value.  She never wished to be more like her blonde-headed friend.  She had a little girl crush on a classmate of hers, but never spent her days waiting for him to notice, or worrying what others might think.

She was relatively innocent, that girl God created on purpose and with a plan.

But that girl moved from state to state nearly every year after third grade until she finally moved overseas.  Each new school left its mark, some beauty spots and some ugly scars, and she found herself wearing labels like “new girl” and “missionary kid.” For a while, she learned to hide her true self away in favor of a girl others would accept. She lost her identity, her self-confidence.

I’ve spent much of my adult life learning to force that girl out into the light, trying to help her find the woman she was created to be.  In the process, I’ve searched for her value in family and friendships, marriage and parenthood, status in college and sometimes status at church, often without realizing I was doing so.

On occasion, I’ve even tried to manufacture that girl’s value on my own by living the good girl life, raising the good kids, serving at the good church, creating good things, and so many more undesired, unnecessary sacrifices that we’re all guilty of performing.

But I fail so often, don’t you? And once again, the Father has to remind me that the confidence I’m searching for really can’t be found in others or in self.

If I want to be completely free of others’ expectations and my own perfectionism, to live confident, I must look only to my Maker.  He alone knows the “real” me, the girl he “knit together” in the womb.  The girl He calls “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  The girl He values at the price of a one and only Son. The girl I was born to be.

that girl, new creation, identity in Christ, finding confidence,

He alone knows the attention to detail that often leads to the pit of perfectionism can also be a gift of organization and precision.  He alone knows the smiling face often hides a fragile heart, but a heart that easily lends itself to sympathy for others.  He alone knows that tendency to boss comes from the ability to lead and that often critical voice reveals undaunted optimism.

And so many other flaws that I find so obvious in myself, He has ultimately meant for my good.

You see, we don’t serve a God who creates mistakes, sisters.  And even though sin and Satan have corrupted us, I’m convinced He truly purposed those “flaws” for good.

So how do we overcome the lies we’ve listened to for so long to reclaim our true selves, the free girls we were created to be?

We look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith!  He shows us our true value: the blood of the Lamb.  We trust in Philippians 1:6 which claims He began a work in us that He promises to carry until completion.

Sin temporarily hijacks our child-of-God identity, the world teaches us that we will never be enough, and the pride and insecurity of self often confirms the lies. But the truth, sisters, the amazing truth is that we don’t have to be enough because He is already everything for us. It’s this Christ-confidence that sets us free!

no condemnation, confidence in Christ, identity in Christ, position in Christ

With Christ’s help a better version of that true-to-self, second-grade girl is surfacing. I catch glimpses of her from time to time, the new-in-Christ girl. She speaks up even when the voices inside tell her to avoid the risk. She combats those lies with the truth of the Word. She claims victory in imperfect progress.

She is Christ-confident.

She’s learning little by little to tune out the world, the Enemy, and even her own perfectionist thoughts and focus instead on the Maker who continually makes her new.

Because she was born to live free.

And so were you, my sisters.

So were you!

Jen 🙂

 

 

Be sure to catch all of the posts in our Verdict on Value series (every Thursday):

March 27th – Kathy from Free to Fly (Approval)

April 3rd – Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a chance to win her new book, Love Idol!)

April 10th – Kerry from Plenty Place (Reputation)

April 17th – Arabah from Arabah Joy (Shame ~with a free printable)

April 24th – Jen from Being Confident of This (Confidence)

May 1st – Leah from The Point (Insecurity)

May 8th – Wrap up at Arabah Joy’s place

 

Sharing with: My Freshly Brewed Life, Missional Women, Christian Mommy Blogger,

Essential Thing DevotionsWomen of Worship, Mom’s the Word, Cornerstone Confessions,

Time Warp Wife, Rich Faith Rising, Messy Marriage, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Wholehearted Home

 

You may also find me at any of these lovely places.

 

 

 

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The Verdict on Your Value Series

Today I’m sharing wise words from my friend Arabah Joy about our value.

Verdict on Value

Noise. Our lives are surrounded by it.

It bombards from within and without and much of our daily noise serves one purpose: to tell us how we are measuring up. It tells us what we are… or aren’t. It tells us we are worthy, successful, valuable, up to par… or we, simply, are not. It tells us we can take it easy on ourselves… or we need to try harder, do more, drive ourselves further.

It should be no surprise to us that the enemy of our souls is alive and well in the noise, tempting us to such things as:

Comparisons

Pride

Insecurity

Intimidation

Inferiority

Selfish Ambition

Shame

Silence

As tempting and overpowering as these things may seem, we need not give place to them in our hearts. God’s Word tells us that greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We can face the noise of our lives well equipped for triumph, grace, and confidence.

I am pleased to be part of a brand new series entitled “The Verdict on Value.” This series is about standing in confidence in a dog-eat-dog world and is brought to you by a group of blogging friends who have seen firsthand the damage comparison, insecurity, shame, and the like can do. Throughout this series we are going to share our stories and temptations with insecurity… and how Christ has worked in our lives to free us.

We invite you to join us every Thursday for the next 7 weeks for this series. We have some fun surprises planned as well 🙂 Just be sure to tune in to this blog each Thursday! Here’s a sneak peak into the series and the bloggers I have the privilege of working with on this:

Kathy from Free to Fly

Leah from The Point (Ministry Insecurity)

Jen from Confident in Grace

Arabah from Arabah Joy (Confessions from a Shameful Woman ~with a free mini Bible study printable)

Kerry from Plenty Place

Interview with Jennifer Dukes Lee (and a book giveaway of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes!)

Wrap up with Jennifer Dukes Lee

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Confidence Born of Chaos

If you are a faithful follower, you’ve probably noticed that the new posts on Being Confident of This have been few and far between lately. I apologize!  I feel as if I’ve been in an extended period of wrestling with the Lord, like Jacob.  I vacillate between patient waiting on my Redeemer and repeated attempts to escape this difficult lesson.

This season of trial has been just that – trying, and at times I feel so keenly the attempts of the Enemy. I don’t want to bore you with a list of everything that has added to our burden lately, neither do I wish to complain about our temporary trials.  “When it rains it pours” and Noah’s storm lasted 40 days and nights with weeks of patient waiting to follow, right?! 🙂

But in this time of waiting on the Lord, I’m also learning.  One of the things I’ve been learning is to let Him have control of everything, including the words that end up published here.  And He seems to be telling me to stay silent often lately, to be still, to simply listen and wait for Him.

So, while I’ve been resting at His feet, waiting and listening, I’ve thought a lot about the title of this blog: Being Confident of This.  What exactly is it that we are confident of?  When I first claimed Phil. 1:6 (look for it in the sidebar) as my very own, my life verse, I did so because I knew I struggled with perfection, since as long as I can remember.  This verse offers comfort to those who, like me, know their desire to please the Lord, their desire to do right, maybe even to be perfect, but they also deeply understand their own flaws.

In the beginning, being confident of this meant that I was confident God would never give up on someone like me, so flawed, so imperfect. I was confident He would keep His promise to carry out the “good work” He began in me.   It also meant that someday I would be free of the chains of perfection!  Hallelujah! I have no words to even begin to describe what that means to me – that because of what Christ suffered, I can find freedom!  In fact, because He suffered, I am now a co-heir with Him, positionally perfected by His blood.

As I’ve grown in my Christian walk, especially in the intensity of these last few years, I’ve begun to learn another kind of confidence, the kind of confidence born of a certain amount of chaos.  I think this lesson in confidence first began about 5 years ago, when we discovered we were expecting twins!  I knew myself, my desire for my agenda, and my impatient nature.  Although I’ve been a baby-lover from a very young age, I sincerely doubted my ability to handle twins, especially after the frightful toddler years with our second-born, strong-willed ball of energy and enthusiasm. 🙂

Yet, the Lord carried us through every hurdle we faced, even when… our babies were born six weeks early and ended up in the NICU. Even a few months later when our infant son began to have seizures.  Even when we lacked money for necessities.  Even when we faced developmental delays, and head-shaping helmets, and corrective eyeware,  and one specialist after the other, etc.  He’s been faithful every step of the way!

A few years later, when He asked us to say yes to moving wherever…like Abraham going forth into the desert with no destination in mind, He remained faithful.  We truly didn’t know what we were saying yes, to, but it just so happened that we said yes to leaving a comfortable job with benefits for a full-time ministry position that required a move, albeit thankfully a short distance.

We waited for a year, with half of our belongings packed away, for Him to sell our home so that we could move to our new community.  He proved faithful every step of the way, providing a place for us to stay when we were temporarily homeless (thanks, Mom and Dad!), a place for our belongings to be stored, furniture for our growing family, a better mower for our bigger yard, and the faith and boldness to jump into a new-to-us church with its old-to-them problems. 🙂

I was so excited about where He was leading us that I temporarily forgot the pain of moving and the insecurity of building new relationships.  How can an MK like me forget such things?!  But I did.  And then I remembered…when winter came… and loneliness settled around us.  We mourned the loss of friends, the comfort of familiarity, the quiet of just “being” with family.  Even then, especially then, He showed Himself faithful.  He carried us through that darkest winter and right into the hope of spring!

And now, now I feel we are in the midst of the Refiner’s fire again.  It’s painful, but also beautiful. Even here, right here in this tough spot that seems to last for eternity, He is faithful.  He does not leave me, nor forsake me. He reminds me of my blessings.  He reminds me of His promises.  He reminds me of His faithfulness.  Most importantly, He reminds me that I belong to Him.

Great is His faithfulness, time and time again. That’s what confidence is beginning to mean to me, my sisters in Christ.  I’m confident that He will see us through this current set of circumstances.  I’m confident that even though my faith may at times falter, it will never fail.  I’m confident that when I am weak, He’ll be my Strength and when I am poor, He’ll be my Provider.  And when I just need to be held and comforted, He’ll be my Rock.

faithful one, Great is Thy Faithfulness

That’s a confidence worth keeping, right?  Let’s not throw it away.

If you find yourself struggling as I have been, cling to this truth, sisters.  He is faithful; we can be fully certain of that.  When the road ahead looks to be too dark and you find yourself fearing, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When the burden grows so great that you want to throw it off altogether, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When you find yourself stumbling and sorrowing over sin, remember His faithfulness and be confident.

Be confident of this…

that the God of the Universe who walks by your side is the Faithful One.

And that you, you belong to Him.

Jen 🙂

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It Will Be Worth It All

When we see Jesus, encouragement, hope

Last week we took our four-year-old twins to a doctor’s appointment for a check-up.  Our daughter was excited, but fairly calm.  Our son, on the other hand, demonstrated a major case of ants-in-the-pants!  He combed over every inch of that examination room, up on the table, down on the floor, inspecting every nook and cranny.

By the time the physician’s assistant arrived, I was feeling quite flustered. Then, because it was our first appointment at this office, she began to ask a battery of questions that required actual thinking, which is really hard to do when you are also trying to keep your rambunctious boy from destroying the room!

It’s not the first time I’ve felt such frustration with my sweet son.  Homeschooling for pre-K gives birth to those same feelings of frustration and inadequacy because our son is a very easily distracted learner (typical for his age)!  Even throughout the day, when I’m trying to get his attention or correct his behavior, he pulls away from me, eager for the lesson to be over so that he can move on to better things.

twins fall, hope, faith

I know he’s just being a four-year-old, caught up in his own little world of fun and furious activity.  I just didn’t realize how like him I am, until recently.

I wrote several weeks ago about waiting on the Lord in the midst of seasons of trial and about finding that light at the end of the tunnel, the hope we can only find in Him and in His purposes.  But I must admit, sisters, that I’ve been so eager for the lesson to be over, to escape the trial and get on with what I want to do, that I’ve been an impatient learner.

I keep jumping up from the Father’s feet, scurrying away from this place of discomfort in an attempt to find my own way to peace and joy and rest, thinking that I’ve learned my lesson.  But He knows, He knows the hard work isn’t finished.  He knows the lessons I still need to learn, so He patiently calls to me. And when I don’t listen, He leads me back to this place of physical and emotional trial to resume the lesson because…it’s what is best for me, even if I can’t see it in this moment.

He does this for me because He’s my Heavenly Father, perfectly loving and perfectly knowledgeable. He loves me too much to let me continue down my own path when He knows there is a better way.  Just as I attempt to reason with and teach my active four-year-old son out of love for him, so my Heavenly Father yearns to teach me.

Of course, Satan would have me believe a host of lies about this place of trial:

It’s too painful.

It’s too difficult.

It’s too long.

It’s unfair.

I’m all alone.

But this week, the Lord gave me a few verses that perfectly fit my current circumstances:

2 Cor. 4:16-18

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,

you will receive what he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

We throw away our confidence, my work-in-progress sisters, when we give ear to the Enemy’s lies.  We throw our confidence when we (and I’m so guilty) wallow in self-pity.  We throw away our confidence when we tell ourselves we can endure no longer.

We forget that we serve a loving Savior.  We forget that He promises to never leave nor forsake us. We forget that our Great High Priest understands and sympathizes with our every pain!  We forget that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We forget that our hope and strength can come from Him alone and instead convince ourselves that we must somehow manufacture them within us. 

We throw away our confidence and sometimes the weight is so heavy, so, so heavy that we even lose heart.

But the Father, in His goodness, gave me this verse as well:

 “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying,

yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory

far beyond all comparison,

 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;

for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Cor. 4:16-18

My physical body is really frustrating me  lately.  I’m dealing with a lengthy recovery (from the injury at Buttkill Falls), and lately I’ve had other medical issues as well.  And I know many, many others who suffer daily even more so than I.  But the lesson is hard right now, sisters, so hard that I’m tempted to throw away my confidence almost daily.

But we can’t lose heart or the lesson will not be learned! (And this is one I definitely don’t want to have to repeat!) 🙂  Our bodies may fail us; our children may fail us; our marriages may fail us; our finances may fail us; our churches may fail us; even our friends may fail us….but our inner selves can be renewed day by day if only we quit looking for escape.  We cannot pull away like impatient children who are too wrapped up in self to listen.  We must learn to wait for the things that are not seen, the rewards, the promises that we stand upon.  We must persevere!

Because even if the only thing we gain as reward from such trials is a closer, sweeter walk with Him, then it’s worth it, isn’t it?  Even if we must wait until eternity to receive the reward, it’s worth it, isn’t it?  He promises, the glory will be “far beyond all comparison.”

I want it, don’t you?

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,

Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;

One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,

So bravely run the race till we see Christ. 

Let’s run bravely, sisters, not losing heart, not throwing away our confidence, persevering to the very end because it will be worth it all

…when we see Jesus.

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Welcome to the Sisterhood

I’m linking this up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday today (even though I wrote it this afternoon) because she chose the word Grace, which I obviously had already written on today! 🙂  Funny how that works out sometimes.  I considered writing another post, but I just feel like this is fitting.  So, I hope my Five Minute Friday friends don’t mind too much. 🙂  It took way more than 5 minutes, but shouldn’t take much longer than that to read!

When this blog first began, I mentioned that God created all of us sisters in Christ unique from one another, and that He did so with a purpose!  Lately, I’ve been reminded of that fact.  Not only are we unique as individuals, but our walks with the Lord will be unique from one another, as well.  Thus, the ways in which we live out our faith will vary from person to person.

Paul describes it well in Romans 14:

 1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters…

 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.

And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

My weaknesses and strengths will not be the same as your weaknesses and strengths, amen?!  Unfortunately, because they are different, I’ll be tempted to compare myself to you, my sisters in Christ, and you to me.  As a work-in-progress woman, I’m still learning how to have confidence in the woman God has created me to be.

However, as much as I loathe this tendency to compare, I see another, more destructive risk to this comparison game, the risk of self-righteousness.  You see, sometimes I compare myself to another sister in Christ and find her lacking, instead. (Gasp!  Shock and Awe!  Let’s be honest – it happens more often than we like to admit.)

Of course, it’s not always quite that blatant; sin rarely is.  But these thoughts that I don’t even want to acknowledge slowly creep in.  I’m so thankful my children are well-behaved (….because so-and-so certainly needs to get a handle on hers).  Or perhaps you hide it more cleverly in thoughts like this – I’ve studied the scriptures, so my position is biblical (which would make any opposing position unbiblical by default).  When we start thinking we have the corner on the market in knowledge, wisdom, or understanding, look out!  We are due for a major fall

Self-righteousness – thinking we can somehow make ourselves right.

How I wish I fell prey to it less often!

Self-righteousness centers around actions and outward appearances rather than the heart itself.   Oh, how we like to focus on the outward rather than the inward, sisters.  I know because I struggle with it, too!

And that right there is the problem: the tendency to quantify and qualify that which we cannot!  The truth is, we’re all on equal footing, all saved by grace alone and not by works, so that we might not boast.  But how often do we find ourselves boasting in our minds and hearts? I readily admit; I’m just as guilty.  God’s grace cannot be qualified.  We cannot and dare not attach strings to something He gives freely!  And oh, is His grace big, my sisters!  It’s so much more than what I can imagine.

Grace, sisters in Christ, freedom in Christ

You may parent differently, dress differently, celebrate differently, eat differently, educate differently, and on and on.  And the truth is – that’s okay.   Part of finding confidence in Christ, learning to be who He created us to be, is also learning to extend that same grace and freedom to others.  Can I not rejoice in the freedom to be me, yet still celebrate your freedom to be you?

More truth from Romans 14:

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. (emphasis mine)

What is the pleasing way?  It is not “a matter of eating and drinking,” not a matter of the details, rather it is a matter of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,” choosing to live by the Spirit.  That choice brings to mind 1 Cor. 10:3:1

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

In the scope of eternity, the “whatever” doesn’t matter, sisters!  The “glory of God” is what matters.  Do you see it?! 🙂

I want to shout for joy because our God is so good and gracious!  He knows our tendencies to get caught up in frivolous arguments.  He spells it out for us – whatever you do – whichever choice you make – if God’s glory is truly the motivation, then go for it, sister!

sisters in Christ, freedom and grace, not judgement, unity, Body of Christ

If we, fellow sisters in Christ, cannot celebrate each other’s choices to follow hard after the Lord, then who can we celebrate with?  This world certainly won’t be encouraging and celebrating us in our efforts to live worthy of the calling we have received.  Such self-destructive behavior can only be celebrated by the enemy, that twister of truth, creator of lies.  And I, for one, do not wish to give him any cause for celebration!

 “Beloved, let us love one another,” 1 John 4:7

We are sisters in Christ.

Let’s build each other up in love, lest we all fall prey to the enemy who seeks to devour.

 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”

Romans 14:19

United in Christ,

united in Love.

Welcome to the sisterhood,

and let the celebrations begin!

Jen 🙂

I’m linking up with any of these lovely blogs.

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Children

Child of the King

It’s one of those days when I feel so plain.

A tad, well, ordinary.

And I know, I know, I know the truth.  That I am.  Ordinary.

Except I’m not.  To Him, I’m not.

Why is it such a struggle to be okay with the ordinary when surrendering to that makes us so completely extraordinary?  Why do I look for the praise of man, the love of others, when I know the unfailing love of the King and the pride of Big Brother Jesus?

It’s like this fever within us, the desire to be more.  More than ordinary.  And it creeps up when we least expect it, even when we’re in the midst of reveling in the extraordinary that He reveals to us.

At first, it’s just a quiet whisper.

We shove it aside, hoping it will go away on its own.  But it doesn’t.  It grows stronger still, this whisper that we are ordinary, plain, nothing special.  And gaining strength, the whisper goes even deeper. You are weak. Your faith is weak. You are worthless.

With a groan, we turn to it, not wanting the whisper to be true, but fearing all the while that it is.   Why do we turn to it before turning away, my sisters?

Why do we listen to that whisperer, the Father of Lies?

Why don’t we turn instead to that Voice of Truth?

The Voice that calls us Beloved, Chosen, My People, Redeemed Saints,

Vessels, Lights in a dark world,

Worthy of a one and only Son, Brides of Christ.

Is there anything ordinary about being a bride?  I think those of us who are married would say it’s the day in our lives when we felt most special, most beautiful, most beloved.

There is nothing ordinary about bearing the names He gives us!

Be still, whispers.

Roar aloud, Voice of Truth!

Because Satan is defeated.  And we…we are new creations.  He no longer has dominion over us.

So, be gone foul whisperer!

We.

Are.

Children.

Of the One True King.

Ordinary people, extraordinary children.

We can be confident of that.

1 Peter 2:9

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,

so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”

Jen 🙂

It’s Five Minute Friday, and I’m linking up with Lisa Jo again.  You can join in, too!  Five minutes of raw, uneditted, stress-free writing on a word prompt she gives us.

I might also be linking this post up with any of these lovely blogs.

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