The mystery of seeking God is that HE is the One who finds you. All through my childhood I heard “you need to have a relationship with God.” This was usually presented as time spent reading the Bible, going to church and joining a small group. I think their is truth in that idea but many times these things can feel empty. They can become a way of working for grace, like you are trying to find the right combinations that will open God up to you. I am talking about attitude not the action. The actions are simply the means to help us be with Jesus to become like him. As Jesus abided in the Father’s love so we abide in him and then he and the Father abide in us! (John 15:9-10). I think the way God made us is that we have a desire, a need that only He can fill. I think that desire is a real relationship with God.
Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee – Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.― Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
Hurting people want freedom. They want… No need to feel that freedom will come for their broken heart. The reaction to pain and a broken heart is to cover and hide. We cover our hurt with anger, addictions and bitterness, or hide from the very relationships that could give life, healing and safety. Freedom is revealed in the recognition that we have a choice. You have a choice to move toward freedom not away. Hurting people are afraid to risk again. Freedom is the understanding that you have a choice. You are never without a choice.
If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Psalms 34:18 MSG
I have found growth away from pain happens when you can see outside of yourself. Freedom begins to happen when you are willing to risk again. Willing to love and be loved. It is the choice to love others and yourself while walking in relationship with them.
I think I started out loving my wife for how she made me feel about myself. It grew into loving her for she is. As we have walked together my love for her comes from how I experience and see God in her. We are being formed into the image of Christ daily.
I am thinking out loud… but if we are being formed into the image of Christ, how should it effect the way we relate to each other? Just a simple thought, I think it should make us hunger to know God more. When we spend time with each other it should bring questions and wonder that only God can answer. Their should be something about the way we relate that should create a longing for something more.
Our lives of abnormal love, joy, kindness, peace, patient self-control, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness should stand out. I call it abnormal because that is not what is normal in the lives that I see. Learn to walk freely and lightly with Christ, as others see the face of God in you.
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is nine attributes of a Christian life according to Paul in his Letter to the Galatians “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand. -C.H. Spurgeon
This is a powerful but interesting quote. I think we all do it, we feel like our mistakes and our problems leave permanent scars and struggles. While at the same time thinking our blessings and the good things in life or just transitory. I’m convinced that we’re all called to be the remembering ones. The problem is when you only remember the bad things you have done or were done to you. To much of your time and energy is spent arguing and replaying negative events in your head. Nothing you have done or has been done to you has gone too far that God can’t redeem, restore, or forgive, you can always have a second chance.
A technique that I’ve used with myself and many others so we can do the opposite of this quote – to write our problems in sand and our blessings in marble. The technique is to reframe it. Take any picture you have in your home and put a different frame and a different mat around it. The picture is still the same but you see it and interact with it in a completely different way. The new frame and mat cause you to see the colors, nuances and beauty of the picture in a completely different way. This is what you have to do with the experiences in your life that you call negative.
You have to reframe it with the knowledge that you are loved wanted and enjoyed by a good good father. Your wounds and scars should be your servant. They should be a servant to the cross. Your wounds and trails have created wisdom and strength. Your blessings should be the beauty that inspires, strengthens and guides you. Our trials should be written in the sand.
Scars are beautiful when we see them as glorious reminders that we courageously survived – Lysa TerKeurst
Many people struggle during the winter. We come off the hectic holidays with high expectations and then enter into the dark deary winter dreaming of daffodils, tulips and green grass. We want and need to see beauty and hope again.
My emotions see to take me down paths that bring darkness not light. I have to go to something bigger than me to find balance, so I run to God and his word. Here are some of my favorite Scriptures:
- Psalm 139:14 where God says,“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
- God tells me in Psalm 17:6-8, “I am the apple of His eye.”
- In Deuteronomy 7:6, God tells me that I am “His treasured possession.”
- In Philippians 4:8, God tells me to think about whatever is “true, noble, right, pure, and lovely.”
My goal is to think about the truth that God tells me and spend my time thinking about what God says is true. The last Scripture I want to share is Psalm 119:114, “You are my refuge and my shield. I have put my hope in your Word.” My confidence and hope is in God and that I am the Lord’s treasured possession.
Take time to let His word marinate into your heart. Look for beauty in the simple things and know that you are loved and important to the heart of God.
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name – Bethel Music – It Is Well
If we truly believe something it should produce behavior. My struggle is has been to balance allowing Grace to pervade my life and realizing that I should put effort into my walk with Christ. I become like a pendulum swinging to the extreme of thinking grace means I don’t have to do anything, or the other extreme of earning and working. Trying to do it all by myself. Grace is God acting in our life to do what we cannot do on our own. Effort is an action of what we believe.
Grace is not opposed to effort, but to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace is not just about forgiveness — if we had never sinned we would still need grace! Grace is God acting in our life to do what we cannot do on our own. Grace is what we live by and the human system won’t work without it. The saint uses grace like a 747 jet burns gas on takeoff! – Dallas Willard
“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.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honor, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
The Apostle Paul said something similar, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”- Philippians 4:11. Many times we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our attitude and how we respond. Paul explains how to get to the attitude of contentment.
- Have no anxiety or worry – Trust that God is with you and that He loves you.
- Tell God your need – God does love and care for you
- Be thankful – Gratitude changes everything… Yes everything.
- Focus your thoughts on good – The only thing that can turn the tapes off in our head is the secure knowledge that we are loved and important
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 NLT