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Tag Archives: Paul

Discouragement

I get discouraged fairly easily. It’s usually because of something I’ve done, a mistake I’ve made, saying something I should not have said or my lack of faith in general. It is easy to be discouraged. My frustration is that it does not take much to discourage me and I feel like I should be more durable. I’ve discovered that the key is to intentionally shift my thinking onto what really matters and that is the fact that while I’m not perfect, God’s grace is completely sufficient for me. Much of my discouragement comes from putting too much emphasis on what man thinks and not enough emphasis on the gift that is grace. This past week Chris and I visited a church in St. Louis, Missouri where Terry Virgo was preaching. Terry spoke on grace and one of my favorite things that he said was that grace is not just a cleansing, it’s a completely new identity which means that not only have we been washed of our sins but we have been given a brand new evaluation of ourselves which no one else can challenge. Terry was saying that just as Paul says in the first part of 1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God, I am what I am…”, the grace of God makes us who we are and therefore we don’t need to wallow in our discouragement. Terry challenged us with a question: Is grace changing you and freeing you? We are not to waste the grace of God, it has been given to us freely and we need to make a habit out of stepping into that grace all the time – especially when we get discouraged. If grace is not changing and freeing you, then you are wasting God’s gift to you and because of that you will not experience the joy that comes from it, nor will you be able to glorify God in the way that you were intended to. Every now and then I have to remind myself that God’s grace is a gift that I can’t earn, it’s a brand new identity that has been given to me, and I have no reason to be discouraged. So my challenge to you today is that when you’re tempted to reject the new identity you’ve been given through grace, don’t! Be encouraged that you no longer need to dwell in discouragement but that you can step into the grace of God and live in light of that!

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Where when how why could I should I would I?

I’m finding recently that when growing up one has alot of decisions to make. Whether it be decisions I’ve already made that are affecting ones I make now or brand new things that I’ve never had to think about before, I’m feeling pretty swamped! This got me thinking about how all too often people tend to wait around for a dramatic sign from God telling them to do something specific and they usually end up rather complacent and dissatisfied in life. It is my thinking that yes, God is sovereign and His plan is perfect, but we have decisions we can make within that. God has blessed us with something called free will, enabling us to be people in our own rights and not robots in some little game called ‘Life’. While it is a good thing to seek God’s will and answer specific callings, how do we go about making decisions that we haven’t felt spoken to about by God, and that we have no internal ‘tug’ about? Do we wait around silently willing someone to prophecy the answer over us, or do we have many a sleepless night fretting over the fact that we can’t make that decision because God hasn’t spoken to us? I vote no! God blatantly calls us to be proactive in our faith, stepping out when the right path isn’t always clear cut and obvious. A good friend of mine recently reminded me  of the story of Paul in the Bible on his way to Macedonia. In Acts 16:6 it says that Paul, on his travels, was ‘forbidden by the Spirit to go to Asia’. So Paul tried to go to Bithynia instead, but the Holy Spirit said no again. So he went to Troas and slept. While he was sleeping he got the direction he needed through a dream from God telling him to go to Macedonia. Now you might say that is a pretty dramatic example but my point is, Paul kept walking. He was faithful to God and didn’t sit back waiting for something to happen. He was proactive and in that we see again that God never leaves us nor does He forsake us. Yes, we might be going in the wrong direction initially but God doesn’t allow us to go too far, according to His will. God lets us know in good time when we’re going wrong whether it’s by directly speaking to us through His Spirit or just closing the appropriate doors. If we make sure our hearts are in the right place – wanting to glorify Him no matter what and being active in making decisions, God reveals the correct paths when the time is right. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). We should be planning and praying and making decisions, bearing in mind that ultimately it is God who establishes our steps. I want us all to feel challenged to stop fretting about which path to choose and about not having clear direction, but to ‘step out of the boat’ in faith that God will not let us drown.

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