The year was 2007 and God had just confirmed the call to ministry that He had placed on my heart. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I shared that confirmation experience with those closest to me. I received great encouragement from everyone…..except one. One person looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You will just make it all about you.”
Whoosh! I felt like a 50-gallon barrel of iced water had been poured on my spirit. I was crushed and I might have shed a few tears. What in the world was I supposed to do with that bomb?
I had to journey quite a few miles down the ministry road to realize that those words would serve as warning flags to my heart. You see, I can be very prideful and all about Leah. In fact, it is my nature to be prideful and self-serving.
What? You, too?
When my ears heard those words from my loved one, my heart immediately recoiled from the thought of making ministry all about me. With everything in me, I wanted ministry to be about Jesus. In and of myself, I have nothing worthwhile to offer. BUT, because of Jesus and the transforming work He has done in my heart and life, He can minister through me to touch heart and lives, if I will put Leah aside and let Him shine.
Today as we continue our examination of a true believer in Jesus, we come to Romans 12:3 and it is a doozy of a verse. Here it is:
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. (ESV)
Let me set the scene. Paul has just told the Roman church, in verses 1 and 2, that they must offer back to Jesus their very lives and bodies, AND they must say no to the world’s standards while taking on the standards and life of Christ. Verses 4-8 will be all about the various gifts that Jesus gives His followers for the purpose of encouraging and serving the body of Christ. Smack in the middle we find Romans 12:3.
Here is my very loose paraphrase of verse 3: Do not get on your high-horse! Remember Whose you are and Who has called you. You did not get these gifts…you do not offer yourself….you do not have the mind of Christ…because of anything you have done. It is all Jesus. Don’t get too big for your britches!
Y’all, pride should be conspicuously absent from the life of a Christian. We should never lose sight of who we were before Jesus saved us. We should never forget that without Him we would be in the ditch of horrendous sin in two minutes flat. We must never underestimate the depravity of which we are capable if we do not keep our eyes focused on Jesus. I must never….!
Paul tells us that it is absolutely imperative that we judge ourselves soberly and rightly, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Seems to me that Paul is using a metaphor that suggests one must be careful not to be intoxicated on themselves. Let’s not become egoholics, friends!
May I close today with a quote from John Calvin that I believe is an astute reminder to seek humility for our hearts?
For so blindly do we all rush in the direction of self-love that everyone thinks he has a good reason for exalting himself and despising all others in comparison….There is no other remedy than to pluck up by the roots those most obnoxious pests, self-love and love of victory….This the doctrine of Scripture does. For it teaches us to remember that the endowments which God has bestowed upon us are not our own, but His free gifts, and those who plume themselves upon them betray their ingratitude. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2:10)
(I had to look up the word ‘plume’…it is a verb that means pride or congratulate.)
Every day my prayers include a plea for God to show me any pride in my heart. Let me tell you, friend, that is a prayer that God will answer, AND the answer may not always be jolly and glad. He has shown me some big uglies that have resided in my heart over the years, but He has always given me what I need to get rid of them. I am NOT saying it has always been fun, however. Satan wants us to stay mired down in pride. But, it has always been for my good. I want to challenge you to begin praying that same prayer. I promise if you do it will transform your Christian walk. Pinky swear!
Tell me what you are thinking? What have these Authentic posts planted in your heart thus far? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I scribed the entire book of Romans in my Journible a few years ago. It was a wonderfully enriching experience to write the ancient words on a page in your own handwriting. I encourage you to get your own Journible and try it.
I don’t mind telling you that I feel like we are in a sad, sorry mess in America today. I have not lost hope, but rather, I see the landscape for what it is….a disaster looking for a place to happen. And happen it will, if America does not hit her knees in repentance for the atrocities that we have perpetrated on what was once the most blessed nation on earth.
• God and the Bible were expunged from the classroom in the 70s
• 21% of all pregnancies end in abortion (operationrescue.org)
• Not quite half of all marriages in the US end in divorce (CDC statistics)
• The US Supreme Court arrogantly ‘re-defined’ marriage to include homosexual unions
• Obamacare has driven us further down the path toward socialized medicine
• The church has vilified and demonized those with whom they disagree, rather than showing the love of Jesus to them
• We sit on an $18 trillion budget deficit (try that with your personal budget!)
• Our borders are as porous as a sieve, allowing our enemies free entry
• Many of the current crop of presidential contenders are terrifying
• Millions of young adults have walked away from the church
Where is hope to be found?
May I share with you how hope seeps into the crevices of my heart on a daily basis? I find my hope in God’s Word. Drink deeply from them, friends.
Psalm 83:18 ~ ……..you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.
God is still ruling and reigning over all the earth. Just because we fail to acknowledge His sovereignty and supremacy does not mean that He has ceased to rule and reign. He is still on His throne turning the pages of the Kingdom calendar exactly on schedule.
Daniel 2:20-22 ~ Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
Throughout the ages God has used rulers, kings, and presidents for His sovereign purposes. God’s hand is ever present in government, even when our leaders do not follow God. This has been my only comfort over the past eight years in American government. Enough said.
Isaiah 40:21-31 (a lengthy, but oh-so-good passage)
Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; Who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when He blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare Me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these?
He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of His might, and because He is strong in power not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
God is not surprised by the state of the world around us. He is not wringing His holy hands over it. Yes, He is saddened by it, but He is not hopeless over it. Neither should we be.
Let us ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ and not the state of the world.
Let us set our hearts on God and call out to Him for mercy.
Let us have renewed hope that He does all things well.
Seek His heart and stay faithful to the last word you heard from Him.
He is still on the throne!
Now, let’s engage. Speak truth and encouragement in the comments section. Remember, each time you comment you are entered for February Engage Giveaway!
DOUBT. Truth be told, DOUBT is a different way of saying unbelief.
There is no ICD-9 code for it in medicine, yet it is the disease that afflicts each one of us from time to time. Even the saintly-est of us are beset with it on occasion.
Sarah experienced DOUBT ~~ that she would bear a son at the spry age of 90.
Moses was full of DOUBT ~~ that he could speak before Pharaoh, and then lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
John the Baptist expressed DOUBT ~~ that Jesus was really the One sent from God.
Paul admitted to DOUBT ~~ that he and his companions would survive on one occasion.
The Jewish Christians being addressed in the book of Hebrews DOUBTED ~~ whether they had done the right thing by leaving Judaism and following Jesus.
When times are tough and one’s heart is in turmoil, DOUBT can creep in and overtake. I know this one. I have lived it. Satan capitalizes on those troubled times, and plants a seed of DOUBT in the heart of a Jesus lover. Left untreated, DOUBT is fatal to faith. That is why it is of utmost importance for you and me to run straight to the Great Physician and let Him treat our unbelief.
DOUBT. Unbelief. They require strong medicine….heavenly chemotherapy, if you will. It takes an infusion of hope and peace and grace to kill DOUBT.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit has the cure for the DOUBT and unbelief that Satan tries to plant in our hearts. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, remember that He knows our heart, and ask Him to replace our DOUBT with faith. Let’s do this thing, friend!
Linking up today at Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung and a delightful group of writers.
I blew it!
I messed up. Oh, it was not a big thing, but enough to make me feel like a failure. In life. In my marriage. In my faith.
I failed to have a servant heart.
I failed to love my husband well and serve him.
I was prideful and self-serving.
I thought speaking my mind on a matter would make me feel better…would make right something that I perceived as a wrong toward me. It did not. And I felt terrible about it afterward.
I am never more like Satan than when I allow pride to creep in and convince me that I am all that and a bag of chips; when I allow selfishness to engulf me.
We all blow it from time to time.
We all mess up. It may not be a big thing, but then again…it might. In life. In our relationships. In our faith.
You want to hear some good news, friend?
God is not surprised at our stumbles. Nor is He disgusted by them. When you and I have a heart that longs to please God; when we have a will and a desire to walk in His way, God is pleased even with our stumbles.
So, hear this friend….deep into the recesses of your heart…hear this:
You are not defined by your stumbles.
You are NOT DEFINED by your stumbles, any more than a 1-year-old baby is defined by its stumbling efforts to learn to walk. You may feel that your stumbles define you, but that is a lie from Satan. Do not believe it.
If you are a blood-bought follower of Jesus Christ, you are His precious treasure, His beautiful one, and His beloved. You are not your stumbles.
Would you take a moment, wherever you are, to repeat aloud with me:
I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY STUMBLES.
I AM DEFINED BY WHO I AM IN JESUS CHRIST!
Say it again:
I AM NOT DEFINED BY MY STUMBLES.
I AM DEFINED BY WHO I AM IN JESUS CHRIST!
Say it until you believe it. If you have to go outside and shout it over and over until the neighbors think you have lost your ever-lovin’ mind, then go shout.
If the will to walk is there, God is pleased even with our stumbles. Believe it!
If you needed to hear this today, I would love hear from you so I can pray for you. Leave me a comment or email me at email@example.com.
Linking up this week with Jennifer Lee for #TellHisStory.
Sometimes a day can just wring every ounce of hope out of one’s soul. Sometimes an hour can, too.
Your physician’s office calls and says they need to see you back in the office ASAP.
The mailman drops a(nother) late notice from the power company in your hand.
The flashing blue lights on the police car behind you do NOT mean there is a blue light special at Walmart.
Your husband says he doesn’t love you anymore.
The pot roast has a distinctively charred look about it.
Your children cannot seem to speak one kind word to each other.
And on top of it all, it is THAT time of the month.
It is in those moments that we are tempted to think, ‘Does God Care About Me?’ Does He know what is happening in my life? Where is God in all of this mess?
Stock photo from Canva.com
I’ve been there. So have you. Our eyes tend to focus on the immediate; the circumstance that is filling the entire space of our heart in that moment. When our life takes a decided turn for the worst, our first thought may be that God has abandoned us, and He doesn’t care what is happening to us. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because we cannot see God does not mean He does not care. He cares deeply. Today I want to encourage you with two verses from the Psalms:
The Lord will record, when He registers the peoples: “This one was born there.” Selah. Psalm 87:6 (NKJV)
God keeps a record of each person, and in that record He notes exactly where they were born. Just as a human parent has a birth certificate showing where their child was born, God also has a record.
Leah Ann Colwell, born June 16 1964 in Blairsville, Georgia.
Why does He do that? I have no idea, but He does, and that is a beautiful reminder of how special each of us is to Him.
Let me share one other verse with you.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
God cares about you, friend! Nowhere in the Scripture is His care more evident than in this verse. He keeps track of our sorrows, our tossings and turnings. Somehow He collects every tear we shed, places them in a bottle, and records them in His book. Our earthly parents collect our baby teeth, or our primary school crafts, or our high school accolades. GOD collects our tears. Stunning!
You and I are not insignificant to God! Think about it….if God cares enough to light up a bug’s butt in the summer, then for sure, He cares about you. He is with you in your pain. Tough times do not mean that God has abandoned you, or does not care about you. Tough times are God’s training ground for you and me. They are times that offer us an opportunity to really trust God’s heart for us. Tough times are what faith is all about, friend.
Charles Spurgeon knew that God cares about us. May I leave you with an encouraging word from Spurgeon?
God is too good to be unkind;
He is too wise to be mistaken.
When you cannot trace His hand,
you can always trust His heart.
Linking up this week at:
Reflect with Jann
Grace & Truth
TellHisStory with Jennifer
Purposeful Faith with Kelly
It’s Friday, y’all. It’s Five Minute Friday, y’all. That wonderful time when Kate Motuang tosses out a word prompt and we write for 5 minutes. I really like Five Minute Friday prompts because it makes me pray ahead of time, asking the Lord to give me the words to peck out here on this screen. It reminds me of creative writing class in school. It was the same concept, just with a pen and paper, and I adored it then.
So, let’s get started. Here is today’s prompt >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> HOPE
Stock photo from Canva.com
Where do you place your HOPE?
Honestly, when the going gets tough, where do you turn?
I ran upon a verse in the Psalms that prompted me to think about where I place my HOPE. Check it out:
A horse is a vain HOPE for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. Psalm 33:17 (NIV)
You and I would read that verse and think, ‘well, of course, a horse is a ridiculous place to plant HOPE for deliverance. A horse is just…..well, a horse. But, when you think this verse through, you realize that in King David’s day, a horse was probably the equivalent of our airplane, or AK-47. A horse was the best option the people of antiquity had to flee from an enemy. It gave one a position of power and presence. There was HOPE for victory for one who sat on a horse, versus one who stood on the ground.
You and I~~God’s dust bunnies~~ been known to place our HOPE in all sorts of things that cannot save us……money, position, relationships, status, body image, politicians, courts. There are so many things and people that seem to have great power to deliver in this day and age, yet they cannot. It is only when we place our HOPE in Jesus, and the blood He shed on Calvary, that we have real, lasting, powerful HOPE. HOPE that secures my eternity. An everyday, in every situation kind of HOPE. HOPE that will not disappoint. HOPE that offers an inner strength to withstand pain and trial.
Let me ask again……..where do you turn for HOPE when the going gets tough? I HOPE you turn to Jesus.
If you are reading this, and need to know more about Jesus and the HOPE He offers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to introduce you to Him.