Reflections on “Give in or dig in?”

From the P31OBS: Give in or Dig in?

Observe — What’s been your favorite part of Week 1?

Bible — One great way to see what God has to say about us is through a topical study of the Bible. To learn what it is and how to apply it, click here, then ask yourself, “What are those ‘give in’ feelings I am struggling with now?”

Write those feelings down, then do a topical search and see what God’s Word has to say about each one. Write out what you find, then use that truth in combat. ThisFREE printable can help you map out your strategy.

Stretch — Chapter 3 of “Becoming More”is all about finding our identities in Christ and realizing that in any situation, He can still be found. How will you look for Him this week in those tough moments? What verse is currently helping you #LiveItOut?

My Reflections:

O- One of my favorite parts of week 1 so far has been the online interactions.  I did my first Facebook live event last night, and have been enjoying my small group!  #BecomingMoreGroup83 rocks!

B- I am going to use the rest of today to do by topical study.  There are so many “give in” feelings that flitter in and out, and a few that have taken root in the past.  Even when uprooted, the enemy likes to remind me of those feelings.  He is such a guilt-tripper!  Some examples are these: “You’re ugly.”  “You’re not good enough.”  “You need to do MORE.”  “If you say no, they won’t appreciate and love you anymore.”  “You’re not a good mom.”  The last one is the newest and hardest.  God’s truth:  “I am wonderfully and fearfully made. (Psalm 139), I am not good enough, but my Savior Jesus Christ IS and He covers me. (Isaiah 43:25), I need to rest in His presence and His thoughts should be all that matter to me (1 Peter 5:7 is a start), and as a mom, I am a work in progress.  James 1:5:  If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God…God will guide me, step by step.  And I am not in this alone.  I have an amazing husband, and for that, I am so thankful to our God!  When I remember that, it reminds me to pray for all our single parents out there.

S- Our verse from John 15:13 is helping me this week.  It is reminding me to #LiveOutLOVE and to #LiveOutGRACE.  It is easy to get envious, or to be bitter.  It is easy to throw my hands up and walk away.  God challenges us to ABIDE IN HIS LOVE.  And scripture continues to tell us that if we say we have love, but do not demonstrate that love, we are liars.  If I am going to abide in God’s love, I need the Spirit’s help to let that love radiate from me and fall on those around me.  That is my challenge this week and beyond.  Listen for the promptings of the Spirit so that God may be glorified and the gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ may be seen in me.

 

Let’s go back to those “Give in” feelings.  As suggested in the P31OBS Blog, I did a topical study on one of the lies Satan likes to whisper (and yell) to me. “I am not good enough, or worthy enough.”  “I am weak and incapable.”  This is what Satan likes to “remind” me of almost daily.  He has been doing this for decades now.  And the truth that sets me free from this lie is one I did not start to grasp until the last 7 years.  And God still teaches it to me.  I can be quite stubborn sometimes… 🙂

But let’s break this down.  I did a topic-search to find scripture about “not being good enough” and here is a glimpse of what I found:

2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…”

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.”

Continuing into Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Isaiah 43:3 “For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Sheba in exchange for you.”

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

So hear is what I am continuously learning:  It is ok to not be good enough, as compared the standards of this world.  Life is not about what I can achieve myself, because that gains me nothing.  It cannot gain me the love of my God.  It cannot gain me entrance into heaven.  God alone is the one who equips me, who works through me, who gives me my value and worth.  Nothing apart from Him can define me or transform me.  Why is this ok?  Look at Isaiah 43:4 again:  God bought me.  The Creator of this vast universe, the Author of life, looked at me, saw that His Creation is GOOD, and He purchased me!  He sent Jesus Christ, His perfect Son, to this earth to pay the ultimate price for my soul so that I can spend eternity in heaven with Him.  There is nothing I did to earn that love.  Seriously, I am a sinful, broken person.  I make mistakes all the time!  And yet, Jesus came for me.  Do you know how powerful it is to feel so worthless for so long, to have let people walk all over you, and then to all of a sudden realize how treasured you really are???  I still start crying every time I think of the depth of that truth!

I am never going to stop striving, as tempting as it is some days.  Just because I found my value in God does not mean I am going to now float through this life.  No.  It means that because I feel so loved by Him, I want to show others that same love!  This is where my purpose comes from.  This is now what drives me:  Christ living (and loving) through me.

Romans 8:39 is a good place to conclude:  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Nothing.  Once Christ, always Christ.  We are His, and He is ours.  Amen and amen!

Circumstances vs. Identity

Today’s online Bible Study message got me thinking about separating my circumstances from MY identity!  Yes, I learn from the experiences I encounter, I grow through the ups and downs.  But that is not what defines me.  The Lord defines me.  I am HIS creation, and therefore, I am one of His GREAT WORKS!  So many times, I will have tears spring from my eyes when I realize who God is and what He has done for us.  He sent His only begotten Son to this crazy earth, to walk it in perfection, to take every sin (past, present, and future) on His shoulders, to die a gruesome death, and to conquer that death for ME.  For YOU!  Would Jesus do that for trash?  Oh NO!  He did that BECAUSE of the VALUE we have in the eyes of God.  God LOVES US THAT MUCH.  And God doesn’t love trash.  As soon as that truth hits me (every single time), I am overwhelmed.  How could I keep forgetting that I have such incredible value?  The lies of the enemy are strong, and GOD IS STRONGER.  So, let’s OWN OUR IDENTITIES.  We ARE daughters (and sons) of the King.

So much scripture speaks to this truth too.  Take a look (I have bolded, Italicized, and underlined specific text…)

Romans 8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Life in the Spirit

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh,could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing will separate us from the Love of God.  How deep does His love flow?  It flows deeper than the blood of the Lamb flowed from His wounds on the cross.  It flows deeper than the bonds of death.  It flows through eternity, from before time began, to well after time will end.  That is the greatness of God’s love for each of us, as His people, and as individuals. That is the greatness of God’s love for YOU!  Yes, YOU!  What stops you from accepting that love and letting it flow around and through you to define you?  Give it to God.  Confess it.  Let Him alone reveal your identity.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

…More than a good Bible study girl…Reflections

Today’s blog on the P31OBS really primed the pump of my thoughts and reflections today, so I thought I would share.

“When God made me, he left his mark deep inside. His fingerprints covered my soul — no wonder his truth resonated within me.”  (TerKeurst, More Than a Good Bible Study Girl, page 23)

–This makes me think of Psalm 139:1-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

For YOU, Lord, formed me.  You alone.  YOU created ME!  God, when You made all of this Universe, You looked at each and every thing when you finished and said, “It is good.”  (Genesis 1:31a “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”) Then You made me.  I am one of Your works.  And Psalm 139 continues to say WONDERFUL ARE YOUR WORKS.  I am one of Your works, and WONDERFUL are Your works.  So, then, I AM WONDERFUL?  YES!  This broken, sinful, imperfect, human soul is actually wonderfully created by the King of kings and covered by the blood of the Lamb, forgiven because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.

When that first sank in with my soul, deeply into the dark despair of depression, doubt, and self-loathing, something re-ignited.  I say re-ignited because I had accepted Christ 15 years prior to this moment!  Oh how the enemy loves to attack and drag us down, get us stuck on his lies!  It took the Spirit of God FIFTEEN years (and my soul that long to let Him) to knock down the walls of the Jericho of my heart.  FIFTEEN YEARS for me to remember, to see, to KNOW that the mark of my Creator will never be erased from my soul.  Fifteen years to KNOW that I am LOVED.  I am TREASURED.  I am more than more than my past, more than my pain, more than my brokenness.  God made me, and He molds me into a new creation through Christ.  IT BLOWS MY MIND every time I think about it!

Finally, I was able to break free from the “If I do this right…If I earn their respect…If I can overcome this…If I can be PERFECT…” mentality.  I could breathe!  I could stop pushing to EARN my value.  It already is there.  It always was.  I just couldn’t see it.  But God saw it all along.  He never left my side, He never failed me.  Even in the darkest moments of my life, I can still look back and see His fingerprints, His safety net, His beautiful tapestry wrapped around me, keeping me from sinking too far.  He has saved my life so many times, I can’t even count any more.  He has saved me from myself, from the enemy, from the snares of this world.  Oh how I praise Him!  I am so thankful for the constant reminders that I am HIS.  I am His daughter, His treasure.  And so are each and every one of you!  YES!  TRUTH!  YOU ARE ROYALTY!  YOU HAVE VALUE, precious, immeasurable value!  Isn’t it mind-blowing???

And all of that value just exists.  It is never anything I can earn or become on my own.  It is a gift from God through Jesus Christ.  Becoming more than a good Bible study girl isn’t anything I do on my own.  That is an impossibility.  It is something that comes from submitting to His authority.  It comes from recognizing where my value truly comes from:  God alone.  Just as I am, He calls me to Himself.  He enfolds His arms around me. And He alone transforms me.  All I have, all I am, is because of Him and from Him.

I’ll never be a good-enough teacher, good-enough wife, good-enough Kara without Him.  And it is because of Him that I am who and what I am today.  Thank you, God!  “Love came down and rescued me.  Love came down and set me free…” (Love Came Down as sung by Kari Jobe)

Our Bible Challenge in the study today is to look at John 15:9 in a variety of translations.  So that is how I will close today.  Using www.Biblegateway.com, that is what I will do and share with you here.

English Standard Version:  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Amplified: I have loved you just as the Father has loved Me; remain in My love [and do not doubt My love for you].

Good News Translation: I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love.

King James:  As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

Living Bible: I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love.

Message: I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

And according to Psalm 139, there is nowhere I can go where the Father’s love is not.  So I will abide in the arms of my Heavenly Father, treasured by the One who created this broken vessel.  Praise be to God the Father, today and every day!  Amen and Amen.

Preparing for Quiet Time…

Music does so much to prepare my heart, my mind, my soul…

I can use music to sway me in any direction I want (both good and bad…).  So as I am diving into this 6-week study, I thought a “Quiet Time Playlist” would be in order.  So, here is my list…all 16 songs and counting…(I am sure I will add more as the days continue!)

Be Still My Soul (In You I rest) as sung by Kari Jobe

Still, Hillsong Worship

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), Hillsong United

Give Me Jesus, Jeremy Camp

At The Cross (Love Ran Red), Chris Tomlin

Waiting Here for You, Christy Nockels

Love Came Down, Kari Jobe

How Deep The Father’s Love for Us, Nichole Nordeman

Just as I am, Nichole Nordeman

Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone), Chris Tomlin

The Wonderful Cross, Chris Tomlin

We Fall Down, Chris Tomlin

Enough, Chris Tomlin

How Can it Be, Lauren Daigle

Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace), Hillsong Worship

Your Great Name, Natalie Grant

What I am learning from John 15:9-12

This morning began my 6-week journey with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study, using Lysa TerKeurst’s book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl as a backdrop.  In the weeks leading up to today’s kick-off, we were encouraged to memorize Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  That’s what Bible study is:  an intentional seeking of God in His Word.

So when I opened to John 15:9-12 this morning, I knew I would learn something of God.  What He revealed to me is what I would like to share with you in this blog post.

Let’s start with the Word:  “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my live.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Verse by Verse:

9.   As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Reference verses:  John 17:23-24, Ephesians 3:18, and 1 John 2:28

What is God saying to me in this verse?

A little background:  God is PERFECT.  He cannot tolerate SIN.  I am a sinful being.  I fully acknowledge that I have sinned and fallen WAY SHORT of the glory of God.  That being said, if God cannot be near dirty, sinful things, and Jesus loves me as the Father loves Him, then I AM RESTORED!  I am made new!  Truly, I am a new creation (as in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”).  Praise God!  I am covered, I am redeemed, I am LOVED!!!

10.   If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Reference verses: John 14:15, 1 John 5:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:1

What is God saying to me in this verse?

Sometimes, it can seem impossible to keep God’s commandments.  But, if I remember that all of them boil down to LOVE (as an action), it doesn’t seem as hard.  LOVE (extend grace, encourage, teach, provide, extend hospitality…) is so much more than just a word!

11.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Reference verses: 1 Peter 1:8, Romans 15:13, John 16:33, and Zephaniah 3:17

What is God saying to me in this verse?

True JOY is more than being happy.  It is confidence and knowledge that I rest in the presence of the King of kings!  This JOY never fades, in spite of the circumstances of life.  Sometimes, it gets covered up by the junk of life, by grief, by pain.  And still it remains.  It burns through and helps get rid of the dross left by sin and experiences.

12.   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…” 

Reference verses: John 13:34, 1 John 4:21, Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 4:8, and 1 John 3:23

What is God saying to me in this verse?

God says, “This is my commandment.”  SINGULAR!  LOVE!  That’s IT!  LOVE!  It all boils down to LOVE.  Love God, love people, love ME.  Yes, even love myself.  See?  It’s not so complicated, people!

How does this all apply to my life???

First, I am forgiven.  Nothing can even begin until that holds true.  Jesus Christ has paid the price for MY sins.  For me, He died.  He conquered Death, and He ROSE AGAIN.  Second, LOVE!  Not frivolous, St. Valentine’s Day love, but DO LOVE.  Give, treat others with respect, shower with grace, pray for, encourage, feed, walk alongside–LOVE.

Holy Father, thank you for reminding me that everything boils down to LOVE.  May Your Spirit reveal to me throughout my day (today and everyday) where and how to show Your love to those I meet and interact with.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies

The Comparison Game…

In this society we live in, it is so easy to compare ourselves to others.  We compare to make ourselves feel better.  We compare and end up feeling worse.  “At least I am better than…” or “I wish I could be like…” can be such dangerous phrases!

For so many years, I did the “I wish I could be like…” I spiraled into an unsafe pit of self-loathing, self-hate, and almost zero self-worth.  I was always pushing myself to be better, to be perfect.  It became an obsession to prove my worth.  I ended up in toxic relationships because I didn’t think anyone could really love me.

Finally, I got a serious wake-up call, and God revealed Himself in a mighty way.  There is so much more to this moment, these series of moments (as I have posted in previous blog posts), but I just want to share this with you right now:

GOD IS ENOUGH.  I will never be enough, AND I am a daughter of the King of Kings, who will ALWAYS be enough.  I can never measure up.  Jesus Christ is the only valid comparison I can measure myself to, and that is simply to realize that I am not perfect, I can never be perfect, and yet His perfection is all I need.  He stands in the gap for me, He covers me with His perfect sacrifice, and is ALL I NEED.  When I am covered by His blood, God sees HIM alone.  None of my faults, none of my imperfections.  He sees His creation, His works, and His works are ALWAYS good.

Enough.  I am covered by enough.  Nothing else matters.  Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to have a relationship with our Father, the God of the Universe.  Thank you for being enough.

Reference Psalm 139, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 12, pretty much all of scripture to verify these conclusions!  🙂

My baby turns 3 tomorrow!

OK, Moms!  Please tell me I am not alone in this spectrum of emotion!  My oldest turns 3 tomorrow.  I am so full of joy about him!  He is so fun, adventurous, intense, curious, and incredible.  He has learned so much in his almost-3-years!  So proud!  Yet, I am so emotional over the fact that he is no longer my newborn infant, easily contained in the shelter of my arms.  He has grown so much!!!!

Are these normal “mom” feelings???  My husband likes to tease me about the swing from one direction to the other.  I just wish there was a better way to explain it.  If you have better words than I do on the subject, please share them in the comments!  I value your wisdom!