Living Out Your Faith One Day at a Time

Photo by Ben White

Photo by Ben White

One of the topics that was suggested in the recent survey was on living your faith. So what does that even mean?

Simple, right? Surely this means to live what you believe. And we do. But sometimes what we say we believe and what we live out in our beliefs are not always the same. I should know…and so should everyone. We have all preached one thing and lived another at some point in our lives.

For example, maybe we’ve said we believe God is Love and the only Judge yet we sit in judgement over others, even when we don’t say it out loud.

The question remains, “How do we live out our faith?”

As believers in Jesus Christ we must, first, know Him. 2 Peter 1:3 says “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” As we know Him, we learn that “it’s” all about Him. It’s HIS divine power. It’s knowledge of HIM. It’s to HIS own glory and excellence.

Living out our faith is truly about Jesus. Once we “know” Him, we will seek to become like Him - to do as He would do. Look at these verses:

Colossians 3:23 - every single thing we do, we do for Him; that’s worship, so do your best

Romans 15:13 - be filled with hope, joy and peace

John 13:34-35 - invest in people; be the love of God to them

Philippians 2:3 - be a friend to others

1 Peter 4:10-11 - use your gifts

Proverbs 17:22 - be joyful and positive

i Thessalonians 5:18 - express gratitude

Living out your faith is all about Jesus. Just like Jeremiah, if we wanted to not say anything about our Saviour, we can’t because He is like a fire shut up in our bones. (Jeremiah 20:9)

Be encouraged! Jesus is HOPE. If you are struggling with the day to day drudgery of things and feel like you’re not living out your faith, tell it to Jesus. The more you know Him, the more you live your faith.

We”ll talk a little more about this next week. Feel free to comment on how you live out your faith!

Life - The Struggle is Real and It's Supposed to Be

Photo by Nick Morrison

Photo by Nick Morrison

The title of today’s blog may sound shocking. I don’t know how I came to think that life should not be hard, but somewhere along the way I, like most Americans, have believed that lie.

Last week I sent out a survey to see how I can improve my blog. All the responses were satisfied or above. Thank you for that! I asked if other topics would be of interest and the ones I listed were well received, so I will start working on some of those. But I had three “other” suggestions that I will be addressing on my Friday posts. (Yes, if you are reading this from your Wednesday email, it was actually posted and uploaded to social media the Friday before.)

As a precursor to the three topics, I wanted to talk about life a little bit and how life is not something of ease and bliss. While we may experience moments or even seasons of ease and bliss, that is not life’s design.

Think with me back to the Garden of Eden BEFORE sin. Adam and Eve were sinless. They walked with God daily. But they had some God-given responsibilities. They tended the garden. I know, I know. How hard could that have been before thorns and thistles? Maybe it wasn’t “hard”, but my point is that God created mankind to work.

Work, That four letter word! I know in my way of thinking when I think life surely should be easy, I don’t want to “work”. And yet, I seem to be the most fulfilled when I have worked hard on something and accomplished it.

Moving on. Sin did happen and life’s struggles became much more that happy or disgruntled work. Now sin is in the mix. God made a way for our forgiveness of sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. But even in salvation, God did not promise to make life easy. On the contrary, He promised to be with us through all of life’s struggles.

On top of that, He even said becoming a believer would bring on more struggles! That’s right. As the world hated Jesus, so will it hate us. We as Americans don’t know a lot about that, but just ask our brothers and sisters around the world. They can tell you. And we may soon see more of that hatred of Jesus (and us) here as time goes on.

I was flabbergasted when I saw the Disney CEO say he would take his film making away from Georgia to the more “righteous” Hollywood (He used the word “righteous”!) because Georgia passed the heartbeat law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detected. All I could think of was the Bible’s prediction of the end of days when right will be considered wrong and wrong will be considered right. My, my. (Truth be told, I thought of a lot of things, but I’ll keep those thoughts to myself…I may need to repent over some.)

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 

1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 ESV

Look at Paul’s warning to believers. We are destined for trials. Let that sink in. Many American believers have never really seen trials over our faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe some of our family avoids us. Maybe we’ve been passed over for a promotion at work or perhaps some of us have even been fired for our faith. But most of us have only felt some discomfort and/or embarrassment. (I am aware that we have persecution in the US.)

In the coming weeks we’ll explore some specific struggles but take courage. While we are guaranteed trials in this life, we are also guaranteed that we are never alone in them! Jesus, our Saviour, is in us through the Holy Spirit so there is NOthing (nothing; no thing) we can’t get through!

Take courage!

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 4:4 ESV

This week as you wrestle with your struggles, take courage! Jesus Christ is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than anything you face. So point your face toward HIM!

psst… We win through Jesus! :)

How to Get into Spiritual Shape

Photo by Imani Clovis

Photo by Imani Clovis

I may be able to sit in this position for a few minutes, but the real problem would be standing after having sat like this. No, the above photo is not one of exercise, but it makes me think of someone who is physically fit.

Physical fitness it a hot topic today. We have many popular exercise and diet programs out there. But what about our spiritual shape? What are we doing to improve our spiritual shape? Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying ‘what are we doing to be the best we can be?’ Jesus died to make us new creations, not a better version of ourselves. We are to conform us into His likeness.

That’s a tall order and one we cannot do on our own. But God…can and will get us into spiritual shape, if we’ll surrender to Him daily. The thing is, we never get into such shape that we don’t have to keep working at it. (Nor do we ever achieve a physical fitness to the point that we don’t have to keep working on it.)

Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. I Timothy 4:7b-8

So how do we train ourselves for godliness? We do what we know to do:

  • Read the Bible daily - preferably in a methodical way

  • Pray - repent, praise, intercede

  • Practice - live out the things the Bible teaches

  • Repeat

This may sound simple and it is, but that doesn’t always make it easy. We often get so caught up in the busyness of life with work, family and the urgent that we somehow push God to the back burner. At least I know that I have done that more times than I want to admit. When I do that, I think about other relationships in my life. How would my marriage be if I just pushed my wonderful husband to the back burner? NOT GOOD, I’m sure!

How can we expect God to deliver us from a crisis or soothe us with His peace when we don’t even spend time with Him on a daily basis? And I don’t mean a five second prayer before we collapse into bed. I mean real, meaningful conversations. Digging into scripture to get to know Him more. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks like this, but I know when I am seeking Him with all my heart I see His merciful acts all around me.

Don’t misunderstand me, God cares for His children no matter what we do or don’t do. He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL even when we’re not. But my point is, how are we to stand firm in the faith when we have not been spending time with our Lord?

I don’t know what shape you are in today. But I do know that Jesus will meet you right where you are and He will transform you into His image as you surrender your life to Him. Surrendering your life is a moment by moment and day by day process.

Join me in doing what we know to do - getting to know our Lord in such a way that we trust He is who He says He is and trust that He can do what He says He can do. Perhaps we’ll meet at the feet of our Saviour this week as we come before Him!

What Are You Afraid Of?

Photo by Emma Shappley

Photo by Emma Shappley

Last year I read a book titled Think It Not Strange by Piper and Mathis. It reminds me of the perspective we have as American Christians. We can hardly fathom persecution the way the Bible talks about persecution. Yet, when you truly think of the cost of Christianity, it’s strange that we are not persecuted - yet.

I know there have been Christians that have been persecuted for their faith here in the great USA. But we don’t often hear of that. For most of us, our persecution may include:

  • being made fun of

  • being ostracized

  • losing a promotion

  • losing a job

  • maybe even a divorce or

  • being somewhat cut off from family

But what do we gain with our relationship with Jesus Christ?

  • peace with God

  • the peace of God

  • freedom from sin

  • a calling and purpose for life

  • eternal life

  • grace

  • mercy

  • love

  • abundant life (now)

  • family all over the world (other Christians)

  • and so much more

So what are we afraid of when it comes to sharing our faith or standing up for what Jesus says is right? I’m Southern Baptist by denomination. Unfortunately, we are more known for what we are against than for what we are for. Here are a few things I am for:

  • loving people because Jesus loves people

  • serving people because Jesus showed me how

  • offering grace before judgement because Jesus gives grace to all who come to Him

  • extending mercy because Jesus has pardoned me from what I deserve

  • sharing the gospel of salvation because Jesus died and rose again so we can be saved

We are not all called to be martyrs - to die for our faith in Jesus, but we are ALL called to LIVE for Him.

We are not all called to be martyrs, but we are all called to live for Him.

Jesus made the cost of discipleship very plain.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
— Luke 14:26-27 ESV

But the rewards… oh the greatness of following Jesus…

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
— Jesus - Luke 23:43 ESV

To think Jesus stepped down from heaven out of glory to live among us. He knew that to redeem us He would have to be separated from His Father for the first time in eternity. He did that willingly because He loves you and me.

As mere human beings we cannot understand how He could take the beatings and the cross for us. But as the Holy God, He became sin - S.I.N - so we might have salvation in Him. How can that be? That, my friend, is love. Amazing love.

When I remind myself of Jesus’ amazing love for me and for you, I have to ask myself - “What am I afraid of?” Because -Jesus is worth EVERYTHING you are afraid of losing!