Tag Archives: christian living

Defeating Your Past

Do you ever feel like your faults, failures and past sins disqualify you from being used by God? Sometimes those voices that tell me those things get so overpowering that I start to believe it. My past comes back to remind me to stay grounded while God has called me to fly. They weigh me down like I’m attached to an anchor. They tell me, “Because you did this, God can never do that in your life.” It’s hard to hear anything else sometimes.

When those voices get too loud in my mind, there’s two verses I go back to. The first one is Psalm 65:3. It says, “Our faults defeat us, but you forgive them” (GNT). I use this verse to remind me that my past has been forgiven, and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. The voices that tell me what God can’t do are not from God. When He forgives, He forgets. He uses those faults and failures as my qualifications to do what He called me to do.

The other verse I go to is Romans 11:29. It says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still has a plan for your life. He still has a calling that only you can fulfill. He knew your future when He called you. He understood that you wouldn’t be able to live a perfect life so He built it into the plan for you. He doesn’t withdrawal His calling because of our past.

It’s easy to look at someone else and think, “They’re better qualified to do what I’m called to do,” but that’s not how God works. He created you with a purpose and a calling that only you can fulfill. It’s time to quit listening to the voices that tell us we can’t, and start listening to the only voice that matters. It’s not too late. You haven’t gone too far. God’s calling is still valid and you have work to do. Push out the voices that tell you why you can’t, and tell God, “Here am I. Use me.” God hasn’t withdrawn His calling or purpose for your life.

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Fighting The Flesh

In the mid 1990’s, DC Talk had a song called “What if I Stumble”. At the beginning, they read a quote from Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” that said, “The greatest single cause for atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” That quote has always spoken to me and has challenged me.

When we get close to Easter, the story of Peter denying Jesus three times usually gets brought up at some point. We give him a hard time because he denied Jesus with his lips, but we often don’t think twice about things we do that deny Jesus with our life. One of my favorite quotes has been, “Preach at all times, and use words when necessary.” It’s a challenge for me to try to live a life that points others to Jesus. The problem is that in our flesh, it’s impossible. There is a constant struggle in each one of us between our flesh and God’s spirit living in us.

Paul perfectly described our feelings in this struggle in Romans 7:24 when he said, “Oh what a miserable person I am!” (GNT) He went on about the struggle, and how to win it, in Romans 8. Verse 12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” To win the battle more times than not, we have to learn to repeatedly tell our flesh a resounding, “No!” We are not obligated, as Paul said, to obey the flesh.

If you struggle telling your flesh, “No,” you’re not alone. It’s something we all struggle with. We can get better at it by learning to deny our flesh through fasting and prayer. We can do it by reading God’s Word instead of something else. If we want our lifestyle to match the words that come out of our mouth, it begins by listening to God’s Spirit within us and being led by Him. Jesus forgave and used Peter despite his vocal denial. God can forgive and use us too. Winning this battle within us and living a lifestyle that preaches God’s Word starts with one “No” to the flesh. Thanks to God who gives us that power by living in us.

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The Importance Of Roots

Until you see a tree blown over, you typically don’t think much about its roots. Most roots go down deep into soil and provide nutrients for the tree as well as stability. The healthier the roots, the stronger the tree. Studies are starting to show that roots also secrete compounds in the soil that protect it from disease. It’s amazing what all they do, yet we mainly think about the result of their work. We enjoy the fruit that the tree produces and marvel at the changing of the leaves, but rarely consider it’s all as a result of being connected to the root.

Jesus told His disciples that He is the vine and we are the branches. What He was saying is that we should be getting our nourishment from Him, and that apart from Him, we have no life. We have to remember that we don’t support the root, but that the root supports us. It’s important to stay connected to Him through daily prayer and Bible reading. That’s how our soul is nourished and protected from disease. Like roots, we can’t really see Him, but everything we are is a result of being connected to Him.

Here are some verses about roots in the Bible.

1. Blessed [with spiritual security] is the man who believes and trusts in and relies on the LORD And whose hope and confident expectation is the LORD. “For he will be [nourished] like a tree planted by the waters, That spreads out its roots by the river; And will not fear the heat when it comes; But its leaves will be green and moist. And it will not be anxious and concerned in a year of drought Nor stop bearing fruit.


2. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Ephesians 3:16-17 NLT

3. Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:7 GNT

4. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Revelation 22:16 NASB

5. What the wicked construct finally falls into ruin, while the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.

Proverbs 12:12 MSG

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What God Wants

I’m doing a 40 day prayer challenge with a friend as we lead up to Easter. We both made visual lists of the things we want to pray over daily. As we were discussing them, he mentioned that he wants to pray God’s will into his life. I thought it was a great idea, and I added a blank page to my visual. I pray over the things that are near and dear to my heart, but then I pray, “God, these are the things I desire for my life. What do you desire to do in me? What do you want to write into my life? I give you permission to do what you want.”

I’ll be honest, that’s a dangerous prayer, but I believe it’s a necessary one. We all have our own ideas about what’s important to us, and we have things we pray over. At the same time, there are things God is trying to do, and we need to submit to His will. I feel that many times the things we pray for are more our will than His. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus taught us how to pray in these instances. In Matthew 26:39 Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want” (GNT).

We can ask God for the things we want, but I believe it’s import to turn around and give God permission to do what He wants. It’s not so much about giving Him permission as it is that we are submitting to His will. God answers the prayers we pray that are in accordance with His will. He also has great plans for your life, but we have to learn to submit to them instead of insisting we get help accomplishing our own. Prayer shouldn’t be just about what we want. It needs to be about what God wants too.

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Heartfelt Worship

I was twenty years old before I attended my first liturgical style church service. I was raised in a church at the opposite end of the spectrum. The songs seemed to be all from before the 1700’s, and we had to do responsive readings throughout the service. I remember thinking, “This is crazy! How can anyone get into this?” It was then that God directed my gaze to a woman across the church. I could tell she was enjoying it and was worshipping God through the service. God was saying, “There’s more than one way to worship me because worship comes from the heart.”

In Matthew 26, Jesus was close to the end of His ministry. He was having dinner with a man he had healed when a woman came in with a perfume worth a year’s salary. She broke it open and poured it on Jesus. The disciples flipped out and called it a waste because they could have sold the perfume and given the money away. But Jesus responded in verse 13, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed” (NLT).

I’ve been like the disciples and have complained about other styles of worship. Because God gave us different personality styles, we express our worship differently. God is looking for us to worship Him in spirit and in truth with our lives, not just at a church service. The woman in this story worshipped with all she had and we are still talking about it two thousand years later. Imagine what the Church could do if we quit worrying about how each other worship God and focused on our own worship. Remember God is looking at our heart, not our outward expression.

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Purpose In Problems

It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.

In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.

Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.

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When I was younger, I was a part of a scouting program through the church. Our motto was, “Ready. Ready for anything. Ready to work, play, serve, worship, live and obey God’s Word.” Each Wednesday night, we would repeat that along with the pledges. We would have discussions about what it meant to be ready. We learned that once an opportunity arose, it was too late to get ready (see the Parable of the 10 Virgins with oil in their lamps).

The Bible is full of reminders to us to be ready. We never know when a door will open, when God will prompt us to do something or when Jesus will return. The motto I learned as a kid wasn’t just a good thing for a teenager to learn, it should be our motto as the Church. I believe there is so much God wants to do through us, but we aren’t ready when the opportunity arises. Today, let’s make sure we are ready for whatever God wants to do.

Here are some Bible verses on being ready.

1. Be ready for whatever comes, dressed for action and with your lamps lit, like servants who are waiting for their master to come back from a wedding feast. When he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him at once.

Luke 12:35-36 GNT

2. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy–acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

1 PETER 3:15 AMP

3. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:13 NLT

4. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 NASB

5. So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you.

Ephesians 6:14-17 GNT

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