By His Grace

Archive for the ‘Growing In Christ’ Category

jesus world

In the passage of Matthew 1:18-25, we read of Jesus’ birth.  I would like to stress that these verses not only speak of Mary being a virgin and with-child, but more powerfully it speaks of Mary being with-child by the works of the Holy Spirit.   Going back to the context and the time in which Jesus was born, the Jewish culture thought of the Holy Spirit of having very definite functions. 

According to the Jewish idea, the Holy Spirit was the person who brought God’s truth to man.  It is the Holy Spirit who taught men of God what to do.  The Holy Spirit taught the prophets what to say.  It was the Holy Spirit, throughout the generations and ages, that brought God’s truth to man.  So then, Jesus is the one person who brings God’s truth to men. 

To put it another way, Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, and what God wants us to be.  It is in Jesus alone that we can see what God is and what man ought doveto be.  Before Jesus came into this world, the Jews only had vague ideas and quite often wrong ideas about God.  But Jesus could say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9).

In Jesus, we see the love of God, the compassion, the mercy, the seeking heart and the purity of God.  This cannot be seen by anything else in the world.  Before Jesus came into this world, man did not know what goodness really was.  In Jesus alone we see true goodness, true manhood, true obedience to the will of God.  Jesus came to tell us the truth about God and the truth about ourselves as well.

The Jews also believed that the Holy Spirit enabled men to recognize the truth once they saw it.  So it is in Jesus that men’s eyes are opened to the truth.  As humans we are usually blinded by our own ignorance.  Our minds are darkened by our sins and we go astray because of our own prejudices.  Jesus is the one who opens our eyes when  we are ready to see the truth.  Jesus is so glorious in this fact because He knows when we are ready to hear something and when we are not ready to accept something as the  truth.  He knows the perfect time to open our eyes.  Life can be quite different when Jesus teaches us how to look at things.

jesus hug

I recently started reading a book by Philip Yancey, “The Jesus I Never Knew”.  I’ve been on a search of a book that will catch my attention in the first few pages and I am happy to say I have found it.  I’ve been wanting to learn more about Jesus and have had an inner tug at the back of my thoughts recently to go back to the beginning.  Life can be so hard at times and so confusing.  I find myself slipping away from the very thing that has always kept me grounded and moving forward.   That “thing” is my relationship with Jesus and all he has done for me.  Simply reading and studying Jesus again undoubtedly brings me closer to Him but it also gives me a sense of peace and purpose in this life.

The birth of Jesus was so important that it split history into two parts.  B.C. and A. D.  When studying history we usually always see these dates Before Christ or After Death.  But Jesus isn’t just someone who changed history but he is the one who holds the secret of eternity. 

“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God,”  Jesus said in Luke 12:8 (nlt)

According to Jesus, what I think about him and how I respond will determine my destiny for all eternity.  Many of us believe that Jesus was brave, sinless and emotionally stable.  We regard him as easy to understand, physically strong and attractive, practical, warm and accepting.   In spite of how we see perceive him,  many of us who look for Jesus cannot see past our own noses.

Jesus himself, when challenged, didn’t offer airtight proofs of his identity.  It’s as if he welcomed the risk of dissection by saying, “Examine me.  Test me.   You decide”.   Jesus would drop clues here and there about who he was but he also said, after appealing to the evidence, “Blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”

The actions and behaviors of other people affected Jesus deeply:  stubbornness frustrated him, self-righteousness infuriated him, simple faith thrilled him.  Jesus seemed more emotional and spontaneous than the average person, not less.  More passionate, not less. 

Two words that could never be applied to the Jesus of the Gospels is:  boring and predictable.

Much of what I’ve written above may be directly from the book because honestly I just couldn’t figure out a way to paraphrase it to make it any better than what was already written.  So I give Philip Yancey the credit where credit it due.  Smile  It is my hope that as I read more of this wonderful book I will have more posts about “Learning Jesus”.  Thanks for reading everyone and God bless you all!

When we feel down or discouraged with life, remembering who we are in Christ helps bring us back up to a better emotional state. Here is a list of verses and reasons we can experience joy and contentment even if our emotions are telling us different today.

jesus-loves-me

Who am I in Christ?

I am Significant

  • I am raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6)
  • I am the salt and light of the world (Matt. 5:16)
  • I am chosen and appointed to bear fruit (Jn. 15:16)
  • I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16)
  • I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
  • I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
  • I can approach Christ with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3:12)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
  • I have authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:18)

I am Secure

  • I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:35)
  • Christ, the hope of glory, lives in me (Col. 1:27)
  • I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
  • I am confident that God has begun a good work in me. He will perfect it. (Phil. 1:6)
  • I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28)
  • I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8:1)

I am accepted and loved

  • I am God’s child (Jn. 1:12)
  • I am the apple of His eye (Zech. 2:8)
  • I am loved with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3)
  • I am Jesus’ friend (Jn. 15:15)
  • I have been made complete in Christ (Col. 2:10)
  • I am forgiven of all my sins, the debt against me is cancelled (Col. 1:14)
  • I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)

Ever wonder what God really thinks of you?  How often have we said to ourselves, “if people really knew the real me……”?  God knowsfeel ugly the real you.  He knows your thoughts, your desires, your likes and dislikes.  He knows your past.  He knows your future.  God knows your heart!  It is in our hearts that the real you and me exist.  We may be able to say the right things or get people to believe we are one way when we are not.  But God sees our true character, the part of us that no one sees.

“Nothing in all creation can hide from Him.  Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.  This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.”  (Hebrews 5:13 NLT)

I’ve been in situations before when no one believed me.  No matter how much I argued or tried to convince them I was telling the truth, they still thought I was lying.  This was very frustrating and in a way, I felt hurt.  This was especially true in the beginning of my sobriety.  My family and friends couldn’t trust me or believe anything that I said.  This mistrust was of my own doing, I realized that.  But I took great strength and comfort knowing that God knew the truth.  God knew my heart.   I eventually would answer back saying, “You can choose to believe me or not.  That’s your choice.  But God knows my heart and whether or not I am being truthful.”

God knows the truth about every one of us.  And yet despite all our faults and mistakes, He loves us unconditionally.  We don’t have to put on a front with God or try to convince Him we have changed.  He already knows.  When God chose us to be His children, He already knew what He was getting Himself into.  We are no surprise to Him!

God sees us as His created children.  Gen. 1:27

God sees us as humans who struggle with sin.  Rom. 7:19

God sees us as capable, loving and strong.  2 Tim. 3:7

God sees our thoughts and intentions.  1 Sam. 16:7

God sees us as valuable.  Matt. 6:26,  10:29-31

God sees our potential and possibilities.  Rev. 3:8

There are so many hurting people in this world.  I come into contact with many different kinds of individuals in my daily life.  I have noticed there is a common thread amongst most of them.  This common thread is the fact that these people are lonely.  They feel rejected.  They are broken.  They don’t like themselves and carry much guilt and anger.  If I can uplift them in any way I would tell them they would feel so much better if they could just see themselves as God sees them.  That He loves them and will never abandon them.  That God is with them constantly, even before they open their eyes in the morning, He is there for them.

“….do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

TRUST IN THE LORD

God has pulled me through so many difficult circumstances in my life I can not count. And yet, I still struggle with worry and fear. When a situation comes into my life that is unpleasant, I instantly feel that sicky feeling in my stomach and my heart races. I really don’t like this about myself and this problem is probably what I want to change most about myself today.

My faith in God has certainty strengthened through the years. He has done tremendous works in my life. In hindsight, I see extraordinary circumstances that just seemed to work out for the better without much of my doing. It was most certainly God working good in my life.

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.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Have you ever thought just how busy God is making everything work together for our good? Look at all the mistakes we make. Look at the mess we can make in our lives from sinning. And yet God always comes through for us. Granted, God’s timing is not our timing. Sometimes God works quickly to resolve our problems, and sometimes He works slowly. Very slowly. It is during these slow processes that our faith is tested.

But my issue is with my FIRST response to unpleasant news. I do eventually calm down after a few minutes and start to pray for His help. I ask for comfort and the strength to endure. And I also pray to help me trust Him. The frustrating part is that I DO trust Him! And yet my someday-ahia-b (300x199)first response is fear and worry. I don’t get it. How do I change this about myself? Am I just built this way? God has changed so much about my life and my way of thinking, but this part of me hasn’t changed. I am aware that the difficulties that arise in my life are definitely coming from when I chose to go outside of God’s Will.

Awareness of where my problems start is one thing. I guess that can count for something. But awareness does nothing if not followed by practicing faith in God’s promises and what He says in His Word.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully”. 1 Peter 5:7 (AMP)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Find-the-joy-of-the-lord

I think if you ask just about any person what they want most out of life, their answer will be, “I just want to be happy”.   Sure some will say they want to be “rich”.  But that answer actually just means they think being rich will make them happy.   I know as a parent, what we want most for our children is for them to be happy no matter what they choose for their life.  If our children are happy, then we as parents are more relaxed, less worried about them and well….happier ourselves too.

“You are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you might patiently endure everything with joy.”  Colossians 1:11 (ISV)

The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians that they may endure every circumstance with joy.  I believe Paul also used this prayer in his own life as well.  Paul went through horrendous circumstances during his ministry.  The average man could never have endured what Paul went through but Paul was strengthened by God’s mighty power and dedicated himself to preaching the Good News of Christ no matter what the outcome.  This same mighty power of God in available to us today!  The apostle Paul is really no different than you and me.  He started out a sinner, just like us.  In fact, Paul sin’s before turning his life over to Christ, included murder, extortion and severe brutality toward Christians.

There is a saying that “a grateful heart is a joyful heart”.  But what about the little things that creep up in our daily lives that make us think “this really stinks” followed by a big sigh and a slumping of our shoulders?  I’d like to share with you a personal experience I had.  I wasn’t happy in my last job.  I am a server and I didn’t like a lot of the clientele that came into the restaurant.  I would find myself thinking of these people as “bottom of the barrel”.  But mostly people were just plain cheap.  Didn’t they realize I have rent to pay?  My thoughts were all backwards about this situation at work.  I was basing my happiness on what each table was tipping me.  So I would be happy for this table but then unhappy with that table.  It was constant up and down happiness my entire shift.  It got to a point where I really hated my job and the atmosphere of this restaurant.  I hated the hours and how exhausted I was every night.  I would ask God numerous times throughout every shift to please get me out of this job!  Please open a door and give me another job, please!

The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear to me one night.  He told me, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.”  I didn’t understand at first but then another inner tug and I heard it again, “Michele, you are praying the wrong prayer.  God is not going to give you another job until you figure out how to have joy with this one.”  BAM!  I stood frozen for a minute and said to myself, “Wow, you’re right.  Why would God give me another job to complain about?  If I can’t find joy in this somehow I am going to be stuck here for a long time until I pass this test.”

So I started fervently praying for God to give me the strength to endure this job with joy. I  prayed this prayer constantly and practiced with success and error.   In about 2 weeks time, God opened another door and gave me a new job.  I didn’t even have to interview for this job.  It was that easy.  It’s a nicer restaurant, better clientele and bigger tips.

The Lord wants us to find joy in our trials.  He wants us to find peace in suffering.  He wants us to be happy!  When God opened the door I needed, I thought to myself, “Stop being miserable, God is on your side.  You are not alone in anything.”

I ask for God to help you in your sufferings and for Him to show you that you can find happiness and joy no matter what our daily circumstances.  Ask God to keep you sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance and to help you endure all things with strength and joy.

This is a paper I wrote for my class in Systematic Theology.  The assignment was as follows:

“Alex excitedly tells you, “I recently received the Holy Spirit’s power. I’m no longer a carnal Christian like so many people. I’m just letting go and letting God. Now I can overcome sin with hardly a struggle, and I can live the kind of life that makes me acceptable to God.” Write what you would say to Alex, based on your own understanding of justification, sanctification, and the Spirit’s help in holy living.”

Hope you enjoy it. Smile

I would first start off by telling Alex that there is nowhere in the Bible telling us that just because we become a child of God through salvation and went through the process of justification and sanctification, that we won’t have struggles with sin. We are powerless over our sin nature but there is hope and strength through the help of the Holy Spirit but we first must seek Him, change our way of thinking and allow God to work in our lives. Faith requires action, not just sitting by and letting things happen. We have to fight to stay on track and on the right path, otherwise the devil will get a foothold in our life.

It is true when the Bible says, “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” But even so, we still have to be vigilant in our daily life and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance. Satan will attack this every chance he gets.

In fact Jesus told us we will have more attacks from the devil, because the devil doesn’t want us to please or bring glory to God. Satan will work overtime on believers. The good news is that we have weapons of faith that God has provided and given us to be able to sustain these attacks. These weapons of faith are explained as the “armor of God” as written in Ephesians 6:10-18. We are given the power of the Holy Spirit to aid us in times of conflict.

In a book written by Wayne Gruden titled, “Bible Doctrine”, he defines justification: “An instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and declares us to be righteous in His sight.” He goes on to tell us that, “Legal declaration of justification by God affirms we are just in God sight”.

In other words, we have a right legal standing before God because He has given us forgiveness of our sins. This means we are completely forgiven by Him and are longer subject to punishment. It is important to point out that “legal declaration” in itself doesn’t mean that our internal nature changes and not even our character. Although Alex’s view of “letting go and letting God” can be a powerful way to live your life, it does not mean we are to be aloof and careless in protecting ourselves against temptations of the world. Being pro-active in our faith is important.

After justification there is sanctification. This process implies we are being set apart for God’s’ use. The Holy Spirit is predominately at work in the process of sanctification. Through God’s grace, the Holy Spirit renews us on a daily basis. It means we are to make a conscious choice to no longer love sin, be dead to it, and to stop and overcome patterns of behaviors that were sinful in our life. We are dead to sin and alive Christ. This should be our new mentality and our lives should show accordingly.

One of the greatest gift and resource we have to help us in this life is the Holy Spirit. He gives us strength when we need it. He gives us courage when we need it. He gives us wisdom, helps us make wise choices and speaks to us when He thinks we are making a wrong choice. He is our protector and teacher. He gives us guidance and direction. We must ask God The Father every morning to have His Spirit close to us for leading and guidance.


A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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