Faithfulness is a lost art in our culture of instant gratification. The same desires that make us impatient to get what we want when we want it cause us to give up on people when we find ourselves facing friction, conflict, and an inevitable struggle.
But what would happen if we, like Mary, determined to be faithful, to be devoted, through thick and thin, through good and bad? Much like the vows we make when we enter into a marriage covenant, God calls us to a deep and committed to relationship with Him. And while His faithfulness is never-ending, ours is fickle. That is why we must make great effort to be devoted to Christ not just when life is good and following Him is easy, but when life is overwhelming and giving up is easy.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him." -James 1:12
We live in a culture that is all about making a name for yourself. We're constantly bombarded with messages from both secular and Christian sources that tell us to be all that we can be, to leave our mark on the world, and to stand out. I, myself, struggle with the desire for recognition and the temptation to not do something if I don't think it'll be appreciated or noticed. But the truth is that Scripture actually calls us to live quiet, humble lives that draw attention not to us, but to Christ.
Mary was a humble woman, content to live her life behind the scenes and make much of Christ. Instead of making a name for ourselves, let's be determined to make Christ's name known - and in the process we'll earn eternal rewards instead of the temporary ones that recognition in this world offers.
Anyone here struggle with control? I know I do! Another amazing thing about Mary is that she was a trusting woman. She trusted God not only to work in her own life, but also in the lives of those around her. Even after Joseph decided to divorce her, Mary trusted God and waited for Him to intervene rather than taking matters into her own hands, becoming manipulative, obsessive, or controlling. Rather than trying to force those around us to believe God, we must each surrender and trust God to work. If God said it, He will do it! His way, in His timing. Let's have the faith to wait.
Hello There! So sorry for my long absence... much of my summer has been spent wedding planning! Cameron and I were married on September 29th in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by our closest family and friends. We are so thankful! But I'll be sharing more about that later.
For now, I'm super excited to be launching a brand new video devotional series! For the next month, I'll be posting videos every Tuesday and Thursday where we'll dig deep into the life of Mary of Nazareth, an ordinary woman used by an extraordinary God! This series is based off the booklet by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth titled "A Portrait of a Woman Used by God."
Here's today's video:
I think it's easy for us to get comfortable in life.
Comfort zones can be danger zones, though. When we get comfortable, we tend to become self-centered. We take things and people for granted. We stop giving. We start taking. We become proud. And God's not a fan of our stagnation, and He tends to only let us stay comfortable for so long before He begins to create some friction in our lives. Gently, at first, and then with increasingly more force as we stubbornly hold on to what we believe we need and have a right to - whether that's a certain emotional state of being, a particular relationship, an orderly set of circumstances, or even a way of thought and belief that is comfortable to us.
Our response to these disruptions reveals our heart. The right response is surrender to what God doing, trusting Him, and being obedient even in the hard things. When we surrender, we grow. We change. We become strengthened emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
But often we respond negatively, with anger, resentment, and a stubborn refusal to change. That's when things tend to get bad, because God often has to use pain to motivate us to change, as most of refuse to budge until the pain of staying the way we are is greater than the pain of change.
Jonah is an example of someone who had a very clear comfort zone in life, and when God began to challenge him, he responded in anger. His desperation to maintain control over his life and choices made him emotionally unstable and ultimately estranged from God.
I'm excited to share this study on Jonah with you. it's one of my favorite lessons to teach. And yes, I know, I'm breaking the cardinal rule of blogging by publishing an article that's over 1,300 words - but I felt like it would be worth it.
I recommend you pull your Bible out and follow along. For the sake of time and space, I'll only be including key verses as we go through. Start with reading the book (it's just 4 chapters) to familiarize yourself with the story.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
I find myself continually affected by the incredibly obvious truth in this passage. There's certainly quite a lot of truth in the passage, but what most continues to convict and excite me is the simplest line -- "let us throw off everything that hinders."
Interesting, is it not, that sin is addressed separately? That there are things that hinder us, which we must lay aside, that aren't even sin? Though, depending on how we treat the things that hinder us, they can quickly become sin through idolatry.
It's a simple question of priority.
If my priority, if my goal, is to not just finish the race, but to win the race, why would I hesitate to make whatever adjustments necessary to do so?
Some things must be sacrificed for the greater goal of victory.
In the grand scheme of things, is there really anything worth holding on to? I think not.
How wonderful to be able to have the freedom to run to Jesus completely unhindered!
The consequence of all these things would be to block the work of God in your heart and in your home and in your church. You cannot afford to do it. Time is too short. Judgment is too certain. Eternity is too long. God is too wonderful, and Christ is too beautiful, and Heaven is too glorious for us to allow anything in our lives to hold us back from winning the race of life.
-A. W. Tozer
In a word: passionate.