It takes time for a seed to grow.
It takes time for a cake to bake.
It takes time to save up for a house.
And, just like anything in life, growing spiritually in relationship with the Lord takes time, too. It is a journey that, while it can seem long and painful at times, is really such a rewarding and fruitful one. In fact, it is the most beneficial, worthwhile and fulfilling pilgrimage of your life. (That is, if you let it be.)
It is an adventure that will awaken our senses, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our souls.
And, because we live in a fallen world, it is also an odyssey that is full of twists and turns, hills and valleys. Dangers are lurking everywhere—because the devil is out there—seeking whom he may devour.
But, praise the Lord, God is out there, too. And, not only is God out there, if we ask Him into our hearts, He is inside of us as well. He is with us and for us. The victory is His—He has already won the war for us on the cross at Calvary. Therefore, likewise, the victory is ours!
This sojourn that we take as Christians offers us a wealth of opportunities to grow and mature in Christ. It allows us to become more and more like Him every day. As Paul reminds us, we go from glory to glory.
It is an expedition that has its fair share of snares and thorns, but I am learning to embrace each of them. The wisdom and peace that comes with walking with God allows us to see every situation, most especially the bad ones, as opportunities to grow in grace and mercy and understanding. They are circumstances in which we can reach out to God and He will hold us tightly in His arms, being our comforter, our strength, our shelter, our foundation, and our fortress. He happily does all these things for us because He is our Father and our Creator, and He loves us.
I cry at this thought. At God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness; at His love for us.
I cry because, as a human, I can sometimes feel so very far away from Him.
I cry because I feel like I am failing miserably at sharing His love and light to all those around me.
I am also happy because I have found God.
I am happy because I have an amazing example to follow in Jesus. And, I am working towards the goal of being more like Him.
I am happy because I know I have a home for eternity in heaven with Him.
I am happy because, no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how many times I mess up, God loves me. He loves me unconditionally.
Sadness and happiness abound, sometimes even in equal measure.
Such is the nature of being a human, I guess.
But, my point is this: the journey to Christ, in our relationship with Him, is worth it. It is worth the trouble. It is worth the effort. It is worth our blood, sweat, and tears. It is worth fighting for, for ourselves and others.
Because at the end of our journey we get to live with Christ forever in the new heavens and the new earth. That in and of itself should be enough. That should be all we need to know in order to strive for a healthy relationship with the Lord.
However, the Bible tells us that our new home in eternity will be so much more than just being with God. (Again, I can't stress this enough, just being with God should be all we need.) Revelation tells us that God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Death shall be no more. There shall be no more mourning, crying, or pain.
And, to me, the added bonus is that all believers will be together. This means everyone I love here on earth, who is a believer, will be in heaven with me.
I mean, can it get any better than that?!?!
Yes, yes it can.
How? I genuinely have no idea. But, I do know that the new heavens and the new earth will be more amazing and stunning than anything we could ever imagine with our tiny human brains. I believe it will be full of incredible surprises.
But, the most crucial aspect is this: we are talking about eternity here. Time without end. This will be forever. This is why our relationship journey with Christ is vital. For without this journey and without Him, we will be lost. We will be cast in the lake of fire permanently.
And, I don't know about you, but to me, the choice between these two options is clear. I hope it is to you too.
Have you ever looked at the cross and thought that it also looks like a plus sign? Or maybe you’ve looked at a plus sign and thought about how similar it is to the cross. I was thinking about this the other day when it occurred to me—maybe they look comparable for a reason.
When I see a plus sign (+) I know that that means to “add to”. If you look it up online, you will find that, “A plus sign is the sign + that is put between two numbers in order to show that the second number is being added to the first. It can also be put before a number to show that the number is greater than zero, and after a number to indicate a number that is more than a minimum number or amount.”
When Jesus died on that cross for us, He sure added a lot to our lives, didn’t He?
His death was a game-changer. When Jesus died on the cross, He added eternity in heaven as an option for us. ETERNITY! In heaven! My small little mind can’t even truly grasp that. All we must do is believe in Him and ask Him into our lives.
With His death on the cross, we received so many amazing gifts. He died on the cross to forgive us of our sins. He died for us. For. Us. He died, so we wouldn’t have to. I definitely count that as a plus!
Jesus died to bring us into relationship with God. And, when we are in relationship with God, God gives our lives meaning. God also gives us unending grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Add in His unconditional love and constant support and perpetual strength.
These are just a few of His mind-boggling gifts. And, while each one is incredible on their own, when you tally them all up you begin to realize just how astonishing God and His love for us truly is.
By dying on that cross, Jesus added so much potential to our lives. If we believe in Him and trust in Him, we have the ability to do anything we set our minds to. Not the least of which is to extend His love, His forgiveness, His grace, and His mercy to others. That is certainly adding something to our own lives and the lives of other people, isn’t it?
As you can see, the pluses abound!
I am sure there are about a million more things I am forgetting that we could add to this list.
Thank you, Jesus, for adding so much to our lives by dying on the cross. May we open our eyes and hearts to all the many blessings you add to our lives each day. May we learn to be thankful and grateful for each and every one. It’s in your name we pray, Amen.
Growing in your spiritual life is not an easy thing. We learn from reading our Bible, that we will have trouble as long as we are living in this world. But, hallelujah, we also learn, that God has overcome the world! (See John 16:33.)
We can often find ourselves in the middle of some sort of trial or turmoil. The devil just loves to come at us in a myriad of ways. He will do everything he can do destroy our peace, our happiness; our relationship with the Lord. His ultimate goal is to beat us down, to make us feel like we have no worth; to feel like we are not loved.
The devil can get into your head and you may not even realize it. He uses fear, sin, unforgiveness, doubt, bitterness, and ignorance, among others. He plants negative seeds in your mind, seeds that cause apprehension, confusion, and uncertainty.
Even if you are someone who has a positive outlook and regularly rejects the devil and his attempts to drag you under, he will employ other methods to sidetrack you. I have found that he even uses things like boredom and busyness to divert us. Therefore, it is essential that we stand firm and plant ourselves in the love of our heavenly Father.
By reading our Bibles, we can learn to lean into God, stand on His promises, trust in Him, and believe that He will work out everything in our lives for good—if we let Him. (And, we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28)
I realized years ago that I can do nothing on my own. Whatever I accomplish in my life, it is only by the grace of God. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon reminds us that we are to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) And, we all need to do this.
I don’t know about you, but I “talk” to myself all the time. Yes, I admit it! (You know you do it too!) And, probably at least a million times a week I say to myself, “that makes zero sense.” I have concluded that most things in this world just do not make sense to me. In the past, I could really let these “things”, whatever they are/were get to me. Well, I am finally learning to not be bothered with these things anymore. Lean NOT on your own understanding.
I have decided to take this verse to heart.
And, why not? Why should we burden ourselves and weigh ourselves down with things we don’t understand? What’s the point? There is no point! This is what the Bible teaches us. We don’t NEED to understand everything. All we truly need to understand is that God is in control and He will take care of everything.
It is that simple!
Well, it’s that simple if we let it be. This is where the “trusting in the Lord” part comes into play. I am certain that, if we trust in the Lord, we don’t need to worry about anything else. End of story.
The devil wants us to try and figure things out for ourselves, because he knows it will just cause doubt and confusion. The devil causes us to question ourselves, to overthink, to try and figure everything out on our own. That in not the way we should be. That is not what we learn from the Bible. We don’t need any of the devil's crap! Send that devil away!
I believe in God. I trust in God. I know that He loves me and will work everything out for my good, no matter what happens. I don’t have to understand anything other than this. This is the beauty of God. This is the beauty of knowing God and trusting and believing in Him. It is simple. We just need to keep it that way!
So, put your trust in God. Believe in God. Trust and believe. Trust and believe. It is my new mantra!
I am at a place in my life where one of the things I long for most is peace. I have always disliked drama and politics. I have never understood why people can’t just get along. In my mind, it is simple—treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, at the very least live and let live, as the old saying goes. (And, yes, I do get the irony that I am a theatre nerd, was president of drama club in high school, and have two degrees in theatre—or drama as it is sometimes called.)
At 43, I am officially middle-aged. I hate typing that. In my brain, I feel more like 28. But sadly, my body often reminds me that I am far from 28. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” This is from Philippians 4:7. And, this is what I want in my life.
So, how do we experience this peace? Where can we find it? How do we get it?
If you read your Bible, you will find the answer. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus left us His peace. It is one of His many gifts to us. We don’t need to ask for it. He has already given it to us. He left it for us a long time ago. Peace I leave with you. We just need to take it. Grab it. Step into it. Breathe it in. Soak in it. Heck, marinate in it!
God is peace. He is even referred to as the Prince of Peace. (See Isaiah 9:6) Once we know God, we can know peace. The more time we spend with Him, the closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can experience and benefit from!
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, “Who you spend the most time with is who you become”? I have heard it quite often. But, honestly, I am not sure if it is true or not. However, I hope and pray that I become more like God every day. It only makes sense to me that the best way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
When we remember to seek God in all things, He becomes our refuge, our sanctuary. God tells us that we can cast our cares, our worries, our problems, our sorrows, and our fears on Him. Then, we can let them go. (See 1 Peter 5:7) Being able to do this gives us peace. Once we learn how to do this, we start to grasp that, His peace really does pass all human understanding.
Now, this can and does take some time. It is not something that magically happens overnight. (At least, that wasn’t the case for me.) It was something that I had to work for. It is something that I still work for. I often have to remind myself that Jesus left me His peace. I just need to reach out and grab it!
As I grow spiritually, and just as a female in general, I am realizing the value of self-care. Life can often be full and time-consuming and tiring. Sometimes it can even be crazy and daunting. But, as I age, looking out for number one--that would be me, is becoming more and more evident.
I have mentioned my “mystery” illness before. It is something I have been contending with for more than eight years now. I get tired and worn down easily from anything physical and/or stressful. And, while I don’t like it, I have learned to adjust my life accordingly. I sleep longer each night than I used to. I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables—more natural foods and a lot less processed foods. And, while adjusting my life has been tough, I have learned two very important lessons from it.
This week, I thought I would share both with you.
First, while it may be frowned upon by some, there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting yourself first. As a matter of fact, I would argue that taking care of yourself first takes priority over everything and everyone else in your life. I know you have heard this before, but I love it and I am going to share it with you again, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
If this makes others mad, so what? If this is upsetting to others, who cares? Trust me, they will get over it. God wants us to take care of ourselves. He wants us to be happy and healthy. Happy. And. Healthy.
By-the-way, being healthy includes your physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body.”
Make sure your cup is full—put yourself first. Take care of yourself. Then, you can do all the other things in life that you feel are required of you.
Second, when I am weak, God is strong. When I am struggling, God pulls me up. When I am bone-tired, God refreshes me. When I can’t do anything, but cry from anger or frustration, God whispers in my ear that it’s ok.
This “mystery” illness, has brought me closer to God. This “mystery” illness has allowed me to rely on God more and more. And, He has never failed me. Not once! Over the course of the past eight years, I have seen first-hand just how much God loves me and looks after me. I have witnessed God do some pretty spectacular things. Day after day, He is there.
After all this time, my perspective of my “mystery” illness has changed. While I used to despise it, I am now grateful for it. Without it, I would not have the relationship with God that I have. And, there is nothing in this world that I would trade for that. Nothing. (Not even my old body.) God certainly works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?
My every day self-care now includes spending good, quality time with our Father God. Every day during lunch at work, I go outside and listen to a meditation devotional for 15 minutes. It is one of my most precious times of the day. It is something that I look forward to. It is something that replenishes me. It has turned into something that I yearn for. It is like needing food and water. I need time with God every day.
You do too. Start taking better care of yourself and your soul. Start by spending more time with God. And, start right now. You are worth it!
Social media in now a staple in life. I remember a time not too long ago where most people thought it was just a phase, that it wouldn’t last very long. Even with all the problems social media is having, I think it is here to stay. (At least in some form or fashion.)
When you create a Facebook page, it asks your relationship status; single, married or its complicated. (There are probably more options than this, but these are three I remember.) This got me to thinking, as a Christian, what is your relationship status?
First, I must point out to you that being a Christian actually requires some work on your part. I know some so-called “Christians” who attend church on Sundays and think that’s all they need to do. Just going to church does not a Christian make. (I can make myself a sandwich in our kitchen every Saturday, but that doesn’t make me a chef.)
In my last post, I talked about having a come to Jesus meeting. Well, that is part one of becoming a Christian. The second part is having an actual relationship with Father God. He is not just some entity in the sky, He is alive and He is right here with us. And, He wants nothing more than to have a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with you.
Think about your current situation here on earth. Are you married? Are you currently seeing someone? Is there someone special in your life? Whether you are in a relationship or not, I am assuming you are old enough to know that being in a relationship, any real relationship, requires work. And, it is hard work. But, anything good worth having is worth working for. This is true for a good relationship with your significant other and it is most certainly true in your relationship with the Lord.
Being a true Christian means having an authentic relationship with God. This means spending beneficial, quality time with God each and every day, not just an hour or so on Sundays. I mean, think about it, if you only spent an hour or so with your spouse one day a week, what kind of relationship would you expect to have? Be honest now. It wouldn’t be very good, would it? How could it be? The point of being in a relationship is spending time together. The same is true of being a Christian.
When we spend time with God by reading our Bibles and in prayer, and/or by going to church, we learn more about Him. This gives us the opportunity to grow spiritually. And, I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, the more time I spend with God and learn about Him, the more time I want to spend with Him and the more I want to grow to be like Him, be a reflection of Him.
As we grow in our Christian faith and our relationship with God, we start to change on the inside and outside. Our minds are being renewed. God uses our circumstances to develop His mind and heart in us. The more time you spend with God, the more you will start to think and act like He does. The Holy Spirit will guide you more and more. His still small voice will grow louder in your head. These are all wonderful things!
Think about your life now. Don’t you pick up little traits of the people you spend the most time with? Do you catch yourself saying things that someone else always says? I do. I am sure you do too. Therefore, spending proper time with God and having a right relationship with Him is vital in our spiritual growth.
So, after reading this, I ask you again--as a Christian, what is your relationship status? Are you realizing that you need to tweak it a bit? Maybe you need a complete overhaul. I am not here to judge. It took me years to understand this and get to this point. I do hope that after reading this post that your perspective has changed, at least a little bit, on what it means to have a right relationship with the Lord. I hope you grasp how crucial it is for your own overall well-being and spiritual growth.
Growing up, I would sometimes hear the phrase, “have a come to Jesus meeting”. I never really thought that much about it. I was one of those goody-goody two-shoes little girls. I didn’t get in trouble much. But, I did know enough about that phrase to know it was not a good thing. I never wanted to hear my parents say those words to me.
As an adult, I still don’t want to hear those words. They are words that people dread to hear, especially in the workplace. (This is something you definitely do not want to hear from your boss.) What is funny to me though, is that this phrase started out with a literal meaning and it has now turned into a figurative one.
A “come to Jesus meeting” was originally an American term describing a Christian religious service where it was hoped that many people would dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. Back in the 1800s and 1900s, preachers would travel around the country holding tent revivals. They wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and save as many people as they could. They wanted people to come to Jesus.
Today, the “come to Jesus meeting” has taken on a figurative meaning and is often used in politics, parenting, and business. This type of meeting is had when you need to point out to someone that they have taken a wrong path. It is not a fun meeting, and quite often it is a last-ditch effort made to straighten out someone before more serious actions are taken. Many times, people use this expression when they are dealing with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem.
I think it is high time that we bring the literal meaning back into fashion. Don’t you?
I want everyone I know, and everyone I don’t know, to have a "come to Jesus meeting"--a real, honest-to-goodness, come to Jesus meeting.
You don’t have to go to a tent revival to meet Jesus. You can meet Him at anytime, anywhere, anyplace. That is the beauty of Jesus--He is everywhere!
When you meet Jesus, your life will change forever and for the better.
If you have NOT had a "come to Jesus meeting" yet, I would be honored to help you with it, and introduce you to Him.
The first step in wanting to meet Jesus. You understand that you are a sinner and you need some help with things in your life. We are all sinners and need Jesus! You were never meant to live this life alone, you were meant to live it with Jesus.
Second, you need to be saved. Salvation is simply a process of confessing and believing. You must confess that Jesus is Lord, and truly believe that with all your heart. You must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that Jesus now lives today. You must believe in the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:9-11 tells us, “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Acts 2:38 tells us, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
That is all there is to it. It is both simple and complex at the same time. But, your decision to have a “come to Jesus meeting” it is the most important decision you will ever make.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.