Do I want to know God?

Who is God?

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Do you know Him? Or do you prefer not to know Him, so you don’t have to feel any discomfort over shocking Old Testament happenings and radical commands from the New Testament?

Is your god God? Or is he a benevolent, prayer-answering, rather un-god-like figure who fits quite neatly into your compartmentalized life in which your religion is but one, tidy, unrelated compartment?

The fact is, God is kind. And He does answer prayers. But He is also very much God. He created the universe and He created you, and He does not have to answer to you or do things as you dictate.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light. (Psalm 36:7-9)

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14)

20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20)

It seems to me that a lot of people like to claim God. One woman thanks God for her boyfriend (who is not a Christian and has led her into sin) and another talks about how God blessed her with the baby she prayed for in His perfect timing while she’s unapologetically living in sin. Sin that God declared was sin and was off-limits for His followers.

It is never for me to condemn someone’s soul. But I only have to briefly glance at these people’s lives to see that what they’re saying does not match up with what they’re doing. One cannot follow God and still live blatantly in sin. God hates sin. And as His adopted children, sin should be our burden.

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14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:14-20)

So I have to wonder. Do these people even have any idea who God is? Some claim to know Him and to follow Jesus Christ, but have they let Him be God in their lives? Have they let themselves truly know Him?

Imagine that these people, indeed, are not true believers. That they have not believed in Jesus Christ, trusted Him to save them from their sins, and surrendered their lives to Him.

Imagine that on the last day, they declare: “Lord, we publicly thanked You on Facebook! We prayed to You for a baby and gave the credit to You in front of our fans and followers! We started going to church after watching Heaven is for Real!”

And what if God tells them: “Depart from me. I don’t know you.”

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

What are they going to say in response? “Um … well … I guess I didn’t really know You, either. In fact, I didn’t really want to know You—the real You, not just the You that fit into my “religion compartment”; my fire insurance, my guilt-easer, my feel-good fix when I start getting uncertain and depressed—because I didn’t want to stop living the way I was living. I was afraid of what You might ask me to give up. I didn’t trust You and believe You were who You said You were. I didn’t believe You really loved me. I didn’t believe You were good.”

So I made up my own god. One that let me be in control. One that didn’t care how sinfully and selfishly I lived. One who always gave me what I wanted. One that didn’t tell me what to do or how to live. One that I didn’t have to trust, or surrender to, or give up control to, or follow.

I was worried there really might a possibility of hell. I wanted to go to heaven when I died. I wanted only warm, fuzzy, feel-goods from my god figure. I didn’t want to completely disappoint my family. I wanted my prayers answered and the desires of my heart given to me.

But I didn’t want You.

But God is God. And if you try to change Him in order to fit Him into how you want your life to be, you’re only creating a false idol, and you do not know God.

How we, in our frail, pathetic, human arrogance think we can do what we want, run our lives, dictate who God is and what He does and then think He will honor that—when He is the one who breathed everything that exists into motion; when He is the one who thought us up and knit us together in our mother’s womb—is the epitome of foolishness.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

What a horrifying stench our pride must be to the one and only God. The Creator of Heaven and Earth. The King of kings and Lord of lords.

Our pride, though. Not us.

I don’t believe that our scent disgusts God.

I am not perfect. I am a sinner. I fail again and again. I am even guilty of the things I mentioned above – trying to fit God into my limited comfort zone. Avoiding passages of Scripture I can’t understand.

But still, I have been saved. And I do not say in despair: “How deplorable I must be to God.” But I say: “I am a child of the King. I am God’s princess.” Because of His love; His mercy and grace. Because of Jesus Christ. Because I have accepted His sacrifice and gift, and He is teaching me to walk His path.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Listen, friends, this post may be a warning, but it is not a condemnation. God, as all He truly is, loved us while we were yet dead in our sins. Before we trusted Jesus Christ.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

If you realize you’ve been guilty of not surrendering to God, not trusting that He’s good, not believing in Him and in His Word, you should not run away no matter what shame you feel. You should run to God.

He can turn your shame into a testimony.

Your sorrow into joy. Your doubt into faith.

Humble your heart before Him. Be honest with Him. The time for pretensions, and faking, and fear, and ignorance, and trying to manipulate everything into your version of how life should be is long past over.

Try praying: God, create in me a desire for You. Give me the strength to surrender everything to You. Help me to trust that You are good. Teach my heart to know Your unconditional love for me. Show me how to love You. Reveal Yourself to me and help me to live up to the term “Christian” by actually following Christ!

No matter the consequences, the sacrifices, the discomfort, the humility—no matter the mountains of questions I don’t have answers to and the many things I can’t understand.

I want to know You.

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And simply trust Him.

Instead of shutting my Bible when I come across a passage or verse I don’t understand, I’ve learned to talk honestly with God. “Lord, I don’t understand this. It seems like a hard teaching to me. But, You are God and I am not. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and Your ways are higher than my ways.”

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Learn to be okay with not knowing everything. Not understanding all. Not being in control. Let God be God.

Because He is.

I also learned to speak truth over myself. To meditate on His love. To pray daily and deeply. To ask God to show me how to love Him! To give me faith. To help me trust. To make my heart’s desire for Him. To give me a hunger for His Word. A heart for the people of the world – all created in His image! A passion for His design.

Lord, help me to delight in You! In Your words. In spending time with You. In talking to You.

Surrender to Him, friends! He is God, beyond what we can imagine and comprehend! He is love. He is holy. He is able. He is forgiving. He is compassionate. He is merciful and gracious. He is the giver of good gifts!

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:8-11)

(That reminds me of a Youtube video I watched by Joseph Solomon that was very inspiring. Watch it below.)

Anyway.

Do you want to know God?

Surrender to Him and seek Him with all your heart. Stop searching for what you want, and search for Him.

13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

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Oh, Joyous Christmas Day

Merry Christmas, dear people! Oh, how I pray that you are filled with God’s love, joy, and peace this day and always! This is a joyous celebration—a light has dawned on our darkness!

Merry Christmas

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2 & 6)

I celebrate Christmas because …

Why not dedicate a day to pondering and celebrating the birth of the Light of the world?

Pretty lights and gifts and candle-lit services and decorated trees and sweet family time can all point to the greater meaning of Christmas.

Some people choose to celebrate this day in a worldly, perhaps even pagan, way. Some people choose not to celebrate. But as for me, I believe that every day is the Lord’s. And I have the freedom to celebrate and make merry and rejoice in Him … just as I may on any day.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters. (Psalm 24:1-2)

And just because pagans celebrate pagan things on this day, doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate Christ on Christmas! If He is the almighty, powerful Creator and Lord of the universe, then all belongs to Him. Even Christmas Day. I don’t think we have to be afraid of the pagan traditions that happen on certain days … we can overcome that evil by celebrating good and right. Because all was made by Him and for Him.

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)

So whether you celebrate Christmas, eat chocolate cake, go to a dance, work a job, attend a church service, clean your house, read a book, prepare food, wear a pretty dress, write a blog post … DO IT ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. Every day, every moment, every happening is an opportunity to make much of His name. It’s all about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:30-31)

In the book of Acts, Apostle Paul takes a saying used by pagan poets, and uses it, instead, to speak of the one true God! Indeed, I believe that all the world – words, days, all food, and the starry hosts – belong to God and can be used for His honor and glory.

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31)

We should delight in Jesus Christ every day! Christmas is just one more opportunity to make much of His holy name. I can say: Today is the day I reflect on my incredible Savior’s birth. His awesome life. His death—sacrifice. His resurrection. This day, I specially dwell on and celebrate the day my Hope was born and my salvation made possible. This day I rejoice in the fact that the Lover of my soul chose to descend to earth, be born of a virgin named Mary, live a perfect life, and shed His blood for my sake. Oh, what a beautiful, powerful reason to celebrate.

So, I celebrate.

Dear readers, may you grow in His love and breathe in His grace each and every day! Blessings to you!

Lady Grace ❤

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation. (Luke 1:46-50)

41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:41-45)

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:9-20)

Some Novel Recommendations #1

Hello, readers! Today I have some book recommendations! Just a few novels set in Biblical times that I absolutely loved. These soul-stirring stories were engrossing and beautiful, and very much touched my heart. I hope you will give them a try! 🙂

(By the way, I have not been sticking to my schedule of posting on Tuesdays and Saturdays, if you haven’t noticed … haha. But I still want to post twice a week. I’m trying to at least once a week!)

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SHADOW OF THE STORM {Out from Egypt #2} by Connilyn Cossette

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My Personal Review ~ 5 stars

I loved this book so very much! Connilyn Cossette is a talented writer, and brings the Biblical days and ancient Hebrew and Egyptian characters to life. After just enjoying the first book of the OUT FROM EGYPT series, I was unprepared for how Shadow of the Storm would sweep me away and capture my heart. The writing is so beautiful! The characters real. The setting intriguing. The retelling of the Hebrew slaves coming out of Egypt fascinating and soul-touching. The way this author weaves a faith theme into her stories is seamless and enrapturing. I felt in awe beneath the holiness, and power, and love of God.

Shira is an amazing character. I adored her. Her story, during the Hebrew people’s 40 years at the foot of Mount Sinai, was fascinating. I loved her journey of faith. Her work as a midwife. Her romance. Her motherhood. It was all so simply beautiful.

There were some hard times too. Malicious characters. Dreadful moments. Terrible disappearances. Wrong choices. Just … life. But it all came to a magnificent conclusion. I liked seeing brief glimpses of Moses and his sister Miriam of the Bible, too. *smiles*

I don’t always enjoy novels set during the Biblical days, but Shadow of the Storm was incredible. I highly recommend to adults who enjoy Christian fiction! This story is unique and thrilling. I can hardly wait to read the third book, Wings of the Wind!

WINGS OF THE WIND {Out from Egypt #3} by Connilyn Cossette

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My Personal Review ~ 5 stars

Another beautiful novel – well done, Connilyn Cossette! Wings of the Wind is the third and final book in the OUT FROM EGYPT series, and besides delighting my eyes with its gorgeous cover, it took me on a stunning and exciting journey! Connilyn Cossette writes her tales set during the Bible days with such passion, detail, and grace. Before I know it, I’m swept away, intrigued by the ancient world, the fantastic characters, and the story of God. I’ve never read Biblical retellings that I’ve loved so much!

Wings of the Wind takes place about forty years after Counted with the Stars (book one), and Shadow of the Storm (book two). Though we see a bit of the characters from those books, our main character is a Canaanite woman, destitute and bent on revenge. Alanah has had everything taken from her, and she’s determined that the Hebrews should pay. But on the battlefield where she’s certain she’ll breathe her last, unexpected grace awaits.
And Tobiah is hardly prepared for the surprise and challenge that awaits him on and after the battle.
Joshua is now one of the leaders of the Israelites, though Moses is still in charge. The Israelites are taking over the land, with the Lord as their guide. But discontentment simmers. Enemies lurk. And the corrupted city of Jericho looms.

What a tale of redemption. I love how the author brings to life these Old Testament stories, though some of them are hard! She unashamedly shows God’s holiness and authority, and yet grace fills these pages. Throughout the book, I felt awe for God; the fear of the Lord. And still, His love. His care for His people. The way He set rules and laws to protect them and keep them, even making a law so that the enemy – the Canaanite woman – would be protected from abuse, violence, or even death.
We saw some of Moses and Joshua in Wings of the Wind. And also, Rahab. I love hearing Rahab’s story, and remembering that she was in the lineage of Christ!
Ah, it was wonderful. God’s power and goodness is shown in these books. For that, and her seemingly meticulous research on these stories and time in history, I very much admire Connilyn Cossette.

I adored the characters. Alanah was a fun change, spirited and spunky as she was. I love how clear her personality was. And just her story! Her journey of faith. It was heart-rending and fascinating. I quite liked Tobiah as well. His sister, on the other hand … well, that took some time! Loved seeing Shira and Kiya, of course! ^_^ And Moriyah! Oh, how I love that girl! She’s spirited too! And strong, sweet, and innocent. Whoa. What a journey! I so wish we could get a book for Moriyah!
So basically, all the characters were well-developed, intriguing, and played their parts in this story. Some upset me, some infuriated me! Others tugged at my heart and had me rooting for them to accept redemption and live the life God intended for them!

The OUT FROM EGYPT series has been serious, but sweet. Heavy, but exciting. Difficult times and a wayward people are shown, but hope always breaks through. Wings of the Wind was a tender tale that kept me turning pages late into the night. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend to adults who like Christian historical fiction/romance. This series is a gem!

I received a copy of Wings of the Wind from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

BREAD OF ANGELS by Tessa Afshar

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My Personal Review ~ 5 stars

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar surprised me. It took my breath away. Made me weep. Made me laugh. Yes, I stayed up until the wee hours of morning to finish this; it was that good! I’ve enjoyed this author’s previous books, but was not prepared to absolutely adore this one!

It’s set in the New Testament time, following the life of a woman, named Lydia, who sells purple cloth. (She’s mentioned in Acts 16.) The story spans many years flawlessly, unfolding Lydia’s life tale with beauty, betrayal, grief, miracles, and grace. I was enraptured.

First off, the writing quality was spectacular! It was so easy to read each chapter, and start another! They style keeps you interested and ready to read more. I finished most of this not-so-small book in one night.
Secondly, Lydia. She was a wonderful character, whom I quite liked! I related to her struggles. Hoped for her happiness. Loved her friends. Rejoiced in her discovery of true life. Even though Lydia is in her 40s (perhaps?) for a good part of the book and there’s not a steady theme of romance, I just related to and loved this story so much. There were so many interesting secondary characters too! And a villain. And some nefarious going-ons. Lydia was a creative and busy woman – and nurtured lots of people. It put hope in my heart. ^_^
Meeting Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, and Marcus was truly one of the highlights of the book. Perhaps my very favorite part. I loved it, my friends. *hugs them all* It felt so much like the family of God, and I could imagine myself there amongst them, accepted and cherished. There was so much faith, joy, laughter, and love! Miracles abounded. Trust was discussed and put into practice. They leaned on each other as they sought to follow God with all their hearts. (view spoiler) Because of those, I cried. And cried. And was filled with such warmth, like a bubble of peace and joy surrounded me. Perhaps I glimpsed the family of God – the bliss of heaven. It was stunningly beautiful.

Filled with intrigue. And interesting facts about the dyeing process. Action. Betrayal. Wonderful and spirited people. The good news of Jesus Christ.

I sorrowed with Lydia. I rejoiced with her. I healed with her. And at the end of Bread of Angels, I was filled with hope. Tessa Afshar has written a phenomenal novel, and it is definitely not to be missed!

I received a copy of Bread of Angels from Tyndale House Publishers through the Tyndale Blog Network.

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Some Upcoming Releases from These Authors:

A LIGHT ON THE HILL {Cities of Refuge #1} by Connilyn Cossette

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

THIEF OF CORINTH by Tessa Afshar

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Sanctification

I’m tired, my friends. I don’t think it’s ever simply physically tired … it’s emotional, too. Like, at the end of a day spent mentally fighting anxiety, I feel too drained to do anything – much less, write a worthwhile blog post for you all! So, if you could pray for me, I would surely appreciate it!

Still, I want to talk to you a little bit about some things I’ve been thinking of lately.

sanctifcation

It happened that I was reading some devotional/Christian living thing, and the thought struck me that I might not be “measuring up” in this certain area of my walk of faith. Immediately, my chest tightened. Anxiety entered my mind. Panic struck my heart.

This is bad. I’m failing. I’m not doing what I should. God is surely displeased with me. My brothers and sisters in Christ probably want nothing to do with me because I’m not as godly as them. Will I ever be good enough?

You know what the answer is?

No, I will never be good enough.

But Jesus Christ is.

Sometimes I think we, as Christ followers, (or maybe it’s just me), forget that we are human. That we are sinners, saved only by grace. That our righteous deeds are as filthy rags in the face of God’s holiness.

And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spending more time in prayer and the Word, but when this terrifying thought popped into my head – Am I doing something wrong? – another, gentler thought soon followed:

It’s okay. His mercies are new every morning! I can work at this. Sanctification is a process.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:22-26)

 

You see, on this earth, no Christian reaches the point of “perfect godliness”. No true Christ follower reaches a place where they say, “Alright, I’ve made it.” Because we will not be perfected until heaven. Until God makes all things new.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3:12-16)

We are human. We struggle with our flesh. We are weak and frail. But He is strong. And He is faithful to complete what He started in us when He saved our souls by Jesus Christ’s blood sacrifice.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-8)

Sanctification is a process.

There will always be areas I need to work on. Places I’m weak. Struggles. Deep and hidden hurts. Things I haven’t surrendered yet to my Lord. Sanctification is a journey. I don’t have to panic over not being perfect. I can put my imperfect, struggling, human heart into my Creator’s hands. I can let my Father lead me gently. I can ask my Lord to work in and through me. Make me more like You, Jesus.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

When those things come up and you realize, in this area or that one, you haven’t been walking in the way God wants you to, don’t panic. Don’t cower in fear. Don’t hide in shame. Run straight to your Redeemer! Humbly come before Him, asking Him to help you change to become more like Him … so you can walk more intimately with Him and love Him and others well.

Nothing beautiful is made in a moment. Lasting things do not instantaneously happen. You don’t need to “fix” yourself.

Breathe.

Surrender.

Trust.

Let Christ do His work in you.

There will be sacrifices on your part. Changes. Effort. Prayer. I’m not saying sanctification is easy – probably nothing worthwhile ever is – but it should not be a process filled with condemnation. Because perhaps that isn’t true sanctification, but rather you slipping into legalism.

As God sanctifies us, I don’t believe it’s a harsh, condemning voice He uses. But the gentle, loving tone of a Father.

Trust your life, your heart, your soul to Him, dear readers.

You need to know, first, how very precious to God you are. How very deep, and wide, and long, and high is His love for you. It is, perhaps, when your heart is softened in this incredible and unconditional love that He can do His good and redeeming work in your life.

16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)

When you know He loved you before you knew him … He loves you as you are … then a true change can begin in you.

Lady Grace ❤

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

He Fights For Me

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It’s a simultaneously terrifying and freeing idea …

This idea that I am not in control.

God is.

Perhaps it is a terrifying thought because we are human. We are rebels by nature. Rebelling against God’s good and perfect design, and then trying to control the broken pieces of life that we’re left with.

We have an issue with trust, and cannot bear the idea of not having a firm grasp on our lives. Controlling what happens and what doesn’t happen. Making sure we’re safe, succeed in life, and yes, making sure that God’s wonderful plan and will for us comes to pass.

But I am not lord of my life. And I should quit pretending to be. My Lord should be my Master and King. Why do I call Him Lord if I have not surrendered every area of my life to Him?

Perhaps it is a freeing thought because, when I come to the end of myself and realize how entirely not in control I am, I understand to the depths of my soul my desperate need for a Savior. A King. A Lord. A Father. A Warrior. An Author.

Write my life story, Lord, because I am broken and will only continue to break if I try to do things my way.

I am undone. Be my Redeemer. Redeem me from the mess I’ve made of my life. Be my Father, hold my hurting heart.

I am afraid. Be my Warrior – deliver me from the lies of Satan that seek to destroy me and drive me to despair.

I am not in control.

*deep breath*

He is. And He fights for me.

Oh, my friends, we have a Hope in heaven on high. We are not alone. You are not alone. Your God and King is fighting for you.

I think sometimes we need to just be still and let Him fight for us. The thought struck me as I was doing my devotionals and came across these verses:

13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. (Exodus 14:19-20)

Basically, do not fear! Wait on the Lord, and see what He will accomplish for you! Maybe we forget Who it is that we claim to follow. He is the Most High God! He is the Creator of heaven and earth! He is the Beginning and the End! He is mighty, He is able, and He is faithful.

31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all. (Nehemiah 9:6)

I think it’s awesome how the Angel of God moved and stood behind the Israelites. It came between them and their enemies. He had their back. God is our Heavenly Warrior – sovereign and in control. He can be trusted.

He can be trusted in the big things, and in the small things. He is in control of every detail of our lives. He knows every desire and hope and dream of our hearts. And contrary to what we might believe, I do not think we have to struggle and strive and grasp for control to make sure God’s will comes to pass in our lives.

Who do we think we are?

He is the Potter, we are the clay.

He is the Creator, we are the created.

He is the Savior, we are the sinners.

He is the Master, we are the servants.

He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep.

He is the Father, we are the children.

He is the Leader, we are the followers.

We are Christians – Christ followers.

I believer that if we are seeking the Lord each day, desiring His will, and striving to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength … that we can simply rest in Him. We can trust Him to provide everything we need in order to do His will. We can wait on Him to show us each new step in the way He would lead us.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye. (Psalm 32:8)

There is no need to fret and worry and drown in anxiety. He’s got this, my dear friends. Yes, we’re human. We make mistakes. We mess up. We fall into sin. But He is gracious and able to lift us out of the dark pit and place us back on the right path. Even when we wander … Even when we are at a complete loss of what to do …

Trust in the Lord and don’t trust in your own understanding. Seek Him earnestly. Wait on Him. Be still, knowing He is God. Pray, believing. He will guide you. Direct your paths. Open doors, or close doors.

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28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)

I love this passage, which shows how utterly dependent we can be on God. We don’t have worry for a single thing. Just surrender and follow Him. Pick up your desires, talents, dreams, goals, gifts, callings, feelings, wonderings, ideas, etc. and set off on His good path, following in His holy footsteps.

22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? 25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:22-32)

What a gloriously beautiful Truth. I am not in control. And I can stop trying to be in control. I can rest in my Father’s all-sufficient care.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

He will bring whatever plan He has for my life to pass.

He will bring His will about in my life and the lives of my family and friends.

He will provide for my needs – both big and small.

He will fight for me, when the battles seem impossible to win.

And I must choose to rest in Him. To wait on Him. To trust in Him. To bring before Him every care and concern. To pray without ceasing. To use His Word as my comfort and as a sword with which to stop the Enemy’s lies. To step out boldly in faith when I feel Him moving me to action. To find my hope always in Him.

Like a little child, I can reach out to Him when I am afraid. I can surrender control and let my Father tenderly lead me. I am His daughter, and that is a beautiful truth.

He is with us. He is with you. Today, trust your heart to the One who is ever and always in control.

and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him. (Nahum 1:7)

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Days of Blessings

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Hello, sweet friends. 🙂 How is life going for you? I am doing well, myself. Christmas season has officially begun! I’m excited for the coziness and loveliness of this next month.

A couple things I determined I would do this month of December … One: be intentional about counting my blessings. Two: organize my quiet time again. Want to join me? 😉

Everyday, I make a point of posting about something I count as a blessing on Facebook. I decided to read through the gospel of Luke this month – it’s been beautiful so far. I’m journaling my prayers daily again. My prayer walks started to dwindle as cold weather crept in, so I decided I should start journaling in order to keep growing in my prayer life. Either praying out loud or writing down my prayers has deepened my time with the Lord, and grown me as a prayer warrior, I believe. 🙂

I’m also going through the devotional book, Completely Loved: Recognizing God’s Passionate Pursuit of Us by Shannon Ethridge, which has daily Scripture reading. It isn’t my favorite devotional, thus far, but it has had some beautiful points.

Furthermore, I’m doing a 54-day devotional on the Bible App (YouVersion, or whatever) called Good Morning Girls – Intentionally Focused. The daily reading is super short, with, like, a couple verses to read. But it helps me gain my focus for the day and starts off my quiet time nicely.

So, December is off to a good start. I’m looking forward to finishing the diet I’m on, Christmas songs, increasingly delighting in my quiet time, birthdays, Christmas, family time, hanging out with new friends … whatever else the Lord has in store.

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My dear sisters in Christ, I know life can be hard. Keeping up a consistent time spent with Jesus can be a struggle. Anxieties and fears can creep in. Discourage us. Cripple us. Lie to us. But the truth is, our God is faithful. And He loves you. And you don’t have to walk alone. Seek godly friends who will challenge and encourage you in the faith. Who will help you press on toward the prize. Who will remind you how much your Heavenly Father loves you. Ask God for friends who delight in Him.

(If you have the YouVersion Bible App, and would like to connect with me on that, please do! Tell me your username in the comments below, and I will try to find you. My username is Shantelle Mary and this blog is linked to my profile.)

You’re not alone. ❤

Seek the Lord, because He is so worthy. Find your joy and rest in Him this Christmas season.

“Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted His people.” Isaiah 49:13

“My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.” Psalm 139:17

“‘I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the LORD, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11