Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘living the life’

Fighting for Freedom & Abundant Life

Everyone struggles in this life.  Jesus said it would be that way:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Scripture tells us that it was for freedom that Christ came (Galatians 5:1, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18)…but freedom is not free.

  • Freedom cost the Father the pain of watching His Son suffer.
  • Freedom cost Jesus the pain of rejection by His own, physical suffering and he shame of death on the Cross.
  • Freedom costs us the discipline of surrender; it requires that we be willing to lay down our desires and do His will.  We call it dying to ourselves.  We can’t do it without the Holy Spirit–and we can’t do it alone.

Sometimes the cost feels too great; our trust is too small to get us through to surrender.  Other times the enemy of our souls, Satan, obscures and confounds the message of freedom.  Fear, blindness and hopelessness keep us from the life God desires for us.

The fight for freedom–the fight for the abundant life Christ came to give us–demands relationship with others.  We are designed for one another and grow best in the context of relationships. Pursuing discipleship with other believers is key to the health of the Body–corporately and individually.  It is not a sign of weakness or ill-health to seek help for struggles in life; it is a sign of a desire to live fully!

What things keep Christians from walking in freedom?

  • Hurts that breed resentment and unforgive-ness happen in every life.
  • Truths that get stuck in our head and can’t find their way to our heart (or our feet) are part of the human experience.
  • A lack of confident understanding about the authority of one who is in Christ and/or the skills to use that authority.

The life of faith—the life of freedom—is one of continual growth.  God created us to need one another.  Those who engage in mentoring relationships minister to those who mentor.  It is a mutually beneficial relationship.  It is a beautiful time of living faith and seeking to understand how the living Word applies to the life we are living.

Why would someone seek a mentor?

Those who are willing to face challenges and ask ‘why?’ seek to be discipled.  They are the individuals strong enough to believe that God has promised abundant life…individuals willing to seek the face of God.  Faith that demonstrates such courage inspires others.

In the Old Testament, most of God’s children told Moses—‘you talk to God and tell us what He says.’   God is not interested in second-hand conversations, but learning to hear His voice takes time.  Mentors help tune ears and fix eyes on the ways of God.  Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to approach the throne of grace with boldness to obtain mercy and receive grace.

Is a mentor just a friend?

A friend can be a mentor, but often friends do not want to ask the hard questions.  Mentors have to be willing to make you a bit uncomfortable.  We don’t grow best in our comfort zones.  Friends are important, but friends often find comfort in keeping us where we are at.  Mentors focusing on helping us grow.

How do I find a mentor or form a discipling relationship?

  • The place to begin is your church.  Ask God top reveal to you who would be a good person to help you grow spiritually.  Speak with your pastor or a member of the leadership team about your desire.  Then, simply share with that person your desire and see if a plan can be set up.  Discipling requires discipline and commitment.  If the first person you ask is unable to make the commitment, keep looking!
  •  Some churches (like my own) have ministry teams who schedule appointments for those interested in discipleship.  I would love to share information on how this began and ways to do the same in your community.
  • Use the internet.  There are many websites like this one, and many individuals like myself who offer discipleship coaching or classes for a fee as a way to continue ministering at large.
  • Begin a Bible Study with a friend and serve as accountability partners.  I have some favorites, I would be glad to recommend if you don’t know of one you’d like to do.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Romans 8:29

God has great plans for us!  The Holy Spirit superintends our growth.   He guides us in the desire to grow in grace and knowledge  as Jesus did.  Enjoy the journey!

 

Life shows what we believe

Just sharing the morning challenge God gave me:

“What do you really believe?”

Jesus told Nicodemeus that we have to be born of earth and heaven to see the Kingdom of God.  This earthly life has great purpose and value.  Jesus came that we would have abundant life.  I cannot live abundantly by hiding from the tough stuff.  I cannot live abundantly if I isolate my faith from my footsteps.

So, I jotted down some of the things my head knows–and believes–about my faith to see if my feet (and even my heart agrees).

I say I believe…. God is enough.    

…but sometimes I resent what I don’t have.  I doubt that He is better than my longing.

I say I believe….God is at work doing greater things than I can think of.

but sometimes despair settles in and frustration erupts.

I say I believe….I am loved and protected by the King of Kings.

…but sometimes I don’t even feel noticed and I fight for myself.

I say I believe….my righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags and we all have sin muddying our souls and our steps.

…but sometimes I think I know best and anyone not doing things my way is wrong.

I say I believe….God owns it all and will provide for me.

…but sometimes I plan and strive for how I can have what I want, forgetting my life is for Him and He has my needs in view.

I say I believe….the very power of God lives in me.

…but sometimes I feel weak and hopeless and curl into a self-protective ball.

I say I believe…. God’s ways are superior to mine.

…but sometimes I stomp off in my own direction.

Those ‘sometimes’ are doorways for mercy.  May we each take time today to consider what our steps reveal about our beliefs.  God is worth the time…enjoying heaven requires humble awareness.

Understanding is the foundation of heaven–we have to seek His view or we will never understand the beauty of His presence.  Seeing and hearing comes through walking out our lives on this earth with a desire for wisdom and understanding.

What do you believe that stops at your head?  

Where do you listen to your heart instead of the King?  

Where are you feet not walking out faith?  

Receive His mercy and watch His glory fill your world!

Growing Spiritual Fruit

 

Character is described aptly as ‘who you are when no one is looking.’  Christianity is no a self-improvement project but we represent Christ.  In fact, we are being transformed into His image.  Knowing what HE looks like, helps us as we take responsibility for the things that are ours to do.

Let’s take a look at some important Christian Character attributes.  Using a scale of 0-10, consider whether you never (0) exhibit the trait or you consistently (10) demonstrate that trait.

Loving (accepting & available)

Forgiving (not holding grudges)

Respectful (honors others and self)

Trustworthy (count on their promises)

Humble (puts others first)

Honest (transparent, truthful)

Patient (willing to wait w/o complaint)

Peaceful (quiet confidence in good)

Joyful/Hopeful (expects good to come)

Self-controlled (vs. addiction-controlled)

Do any of those traits cause you dismay?  There is good news:  these are by-products of a Spirit-filled life.  We do not transform ourselves; the Holy Spirit is our power source.

Developing these flavors in our lives is the goal of Discipleship Coaching.  Take time now, to list—in order of priority, the three things from above that you most desire to develop.

1.

2.

3.

Our history is part of us; it need not define us or limit us.  However, when we stuff it away without understanding, negative stuff can simmer deep within.  Living fully in the freedom of Christ requires bringing even the past into the Light of His love. As you consider the character traits that trouble you, you may find lingering resentment about negative deposits in your character bank.  Forgiveness sets you free…ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything limiting your fruit.  If you feel resentment in your heart, please visit Discipleship Coaching – Forgiveness.

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