When Life Just Feels…Meaningless.

when-life-just-feelsmeaningless

This week, I’ve been reading in the book of Ecclesiastes, and man, it’s really caused me to think deeply.

 

Honestly, this book is full to the brim of pessimism, nihilism, and straight-up melancholic hopelessness.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:14

“I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

 

Ecclesiastes 3:12

“So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”

 

It’s opened my eyes, though – and so much so.

 

Because truly, don’t we all feel this at times? The whole church sanctuary’s full of people singing, and “How great is our God!” And “…in His presence our problems disappear.” And “You heal my broken heart…”

 

And for some of us, at different times in our lives, that’s the last thing we want to hear. Sure, God might be good…but we don’t feel it. We don’t feel like raising our hands in praise, we don’t feel like singing about the beautiful life He’s given us, we don’t feel like any of it. The problems are still there.

Continue reading “When Life Just Feels…Meaningless.”

How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 3)

How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study_ Week 3)

I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday again! Happy Hebrews Summer Bible Study, my friends.

 

Grab some coffee (or the beverage of your choice), and come sit outside with me and as all of us study the scriptures together.

 

If you’re new, you’re welcome to hop right in where we are now! You don’t have to have done the first two weeks if you haven’t done them yet, but of course it’ll only help and give you a chance to get a feel for what we’re doing here.

Continue reading “How Simple Belief Rescues Our Souls (Hebrews Bible Study: Week 3)”

For When We Just Don’t Feel Like It

for when we just don't feel like it

 

“I don’t feel like it today.”

 

The whisper leaves my lips as I struggle to understand what I’m really saying.

 

“I don’t want to pray right now.”

 

It’s shameful to admit. When feelings drive me toward to a place of deception and poor judgment.

 

“I don’t want to read my Bible today.”

 

I’ve felt that feeling all too often. Now, let me get things straight before I say something I don’t mean.

Continue reading “For When We Just Don’t Feel Like It”

Real Trust in The Lord

real trust in the lord-2

 

We’ve probably heard them all a thousand times. Written them on index cards, saved them as our lock screen wallpaper, pinned them, Tweeted them, and posted them on Facebook.

 

What is “them?”

 

Bible verses. The ones we memorized as Sunday School Kids, highlighted in our first Bibles, and became deaf to because we’d heard them so many times.

 

That Powerful Verse became absolutely cliché. Trust in the Lord, yada yada. For God so loved the world, blah blah blah. I’ve heard it all so many times. And it becomes un-life-changing, un-impressive, non-radical.

Continue reading “Real Trust in The Lord”

Dear Reader: You Are Beautiful

 

Dear Reader_ You Are Beautiful

Dear Reader, you are beautiful.

 

When you wake up in the morning and slip out of your bed, you are beautiful.

 

When you stand in front of your mirror, with hair disheveled and shadows under your eyes, you are beautiful.

 

You are beautiful in your pajamas, the ones you hope no one will ever have to see, with skin blemished, covered in acne or freckles or wrinkles.

 

Your hair is frizzy, skin is bumpy, and your body’s discolored – but you are beautiful.

 

That person in the mirror – the one you criticize for your imperfections, will into being thinner, pinch into being prettier, make up to cover imperfections – that person is the one that God loves.

 

God loves the person in the mirror without nice clothes, without a status or title, without a nice scent, without makeup or product or styling.

 

God loves that person because He is their Creator. And that person is you.

 

Don’t believe the lie that being beautiful doesn’t apply to you. Don’t believe the lie that says you are not enough. Don’t believe that you couldn’t possibly be loved, that you could never receive the free love that God gives.

 

Dear Reader, I beg of you, please do not fall prey to the misconception that you are the exception. God sees you as beautiful because He sees His Son’s perfection inside of you, radiating from every part of you.

 

He sees you as beautiful because He looks at your heart; that same heart that He has made as pure as snow and called holy and blameless.

 

1 Samuel 16:7b

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

 

He sees you as beautiful because you were made in His image.

 

Genesis 1:27

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

 

God has made you with care and wonder.

 

Psalm 139:14

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

 

And you are beautiful because God promises it.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11a

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.”

 

As you stare at yourself in the mirror, curling and straightening and setting your hair, applying powder to your face to hide your scars and blotches and bumps, and dressing in the perfect outfit, remember that you are loved regardless of it all.

 

Remember that God sees you as beautiful, and loves you in spite of all your imperfections.

 

You were created in love, given a beautiful life to live, and a blank slate that God is using to write His story.

 

Forget the pressures of who everyone wants you to be, and come to your Father – blemished, messy, and exactly how He wants to see you: as you.

 

Friend, never forget that you are beautiful, and that you are loved. You can do nothing to change this truth, for everything you are is loved by the One who invented you.

 

He imagined your personality before you existed, and He called it good. He knew your thoughts before your parents knew you, and He loved you.

 

Never doubt how God feels about you, Dear Reader. He loves you, and He calls you beautiful.

 

*aj

You Are Not a Failure. I Promise.

You Are Not a Failure. I Promise.

 

I don’t know when exactly the thought enters our minds, but somewhere along the line, it just creeps in.

 

You are a failure.

 

Maybe we’ve overcommitted (I know I have) and been unsuccessful in getting everything done well or on time. Maybe we just didn’t live up to the standards we put on ourselves.

 

Maybe we think the reason why we’re single is that we’re failures; not pretty enough, not charming enough, too awkward or dumb, or just bad at this whole “life on earth” thing.

 

Maybe we’ve flunked multiple tests in a row. Been rejected by those whom we once thought were friends. Made poor decisions that affected more than just our own selves.

 

Maybe we’ve been hurt by others and led to believe that it was our fault. That if we had just [insert action here]-ed, we would not have had to go through our pain.

 

But, my friend, none of those things makes you a failure.

 

You are not a failure; I promise you that. Sure, bad decisions can be made, and things can be done to harm us. But we are not considered failures by the One who saved us.

 

Our failures do not determine our worth, just as our sins do not condemn us now. Why? Because we have been redeemed, and we are loved no matter what.

 

Just as swimming doesn’t make me a fish, eating carrots doesn’t make me a bunny, and growing doesn’t make me a plant, failing does not make me a failure.

 

Because I have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, my God does not count me as a failure.

 

Sure, I’ll fail. I’ll fail tests, I’ll fail to live up to people’s expectations, I’ll fail to please the people I love, I’ll fail to be perfect, I’ll fail to meet my goals I set for myself.

 

But it’s okay. Because God does not see me as a failure.

 

He sees the righteousness of His Son in me.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

He has overwritten my old nature and given me a new one, that my past might not stain me.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

I am called a Child of God.

 

Romans 8:15

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

 

Maybe you’re tempted to call yourself a “failure” or a “disappointment” or you’re constantly beating yourself up over what you’ve done, and possibly what you’re still doing.

 

But no matter who you are or what you’ve done, God’s grace covers you, no exceptions.

 

It’s okay to drop your labels and just come to Him. Come as you are. Messy pieces and all.

 

And I want you to know that once you have been forgiven, you will never be considered by God to be a failure.

 

No.

 

You are a holy Child of God. You are sacred, you are His. You are cherished. You are considered blameless before Him. Nothing, and I repeat nothing, can take His love away from you.

 

And even when you fail, He does not see you as a failure.

 

*aj

“Why Do You Seek The Living Among The Dead?”

Why Do You Seek

 

It’s been a few weeks since Easter. Spring has pretty much sprung, and the excitement around Eastertime has mostly faded.

 

But it doesn’t cease to be my favorite holiday.

 

See, while we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, we also celebrate the Resurrection of ourselves. Let me elaborate.

 

When Jesus died, we died with Him. Our sin was totally, 100% paid in full.  Why? In order that we might be freed from sin’s control over us and the condemnation that comes with it.

 

Romans 6:4-6

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

 

And because we have died with Christ, He has raised us and given us new life. We are alive and free.

 

We have new life, and therefore, we are to walk in that newness. While I was contemplating this concept, a verse came to mind.

 

On Easter Sunday morning, three days after Jesus died, some women went to His tomb with spices to honor His body. Upon finding it, they were made aware that His body was gone.

The angel outside the tomb met them and said this, as it tells us here in Luke 24:5b. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” And in verse 24:6 “He is not here, but has risen.”

 

That’s my question for us. Why do we seek the living among the dead?

 

In other words, why do we act as though we are still dead in our sins when we have been raised to life?

 

Why do we walk crippled and in defeat when Jesus has been victorious already?

 

Why do we forget this verse?

 

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

 

Christ lives in us, so not only do we not have to live in defeat, but we can live in victory.

 

We are not dead. We are not enslaved to sin. We are not controlled by the very thing that condemns us.

 

We are alive. We have hope. We have assurance of salvation and victory.

 

1 Corinthians 15:57

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

So why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we forget that we are, in fact, alive, and God sees us as sinless?

 

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

God does not regard us according to the flesh, that is, our sin. So why do we do it to ourselves and others?

 

Simply because we see the imperfections in our own lives. But we need not dwell on them. If God sees us as new, why should we treat ourselves as if we’re dead? If God sees us in victory, why should we see ourselves as if we’re failures?

 

We shouldn’t.

 

We are not dead; we are alive with Christ. Let us live in light of that. Let us live constantly in the Word of God, seeing how He sees us. Let us live in the joy of our salvation, rejoicing in what HE has done for us. Let us live with a focus not on ourselves, but on God. When our focus is on Him, it is not on our sin, but on His perfection manifested in us.

 

Romans 6:10

“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

 

To live a life “alive to Christ” is to let go of our old nature, and to embrace the magnificence of how God sees us. We are new, and there is no condemnation for us.

 

Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

 

*aj

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

3 Things We Should Expect God to Do

As Christians, we hear this command a lot: “Pray.” When bad things happen, what do we do? We pray. When we don’t know what to do, we pray. When we need something done fast, we pray as hard as we can and get others to do the same.

 

We treat prayer as though the more we do it, the more God will hear us and do what we want.

 

But have we perhaps considered that it’s not always about what we want?

 

All the time, I hear people say, “Expect God to work.” I absolutely agree. He is all-powerful, He is sovereign, He loves us unconditionally, and desires the best for us.

 

But that doesn’t mean that we expect Him to accomplish everything we want.

 

In my life, I’ve found this. While I could pray this:

 

 “God, I want _____ thing, and because I know you can do all things, please give _____ to me.”

 

I’ve started praying like this:

 

“God, you know that I want _____ thing. If that’s Your will for me, I pray that You would allow it, but if not, I pray that Your will would prevail.”

 

So do I expect God to work? Absolutely. But I don’t expect Him to only work in the ways that I might expect.

 

So what should we expect when we pray?

 

  1. Expect God to hear us when we pray, no matter what.

 

We don’t need to use high and mighty words; we need to tell Him what is on our minds. He desires for us to know Him as He knows us. He has created us and wants us to have a relationship with us; not because we are great, but because He is.

 

1 John 5:14

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

 

  1. Expect God to accomplish His will.

 

When we pray for only what we want, we can miss out on finding joy in God’s bigger, greater plan. And in looking at the big picture, do we want what will benefit us temporarily, or what will benefit God’s Kingdom eternally?

 

That seems like a vague rhetorical question, and I know that we all want to say, “I want what will benefit God’s Kingdom!” but it’s not an easy thing to say. It’s hard to desire God’s will when what we want just seems so good. Really. I have a hard time letting go of what I want and grabbing hold of what He wants at times.

 

However, I have discovered that the more I read the Bible, get to know God, and love Him more and more, the more my desires seem petty. Oh yes, there is still some appeal. But when I see how God led the Israelites through the Red Sea, I am awed at how great His power is.

 

When I see how He worked out Joseph’s imprisonment for the good of Egypt, and when I see how Jesus was crucified for us, enduring the pain of Hell, I see that even in our excruciating circumstances, God still works. Maybe not always in the ways that feel comfortable to us, but in the ways that He knows are best.

 

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

 

  1. Expect God to act out of His love for us.

 

God is not a tyrant, nor is He unjust. When we pray for His will to be done, we’re not asking for some Great Cosmic Mystery to unfold, but a wise plan from our loving Father. He doesn’t “send” anyone to Hell; their sin does. His desire is to save all who would come to Him.

 

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

When we prioritize His will over our wants, we’re surrendering our desires to God in favor of something infinitely greater than us. We’re not happy-sapping ourselves; we’re allowing ourselves to be filled with joy because God truly is at work and He truly does have a plan.

 

So what should we expect from God? We should expect Him to answer our prayers with His infinite wisdom, whether we agree with the answer or not. We should expect Him to work in His own way in situations that seem impossible. We should expect Him to work in ways that are genuinely best for us.

 

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

*aj