Purposeful Faith

Tag - fear

The Gift of God-With-Us

Post by: Angela Parlin

For a couple months, we’ve looked forward to hosting two sisters, who are orphans, in our home this Christmas. We selected clothes for them to wear, rearranged bedrooms, stocked up on groceries, and scheduled outings. We shopped for Christmas gifts, wrapped them all in red and black glittery paper, and hid them in a closet.

It’s been great fun, preparing for Christmas and getting ready to welcome these little ones into our family for a month.

But then, this week happened, the last week before they arrive. You wouldn’t believe how many things went wrong. (As in, not according to plan.) My stomach feels knotted up. I’ve had to remind myself to breathe. I’m having a really hard time slowing down, especially enough to pray.

We’ve known all along that this could be an amazing month–or it could be a very difficult month. But it’s like this news just now caught up to my insides, for the first time. All the concerns, what ifs, and fears floated to the surface.

I want to look forward with faith, to anticipate great things from God. I don’t want to feel so incapable, or worry about details. I don’t want to give fear some big, shouty platform in my life.

But I don’t feel I have much control over my anxiety right now. So last night, I put myself to bed early. But first, I read a chapter of Luke, where an angel tells Mary she’ll give birth to Immanuel (God With Us). And then I fell asleep thinking about something he told her:

The Lord is with you.

We need that reminder, don’t we? Because sometimes, we know it in our heads, but we live as if we’ve completely forgotten.

Today, I’m still fighting anxiety, so I looked up some places where the Bible repeats this truth, The Lord is with you.

I read about Jacob, who dreamed of a stairway between heaven and earth, where the Lord stood and clearly said to him, I am with you. He woke up and realized, The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it. (Genesis 28)

I can relate. Can you? I have not felt the Lord with me this week. I’ve fixed my eyes on my concerns and to-do lists, more than I’ve fixed my eyes on Jesus. But the Lord is in this place, in this week, even when I don’t feel that way.

I read about Moses, when he considered himself unqualified to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God said, I will be with you (Exodus 3), and then showed Himself to Moses in so many visible and miraculous ways.

I found numerous reminders of God’s nearness in the Psalms. The Lord is near to His children; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. (34) God is an ever-present help in trouble. (46) The Lord is near to all who call on Him. (145)

I read parts of Isaiah, where the prophet shares these words from the Lord—So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41)

I read about when Jesus arrived in this world, as God-With-Us in the flesh. And then before He left again, He told His followers–Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28)

I could keep going, keep on finding this truth repeated.

The Word of God offers us this beautiful gift—The Lord is with you. It’s a truth we need to remember, and a truth we need to act on.

Whatever your struggle this Christmas, whatever your anxiety, whatever your pain, whatever difficulties you face, please remember this, friend–the Lord is with you. So take your concerns to Him!

God’s Word promises:

  • He will give you rest.
  • He will fill you with peace.
  • He will help you.
  • He will strengthen you.
  • He will give you what you need.
  • He will uphold you.

May we remember, the Lord is with us. Let’s unwrap the gift of God-With-Us this Christmas.

~Angela Parlin

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Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos. 

10 Bible Verses For Hard Times (Part II)

In Part 1, When Life Gets Hard, we saw the life’s wreckage from a different vantage point.  But, it is one thing to see something from a different perspective and quite another to live changed.  So, how do we live out the truth that we are being remade, renewed and recharged?  We go to the Word of God, the Word that is sharper than a 2-edged sword. Let’s take a look at 10 bible verses for hard times to understand what the Lord wants you to believe as you are being transformed.

 

10 BIBLE VERSES FOR HARD TIMES:

1.  We can look to the world to fill our needs – but only God completely fills.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Phil 4:1

2. We may tend to forget things, but God never forgets anything – especially you.
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Psalm 31:8

3. Need Help?  God has sent the Spirit, the ultimate Helper.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” John 14:6

4. The word “Provider” is defined in the Name of God.
“They all wait for You To give them their food in due season. You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.” Psalm 104:27-28

5.  God is the ultimate Comfort in a time of need.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

6. The world can tremble, but God still remains sturdy.  He is our strength.
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn…” Is. 54:17

7. God is our hope in what seems like a hopeless world.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

8. God will give you a future and an eternal home; this has already been secured.
“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” Ps. 16:5

9. When you feel troubled, God will help you a time of trouble.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

10. God offers wisdom, when you have none.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

These 10 Bible Verses for Hard Times illustrate that God stands ready to help us. Even though life may seem like it is crashing before us – God has a plan in the midst of the chaos.

When all else is stripped away – when life breaks down to it’s very core – we see the making of our vehicles.  We see our maker. We see the foundation.  We see God.  We see what is important.  We see what is valuable. We see Christ’s power on the cross.

So, fear not.  Fear not!  Keep your eyes on Him.

Fall into his arms. Rest in Him.  Let him helicopter you out of your personal crash site so that you can view all the little pieces with fresh eyes.

What you will see is beauty.  What you will see is that all the little pieces – broken pieces – are just his way of putting you back together as a new creation. A new you that is being transformed into his image (2 Cor. 3:18).  A new you that lifts others to new heights in their time of need.  A new you that sees your life from a new perspective.

Renewal is not always in our timing.  God sanctifies us according to his timeline – his perfect timeline.

From personal experience, I can assure you – God is the master mess cleaner.  He leaves us sparkling with a new spirit, a new spring in our step a new passion in life.  He gives us more than we ever had.  I have seen this happen and I know it to be true.  God will be faithful in creating a new “you”!

Know, God will not abandon you in the midst of your collision.  He will take care of you.  I promise and more importantly – He promises!  He not only promises, but he delivers! Cling onto these 10 Bible Verses for Hard Times.

 

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3 Ways Comparing Is Bad & Damaging (Part II)

Comparing, judgement

“Look at her.  She has it all.  It must have been easy for her.  She doesn’t have the same barriers that I have.  I could do that too if I had the financial resources that she has, the support she has, the backing, the connections.  She is confident.  Nothing can take her down.  I want to be like her, but I will never be as good, as insightful or as knowledgeable.  I can’t.  I will never do “BIG” things.  She’s the whole package.  I may as well give up.”

Comparing is wearing.  It’s tiring.  It’s frustrating. It brings us down and settles us in a place of insecurity. When “comparing” is our companion, we are only as secure as the depth of another’s weakness.

Higher

How sad is that?  Our strength balances on our assessment of another’s faults, lack of material items or “less than” appearance.

“COMPARING” STANDS AND TAUNTS:
“I think I am prettier. I am smarter. I am happier.”
“My car is better.  My house is better.  My family is better”
” I am less than you.  I am nothing.”

“You are better than me.  I may as well give up.”
“You are respected.   I feel dejected.”
“You are so put together. I am ready to fall apart.”
“You are so rich.  Why can’t I have more?”
“Your clothes are perfect.  Mine are outdated.”
“You have a neat house.  I interact with my kids more.”
“You have kids that show you love.  I have a neater house.”
“You may know so much about God.  I think I love others more.”
“You love others. I know more about the Bible & God.”
“You serve. My faith is stronger.”
“You do so much.  God loves me less”

“You are so “insert judgment here”, I am so “insert feel good response here”.
“You are so “insert praise here”, I am so “insert a “less than” comment here”.

Aren’t we made for more than this?

Comparing takes us on the up and down roller coaster ride – called “judgment”.
And, it drops us off feeling  inflated or deflated. 

3 WAYS COMPARING IS BAD FOR US:

1.  OTHERS BECOME THE BAROMETER OF OUR WORTH.

We feel unvaluableSo, we either look to others to confirm our worst suspicions or we look to put others down to lift ourselves up.   Either way, others hold the power to sink us or to let us swim.

We win or lose. There is no middle ground. We are either better than or less than.  No matter, we always stand ready to fall.  Our position is constantly threatened  – there is always someone who is better, who has more or who is more talented.

“In all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.” (2 Cor. 10:12 Msg)

2.  WE MISS “LOVE”.

Notice the theme of comparing?  It is all about “US”!   What if the person we are so quick to judge, has a life that is stuck in the sludge?  What if they need encouragement, love and help?  What if they feel worse than you?

When we compare, we have eyes that only see our own pain.  We were created to love others.  We completely miss the point of this when our greatest pursuit is seeking our own worth.

1

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
Let’s make it about His story, not our glory.

3.  WE MISS GOD’S GLORY IN OUR WEAKNESS. 

You may be asking yourself, “Why is this bad? It is good to rely on yourself. At least then you are in control.”

When we rely on ourselves, we miss the chance to see God as he fills up our weak areas.  We miss his glory as he works out his story.  We miss the opportunity to learn about ourselves – as we trust Him.  We miss the opportunity to see how he wants us to grow in love.  We miss so much.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10 NIV)

We now have a great understanding of the 3 ways comparing is bad and damaging for us.  Be encouraged, in Part III we will look at the 3 Ways you Can Overcome “Compare” to Find Repair.  

God is a God of grace, love and forgiveness.  We have all fallen into comparing at some time or another; he loves you and has a plan to help you change.  Comparing is bad, but God is good.  He has great plans to help you.

Be sure to read Part I: “The Shocking Truth About Comparing”  and Part III: 3 Tips to Stop Comparing Once and For All.

 

Out of Hiding & Free of Fear

It is time to step out.  To come out of hiding.  To let your true colors shine.  To be who God made you to be.   It is time to be fearless.  To be courageous.  To be passionate.  It’s time to take a risk – to move from your calm safe grounds to unsteady risky rocky terrain.   Terrain where you feel vulnerable – where you know, by yourself, can’t stand on your own.   Why?

Because too much is on the line not to.  And, the idea of not taking that adventurous step means living in mediocrity.  It’s so worth it.

I spent a good amount of time in hiding.  Sure, I went to church, I was in small groups, I had Christian friends, but I stayed on safe ground.  Grounds where no one really questioned me. Grounds where I rode in a perfect straight line, rarely branching off the beaten path.  I kept on this straight and narrow for fear of getting hurt.  When a conversation veered into sticky areas or when I felt too vulnerable, the warning light would go off in my mind, “do not venture there, you may get someone upset.    Don’t speak too passionately; you don’t want to be “that” person. Don’t seem too knowledgeable, others will feel less than.  Don’t bring up topics that could make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t run the risk of angering that person, it’s better to just let them continue feeling miserable as they go the wrong way.”

“Hide who you are because you don’t want to be judged, hurt or rejected.”

I did this all the time.  But I came to realize something life changing.  In my attempt to set others free of their bad feelings, I only succeeded in trapping myself.  I locked away the person God created Kelly to be.

When I lived in that closet, I missed the opportunity to love deeply.  I missed the opportunity to speak the absolute truth in love.  I missed the opportunity to walk in faith, as I felt afraid. I missed the opportunity to rely on Christ when others may have felt irritated at me.  I missed the chance to encourage others.  I was too worried about preserving myself.

You know, we have one life.  One chance to pour out love.  One chance to give all we have.    To be all in, no holds bar.  To share grace.  To encourage in truth.  To live without fear.  To give with faith. To help those in need.  This is our chance.  This is your chance.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of living trapped, beholden to this world. I know at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will never ever regret living all out – full of love – for God.  Do I do this perfectly?  By no means, but that is the point.  That is why I need Christ.  And when I rely on him, I find peace.   I find safety despite an unsafe rocky terrain.

At the days end, when I come out of the ultimate closet, that is this world. I hope to stand in front of God with full confidence that I shared his love, peace, and joy with all of my heart to people who hurt so deeply.    I want to stand knowing that I spoke his wisdom – according to his timing – no matter the risk.

This authentic living is adventurous living.  We can’t do it on your own.  But, as we rely on him, we will find we are truly free.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” (Ephesians 4:15)

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  (1 John 4:18)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17)

God’s truth is what healed me.  If it was hidden, I never would have been touched.  I never would have grown.   So why do we think we need to hide truth?   Rather than hide, we need to lay down our pride.  It is not about me and preserving my image- it is about people who are hurting and need to hear truth spoken in love.  Take it or leave it.  This is Kelly as God designed me.

When we are who God created us to be, we finally find true freedom. 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)”

When Love is Blocked

Have you ever tried to reach out to someone but failed? Have you ever tried to help someone, but felt unappreciated? Have you ever tried to do something for God, but it didn’t work?

If so, I totally understand. Many years ago, God brought a young lady into my life, at what seemed the perfect time. During her regular visits to help with my son, I could clearly see she struggled with various life issues. I could clearly see her pain. I could clearly see she had major insecurities. And I could clearly see that I was the one to help her with this. I thought, “God has a plan for me to work on this one”.

Boy was I dead wrong.

I tried and I tried – and I tried some more – to pull her out of her shell. I tried to pour out words of encouragement. I tried to smile all the time. I tried to help her whenever she needed it. I tried to be flexible with work hours. I tried to tell her about God’s love. I tried to be super careful with feedback. I tried to take an interest in her life. I tried to ask her one hundred questions. I tried to offer food. I tried to offer help. I tried to make jokes.

What didn’t I try? I tried it all.

What did I get back? Nothing. Silence. In fact, what I got back seemed to be irritation and annoyance.

I felt so discouraged. I felt devalued. I felt frustrated. I felt angry, both at her and at God. Didn’t God see how much I was doing? Didn’t God know how bad she needed help? Didn’t she see how hard I was trying to be there for her?

This mission was a big FAIL. It failed because I totally missed the point. I am embarrassed to say that I was pursuing another’s heart with completely the wrong motive. It wanted to fix her. This motive left a mess in its wake.

When I felt my love was blocked, I tried a little harder. I gave a little more. I pushed it on her because I didn’t want to be rejected. I was seeking value based on her response. My heart may have been looking to love her at first, but after a couple of rejections set in, I was looking for even more love, admiration and appreciation. This was about “My Mission” not “God’s Mission” and therein lies the problem. The result? I felt rejected and she felt smothered. Not only was she trying to do her job, but she was also trying to satisfy me. We were both frustrated.

When we look to others to fill us and to approve us, we miss God’s plan. We miss his work and his miracle. When we work by our  might it turns into a fight. When we work by his might, it is a delight.

So what are we to do?

We are to pray, to listen and to obey – in his timing.  We are to trust him. We are to do what he calls us to do, not what we feel we need to do in order to garner a “feel good” response. We are to do our part, independent of other’s reactions. Then, the Lord will  approve us as we move forward in his calling.  Our love is not reliant on others.   It is reliant on God’s love for us.   This means, we don’t need to over work or over try. He will give us just the right direction. Our works are for him – and by him.

When we listen, hear and love as he loves, not as we love, we are in his will. He blesses this reliance  with our hearts great desire – acceptance, love and purpose.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

When we wait, God makes our love great.