Purposeful Faith

Tag - worry

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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See Your Beauty – To Overcome Failure (Part II)

See Your beauty

What is the one thing you can do to overcome feelings of failure,
as we discussed in Part 1, How to Overcome Your Weaknesses?

Here it is:

 SEE YOUR BEAUTY.  You are absolutely beautiful to God, just as you are.

You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. (Song of Songs 4:7)

God loves you.  Choose today to believe in the depths of your heart that God does not look at you and see a list of flaws, of shortcomings and of failures. He sees beauty. He sees a treasure that he loves.  One that he created.  He sees a child of God, his own child.  

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. Deut. 7:6

God doesn’t look and define you by your shortcomings, failures and your lack of _____.

Instead, you are defined by greatness – His greatness. He chose you, my friend.  You belong to God – not because of anything you did – and certainly not because of your goodness. But, because of your beauty – in Him.

When we believe that God accepts us because of him, the spotlight can come off of us.  When we believe that he loves us because of his love, we can stop harping on failures. When we believe that he is greater than us, we can finally stop feeling so weak.

God’s love surpasses our limitations.  There is no moderation.  What he gives,  surpasses expectations.

We expect to be pushed away for our failures, but God draws us near.  We expect to be cast aside for our weaknesses, but God makes us strong.  We expect to be ridiculed for our flaws, but God comforts us.

He knows we fall short.  This is the point. This is why we need Christ. This is why we need grace and forgiveness.  We need his saving work to be righteous – in Him.  His grace.  His love.

The real beauty is that it is all about Him.   We are beautiful because of Christ.  He makes us beautiful.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12). 

God looks at you, his child, and says:

“You are beautiful.”  

“I want to lavish love upon you.”  

“I know you sin, but, as you confess, I extend you my grace.”

“Be guilty no more, I have come to your rescue.”  

“Let go and trust me to refine you.”  

“Do not fear yourself. Let my perfect love cast out fear.”

“I love you as I have created you, you are my work in progress. I know what I am doing. You are beautiful.”

Do you get frustrated at your failings?  Do you feel less than sometimes? Do you feel unloved? God sees you and he sees beauty.  It is time you see your beauty too – not because of you, but because of Him.

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.