The Unknown

By Yoland Stith

unknown

Why are Christians so fearful about the unknown, which lead them to become anxious and worry? Mostly, because they don’t know what the future holds for them and they imagine all sorts of things will or might happen. We want to know, because we want to have a sense of control, but, in reality, “knowing” doesn’t really give us control. The paradox is that the more we try to control the more out-of-control we will become.

The unknown presents us with an opportunity to discover and experience the reality of who God is in our lives. In other words, is He really for you? Is He really interested in you and involved in your life? As you look back on your journey with Him, has He not used “all things” in your life to bring about goodness and blessing, even if pain was involved?

Here are five reasons to trust God with the unknown:

1. He already knows your future circumstances and has a solution for them – God already knew every choice you would ever make, everything that would ever happen, and He has a plan (a really good plan) already in place taking all your choices into consideration.

2. He is Good – God’s definition of “good” is very different than ours; His might involve things that are painful, ours does not. What God calls good, often, we call evil. Hence the reason why Adam and Eve were not to eat from the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil. God is most interested in your freedom and ability to live as He designed you–in dependence on Him.

3. He is Sovereign – There is nothing in this world that can cancel out God’s plan or over-come His power. He’s the Man. Everything in His universe is under His control, even evil. The evil one and sin were defeated at the Cross. And we have been given the very life of God to live in concert with Him, depending on Him, choosing truth and walking in that truth.

4. He is your Ally and Friend – There is nothing, and no one, more important to God than you! He accepts you fully in who you are and as you are. God’s need for justice was satisfied at the Cross and His wrath toward evil was poured out upon His Son. Right before Jesus died He said, “It is finished.” By grace, through faith you are now His for all eternity. (Eph. 2:8-9)

5. He is the Source for everything you need – He loves you. He’s already forgiven you (past, present and future sins, so thank Him and move on!). He’s crazy about you, because after everything He created he said, “It is good.” He has given you an abundant life–a life that will never run out, fail you, or disappoint you. Whatever you need (not necessarily want), He has already provided in Jesus the Messiah–the gift of Life!

The unknown may be unknown to you, but it isn’t unknown to God. We can trust Him with it and live in the present moment with confidence that God has got our back, He’s on our side, and He’s a DAD who loves us like no other.

“…casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

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Clean and Close to God

By Andrew Farley

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3.2-3)

Too often, we Christians presume that we’re ‘sinners’ at the core just like everyone else.  In doing so, we ignore one of the greatest aspects of the cross—the killing off of our old self.  When we take on the ‘I’m a dirty worm’ theology and then seek to ‘be like Jesus,’ we’ll find it to be a losing effort.  Christianity then becomes an exercise in futility and falsehood.  We’re essentially trying to act like someone that we don’t believe we are.  It then becomes religion.

We died.  We’ve been raised and seated.  And we’re clean and close to God.  What more can we ask for?”

Excerted from “God Without Religion

God Thoughts

by Blake Rymer

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  AW Tozer

beach sunset.png Eventually, at some point in our walk with God, we must ask Him “why”?

This is not the “why” of disappointment with God or of moral failure on our parts or of persecution or suffering. Any child can react to life’s realities and feel entitled to seek an answer for his discomfort or disappointment or debility.

This “why” is deeper and comes from the core of our being. It is the existential “why” of wanting to know the reason, the purpose or the place our lives are meant to fill. Yes, this is the “why am I here” question.

Sometimes we all want a diagram showing the way things really are with every part drawn out to scale and labeled and with a big “You Are Here” arrow that points to a spot on the diagram that shows our location and our connection to all the other pieces.

The Bible offers us this: “Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”  Isaiah 43:6-7

God says we were created for His glory. If this is so, then we are here for a purpose much bigger than ourselves, a purpose as big as God. When we begin to get our minds around this idea as the very best answer to the deeper “why” question, all the other lesser “whys” begin to fall into place as well.

As we walk through this process of renewing and redeeming our God thoughts, we can begin to experience more fully God’s will for our lives. Perhaps that puzzling word “glory” will begin to make sense as well.

Blake is the founder of Grace Link International of Huntsville, AL.

The Gift of Suffering

by Yolanda Stith

Gift of SufferingYes, suffering is a gift. While it is not usually one that we look forward to, its benefits far out-weigh its negatives. In a perfect world there is no need for suffering. The world was created in all its beauty, both mankind and the world around them, perfect; however, when evil corrupted what God had created, man became self-centered, filled with evil intentions and all of creation was infected by sin.

Suffering is the remedy for sin. Jesus suffered beyond comprehension for the behalf of humanity and to redeem God’s creation. We suffer, too; sometimes as a result of the world we live in and sometimes due to our own selfish choices. Suffering forces us to take personal inventory, as it did with Job. It humbles us and breaks down pride and ego. It is a cruel reminder that we are not in-control and the temptation to be “god” was nothing more than a ploy to lead us astray and destroy God’s beautiful creation.

I’ve suffered greatly in my life, but I am certain there are others what have suffered more–a young man, barely out of his 20’s, a triple amputee from Afghanistan who no longer believes there is a God; a woman who lost her home after her abusive marriage fell apart and can’t make enough money to support her and her daughters; a baby born with multiple defects, just to name a few.

In my own suffering after my husband Ken died last summer, I came to realize that my response to it was going to make all the difference in the world. I can’t change anything. I could become angry and bitter and walk away from God, as some do, but he’s my ONLY hope and I know this in the depths of my soul. I began to think about the suffering as a gift, a gift that would open my eyes to greater things, even though I’m not entirely sure what those things are at this point.

Sorrow has forced me to look at myself, my motives and attitudes, and be willing for God to take me deeper into the interior life with him. This “perfect storm” and “dark night of the soul” of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that go unnoticed when we live on the surface of life.

The Scriptures are filled with examples of men and women whom have endured God’s school of adversity and discovered the great gift that was prepared for them. Without the night, we cannot enjoy the stars, without the pain, we cannot experience God’s comfort, and without the valleys and deserts, we will never truly know the joy of God’s mountain tops and Living Water!

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Yolanda is co-founder of New Heart Living of Bethesda, MD.

Are you trying to get God to love you?

by Steve Eden

IfPlease love me you are trying to get God to love you, you are too late. He already loves you with a love that will never fail. He loved you before you were born. He even loved you before you started trying to get Him to love you! Your behavior cannot create love inside a God who already IS love. You are NOT on a date with God, trying by your actions to create love inside of someone for you that you hope will last. You are in covenant with a covenant-keeping God. You cannot manipulate/obligate God into loving you more than He already does.

Steve is Pastor  of Grace Church in Choctaw, OK

Surrender is Victory

By Yolanda Stith

abandonment   Practically speaking, abandonment to God, complete surrender consists in seeing the will of God in everything–in those you love, circumstances and, yes, your own life. If God replaces your wonderful plan that you constructed for your life with another and leads you into a valley instead of onto a mountaintop, no matter how scary, it is because he has a greater plan, a greater blessing.

It’s not that God takes joy in watching us struggle or suffer, but there is (in the struggle and suffering) a greater plan and purpose; one that you would never, ever know unless you were willing to let him take you there.

One of the greatest paradoxes of the Christian life is that surrender is VICTORY! “The man who loses his life finds it.” What makes surrender so difficult is our lack of faith in a God who loves so completely, our fears and insecurities, our perceived need to control and manage our own lives and those of others, our finite plans that we are deluded into believing are greater than God’s.

Yolanda Stith is founder of New Heart Living of Potomac, MD

What is the Harm of Mixing Law with Grace?

by Dr. Joe Langley

What is the harm in mixing a little bit of law (human effort) with grace? It’s still mostly grace isn’t it?

Here’s the problem. Self-effort says that I can do some part. It might be mostly me, half me, or just a little me. But I am to do something – and I can do something.
Grace says that it is all God. The very essence of grace is “God doing for me what I cannot do for myself.” So if I think I am responsible to do any part in my own strength, then I have nullified the basic truth of grace. I am trying to do at least a portion of God’s part.

I really like what Jess Hays writes in her very insightful book, A Rebel’s Religion. She lays out the formulas:
Law + Grace = Law
Little bit of Law + Massive amounts of Grace = Law
One sentence of Law + an encyclopedia set of grace = Law

Dr. Joe Langley is the founding pastor of Park Meadow Church is Waxahachie, Texas.