Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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Photo Credit:  By Martin Wessely  (Unsplash.com)

Photo Credit: By Martin Wessely (Unsplash.com)

I am not one to try a lot of new things. I prefer to stick with the things I know and like, rather than try something that I might not like. However, lately, it’s been getting to the point where I am tired of the same old thing. I feel like I am trapped in a room, looking out at the world and seeing everything I wish I had the guts to do pass me by. A lot of that has to do with the fear of trying something new and not liking it or maybe even failing at it. I think for me, failure is the biggest fear I have. I think somehow, deep inside, I think it means that somehow I am lacking – that somehow I’m not good enough.

Much of my fear has to do with the fact that I have done so many stupid things in my past. I have a litany of events in my life that would illustrate the extent of how stupid I can really be. And for the past few years, I think I’ve done all I can to distance myself from that failure and make myself out to be this person who seldom messes up. It’s all about the image because if anyone saw who I really had been, they would perhaps not like me quite so much. Forget the fact that my past has taught me so many things. To let others see me as I really am might mean rejection. And I have faced enough of that in my life – at least that’s what I tell myself.

The reality is, my past is my past. I can’t change it, but I can look back on it and see how far I have come. Or rather, I can look back and see how far God has brought me. He took a scared, stupid, insecure little girl and He has grown me into someone who, while still scared, and still able to do stupid things, and often insecure, is also learning to be courageous and strong and to depend on Him. As a result, recently I have started to do things I never really expected I’d be able to do. For example, I went back to New York, where my roots are a few weeks ago. To say that was a step out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was terrified. But I did it. That’s just one example, but I have others that I can point to. Except, that’s not the point today.

When I refuse to step out and take a risk – whether it be failure, rejection or something else unpleasant – I do myself a disservice. I put myself in a cage. I lock myself up into a tiny little box and instead of growing, I shrink. I go deep into myself and I lock everyone else out. And that’s a lonely life.

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it (perfection) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Paul had a lot to be ashamed of in his past. After all, he persecuted, imprisoned and caused the death of many followers of Christ before he went through is own conversion experience. He could have chosen to hate himself, belittle himself, or lock himself away from other believers. Instead, he chose to do the opposite and as a result started many different churches, not to mention the prevalence of his letters being included in the New Testament.

Paul went on to say in verses 15-16, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (or mature), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (NASB). In other words, live up to who you are. I am a child of God. As a result that means I am sanctified, redeemed, and can rest in God. I don’t have to keep looking back in shame at my past. I can use it as a learning experience, but my life isn’t in the past. I am to be embracing what God has for me in the future, and that is that I am going to get to be with Him someday. And if that’s the case, then what do I have to be afraid of here? What am I avoiding?

With that in mind, I have a few “bucket list” items I am planning on this year, such as kayaking, driving to New York with my kids this summer, taking a chance and entering a couple of writing contests this year, and so much more. And I can do those things because I am free. Yes, I might fail. Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, I can get hurt and it’s going to be a risk. But, in the end, I am going to grow and learn, and most of all, I am going to escape from that cage I have locked myself into.

What about you? Have you locked yourself in a cage too? Are you avoiding certain things out of fear of failure or rejection? What do you do to get past those feelings and live the life God has called you to?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo by Paul Jarvis

Photo by Paul Jarvis

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

Trust. Five little letters – one BIG word. Trust is not something that comes easily for me. I literally have to force myself to be trusting. I could say that the problem is that people have let me down. It’s true, but that’s not the only problem I have. (I know, you’re probably thinking, “She finally admits it!”) The reality is, most of my problem with trust comes down to wanting to be in control. Control is a big deal for me. I don’t know if it’s because there is so much I have felt like I had no control over, or if I am just a control freak. Maybe it’s a little of both. Whatever the reason, trust is so difficult for me. Yet, I know it’s something that I have to do at times. I mentioned a few days ago that I had chosen to trust a friend, and that it has started to lead to me being willing to be more vulnerable with my other friends. So, if I can trust a friend, why do I have such a hard time trusting God?

Trust goes hand in hand with faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). The question here is not so much about whether I can trust God. It’s more like, am I convinced or convicted of who He is? If I am, then wouldn’t trust come naturally? If I am totally convinced that God will do what He says He will, won’t I live and act as if that were true? Would I not trust Him? The answer seems obvious – just have more faith. But, it’s not that simple, is it? I can’t just “will” myself to have faith. Faith is cultivated by action. At some point, I have to decide if I am going to believe or walk away.

So, what does that look like? For me, that means even though everything in me is screaming at me to run in the opposite direction, I take a step. Just one step in the direction of God. That might mean deciding to take part in a new ministry. Or, perhaps it’s to go somewhere on a missions trip. It’s deciding to take that step forward, not knowing what the result is going to be, but trusting that God will meet me where I am at, and He will not let me fall further than He can reach.

The truth of the matter is, every single time I have chosen to believe that God would do what He said, He has come through for me. From moving to Florida from California, to providing a home for me and my children, to allowing me to wake up and take this next breath. God has never once let me down when I trusted Him fully. So, rather than worry about what tomorrow might bring, I want to bask in the glory of God’s wondrous provision today. I want to step forward and follow Him – I want to trust Him. And in trusting Him, I truly believe He will “make my paths straight.”

What about you? Do you have trouble with trust or does it come easy for you? What do you do that helps you build your faith?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Have you ever known you should probably do something, but you didn’t?  You know, when you feel that urge deep inside – not a temptation that urges you to do something wrong, but the type of urging that says, “This will be good for you.  You need to go do this.”  Do you know what I’m talking about?  I have had these urges many times, and just about every time, I ignore the urge, and I don’t do that thing I feel like I’m supposed to do.  Last night was one of those times.

During our Wednesday evening service at church, Pastor gave an invitation for people to come forward and pray at the altar.  This would mean going up in front of everyone and kneeling on the floor at the front of the church.  It would mean, getting up and moving forward.  It would mean, anyone who wanted to could see whomever decided to go forward.  He said that those of us who had things going on in our lives that were difficult or painful, or if we wanted to pray for someone else who was going through something, then we could go forward.  It wasn’t a compulsory thing by any stretch, but it was an open invitation to be vulnerable and allow the people of God to embrace and comfort and pray for us.

I longed to go forward.  I felt like something was pulling on me to go forward.  And I resisted.  I fought.  I didn’t go forward.  I wanted to, but I didn’t.  Pastor mentioned that pride could keep us from going forward.  He said that we might not want people to see that we have needs.  He suggested that perhaps we felt like people would look down on us or that we might feel like it was an admission of weakness if we went forward.  He was right.  I keep letting my pride get in the way of me asking for help.  I let pride keep me from doing the things I need to do.  I let pride keep me pressed into that seat, longing to move, but unwilling – or unable – to do so.

But it’s not all about pride for me.  Fear plays a big part as well – fear that I might be letting someone down if I admit that I am weak.  Or maybe it’s fear that God might be disappointed in me, or that I am not good enough.  I am afraid to fail, afraid that I will look like a failure.  For me, pride and fear go hand in hand.  They are not separate, they are united and they are equal in strength.

Even now, as I sit here writing about this memory, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I wonder why I could not bring myself to get up out of my seat and go forward.  There are so many difficulties that I am going through right now – some that only I know, and some that only a couple of people know.  Some of the problems are little things, but when they are all combined and the big things are rolled in, they seem insurmountable and overwhelming.

Perhaps you are wondering why I am bothering to write this and share this with whoever decides to read this.  It’s simple.  This is my altar tonight.  I didn’t go forward last night.  But I am coming forward today.  I am admitting that I am overwhelmed and in need of prayers.  I am admitting that I am weak and have these heavy burdens.  I am confessing that I was wrong to stay in my seat when I so clearly needed to go forward.  And I am asking you, my readers, to pray for me.  I am not going to go into details, but I feel “hard pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV).  I need wisdom and strength to get through this difficult period in my life.  But, I haven’t forgotten the rest of 2 Corinthians 4:8, which reads, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;” (NIV).  I am not crushed or despairing.  I may be weak, but God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, KJV).

Have you ever felt like you were drawn to do something, but resisted?  Perhaps you’re overwhelmed now.  Perhaps you have something that you want to lay at the altar yourself.  Please share below, I’ll be happy to pray for your needs as well.

Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

I have had a few run-ins with my almost-14-year-old daughter.  She’s always been the more out-spoken (and by that I mean mouthy) of my daughters, but she’s also been the daughter I had few problems with obedience – at least in action, if not in attitude.  But lately, she has been pushing the envelope and doing things that are contrary to the rules that have been set for our home.

For instance, I had a rule that Facebook would not be used until they were 14.  She will be 14 in July, and so she’s been begging to have a Facebook.  I have resisted.  However, last week, she won a laptop at her school due to an essay she had to write and good reports from every single one of her teachers.  Had she come and asked me if she could have a Facebook page, I was prepared to say yes due to the good reports and her birthday being so close.  However, she determined that instead of asking, she was just going to “do”.  She created a Facebook.  I found out.  When I asked her to explain her only response was, “I wanted one, so I created one.  Besides, you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t spied on my computer.”  I’d like to point out at this juncture, that I had warned her that I would be checking her computer periodically to see what she was up to.  However, her response was, “You didn’t earn it.  I did.  You can’t take it away from me, and you can’t tell me what to do on it.”  My response of course was, “I’m your mother, and I will be checking on you because it’s my job to know what you’re doing.”  Needless to say, that was not a fun night.

Fast forward to last night.  One of my hard and steadfast rules is, don’t ask me to be allowed to do things via text – especially when you’re in the same house as me and can walk over and talk to me directly.  My daughter decided that she did not have to follow that rule.  However, she did come talk to me later when I didn’t respond to her, and basically said I had to give her an answer by today.  My answer was “no”.  Now, again, let me take this moment to say, I have said yes to almost everything she has asked for lately, and I had valid reasons for saying no, so I wasn’t being unreasonable.  She did not take that very well, and had a little “pouty” party and refused to say goodbye to me.

I find myself wondering, after episodes like this, if I am crazy for thinking, as a parent who loves and cares for her children on a daily basis, that I am warranted some obedience and respect.  I also wonder what happened to my doting little girl who did what I asked with minimal arguments in the past.  She seems to have been replaced with this willful replica of my daughter.  Some days, I don’t even know if I recognize her.

Now, if I feel that way about my daughter, how much more does God think that of me?  Think about it.  How often have I done something that I know is wrong, just because I wanted to?  How many times does He watch my willful behavior and wonder if I am ever going to get it?  How many times have I gone my own way or had a “pouty” party because I didn’t get what I wanted?  How many times have I rebelled against God?

One of the greatest things I love about God is that even while I know He mourns when I sin, I also know He forgives when I confess and I ask.  That doesn’t mean that I have a right to go out and do wrong things just because I know He will forgive me.  It doesn’t give me license to sin.  What it does do, is free me from the consequence of sin – death.  Because His Son bore my sins when He died on the cross, and then conquered death by rising again from the grave, I now have freedom from sin and death, if I put my faith and trust in Him and follow in His ways.

See, it starts at the time of salvation, but as James says in his letter, “Faith without works is dead.”  Read the following passage, where goes on to explain:

14  What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “ Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18  But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize,you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-26 (NASB)

James isn’t saying that I can earn my salvation.  There is nothing I can do to earn Salvation (See Ephesians 2:8-9).  What he is saying is that if I believe, I will act on that belief.  What good is my faith, if I never act on it?  It is just useless words, and it isn’t really faith at all.  But when I act on my faith, and I do good to others, my faith is a living, breathing, active thing.

Look at what Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)

How do I do this?  By serving others.  I put aside my wilfulness, and I obey God.  As I taught my children when they were little, “Obedience is doing as you are told, right away, all the way, without arguing or complaining.”  Even today, they can still repeat that back to me when I ask them what obedience is.  See, they know it, but it’s hard to do sometimes.  Every day I have to fight my willful spirit and sometimes even have to force myself to do what I know is right – and sometimes I do it kicking and screaming.  I do not always succeed, but on those occasions, I get back up, pray for forgiveness, and start over again – and God says “I forgive you, now go and sin no more.”

Someday, I am sure my children will be in my shoes, and they will be saying similar things to their kids.  When that time comes, I will know that I did my best to teach them to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Until Next Time,