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four questions that help activate faith in my life

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It was one weighty situation after another, and I felt paralyzed by the need to think, feel, and decide wisely. Choices of when to speak and when to be quiet, how to wade unfamiliar relational waters, and how to listen to God were all on full blast. I was in knots for days, and it dawned on me, how does my faith help me here?

The Self-Reliant Fixer and the Trusting-Surrenderer in me were wrestling, and I was weary. Where was my faith? It was in my feelings and whether they could be trusted. It was in my ability to solve problems, to be a good advice-giver. It was in the pressure-inducing lie of ‘choose well or it’ll be your fault.’

I was at a crossroad: continue wrestling anxiously with myself or allow God’s truth to clear-cut a new path of being. By His grace, I confidently chose the latter, and living by faith became less of an abstract Biblical idea and more of a tangible framework for the storm hidden under the surface. I’m learning faith is surrendering my way to deepen my capacity to know and pursue God’s way.

Here are four questions that have helped energize my faith:

  1. Who is being exalted here?

Me? or God? Living by faith in God decreases pride and self-reliance… why? Because we can’t help but be humbled in light of our perfect Savior. Like Abraham, who “with respect to the promise of God, did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). My thoughts do more harm than good when not illuminated by faith, because faith glorifies God, not self, as sufficient. One of the most gracious things the Lord continually reminds me of is I am the creature and He is the Creator. We live by faith and not sight when we choose to find God in the midst of pain, uncertainty, or weakness, and exalt Him.

  1. What does the Bible say about this situation or my emotions?

Living by faith is a daily submission to the authority of Scripture and treasuring the truth of God. By applying His promises to our circumstances, we open ourselves up to flourish in both mundane and marvelous moments. Faith is allowing Scripture to inform our decisions and attitudes, conforming us to the image of Christ. We live by faith and not sight when we trust Scripture over what we see and feel.

  1. Is the gospel instructing my self-examination? 

In #1, I am reminded to submit to God in low humility and exalt Him. But my faith also states my position in Christ before God. Excessive self-demotion is contrary to the gospel that invites me into life with God. Living by faith in God promotes confidence and acceptance even when we fail… why? Because your failure can’t disqualify Christ, and you are in Christ. Focusing on ourselves too much is like quicksand. Allow the truth of Scripture to not only pull you out, but also to be the light that helps you see more clearly. Maybe you’ve heard these words by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” We live by faith and not sight when we see ourselves accurately: near God, raised and seated with Christ, walking with His Spirit on earth to declare praises of Him. (For more on how God sees you, click here.)

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a high view of God is our stability in any situation

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It’s a week where multiple out of control things have crossed our path – a scary diagnosis, an uncontrollable wildfire, difficulty among relationships.

Out of control being the key phrase. I can’t change hearts. I can’t send rain. I can’t heal someone’s body.

In trials, tempting emotions are fear, worry, disappointment, or hopelessness, but an even greater call than those is the call to look at God.

To gaze at God is another way of saying: remember God! (Which is another way of saying “look away from you and your resources and look to your Father.”) We must go beyond acknowledging His existence and step higher into His nature.

God is vastly different than we are. He doesn’t need sleep or nourishment. He isn’t surprised by circumstances. He doesn’t need to learn new facts. He is present in yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is sovereign over every rain drop, sickness, activity, problem, and occasion. Not only is His power limitless, unrivaled by anything on earth, He is purely good and perfectly kind, never changing.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3

Our view of the Trinity must be higher and greater than our view of what is around us or inside of us.

To widen, deepen, and lengthen this vision of God, we need Scripture. If we don’t learn who He is from His Word, we unintentionally live considering God like we consider ourselves.

I write this from personal experience. My view of God was small, human-like, resulting in a distorted view of His nature, producing anxiety and pride, instead of blood-bought identity and new life. But He’s gracious in not leaving us in our natural patterns of thinking, but continually renewing us to holier ones.

In her book None Like Him, Jen Wilkin says this:

Image-bearing means becoming fully human, not becoming divine. It means reflecting as a limited being the perfections of a limitless God. Our limits teach us the fear of the Lord. They are reminders that keep us from falsely believing that we can be like God. When I reach the limit of my strength, I worship the One whose strength never flags. When I reach the limit of my reason, I worship the One whose reason is beyond searching out.

Find comfort in this: God is an expert on you. He knows every detail, past and future, of every circumstance, joyous or sorrowful, in your life. We remember Psalm 139:1-6, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

He is an expert on every heart. We cannot change people, no matter how passionately we desire peace, restoration, or maturity for them. This is God’s domain. We pray His great grace in another’s life, and encourage them toward His Word however we can.

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the miracle of being kept by God

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I turned 26 this week, and the day was great.

As many do when their birthday rolls around, I tend to be reflective. Looking at the past year – how have I grown? what I have learned? what am I thankful for?

Year 25 held much refining and changing from God, much wrestling in my faith, much growing as a communicator, much shaping as a teacher and woman in ministry, much humbling and learning as a graphic designer, and much enjoying as a wife, sister, daughter, and friend.

Amidst highs and lows, one reality stands out like a flashing police car at midnight: if my faith in Jesus, or my love for others, or my diligence with work, or my enjoyment of Scripture, or my joy in life hinged on me, not one would be present with any kind of fervor or endurance.

It’s possible that I could stay connected at work because I like being creative.

It’s possible that I could choose kindness and humility within difficult relationships maybe 50% of the time. Because I was raised to be a peacekeeper.

It’s possible that I could find a little joy in every day, but it would be weak joy, brought on by a new shirt or fun meal. Not durable.

Now, to the one with enough power to prevent you from stumbling into sin and bring you faultless before his glorious presence to stand before him with ecstatic delight, to the only God our Savior, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be endless glory and majesty, great power and authority—from before he created time, now, and throughout all the ages of eternity. Amen! Jude 24-25, The Passion Translation

I start this new year, my 26th year, with a clear understanding that if it was up to me to keep me in the Light, keep me turning from sin, keep me loving others as myself, keep me loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength… I would be flailing.

 

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Why do I say this? Because life is grounded in one major reality: I have been born again, I am a new creation, I am a child of God. 

How did this happen? I certainly didn’t do anything to create this new identity for myself in life and gain more in death.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1), but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (v. 5).

May we remember we have limits; God is infinite. We know little; God knows everything. We have weaknesses; God is all-powerful and never tired. We can’t see things coming; God is sovereign, with everything under His rule and authority. We have inescapable boundaries; God is always present in all places. We are flawed, with a bent toward sin; God is unchanging, perfect and whole. We were born and we will die; God is eternal.

In great power and love, He made us alive with Christ even when we were buried in sin, and He promises to sustain us.

 

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  • “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 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 41:9-20
  • “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” John 14:16-19
  • “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26
  • “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:13-14, 16-17
  • “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20

 

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“The glory and majesty and power and authority that it takes to keep you and me alive in Christ — to keep us praying and trusting, to keep us in the love of God — was secured for us sinners, when Christ died for us. Therefore the glory and majesty and dominion and authority that keeps us from falling and presents us blameless and joyful to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ — the blood of the covenant. And therefore when we ascribe glory and majesty and dominion and authority to God we do it through Jesus Christ.” John Piper

Without Jesus, my identity would be bound as a timid communicator, approval-seeking pleaser, religious Pharisee, self-absorbed friend, joy-starved human, misguided worshipper, and discontent wife. These days I recognize the miracle: my identity as one flawed, yet entirely kept by the faithfulness of God and beautifully changed by the gospel every day.

I encourage you in this: Jesus is the Yes to all God’s promises. When we become His, His Spirit seals us in. Lean in to the miracle of His joyful faithfulness to you. Explore the wonder of His character and your redemption. Ask for eyes to see how the gospel transforms and grows you. Find joy in your daily need of Him and in His great desire to be your strength.

Let’s keep ourselves as close to Him as we can, and when our keeping abilities are spent, live grounded in the grace that for the glory of His name, He will always hold.