The Lord has been working heavily on my heart lately about many things. I’m continually reminded how weak I am…and how great the Lord’s grace is. Seminary and ministry training in the context that I am in has revealed new things to me about myself, that might not have been as evident previously. I write this blog in hopes to encourage others that may be in a similar life situation, but also to help myself. Everything you read is a promise I am trying to claim in my life. Writing and blogging is helpful for me, in order to process what God is doing.
There are two components that I want to emphasize:
Sin is literally crouching around every corner. The enemy knows what me and you are weak with, and he will intend to bring us into that. Once we have sinned against the Lord and the convictions he gives us, we immediately fall into that conviction, and also fight against condemnation and guilt, even though we know as Christians we have been freed from that. We have been freed from the wages of sin, but it still effects us tremendously, because it grieves the Spirit of God. This becomes a cycle for us far too often, and we grow prone to sinning intentionally against the Lord. We (including myself), try to walk the line of sin, to see what we can get away with, so that our flesh is partly satisfied. This is an area of my life that I am recognizing I cannot play around with. Me and you cannot play with sin. The consequences are far too harming, not only for you, but for others around you. My prayer for this struggle is that the Lord would give us the strength to discipline our minds and body to NOT resort to sin, but to combat it through the weapons of our warfare, through the Holy Spirit of God. We can settle for nothing less than self control, purity, and holiness.
The pressures of life seem to be growing more and more. As I progress in my 20’s, I observe that the pressure for several things is far more intense than it used to be. Of course I know that it doesn’t have or need to be that way, but so many people are fighting to resist that pressure, in order to trust in the Lord and his perfect timing for everything. This timing ranges from relationships, future marriage, careers, finances, next steps, climbing the ladder, being successful, and many more things. As a seminary student, I heavily sense the transition season that I am in, and it can be very frustrating and trying. As a good mentor friend reminded me today (perfect timing), I’m not in this journey for comfort and worldly stability, but just for obedience. Will I ever feel stable and put, or will I always be open and available to whatever, and wherever God calls me to? (heart check…) I know that I’m stable and safe within the salvation God has graciously given me, but it’s so tempting to try to climb the American ladder, and to think that one day you have arrived. As Christians, do we ever arrive? What are we trying to arrive to? Are we trying to get to a certain point in our ministry and walk with Christ, and then just stop? Of course, we are always growing and being sanctified more into the image of Jesus, but we never stop and arrive. If we do, it will not be until we are with Christ eternally in glory. I don’t think we ever get to the point of arrival as God’s children. So why do I and so many of us fret about the “big” questions of life?
Life is a journey, and as 2 Peter 3:8 tells us, “But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
God has no time-table upon our lives. Although He sees the big picture of our life, and knows exactly what will happen, He is not taking a nap while we are having a panic attack, or unaware of our worries. When pressure comes about various things, we must take a step back, and claim that God is here. This is something I am having to preach to myself daily.
Ok…so here are two issues that I am facing, and you might be too. So, what is it that I can claim? What can bring me comfort, peace, and confidence? Yes-your right, the answer is Jesus. But what about Jesus? What about the character of Jesus can I specifically claim for this specific issue, during this season?
The other day in Chapel, our guest pastor preached from the end of Jude. This isn’t exactly a book of the Bible that everyone is running too and preaching on, but I’m so glad he did. Even with the short length of the book, the message is so powerful. Jude, the brother of Jesus and James, is writing to the church in hopes of encouraging them against false teaching, and also calling out those who are doing so. His audience may be a blend of Jews and Gentiles. The verses that our speaker began to exegete were found in verse 24-25, which is the doxology. This is a portion of Scripture that I often time read over, kind of like the Greeting also of a New Testament book. Here are the words found in this verses:
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
What’s the take away from this passage?
To me, it all sums up into the title of this blog: In His Grip. We are In…His…Grip.
As the first passage demonstrates, God is ABLE to keep us from stumbling. I think about the grace of God here. How many times have I come so close to making a horrible decision, that would put the rest of my ministry and life in danger? Do we realize the consequences of our actions? We have all made mistakes, and we can all press on with great confidence through Christ, as he sees no sin in His children, but in that moment, in that weak moment of temptation, when you do turn from it and say no to the sin and yes to God…He keeps you from stumbling. He has you in His grip, and you are going nowhere. Yes, you can sin, but you can’t live in sin as a Christian, and you can’t quench the Spirit 24/7 and have joy. It will be a miserable life if you resist the Spirit of God constantly. His great grace draws you in, and he keep you on your feet, away from the dangers of sin that could ruin and steal your joy. The Psalmist says, “Where can I go from your presence?” There is no escape from the Lord once he saves you, and that is a great promise my friends.
He also wants to present us blameless. This means that although we cannot be perfect, we can be blameless. Christ sees no sin in us, and wants us to be holy in order to be conformed to His image. And this is only made possible through the only God, who has dominion forever. I’m so thankful that the one and only God, who has 100% dominion over me, and this world, chooses to love me, keep me from harm, and presents me blameless.
These lyrics from “Good Shepherd”, by Bethel worship, sums it up:
“You will lift my head above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
you are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on”
Christian.. take heart. Claim the fact that you are In HIS Grip, and only His. He is our shepherd and we are just sheep being led. The weight of this world may drag us down often, and the reality of darkness may blind us of God’s truth, but we can live victoriously and confidentially. He is able, and He is willing. Listen to Him. Trust Him. Talk to Him. Learn from Him. Pour out your heart before Him. Know His Word.
I pray this blog encourages and challenges you, as the Lord is also working on my heart heavily about these things. Thanks for reading!