Godly Living

What Was Necessary for Jesus to Dwell on Earth Is Also Necessary for Him to Dwell in You!

 God has many wonderful character attributes for which we should be thankful, and which we should seek to emulate. But the Lord has laid on my heart one attribute that was vital in order for Him to leave the glories of Heaven; to come to earth where He took on the form and restrictions of man and knowingly subjected Himself to suffer humiliation, rejection, and tremendous physical suffering at the hands of mankind; and temporary abandonment from God His Father because He took upon Himself the sin of the world. It is also the character quality that we must possess if we are to receive Him as our Savior and the King of our heart. That quality-- which is greatly undervalued in our culture but of inestimable value in God’s eye-- is humility. 

Have you ever considered where you’d be if God, the One Who created the universe and sustains it by the power of His Word, had not chosen to humble Himself and become ‘flesh and blood’? You—and I—would forever be condemned to death, hell and damnation due to our sin that only Jesus, a sinless, righteous man could remove from us.

 Human reason would say that if God were to humble Himself and choose to come to earth that He at least should have been born into the family of earthly royalty and lived in a palace-- or at least born to wealthy, influential parents. Instead, God chose to humble Himself even further by being born in an obscure town to a young virgin and her betrothed who were of lowly status and of no repute in the world’s eyes. He chose to humble Himself and be born to an ordinary couple in an ordinary city so that all people would know that He is approachable, those who are ‘down and out’ as well as those who are ‘rich and famous’ by the world’s standards. He is the only Living God Who came to save ALL people who choose to believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord.

Out of all of the character attributes that Jesus could have chosen to describe Himself when He walked on earth, He emphasized His humility:

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NIV

It is when we are willing to humble ourselves that we will find not only the rest that our souls desire, but we will also discover the joy of our life’s purpose, which is found in humbling ourselves, living in submission to His Word and His will, and having a relationship with Jesus at the center of our lives— worshipping Him and making His name known.

As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth, have you ever considered that each of the focal characters in the Christmas story were willing to humble themselves; they were willing to risk being considered fools by others; and that in doing so they lived out the very purpose for which they were created? It takes humility to believe in and submit to the word of someone else when that ‘word’ seems to defy our logic, reasoning, and understanding, and when believing that word and acting upon it will likely result in others thinking we are foolish.

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 Mary, a virgin, had to be willing to humble herself and surrender her ‘understanding’ in order to believe the angel Gabriel’s word to her that she would bear a child who would be the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She had to be willing to suffer the consequences of telling her family and Joseph about her pregnancy, as well as the humiliation of having the local gossips’ tongues wagging about her becoming pregnant during her betrothal period. Joseph also had to be willing to submit to the word of the angel Gabriel, and to risk having his family and the community think he was guilty of sexual sin, or just plain foolish to go ahead and marry Mary since she was pregnant by someone other than him. (Luke 1:26-55; Matthew 1:18-25) How different their lives would have been and what they would have missed out on if they had refused to humble themselves and obey God, His word, and His instructions to them!

 The shepherds who were in their fields tending to their sheep when all of a sudden they heard an angel joined by a heavenly host declare that a Savior had been born in a manger in Bethlehem had to humble themselves in order to believe the angel’s ‘far-fetched’ declaration. They had to humble themselves, risk rejection and being considered delusional as they left their flocks and went into Bethlehem to find the newborn King, along the way sharing with others the news they’d been told by a host of angels who had appeared to them, mere shepherds who weren’t considered to be a respectable profession. (Luke 2:8-20)

 The magi, highly revered in their eastern country, also had to be willing to humble themselves and subject themselves to criticism as many people in their country and along the way likely considered them foolish for choosing to travel such a great distance in pursuit of a shining star they believed was the sign of a newborn king.  And, especially given their worldly status, once they found Jesus they had to be willing to humble themselves to bow down before an worship a mere baby who was born to lowly parents. (Matthew 2:1-12)

 The devout and righteous Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36-38) also had to be willing to humble themselves as they acknowledged that Jesus, although a mere infant born to a couple lowly in status, was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Simeon may have wondered if Mary and Joseph would think he was crazy, but instead of focusing upon himself, he humbled himself before God and obeyed Him by speaking the very prophetic words about Jesus that God gave him to share with Mary and Joseph. Anna was willing to risk others’ rejection of her as she went about sharing her joy of seeing Jesus, whom she claimed to be the Messiah. 

 Do you think that those mentioned above who are such an integral part of the Christmas story had some fears about what others might think of them? I would imagine that it at least crossed their minds that others might think they were fabricating a tale and would not be believed…HOWEVER… they were ALL willing to humble themselves and risk being considered ‘fools’ for Jesus’ sake! How did they overcome their fear of what others would think of them—a fear that is always rooted in pride? By humbling themselves and getting their focus off of themselves and instead fixing their eyes and thoughts upon pleasing God! The very God Who had humbled Himself for their sakes to come to earth in human form so that He could give His life as a ransom for them so that they could be reconciled to their holy, Heavenly Father! 

Jesus had to be willing to humble Himself to come to earth to be born a man, and we have to be willing to humble ourselves if we are to come to Jesus. The ONLY way that we can receive Jesus as our Savior is if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that we need a Savior. We must be willing to humble ourselves and admit our need, and also to humble ourselves and believe what others may consider a ‘foolish word’—that God so loved the world that He sent His only beloved Son Jesus to take on human flesh so that whoever would believe in Him and receive Him as their Savior would have eternal life and become children of God. (John 3:16; John 1:12) 

 Jesus’ focus on earth was never on Himself and doing His own will. He was always focused on doing the will of His Heavenly Father. He trusted that whatever His Father asked Him to do was always for His good and out of love for His Son.  Jesus has left us an example of humility and obedient submission for us to follow. (Philippians 2:1-11) When we humble ourselves, put our faith and trust in God, and walk in obedience to Him--like Jesus and those who were part of the ‘first Christmas’ did—we will receive the blessing of playing an integral role in God’s great plan of drawing people to Himself to save them. And like them, we will realize that the value of our life is not to be found in doing our own will, but in walking in humility before God and even being considered a ‘fool’ by others so that the King of Kings will be magnified and made known to others. We will also have the privilege of sharing in the glory that God has prepared for all who love Him and demonstrate that love by humbly submitting to His will— and His will is that we believe in Him, receive Him as our Savior, and obey His commands that He gave to us for our good (2 Thessalonians 2:14; John 6:29; John 14: 15). Like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, we will realize that the value and joy of our life is found in centering it upon Jesus, the One Who is the center of all of history—better known as ‘His story’— because Jesus willingly humbled Himself for our sakes, so that we might be reconciled to God, have fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and be glorified with Jesus, the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, Who alone is worthy of all praise, honor and glory! 

 

What about you? How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very humble and 10 being very prideful? How do you think those who know you best would rate you? Is your life focused upon making a name for yourself, or upon making Jesus’ name known? Is pride standing in your way of coming to Jesus and acknowledging that you need a Savior? I encourage you to ask Jesus to give you a heart like His that is humble and gentle, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He longs to have you come to Him, and He will never turn you away!  

Lord, help me to get my focus off of myself and help me to fix my thoughts, emotions, and actions upon living for You and your glory. Give me a humble heart that is always obedient to the will of my Heavenly Father. And may I be willing to risk being humiliated, rejected, and abandoned by others as I go forth and share with them the good news of Who You are, why you chose to come to the earth to take on the form of a man, and that salvation is found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone! In your Name I pray. Amen.  

Written by Julie

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3 Ways to Positively...Get Rid of Negativity

Have you ever found yourself in the presence of a person that regularly focuses on the problems in their life with negative statements like:

  • This is just my luck (don’t expect positive things)

  • Go figure, of course this would happen to me (expects bad things)

  • I have bad news, imagine that… (sarcasm)

  • _______ (fill in the blank) will never change (making negative assumptions)

  • I’m not as talented as ___________ (negative comparisons)

  • This ________(person, situation, event) makes me scream (the desire to blame others and be a victim)

negative person

I often tell my kids that their friends will be like elevators in their lives; they will either bring you up or take you down.  Negative people are like elevators that can take you down into the pits of life. Recently I was with a person like this and she was complaining about an upcoming medical procedure. She asked me for help to overcome her fear about the procedure.  Here’s a few bullet points on what I shared with her:

  • Change the phrase ‘I have to’ about the procedure to ‘I get to’, and thank God that you live in a country that has wonderful medical facilities and that you are able to get help there.

  • Praise God that there are tests that can be done for your condition, and that there is likely a cure for it.

  • Focus on being thankful in all circumstances throughout the process.  It was at this point that she said, “I try to be thankful all the time, but it doesn’t work. Like I’ve been very intentional that whenever I start thinking about my procedure I start to look around and be thankful for the sunshine, things in nature, and things like that.”

When God commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV, to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”, He does not mean for us to give thanks for other things that are worthy of praise, like His providing us with sunshine— if you’re facing a scary medical procedure.  Being thankful for nature is a good thing and it blesses God when we give Him thanks for sunshine or nature. However, God wants us to learn to be thankful for the very things that we may not realize to be thankful for in the midst of all of our circumstances, including the trials we face in life. He wants us to give thanks in ALL circumstances! So, for example, what could a person be thankful for in the midst of a scary medical procedure? God asks us to find the one thing if that’s all there is to be thankful for within the situation you are facing and focus on that with your thoughts, words and actions.  If you struggle to find even one thing to be thankful for in your situation, you can always begin by thanking God that you have Him and that He will never leave you or forsake you. I personally would like to lovingly challenge you if you are struggling to be thankful in any area of your life to write down 5 specific things that you can be thankful about regarding that very situation.  Need help?  Contact us and we will help you to create a list to focus on for your particular situation.

In His Love,

Jamie

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When the Church raises her eyebrow: How to overcome the fear of judgment from your peers

The Bible is very clear about numerous things as it relates to how to live.  Do not lie, do not envy, and love your neighbor are just a few of many things that God specifically tells us to do or not do in His Word, both for our benefit and His glory.  What about all the things He doesn’t specifically tell us in His Word?  Such as the age your children should be when you trust them with a cell phone or other responsibilities; how much money is too much to spend on a vacation/home/car/clothing/college etc.; when to extend mercy and when to allow natural consequences to occur for your loved ones and the list can go on and on.  

I was recently in a conversation over the phone with someone and it quickly became evident that a decision my husband and I have made regarding our children was a ‘surprise’ to this person and her tone of voice, and the questions that followed indicated her critical judgement.  I found myself using phrases like ‘we have prayed and we have peace about this’ only to be met with “REEEELY???? Well, ok I guess that’s all you can ask for,” in a tone that communicated ‘I disagree and you’re an idiot.’  I realized after hanging up that I was trying desperately to have my friend understand and agree with our decision.  Why?   Why was I doing this?  I’ll tell you why, because I don’t like feeling criticized, being told what to do or made to feel like I’m judged as a Christian because I made a choice that is different from what she may make in the same situation, a situation that is not written plainly in God’s Word as to what would please God and be best for my children. I was feeling fear of what my friend would think and had fear of being judged as ‘bad’ because of it.  


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That’s when God spoke to my heart.  He reminded me that the church is the ‘body of Christ’ and that He is the head…He is the head because it’s only His eyebrows I should be concerned with raising and His Words that I should be concerned with obeying; both His written Word and that which He speaks personally to my heart. He is the head and He wants us to think what He thinks, say what He says, see what He sees and as the ‘body’ we are to do accordingly.  

Colossians 1:18 English Standard Version (ESV)  “And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church…”

To overcome the fear of judgment I had to do the following:

  1. Remember that only God’s judgments matter

  2. Pray for my friend to fully know and receive God's love

  3. Recite verses that remind me that God loves me, He knows me, He knows my situation and I do not need anyone else’s approval

  4. Recall the times I have made judgments of others’ choices and ask God to forgive me and help me to not do it again.  In other words, my friend is misguided in her judgement as I too have been in the past and we are all in the process of learning to be more like Him.

One of the many amazing things about God is that He is deeply committed to and knows every detail about each person created in His image, even the hairs of our head are numbered. He has plans and a purpose for each of us and that may also mean that different things are permissible for different people at different ages and in different circumstances and only God can truly know.  Obey Him and do not fear man and you will have peace.

“And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Daniel 10:19 ESV

Fearless in Him,

Jamie

Do you struggle with ‘people pleasing’ or have a strong desire to have others like and agree with you?  Julie and I would love to give you some personalized tips for your situation at no charge in a 20-min. call which you can schedule here.

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The Key to a Fear-Free Life: Have You Received It?

‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ is the title of a very popular song written by Burt Bacharach in 1965 and it’s certainly as true today as when it was released during the height of the Vietnam War.

 What the world—and you and I-- need more than anything else-- is indeed love! We are all desperate for love, and the One Who is love—in fact, perfect love—Jesus!

 Interestingly, even though the need is great, there is no lack of supply of the love that we all need. It is available to all, and without measure! However, first we need to hearof Jesus’ love for us, and secondly, we need to believe that He does indeed love us! Many people who hear of Jesus’ love for them have a hard time accepting the reality of His love for them because they are used to human love that is unlike God’s sacrificial, completely unselfish love. It can be hard to fathom how a holy God could possibly love us since we know in our hearts that we are sinners who are so undeserving of His love. Yet, it is only through faith in God and a willingness to receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord that we are connected to God, the Source of Perfect Love, Who is able to cast out all fear. (1 John 4:8;18)

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It is one thing to know in our head that ”Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”, and something altogether different to know in our hearts that He really loves me. I know that my life was radically changed when someone came up to me—someone I didn’t even know well-- and told me that he felt led by God to share with me that God loved me. I had heard about God’s love all of my growing up years, and when I was a young child before committing what I considered to be any ‘big’ sins, it was easy enough to believe that He loved me. Later—when I knew I’d done things that violated his commands-- I started doubting His love for me, and distancing myself from Him. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties when that young man came up to me and spoke the words, “Jesus told me to tell you that He loves you”, that the revelation of God’s love for me broke through—and forever changed my life! I realizedthat He didn’t just die for the world, but that He chose to die for me; that despite my sinHe would have given His life on the cross even if I’d been the only person. It was in recognizing both my unworthiness of His love, while simultaneously believing the reality of His love that caused me to grasp the truth that I can trust the ‘Man Who died for me’ with everything in my life! 

God proves His love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans5:8 Berean Study Bible

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32 ESV

The ‘ALL things’ that faith in His unfailing love has given to me, and is the gift to all who receive His love, includes freedom from fear, worry and anxiety!

When you truly trust God’s love for you, you will: 

· Be able to totally trust in His faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23

· Be set free from the fear of being alone, forsaken, or abandoned (Joshua 1:9; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5) 

· Be able to face ‘fearful’ situations and yet be unafraid. John 14:27; John 16:33: Romans 8:28,31-38; 1 Corinthians 10:13

· Be released from the ‘fear of man’ as you are more concerned with pleasing God. Proverbs 29: 25; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 13:6

· Be free from worry regarding the provision for your needs. Psalm 23:1; 2 Corinthians 9:8;Philippians 4:16

· Be set free from the fear that your particular situation is too big for God to handle. Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26

· Be set free from the greatest fear of all: judgment from God, death, and hell (John 5:24; Romans 8:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:55)

How about you? Have you ever had the revelation of God’s extravagant love for you? Has the reality of His love moved from your head to your heart, and therefore impacted how you live?  If so, have you shared the truth that He IS LOVE (1Jhn 4:8) with anyone else, so that they too might have their greatest need—the need for God’s Perfect Love-- met? 

Whoever confesses and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him.  In this [union and fellowship with Him], love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him]; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [dread does not exist].But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear1 John 4:15-18 AMP

If you have yet to make the vital transaction between your head knowledge of God’s love to your heart, I encourage you to seek after God with your whole heart and ask Him to reveal the height, depth, width, and length of His love for you to you. (Jeremiah 29:13; Matthew 7:7). I also encourage you…listen to the Lord, and when He nudges you to go and tell someone that Jesus loves them, step out in faith and do so in love and in obedience to Him! You could be the person God uses to give them the key that will open the door for them to experience a fear free, joyous, abundant life in Christ! 

Lord, give me an understanding, assurance, and deeper revelation of your love. Give me the power to understand how wide, long, high, and deep your love is for me so that I will know in my heart your extravagant, unending, unfailing love, and that I may be filled up with all the fullness of God, which is love. (Based upon Ephesians 3:14-19) 

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Be Still and Know That I Am God- Finding Peace in Scripture

Do you ever look at others and wonder how they can have so much peace when the circumstances they are going through seems so daunting?  

I had the pleasure of spending time with a good friend this week and she mentioned to me how transforming it was for her to meditate on God’s Word.  Then she shared specifically how she meditates on Psalm 46:10 and the peace it brings her.  


Here’s the order that she thinks and prays about this verse:

First, begin by saying/thinking/praying: “Be still and know that I am God.”   

Then begin dropping off the last word as you go through it, so it would look like this:


Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I AM. (‘I AM’ is a name that God gives Himself in the Bible)

Be still and know

Be still

Be



Isaiah 26:3

I shared with her how Julie & I will often get so much additional insight about a verse by putting exaggerated emphasis on different words each time we say a verse in our mind or aloud.  

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God …

until you have deeply thought about and pondered/meditated on each word in the verse.  You can do these exercises with almost any verse and find additional insights and the exercise will help you to keep your focus on God.  God promises that He will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

Let us know what God reveals to you through His Word as you implement these techniques!

Written by Jamie Shaver



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What Not to Do--and to Do--If You Have Unsaved Loved Ones

Recently I went on a trip to see some family members who I love dearly although I rarely get to see them.  Regrettably, they do not have a relationship with the Lord. There are several things the Lord reinforced to me during this visit that I think may be valuable for all of us who have unsaved loved ones and want to know how to interact with them.

First, I believe we must recognize that all of mankind was created to worship. If your loved one is not worshipping the one true God, you can be assured that they do have a ‘god’—or ‘gods’ in their life.  It may be their work, entertainment, their spouse or ‘significant other’, their kids, their hobby, alcohol, drugs, or something else in which his or her identity and life is ‘wrapped up’.  And you can also be assured that their ‘god/s’ will never truly satisfy them or bring them the abundant life they were created to enjoy through fellowship with God. Their god will ultimately disappoint them, and lead to misery for them and pain for those who love them. The heart in rebellion against God is a self-centered, self-absorbed heart; everything is filtered through how it impacts ‘me’, what ‘I want’ and what ‘I value’. I confess that I know that not only from witnessing that in the lives of others, but also from personal experience when I lived apart from God. We need to be instruments of grace who share with our unsaved loved ones the truth that the only way to experience a joy-filled life of contentment and peace is to ‘die to ourselves’ and to follow God’s commands to love Him first, and others second. (Luke 9:23; Matthew 22:37-40)

 Secondly, we must remember that we are all in a spiritual battle. Satan—sometimes referred to as the devil-- is the Enemy of our Souls and the ‘Father of Lies’ who deceives us into thinking that living to please ourselves by investing our time, energy and resources on our other ‘god/s’ will satisfy the desires of our soul, which they cannot (Ephesians 6:11-12; John 8:44). Satan’s goal is always to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ what God loves, and what He loves most is mankind with whom He longs to have an intimate and loving relationship. Satan seeks to destroy us by keeping us from having that relationship with God, through Jesus, Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). We who know Jesus have been called to be His warriors...warriors who ‘fight’ for the souls of those who have been taken captive by Satan.  If we are not careful we can forget that our battle is not against ‘flesh and blood’—and sometimes we want to act out ‘in our flesh’ against our unsaved loved ones --but we must keep in mind that our fight isn’t with them, but against Satan and the forces of darkness. Just like prisoners of war, our unsaved loved ones have been taken captive by Satan to do his will (2nd Timothy 2:26). We can’t expect them to act in accordance with the truth of God’s Word, because they never knew it, or they have been indoctrinated in lies from Satan and blinded from walking in the truth.

Only the Truth—the written Word and Jesus, the Living Word--can set them free from the clutches of Satan and empower them to live the ‘abundant life’—a life of peace, joy, and contentment, and open up to them the gift of eternal life. Our words are important to testify to that truth, but far more important is the life that we live before them.

 So what is our role as it relates to family members and other loved ones who have been ‘taken captive’ by Satan to do his will, and therefore are not living in accordance with the will of God?

Things We Should NOT Do:

 1. Do not buy into their lies or fuel their sinful behavior. Filter what they say and do through the lens of scripture so that you do not contribute to their deception. For example, do not accept their rationalizing or blaming others for the consequences of sinful choices that they make. If you catch them in a lie, do not be afraid to lovingly confront them so that they do not think they can ‘sin and get away with it’ and so they will learn that their sin ‘will find them out’ (Numbers 32:23).

 2.Do not indulge their deception that their ‘god’or ‘gods’ will satisfy them by ‘building up’ their ‘god’, but in love expose it for what it is— a source of temporary pleasure, but nothing that will truly meet the deepest longings of their heart, which is unconditional love and eternal security that only God can provide to them. For example, if sports is their ‘god’, don’t focus all of your conversations on sports which could easily lead them to believe that is your ‘god’ too. If they are an alcoholic, don’t support their addiction by purchasing alcohol for them. Or, if they are a ‘shopaholic’ don’t continually talk about things with them or spend your time together going shopping.

3. Do not enable them or attempt to rescue them when their sin ‘blows up in their face’. It’s not your job to save them, only Jesus can; it’s your job to represent His heart of love for them and to point them to Him. Remember that Jesus asks us to ‘come to Him’, but due to our pride we most often will not come to Him until we are desperate and aware that we have nowhere else to go. The biggest obstacle for people coming to Jesus is admitting they have a need. That is why it is so important that you do not try to rescue them, but allow your unsaved loved one ‘to come to the end of themselves’ so that they will finally turn to Jesus. If you want to help them out of a situation that was caused by their sinful choice/s, always pray first and ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart motive and to lead you in His way. There are times when God may lead you to enforce ‘the law’, and there may be times when He leads you to show mercy, which is why you need to listen carefully to His voice. As painful as it may be to watch your loved one suffer for the consequences of their sin, remember that it is far better for them to endure suffering for a season in this world if it will lead them to turn to Jesus who alone can save them from suffering for all eternity! It is also important that you realize that you can fully entrust them to God’s care; He will be there to pick them up when they look to and cry out to Him!

4. Do not cram scripture ‘down their throat’ as they will likely vomit it out! Sometimes in our zeal for our loved ones to come to the Lord we ‘lecture’ them with scriptures, or in other ways communicate our disapproval of them. What they hear in their minds is that if my family who knows God doesn’t approve of me, then God sure will never accept me either! They often perceive that God is all about rules and regulations that are either impossible to keep, or only there to keep people from having a ‘fun life’. They don’t realize that God wants a relationship with them, not ‘perfect behavior’ from them. We need to demonstrate with our words and actions that we love them unconditionally, so that they will come to believe that if we who know them as ‘sinners’ can love them, then Jesus is more than able to love them too!

What We Should Do:

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1.  Assume your role as ‘an ambassador of Christ’ who has been given the job of representing Jesus and encouraging people to be reconciled to God (2nd Corinthians 5:20). You can’t represent Jesus if you don’t really know Him. So it is important that you make time to read and study the Bible where He reveals His heart, His character, and His ways; to be in fellowship with other believers who will encourage you in your faith; and to maintain communication with God through prayer. Jesus often asked penetrating questions to get people to consider the truth; a great way to represent Him is to learn to ask meaningful questions of our unsaved family members that will cause them to grabble with the big concerns of life, like: what is truth; what is the purpose of life; and where do they think they will go when they die and why? If they espouse to be an atheist or to believe in a religion other than Christianity, lovingly ask them why they believe what they claim to believe so you can earn the right to share with them your beliefs. Another way Jesus interacted with those he wished to reach was by telling them parables, or stories. Share stories of God’s faithfulness in your own life as well as testimonials of His life-changing impact in the lives of others you know; your unsaved loved ones are looking for the Hope you have and they want to have a reason to believe that God is real and all that He says He is in His Word!

2. Let the light of the love of Jesus shine forth from you, so that they will be drawn to the Source of your light and life! (Matthew 5:16) Ask God to give you the faith to daily walk by the power of the Holy Spirit so that you will accurately reflect the truth and love of Christ, and so that you will not satisfy the desires of your flesh that can be a stumbling block to your loved ones coming to know Jesus. Below is the way you should ‘dress yourself’ so you can reflect Jesus to your loved ones:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 ESV


3. Share the ‘good news’ of Jesus’ love for them if you have not already. As already mentioned, that opportunity often comes when your loved one is suffering from the sinful choices they have made. Help them to see their need for Jesus by lovingly helping them to see what their choices have cost them. Humble yourself before your loved one and let him or her know that you realize you’re not perfect or sinless either, that no one is except God. Let them know that Jesus has made the way for ALL who are willing to admit their imperfections and to turn from their sin to find forgiveness and new life through His death and Resurrection. Assure them that there is no sin that is too great that God’s grace, love, and mercy can’t cover it! Make them aware that when Jesus died on the cross, His blood was shed for every sin they would ever commit. You may wish to share with them this comforting verse from Romans 5:8: But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Let them know that all God asks them to do is to ‘come to Him’, to believe in Him, and to receive Him as their Savior and Lord, and to repent—or change the direction of their life— through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 6:29; John 1:12) Share the truth with them that only living in obedience to Jesus will ever bring true joy and fulfillment to their lives. Let them know they have a choice. Ask them, “Do you want to continue striving by living in your own strength, or would you like to finally start living abundantly through the redeeming power of Jesus?” You may say, “But what if I share the truth of God’s love for them and their need for repentance, and they reject that truth?” Keep in mind, they are already rejecting that truth by the way they are living, so what do you have to lose?

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 ESV

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4. Focus your thoughts upon God and His desire for your loved one to come to know Him. Consider how different your unsaved loved one’s life would be if he received Jesus as his Savior. I just heard the story of a man who was saved in the military; he came home to his family and shared the truth of the gospel with them. At first, the family rejected turning their lives over to God, but as they saw the difference that Jesus made in the man’s life, they all chose to accept Jesus as their Savior. The man telling me the story said that was 43 years ago, and he was so grateful that his brother who’d been in the military loved him enough to share the truth with him, even though at first he was ‘fighting mad’ at him for doing so. The lives of each member of that family was radically changed because his brother loved them all enough to humble himself and overcome his fear of rejection to tell them the truth that alone could save them. Have you ever considered the blessing you would experience by being used by God to introduce them to Jesus? Be encouraged by these words from James 5:19-20: My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
5. Realize that if you speak the truth in humility and in love, as Jesus has called us to do, your loved one still may not receive the truth at the time you share it. However, be encouraged! The truth of God’s Word will never return void; it will accomplish what God purposes, and in His perfect timing. (Isaiah 55:11) And God will be well pleased with you for your obedience, regardless of the response of your loved one. Jesus has commanded us to ‘go and tell’; you can trust Him with the results if you are faithful to obey His command! (Matthew 28:19)

6.  There are circumstances under which you may need to set up firm boundaries, and even choose to entirely withdraw from a relationship with an unsaved loved one if they continue in their sin, especially if they are influencing you to abandon your faith in God. If you are sensing that you need to cut ties with a family member, make sure you are being led by the Spirit and not by your flesh. And welcome them back into your life with a forgiving heart and open arms if they ‘come to their senses’ and give their heart to the Lord.

You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot follow me unless you love me more than you love your own life. Luke 14:26 CSB

 7. Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do is to pray faithfully and fervently for your loved one! And, when possible, to pray with them. I have found that they are most open to having me pray with them when they know they have a need. I especially encourage you to pray scripture over them as then you can know that you are praying God’s will. Make sure to pray in faith (James 5:15). Satan wants you to look at the circumstances of your unsaved loved one’s life and to think that there is no hope. You must remember that is a lie—nothing is impossible for Our God! Trust Him to do exceedingly and abundantly above what you could hope or imagine! (Luke 1:37; Ephesians 3:20)

 Lord, I release my loved one to You, knowing that You love them even more than I do or ever could. Fill me with Your heart of love for them, and empower me by the Holy Spirit to be a faithful ‘ambassador’ of Yours who accurately represents You and faithfully walks by the Spirit and not in my flesh. I confess that when I see my unsaved loved one’s lifestyle and poor choices that I often feel overwhelmed and helpless. Holy Spirit, guide me so that I know when to speak, when to remain silent, and when to take action. When you lead me to speak, give me your Words of truth and life to speak to them.When you call me to act, may I do so with all humility and in the spirit of Your love. I ask that you would arrest their hearts and minds and bring them into alignment with Your will! Send forth the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, of righteousness, and of the coming judgment! (John 16:8-9) May they come to know You, the Source of abundant and eternal life! Amen.

 Written by Julie Van Gorp

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

3 Things to Consider When Drafting Your ‘Contract Negotiations’ with God

Recently I was mentoring someone who with tears claimed to deeply desire a change in her behavior patterns.  There were certain thoughts that were consuming her mind, taking up valuable time, keeping her isolated mentally from those with whom she would otherwise be engaging, and creating an enormous amount of stress— which in her case exaggerated other health problems.  I asked her the question, “Do you really want to be set free from this?”, to which she exclaimed, “Yes…as long as_______________doesn’t happen if I stop caring (aka worrying) so much about this.”

Her greatest fear was losing her ‘perceived’ control over the outcome.  She wanted to be free from her fear, worry, and anxiety as long as SHE got to control the outcome; as long as SHE determined how and when she would be ‘set free’; and as long as SHE was able to be in charge of the other fine print ‘contract negotiations’ of the deal she was looking to make with God.  

Have you ever felt this way?  Like you wanted to make a ‘deal’ with God or negotiate a contract with Him? Perhaps a contract that might say something like: “If I do this, God, then you will do what I want, at the timing I want, in the way that I want you to do it. And if you do that, God, then you’ll get a great referral from me to my network. Now, please give me a ‘sign’ that you agree to this contract, and we’ll get right to this matter in the way described above.  Please note God: Time is of the essence for the completion of the work described in this contract. It is anticipated by the parties that all work described herein will be completed within two (2) weeks of the date of execution, which is right now, and that any delay in the completion of the work described herein shall constitute a breach of this contract and a negative review on ‘Yelp.’”  

In our human interactions with God we often want a contract; but God doesn’t do contracts, He makes covenants!

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Here are a few thoughts to ponder as you think about the ‘contracts’ you try to make with God, whether you are aware of it or not.

  1. God can control everything in the entire universe. It was all made by Him, and it is only in Him that ‘we live and move and have our very being’.  He is a far better and more powerful Person to be in control of our lives than we are—even the wind and waves obey Him! (Mark 4:41)

  2. His ways are higher than our ways. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 ESV) Consider this, Daniel would not have experienced the miracle of seeing the mouths of the lions shut had he not been in the lion’s den.  Rahab’s house was on the walls of Jericho, the very walls that God planned to have fall down for Joshua and his army. Yet, God made it possible that where she lived on that wall she and her household were saved.  

  3. We are to seek first God’s kingdom and He will add to us everything else that we need.  This is a promise from God.  “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. ‘But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:32-34 ESV

Do you know how to seek God first?  You may want to check out this page for more tips on ‘how to grow and have a relationship with Jesus’. The woman I was mentoring wanted to seek her desires first, and then to add God. That mixed up order resulted in her experiencing worry and anxiety that got increasingly worse the more she tried to control the situation with which she was dealing.  I know it’s an old cliche, but it’s true:  “It’s time to ‘let go and let God.’”  As a believer, when you fully begin to trust Him, and your actions back-up your proclaimed faith in Him, then you will experience peace that is beyond anything you could hope or imagine.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."  John 14:26-27 ESV

What are the ways that you seek God first? Please share below.

Written by Jamie Shave

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?