Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness: A Time to Leave

Hey guys!  I just wanted to stop by my blog and let you all know that I wrote an article for Team Jesus Magazine about domestic violence and it was published just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month!  Most of you know that I work as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, so it was only right that I write an article about it.  Please check it out at https://teamjesusmag.com/domestic-violence-awareness-a-time-to-leave/.

Let me know what you think.

Much love,

Shaw

Elevate

Don’t Lie On Me

 

IMG_6475-1

So something you all may not know about me is that I fiercely believe in living in truth and respect for others.  I can honestly say that this is something that I model daily.  Being that I value truth and respect so deeply, these are the only two things that I get really upset about.  When I say upset, I mean UPSET.  If I feel like someone is being disrespectful towards me or if I know that someone has lied on me, I have been known to go into a place of unholy anger.  A place that requires me to seek God in order to escape.  Because I know myself, I try to live my life in a way that gives no one a chance to be disrespectful because I’m always going to be respectful to everyone.  I also try my best to be very transparent and I live by the rule that you shouldn’t do anything that would be embarrassing if someone else knew.  I feel like this saves me from feeling the urge to lie and doesn’t give anyone the opportunity to lie on me.  To be clear, to lie on me is considered disrespectful.

The Angry Place

This is a story that only my husband and a few close friends know that I am going to share.  And I’m going to share just to show how faithful God is in fulfilling His promises.  A couple of years ago a woman that I considered to be my friend lied on me.  And not only was it a horrible lie, it could have cost me something very important to me.  Sadly, I would not have even known that she lied, but the person who controlled “the very important thing” called and asked me about it.  I was so furious that I couldn’t even sleep the night I found out about the lie.  The woman who lied is not someone that I could avoid, at this point I saw her on an almost daily basis.  So I tried to figure out why she lied and I couldn’t come up with any other answer than that she lied to get herself out of trouble.  This fact made my anger worse, because why would she try to get me into trouble with a lie when the consequences would have been the same for her as it was for me?  Then I started to rehearse how I would confront her about the lie, because the level of anger I was at was not the level that would allow me to let the lie slide.  I had to pray that my words would come out right and that I would say what needed to be said without being disrespectful and without sinning.  

The Confrontation

When the time came, I told the truth in a way that left no room for the lie to prevail.  The woman who lied on me ended up admitting that what she accused me of did not happen.  And I remembered God’s promise in Isaiah 54:17 “‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.”  God did not allow this weapon (the lie) to win the battle against me and I was able to refute the tongue of the woman who lied on me.  This is a promise that I have seen fulfilled firsthand.  What I realized during that confrontation made me pray for the woman who lied on me.  I saw a fear in her that I have never known.  And although I was still angry that she lied on me, I prayed for her because I knew that she did so out of desperation.  I also had to be obedient to God’s Word in Luke 6:27-28 (NIV) “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  In this moment, I decided to just love her.

Don’t Lie On Me

I was able to move on.  I still had to see the woman regularly so I decided that ,although I did not trust her anymore, I would put this past me and at least have a friendly relationship with her.  Things were going well for over a year and then she struck again.  She told another lie that was in her own self-interest.  I could not believe it!  Another lie that definitely would have cost me the same thing that I love had it been believed.  And again, it was behind my back so I was caught off guard.  Except this time I was armed with the promises of God.  Enough time had passed and my faith had been strengthened so much that I learned from the previous lie and was able not to be so upset, as a matter of fact, I didn’t react in the same way at all.  When I was asked about the lie, I told the truth and decided to let my word be my word.  I believed the Word of God was true in Exodus 14:14 (MSG) that says, “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!”  The only time that I spoke about the lie was when I was initially asked what really happened.  I didn’t confront the woman about the lie.  I didn’t worry about it after I told the truth.  I just stood on God’s promise and let Him fight my battle for me.  And you know what?  It worked!  The entire dilemma handled itself without me from that point on and it was proven that I did not lie.  The beautiful thing is that no one even believed the lie to begin with.  The woman that lied on me suffered the consequences and I am still cordial with her when I see her.  Luckily, God has pretty much removed her from my life, I only see her occasionally now and it’s never long enough for her to fabricate any stories concerning me.  I know this happened because I kept God’s command to pray for those who mistreat me.  1 John 3:21-23 says, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.”

I know that this may seem like a petty example of how God keeps all of His promises.  But it shows that if you believe, you can apply God’s promises to any area of your life.  When you start looking for ways that God has shown Himself faithful it helps to increase your faith in Him.  Start looking for God to show up in every situation, I guarantee that you will find Him carrying out His promises.

Elevate

Still, You Must Live!

 

Still, You Must Live

I don’t consider myself a Bible scholar, I’m just a woman trying her best to follow Jesus and make God proud. With that being said, I cannot say with certainty that we are living in the end times, but what I can say is that we are living in uncertain times. By uncertain I mean that you never know what new tragedy you will read about on any given day. Just this morning, right before I began writing this post, I read about a woman being beat by the police for having an open container on the beach, I read about a toddler hanging from a balcony without the knowledge of the parent, and I read about an 11 year old who committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a 16 story building. Not to mention the almost daily stories of missing children, mass shootings, war, and rumors of war.
This world has no shortage of real life horror stories. I wish that I could protect my children and just keep them in my house, homeschool them, and feed my family from our farm. The problem with this is that I don’t have a farm and even if I did, I wouldn’t know the first thing about farming. My husband and I both have to work for a living so keeping the children home and homeschooling is off the table. It’s hard not to have a sense of trepidation every time I drop my kids off at school in the morning, but because God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) I cannot allow the state of the world to paralyze me and my family. This is where I replace fear with the promises of God.
This week’s promise come from John 10:28 NKJV:
John 10:28
This is the promise of Eternal Security that the sheep of Jesus can hold on to in the moments where we are just afraid to make a late night store run in a safe neighborhood because human trafficking is everywhere. Jesus has promised us that no matter what happens to us on earth or in heaven, we will live eternally just because we choose to follow Him. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, we have to have the faith to know that we are in His hand and the enemy doesn’t have enough power to snatch us out.
I also think about this promise when I think back on my younger days and how I could have easily headed down the wrong path in life. It makes me pretty emotional thinking of all the things I have done wrong in life, so many mistakes that I willingly made without caring about the consequences. Because I have free will, Jesus let me make those mistakes but He never took His hand off of me. He held onto me because before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me and set me apart for His holy purpose (Jeremiah 1:5 GW).
John 10:28 is not just speaking of life as we know it, this verse is telling us that no matter where we are, heaven or earth, we will always be with our Creator. So even if tragedy strikes “we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV). So go out and live! Do what God will have you to do without fear of could happen. I’m going to leave you with this Word from God, “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.  All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”(Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV).

 

Elevate

Answered Prayers

answered prayers

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5: 14-15 NIV 

One of my first posts on Elevate Through Faith was called “God Promised” and in that post I discussed what I consider the ultimate promise: John 14:2-3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”. I consider this the ultimate promise because my end goal is to be with Jesus on the throne (Revelation 3:21).
Throughout the Bible, there are several thousands of promises that God has given us. Because I know that God cannot tell a lie, I know that I can rest in these promises without hesitation or doubt. When I originally wrote the post “God Promised” I planned to do a series about God’s promises but did not know where to start because there are way too many to choose from. I recently received a mailing from In Touch Ministries and inside the package was an envelope with nine flash cards of scriptures with some of God’s promises printed onto them. I decided that this was perfect for me because it took away some of the agonizing that I would undoubtedly do if I had to choose the promises myself. So this is the first blog in my God Promised Series, so stay tuned for more!
The Promises of GodThis is the envelope that the flashcards are in.
1 John 5: 14-15 declares that if we ask God for anything that is in alignment with His will, that God hears us and that He will give us what we ask.
Let’s take a look at 2 Kings 20 which tells the story of how God granted a prayer from a righteous man, Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the king of Judah and in this text, he was deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah went to visit the king to give him a message from God. The message from Isaiah was “This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness” (2 Kings 20:1 NLT).  Hezekiah started to pray immediately because he was not ready to die. In his prayer to God, Hezekiah reminded God that he had lived a faithful life, devoted his life to serving the Lord, and lived righteously. Before the prophet Isaiah had left the grounds, God spoke to him, telling Isaiah to go back and deliver a new message from Him. Isaiah did as instructed and told Hezekiah, “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 20: 5-6 NIV). God not only extended Hezekiah’s life, but He also gave Hezekiah a bonus blessing by delivering his city from Assyria. Remember God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).  What I love about this text is how confidently King Hezekiah approached God in prayer, not once did he ask God to add years to his life, he reminded God of why he deserved to live. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer because it is within God’s will to grant the requests of the righteous.
I love to write my prayers in a journal, I’ve been doing it for years. Recently I found one of my journals from 2013 in which I prayed for my husband to start attending church with me. I honestly forgot about this prayer until I found the journal a few weeks ago, and my husband and I have been attending church for years at this point. Finding a church home has meant so much to my family and we are both serving in our church. But the level of faith that my husband has reached since we became members is astonishing. But that’s not my point. My point is that I asked God in prayer for my husband to start attending church, and because my request was within His will, He gave me what I asked. And not only did He give me what I asked, He far surpassed what I asked. That is the Ephesians 3:20 blessing! God is so faithful that He goes above and beyond for His children. And God gets the glory for everything that has transpired since then. Our lives are so much better, our relationship with each other is so much better. And I credit it all to God!
As you see from my example, God did not grant my request immediately, because He knows what steps need to take place before He gives us what we ask for. There are definitely times where God will not give us what we ask for in prayer because what we have asked for is not within His will. But the truth is that most of the time we ask God for things that we aren’t even prepared to receive. Sometimes our character needs some work, sometimes other events need to precede our requests, sometimes we need to leave some of the people in our social circle, and other times we need to meet someone new who will be instrumental in our prayers being answered. Trust God’s timing and know that if your prayers are not answered immediately, they are at least in progress. How can I be so confident in this you ask? I am confident because God promised.
Elevate

You Have the Favor of God

Favor of God

Psalm 5:12 (NIV) Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield

I have been thinking a lot about how the favor of God is evident in my life. I notice it so often in my marriage, in my relationship with my children, and at work. And I wanted to drop by on the blog today to let my readers know that they have the favor of God too! Dictionary.com defines favor in several ways, but there are two definitions that I want to highlight. 1. “Something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act.” 2. “Excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment.” Biblestudytools.com defines favor as “gaining approval, acceptance, or special benefits or blessings.” This website also states that, “The favor that human beings receive from God depends on his good pleasure and is often extended in response to prayer or righteous living.” I could not agree more. God’s favor is a blessing because He is not required to give us favor. My hope is that when you are done reading this post that you will see that favor surrounds you too!
Since I was a young child, I have never had any interest in cooking. My mother, who is a great cook, would often invite my sister and I into the kitchen as she was preparing meals to teach us how to cook. I cannot recall one time that I took her up on her offer. The thought of cooking was so unpleasant that when I was around 12 or 13 years old, I remember praying that God would send me a husband who liked to cook. Many years later I met my husband, Kevin. “Coincidentally,” Kevin is the greatest chef I have ever met. I would rather eat my husband’s food over any chef in any great restaurant that I have tasted. My husband is so great at his craft that whenever we go to a restaurant and I find a dish that I really love, my husband recreates it at home and it is always much better. He loves cooking for me and our family. This is not a coincidence at all, this shows the favor of God has followed me since I was a child.Psalm 23:6 (NASB) says, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”.  I consider myself a blessed woman.
Open your eyes! Things that happen that you deem “coincidental” or “good luck” are really God’s way of showing you His favor. The more you look for favor, the more you will notice it. As believers, we also have to start expecting God’s favor. I have been reading “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen and he speaks on favor in a way that I have never heard. In one passage Osteen states, “My attitude is: I’m a child of the Most High God. My Father created the whole universe. He has crowned me with favor, therefore, I can expect preferential treatment” (p. 39).  Imagine being bold enough to make these same declarations in your life. God wants you to have this kind of faith in who He is and who you are. Our Father, the King of all kings, desires that His children remember that they are royalty and expect to be treated as such.
I have another example that concerns my husband. When Kevin was hired for his current job, he was told that he would have to work third shift. Although we needed him to take the job, we were both dreading the third shift hours. It would also mean that he would miss out on time with the children. And we were all so used to daddy being at home and available to the family. Kevin is such a great husband and father that the lack of his presence would have been difficult to deal with. Kevin had about a month of training before he was to start working third shift. During this time we prayed for a smooth transition. But once his training was over, his supervisors noticed that he was a hard worker with a great attitude and Kevin was never asked to go to third shift. This is preferential treatment! This is the favor of God! Psalm 84:11 (ESV) says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly”.
Do not leave yet, because you have homework! Every night for seven days I want you to take a journal and write down every good thing that happened that day, no matter how big or small. After you have them all written down, reflect on what sequence of events took place to bring about the good thing. Ask yourself these questions: Were these events planned by you? Could you have pulled it off alone? Was it a miracle? Did it seem coincidental? Then, thank God for each good thing on your list. Remember, Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17, NLT).
Conversations

Remember, Someone is Always Watching

Remember Someone is Always Watching

Hebrews 10:24 NIV: And let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds.
My original plan for this post was to discuss Hebrews 10:25 NIV, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. But in speaking with my husband, Kevin, and my twenty year old daughter, Denah, we looked at Hebrews 10:24 and started discussing what it means to “spur one another toward love and good deeds”. Denah said that she sees good deeds being behaviors or actions displayed by believers that encourage those who don’t go to church or who don’t believe to want to know more about the faith. And she is absolutely right! When I meditated on this verse, I see that Paul is telling believers to truly give thought to how we are perceived by others because what they see in us can either spur them on “toward love and good deeds” or drive them away from Christianity and the church. 1 Timothy 4:16 NLT states, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you”. This verse reminds us to keep in mind that there are always people watching and judging, not only you, but Christianity as a whole. And as ambassadors for Christ, every thing we say and do should be righteous in order to win people back to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT). No matter how much good you’ve been caught doing, the bad is what is most remembered.
The best thing a nonbeliever can witness is a believer acting out his or her faith, not just being a mouthpiece for the Gospel (which is a good thing!), but we have to always back up our words with our actions. To be completely honest, someone who does not believe is going to be spurred more towards love (which is God) by what you do and the integrity and joy in which you do it than by any speech you give. You are a new creation, remember to show it! Not only are nonbelievers watching, so are other Christians. There are still some skeptical Christians, who are less mature in the faith, and they are watching you even more closely because they need holy models to keep them encouraged and keep them digging deeper into their relationship with Christ.
I have mentioned in a previous post that I am an advocate for domestic violence survivors and work in a domestic violence shelter. The organization that I work for is a non-religious based nonprofit, so I cannot freely proclaim the Gospel to my clients. But as a Christian, it is my job to let my “light shine before others, that they may see [my] good deeds and glorify [my] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). So my good deeds are: always being kind, being nonjudgmental, being someone that they can trust, a shoulder to cry on, going above and beyond to be helpful, and always give them 100%. It is truly amazing, because without me ever saying a word about my beliefs, many of my clients come to me and assume that I am a Christian. And they slowly start asking me Biblical and Christ-related questions. I consider it an honor, and although I cannot cross professional boundaries by saying everything I want to say, I can tell them where they can find better explanations to the questions than I am able to provide. The point is that my clients are watching me, and by my actions I am able to spur them towards love and good deeds. I don’t want to misrepresent my clients, so I will tell you that there are some of my clients who are already Christians. But I get these kinds of interactions with clients who are Christians and clients who don’t know what they believe.
 
I love the illustration in Titus 2:3-5 NIV
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Did you read what I just read? Only after the older women displayed godly behaviors are they THEN able to urge, or spur, the younger women to have the same godly behaviors. I’m going to leave you with this reminder…Remember, someone is always watching.

 

Elevate

The Holy Spirit-God’s Grace Within Us

Holy Spirit-God's GraceWithin US

Titus 2:11-13 NIVFor the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
 
I accepted Christ at a young age and at that time I did not have a full understanding of what it meant to be saved. I accepted Christ because I believed in Jesus and I believed in God. I did not know anything about the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, I barely knew much about Jesus as a kid. I knew God. I remember being taught that we should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV) and I wasn’t even sure how to do this. So instead of praying without ceasing, I talked without ceasing. I was always having a silent conversation with God, He was my confidant. As I grew up, we stopped going to church so my spiritual growth was at a halt. I still believed and I still talked to God like He was my best friend, but I did not learn all the things that I should have about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, faith, grace, forgiveness, etc. It was not until my twenties that I started to study the Bible on my own and go to church sporadically. In my late twenties I really began to get involved in church and became devoted to studying my Bible and developing a strong faith. Now I know Jesus and I know the Holy Spirit. I’m so amazed when I look back over my life and see how I was guided by the Holy Spirit although I did not realize the Holy Spirit at work in my life at the time. So many relationships I avoided that I thought I just knew better than to befriend them, but really it was the Holy Spirit directing my path. So many things that I never tried and not because I did not know people who were trying them but because I had wisdom from the Holy Spirit and did not know. There have been many things happened in my life that I thought was just coincidental and when I look at it now I know without doubt that I it had to be the Holy Spirit.
 
 
The Holy Spirit is one of God’s greatest gifts to us as believers. Luke 11:13 NIV says that “The Holy Spirit is a gift of grace”. The Holy Spirit is the constant evidence of God’s grace because the Holy Spirit now indwells in us. John 14:15-17 ESV states, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
 

I hear a lot of talk about grace and a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit but usually they are not spoken of together. So in this post, I just want to put the two together and show why the Holy Spirit is the greatest gift of grace ever given. First, let’s look at Titus 2:11-13 NIV, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Although these verses describe grace, they also describe the Holy Spirit. And I would venture to say that these verses are intentionally describing the Holy Spirit. When you look at the whole chapter of Titus 2, it details how we should set examples for those watching us. Without the Holy Spirit indwelling within us, we could not set good examples because we would be subject to the flesh which would not allow us to live godly lives. We would have no self-control without the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16-17 NIV says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh”.
 
Let’s look at the similarities of grace and the Holy Spirit based off of Titus 2:11-13:
 
In my opinion, the Holy Spirit is the best representation of God’s grace. Without the Holy Spirit, believers would not be able to operate in the grace described in Titus 2:11-13, because the Holy Spirit gives us the temperament and the instruction to live godly lives. I am glad that I serve a God who knew that I could not live a holy life without help and gave me a Helper.
 
Much love until next time,
 
Shaw
Elevate

High Expectations Seasoned with Grace

High Expectations with Grace

Philippians 3:14 (KJV), “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.
 
 
 
When my 7 year old, Felicity, was around 4 years old she was a wee bit mischievous and I found myself correcting her quite often. One particular time, I don’t remember what she did, but I do remember telling her not to do it. Would you believe that she did it anyway? I was so upset that I raised my voice at her and she burst into tears. It broke my heart to see her cry but I just could not get over the fact that I told her not to do something and instead of keeping my command, she did it any way. I picked Felicity up and carried her to the couch to explain why I was upset. Through tears she said, “I’m sorry mommy. Do you forgive me?” I replied, “Of course I forgive you baby, I will always forgive you.” Ever since that day, I have had numerous similar conversations with all my children, usually stemming from them being disobedient. As they have gotten older, I have increased my level of expectations for each in regards to how they communicate when they are upset, what chores they are given and how I expect them to be completed, I expect them to complete our normal routines without having to be prodded over and over, I expect them to listen and follow instructions without complaining or procrastinating (depending on the age of the child that I’m talking to), etc. Now I rarely have days where all of these things happen, so instead of getting angry and raising my voice I have chosen just to correct them and forgive them. I find that I am like a broken record because I’m constantly explaining my expectations to my kids. I do this because I can’t give up although that would make my life easier, because my goal is to raise kids who can function without their parents one day. I fully look forward to the day where all of my kids are adults, living on their own, and productive citizens to society and the Kingdom. But until that day comes, I cannot grow weary if I expect to reap the harvest that I want.
 
Does this sound familiar? Being told not to do something but doing the exact thing we were told not to do? Disobedience with forgiveness as a given? High expectations that are not met consistently? Being told the same thing over and over only to complain or procrastinate? Constant correction done in love? Our relationship with God mirrors our relationship with our children so much that I am almost certain that one of God’s purposes for giving us children is so that we can see the error in our own ways. In my post Self-Reliance is NOT a Kingdom Principle, I mentioned that God has high expectations of us. Which is why “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:6, NIV). Just like parents, when God gives us clear instruction, He expects us to follow directions. The Bible is full of God’s expectations of His children, and just like we do with our children, these expectations are repeated over and over again from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
 
 
 
These are just a few of God’s expectations and these are generally the ones that are the easiest to keep. I think of these as the basic commandments, these are the commandments we teach our young children. But as we become more mature in our faith, God’s level of expectation rises in the same way we increase our expectations of our children as they mature. Just read Colossians 3 for a detailed list of the expectations God has for believers who are mature in their faith. I’m going to give you Colossians 3:8 from the NIV for a little snippet. It states, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” This whole chapter is filled with instructions on what not to do and what to do. It is a wonderful representation of the expectations.
As I read through this list again just now, I saw a couple of things that I failed at just this week. Romans 3:23 NLT states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Although God sets the standard, He also knows that we will have a difficult time meeting the standard. The beautiful thing about our God is that He does not expect perfection but the constant striving to meet His expectations. In Philippians 3:14 KJV, Paul says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Even Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, was only striving; He did not meet all of God’s expectations, but he never gave up. That is what God expects from us, He gives us the standard to live by and then we judge ourselves by the standard. And when we fail, we correct ourselves and keep striving. The grace that we receive is that God continues to offer blessings upon blessings even though we continue to fall short of His standard. I do this same thing with Felicity every single day. There is not a day that goes by that she does something that she knows that she should not do, but there is also not a day that goes by that I don’t forgive her and show her my love in different ways. She doesn’t deserve many of the things she receives from her father and I, but it’s something about her humbleness and genuine apologies that makes us want to bless her with a new toy, a special excursion, or even a snack she loves. God does this for all of us if we just humble ourselves and genuinely repent of our sins. Remember God wants to bless us, the least we can do is eagerly attempt to do His Will.
Conversations

New Creation

New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).
 
That is the verse that I cling to on a daily basis. Make no mistake, I am a work in progress. There are days where I don’t feel like a new creation, the days where I’m not feeling especially friendly towards others. Sometimes I don’t want to extend grace to my clients because I’m frustrated with problems that I feel are no big deal, but are very big problems to them. There are days I yell at my kids because I’m short on patience and I forgot to ask God for His peace. I also have moments where I become upset at my husband because I expect him to read my mind, not realizing that while most of the time we are in tune with each others thoughts and feelings, that is not always the case. I have so many examples that I should be ashamed, but God continues to extend His grace to me when I don’t deserve it.
 
Just a few days ago, Kevin (my husband) and I were talking and he said something along the line of “Just because we are new creations does not mean that all of our thoughts are righteous thoughts, that’s why we have to continually take our thoughts captive”. Our conversation continued from there, but I knew that I wanted to write out my thoughts on that for this blog. I know that Kevin’s statement would have made a world of difference to me when I was newly saved, and it is still a good reminder for me. God does not expect us to no longer make mistakes, He does want us to repent and take the necessary steps to not repeat the same mistakes. Eventually we should get to the level of Christian maturity that we auto-correct our thoughts before they become our actions.
 
Let’s take this conversation to scripture. Becoming a new creation is not just a one-time event, it is a daily task. In Luke 9:23 (NIV) Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Every single day of your life you must deny your flesh and your will and choose to follow Jesus and strive to do the perfect will of your Father. Once you become born-again, the enemy’s attacks become more targeted and more frequent. Just know that these attacks are intended to make you feel unworthy of your calling in Christ Jesus. Jesus was tempted by Satan and gives the disciples wisdom on how to overcome temptation from the enemy. In Matthew 26:41 (NIV) Jesus says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.If Jesus was tempted by Satan, know that we will be tempted as well. If Jesus had to pray to not succumb to temptation, you better believe that we do too!
 
Satan is not your only problem as a Christian, your flesh is problematic as well. Galatians 5:17 (NIV) says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:19-21 goes on to name some of the things we battle within the flesh such as, sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfishness, and drunkenness to name a few. Just because we received the Holy Spirit when we were saved and became new creations does not mean that the flesh dissolved, in fact, it’s just as sinful as ever. But we have to be on guard and practice denying ourselves and accepting the Holy Spirit’s lead on all matters in our lives. The more we do that, the more disciplined we will become and the closer we get to being a true disciple. James 1:2-4 (NASB) states, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
 
So what can us Christians do daily to achieve our goal of denying the flesh and letting the Spirit lead? Well, I’m glad you asked! First, we need to realize thatwe have the mind of Christ, according to 1 Corinthians 2:16. Since we have the mind of Christ we can combat any attack that comes our way, whether the attack is from Satan or our flesh. Having the mind of Christ means that we can resist temptation, we can say no to sexual immorality, jealously, hate, judging others, and selfishness to live righteously. We have to renew our minds as it says in Romans 12:2 (NIV), “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” When situations arise that can easily lead us into an ungodly place, renew your mind that immediately. You have to be quicker than the flesh, that is why I always say stay on guard. Most bad decisions happen in a split second. That bad decision can be as simple as speaking negatively about another or lying to someone to stay out of trouble.
 
Being a Christian is not for that faint of heart, but the benefits of righteous living far outweigh anything that I had before I was saved. The joy alone is worth the journey. Knowing that I am living for God allows me to put away my selfish desires and do what I enjoy most, which is helping and empowering others. And having God work everything together for my good gives me a peace that truly helps to eliminate worries and fears. Add that to the fact that I’m going to Heaven, there is no greater goal that I have than being with my Father one day. Those are just some of the benefits that are impactful to me, you have to figure out what the benefits are to you. When you know how being a Christian is beneficial to you, then you can hold on to those benefits when times are hard and when things are falling apart but you don’t understand why.
 
I know that we have already looked at a lot of scripture today, but I want to leave you with two more to meditate on, in addition to the ones mentioned earlier, that you can recall when the enemy is attacking you or when your flesh and the Spirit has a battle.
 
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”