A shameless plug on the power of prayer.
The last week has held many changes. I am married. I live with a boy. I am a wife. Aside from my relationship with Jesus, Caleb is now my number one priority.
That’s a bit of a change from trying to date as a Christian, because I always felt that I had to, in many ways, keep him out of very serious parts of my heart. Now I have the command to give him all of it. Just a few words and he went from being something that could walk out of my life at any moment to the other half of my being. We are now, quite literally in God’s eyes, “one flesh.” It’s a lot to think about.
But one thing that was characteristic of the whole engagement, wedding, and the few days of marriage so far is prayer. We covered them thangs in prayer, baby. My husband Caleb, a cancer survivor, is no stranger to the power of prayer in life or death situations, but in these recent days, we’ve seen such a harvest of joy and peace in these lighthearted times that we know is the direct result of prayer.
It used to be so hard for me to understand that God truly delights in bringing joy to His children. God is so big, and I am so not worth it— what delight would it give a Holy God to make this sinner happy? But it does. The Bible tells that God delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18) and He loves to give good gifts to His kids (Matthew 7:7-11). Over the summer, I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of James, and Beth spoke briefly about what a shame it would be for us to miss out on something simply because we never asked. Granted, sometimes God doesn’t say yes to our prayers, and it’s because He knows better, but nonetheless prayer is interactive. Obviously prayer should be in line with the will of God— it doesn’t bring God glory to answer sinful prayers, or selfish prayers, but when we pray earnestly for something that is good and it glorifies God, can’t you imagine the smile on our Father’s face when He finally gets to answer “yes”? Wanna know why? Because we’ll know He is the source. We’ll know He did it. He will be glorified in our joy. Instead of pointing to our own works, which never get us anything, we’ll know that God is great, God is mighty, God is in charge, and God is loving!
We prayed over every aspect of our wedding and marriage. Every aspect we could think of, that is. We prayed over our sex life (sex was God’s idea, He knows how it’s supposed to go), we prayed over the guests that would be at the wedding and that God would glorify Himself through our wedding. We prayed that God would allow our marriage to be used by Him to make His glory known and to bring others to His love. And He’s doing that. These past few days of pure bliss are not due to romantic feelings that will go away, but due to the fact that our God, who sees the future, is never going to leave us. And even though we will see tough days, we have a God listening to our prayers, showing His love in so many ways, and blessing this marriage, because He joined us together til death do us part, and because marriage is His design. Marriage is His choice for a display of the Gospel, and will never forsake that. That’s such amazing and stabilizing news.
Something caught my eye as I was reading out of 1 Timothy 4. It says, “because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” Well, this troubled me a little bit, because those of us who are Christians have heard Jesus declare, “I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father except through me.” While I know salvation is and always will be extended to everyone, everywhere, until the end of the earth, because God created everyone, everywhere and loves them, I was troubled by the fact that this verse said he saves all people, especially those who believe. What does that mean? Does that mean faith is not necessary to be saved? No, because that would be contradictory to the Gospel, but does it allude to some mysterious caveat that I’d never heard of? Maybe. Those with a theology like mine always get a little stiff-necked when someone asks us to dip our toes into the waters of an unfamiliar theological implication, but let me just go somewhere, and if this strikes a chord with anyone, my goal was accomplished. Even if, and I’m NOT saying this is what this verse means… but even if it were implying that one day before the judgment day God were to give everyone a last minute opportunity to change their minds and trust in Him, faith in Him now would still be worth it. Abstaining from evils of this world and trusting in Christ, even when it’s unpopular, uncomfortable, and usually unnatural to do so would still absolutely be worth it. Why? Because our hearts were created for intimacy with our Creator. He can romance us and provide for us like no one else, because He is the only One who sees us for what we really are, what we really need, how we really need and want and crave to be loved and held and provided for and kept safe and exhilarated and made to laugh. Jesus tells a parable in Scripture about a land owner who hires men to work in his fields for the day. When the workers get their wages at the end of the day, some of them are infuriated that they got paid for their hours, but the men who were called later in the day still got a full day’s pay. What does Jesus say to that? The landowner’s money is his to give, and if he feels led to extend the same gracious wages to someone who didn’t work for him as long, that’s his prerogative. Similarly, if Jesus were to give some kind of catch-all last chance extension of grace to everyone who didn’t believe right before they had to stand before God, why would we be upset that they get the same grace that we get? Did we deserve our grace? Never. Did we miss out on a life of sin because we clung to Christ while we were here? NEVER. We’ve got to stop living like we’re missing out and start living like we’ve got the power of the Creator of the Universe exploding inside of us. We have life, we are free, we will never be alone or abandoned or condemned, and we have so much to share with those who don’t know this incredible freedom and love.
This morning, I texted this verse from the book of James to Caleb with the caption, “isn’t that cool?”
His response was even cooler, and it took me by surprise. “That’s what righteousness is. It’s always cool. :)”
That’s what righteousness is. Trusting God. Believing that He is who He says He is, and that He did what He said He did, and that He’s gonna do what He says He’s gonna do. THAT is the only righteousness I can ever claim— the righteousness that comes from God when I choose to stop believing in myself.
I will NEVER be able to produce righteousness and present it to the Lord.
But praise be to King Jesus, who presents us with righteousness produced by Himself and allows us to wear it like a royal robe. Today I hope to rest in the knowledge that God is not waiting for me to finally figure out how to be righteous. He is waiting for me to stop trying to be god and to trust in His capability to be God.
James 2:23- ”And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness’— and he was called a friend of God.”
In Acts chapter 14, Paul (at this point, a fairly new convert) and Barnabas are going from city to city proclaiming the Gospel. They would go into the Jewish synagogues and proclaim the glorious news that the long-awaited Messiah had come, and His name is Jesus Christ. In most of these cities, several people would be saved but several people would be terribly angry. In a place called Lystra, Paul performed a miraculous healing on a man who had been crippled from birth (verses 8-10). When the people saw this, they were so overwhelmed with joy that they began to spread rumors that Paul and Barnabas were gods in the flesh. They rejoiced and brought things to worship them with and to make sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. Before I tell you what happens next… I want to add a quick interjection about the apostle Paul. Paul was the cream of the crop in education, heritage, manners, knowledge, and before he met Christ, he’d been a legalistic Jew who was so infuriated by the ‘heresy’ of Christ’s equality with God that he went around killing Christians, trying to squash the Christian movement. Needless to say, he’d been given a heaping dose of humility when the early disciples were hesitant to trust him after his conversion. In his later writings, however, Paul discusses the issue of having pride in ourselves, and states that if anyone had the right to be proud, it was his old self. He’d been born of the best, raised by the best, taught by the best, and lived like the best this world had to offer… so we can safely bet he may have been able to identify with some of us and our tendencies to pride.
Now… back to Acts 14. Here’s the newly converted Paul and the ever-encouraging Barnabas performing a miracle, and the crowd is so delighted that they begin to worship Paul and Barnabas. Listen to what happens next. “But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: ‘Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowds from sacrificing to them. Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.”
Dang. As I was reading this passage, I was skipping along until I came to a screeching halt at the words, “they stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.” In real-life time, Paul would have had ample opportunity to fall into the temptation to just let them praise him and explain himself later, don’t you think? But to resist the praise and point to Jesus adamantly enough to let a mob of people trying to worship you turn into a crowd of people satisfied to watch you be stoned to a point of near death? Wow. It made me think of the unearned praises we get sometimes for doing what we’re called to do in Christ. But what scares me about myself is that I rarely do a good job at turning that away from myself and onto Christ. True, I’ve never had anyone worship me, but it gets pretty easy to say “Thank you!” to a compliment about how I lead worship than to say something as off-putting conversationally as “anything good in me is Christ. I did literally nothing to deserve His gifts.” That doesn’t flow as well when someone is trying to inch their way out of a sanctuary after church. But I want to be so disgusted with the idea of anyone but King Jesus receiving praise that I would be willing to die to know that the person ‘praising me’ understood the truth. Praise and encouragement are two different things, though. It is so good and so characteristic of the family of Christ that we encourage one another, don’t misunderstand my words, but it should also be so uncharacteristic of the family of Christ that anyone would dare to receive praise under the pretense of ‘doing God’s work.’ The church is God’s house, and I am not serving Him faithfully when I stand on stage and have a Giana concert. As those who are my family in Jesus and called to keep me accountable, let me never give off the impression that I am claiming any of that for myself.
Paul received more earthly beatings and bruises than nearly any other Christ-follower named in Scripture, but he was a changed man who understood that he didn’t deserve special treatment for being born into a certain family or getting a good education or even being a servant who sacrificed his life for the cause of Christ. He was the man who would later pen the words, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” Phillipians 3:8-9.
Today I am praying the declaration of John the Baptist. “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
This is so hard for me, and I think for a lot of us, because we have so much excitement about our potential. Sometimes that’s not even in a cocky way. I discovered just a few short years ago that I love to sing, and I’m not terrible at it. I love to write and have aspirations to use that love to be published someday. I have all of these little sparks of ideas— beginnings of dreams— that I am personally excited about. So to die to myself every day and say, “ok. whatever I have planned for myself is not as good as what God has for me,” is really hard. To the world, it even seems nonsensical. I mean, He’s the one who gave us our individual talents and skills. So I find it easy to justify seeking after my own dreams with the pretense that since the talents are His, my dreams are His as well. Don’t get me wrong, striving for excellence humbly does glorify God, and He does desire for us to develop and use our talents in a way that serves others and Honors Him, but giving up the reins can be really painful sometimes. So my prayer for myself this morning is that I will allow Him to replace the filth in me with the Perfect Love that is in Him. When I am full of the Holy Spirit, my dreams will be oriented towards loving others, and that is much better than exalting myself.
With all of the technology and social media available to us today, it is easier than ever to preach the gospel of ourselves. I want to use it to make Jesus Christ known instead.
Throughout Scripture, God parallels nations with individuals. For example, the whole Old Testament is the story of Israel, God’s chosen people, and how they continue to rebel and how He continues to show grace. This parallels the way He cares for and pursues each of us individually. The book of Jonah is no exception. If you’ve heard of the story of Jonah, you probably are thinking it’s about a big fish. But in actuality the focal points of Jonah are God’s pursuit of Nineveh (a city) and His pursuit of Jonah (a person).
A quick rundown of the story goes as follows: God asks Jonah to go preach God’s word to Nineveh (a sleezy city. Think Vegas). Jonah runs away. Literally. Buys a ticket for a ship [midnight train] going anywhere. (Don’t stop believing.) So God brings a storm and the crew of the ship figures out that Jonah brought the storm on them. (These guys believe in bad luck, casting lots, etc.) So Jonah fesses up and lets them throw him overboard so they can be saved. Then— and I love how this is written in Scripture— God had *appointed* a fish to swallow Jonah. Not to punish him, but rather to keep him safe from the sea and give him a little time to think. When Jonah had surrendered to the idea of preaching to save Nineveh, he was spit out onto shore. So Jonah tells the city of Nineveh about the Lord, and lo and behold, they repent! The King issues a decree that the whole place should fast and repent of their sinful ways. And get this. Jonah is pissed. He says to God, in so many words, ’I knew you were going to forgive them. Why did you send me all the way up here. You are a God of mercy and that’s why I ran away.’ Pretty much, this is the religious kid that’s pissed about God loving the nonreligious kid. Familiar, huh. So the story gets better. Jonah hikes up to pout somewhere and watch to see if God randomly decides to blow the city up anyways. (He doesn’t.) But in the mean time, God *appoints* a plant to sprout up and give Jonah shade. Jonah is obviously happy about this. But when Jonah wakes up in the morning, the plant has withered. Jonah gets so angry about being hot while he’s pouting that he literally tells God he is angry enough to die. This is where God comes in with one of his awesome sarcastic argument winners. “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Hahaha. ‘Jonah, you’re a baby. You are angry enough to kill yourself over a weed that you didn’t even try taking care of. But I made every single person in that city, shouldn’t I care if they destroy themselves??’
Now, looking at the big picture. It is clear that God’s intent for Nineveh was to be saved. He intentionally sent a prophet out to them to tell them how to be saved, to tell them to stop raping and killing each other and seek the Lord. Clearly His intention was not to just destroy the city. But He also had some tough love in mind for Jonah. If God were less loving, He could have let Jonah drown on that ship, or be eaten by the fish, or be mobbed in Nineveh. Or worse, He could have let Jonah run away and never again associate with Jonah. But God loved Jonah, and took the time to cleverly discipline Him. God, who doesn’t need Jonah, watches Jonah reject Him, run away from Him, lie to Him, disobey Him, and He STILL doesn’t write Jonah off. Not only does He forgive Jonah, but He allows Jonah to be the messenger of God’s Holy Word. What amazing love! What forgiveness! God pursued this sinner and lovingly taught him. As a Christian today, so often I believe that God couldn’t use me because of my sin. Not only CAN God use me, He WILL use me. Despite my sin. God loves me enough to chase me, teach me, correct me, and still use this broken vessel to share His Word. How crazy!
Poet Robert Frost said, “after Jonah, you could never trust God NOT to be merciful again.” Jonah had hoped for some action. He had put trust in God not saving Nineveh so that his trip would be ‘worth it.’ Maybe some fire or explosions to destroy the city. What a proud snob. But in reality, God was showing great mercy to Jonah himself. Even now, we can’t trust God NOT to show mercy to sinners. Including us. How freaking amazing is that. Thank you Jesus Christ for chasing after us and giving us the forgiveness we run away from.
the Bible is full of cases that prove that we can’t be good without Jesus.
so why do Christians still try?
why do I still try?
I believe that I was made to write. Many people are. When I feel thoughts welling up, I immediately feel the need to pass them on. What I should probably do is keep them hidden until they are book-sized, instead of spending these thoughts here and there, but nonetheless, I feel the compelling urge to share with whomever may stumble across this blog post the things that God has been teaching me.
This post may be really uncomfortable, as it is probably the most vulnerable and abstract post I’ve written to date, but I feel it necessary to write.
In the past year or so, since I’ve been out of college, I’ve noticed two negative changes in myself. 1) Since I’ve been working all the time and been spending 14 hours a day outside of my house, I’ve eaten a lot of fast food and have put on a lot of weight. (This will tie in to something I promise) and 2) Since I’ve been working all the time and been spending 14 hours a day outside of my house, I’ve found myself really really not wanting to read the Bible. When I finally get home, I want to ‘relax.’ Watch a movie. Go on Facebook. Sleep. Do anything except for study the Word of God. Now, I love Jesus. I want to know Him. I want to be like Him. I love the Bible and every time I open it and read, I feel so thankful and humbled that He called me to read out of His Holy Word. But it’s the impetus to start reading it that has gotten me to sinfully point to reasons why I’ll read “tomorrow.” ‘I’m too tired.’ ‘God, I have to spend time with my friends.’ ‘God I have a headache.’ Wait a second… God I have a headache!! Doesn’t that sound like the excuse that wives on sitcoms use to deny their husbands of sex when they’re annoyed with them?? Did I just say that to God? Here’s the Creator of the Universe, trying to initiate intimacy with me and I’m giving Him the “I have a headache” card? Whattt? When did I become that way?
It is at first unnatural for us to equate sex with intimacy with God, because so often we view sex as dirty. For me, since I’m unmarried and a virgin, my understanding of it is unfortunately largely influenced (and tainted) by what society portrays it to be. To the world, God and sex don’t mix. Or at least they shouldn’t if you’re “normal.” But in reality, sex is God’s gift to married couples to give them a tiny glimpse of the intimacy that He desires with His people. When I’m ending my day and God nudges on my heart to read the Bible, He’s inviting me to enjoy intimacy with Him. (Please resist the urge to think of this as awkward. Intimacy is supposed to be pure, not shameful.) Usually in my readings, I come across passages that indicate that He is telling me He loves me. He is promising me hope of a future time when we will be together, face to face. Times when I will know His love without any limitations. Doesn’t that sound like romance to you? So you can imagine how abruptly rude it sounds to Him when I say, “no, God. I can’t read right now. I have a headache. Let me watch a re-run of a Food Network show on my laptop before bed instead.”
So lately I’ve been really convicted about why I haven’t been feeling like studying the Word of God. On the surface, the easy answer is—I’m too busy. I’ve overloaded myself. But when I am really honest with myself, the truth is that I’ve been avoiding real alone time with God because I’m nervous. I know there’s a lot in the past year that doesn’t make Him proud. Chiefly the way I’ve so often neglected our relationship. I feel unfit for Him, so I have avoided giving myself to Him out of fear of what He’ll see. Obviously I understand that He already sees my heart, and all of its filth, but there’s a submissive part of offering yourself over for daily inspection and sanctification that requires vulnerability and humility. I feel that not only have I physically become less beautiful, but spiritually as well. I have felt ashamed of the way I am, and I have tried to refrain from presenting myself this way to God.
As sad as it is to write these words, I know there is hope and beauty that will come from this part of my life. The Bible teaches us that the Church is the bride of Christ. He chose us, and He does not want us to fear giving ourselves to Him. For a long time, I have wanted the privileges of His protection, His blessings, and His power, but I have not wanted to give myself to Him in love the way a bride does for her husband. (Like I warned, this God and sex parallel makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but I am simply comparing a life of loving God to the way a bride loves her groom.) There should be no shame when I approach the throne of God to pray or read Scripture, because the blood of Jesus alone has made me a worthy Bride. He wants to love on me and teach me how to live for Him and how to love others, but that requires that I have the faith to approach Him without shame, knowing that He sees me as beautiful because He saved me by grace. When He looks at me, He no longer sees the grime of sin all over me, because the blood of Jesus has clothed me in righteousness that I could never earn. But when I hide from my God, the way Eve ran from Him, I show that I do not trust Him. I do not want to be seen because I am not looking to His grace but rather looking to myself as my functional savior. The physical changes in my appearance this year have mirrored the spiritual laziness and shame and gunk that have built up in my heart as a result of hiding from intimacy with God. I have wanted Him as a Savior, but not as a Lord. I’ve become the wife that spends her husband’s money and demands her husband’s time but never physically loves on him. Sex in a Christian, healthy marriage should be a constant expression of love and grace and self-sacrifice. In that same vein, obedience to Christ should be out of love, not obligation. (Especially because Christ Jesus doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. When He calls us to obey, it’s because He wants to bless us, bless others through us, and show His beauty, which saves the world.) And there should be no hiding or shame. Jesus knows there’s a lot in me that needs to be fixed, but He is not less in love with me because of it. Just like I hope my parents and my boyfriend and my friends don’t love me less just because I don’t look like I did my senior year of high school.
But lastly, I have to have the faith and patience to know that these conditions, although they definitely can and will be healed, take time. I didn’t gain all this weight and become so spiritually lazy and afraid overnight, and I won’t be able to wake up tomorrow and be where I was a year ago, but I think that God has allowed me to have this physical reminder of the diligence and determination that “running the race” of faith requires. God promises that He will give me the strength I need to pursue Him and keep living for Him, but I have to get off my butt. Hopefully I can work towards being physically healthy and have it as a daily reminder of the spiritual fitness I desire. ** Important note—I am not saying that you’re in sin if you’re not skinny. I will never be skinny. But I have mistreated my body in many ways by neglecting it. And the Bible teaches that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and for me to claim to love Him, but to treat my body like garbage, would be to deceive myself.
As uncomfortable as it was to write all of this to whoever, if anyone, will read it, it is because I write about God a lot, but I don’t want to give the impression to anyone that walking with God is about hiding reality. This is where I am, and half of it you can see by looking at me, but the spiritual half I can hide if I try. And that’s not the way it should be. Being a part of the family of Christ means exposing your weaknesses and confessing them. If you are a Christian, do not be afraid to present yourself to God and please don’t run from His invitations to know Him more. I promise He only has His best in mind for you. And if you’re not, I pray that you will come to know this Amazing God. Jesus is the most wonderful Love.
Just a little seed of thought.
In the New Testament, specifically Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the books that catalog Jesus Christ’s time on earth) we see several instances of people— blind people, sick people, hurting people, paralyzed people, and yes, even the family members of dead people— approaching Jesus frantically asking for healing. And most of the time, He responds with “your faith has healed you.” And they are instantly healed and go on their way. Well, Jesus is mysterious and beyond complete comprehension of humans this side of Heaven, but the reason why He says this reveals a lot about the way we as Christians should be living our lives.
“Your faith has healed you.” Jesus saw that these people knew enough about His character and believed enough in His power to ask for healing with confidence that He COULD and WOULD do it. They didn’t approach Him like He was a mall Santa Claus. Those people that received this response from Jesus had demonstrated, through their urgency and sincerety, that they knew He was the source of healing. They knew He was capable, and they were humble enough to ask for help from this Healing Savior.
As Christians living 2000 years later, I believe that the Father still wants us to demonstrate our faith by bringing our problems to Him. Those people in need of healing didn’t let Jesus walk past, raise their hands and say, “nah, man. I’ll get it eventually. I can do this on my own. Thanks though.” They chased Him with all their might and fell down before Him, knowing He was more than powerful enough and more than merciful enough to heal them. Not only can God already see everything that troubles us, but He is the solution to any problem we have. His character and His heart and His person are the solution to our sinfulness, to our struggles, to our weaknesses. Have the faith today to run to Him, believing enough in His power and His mercy to ask for the help He already knows you need. I’m not talking about someone to give you everything on your Christmas list. And I’m not talking about Name-it-claim-it, late night tv pastors telling you creepy weird stuff. I’m saying, God can see your heart, its wounds…Your fears. Your struggles. Trust Him enough to confess those to Him. Ask Him for wisdom, strength, healing. He loves to bless His children. Not because we are beautiful, but because HE is.
If you feel like you have asked God for healing and He has not brought it… evaluate more closely what you are asking Him for, and what behind that is the heart issue that needs healing. His love is too great to allow us to settle for less than His best.
The other day I read a quote by Beth Moore about how God definitely has a plan for each of our lives, but so does the Devil. To make Satan out to be unwise or ignorant is a very grave mistake. Not only does he know Scripture and twist it, but he knows what our weaknesses are. He’s got you down to a science. And what he lacks in knowledge, he makes up for in persistence.
So I got to thinking, for some questionable reason, about what might happen if I fall away from God’s hand and become a slave to Satan’s idea about how Giana Lopez’s life should go. I imagined drastic things, things like drugs or eating disorders or crime or several unwanted pregnancies. I imagined a coked out version of myself and thought how that would please my Enemy. But then, a scarier thought dawned on me. What if Satan’s plan for my life entailed ‘everything I’d ever wanted.’ What if, by giving me my most shallow desires, he could steer me away from the Loving Hand of the Father. What if through money or romance or fame, all of which fall away, he could steal from me the eternal significance that only Jesus Christ can offer. This is far worse than if I’d ended up as president of the dregs of society. I began to wonder if Satan’s plan for my life is more similar to my plan for my life than Christ’s. You know, Satan doesn’t have to work that hard to get us to ruin our lives. We tend to gravitate towards foolishness on our own. So how can I be sure that where I am right now is not a part of this great master plan to destroy me? Well… first I wanna say that the Lord makes it very clear that Satan is real (Ephesians 6:12-13), and that he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). So, even if I think things are great, Satan’s goal is still to rob Jesus of glory and rob me of the chance to know Jesus. So that means I can’t really look at circumstances to ‘assure’ me that I’m on the right path. Even a marriage without adultery can be a place where Satan is wreaking havoc. Even being surrounded by other Christians can be a vulnerable place. Look at how many churches have bickering staff members and pastors who are having secret affairs. I can never look at my current status or surroundings as proof that Satan’s not having his way in my life.
So what can I look to? The only answer is Christ. Having a real, intimate relationship with Jesus is the only way to avoid taking Satan by the hand and embarking on his terrible and empty journey for your life. I have to trust the Holy Spirit to protect me, to convict me when I’m starting to turn in the wrong direction, to heal me when I’ve fallen, and to guide me in the way I’m supposed to go. These things can seem so vague and abstract but that’s why God gave us Scripture, first of all, and that’s why it takes trust in God to have faith in Him. If it were simple, it wouldn’t be faith.
So today, give careful consideration to the state of your heart. Are you seeking to honor Christ, are you growing by the Holy Spirit’s power? Or are you kinda directing your paths the way you see fit, not giving careful consideration to Whose map you’re following?
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?” Galatians 1:10.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9