Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

                                      

Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.

Being Obedient to God

This is a dangerous statement because our society today tells us, “Just be you. Be who you are. You know who you are. Do what your heart desires. Fulfill your desires.”

I’ve learned the hard way to be careful about sharing this because it only exists for those people who are searching the heart of God in all of their ways—not some of their ways, not only in church on Sunday morning, but in all of their ways. They acknowledge God in all of their ways.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) 

That word ‘acknowledge’ there means to know God relationally. In everything you do, be in communion with God. That’s really what it means.


If you go out and do what you want to do, and that includes sleeping around and making immoral choices, then you are not acknowledging God in all of your ways. He is not a God of sin. This message is not designed for people who are trying to fulfill their fantasies or their sinful desires.

This is for people who are truly seeking God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They are seeking to know Him. They read the Word. They are falling in love with God more every day. Those people can do this. God gives them the desires of their hearts.

When you’re not really seeking Him, when He is not your first priority and you are not pursuing Him with everything you have because He is good and you want to know Him, then the desires of your heart may not be purely His. They may be your desires for the old things your flesh used to want—you know, bigger house, nicer car, better body, somebody to love you, somebody to fill your void. 

Well, God is your void filler. He is your house. You are His house. You have everything you need in Him, and there is nothing that you lack. Lack is not your portion when you are in Him. I think it takes a while after we begin seeking God for the desires of our heart to transfer from our old, worldly desires to His desires.

But once you are seeking Him and you really know who you are as His child, He puts His desires in your heart. He puts in you the desire to take care of orphans and widows. He gives you the desire to help people. He gives you the desire not to honk the horn and be mad at somebody who road raged you or drove you off the road. He gives you the desire to offer freedom and forgiveness. He gives you the desires of your heart because He is placing His desires in your heart.

The more you seek Him, the more you find Him and the more He gives you His desires. When that happens, you’ll know. If the desire in your heart is to go out and smoke and drink, that’s not it, okay? You’ll know when it’s God’s desire. If you’re walking and you see someone and think, “I feel like I should give this person twenty bucks,” that’s probably God’s desire in your heart. He is going to provide the twenty bucks, and He is going to want you to give the twenty bucks away.

You can trust that when you are seeking God with all of your heart, you are hearing from Him and He is putting His desires in your heart. When you are first learning to distinguish between God’s desires and the desires of your flesh, what you want to do is check His Word. See whether the desire in your heart lines up with how God teaches us to live in Scripture. If it doesn’t and it’s sinful, then you don’t want to follow that desire.

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. (Psalm 10:17-18 NIV)

One of the things I do is let the peace of Christ rule in me. I wake up with God on my heart, and I want to be with Him all of the time. I am with Him all of the time, and He is with me. Before I do anything, I stop and wait for the peace of God to run over me. I ask, “Is this the peace of God?” There’s a difference between man’s direction and God’s, and God’s is always surrounded by tremendous peace.

Top 3 Beauty Tips


Are any of you addicted to reading about beauty tips and secrets? Do you regularly scan through websites and blog posts, looking for ways to become skinnier and more beautiful?

If you do, don’t worry; I used to be just like you. I have always wanted to be skinnier. Every time I saw an article about weight loss or dieting, I pored through it, trying to figure out the new tips and suggestions. I tried most of the workout routines I found. It was a terrible feeling to discover that the newest fad, tip, or secret wasn’t working.

After doing this for years, I realized that most programs were more about making money than actually helping people meet their goals.

The rest of what I discovered I made into my top 3 beauty tips.

3. Our bodies are the temple of Christ.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

Our bodies are temples of Christ. We need to respect this by respecting ourselves and our bodies. This means we need to take care of our bodies. We need to learn self-control so we can regulate our eating and exercise habits. We also need to respect ourselves so we don’t abuse our bodies in any way. Take care of the body God knit together for you. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13 NIV)


2. Inner beauty vs. outward beauty


Your inner beauty has more importance than you may realize. Scripture has this to say about inner beauty:


Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV)


I suggest that you live each day trying to make the inner you more beautiful! Start by making sure you show the fruits of the Spirit in all you do.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)


Use these to guide your ways, and your inner beauty will shine the light of Jesus in the darkest of places!

This leads me to the most important beauty tip:

1. God looks at the heart.

“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)


When God is looking down on us, He does not see us the way the people of the world see each other. He sees each one of His creations as beautiful!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 NIV)


I pray that each of you realizes how special and beautiful you are. I pray that you discover and live the way God views you. I pray that you share your joy with others as you discover all the wonderful works of Jesus!

Thank you so much to all of you who have been reading my blogs!

Love, Kathleen 🙂

Emotions — 3 Practical Steps to Change


CHANGE is COMING!

Today, we are going to look at the Word, God’s word. It is sharp; it will penetrate your heart and change you!

The Bible gives us truths and tools to train our soul (our mind, will, and emotions) to agree with the Spirit of God.

Read one or all of these passages:

1 Corinthians 9:25-27
2 Corinthians 10:5
Matthew 6:33
1 Samuel 16:1
1 Samuel 30:6
1 Samuel 31:13 
Galatians 5:24-26
Colossians 3 
Isaiah 26:3
Isaiah 54:17
1 Peter 1:8
Proverbs 23:7
Deuteronomy 30:19
Romans 8:6
Romans 10:17
Zechariah 4:6

1. From these verses, make a list of practical things the Bible teaches that you can do to make your emotions submit to the Spirit.

2. Take time to write down any emotions and thoughts that spiral you down into places that are set against God’s truth. For example:
  • “I’m insecure”
  • “I’m unlovable”
  • “I’m alone”
3. Take these lies captive and make them obedient to God’s truth. Write down the truth next to your negative thoughts. For example:
  • “I’m secure!”
  • “I’m loved!”
  • “I’m in Christ, and Christ is in me!”
Work on your list all week. What lies did you identify? What truths did you replace them with? What questions do you have?

God Prepares

God prepares me for my mission.

I am more than a conqueror through Christ.
The Lord prepares my hands for battle, so I can bend a bow of bronze.
The Lord rebukes those He loves.
He prunes me of all my weakness.
He cuts all dead weight from me.
He gives me all I need to succeed.
I will not fear the war.
My help is from the Lord.
Though 1,000 fall to my left, 2,000 to my right, the pestilence shall not touch me.
My battle is not with flesh and blood but powers, demons, and the enemy.
He gives me a new heart to follow Him.
I listen to His voice.
I know His voice because I know His word.
I hide His word in my heart that I won’t sin against Him.
I search for Wisdom as others would for treasure because I found the Word.
It is health and healing to all my flesh.
I arm myself with the Armor of God and pray in the Spirit on all occasions because You have given me a taste.
I pursue You wholeheartedly.
I have tasted and seen the Lord is good.
And what does my God require but to seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with my God.



• Authored by Josh Pugh •

Our perception towards God

Many of us think that God is moved by our behavior. One might think that he’s moved to anger when we make mistakes and when we keep on sinning and we keep on messing up. You know, we mess up every day. Every single day, I make a mistake. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. I can spend my time lamenting over my behavior and beating myself up and thinking that God is mad at me. “He’s so disappointed in me. I’m sure he’s shocked by my behavior.” But God knows everything. If you really believe that he’s the beginning and the end and the alpha and the omega, he knew you were going to mess up before you ever did. Amazing.
First of all, we think that he’s moved by us—maybe in a negative way—towards anger or frustrated or disappointed in us. Sometimes when we’re serving or we’re doing really good, we’re performing well, we haven’t made a mistake yet since 8 AM that he’s proud of us or he’s excited or he’s thankful that we’re working for him and working so hard or he’s proud of the way we’re serving.
Some of us might think that God is moved by our prayers. When we beg him and tell him or remind him of his promises, he’s moved; that he decides, “You know what, your prayers are so effective because you’re so righteous. I’m going to go ahead and move on your behalf.”
All of those pretenses—there are many more, but of all those—they’re just all wrong. The truth is that we can’t get any more righteous in Christ. We are the righteousness of Christ and nothing can ever change that. Not our bad behavior, not our bad performance, not our serving, not our good behavior, not our kind gestures, our generosity—nothing can ever change our righteousness. It can’t increase and it cannot decrease. Amazing.
We are the righteousness of Christ. Every prayer we pray is effective. It doesn’t matter if you’re the pastor of a giant church or somebody who works at your local 7-11. Your prayers are as effective as he other one and you know you are the righteousness of Christ and you’re seated at the right hand of God with Jesus. It’s amazing.
We are the righteousness, but what moves God is that you said yes to him; that you received the gift of his son; that you have chosen him. He has sought you out, he brought you to him but you said yes. You didn’t have to say yes to God.
You know, since I was a young girl, as long as I can remember, my whole entire life, I know God has been wooing me. For 26 years, I said no. and then one day I finally said “Yes, God. I want to be with you. I want to be your child. I want to know you. I want to know eternal life. I want to know life with you instead of life without you.”
God is moved by our yes. He is in love with our yes. He is moved because we love him and he loves us. He loved us before we ever said yes. He sees you when you have the choice to back off or back away and shrink back, he sees you and he knows what you’re doing. When you say yes, he is moved. He is so thankful and loves you deeply. He has no respect of persons and he loves no one more and no one less.

My Faith Is Weak—I Need More Faith

Immediately the boys father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV)

We all have the faith of Jesus Christ. That’s what Scripture says. You cannot come to God without Him. He actually gives you the faith to believe in Him. The faith you have isn’t your own. You didn’t muster it up. You’re not some great person of faith. Yes, sometimes He gives people a spiritual gift of faith, but it’s still from Him. He is the author of it.


If you and I have the same faith because God gave it to us so we could know Him and love Him, then how do we make our faith work more effectually? Some people have more effective faith than I do. I look at them and think, “How is that? How is that possible?” I believe it comes from their relationship with God. They’re seeking Him and pursuing Him. They’re reading His Word, chomping it up, ingesting it, and believing what it says with childlike faith. It stirs them up.

I received a gift from a friend of mine. It’s a candle. I don’t burn candles in my home. I haven’t burned them since I had kids. I don’t want to risk the accidental knocking over and fire or wax in the carpet. It was a gift my friend gave to me, but it’s never really been used. It just sits there. I think that’s what faith is like. God gives it to you, and you either light it and use it, or you don’t and it just sits there.

So how do we light the candle of our faith? I believe the answer is in Hebrews 11:1. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV). I believe hope is the fire for your faith. Hope is your part, and faith is God’s part. God gave you the faith; now, can you keep up your hope? Can you keep yourself focused on the promises of God? Can you keep yourself focused on this amazing promise: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV)?

Jesus also said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1 NIV). He wouldn’t give you a command you could not keep. I believe that when you let your heart be troubled, you lose your hope, and it’s not there to spark your faith. We need to learn, remember, and put our hope in the promises of God. 

“Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.” (Luke 10:19 AMP)

I keep my eyes on this truth. It keeps stirring me up. It builds up my hope. It makes my hope grow and become active and alive so it can light the candle of my faiththe faith that God has deposited in me. It’s not really my faith, so I cannot boast in it! I refer to it as my faith, but it’s really not. It was a gift given to me by God. It’s His. He deposited it. When I place my hope in Him, it lights and connects. The faith He has given me ignites, and sparks fly!

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Jump into your Bible. As you read, your hope in the Lord will grow and SOAR! 

Love, 
Sheri 


Leaders, Here Is the Best Piece of Advice…

We all serve in a leadership role in some capacity. It is good to learn from each other so I love this question that

Lisa Bevere
Recently asked:
For all my sisters who serve in a leadership capacity at their church: what’s your best piece of advice?

Here are just a few of the responses. 

Which one do you need to consider in your life?

Guard your heart, don’t take the bait, and see things from God’s perspective!
Integrity/consistency

To remember you don’t serve anyone but Jesus, everything you do in the body of Christ is because of your love for Jesus. And you can only give what has been poured into you. Also remembering you to are a work in progress.

Stay humble. Keep your eyes on JESUS!!! And don’t allow offenses to creep in!!!
Don’t lose intimacy with Christ, , personal prayer and devotion time, don’t work for God, work with Him. Love and have grace and mercy on people!
Know the difference between being ‘led’ and feeling obligated or driven. You’re only empowered to do what God leads you to do! The rest is a waste of energy.
Preach what you practice! Integrity is huge!!
Do it for JESUS alone; don’t seek “rewards” “praise” and “recognition” *let it be a bonus when these happens. Do it for JESUS Who Loves Purely not based of our perfomances.
A good leader is first a good follower
Faith and forgive.
Fix your eyes on Jesus. He is our source.
I’ve been so busy having babies I have not been in a position of leadership in over a year now but here’s what I would say. Ask God to help you see those who he brings you into contact with the way He does. Through eyes of love and as one who’s sins have been covered. And for those who are only seeking even more so through eyes of love and compassion.
remain teachable at all times, especially when in a leadership role…
Help those you are leading to make them experience the love of Jesus.
Have vision backed up by the word of God, commitment, passionate, and to be mindful who you’re serving for.
First Always have quiet time with the Lord…. like being in an upper room with Him. His presence is the answer for everything…. the second thing is to never compare yourself to anyone else and don’t worry about what everyone thinks. What God thinks is what is important 🙂
It’s wonderful to be organized and use your administrative gift,  but sometimes the Holy Spirit needs to fully take over and it may look messy,  but in the end God is glorified! Trust Him in all things.
Remember you’re serving from the heart not for accolades and your service makes a difference in others lives.
Know that God is faithful.
Always stay humble and let Jesus guide your steps
shun offense…don’t pick it up, don’t hear it, don’t even look at it.
Honor the grace that God has given you for THIS season. Often times, we, myself included, get so caught up in the vision and the future without honoring the present.
These few days I m learning from the life of queen Esther. How humble she was trusting God only . Same learning from a great women of God of morden time like you and Joyes Meyer . And when we think of other  women to serve and open our mouth the words of wisdom from GOD should flow. We are the builder women of God. A women of destiny.
Love!!! And walk in humility and serve like Jesus
Be authentic, be yourself and love God and His Word.
1) Lead by example…no one will or should follow if we cannot be led. 2) So, be teachable.  3) Mostly be patient… 4) When things go “wrong” pray, get God’s strategy and opinion BEFORE you take any action.  
Generally I’ve found that Given time God resolves the issue with little or nothing required from me.  
Leadership is not for the faint of heart… Finally 5) stay connected to and with God.  You will not always be liked, you will get offended… But God will see you through it all. I would further say (to a new leader especially) what a leader told me… Start making every decision as if you are already in the position you are hoping to get to…. That way you will develop the character to manage it with grace and love.
Remember to allow time for yourself and God to hang out. Allow space for rest and fun.
Take time to listen to your people.  Know their hearts.
Do not neglect your own personal time with God. Your first priority is your husband and children.  If it fails there, you have no testimony.

Love, 
Sheri 

Know your identity in Christ

When you know your identity in Jesus Christ, it changes you. It changes everything. You realize that in Christ you are free. God has always given us the freedom of choice. He did not create us as robots. He has never forced us to love Him or obey Him. However, if we choose to follow Christ, we enjoy a new kind of freedom because “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2 NIV). In Christ we are free from the control of our sinful nature and the death it brings. We are free to turn away from sin. When we are tempted, we have “a way out” (1 Cor. 10:13 NIV). We are free to choose love and let go of hatred. We are free to move beyond the pain and guilt of our past. We can live in freedom as a result of God’s grace and mercy.
Let’s examine mercy and grace. We are the objects of mercy when we are spared the punishment we deserve. We experience grace when we are offered a free gift we did not earn. It is difficult for us to comprehend grace fully because our society is work-oriented and proud. We have a hard time receiving gifts we haven’t earned. We believe we should put in our eight hours and then receive the pay we are due. Here’s the problem: God does not owe us anything good. God challenged Job, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11 NIV). We cannot give anything to God that does not already belong to Him. Therefore, God does not owe us any benefits, favors, gifts, or blessings.
In fact, what we are due from God is a sentence of death because the just penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23 NIV). God sent His sinless Son as a sacrifice to suffer our punishment for us (Rom. 3:25; Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:2; 1 Peter 1:18–19 NIV). We deserve death, and God sent His Son so we could experience life: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23 NIV). We are no longer bound in slavery to death thanks to God’s mercy.
God not only cancels our debts—He also gives us, who put our faith in Christ, life “to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). We need not pay the price for our sins, yet we also receive an additional gift—a gift of grace. We do not have to wait for our new blessed, eternal life. It begins as soon as we accept, through faith, Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior. God places His Spirit within us, and we embark on a life of fellowship with Him (John 14:16–20, 23; Rom. 8:11; Titus 3:4–7 NIV). God offers us the gift of a personal relationship with Him. We enjoy the entirely undeserved privilege of conversation with the Lord God Almighty. He ministers to our hearts and maintains His hand in our lives to protect, bless, guide, and teach us. We never need to stand alone.
It is humbling to consider how we never can earn or deserve God’s great gift to us. Not one of us is good without Him. Paul wrote, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (Rom. 7:18 NIV). Not a single hair on our heads, nor a cell in our bodies, is good apart from the Lord. If we could achieve salvation by our own efforts, there would be no need for God’s grace (Rom. 11:6; Gal. 2:21 NIV). We would not need a Savior, and our faith would be meaningless. In truth, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24 NIV). God “saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4–5 NIV).
There is actually freedom in the fact that God’s gift of reconciliation with Him is and must be free. Since the covenant is based on who God is and what He has done, we can rest in this understanding: our salvation is secure. We no longer need to be defined by our sins. We can move forward in grace, knowing we have been forgiven and restored completely. There is nothing in our past God is remembering and holding against us.
It can be difficult to believe we have been redeemed when we feel guilty over past sins—when we feel stuck in our sinful nature and incapable of being anything else. When our faith falters, we need simply to turn to God’s word, which is full of assurances. Paul asserted that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NIV), for “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (2 Cor. 5:19 NIV). Jesus Himself declared, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).
This message of hope is not limited to the New Testament. God reveals the loving, compassionate, forgiving aspects of His nature in the Old Testament as well. Through the prophet Isaiah, God proclaimed, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25 NIV). God urges us “not [to] dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18 NIV). He separates us from our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NIV). Our God “pardons sin” and “delight[s] to show mercy” (Micah 7:18 NIV). He “tread[s] our sins underfoot and hurl[s] all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19 NIV). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34 NIV). God has compassion on us “[a]s a father has compassion on his children” (Psalm 103:13 NIV). His love for us is unshakable, and His “covenant of peace [will not] be removed” (Isaiah 54:10 NIV).
God does not view us as worthless disappointments. Instead, He cherishes us as His children. When we put our faith in Christ, God removes our sin and gives us a righteousness we never could earn (Rom. 3:21–25; Rom. 10:4 NIV). As Paul explained, in Christ we can “become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21 NIV). We are “clothed … with Christ” (Gal. 3:27 NIV), and Christ lives in us (John 14:20; John 17:22–23, 26; Gal. 2:20 NIV). When God looks at us, He sees Christ. He loves us as He loves Christ (John 17:23, 26 NIV).
We who believe in Christ have a new identity as beloved brothers of Christ and children of God (Rom. 8:14-17, 29; Gal. 3:26; Gal. 4:4–7; Titus 3:4–7 NIV). With that new identity comes a new way of worshipping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24 NIV). We now “serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6 NIV). In Christ there are no boundaries, only opportunities, because in Christ we are free from the law (Rom. 6:14; Rom. 7:4–6; Rom. 8:2; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:25; Gal. 5:18 NIV). That doesn’t mean the law is now valueless and we should simply ignore the whole first part of the Bible. The law still has purpose today. Through the law, we learn what sin is and become aware we are guilty of it (Rom. 3:20; Rom. 7:7 NIV). The law exposes our inadequacy and so leads us to our Savior.
The difference in our new view of the law is the understanding we cannot gain righteousness by obeying the law (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:15–16 NIV). No matter what we do, we cannot meet God’s standard (Rom. 3:23 NIV). Only God can meet God’s standard, which is why redemption, forgiveness, and righteousness must come by Christ (Rom. 8:3–4 NIV). We need to be careful never to be trapped by the false belief we can meet God’s standard and achieve His glory by our own efforts (Gal. 5:1 NIV). It is important to God for us to walk in freedom by His Spirit (Gal. 5:1; 2 Cor. 3:17 NIV).
For people who are already saved, the law serves the further purpose of teaching us what matters to God so we can learn how to be more like Him. We are “dearly loved children” and have a deep desire to be like our Father, following Christ’s example (Eph. 5:1–2 NIV). The love of God explodes in our hearts, and we follow Him and obey Him out of this love. As Jesus told His disciples, people who love Him will obey Him (John 14:15, 21, 23 NIV). I don’t believe this means we obey God to prove we love Him. No, the love we have for Him because of what He has done for us is what creates a response of obedience to Him. Paul called it “the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom. 1:5 NIV). A life of loving God and loving people with our thoughts and words and actions is the evidence of our faith (Gal. 5:6, 14; Matt. 22:35–40; John 13:34–35; John 15:17 NIV).
God’s love within us brings us freedom because we dont want to sin anymore. We dont want to be in bondage to pornography or envy or hatred. We dont want to be slaves to bitterness. Ive already done this. I have lived such a life, and its painful. Holding a grudge against someone eats at you from the inside out. Its like cancer in your soul. When we are new in Christ and filled with the Spirit of God, we don’t want this kind of life anymore. We turn away from destructive ways. We know we belong to God, and we want to do His work (Rom. 7:4; Phil. 3:12–14 NIV). We want to love as He loves. We want to walk with Him and dwell in His presence forever.
God considered a personal relationship with each of us so precious He paid the highest price in order to reconcile us to Him. Now nothing and no one can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35–39 NIV)
I know I have not been rejected. I have not been abandoned. I am loved. I am loved beyond understanding. I have received the greatest gift and the greatest forgiveness. I don’t need boundaries. My God directs my steps. He changes my path. He is constantly straightening my crooked ways. In every step I take, I rest in God’s love and guidance. I have the fullness of joy and peace in every moment of my life. This is freedom.
 

Encourage yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go to work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be up to two hours just for you driving. Ninety minutes to two hours, my friends did it often. They would leave for the office by six am so they could beat traffic on the way in to the office and they would come home at seven. I just thought about the quality of life and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you never are alone. There’s traffic everywhere. You constantly have to look and see—you see people, and you can wave at people and smile at people. They are everywhere, just constantly busy. But at night, when you’re driving—sometimes, you might be in a drive in a country road, and not see anyone for an hour.
                                     
Scripture says that there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of those like traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Everyone is on it. Everyone’s going the same direction. They are all heading towards home. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. But the narrow path is a less-travelled road. Sometimes, people that are on it are few and far between. You might be walking a while all by yourself until you see another person passing you by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and you can see the busy rush hour traffic but you don’t jump in and go on it. You choose to take a secondary road. If you’ve ever been on a trip or you’re like, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 and I’m going to go on this side road and backwoods.”
Think about it. When you get off on those roads, they’re more peaceful, they’re more winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stops are a backwoods mechanic shop and its bathroom is filthy, dirty. There are few, far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It’s because, truly, the narrow path of God isn’t travelled by as many people. You’ve got people that are going to movies that may jeopardize your own purity because we gotta protect the wellspring of life which is our heart and make good choices.
So every choice we make, we never make it because everyone else is doing it or, “It’s okay for this family so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. Every day, they are giving their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is they are taking them from the narrow path to a wider path. They are increasing their path from the narrow path into the wide path. So all of a sudden, the world is leading our children, not our children being led by God.
I believe that Christians should be the front. People should wanna be like us. They should be following our way. They should be making choices that we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world, but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay firmly planted on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. I think if you’re in your twenties, you’re gonna find that your friends on a narrow path is gonna be in a huge age range. Say 70 down to 12. There are so few people—few, and far between. You have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle is going to look like so that you can have an inner circle that is close and tight and the people that you know are making those choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect. When you feel lonely, just encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like 1 Samuel 36. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t look to it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and what he has done for you already.