Take heart, I have ovecome the world

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3

There have been many times in my life I have felt burdened beyond my strength. When I look back at those experiences, I now see they happened to make me turn to God and rely solely on Him. However, in the midst of a trial, when I feel like I can’t go on, it’s hard to remember there is a greater purpose for the difficulty I face. I become so focus on my own lack of strength, my own inability to go on, and my own despair I am unable to see God’s glory and sovereignty in the midst of the trial. Instead of turning to Him, I become completely focused on myself.

Having gone through many trials in my life, I know the best thing I can do is to humbly turn to God. From both my experiences and from the Word, I know trials come to force me to do just that. In hindsight, it’s easy to see and understand this, but when trials come and I become focused on myself instead of on God, it’s difficult to remember. Fortunately for me, even when trials result in pride instead of reliance on God, He is always with me. He does not allow the river to overwhelm me or the fire to burn or consume me.

God is always by my side. He is always my Lord and Savior. Despite my pride, he never turns away. When I finally realize focusing on myself does not work and that I need to rely on Him to get through the trial, He is there waiting for me. He is always waits patiently no matter how prideful and self-focused I become.  I never make it through trials on my own. Getting discouraged, focusing on myself, and all the other natural, prideful responses I have to difficulties never helps. On my own, the situation would be hopeless, but thankfully Christ has already overcome the world. I can’t overcome trials, fight discouragement, or remain humble in my own strength, but God can and He does.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33


It’s Not About You

The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time. -Francis Chan

      God doesn’t need us he wants us. We are the ones who need God. These are simple truths that I often fail to grasp.

      Sometimes I find myself thinking that I give God so much, so much of my time and money and talents. I love God, but he couldn’t possibly need anything more from me. What I fail to understand when I have this attitude is that the things that we do (reading the bible, praying, Sabbath) are for our benefit not Gods. It’s not Him who gains when we do these things, it’s us. He wants us to do them because he loves us, not because he benefits when we do.

              When I am self-focused and prideful I start to believe that I am doing God a favor when I obey Him. It’s like I think that He is lacking until I come along and read my bible, and the BAM he is just SO happy and he should be SO grateful that I spent five minutes of my day focused on Him. In reality, the life that God calls us to live, a life fully devoted to Him, is completely for our own benefit. John 15 says that apart from Christ we can bear no fruit, that we can do nothing.

            We can do NOTHING, but in our pride we still insist on making it about ourselves. We get so caught up in ourselves and our own lives that we forget what is actually important.

            When Peter focused on Jesus he was able to walk on water, but when he turned his attention to himself and his own fear he sank. Apart from God we can do nothing. We are nothing. Fortunately, if we don’t let our pride get in the way and focus on God, as John 15 says, we will bear much fruit. If we live a life that is God-focused not self-focused God will be able to use us and work through us. So, like Colossians 3 says, we should fix our eyes on the things above and not on earthy things, including ourselves.

            Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. -Colossians 3:1-3