Being a Christian Feels Impossible!

I had been closely walking with the Lord for a few years when I began to feel extremely overwhelmed spiritually.  Living out the Christian life began to feel tremendously burdensome, and worse than that, I began to despair and feel as if my ability to live out the Bible was hopeless.  As I read more Scripture and what’s expected of Christians, I was drowning in the difficulty and seeming impossibility of it all! I cried out to God in my anguish, “Father, how is this new covenant any better than the old law? There are just as many rules, and they are equally as impossible to keep!” The Lord graciously answered my cry with Matthew 11:28-30.

ALL WHO ARE WEARY

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30.

As I read and meditated on these verses that I had heard so many times before, I began to see it in a new light because this time I was living it.  I thanked God for His answer and responded with another question. “How? God, I believe what you are telling me is true, but HOW is it true?!? HOW is Your yoke easy and Your burden light? Then He responded to me with two simple phrases: “by abiding in Me” and “by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

ABIDE IN ME

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (emphasis mine)

I spent the next several months mediating on John 15 and came to understand what Jesus was telling us before He left. My job, our job, is to abide in Him.  He Himself, through His Spirit within us, gives us the power and strength and ability to live out all that He commands of us. See Isaiah 41:10, Colossians 1:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:241 Peter 5:10, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, John 14:15-18, John 14:25-26, Philippians 2:13.

BY DISCIPLINE

The next logical question we must ask ourselves is HOW do we abide in Christ? The answer to that is BY DISCIPLINE.

By discipline, we spend time in Christ by being in His Word each and every day.  Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

By reading the Scriptures we abide in Christ, and by abiding in Christ we become able to bear His fruit, but apart from Christ we can do NOTHING. John 15:10 goes on to say that as we abide in Christ, we will abide in His love, and, as we love Christ, we will obey His commands.

FRUIT FULFILLS THE LAW

As we saw earlier in John 15:5, abiding in Christ results in our bearing His fruit. This fruit is explained in Galatians:

. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23.

Did you catch that phrase “against such there is no law?” What the Holy Spirit is able to produce in us fulfills the law.  However, when we try to live for Christ with our own efforts, when we try to observe His commands on our own, when we try to uphold the law by our own strength, we will fail. As Jesus told us, apart from Him we can do nothing.  This idea of fulfilling the law appears again in Romans:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13:8-13 (emphasis mine)

Specifically mentioned is the fruit of love.  When we love, we do what is right; but we must remember that this love first comes from abiding in Christ and in His love.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

So how do we live out our Christian lives in a way that fulfills the law, glorifies God, bears His fruit, and testifies Jesus to others? By abiding in Christ.

And how do we Abide in Christ? BY DISCIPLINE.

  • Make time for God each and every day.
  • Ensure that this time includes reading, meditating on, and studying Scripture, as well as praying. This will take discipline because life will threaten to take away this time. You will be tired, busy, distracted, and maybe even discouraged.  Cultivate discipline in your life by committing that you will spend time abiding in Christ each and every day regardless of the circumstances.
  • Discipline by nature requires training and sacrifice. It is difficult and must be worked at repeatedly to attain the desired new behavior.
  • I use an acronym to help me live my life each day, one day at a time: “EACH”
    • E= Empty myself of myself. Start with surrender.
    • A= Abide in Christ. Refuel/refill myself with Christ, His Word, the Holy Spirit, and His power.
    • CH= CHoose love. As I make decisions, interact with people, talk, respond, and think, I am to do so in love; for love fulfills the law.

About the Writer:
Ashley is a Tennessee transplant in Dallas and mother to a young daughter. Ashley has been a member of FBD since 2014. In 2018, the Lord called her to serve full-time with the church where she works in the Finance & Accounting office. When Ashley is not at the church, you can find her and her daughter out in nature somewhere, hiking or camping, enjoying the beauty and splendor of the Lord’s creation.

 

 

Are You Neurotic?

I’ve always been very disciplined. Well, maybe not always, but the last 25 years of my life for sure. In that time, I’ve missed maybe 20 days without a workout (if you don’t count my scheduled “recovery” days). I’ve eaten a total of maybe one large plateful of junk food in all that time, and I can’t think of more than maybe two things I bought and regretted purchasing that couldn’t be returned. I don’t credit any of this to a superior level of discipline, though. I think different personalities have certain predispositions, and some things come easier to me than others.  On the other hand, throw me into a different culture and I can come across as extremely frivolous, wasteful, and weak-willed.

In all the above mentioned cases regarding control over choices, activities, decisions, and priorities, I would say I felt pretty confident. Then came debt. I quickly became aware of my naivety and anxiety about my skills to successfully navigate through it. With all my discipline, I couldn’t imagine a way around it. Instead of denying it, I had to learn to balance it and manage it for a season. I was overwhelmed with the reality of my need for God’s wisdom and grace. Even with a new relationship status, I once again enrolled my daughter in an excellent Christian school and also had the expenses of necessities like bills, food, and shelter. I had to face the fact that I would need to take on some debt to create a stable and positive environment for my daughter and myself. Debt is something I’ve never been willing to choose. Just as we can’t control the trauma (Greek for “injury”) that disrupts our imagined lives, we can’t always control the debt that we enter into or that is forced upon us.

In past months and years there was such a fierce and menacing fear surrounding debt. To me it signified losing control over my future.

In the Bible, storing up wealth is a topic about which much is written. Money, debt, saving, and greed are mentioned more than many other issues in the Bible. Jesus began one of His parables about money with:

Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. Luke 12:15

Jesus was speaking in response to a man concerned about receiving his inheritance and more comprehensively addressed the folly of thinking that our security and comfort are a result of personal planning and execution. In reading a commentary of this passage of Scripture, it was not the rich man’s plans or successes that Jesus was calling foolish but his priorities and belief that his future was in his control.

Reading this passage for the first time in light of my current situation, I am convicted that a desire to save up and plan for the future is not always the wisest or best thing to do. I am at peace with giving up my perceived control over future stability, plans, and dreams for the pressing needs of today. Even these, God, in His great mercy and sovereignty, is working into His perfect plan.

Tomorrow may never come, and Jesus calls me in the same passage to be rich toward God now. He wants me to be free from worry about the future and to seek first His Kingdom – to put on an attitude of looking to help with the needs of others.

I am grateful that for me to practice diligence in financial matters, I can now place everything at Christ’s feet and ask Him to help me to be wise, to realize that He provides for me, and to ultimately trust Him with my future. I may still enjoy discipline, goals, and results, but at least now I don’t have to be as neurotic about it knowing that He alone can ensure my firm footing!

About the Writer:
Lyndsay loves movement of most every variety. Some of her favorite moments are going on long walks, runs or bike rides in some new uncharted territory or exploring some intellectual or emotional space waiting to be uncovered. By day she works at First Baptist Dallas and in her spare time you will find her enjoying family, teaching mindful movement classes or serving in some community that has as many questions about God and life as she does. She is passionate about God’s Word applied masterfully by the Holy Spirit’s leading and believes the kindness and compassion of Christ changes hearts and unbinds minds – the most significant movement of any kind.

The Act of Worship

When I was single, one of my favorite things to do when I was alone was to have a “worship fest” in my room.  I would turn the volume up on my favorite songs and sing them as loud as I wanted to because no one was there to hear it (except for God of course ;)).  I could even sing one song over and over again, as many times as I wanted to, until it nourished my soul. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t mind if I sing around him and will tolerate my repetition of songs, even in the car!

Why is the act of worship so important?  Why does it nourish our soul so much? Psalm 147:1 says,

Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming.

When we sing praises to our Father, we are reminded of how amazing our Father is and how much we need and depend on Him.  Just as you tell your family and friends how much you love them, we have the opportunity to tell God how much we love Him!  He has shown us the utmost love by sending His son to die on the cross for our sins so that through Him, we can live with Him forever in eternity.  Now that’s love!

We have a Heavenly Father who is not like anyone here on earth. He’s perfect, He’s The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords, The Alpha and Omega, Yahweh, Redeemer, Holy, Righteous, Healer, Deliverer, Shield and Defense, and the list goes on and on!

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15

One of the reasons I love worship so much is that it takes my eyes off my circumstances and refocuses me on my Heavenly Father.  Instead of having worry, frustration, etc.; When I focus on God, I am reminded of how truly wonderful He is and His perfect character instead of experiencing worry and frustration.  My enormous troubles just seem to shrink as I remind myself our Father truly is good.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods.  I Chronicles 16:25

Life has its troubles, and we can choose how to respond to them.  When life seems to get the best of you, just remember how wonderful our Father is and how much He loves you.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

May we continue to be thankful for God and express our love for Him in praise.

About the Writer:
Alana faithfully serves at her church home, First Baptist Dallas, where she enjoys using her talents and gifts to help others grow in Christ.  She taught elementary music in public schools for nineteen years.  She is married to Mike, and they have a cute mini golden doodle puppy named Bentley.

 

Jesus. Is. In. Control.

Last night I observed a live podcast concerning the Coronavirus. I watched intently as messages poured in from all over the nation. Yet one particular communication immediately caught my attention by a young lady who voiced, “I’m scared.”

In a season marked with great uncertainties and fears, we have a Savior who is trustworthy and faithful. While news updates continue to pour in, one message remains steadfast, hopeful, and dependable. Jesus. Is. In. Control.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7 

We Don’t Have to Fear…….

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  Isaiah 41:10 

We Can Trust Him……

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.  Psalm 9:10 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 

He is causing all things to work together for good–to those who love Him….

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29 

What are we called to do?……..

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 

Focus on God’s Promises……

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Colossians 3:1-2 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Philippians 4:8 

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3 

Jesus. Is. In. Control. This truth will not be altered by anyone or anything. The following broadcast has been brought to you by God’s Word. Spread the news…..