Restored to Innocence

 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!-Colossians 1:20 The Passion Translation

Yes, this is the same verse again. However, it is in a different translation :). If you recall, the previous translation read; and through Christ God reconciled everything to himself.

We looked at the word reconcile and learned it means to be set apart, dedicated for a purpose, and restored. We spent the last two days looking at what it means to be set apart and dedicated for a purpose. Today we are going to wrap up this verse by looking at what it means to be restored.

Restore: to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank

Brought back to an original condition. What original condition? Put back to a former place, position or rank. What was our former place, position, and rank? In order to understand all we have been restored to, we need to look at what our original condition, place, position and rank were.

The verse does not point us back to ourselves. Our original condition was not something we want to be restored back to. According to Psalm 51:5, we are born sinners. Yes, we may be born innocent in the sense that we haven’t outwardly sinned, but we are born with the same sinful nature that was brought into the world the day Adam and Eve fell for the serpents lies.

What is it then that we are restored to? What happens when we accept the Good News that Jesus bore and paid for all of our sins and infirmities on the cross so we would not have to? What happens when we realize all of our sins (past, present, and future) are truly forgiven? What happens when we realize we can now go boldly before the throne of grace and pour out our requests to the King of King and Lord of Lords? What happens when we truly understand that when God looks at us today He sees us as pure and blameless?

I will tell you what I believe happens. I believe we are restored to the original condition, place, position, and rank that Adam and Eve were in before they sinned. The condition, place, position, and rank are things I get very excited over.

In Genesis 1:28 God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them to fill the earth and govern it. They are to reign over all of the animals and fish and birds. We read in Genesis 3:8 that God was walking in the garden looking for Adam and Eve. We also learn that Adam was so close to God that he knew the sound of God walking and could clearly hear his voice.

These verses show us a very close and intimate relationship between Adam and God. They walked and talked together. God gave Adam authority over all that was on the earth. God provided everything Adam could ever need and Adam didn’t have to struggle to provide for his family.

We all know what happened. Adam and Eve broke the only rule God gave them and lost their innocence. They lost their authority. They lost their place in the garden.

According to today’s verse everything that Adam lost was restored in Jesus. Once again we have the ability to be with God in his presence, to talk to him and hear from him in his still small voice. Our sins have been forgiven and we have been declared innocent. We find rest in Jesus and no longer have to struggle and toil for provision.

I like to sit and imagine what the garden must have been like. I imagine the colors and smells were amazing. I picture walking by a lion and scratching behind his ear like he’s Cat. I picture it being about 75 and sunny all the time. I think how crazy it must’ve been to walk alongside the Creator of the Universe. The hardest thing to imagine is ever being okay walking around naked…

Maybe we don’t have the colors, smells, and ability to play with lions at this time, but we do have the best part of the garden. We have the ability to have a close, intimate relationship with God. As the old hymn goes, he walks with me and he talks with me. That privilege and blessing came through the blood of Jesus, and through him we have been restored. Don’t let the enemy try to deceive you out of that truth- his MO hasn’t changed since he first slithered up to Eve.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for being the God of restoration. Thank you for bringing us back to our place and position through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for bringing us back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Complete Restoration For Us All,

Jen

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Dedicated To A Life Of Purpose

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Yes, we are still on this short verse. If you recall from yesterday we looked at the definition of the word reconcile. We discovered that reconcile means: to set apart, to dedicate for a purpose, and to restore. We spent our time focusing on what it means to be set apart. Today we will look at what it means to be dedicated for a purpose.

For those of you who know me, you know the word purpose can put me into a bit of a tizzy. When I start asking myself what my purpose is, and whether or not I am fulfilling it, I can easily end up in a pit of frustration and even despair. I need to self talk my way out of the pit as I remind myself what God has to say about the plans and purposes He has for our lives.

It says in 2 Timothy 1:9 for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling [a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose] not because of our works [or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this], but because of His own purpose and grace 

This verse reminds us that God is the one who has set us apart through Christ, and there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve our set apart status. It also tells us that a life set apart is in itself purposeful. Lastly, we see that He has done this amazing work in us to fulfill His own purpose in our lives.

To me that is not only Good News, it is great news! I am assured that since He has his own purpose for my life, He will in fact see to it that it is fulfilled. We haven’t been set apart by grace and then left to struggle and figure out on our own, how to live our set apart, purposeful lives. No! We have been set apart by His grace, and our purposes will be fulfilled by His grace.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us Many plans are in a man’s mind, But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out).

It is good to dream big and make future plans as long as we understand that in the end, God’s plans for us are the ones that will be carried out. There is no need to worry or waste time wondering if we are living out our purpose (preaching to myself here). Our job is to believe that God has good plans for us (because He tells us he does in Jeremiah 29:11) and trust that He will see those plans fulfilled in our lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for setting me apart for your purpose. Thank you for your Word that promises you will see that my purpose is fulfilled. Thank you for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for your grace in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Life of Purpose,

Jen

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Your Set Apart Status

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Last week when we looked at the verse above we focused on the word everything. I wanted to make sure you were firmly grounded in the truth that YOU are included in the word everything. Every single thing on earth has been reconciled to God through Jesus’ death on the cross. This includes you!

Now that we know we are all included, lets take a look at what it is we are actually included in.

Reconcile: to re-consecrate: (to once again make or declare sacred; set apart, or dedicated for a purpose to the service of a deity)

to restore: (to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank)

In reading the definition for the word reconcile we discover that we have been set-apart, dedicated for a purpose, and brought back to our original condition.

God has set apart many things for Himself. In a quick study of scripture, you will see, among other things, He has:

  • Set apart the Jews as his own special possession
  • Set apart the Levites as his royal priesthood
  • Set apart cities of refuge
  • Set apart the temple for worship and offering sacrifices
  • Set apart the Sabbath and feast days
  • Set apart Jesus for us
  • Set apart US!

In Acts 26:18 Paul (still Saul at the time) has a life changing encounter with Jesus. Jesus tells him “I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”

To be set apart means to be sanctified, or made holy. It has taken me years to comprehend (and perhaps I am still learning) that we are made holy simply by believing Jesus has made us holy. I often find myself striving and struggling to “be good”. I understand that the blood of Jesus washed my sins white as snow, but somehow after that initial cleansing it is up to me to stay white as snow.

Anyone who has found themselves trapped in this lie knows it is impossible to keep yourself white as snow. We are imperfect people living in a corrupted world. We will fall short. Daily. Trying to keep yourself holy will either lead you to a sense of failure and defeat, or even worse, a sense of self-righteousness.

We all know brothers and sisters in the Lord that have fallen into either of these traps. I myself have fallen into both. For a few years it seemed as though I vacillated between either not feeling good enough to feeling superior. Either trap is a dangerous place to live. It will make you judgmental towards yourself and others. It will rob you of peace and joy. It will take your eyes off of Jesus and place them on to yourself.

As you go about your day today I encourage you to keep your eyes on and your faith in Jesus. Trust that He has set you apart and made you holy. We do not become more like Jesus through striving in our own self efforts. We become more like Him when we spend time with Him through prayer, praise, and studying his Word. As Saul experienced, you cannot encounter the Lord and remain the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for sending your Son to sanctify me. Thank you for setting me apart and making me holy. Help me to understand that it is not up to me to be perfect, but to rest in your perfect love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Grace, Love, and a Revelation of our Set Apart Status,

Jen

 

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Do You Really Believe?

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  -Colossians 1:20

Do you ever feel as though God is angry, frustrated, or disappointed in you? Do you ever feel as though you are at odds with God? Do you ever imagine God sitting on His throne looking down and shaking His head back and forth as He turns to the angels and says “Can you believe that Girl? She did it again! When is she ever going to get it right?”

Your initial response may be “No! I know that God is not mad at me.” but do you really believe that? Do you really believe that there is nothing you can do, no mistake you can make, no sin you can commit, that will separate you from God’s love? Do you really believe that not only does God love you, but He truly likes you (there is a difference- and for those who are married or have kids you know what I am talking about!). He loves and likes you every second of every day, on your best days and your worst days.

How do you know if you truly believe this amazing grace-filled Good News? Take a look at your thoughts and actions. If you are walking with your head down, under the weight of guilt and condemnation, you do not really believe God is not angry you. If you are afraid to pray big and bold prayers because of all the mistakes you have made, you do not really believe God is not disappointed in you. If you have been avoiding God because you do not feel worthy, or worse yet, you feel too dirty to go to Him, you do not really believe that He has one hundred and fifty percent forgiven you.

Not only has He forgiven you, but according to today’s verse, He has reconciled and made peace with youHow do I know this? Simple. Read today’s verse again. It says God reconciled everything and made peace with everything.

Do you know what the definition of everything is? According to dictionary.com everything means: every single thing.

We are going to dig deeper into these scriptures over the next few days. Before we can do that you need to understand that what we are going to discuss includes you! You have in no way been disqualified! Let the Truth that God is not angry, frustrated, or disappointed in you settle into your heart. He has made complete peace with you.

If you don’t believe me, feel free to read ahead to Colossians 1:21-22.:)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me fiercely. Thank you for your Word that brings life and blessing to my life. Help me to believe that you are not angry, frustrated, or disappointed in me. Help me to see myself as you see me. Give me wisdom and revelation as I study your Word to learn who I am in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Understand For Us All,

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

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Rivers of Difficulty

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” -Isaiah 43:2

We are still studying the book of Colossians, but I am sitting on the next Colossians post for some reason. Not sure if it is a timing thing, or if I simply cannot put into words what I want to say. I started diving into a verse and it took me so far down a side trail that I am not sure what I am to do with it yet.

No worries though as this morning I found sudden inspiration. Yes, I was inspired by something- don’t laugh at me- Cat. Yes, the darn Cat. I think God finds it quite funny when He sends me inspiration through Cat because I am a DOG person! A big dog person! Not a little meowing fur ball person. Yet I have no less than five Cat inspired messages in my journal at this moment. And a fresh one occurred just now. Stop laughing sister Sheryl…

I was sitting at my writing desk. I had my legs up on the desk while I was praying because my lower back is sore. Cat saw my lap as an invitation and jumped right up into it. She quickly assumed her “I am not leaving until you love me and pet me real good” position. I barely started petting her and her purr box (that’s what we call it) revved into overdrive. She was in heaven. She was sprawled over my lap hugging my leg with her little paws and had her happy and content face on. And yes- I do hate the fact that I know what her happy and content face looks like; along with all her other faces for that matter.

There we were perfectly content. I was praying and she was purring. She was as peaceful, content, and happy as could be. I needed to move my chair a little so I picked Cat up while I adjusted so she wouldn’t fall. Cat being Cat, she didn’t like that. Her purr box immediately turned off, she scrambled frantically out of my arms, jumped off my lap and ran out of the room.

She went from completely happy, content, and peaceful, to frantic, fearful and skittish. I laughed at her and said “Trust issues much?” (Yes- I am now confessing that I talk to Cat)

As soon as I said that to Cat, I was reminded of my self on Monday. Monday morning I had the most amazing Bible and prayer time with the Lord. I saw things in his Word I haven’t seen before. I have pages and pages of notes and questions and ideas I need to look into more as a result of this study time. I was so excited and encouraged as I headed out for my day. I felt like Cat. My purr box was in overdrive. I had perfect peace and a sense that it was going to be a great day.

Then I got to work. The very first e-mail I read put me on high alert. My purr box turned off. I felt frantic, panicked, and skittish as I tried to solve the issue I had just been made aware of. I may have recovered if that was the only situation that came my way Monday, but it wasn’t. It felt like one thing after another. I wanted out. I wanted to mic drop my job so bad and run back to my study room at home where life was peaceful and full of good promises.

I had to self talk myself through the entire day. I was not able to recover my sense of peace and comfort. In my mind that could not happen at work. It could only be recovered once I got home.

Somewhere along the line I had forgotten what it says in Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”

God is with us wherever we go. He is with us in every situation. When I lifted Cat up to protect her from falling, she simply felt me squeezing her and taking her out of her place of rest. My intent was to put her right back in that place of peace after I made my adjustment. However, she was uncomfortable for that brief moment and squirmed away. She still hasn’t returned.

I was no different. When the squeeze was on at work, I forgot the One that lifts me up when the rivers of difficulty flow. He was with me all day but I was scrambling on my own trying to stay afloat. Oh how I still have so much more to learn when it comes to resting in God’s promises.

If you find yourself feeling skittish about the river you are in, I encourage you to go straight to the Lord for protection. He will keep you safe. He will either keep you afloat while the rivers rush by, or He will lift you out of them completely. Don’t be afraid of the squeeze. It is not meant to harm you. It is meant to protect you!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce love. Thank you for protecting me from the rivers of difficulty I am in. Help me to maintain my peace even as the river rushes past me. Help me to rest in your arms while you carry me through. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a River of Peace For Us All,

Jen

 

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A Visible Image of God

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. -Colossians 1:15a

In the Old Testament no one was allowed to truly see God. Their human body could not handle His glory. If they were to actually see God, His glory would kill them. Even his greatest prophets couldn’t handle his glory. When Moses asked to see God, God replies, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. . . . But . . . you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:19–20).

Do you ever wonder what God looks like? Do you have a picture of Him in your head? I don’t where this image comes from, but for me He has a great head of white hair (like really great hair) and a face that shows age and wisdom but not in a wrinkled kind of way.  His eyes are eyes of fire and lightening yet they are not scary. He appears magnificently large and authoritative, yet again I am not afraid. He wears a white robe that is the whitest white I have ever seen, and it drapes down over His throne.

What about Jesus? What does He look like? In my mind His appearance is way different than God the Father’s. He has nice, shoulder length, slightly wavy, brown hair. His skin is smooth, somewhat olive in tone. He has the kindest eyes I have ever imagined. His eyes are filled with compassion and forgiveness. One look at Him will forever change you.

I think many people have an image of God the Father, as the big, stern, demanding, authoritative one, and Jesus is the nice one. Kind of like good cop, bad cop. But Jesus says in John 14:9, Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father!

We may not have the ability to see the face of God the Father, but we can see the heart of God by looking at Jesus. It says in Colossians 1:15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

When we look at Jesus in the gospels, what do we see? We see a man full of compassion and grace. We see wisdom. We see humility. We see patience. We see love.

When looking at the life of Jesus, we see love, as explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

We see Jesus fulfill every description of love during his time on earth. Since Jesus is the visible image of God, we see that God is also love. When the enemy tries to tell me God is disappointed in me, or God can’t believe I made that same mistake again, I find comfort in replacing the word love in the above verses with the name of God. It also makes a great prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to come and be the visible image of you. thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving me. You are patient and kind with me. You are not boastful or proud or rude towards me. You do not demand your own way, you give me free will. You are not irritable, and you keep no record of  wrongs, I am truly forgiven. You do not rejoice over injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. You never give up on me, lose faith in me, you are always hopeful towards me, and you have endured through every circumstance for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and An Image of God For Us All,

Jen

 

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Enjoy All That Is Yours Today!

He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. -Colossians 1:12b

Yesterday we looked at the first part of Colossians 1:12, which included part of Paul’s prayer for the church in Colosse. He prayed that they would be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

I suggested that this fullness of joy often comes when we stop and take time to thank God for all He has done for us and through us. Taking our eyes off of all that is wrong and putting them not only on all that is right, but on the One that made them right, minimizes the impact of the things that rob us of our joy.

The remainder of verse twelve reveals to us another reason we should be living in the fullness of joy. It says He has enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

In the past, I have read that verse and thought “that’s nice”, and moved on. I have never really stopped to meditate on what it is telling us. Last month when I began reading Colossians, the word inheritance jumped out at me. “What exactly is the inheritance that belongs to me?” I wrote in my journal.

I knew the inheritance was more than the ability to go to heaven some day. Though I do not comprehend it all, I do understand that being a child of God is so much more than a ticket to heaven. I know that we have the privilege of going boldly before the throne of Grace to commune with the Lord at anytime (Hebrews 4:16) . I know we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to guide us in all Truth (John 16:13). I know we have forgiveness of sin (Romans 5:15).

These are all wonderful Truths, that I am truly grateful for, but they really don’t sound like an “inheritance”.

Inheritance- something that is or may be inheritedproperty passing at the owner’s death to the heir or those entitled to succeed; legacy.

I sat on this verse for a week or two meditating on how to comprehend and put into words, exactly what our inheritance is. During my study time the Lord brought me to the story of the prodigal son.

Most people are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. It is one of those stories that even the world has heard of- kind of like David and Goliath. As I was reading it (Luke 15:11-32), I was thinking in the back of my mind “I know this story by heart. I have heard this story told a million ways over the years. I even consider myself a prodigal.” I continued to read though, knowing that if I was brought there, there was clearly a one million and one detail for me to comprehend.

At the end of the story we see the older brother having a meltdown. He is angry over the fact that his father is throwing a party for his baby brother who selfishly ran off to spend his inheritance while the older brother stayed home working his butt off (Jen Gilbert translation).

He complains to his father about it. His father responds by saying in Luke 15:31 “Look, dear son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours”.

The relationship between the father and two sons in the story of the prodigal is the story of God’s heart towards us. The father’s response to the younger son shows us there is nothing we can do to separate us from the love of God. The father’s response to the older son shows us that all that belongs to our Father is freely given to us now. We do not need to wait until we get to heaven to inherit all of the good things our Father has for us.

It gives Him great pleasure to bless us, especially when we use our blessings to be a blessing to others. There are many Christians that live their life like the older brother. They work and work FOR God, but never understand His love and generosity towards them. They think they have to earn it. When they see others freely receive good things, they get angry and jealous, believing it is not fair. If not dealt with this anger can cause them to drift away from the Lord. I have seen it happen in many. I have been there myself.

Let’s not be the older brother. Let’s join the party! Let’s celebrate all that our Father is doing in all our Sisters lives, knowing that there is plenty for each and every one of us. I don’t know about you, but that right there makes me happy- joyful even. Funny how that works 🙂

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce and reckless love towards me. Thank you that when I am a long ways off from you, you look for me, waiting for me to come home to you. Thank you for the good gifts you have for me. Help me to freely receive every good gift that comes from you. Use me to be a light and a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Love, Grace, and an Inheritance For Us All,

Jen

 

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Resurrection Power

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. -Colossians 1:11 New Living Translation

Happy New Year! I pray your hearts desires will fully manifest in 2018!

In my last post I talked about the endurance training we all go through in our lives. We endure pain, suffering, heartbreak, loss, and many other things. There is no escaping it. Both believers and unbelievers experience these things during their short time on earth.

Though we all experience these things, we, as believers, have been given many advantages over the nonbelievers endurance training. We have the blessed assurance that our time on earth is not all there is. It is nothing compared to eternity with our loved ones. We are promised a place where there is no pain and suffering, no sickness and lack, no fighting, no anxious thoughts, and no death.

We have also been given the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, to minister to us when we are hurting and broken. We have the privilege and power of prayer- the ability to commune with our Creator as we share our hardships with Him and turn our cares and concerns over to Him.

According to todays verse, we also have the glorious power and might of the Lord. Before you nod and think “that’s nice”, I want you to understand and comprehend what this means. In fact, I encourage you to stop reading and ask the Lord to help you understand and comprehend when you are about to read. That He may make it come alive within you.

In order to fully appreciate what this power is, we need to look at the original Greek meaning of it. The word for power is dunameos, where we get our word dynamite. It is explosive power! It is resurrection power!

According to Ephesians 1:19-20, this explosive, resurrection power has been made available to us who believe. I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power 20 that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him[a] to the place of highest honor and supreme authority[b] in the heavenly realm!

The same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead has been made available to us! Does your marriage need a little resurrecting? Does your faith need a little resurrection? How about your dreams? Your goals? Your career?

Don’t sit whining and complaining like you are an unbeliever (preaching to myself here). Take hold of this truth and ask the Lord to bring His explosive, resurrecting power into every area of your life! Think of him rubbing defibrillator paddles together and placing them on whatever area(s) of your life are dead or dying…CLEAR!!!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithful love towards me. Thank you for all you have done for me, and through me. Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for the promise of your explosive, resurrection power. Thank you for bringing back to life those areas of my life that are dead or dying. give me faith to believe they will be revived. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Resurrection Power For Us All,

Jen

 

 

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Endurance Training

[we pray that you may be] strengthened and invigorated with all power, according to His glorious might, to attain every kind of endurance – Colossians 1:11 Amplified Bible

Running a marathon by the age of forty used to be a goal of mine. Key words in that sentence being “used to”.  Now, at the age of forty five, my thoughts towards running a marathon are “a’int nobody got time for that”.

I admire endurance athletes. Their dedication to their sport fascinates me. Training for a marathon takes hours and hours of disciplined effort. I have friends that get up at 4am every morning to run. I have friends that run despite having plantar fasciitis. I have friends that run whether it is 10 below or 90 and humid. As for me, I am more of a jog/walk when the sun is out and its 68-72 without humidity, and with a friend, kind of Girl.

When it comes to setting and reaching goals I often hear the quote “it is a marathon, not a sprint”. Though I tend to roll my eyes at the cliche of it, it really is true. In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, it is going to require endurance training of some sort.

It is no different with our faith. Our faith journey will require ongoing endurance training. According to today’s verse, there is more than one kind of endurance we will need.

We will need emotional endurance to forgive, and to walk in love towards others. We will need physical endurance to accomplish the things God has planned for us. Most of all, we will need spiritual endurance when the enemy attacks our beliefs through sickness, lack, broken relationships, and the many, many, lies he speaks to us daily.

endurance:

1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.

2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina

3. something enduredas a hardship; trial.
When I look at the above definitions for endurance, specific situations and events come to mind. I think of the financial hardships we have gone through. I think of the pain of lost loved ones. I think of the times I was so exhausted and stressed out over a situation in my life.
Yet, despite these things, I am still here. And so are you! We have come through and are on the other side of many trials, struggles, and pains. We still believe that God is good. We still believe His promises are true. We know with all our being that life with Him is far better than life without Him, no matter how big the trial may be.
It says in James 1:3-4 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Clearly my endurance is not perfect and complete, as I am still in need of a few things :). However, the Good News is that we do not have to do this endurance training on our own. According to today’s verse we are strengthened by the glorious might and power of Christ.
This glorious power is nothing to scoff at. It is a power like no other as we will learn tomorrow. I will give you a little hint: It will blow your mind
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your unfailing love towards me. Thank you for blessing me with all of the strength and endurance I will need for each day. Thank you for the many times you have strengthened me in the midst of trial and hardship. Thank you for promising me that I will come out of the trial stronger than better than before. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Love, Grace, and Enduring Faith For Us All,
Jen
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Love, Dad

…as you learn to know God better and better. -Colossians 1:10

Last week marks eight years since my dad went home to be with the Lord. When he first passed, people would tell me that it gets easier, that the pain subsides. I don’t know that it really gets easier. I think it’s more that you just get used to the permanent void you feel in your heart and in your life. It becomes a new norm. A new sucky norm.

My dad was the best. My dad and mom took us on many family vacations. We went boating, skiing, and site seeing to places I said I didn’t want to go, but always ended up having fun going to.

My dad loved to tease. As a father of four girls I am sure his sense of humor is what kept him sane. He worked hard to provide for his family, even if it required him to be away for long periods of time. He had an entrepreneurial spirit, and after a couple not so successful business ideas, he found his business legacy.

I was blessed to spend a lot of time with my dad both growing up and as an adult. As a kid I knew him to be kind, generous and caring. As an adult I got to know his heart.

When my kids were little my dad and I spent many hours at the YMCA together. We would be side by side on treadmills. He would tell me what news stories had him upset, what his political thoughts were, what ailments his friends may be dealing with, and most of all, my mom.

He would go on and on about how busy and hard working she was around the house, how she only had a piece of toast for breakfast and still had all that energy, and most of all how attractive she was. He would talk about how some of there friends didn’t age so well but that mom just kept getting more and more beautiful. Sometimes I had to ask him to stop because I was afraid of where the conversation may be going 😉

This morning as I was praying about what to write, I remembered the letters I stumbled upon this summer when I was cleaning out my closet. I had letters from friends, my oldest sister, my mom, and my dad. Though all of the letters are precious to me, the ones from my dad spoke to my heart the most. Not only because he is no longer with us, but also because he didn’t verbally express a lot of feelings and emotions. We knew he loved us, but he didn’t say it often. However, on paper he was very expressive and personal.

I dug those letters out and reread them this morning. I found one that I hadn’t read this summer. It revealed things to me that I had not retained the first time I read them years ago. Though I always knew my dad loved me, reading his words this morning completely unraveled me. To hear my dad’s heart towards me. To hear his concern. To hear his hopes for me and my future. It was an unexpected gift to me this morning.

I tell you all this because today’s verse talks about knowing God better and better. Some people argue that you cannot really “know God”, but I disagree.  I would say that the best way to know God is to follow the same pattern I did with my dad.

It’s really pretty simple; spend time talking to Him, listening to Him, and reading His letters. His Word is a love letter written to each of us. In it we find who we are, how He sees us, and what His plans and hopes for our future is. We see His love for us. We see His provision for us. We see that He is proud to call us daughter.

If we want to grow in our faith, bear good fruit, and live a life that brings honor and pleases the Lord, the best thing we can do is get to know our heavenly Father. He wants to share His heart with us. We need to slow our lives down enough to listen.

Now that my dad is gone, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to sit and speak with him again. If it weren’t for the blessed assurance that I will get to spend eternity with him in heaven, I don’t know if I would’ve recovered from his passing. I don’t want to get to heaven and wish I would’ve spent more time on earth communing with the Lord as well…

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce love for me. Thank you for your precious thoughts towards me. Thank you for allowing me to sit at your feet and commune with you. Thank you for your written Word that shares your heart, your hope, and your plans for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Letter of Love For Us All,

Jen

 

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