31: Who Jesus Says We Are -- Sealed

envelope-wax-seal We are victorious, we are secure, we are held, we are redeemed, we are chosen, approved, and accepted. We are fully equipped through the strength we have in Christ. And we are sealed. As believers, we bear the mark of Christ, and when we stand before the throne of grace, we are recognized as belonging to Him. The sinless Lamb took the punishment that we deserved.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. -- Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)

So, as we come to the end of this thirty-one days, I offer this finishing prayer:

Lord, thank you for meeting us and for hearing our prayers. Thank you that we can approach your throne and experience the grace by which we are saved. Take this offering, these words, and use them for your glory. Bless the writers and the readers from the past thirty-one days, and remind them of your presence and your unrelenting love for them. Give us all boldness as we go into the world, and help us to walk in the assurance that we are never alone -- that you go before us. Lord, I pray that we would find our worth, our security, and our identities in you alone. Thank you for creating us in your image and for sending Jesus to hit the mark in our stead. Our redemption came at such a great cost, but you paid the price because you love us. Help us each to communicate that love to others through our words and our actions. In Jesus' name, so be it. 

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The Conversation Starts Here: 

As we come to the end of this series, what have you learned or been reminded of about your identity in Christ?

How has Jesus worked in your heart through this series?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the thirty-first of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

 

29: Who Jesus Says We Are -- Victorious

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetCall me crazy, call it elementary. After twenty years in church, four of which were spent attending chapel daily in college, worship has taken on a new meaning in my life. Of course, it is easy to stand up on a Sunday morning and sing the words towards the ceiling. Its even easy to lift your hands. But internalizing the words and making them your own is quite a different story. For me, that process began a few months ago. Honestly, I can't even remember the particular song we were singing that morning, but I'm sure it had something to do with becoming victors over the giants in our lives, demons fleeing, and coming to life through Christ. I began to really consider the words, and thinking about the giants in my life. I thought about the demons that have plagued me -- things like family issues, my own anxiety, fear, depression, and self-injury. Some days, those things seem insurmountable, especially when the enemy sneaks in the back door to whisper that my pain is insignificant.

The Trauma said don't write this poem. No one wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones. My bones said write the poem. -- Andrea Gibson, The Nutritionist

What I realized is that through worshiping -- by speaking God's word back to Him, I could become the victor of every battle, knowing that Jesus has won the war.

[Tweet "Through worshiping, I can become the victor of every battle, knowing that Jesus has won the war."]

I know what you might be thinking. Of course, I had read the scripture. I knew that I could do all things through Christ, and that he has made me more than a conqueror. Intellectually, I knew it like the back of my hand. But my heart had to catch up. Isn't that the way it always goes? It is for me, at least. Even after an entire lifetime spent singing the songs and lifting my hands, I am quick to forget that which I have not hidden in my heart and bound around my neck. I write here to remember. 

All of the sudden, I was singing about my giants falling and my demons fleeing, and dry bones coming aliveMy dry bones. 

I realized how thirsty I was -- how desperate I was for a victory that was already mine. And God met me in that place of desperation. The Holy Spirit was gracious to remind me that I am never alone in the heat of these battles.

No matter what I face, He is good, and He is able, and He is with me.

[Tweet "No matter what I face, He is good, and He is able, and He is with me."]

Greater is He that is in me, that inhabits my praise and calls me daughter. Greater is He than anxiety, depression, fear, and circumstance. Isn't that the most amazing promise?

 

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The Conversation Starts Here: 

What mountains are you facing today?

How can I pray for you?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the twenty-ninth of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

 

28: Who Jesus Says We Are: Secure

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI could feel all forty eyes burning a hole in my head as I explained to the foster care trainer during our group exercise on relationships that no, even as a teenager I would not have dated someone that was disrespectful. He scoffed, making some harsh retort about my standards being way too high. For all sixty seconds of a minute, I felt embarrassed. I played with the hem of my blouse, avoiding eye contact. As soon as the sixty seconds was up, I moved on. Who did he think he was to tell me about my standards, anyway? I had been sitting in his classroom for all of four days. It seems to be an ongoing trend in my life, these high standards. I've had them ever since I can remember.  And they've been scoffed at ever since I can remember. But I've never cared  what anyone says about them, and I've never really thought about lowering them for anyone. From the outside looking in, I am a champion of security, paying no mind to what other people think. After all, the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

But on the inside? I can be incredibly sensitive and insecure. Instead of letting the words and opinions of others roll off my back, I meditate on them. They burrow underneath my skin and fester there. I'm quick to become bitter and angry. I'm anxious that you might be catching on to my imperfection.

And so I worry. I worry about my expectations, the inner workings of my closet, my thighs that touch, the seventeen layers of dust caked on my baseboards. I wonder what you will think.

I wonder if I'm worthy of your love. I look to you for security.

But the truth is, when we look to other people to ascribe our worth, we will always fall short. There will always be someone who does not notice, who disagrees, who scoffs, or who just doesn't care.

Even though I know that in my head, my heart still hasn't fallen into line. My flesh is clumsy and forgetful. I find myself stumbling, groping for security in my standards, in my good girl image, in my platforms.

But worth and security can only be found in Christ.

Friend, your worth and security are not dependent upon the circumference of your waist, the number of times your womb had been occupied, the cleanliness of your house, your salary, whether you shop at high end retailers or in thrift stores, or what anyone else says about you. It is not dependent upon anything that you have done or ever will do.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Romans 8:37-39

Loved one, did you catch that? Nothing can separate you from His love. It is unrelenting, pursuing, jealous. Your worth is found in the fact that He calls you daughter.

Because I am Yours, my worth is secure.

We can conquer over shame and doubt because of what Jesus has done for us. We can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He is good and He loves us and knows the inner workings of our hearts. He longs to be gracious to us. He longs to show us everyday that He is exactly who He says He is, and that we are His beloved, cherished, very good creation.

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The Conversation Starts Here: 

Where do you go in search of security? Have you found it there?

What do you want others to know about their security?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the twenty-eighth of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

 

27: Who Jesus Says We Are: Held

Last week, IProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset talked about how I've recently hit my one year anniversary as a social worker, and how I never knew how difficult it would be when I signed on. Many days, I have run myself ragged trying to get everything done. I have come home frustrated and exhausted, and it has been hard to make out any light at the end of the tunnel. And when the gloom and doom are the sole focus of my attention, it becomes difficult to remember the simple truth that no matter what happens, I am blessed. When I look back over the past year, I can only say that it is only by the grace of God that I have made it. There have been thousands of miles, more than a dozen children -- parents who have died, parents who have been put in jail, emergency room visits, pregnancy tests, the threat of communicable disease, runaways, telephone calls in the middle of the night, and more. There has been more anxiety than you would think one fragile person can withstand.

There were days when it seemed the only thing keeping me from having a panic attack while driving in Atlanta was the fact that I simply could not stop the car in the middle of I-285.

There are so many things that I don't understand, so many things that I do not know. But what I can tell you for sure is that over the past year, I have experienced the Lord's mercy and compassion like never before. He has been so near and personal to me.

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. -- Lamentations 3:22 (NIV)

He has held me, and held me together.

And when I look back over my life, I see that He has been holding me together through every moment.

Even the ones when I was quick to turn to something else in search of safety or fulfillment. So often, I am forgetful of the fact that none of this comes as a surprise to God. He longs to be gracious, and how often do I neglect the freedom He has given? How often do I deliberately choose to ignore freedom? I shudder to even consider it.

Yet, I am held, and I am blessed. Even on the days when the bottom falls out. Even when the bills fill up the mailbox. Even when it feels like I am a complete failure as a wife and a homemaker. Even when I disappoint people. The grace of God covers me, and I am held.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. -- Colossians 1:17 (NASB)

I don't know what it is you're facing today. Perhaps you feel like you've reached the end of your rope, and you feel like maybe His grace will run out. But you can rest assured that His grace never fails. You can rest, assured. He is a Savior and a problem fixer and a provider and the Lover of your soul. He is patient and kind and He is ready to catch you.

So I offer this prayer of letting go:

Lord, it is in You that we live and move and have our being. Thank You for being a God who does not fall asleep at the wheel, but is intimately involved in even the most seemingly insignificant details of our lives. Help us to slow down today, and take in how You love us. Help us to let go of the earthly things we cling to and instead hold fast to the promise that You will not let us fall. Help us to remember that You are our strength, our healer, our provider, and that You go before us. You are faithful to pick us up when we stumble. Lord, I pray that the person reading these words in this moment will experience Your nearness and Your love for them that never runs out. In Jesus' name, so be it.

 

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The Conversation Starts Here: 

What is it that you need to let go of in order to hold on to Jesus?

How can I pray for you today?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the twenty-seventh of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October. To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here. You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog). Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

26: I Can Just Be Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrXOOZyMemY Funny, I had heard bits and pieces of this song while driving, and totally wrote it off as one of those feel good songs that lacked a lot of depth and meaning. But the more I listened, the more I grew to love it. It has become an anthem in my life.

We don't have to have it all together. It always have to be wrapped up with a pretty bow. Because if He's got the whole world in His hands, He's got you, friend.

God, help me let You be God. Let my weaknesses declare Your strengths.