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Overcoming Sadness

Overcoming Sadness

Have you ever been in a really sad season of life?
A season where your sadness overwhelms and feels like it is going to crush you.

A season where you force yourself to crawl out of bed because you don’t want to face anyone or anything the day has to offer.

A season where you feel so alone, all you want to do is cry. A season where the promises of God seem so far away, you have to fight every day to believe them.

That’s the season I’ve been in in the past.

My sadness seemed every where, a prison created by my own self-centeredness combined with the brokenness that is etched into this world. Everyday I would wake up and pray to God to sustain me. I met with a friend who pointed me to truth and encouraged me that there is beauty in authenticity and in rejoicing in the midst of very real pain. She pointed me to scripture that reminded me of the Gospel and gave me practical suggestions to focus my heart on Jesus and I would love to share those with you friends.

BE REAL

I don’t know about you, but my whole life I’ve tried to be perfect. To look perfect, act perfect, have it all together- the fake it till you make it mentality. Imperfections were never an option. But here’s the thing- we are broken.
We are weak.
We are little.
God is strong.
God is powerful.
God sustains.
God wants every aspect of our hearts and most of the times, going through that process is painful. Usually God puts us out of our comfortable situations into uncomfortable one where we have to be stretched. Sad seasons are uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable when a stranger asks how you’re doing to say, “You know what, it’s a hard season, but I am fighting to believe God’s promises through it.” But God desires our integrity. He wants us to be real- to be honest. Not necessarily to bare our souls and tell our deepest sin struggles to every stranger at the grocery store. But he wants us to be real, to be authentic.

MAKE A LIST OF THANKFULNESS

Everyday now I am making a list of things I am thankful for. At the top of this list is always the Gospel. When you remember that Jesus Christ, who was fully man and fully God, came to earth, lived the perfect life, died the death that we deserved, then defeated death so that we could be restored back into the original design He intended for us-it puts everything back into perspective. It centers our hearts where they should be- on Jesus. God wants us to rejoice through suffering.

MEMORIZE PROMISES

Scripture is our weapon. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Here are some promises from scripture to encourage and remind you of the heart of God and how to rejoice through sadness.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14

God is sovereign over all things-all suffering, all sadness. He is sovereign over all circumstances. He is sovereign over Satan. God is sovereign over suffering. He uses it to make us more like Him, to make us understand our utter and complete dependance upon Him. The times I have been closest to God are the darkness times of my life. God used my biggest fear and biggest hardship to call me into ministry. I remember it vividly. I hadn’t eaten in days because I was crying out to the Lord to sustain me. I had been attacked by one of my closest guy friends. My biggest fear had become my biggest reality. I cried out to God, telling Him I had no desire to live anymore. With a soft voice He answered me with Philippians 1:21, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Right then I knew that this God who met me in the midst of my deepest sadness and rescued me-is a God worth living for-worth giving everything for.
God used that hardship to push me into ministry. We do not suffer in vain.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

God does not withhold good from us. All His plans are for His glory and for our good.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Our power belongs to God. We are His broken vessels to do His will. We are going to be attacked on every side, but we are never without hope. Our lives and our hope is rooted completely in Jesus and in the cross.

God uses suffering. He uses it to remind us of our desperate need for Him. He wants our whole heart. He wants our everything. Remind yourself every day of the Gospel, of His promises, and that He is a good, good Father.

 

Love you sister,

Rach

How I Read the Bible

How I Read the Bible

I used to always be that kid who would hold my Bible between my hands, with my eyes closed and face positioned skyward and say, “Ok, God show me what you got!” and then I would open to a random spot in the Bible, hoping the Spirit would move. Don’t get me wrong, God can move that way. I just wish that someone had taught me a practical way to actually study the Word of God and It’s importance in my life.

WHY DO WE STUDY THE BIBLE?

It is our authority.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training up in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Scripture is God’s Word to us.

That is why we study it and that is why it is essential to know it. It is our road map in this crazy world. The Bible is God’s revealed will to our lives. Have you ever just hit a cross road in your life and are crying out to God to show you what to do?
Open your Bible.
God speaks to you through His living and active Word. That also reminds me of Hebrews 1:1-2, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.” We study the Bible because it is our authority and It is God’s will He has chosen to reveal to us.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE

 

I use the method of studying the Word called REAP. It’s an acronym for Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray. I choose one chapter of the Bible and go through all these steps.

1. READ

This step is as easy as it sounds. Just read the chapter. Then in your journal write a short summary restating what was in the chapter. Don’t get too philosophical just yet. Just write a short summary about what you read.

2. EXAMINE

Next, you are going to think about the chapter using these questions:
1) What characteristics of God does this passage reveal? His goodness? His holiness? His compassion? His righteous wrath? His power? What is this passage teaching me about God?

2) What is this passage teaching me about people? What is the state of humanity without God? How do we change with God?

3. APPLY

Now apply this scripture to your life. Be honest with yourself. Are there areas in your life, you are refusing to surrender to God? Is there sin in your life that you need to confess through prayer and then turn away from? What characteristics of God are you not believing or accepting? What characteristics of man do you disagree with? How can you use this scripture to bring more glory to God’s name, to know him more, and walk more closely with Him?

4. PRAY

One of the biggest roles the Holy Spirit has in our lives is to teach us and remind us of Truth. Whenever I pray I confess whatever sin or unbelief is in my heart. I then ask the Spirit to help me trust in God’s goodness and His plan for my life. I ask the Spirit to conform my heart to be less like mine and more like Jesus’. I ask for Him to transform me. Change me. I ask Him to take away any façade of pride, doubt, or unbelief. Pray about what you just learned and ask the Holy Spirit to change you.

It’s my prayer for all us that God will work in our hearts through the power of His Word. It’s my prayer that when we wake up every morning we would remember Lamentations 3:22-23, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” It’s my heartfelt prayer that God’s Word would reign in our hearts and lives. I pray that His Truth would permeate every single sinful crevice of our hearts and transform us more everyday into the perfect, radiance of Christ.

LYLAS,
Rachel

Five Ways to Overcome Shame

Five Ways to Overcome Shame

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a wallower.

 

Whenever I make a mistake, I will beat myself up for hours or even days. Conviction hits me hard. It’s really probably one of my most annoying qualities. All my friends have told me to never, ever wake them up before 9 am. Whenever I am feeling guilty of something, I always have to confess in the early hours of the morning. The Holy Spirit convicts us after we have sinned and that is a good thing: it keeps us in check and makes us continue to walk with God when we’ve strayed. But here’s the thing: we don’t have to feel guilty after we have repented or turned away from our sin. I want to share some truth with you that I need constant reminding of also.

1. YOU ARE SET FREE IN CHRIST

Jesus’ blood has covered you. You are set free from the bondage of sin. You don’t have to continue berating yourself after you have confessed and repented of your sin. Let it go and focus on how you can live your life to honor God instead of analyzing your past mistakes. Dwelling on your past mistakes doesn’t do you any good and it actually minimizes Jesus’ death and resurrection in your mind. Believe that the cross is bigger than your sin, because it is. Once you repent, keep your eyes focused onward and upward. Don’t live in the guilt and shame of your past mistakes, Christ has covered you sister!

2. REMEMBER THAT GOD USES SINNERS

Whenever I open up Psalms, I thank God that He used David. If you are not familiar with his story, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) who messed up royally. He committed adultery and then murdered to cover up his sin. I know God used someone like David on purpose: to show us that God can use anyone. God uses sinners and even sinners like David can still have a heart after God. It’s more about God’s grace and glory than it is about us anyway-God loves to work through broken and messed up people just like us.

3. WE’RE ONLY HUMAN

One thing to remember is that we’re all on this life journey together. No matter how godly or perfect someone may seem, every single one of us messes up. Everyone has fallen short of God’s grace. There is nothing we can ever do to deserve it. We will make mistakes, even if we are trying with everything we have to walk with the Lord. We are imperfect people.

4. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

It’s important to recognize when you’ve messed up and make changes. I know in college, I literally made the same mistakes over and over again. I kept on messing up and then running to God because I felt convicted. Once you’ve made a mistake, put up barriers to help you not make that same mistake. Ask a trusted friend who loves the Lord to hold you accountable to remind you of the power of the gospel. Let your conviction teach you. Remember-God calls us to repentance through kindness-not shame or guilt.

5. GUILT ISN’T ALWAYS HEALTHY

There is a natural conviction that you should feel after you have stepped outside of God’s will. That conviction brings you back to Him and makes you change. But if you have confessed and repented from your sin, then the enemy might be using your guilt as a weapon. I know when I have really messed up, little thoughts creep into my mind and tell me that I am not worthy of God’s love or make me doubt my calling.

These are lies.

God can handle any sin you throw His way. And the cross has already covered it.

It doesn’t matter how huge it is.

He can handle it.

Recognize these lies from the enemy and remind yourself of Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Whenever you feel guilt about a past sin, remember that you are forgiven.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. The Holy Spirit will use conviction bring us back to Him. But once you have confessed and repented, don’t continue beating yourself up over a past sin you can’t change.

Instead, look to the future.

See how God can use those past mistakes to bring him glory. You are not tethered to that sin anymore because you are set free in Christ. His blood has completely redeemed you! I am unbelievably thankful for that freedom we have in Christ.

-Rach

How to Use Sin to Draw Closer to God

How to Use Sin to Draw Closer to God
Have you ever done something wrong and felt so awful and convicted that you thought you were beyond the salvation of Christ? Have you ever done something and then the next few days had a horrible feeling in your stomach and felt so disgusted about it that you felt like you could get sick at any second?

 

If you’ve ever felt this way, I have some great news for you. You are free from sin through Christ.
Any sin.
Every sin.
All sin.
Once you have realized your brokenness and accepted God’s gift of salvation through His Son, you are set free from all condemnation.
This is liberating.
This is exciting.
This is life changing.

But that feeling of the weight of your sin still won’t go away. You still feel convicted. I am going to go through some helpful pointers to remind you of your identity and some truths that should never be forgotten.

  1. A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE IS NOT MARKED BY SINLESSNESS, BUT BY REPENTANCE

Being a Christian does not magically mean you will never sin again. 1 John:8-9 states, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to forgive us from all unrighteousness.”

In fact the closer you get to the Lord, the more aware of your sin you will be. That means God will shed the light on sins that you used to think may not have mattered as much. Martin Luther said it best, “All of life is repentance.” As a Christian, you will mess up. And you will mess up bad. But the difference is having a repentant heart. That means turning away from the sin and looking to the cross.

2. YOUR SIN IS A CATALYST FOR WORSHIPPING JESUS

So you messed up again. You did that thing you PROMISED yourself you would never do again. You got convicted, prayed, and repented of the sin.

Now what?

Now you praise God for His unending mercy and grace for covering that sin by sending His perfect Son to die for you. Your sin reveals how much you desperately need God and revives a thankfulness within you to praise His Name all the more. Jesus is our advocate. He fights for us. 1 John 2:1-2 states, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.” He loves us.

3. YOUR FAITH IS STRONG BECAUSE OF WHO YOU TRUST IN

Your faith is rooted in the everlasting, all-powerful, all knowing God. That is where your faith gets its strength. It doesn’t get it from you being able to “be good” or follow every rule perfectly. If it was dependent upon that, you would fail. But no, your faith is derived from GOD. That is where it’s strength is from, not you. So you don’t have to fear because His love never fails (Psalm 136:1).

4. THERE IS HOPE

There will be a time when we are reunited with our Lord. At that time, all our sinfulness will be stripped away and we will be in perfect union with Him once more. Revelation 22:5 states, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and the Lamb of God will be in it and the servants will worship Him. […] And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

We live in a broken world. We are sinful people who will mess up over and over again. But the mark of a believer is one who repents and is reminded of God’s salvation through His Son and praises the Lord through that trial. Whenever you sin, praise God for His unending and overflowing mercy that covers your life.

-Rachel

5 Ways to Battle Jealousy

5 Ways to Battle Jealousy
We all know the girl: the girl who seems to glide through life effortlessly. Her laugh draws others in. She’s the one all the guys want to date and all the girls want to be her best friend. Everything just seems to be handed to her without any effort on her part. It’s annoying when she wins prom queen and gets a full ride to college all in one week. As you watch her charmed life unfold, it’s easy for jealousy for sneak it’s way into your mind and heart. It’s easy for the enemy to begin to embed seeds of doubt into your heart as you begin to want what she has. I’ve found some really helpful tips to battle the green monster of jealousy over the years and wanted to share them with you.

1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE

This is the best way to battle jealousy. When you know that you are so secure in your identity as a daughter of the Most High, everything else fades into the background. Walk in the power and the strength that you are His daughter, embrace your identity as a princess and you will stop worrying about how perfect everyone else’s live may seem. Seek God every day. Make him your focus and your priority; jealousy will fade.

2. FOCUS ON LOVING HER

As Christians we are called to be lights to those around us. That means loving others even when it is hard. Instead of seeing other’s successes in a negative way, celebrate with her! Be genuinely happy when something goes well for your friend. Show her Christ’s love. Put your energy into finding ways to love her rather than tear her down.

3. STOP THINKING OF YOURSELF

It’s really hard not to be self-centered. But sometimes we need to be told that we are not the center of the universe. Whenever we get feelings of jealousy, its because we are focusing too much on ourselves. Sometimes we need to step back and ask God to help us not look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). We should be exhibiting humility to those around us. The Bible actually tells us to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). When we keep this mentality, it keeps jealousy at bay and helps us rejoice when others succeed.

4. DO NOT GOSSIP

It’s so easy to pick apart tiny flaws people have when we want to feel better about ourselves. It’s easy to scrutinize a picture and talk about how she edited it and she’s not that pretty in real life. I know I am guilty of this. Whenever you feel the urge to tear someone down by gossiping, remember who you are representing.
You are representing Jesus.
Jesus loves you and He loves her.
Don’t tear down someone else to make yourself feel better. Besides talking bad about someone else only makes you look insecure and it doesn’t make you any better!

What is beautiful is being confident enough to acknowledge someone else’s intellect, talent, or beauty and knowing that it doesn’t threaten yours at all.

5. JEALOUSY AND FRIENDSHIP CAN’T CO-EXIST

There’s nothing that kills a friendship more than jealousy. You shouldn’t compete with your friends. Instead you should encourage and lift each other up. You should allow and encourage each other to be the best versions of yourselves. Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times. Keep that mind. Focus on loving your friends and bringing out their best.

Jealousy is something all girls have to battle. We all struggle with it. Whenever you feel it sneaking up on you remember these five tips and most importantly, remember who you are. Remember that you have been called to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. And remember that you are always representing Christ.

Radically,
Rachel