This past week my faith was put to the test. And I’m sad to say that I stumbled and fell. In fact, I face-planted. It was an epic fail!
My family has been planning a big renovation on our front porch for a while now. I knew that this project was going to be bigger than some others we have done in the past. And I knew that it would require a lot of time and physical labor. Because we usually do all of the work ourselves, I wanted to have everything else done and be able to concentrate all of my efforts on the porch reno. As the time to start the project grew closer, I began making preparations for it. I managed to get the laundry caught up, the meals planned and groceries bought, my blog post written and anything else I could think of.
But there was one thing I couldn’t foresee coming my way. Right in the middle of the porch reno, I started to get bug bites all over my body. They were small and itchy and more and more of them showed up every day. We had a flea infestation on our hands! I couldn’t understand why this was happening. We don’t have any pets right now and we treated the yard for bugs like we do every summer. But here I was, covered in flea bites from head to toe. It was awful and we’ve never had anything like this happen before. I was at a loss as to what to do.
I really didn’t want to take the time to deal with it. But it reached critical mass about three days into the reno and I realized I had no choice but to stop and deal with this distraction. Since I was waking up with new bites every morning, we thought that the majority of the fleas were coming from my bed. So, after reading online about how to get rid of my unwanted house guests, we bought some flea powder and sprinkled it all over the bed. The instructions on the powder said to let it sit for a while so went back to work on the porch. We spent the next few hours out in the heat, tearing up the front porch and peering up the joist boards.
Honestly, by the time we came in to vacuum up the flea powder, I was hot, sweaty, itchy and tired. I was really spent. But I couldn’t lay down and rest with all of that flea powder on the bed, so I started sweeping it up. My mind began to wonder, and all I could think about was how miserable I felt. It started as a simple thought, “thanks a lot God, I really needed this right now!” Immediately I regretted that thought. And immediately I wanted to take it back. But there it was, for God to hear. That thought took hold of me and filled me with shame and regret.
This one moment of weakness had made me question my faith. Not because of God, but because of me. If I was so weak that I couldn’t get through this little bump in the road, then how could I ever be an effective witness for Christ?
But God reminded me, I’m not saved because of anything that I have ever done or will ever do. I don’t have that kind of power. I am saved because of grace. Period.
God is good, isn’t He? I turned to Him and asked for forgiveness. He took the shame and regret that consumed my mind and replaced it with this verse from 2 Corinthians. I’ve been thinking about this verse last few days.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The apostle Paul was arguably the greatest Christian to ever live. Yet, he needed God’s grace in his life too. He stumbled and felt weak. But when times were tough, he didn’t give up the faith. He persevered and turned to God for strength. As I prayed, these words Paul wrote so many years ago, became the beacon of hope that helped me get back up and continue on in the faith.
“lest I be exalted above measure”
Maybe I needed to be knocked down so that God could lift me back up. I definitely needed some perspective on the situation. It’s not as bad as I had made it out to be. God has seen me through worse than a few fleas, much worse.
“a messenger of Satan to buffet me”
I knew that Satan was the one tripping me up. He was waiting for a time when he could sneak in and kick me while I was down. I had been on the lookout for him, but he chose his time perfectly. Because in my weakness, I let my guard down. In that moment I felt like he had won. But he did not win. And he will never win. I belong to Jesus and no one can change that!
“My strength is made perfect in weakness”
My weakness was on display in my heart that day. I let it get the best of me. But as Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” There is so much I can’t do on my own and I need Jesus to give me His strength. In those times, I’m so glad that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
“My grace is sufficient for you”
My salvation comes from God’s power and the saving grace of Jesus, and nothing else. He has saved me because I can’t save myself. It’s God’s grace gives me the ability to move past this moment of weakness and find strength to persevere. Because His grace is more than enough to see me through.
I never would have thought that something as small as a flea could test my faith in such a big way. While the renovation and the fight against the fleas is not over, my faith is still intact. And after taking time to reflect, I realize… I may have had an epic fail, but God’s grace is more powerful than any moment of weakness. He is always faithful to forgive and restore me to His love and grace just as He promises. And He will do the same for you.
If your faith is being testing or, like me, you’ve had an epic fail, I pray that you will be comforted by the words of 2 Corinthians. And that you will know God’s grace is sufficient for you. He will see you through it, because of grace.
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We all want peace of mind. And we all want to feel like we have stability and a safety net just in case we need it. But peace of mind is a mystery that few of us have figured out. It seems like we are always in the pursuit of it and somehow, peace of mind eludes us. Instead of peace and tranquility, our lives are filled with turmoil and stress. Maybe that’s because we are looking for peace in the wrong places. The world tells us that peace of mind comes from money and success. If we work harder and run ourselves ragged, maybe we will find peace of mind and some security to fall back on. If we can’t find it in our work, then we could try some crazy eastern religion, chanting, standing on one leg and putting burning, hot rocks all over our body. Maybe then we’ll see peace of mind manifest itself. And we might, just might, find a little bit of peace in these worldly things. But the peace the world offers won’t last long. As soon as another stressful event happens, we’ll be right back where we started in the first place.
But instead of turning ourselves into workaholics or new age gurus, we have another option available to us. One that will actually give us the peace of mind we’re looking for. The Bible is very clear about where peace comes from and how we can get it for ourselves. So, today instead of looking for peace in the world, let’s examine the Scriptures and find true and lasting peace of mind. Here are four easy steps to finding peace of mind in your life today.
#1 Know where peace comes from…
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in you.
Perfect peace only comes from Jesus. It’s as simple as that. If we know Jesus, then we know peace. Because He is peace itself. When we put our trust in the Prince of Peace and focus on Him continually, we will find a perfect peace that only comes from knowing Him.
#2 Understand that peace from Jesus is different…
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The world says that if we want peace we will find it in ourselves, either by achieving our goals and aspirations or through other religions. This type of peace that the world gives, only takes us farther and farther away from the truth of who Jesus is and leaves us feeling empty. Things the world offers, like money and meditation only serve to distract and confuse us. But the perfect peace of Jesus is different from anything we can find on our own. It takes us directly to the heart of who He is and gives us abundant joy. The peace of Jesus takes away fear, confusion, worry and strife and gives us the safety net we are looking for. It sets our minds at ease and gives us a safe place to rest. Now, that’s a special kind of peace! (I will both lie down in peace, and sleep: For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Ps 4:8)
#3 Give your worries to Jesus…
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
Worry is bound to catch up with us at some point. But when it does, we can take all of those anxieties to Jesus. He cares about everything in our lives. The really big, earth shattering things that cause doubt and fear to rise up inside and threaten to overtake us. And the little day to day worries that we all experience too. Whatever roadblocks are preventing us from having the peace of mind we desire, Jesus wants to hear about it and lift that burden from us. So, take your worries to Him because He cares for you.
#4 Let peace rule your heart…
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…
Sometimes we stand in the way of our own peace of mind. We can allow stress to rule our lives without even realizing it. But once we make the choice to let the peace of Christ rule our hearts and minds, He takes over and shows us a peace that we never knew existed before. The stress of day to day life and the overwhelming turmoil we face no longer affects us. Not because these things don’t happen anymore, they do. But those stresses don’t threaten to derail us anymore because we have the peace of Christ within us. If we let it, the peace of Jesus will fill our hearts to the brim!
Peace of mind may seem elusive. But if we know where to look, we can easily find it. Instead of running around from place to place in an endless search, we can choose to focus on the One who can bring peace into our lives for good. We can simply be in the presence of Jesus and experience His perfect and lasting peace. Because real peace comes from knowing Him. If you are looking for peace of mind today, I pray that you will turn to the Prince of Peace and allow Him to fill your heart with peace, love and joy. May God bless you!
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O you of little faith, why did you doubt?
Doubt is a dirty word in Christian circles. It’s something we don’t talk about just in case the pastor is listening. And we pretend that we don’t feel it because we think our friends will look down on us if we admit it. But the truth is, we all have doubt. Every single one of us. I have doubt, and I bet you do too. Having doubt doesn’t mean we are bad or that we don’t love Jesus. It just means that we’re human. Because it’s human nature to doubt what we can’t see. We think if we can’t touch it or hold it in our hand, then maybe it’s not real. Sometimes doubt is just a fleeting thought. It comes to us in an instant and leaves just as quickly. But other times doubt lingers. It plays tricks with our mind, tears us apart on the inside and robs us of our joy.
Before we go into how to overcome doubt, let’s look at where it comes from. If we can understand the source of our doubt, we can easily quiet it when it comes calling.
All Christians have an enemy in Satan. He seeks to destroy us and doubt is one of the many tactics he uses against us. He will search for a way into our lives to achieve his goal of utterly demolishing us. Once he has found a way in, He is relentless in his attack. He will slink in, like the snake he is, and put doubt in our minds leaving us feeling hopeless. Then slink off again to look for some other poor soul to terrorize. But we don’t need to fear Satan or listen to his lies. Jesus has already defeated him. However, we need to be mindful of his plan to place doubt in our hearts and minds and learn to recognize his devious actions.
#2 Outside Sources
We are called to live in the world but not of it. But sometimes living in the world leaves us vulnerable to doubt. These outside sources are the things of this world that distract us. They could be the people we surround ourselves with, the things we read or watch on TV, social media, etc. Anything we put into our minds can cause doubt to form if we allow it to influence our thoughts.
Sometimes our doubt is much closer to home than we would like it to be. At times, we can be our own worst enemy. Our view of ourselves can leave us feeling like we’re not good enough or that we’re a failure. These negative thoughts can cause doubt to creep into our minds if we allow them to take hold.
God, in His infinite wisdom, knows the innermost workings of our minds. He knows we have doubt and He knows that we wonder where He is when everything goes wrong in our lives. He understands our hearts and He has not left us alone to face doubt on our own. We can recognize what causes doubt and quickly overcome it with one simple God given tool…our Faith!
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In Matthew 14:31, Jesus said to the disciples, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” The disciples had been with Jesus and they saw Him perform miracle after miracle. They had the unique opportunity of being an eye witness to the ministry of the Savior and they still had doubt!
At some point each of us made the decision to give our lives to Christ because the Holy Spirit showed us the truth of who Jesus is. Unlike the disciples, we have not physically witnessed the miracles of Jesus. But we know for a fact that God is real and that Jesus is the Son of God because of our faith. We may not be able to reach out and touch God or witness the miracles of Jesus with our own eyes, but we can see what He has done in our lives, around us and for us. We have seen the hand of God at work. This is the evidence of our faith. When doubt enters our minds, we can remember those times when we were so close to God it did feel like we could touch Him. If we look around we will see His goodness surrounding us.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We have the most powerful weapon on earth at our disposal, God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing the word of God and understanding the truth within it. We can grow our faith by reading the Bible and storing it in our heart. When we become firmly grounded in God’s truth, doubt will no longer have a hold on us. Instead of allowing doubt to destroy us, we can simply turn to the Scriptures and lean on the promises of God to get us through. Because God’s word is real!
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”
This is a prayer of a man who had doubt in his heart but still wanted to believe. It’s an honest and heartbreaking cry to the only One who could help him in his suffering. We all know how he felt because we’ve been there, on our knees begging God to help us in our pain and unbelief. When doubt creeps in, we have a direct line to God. We can shoot up a prayer to Him in a second and ask Him for strength and guidance.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Our prayers are not effective because we have great faith or because we are faithful to God. They are effective only because we are righteous through our belief in Jesus. This is our promise from God… He is always faithful to us and He will hear our prayers when we call out to Him.
Yes, we all have doubt, but doubt doesn’t have to keep us from experiencing the loving touch of God’s hand in our lives. It’s okay to have questions. And it’s okay to ask God to help us when we doubt. But we cannot afford to let doubt penetrate our minds and our souls. We must recognize it for what it is and stop it in its tracks. Our faith is the tool that helps us to overcome our doubt and seek God’s face in times of need. So today, I pray that each one of us will turn away from doubt, seek the Father and grow our faith in Jesus. God bless!
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It’s easy to be a Christian on Sunday. We go to church and we are around other people who believe as we do. We sing and worship together, and we listen to the sermon to find inspiration for the week ahead. The challenge comes when we leave that church building. Waiting for us outside those doors is a world filled with people who oppose our beliefs and want us to be silent. In their eyes, it’s okay if we believe our silly little thoughts as long as we don’t talk about them or try to persuade anyone else to believe them. Have you ever had someone tell you that you shouldn’t talk about your faith? I know I have! And it always takes me by surprise. Yes, they want us to be silent. But our faith is bigger than them and it’s bigger than us too. Jesus said “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32. We have the truth because we have Jesus. We know who we serve and we know what has been done for us. So it’s our job and our privilege to share our faith with the people around us. To stand up and tell them the good news so that they can have the same assurance and freedom in Jesus Christ that we have.
Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about this challenge that every Christian faces.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)
Within these two verses there are five distinct commands for us to follow. Let’s explore each one together.
As women we are taught to watch what is going on around us when we’re in a public place. Our parents teach us when we are young girls not to talk to strangers. When we get a little older, we’re told not to park our car in a dark parking structure or next to a van. They say don’t go on long walks alone in a neighborhood park or on a blind date with someone we just met online. We are taught all of this in order to keep us safe from someone who may want to harm us physically. But this command, “Watch” is directed at our spiritual wellbeing. There are people out there who are against our faith. And they would like nothing more than to cause us to doubt our beliefs. So, we should take this warning seriously. Be on alert and be aware of who we surround ourselves with and what their agenda may be.
#2 Stand fast in the faith
As we just talked about there are unsaved people out there who would like to put doubt in our minds. But there are also many false teachers and so much confusion, not only in other religions, but within our own. These false teachers have a watered down view of Christianity or what I like to call the “rose colored glasses” version of the Bible. They are not doing us any favors by misleading us about what the Bibles says! It is up to us to know what the Bible teaches and to stand fast in our faith, or as the NIV translation puts it, stand firm in the faith. I love that word, “firm”. It makes me think about Jesus being my firm foundation and the rock that I can stand on no matter what circumstance I face. I hope that when you hear the word firm, you will have a similar image in your mind. Because our faith is built on the firm foundation and truth of Jesus Christ. But it is our job to stand fast in the faith. We are responsible for knowing the truth of God’s word for ourselves, to understand what is in it and to not allow false teachers to lead us astray.
#3 Be brave
It’s never fun to be called out and have to defend yourself. I get it, and I feel the same way. I don’t like confrontation either, it’s awkward and uncomfortable. But we live in a world where our faith will be tested. We will be challenged and we will be asked questions. So when this happens, we have to be brave enough to face the challenge head on. We can be ready with an answer and be willing to share our faith with an unbelieving world because we know the truth of God’s word.
#4 Be strong
Our society tells us that we are supposed to be politically correct. We shouldn’t say anything that might offend someone else. If we don’t agree, then we should just be polite and keep our mouth shut. But God has not called Christians to be silent, He has called us to be strong. Instead of silence, we should speak openly and plainly about our faith with those people who hold different beliefs and have questions about ours. And we should be mindful that our words are always grounded in biblical truth. If they are, then we should be strong enough to speak these truths with confidence knowing that God’s word never returns void. (Isaiah 55:11)
#5 With Love
The four previous commands are forceful, maybe more forceful than we feel we should be sometimes. But our Christian love for other people is the most important part of this equation. Love is what binds us together and our love for the unsaved should be what motivates us to share our faith. God doesn’t ask us to be judgmental or to beat people over the head with a Bible. Our kindness and love for our fellow man will go a lot farther than browbeating them ever could. God wants us to show His love to an unbelieving world so that when they look at us they can see Him. Together we can show the love of Christ to those who need Him the most. With our love, we can be the beacon of light that shines the way to Jesus.
Sundays are a great day for us get fired up for Jesus, and to connect with other Christians. But our challenge is to live our life for Jesus every day of the week. It’s true that actions speak louder than words. And our actions are important because the world is watching us. What will they see? Will they see someone who loves them with the love of Christ? Will they see someone who is living out their faith every day? Or are we just casual Christians going to church on Sunday and living our lives as we see fit the rest of the week? I hope that I am not, that I will have the courage to live for Jesus every day. So, my prayer today, is that I will be able to stand firm in the faith. And that I will have love for those people that God puts in my life in order to share Jesus with them.
How about you? Will you stand firm in the faith? Will you shine the way to Jesus today? I pray that you will join me in taking up this challenge to live for Jesus today and every day! As always, May God bless you!
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About the Artist
Connie Rowland is the Artist and Blogger behind Master's Hand Collection, a series of Christian artwork that depicts God's hand in our lives. Each picture features an inspirational word spelled out in American Sign Language with a corresponding Bible verse. Check out the About page for more info on Master's Hand Collection and Connie.
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