Tag Archives: 2 Corinthians

Learning the Limits

I’ve always been an “all-or-nothing” kind of person. Because of that, I’ve pushed myself, in certain areas of my life, way beyond my physical or mental limitations. I think learning my limits, among other things, is one of the things God is trying to teach me as I run and work out.

Being that I’ve found something that has given me more joy than anything else I’ve ever done, I’m bound to push myself too hard…that’s just what I do – what I’ve always done. But here’s the thing that worries me, if I push myself too hard, I will probably hurt myself, then I’ll be out for good. I’ll lose the thing that I took so long to find. And while not running may not be the end of the world, it would definitely be very upsetting.

So I’m learning that there are physical limitations to what I can and cannot do.

Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given to me I say to everyone who is among you not to think more highly of yourself than what one ought to think, but to think sensibly, as God has apportioned a measure of faith to each one.

God didn’t make us to be limitless and indestructible. If that we’re the case, we wouldn’t need each other and we wouldn’t need Him. But we do. We cannot make it through this life on only our own strength; I can tell you from experience, that doesn’t work! I can push myself farther than my physical/psychological ability, end up hurting myself, and live in a solitary and depressing world – or, I can admit my need for God and for others and enjoy the freedom, love, and grace that comes along with that. Which will I choose?

I am human. I am fallible. I am clumsy. I am stubborn. But in spite of all that, I am loved, I am forgiven, and I am free. My body is not as indestructible as I, too often, like to think it is. I have physical limitations and I have emotional limitations; and in those, in my weaknesses, God’s strength and glory will shine.

2 Corinthians 12:9 –
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So here’s to my weaknesses. Here’s to that grace of an amazing God who is strong in my weakness.

Thank you, God, for teaching me that I have limits.

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Am I Too Independent?

Independence is generally considered a good thing in our culture; to be able to do everything on your own without the help of anyone else is generally praised. But let me explain why I have a problem with that.

I spent most of my life not asking anyone for help because I thought I had to be independent. I thought I had to do things on my own if I wanted success. And where did that get me? That got me no where except filled with anger, bitterness, and sadness. I never felt like I could depend on anyone, nor did I ever feel like anyone cared. Trying to do everything on my own got exhausting and at a young age I was stressed and weary. But at the time, I had no hope or faith in an all-powerful God.

Isaiah 40:28-31 –
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

I can’t do life on my own. I wasn’t created to do life alone. First and foremost, I need to be dependent on God. This world is a scary place and it’s a constant fight. The more I fight to be independent, the more I throw myself into self destruction. God will give me everything I need to make it through this life, if only I’m willing to suck up my pride and ask him for help. Who am I to say that I can navigate this world better than He can, when I’m the created and He’s the creator?

Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

A few weeks ago, in a conversation with a dear friend, out of the blue she said, “You need to depend on God more.” When I heard those words, I lost it. The day had already been rough and emotional, and her statement had me bawling like a baby because she is right. I depend too much on myself and on other people. Without even realizing it, I fall back into the “I can do it” train of thought and I don’t realize it until I crash and burn or someone points it out to me. I get so frustrated and angry with myself when I realize how little I depend on God because I know better. I know the miracles He has done in my life. I have seen His power before my very eyes. I have felt His love and grace in every area of my life. And yet, like the Israelites, I still fail to trust Him even after all I’ve seen Him do. I am all too human.

Psalm 18:2-
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I want to put God first in every aspect of my life. I want Him and my relationship with Him to be the number one thing on my priority list. But I all too often fail Him. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy when I do fail Him; He continues to still love me and pick me up from the mess I’ve made of my life and guide me in the right direction. He is so faithful to me and has given me way more than I will ever deserve.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God didn’t create us to go through this world on our own and He often shows us His love for us through other people. I know that’s what He did for me. I had never seen true, Christ-like love until I met my Celebrate Recovery sponsor. She was the first person to show me what true love looked like and because of her I have been able to receive the love that others have shown me and love them in return. We need each other. We need to love each other and walk through this life together, serving and caring for one another.

John 13:14 – If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

Romans 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

My point in all of this is that we can’t do life alone. We can’t live independent of God and one another and expect to still live a happy, fulfilling life. It just isn’t possible. That’s not how we were made. I know, for me, I have to, daily, confess my dependence on God. Daily, I remind myself that I can’t make it through this world without Him and thank Him for the people He has given me to walk this scary road with me. Quit trying to be independent. Suck up your pride and admit your dependence on your Creator – I promise you won’t regret it.


A New Identity

When you wear a mask, you’re not trusting in God’s grace. When you accept Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, you are given a new identity and no longer have any reason to wear a mask. This is what the sermon at church was about yesterday and it really encouraged me. So here I am to share my notes (all five pages) and some of my own thoughts with you.

Whether you are a Christian or skeptic and whether you are 10 years old or 100 years old, no matter where you are at in life, you’ve struggled with putting your identity in the things you’ve done and not in what has been done for you. But when we become Christians we become new creations,

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

You are not defined by the thing s you have done, but by what Christ has done for you. There is an awesome song that describes that: Tenth Avenue North – You Are More.

Because of Jesus death, we are given a new identity so that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see our ugly sinfulness – He sees Jesus’ righteousness. Often, we look around and see other Christians whose lives look immaculate and struggle-free. But we can’t see their hearts and we don’t know what kind of sins they are hiding. I’m only fooling myself if I think that no one else struggles the way I do.

I’m a sinner, but because of my new identity through Jesus Christ my sin isn’t standing between God and me, God has his arm around my shoulder and is walking through it with me. God is good.

So what does it mean to have a new identity – it means an authoritative identity, a noble identity, and a loved identity.

Authoritative Identity
Ephesians 1:1a – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

I think it is really interesting what the word ‘apostle’ really means – sent one. In the first century the word apostle was used to describe cargo that was sent with an official purpose. So Paul is an apostle, one who was sent with an official purpose, by the will of God. It’s important to note that the One sending is more important than the one being sent.

God has given you and me the same authoritative identity that Paul had. We may not be apostles in the sense that we are called the write books of the Bible, but as Christians we are still sent one “official business” to share the Good News that we are only new creations because of what Jesus Christ has done.

I think Paul’s testimony is an awesome one. He was killing Christians until God “knocked some sense into him” and showed Paul that he belonged to God. My story may not be as dramatic or as obvious as Paul’s, but I was headed in one direction with my life until God stopped me and said, “No, Jacquie. You belong to me.”

So ultimately, it comes down to a choice – will I decide to accept the authoritative identity and the powerful message He has given me and take it to make a difference in the world? Or will I choose to keep the message to myself and ignore the authority I have?

Noble Identity
Ephesians 1:1b – To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Saint means holy, set apart, sanctified.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a saint? I know I never have. I always thought that saints were these holy people who were WAY better than me. But once you put your identity in Christ, you are a saint.

As a child of God, I am set apart, He has made me holy. But being holy doesn’t mean I don’t sin, it simply means that He is with me and we are walking through my sin together. It’s nice that I don’t have to go at it alone.

God wants me to do great things, that’s what He made me for. He has set me apart for a beautiful purpose. Often times though, I find myself wishing that my life was more glorious than it really is. I want to be “awesome” for God. But I have to remind myself (quite frequently) that if I think that I am of any use to God, He can’t use me. But how wonderful is it that He wants to use me anyway. Even if He is using me in ways that I don’t see or understand, He is still using me for His glory and His greater purpose.

Loved Identity
Ephesians 1:2 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is unmerited favor and peace is reconciliation, and God gives both of those. Both of which we don’t deserve. If we believe that our identity is found only in Christ, then we should see God as our Father. God is a perfect Father and He loves in a way that we can never really comprehend.

We have an internal thought of how things should be; what shalom is like. The only reason we have that is because God planted that in us. I had a horrible dad growing up, he just wasn’t there. But how did I know that he was a crummy dad? I knew because, in my heart, I had a knowledge of what a perfect Father should be like (whether I knew that or not). God is that perfect Father. And while my dad and I are on good terms now and we have been reconciled, he’s still not perfect. God is the only perfect Father.

God loves me to a point that I can never understand. I mean, He sacrificed His Son for me…it still blows me away. I am a sinner, and yet He still loves me and gives me so much grace. Without His grace I couldn’t make it through my life. Thank God for grace!

If you don’t believe that God loves you, you’re not a Christian. So come on in. It’s nice in here. Let God love you, it’ll be the greatest thing you ever did.

 

Personally, I thought it was bit intense that an entire sermon could be created from two verses…and a powerful sermon at that. This sermon was just one of many things that really blessed and encouraged me yesterday. I was encouraged by attending the baptism for my church and watching a few of the kids from my Sunday school class get baptized. It blows me away to see these young kids making a profession of faith in front of a bunch of people. I was encouraged by the support of a few great friends whose support and prayer is priceless.

I get caught up in my old identity so much. I get stuck thinking I am not as good as my Christian friends because I am sinner, but the truth is, I only sin differently than them. We all have a new identity in Christ that removes our old identity. And yet, we all still truggle with letting our sins define who we are. That is one of the many reasons that we need each other – to remind each other where our new identity comes from.


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