Power of the Holy Spirit

This morning, I woke up feeling like I needed to just go get some fresh air and read a good book. So, I grabbed a book, got some coffee, and went to a nice grassy area by the reservoir. I laid out a blanket on the ground, took my chacos off, and thought to myself “wow, this is so nice and calm”. Barely anyone was there.

I opened my book and read about a page and a half when I heard a loud tractor near me. I thought to myself “hmm that sounds pretty close”. I stood up, and the tractor was about 8 feet away from me and moving right towards me.

Quickly, I grabbed my things and headed back to the car, trying not to get run over or cause a scene with the tractor man. I got in my car and immediately, I was a little annoyed. I thought “man, no one is even here. it’s so nice and peaceful here. I just want to read my book and get a change of scenery.”

After a few seconds, I looked down at the tractor man, and I just started laughing in my car. I wasn’t exactly sure why at that moment I was laughing, but I think I just thought the whole situation was funny. I felt like everything was nice, peaceful, and chill when I was laying down. Then, a tractor comes along and for a hot minute, he “ruined” the moment. I say “ruined” because the tractor man didn’t really ruin anything.

I still had my book and was able to read it in my car. I still got a change of scenery and some fresh air, while sitting in the back of my car with the hatchback open. Life was still peaceful, nice, and chill. It was just different than what I expected.

I think that’s what is kind of humorous about life. We go through it with all these expectations and plans. Sometimes, those plans can get canceled or delayed, which can be really upsetting.

But sometimes, they can still happen, and you can find some joy in those moments.

A good chunk of the time, we can be tempted to fall into a mood when things don’t go the way we plan. But, I think it’s important to realize that even when the circumstances look different than you planned, you are still able to have joy and gratitude in your heart. You are still able to focus on the good.

Why is that? Because if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you.

I think in the world, we tend to forget about the power of the Holy Spirit, that literally lives INSIDE of you. It’s always there.

In Max Lucado’s book, Unshakable Hope, he focuses on the power of the Holy Spirit in a few chapters. He made this one statement that still blows my mind every time I read it:

“The Holy Spirit is central to the life of the Christian. Everything that happens from the book of Acts to the end of the book of Revelation is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ.”

How cool is that? From Acts to Revelation. That’s a good chunk of the Bible (and most of the New Testament).

The Spirit lived in the disciples and gave them the strength to do more work for God’s kingdom during that time. The Spirit also allowed them to not only think the way that God thinks but also love others the way God loves. And the Spirit can do the same for you and me.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

The Spirit is also able to give us fruits and gifts. Since we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, we are able to be joyful, patient, kind, and faithful. We are able to love like Jesus and see things the way He sees things. Jesus tells us to ask and we will receive it.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

Now, just like fruit on a tree, it takes time for it to grow. But while growing with the Lord, you’re able to not only receive theses fruits but also learn so much more about your worth and purpose in life. You’re able to come to an understanding that no matter what circumstances are around you, you are in Christ and the Holy Spirit lives in you. And that’s a POWERFUL thing right there.

So, the next time something doesn’t go exactly the way you plan, focus on the good in the situation and laugh it off. Ask God to give you an understanding of the situation and a sense of joy. Try to make the most of the situation and remember the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you, friend.

With love,

Claire

Let's Build Each Other Up

A few days ago, I had a lot of mixed feelings about this whole coronavirus issue. I was annoyed, disappointed, and frustrated. Graduation got postponed. Plans got cancelled. The future looked completely uncertain.

Here’s the thing though. The future has always been uncertain, even when we felt like we were in control. Yes, we had plans in motion, but there are a thousand and one ways to where those plans could have not happened. Maybe you went on a trip recently. But think about it, the plane could have gotten delayed, the weather could have been super bad, the electricity could have gone out, your car could have died, etc. There are tons of ways to where your trip could not have even happened or not have gone the way you thought.

That’s the thing about control. As humans, we think we are in control of almost everything. But I think God likes to remind us that we are not in control as much as we think. God wants to show us that He is in control. He wants to teach us that the only thing we can truly control is OUR ACTIONS.

So what now? Now that our plans got cancelled. Now that we have to do this “social distancing” and stay home. What do we do?

I’ve been live streaming church services since this whole pandemic started. And every time I watch a live stream, there’s always this saying that is said:

“The church is not a building. It is a body of believers.”

You might have heard that before or something similar to it. But think about it. We aren’t going to a physical church building until this is over. We aren’t gathering together with a large number of believers as much as we use to. Things look a little bit different now. But we are still called by God to do the same things.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:42

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

We are still called to carry each other’s burdens. We are still called to fellowship. We are still called to glorify our Father. We are still called to love. The only thing that has changed is the Earthly environment around us.

So what can we do during this time?

1. Pray. Pray for the country. Pray for the world. Pray for the leaders. Pray for the workers, who are serving in different places. Pray for your family. Pray for your friends. Pray for your classmates. Pray for your co-workers. Pray for yourself.

Prayer is so important to our lives. It is so significant for us to continue to rely on each other and support one another. In the book of Galatians, God calls us to carry each other’s burdens and pray for one another. I know sometimes asking for prayer can be nerve-racking or scary. You might be thinking “people are gonna judge me” or “they aren’t even gonna care”. However, prayer is powerful. God can do some amazing things with our prayers.

I’ve created a prayer request form. It’s anonymous and will remain confidential. If you know that you need prayer for something and do not feel like you can carry something on your own, use this. Doesn’t matter what the prayer request is. What matters is that you aren’t on your own. You are being prayed for and God hears your prayers.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdDB0P_6kAC4Dg9o7-z9EFN74bTmbVbgNFSFzyvxUj6Pt_7wA/viewform?usp=sf_link

2. Fellowship. Social distancing is still important, but God has blessed us with many forms of technology now. We can call, message, and FaceTime with each other through technology. Use that. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Check-in on them. Message someone and send an encouraging message to them. Let’s continue to fellowship and build each other up.

3. Lastly, remain in Christ. During this time of isolating, we might have a lot of extra time on our hands. We aren’t constantly on the go, having to do fifty different errands. Instead of spending all of your time watching tv or playing games, open your Bible. Start a new bible study. There are a bunch of apps that can help you with this.

Play some worship music. Make a gratitude journal. Remember who God is and what He is doing in your life. Make a note of the good things going on in your life. Make a prayer journal. Make good use of your free time and listen to what He has to say.

During this time, glorify God in all that you do.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

Let’s use our time wisely. We do not know what could come next, but whatever that is, let’s be prepared to face it together with Christ.

To whoever is reading this, you are loved, you are seen, and you are heard by our incredible God. During this time of uncertainty, remember that our God is good, and He is in control of the future! Stay safe!

With love,

Claire

Abide in Christ

I know a few people who like to pick a word for the new year. It may be a word that describes what season they are in right now or where they want to be by the end of the year.

A few days before the new year was about to begin, I was spending some time reflecting on areas in my life that I wanted to grow and improve in. I was actually out running a few errands when God placed the word “abide” on my heart. I remember thinking “Abide? Why that word?”. I thought it was a very specific word considering I don’t really ever hear people using it too much, so I thought I would do a little more digging.

The first thing I did was look up the definition of abide (thanks google!). The meaning of abide is “to remain stable or fixed in a state”. Some synonyms are dwell, remain, and stay. After figuring out what the definition was, I went to my bible app and looked up different verses that use “abide” in them or have similar meanings.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” – John 15:1-4

I’ve read this verse before but this time, it spoke to me in such a different and clearer way.

A branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine. The branch is able to receive everything it needs from the vine in order to bear fruit. This is a picture of what it looks like to trust God and receive the fruit He desires for us.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:22-26

God wants us to live by the Spirit and also keep in step with the Spirit. He wants us to have a relationship with Him, and He wants us to come to the realization that we cannot take care of everything all on our own. He wants us to have love, peace, and joy in our lives on a daily basis.

God is also the vinedresser. He allows us to bear fruit, but then He cuts the branch so it may bear more fruit. I like to think of this as God allowing challenges to come our way so that we can grow and persevere in our lives with Him. God wants us to remain in Him, fellowship with Him, and trust Him always, not just on the days when we feel like doing it, but every day.

So, for this year, I am praying that God will teach me to abide in Him, every day. That He will teach me to trust in Him always and remember His presence even when the outside situations get overwhelming. God is our dwelling place and by abiding in Him, we are given the ability to bear fruit in order to help us live the life God desires for us and glorify Him in all that we do.

With love,

Claire

Sometimes, you gotta pray BIG!!

As the new decade is coming up so soon, it really makes me want to take some time and revisit the things of this decade that were great and not so great. Maybe rethink about the mistakes I made or the events I really enjoyed. Taking the time to be mindful about the past so I can look forward to a better future.

I was reading this book a little while ago called “Love Life Again” by Tracie Miles. What’s funny is when I bought this book, I went into the bookstore looking for a totally different book. Yet, I left the store with this book, the book God knew I needed at the time.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite books to ever read. The reason I love it so much is because it talks about a very realistic topic: finding joy even when life is hard. And it gives you practical ways on how to do this.

However, something else that I really love is that at the end of each chapter, Tracie puts a short prayer going along with the topic of the chapter. Asking God to move in miraculous ways.

Over the course of reading this book, I wrote down each prayer she put in the book and ordered it to fit me personally:

“Lord, lately I’ve been feeling unseen, unwanted, unneeded, unaccepted, and all alone. But I do believe You can be the best friend I will ever need. Forgive me for not realizing the kind of friend I can have in You. Please help me feel your presence when I feel alone.

You know the shame and regret I feel for the sins in my life, some from my past and some in the present. I humbly ask for Your forgiveness for all my sins. I believe You died on the cross so I could be cleansed, and I accept that gift of cleansing right now. Just as you have forgive and forgotten my sins, help me not focus on and obsess over them. Help me let go and free up my heart to experience more peace and joy. 

Forgive me for doubting that You have a wonderful plan and purpose for me. Let me let go of the worries and fears of the future and stop obsessing over how things may turn out. Help me to always trust that You hold my future in your hands. 

Forgive me for being ungrateful for all You have blessed me with and done for me. Give me the ability to see and hear You more when I feel far away from You. Thank you for providing me with things that bring so much joy and meaning to my life. Thank you for the love ones you have surrounded me with. Help to always have a thankful heart every day. 

Jesus, I have a habit of complaining to others and to You. Help me to be more aware of when I am complaining. Rather than complain, help me talk with You about my problems and challenges in a way that gives You praise and honors the fact that I can trust You with my life. Lord, I want to choose contentment today and embrace this season of my life. Help me to choose to live joyfully because of the life I do have and not the one I want. Help me to see myself the way you see me and let me value myself the way you value me.

Let me live each day with a confidence that comes from You, not from my efforts, appearance, or accomplishments, much less the words, actions, or opinions of others. Help me to stop looking at my flaws, imperfections, and struggles and start seeing myself through the lens of Your Word. Help me forget the words or actions of others that feed critical lies into my mind and to keep Your words about me at the forefront of my thoughts. 

God, please bring those people into my life who can satisfy my craving for real friendship. Push me out of my comfort zone and give me the courage to make a move toward making friends even if it feels awkward or intimidating at first. Help me to remember that I always have you as my closest friend. Help me feel your presence especially during those times I feel most alone. 

Help me to see through your loved-colored glasses so that I may see what you see and my heart will break for what Yours breaks. Grant me with an open heart and open eyes. Open doors of opportunity where You want me to serve. Allow me the blessing of being a blessing to another one of Your children.

Thank you for the gift of laughter. Open my eyes to see all the reasons I have to smile and laugh every day. Thank you for who You are and for all You’ve done for me and blessed me with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Tracie Miles

Sometimes, you gotta pray big! Don’t get me wrong. Every prayer is powerful, but there are definitely times where you have to take the time and let it all flow out. Let all of your thoughts, emotions, and worries out. Whether that’s writing your prayer down or typing it out, God already knows what is on our hearts, but He wants us to communicate it with Him as well. He wants to hear our voices calling out for Him. He also wants you to realize what you are asking and needing as well.

Or maybe you don’t even know where to start. Use this prayer as a guide. Let it help you figure out all you want to say and get off your chest.

Praying big doesn’t have to do with the length of your prayer or how many smart words you can put into it. No, it’s about the passion and the power in how you pray. It’s about believing that not only can God hear you pray, but believing He can do something with that prayer.

I want to challenge you sometime this week or this month to sit down, go for a walk, or meditate and pray big!!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30