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

Be Still

I think a lot of us probably struggle with contentment in some areas of our lives. We always want more than what we already have. We want to have all these things that we think will make us happy: good grades, a fancy car, a fancy house, a perfect partner, etc.

But God has us where we are for a purpose and a plan. He wants us to be content with where we are and just be still.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

See, this verse can sometimes be taken in the context of “oh, I just need to wait on God and not do anything.” But when we aren’t growing closer to God, we are moving farther away. We live in a broken sinful world, and even if we aren’t intentionally thinking about it, the more we stray away from God, the more we are moving closer to sin.

To be still means to make the most of where you are, whether that’s physically where you are located in the world, or just the people you hang around with.

Think about Paul. When he was sitting in prison for two years, he wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. He was stuck in a jail cell, yet he made the most of his time by writing these books that give us so much wisdom of how to live a Christ-like life.

It’s easy for us to fall into issues with contentment. I mean we are human and we’ve lived in this world for so long now, a world that tells us that we need all the new and best things to be happy. However, Solomon would totally disagree with that. King Solomon was a man that had everything he ever wanted, but he still was not completely satisfied by any of it. It still wasn’t enough for him.

So what is enough for us? Does the cycle of wanting more and more ever come to an end?

We have to realize that Christ is our completer, and no one else is. But when it comes to contentment, we normally are wanting things to temporarily feel us up. We are like Solomon, wanting all the things this earth can give us, yet when we have them, we still aren’t full.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

However, we also have to be mindful of Christ and where he fits on our priority list. As much as I wish that Christ was at the top of my priority list, I prioritize my time with friends and school much more than I do spending time with Christ. However, even spending all that time with friends and trying to do incredible in my classes are just temporary things that will make me feel great. But I’ll always want more.

Jesus completes us. These other things are great and all but they are just temporary things at the end of the day. What matters is how we spend our time on this Earth because our time here is just a tiny dot on a line that goes on forever. It’s important to make the most of it by being intentional with others and having a kingdom mindset in whatever situation you are in. And sharing that wisdom with friends, family, and strangers.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

It’s not an overnight ordeal, but I believe we can eventually come to the point where we are so content in our relationship with Christ and His plan for us, that no earthly things will matter to us as much as He does.

I pray whatever you are facing today that God will give you a sense of peace and strength to help you through this season of life. Be still and know that our God is powerful and faithful.

With love,

Claire

He Understands Your Loneliness.

Loneliness. I think we all go through those phases of loneliness. Feeling stuck. Feeling different. Feeling alone.

The thing about loneliness is that it can be haunting even when you’re not physically alone. Maybe you feel it at work, in class, in your city, in your friend group, or your family. Even when it might not look lonely on the outside, you can still feel it.

To be honest, I haven’t figured out the key to curing the feeling  of loneliness. I think it can creep up at any point if we let it. There are definitely times where things are going great for us, or where other uneasy feelings might be found. However, loneliness is just like fear or stress. It can still sneak in if we leave the door open.

But I can tell you a few things about loneliness:

1. Jesus experienced loneliness. Jesus was a perfect human being without sin. He was different from everyone else around Him. He lived in a sinful world surrounded by sinful people, including His family and close friends. Growing up, He was very different from the other kids. He probably wasn’t the cool kid everyone wanted to hang out with either. Not to mention, His siblings probably weren’t too fond of His good deeds all the time either.

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. – Isaiah 53:3

2. Jesus understands our loneliness. When Jesus was on Earth, no one else around was like Him. For Jesus, the only person He knew that He could always turn to was His Father. However, when He was paying for our sin on the cross, He felt forsaken by the last person He turned to for help. He felt all alone.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15

3. You are not alone. Even Jesus, who was/is the most perfect human being to ever live, felt what you feel. You are not the only one who is struggling with this. I can bet you thousands of other people on this Earth are feeling that same uneasy weight on their shoulders too. We don’t like to show our loneliness. It’s something we hide, so we don’t seem bothered or hurt. But just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. – 2 Timothy 4:16-18

You don’t have to hide that loneliness. Talk to a friend or a family member about it. Talk to God about it. Hand it over to Him and let Him help you.

There will come a day when loneliness won’t even be on your mind anymore. It will be something that you’ll look back on and say “I remember when I felt that and now it doesn’t bother me anymore”.

With Love,

Claire

Be a Blessing

Hey friend. Man, Jesus is so good. I can’t even begin to describe how I have been feeling over the past year. There have been some ups and some downs, but it has been such a year of spiritual growth for me. I know it has been a while since I have written on this blog, but I really missed these personal posts.

Something God has taught me over the year, to live by and to understand fully, is the phrase “through faith”. He has really taught me how to live through faith and faith alone.

In the Bible, there are some verses that say “through faith” such as:

So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. – Galatians 3:26

In Him and through faith in Him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence. – Ephesians 3:12

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. – Romans 5:1-2

These verses really hit home for me. They basically say that without faith, we would not be able to have a relationship with God that we do today. See, the Lord wants our relationship with Him to grow stronger over time.

However, life can get a little messy here and there.

We have things that come and go, ups and downs, hills and valleys, etc. But, through all of it, we have to have faith that God is who He says He is and loves us unconditionally. By having this faith and assurance, He gives us hope, peace, love, joy, and so many blessings.

However, it doesn’t just stop with the blessings He gives to us. Not only does He want to bless you in life, but He wants you to be a blessing to all of those around you. He wants you to show the love of Christ to your friends, family, strangers, classmates, co-workers, etc.

We are called to love one another and I think we forget how impacting we can be on someone with our actions and our words. Just saying a nice comment to someone can make their day better. Being a blessing to another person is a remarkable habit to get into.

Think about Jesus and the life He lived. He was such a blessing to all of those around Him. Not only did He heal the sick and feed the hungry, but He was also encouraging, kind, and loving to those around Him. And get this, He was a human just like you. No, we aren’t perfect people like Jesus was, but we do have the power to encourage others and love those next to us.

So my hope for you this week is to get into the habit of being a blessing to someone. Send an encouraging text to someone you haven’t talked to in a while. Pray for your friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Tell your parents you love them. Inspire someone new. Ask the person in the coffee shop next to you, if they have any prayer requests. Be a blessing to those around you, my friend. It makes life so much better.

With love,

Claire

The Comparison Game

Remember when you were 5 years old and you just did things like make a sandcastle or ride a bike, not because you had an audience looking at you, but just because you wanted to enjoy it? It was only 15 years since I was five. However, the world seems very different then it was back then. Today, I think people forget to just do things because they want to.

We tend to post a picture in order to get a bunch of likes or comments, instead of because we actually love that picture, or we loved the memory. People try to be friends with others only to increase their popularity ratings or following count, instead of because they really do like those people. Some people just want to be in the cool crowd and fit in because they want to make themselves look better, instead of them actually just being in it because they want to or because they love the people they are with. Some just date in order to make someone jealous or because they feel rushed into settling down instead of them actually just being like “wow I really love this person with my whole heart”.

I think today we are so caught up in entertaining our audience around us. We do things because we feel that those people around us need to know that we are “cool” or “popular” or “a good person” or “pretty”. But what if no one was watching? Would you send that text to that girl in tears? Would you share that picture of you helping at a food pantry?

See, we get so caught up in being OF the world, instead of just IN the world. I mean look at Jesus Christ. He had 12 disciples. He was the Messiah. God could have given Him a million friends, yet Jesus only had a few. He picked quality over quantity. When Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead. He didn’t tell the people to go tell everyone that Jesus Christ did this and He’s this amazing guy. Yet, the people did anyway, not because they had to, but because they wanted to praise this amazing person that saved them.

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” – Mark 1:40-44

The only person we need to try to get approval of each day is God. He created this world for you and He wants you to enjoy it, not because you have to, but because you want to. He wants you to enjoy the little things and the big things that are all around you. He wants you to spend your days filling yourself up with Him instead of filling it up with the world and it’s approval. He doesn’t want you to play the comparison game.

He wants you to be still and grow with Him first before anyone else. So grow, explore. and strive to be your best self everyday with Jesus by your side.

Love always,

Claire

 

Don’t Worry, Instead Worship

Something that I have learned about music, is that everyone in the entire world loves some genre of it. Whether it’s latin, country, pop, rock and roll, christian, or any other type, music has this ability to open up our soul and make us want to dance around the room.

Recently, I went to a Christian concert, and it’s SO incredible to see the sight around the room. People are clapping, dancing, raising their hands, and just all around worshiping. It’s a sight that I’m sure will be found in Heaven.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalm 100:1-5

The speaker, at the concert, said something, and I freakin’ love it now. He said, “Don’t worry, worship”. He said that we are all going through our own lives, some of us may be carrying some battle with us, but for us to be truly thankful, we need to praise God for the things we have received, and also, the things that have not yet been received.
Oooh that just stuck with me. I have always thought about thanksgiving meaning to being thankful for what you have. But, it is ALSO for the things we do not yet have, the things to come.
It’s so easy for us, as human beings, to be so caught up and worried about the things to come. It’s easy for us to have those freak out moments. But we have to walk by faith and praise God for everything that has and is to come (aka, don’t worry, but instead worship).
For we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:7
Sheep do not have very good eyesight. They basically have to rely on their shepherd to move by listening to his voice. The shepherd protects the sheep and watches the sheep to make sure no harm comes to them. The shepherd guides the sheep throughout their life and he cares so much for his sheep.
You see, God is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. He cares for us. He provides for us. He watches us and protects us. He leads us and He guides us.
He wants to reach us and for us, to reach Him. We may not know what the future holds, but God wants to walk by our side and lead us the whole way through. If we seek Him, praise Him, worship Him, pray to Him, we can follow His voice through it all.
So next time, you’re worried or stressed, remember this. Don’t worry, instead worship. The Lord is going to lead you and have your back through it all.
Love always,
Claire