Purposefully Equipped

In our culture, I think we have a lot of ways to compare ourselves to one another. We have magazines, tv shows, social media, books, etc. to where comparison can come in and steal our joy. This comparison can cause us to question our physical appearance, our unique personalities, our strengths, and our skills.

I think it can be easy as Christians to fall into this thinking of “God’s going to pick someone else to do this task because they will be more obedient and more skillful than me”. Comparison can come in and not only steal our confidence, but it can also slowly destroy our perspective of God’s character and power.

I was reading about Abraham and Sarah in the book of Genesis. Normally, when I think of Abraham, I think of how God used him in amazing ways. Abraham was obedient towards God when asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God also used him to be a father of many nations and be a leader to the people.

But, I want to focus on Abraham’s life before all of these things happened. Specifically, I want to focus on Abram and Sarai’s story.

Before the Lord changed their names to Abraham and Sarah, they were called Abram and Sarai.

The Lord promised Abram that he would have a son. However, Sarai, Abram’s wife had not borne any children so far after God spoke with Abram. Sarai wanted Abram to be able to have a son and decided on a plan of doing so. She asked Abram to take her servant, Hagar so that she could give Abram a son and fulfill God’s covenant. Abram did exactly what Sarai had asked of him.

After Hagar bore a son, the Lord spoke to Abram again. The Lord explained that Sarai would bear a child. (The Lord also gave Abram and Sarai new names at this point.) This time, Abraham doubted God because he did not believe Sarah would be able to bear a child at her age. However, the Lord confirmed to him again that she would bear a child and they were to name him Isaac.

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” – Genesis 15:4

After Sarah overheard the Lord speaking to Abraham, she laughed and doubted God’s power. God then reminded both of them of His power and His promise that He would make. After this reminder, Abraham and Sarah decided to have full faith in God and as always, God kept His promise.

Sarah and Abraham doubted the Lord at first. Because of how old Sarah was at the time, it scientifically would be very difficult, if not impossible, for Sarah to be able to have a child. However, the Lord promised He would make a way.

By not trusting in the Lord’s plan, Abraham decided to take control of the situation to have a son with Hagar. However, even though Abraham and Sarah doubted the Lord, God still appointed this family to make nations of the world. They both went on to fully trusting and having faith in God because they knew how great and mighty He truly is.

God chooses people for a purpose. He equips the called. If God wants to use you in some way, He is going to do just so. He will forgive you when you doubt Him and still work in you to fulfill His great plan.

You are on this earth for a reason. God has called you and chose you to fulfill a unique purpose.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. – John 15:16

With love,

Claire

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