Tag Archive | overcome

The Reality of Sacrifice

© DepositPhotos/ elenathewise

© DepositPhotos/ elenathewise

“About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: ‘You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business.'” Acts 19:23-25 (NIV)

Sacrifice in the name of Jesus Christ is a choice.

In the United States, most people live a comfortable and convenient life. We see sacrifice as giving up television or Facebook for a period of time. Maybe we do without cable or satellite and only have 15 disappointing channels to choose from.

Maybe we see sacrifice as contentment in the not having. “I can’t afford something so I am willing to sacrifice my desire or longing for the thing I want.” Our willingness to accept what is for what isn’t can be a sacrifice of our own will for God’s. But in order for this to be true, we have to believe that God has a will that is worth sacrificing for.

What? Of course God’s will is worth sacrificing for you say.

But I ask, how do you know? How do we know it to be true? How do we see it lived out by Christians in this world?

I hear about boycotts all the time against companies who contribute to organizations that go against Christian values, at least according to some Christians. Maybe the company has a religious foundation other than that of Christ and the funds they receive go to further their message. Can we really be expected to give up products based on the beliefs and values of others? Can we really be expected to be the moral police of the world?

A while back I found out that Susan G. Komen contributed money to Planned Parenthood. I could no longer in good conscience contribute to the organization. I am not against breast cancer research or awareness. I do not wish or hope for people to get breast cancer and I am not insensitive to the suffering that those with breast cancer endure. I do contribute to other organizations working on cancer treatments and I do pray for organizations to use their resources wisely in their ongoing efforts to effectively and quickly treat cancer.

But finding a cure to cancer should not come on the backs of innocent children who have no voice, no choice and whose lives are ended too soon by the choice of another. This is one area where I stand firmly in my convictions. As I learn of other organizations who also contribution to abortion clinics, I hope to stand just as firm.

You see, not contributing to SGK is not really a sacrifice. I lose nothing because of that choice.

Am I willing to give up my favorite food, soft drink, coffee or activity because at the root of it lies funding for the murder of unborn babies? Even this is shallow in context. But…

Am I willing to give up the cure for my disease so others may live? Am I willing to give up my livelihood for what I believe Jesus Christ stands for and what He holds me accountable for in my lifetime? Am I willing to live without what everyone else has by choice so that my conscience can be clear before Christ on the day of judgement? Does it matter? Or am I content to say Jesus will forgive me anyway?

It sounds so cheap. Cheap grace. Contentment in sin. Contentment in complacency.

© DepositPhotos/ michaeljung

© DepositPhotos/ michaeljung

I’ve recently seen a number of articles addressing the use of child slaves in the making of chocolate. Is it true? How far-reaching is it? Does every piece of chocolate make its start on the back of a slave? And if it does, am I willing to give up chocolate? Do I have to give up every food that has chocolate as an ingredient as well? Is it just too difficult? Are there just too many uncertainties? Is it just too inconvenient? Would too many others put up a fuss?

When Paul was in Ephesus, the people were so convicted by the Spirit that they were willing to sacrifice. They sacrificed so greatly that it was felt by those whose businesses profited from the ungodly practices. Demetrius was not only concerned about his own business but that the god he worshiped would be discredited.

What god would be discredited if the abortion business was completely wiped out?

What god would be discredited if child slavery was no longer a profitable business?

What would you need to sacrifice in order to discredit the gods of this world? Or is that not your concern? Is that beyond your willingness to sacrifice for the will of God?

What grieves your heart because it grieves God’s? What would it take for that grievance to be made right in this world? What would you need to sacrifice in order to contribute to God’s will becoming reality?

Something to consider…

Sacrifice is not just about giving up your personal desires or contentment. Sacrifice serves others.

Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself to serve you. His love for us could only be made known through His willingness to sacrifice His own human will for that of God’s. What is God calling you to sacrifice, truly sacrifice, so that His love can be made known and so that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven?

 

Prepare Your Heart for Christ: The Christmas Reason available now!

What new thing is  God calling you to do out of worship for Him? How is God growing you in your relationship with Him? Is God asking you to sacrifice to serve Him and others in a greater way? Do you celebrate the fullness of all God has done when you come to Him in worship? Christmas is the beginning of God’s plan coming to fruition. It may not be realized until Jesus dies on the cross and is raised to new life, but today we have the gift of a baby. God has come to dwell with and save His people.

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Visit www.marikeisling.com to check out other studies available.

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I am (fill in the blank)

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“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God –” John 1:12

I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety. I have some understanding of the issue, at least as it pertains to my circumstances. Everyone’s issues are different so what I’ve learned can’t necessarily apply to everyone, but it will apply to some. My hope is that for those “some”, they will find hope in what I have to say.

I recently read an article in which the author states, “I am depression,” over and over again.

What I’ve found through my experience is that in stating it this way, you take on the reality of it. It actually does become who you are. You’ve given it permission to be you and for you to be it.

For a long time I let myself be a worrier. I let myself be consumed with a negative view of the world, of people and of myself. But in Christ, there is no reason to worry because He is good, does good, gives good things and brings good of every situation for those who love Him.

Even though I suffered from depression, I am not depression. Rather, I am a child of God.

I am loved by the Creator of the universe and have at my disposal every blessing possible according to His will and who He is. When I look at myself, I can become depressed because I am flawed, at times I don’t measure up and I will always find someone else who is just a bit better than me at something. But when I turn to God and receive His love, I have reason to rejoice and be glad. I am who HE says I am. I am precious. I am loved. I am a delight. I am worthy of His love. I am able to do all that He has created me to do. I am protected by His grace and mercy. I am able to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patience, faithful, gentle, kind, good and exhibit self-control because this is who He is in me. I am free, healed, redeemed, restored, content, and new because this is what He came to do for me, and for you.

I am not depression. And for at least some of you, you don’t have to be either. You do get to choose. God lets you have that freedom.

Jesus came to heal you and set you free from the things that weigh you down. Will you choose to accept that freedom? The sad reality is that sometimes it’s easier to live as a prisoner. I’ve considered it. As a prisoner we’re free from responsibility and accountability. We’re able to excuse, justify and blame – we just can’t do anything about it. Freedom requires action. And the strength to step into that freedom and action, responsibility and accountability is part of the blessing we receive in Jesus.

Who will you choose to be? What will you choose to accept as your foundation in this uncertain world?

Today I choose to be who God says I am. Today I choose Jesus and the gift of freedom He offers.

It’s Saturday. Now what?

SCAN0104“It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands. Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, ‘Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death.'” Luke 23:54-24:6a (CEV)

What happened on Saturday?

None of the Gospels address the activities of the disciples on Saturday except to say it was the Sabbath and they rested. Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Messiah, the Christ, Son of God is dead. And we have no idea what they did except that they rested.

How? Why? Because God commanded it? Really?

He was supposed to redeem His people, conquer the enemy and set up a new kingdom. Peace is supposed to reign and justice prevail. Everything they had put their hope in was gone. And not just gone, but dead and gone. In the ground … dead, buried and gone. Behind a rock and sealed gone. What happened?

The unexpected happened.

We’ve all been there at some point at some time. Everything is moving forward, life is good, and your best laid plans are coming to fruition.

And then?

The unexpected.

Everything just … stops.

We do get a glimpse of what those who didn’t follow Jesus were doing.

“The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’ Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’ So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.”  Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

Those who wanted Jesus dead also wanted to make sure He stayed dead. The disciples rested and the religious leaders continued to plot.

We must each decide what to do when Saturday comes because you can’t get to Sunday without Saturday. You can’t have victory without a battle. You can’t overcome without being under; without being down-and-out. Your response on Saturday will depend on what you believe, who you follow and in what or who you put your hope.

Something to Consider…

It’s Friday: This is the day of preparation. Everything had been going well up to this point. How could things go so wrong? Are you doing what you need to today so you  can be ready for tomorrow? Are you prepared for the One who was, is and is to come? Friday’s happen. Turning points come. And as hard as it is to believe, Friday’s end and it may not be how you expect. Will you be ready? Jesus is available now to help you prepare for tomorrow.

It’s Saturday: The unexpected has come. You wake up and it’s still true. You can’t believe it. What now? What’s next? In this time of uncertainty, confusion, and pain – rest. Worship and praise your Father in heaven. He knows what has been and what will be. Trust Him now.

It’s Sunday: The sun has risen and so has our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A new day has come and Jesus has redeemed. He makes all things new bringing life and hope to our seemingly dead dreams. His light makes a shadow out of all that was before. Expect Sunday to come! Jesus is risen!

Joy and Suffering

View of Geiranger Fjord from the mountains in Norway“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)

My daughter came home from her evening activities one night the other week. She stopped and turned, looked at me and I could tell she was looking for the right words. She is careful with her words and she doesn’t like to complain, but there was something on her mind and I don’t think she meant to complain as much as she was looking for someone to validate how she was feeling.

She started explaining her day; how everything had gone well for the most part: she had a good day at school, did well on a test, enjoyed her time with friends, had a good evening at her job…and then she got an email that something wasn’t quite how it should be. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible thing but it was something she would need to address and it was weighing on her mind a bit as to just how she would handle it.

Her overall question was basically, “Why does it always seem like when things are going well, something has to happen to mess it up?”

Welcome to adulthood and responsibility, my child. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

In a nutshell, this was my response. Just when I think everything is going well, something happens. And just when I think it won’t get any worse, it does. There will always be something that causes us to stop, turn and think about the change that just happened in our day, our situation, or maybe our life.

The truth is we all suffer at some level; some more often than others, but we all do suffer just the same. We all suffer in different ways and as we get older, we have more responsibility and become more practiced at suffering, not only for ourselves but for others as well.

In this world there is pain and suffering all around us. Each situation we find ourselves in has the ability to add to or increase the level of pain, discomfort, or struggle in our lives.  Everyone’s pain is just as important from the perspective of God and He has compassion and mercy for each of us in our own personal condition. This trouble we face has the ability to stop us in our tracks and keep us from an abundant life in Christ. The question is, at what point do we acknowledge our difficulties and turn to God and other brothers and sisters for help?

 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed (because God brings hope and healing); perplexed, but not driven to despair (because God gives knowledge and clarity); persecuted, but not forsaken (because God is always with us); struck down, but not destroyed (because God delivers us to life through Christ); always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (We live in victory, not defeat!) 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (Notes and emphasis added.)

Contrary to this world, in Christ, each situation we find ourselves in has the ability to increase our joy and happiness because we know He is with us and it will end. We already have victory! Regardless of how any current situation plays out in this world, one day it will be over and we will be without tears, without pain, and without sorrow. (Revelation 21:4) It is coming, do not give up!

The beauty of our victory is that we can experience and share it with people now. Do you believe in the victory enough to live it out? Do you share with others the reason for your joy in the midst of what others would consider unbearable? Are you willing to allow others to witness your hope even if they think you are crazy for really believing in that hope? The truth is that the idea of Jesus is crazy! It turns this world upside down and shakes it loose of all its preconceived notions and ideas of what it means to suffer and how to find true happiness and joy in spite of suffering.

Something to Consider…

As you consider 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, is there a situation that you feel afflicted or in pain; perplexed or uncertain; persecuted or abandoned; struck down or hopeless? Call on God with your whole heart, seek Him and His truth. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you how God brings healing, hope, clarity, knowledge, life and victory! God is faithful and trustworthy in all that He does.

It’s important to keep a good perspective regarding the significance of your pain and suffering. It’s easy to make something out of almost nothing and we can often try to downplay our problems not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. Don’t be afraid of letting Jesus and other brothers and sisters in Christ come along side of you so you can remember His perspective and be encouraged.

Fight or Flight…or Die? (Part 4)

This is the final post in this four-part series.

field water“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

This has been a long and painful journey for me, but victory in Jesus is my reward!

The fight or flight mode is about survival. God has wired our minds and bodies in such a way that we can make reasonable decisions and respond so that we can have the best chance to survive. Do I believe I am strong enough to come out on top if a battle should ensue? Or do I believe I can outrun my enemy? In either situation, if I am wrong, I die. At least, that’s the way it works on Wild Kingdom.

My desire to be loved, appreciated, thought of or at least, acknowledged by this world is wearisome. There is always someone else to please and something else to prove. I have never found real pleasure in praise, but rather relief in no punishment. I thought staying out of trouble was good enough. As long as I wasn’t causing problems, God and others would be good with me.

But the truth is God doesn’t want me going along to get along or just existing. He wants me living, thriving, and loving. And love is risky business. We might get hurt. We might be rejected.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:27-28, 32

I thank God that my bout with anger didn’t last long before He showed me how I needed to love and serve those under my authority, taking control of what I could and giving up to Him control of what I couldn’t. And again, God met me where I was and showed me how I couldn’t ignore or deny my responsibility to love others through difficult situations. Even people who I do not consider an enemy will mistreat me or hurt me at various times. How should I choose to respond? Too often, this is the sentiment proclaimed in society: “Run far from those who cause you problems! Get them out of your life! You don’t deserve their treatment and they don’t deserve your kindness!”

Well, that may be true, but it’s not good…and it’s not love. God says we are to love, do good, bless and pray not just for those who do the same for us, but for those who hurt us as well.

At the heart of deciding not to fight and not to run is surrender. “I give!” I had to acknowledge that I am not perfect, I would not please everyone, and I could not do everything. In relying on myself, I denied the power of Christ in my life. In looking to others to save and protect me, I had taken my eyes off the one who had already saved, sealed and delivered me. He has already overcome the world!

God has called me beyond my comfort zone, beyond the safety of my own little world where keeping the peace was more important than speaking the truth. All this time, God was working in me, transforming me into someone new. Hidden in Christ’s perfect love, I have no need to fear. I have died to Him so no one can take my life. I answer to Him so no other approval is needed. No more fighting, no more running, no more hiding. I have surrendered; I can rest.

Something to Consider…

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.’” Luke 10:41-42a

Surrender doesn’t mean compromising your standards, values or principles which are founded on God’s truths; it means fighting for the right things with a humble heart of compassion, mercy and grace. Don’t waste your time fighting for things that have no real value. Pick your battles wisely, boldly fighting for and standing on His truth.

Surrender also doesn’t mean we run from our problems and give up; it means we run to Jesus and invite Him to be the solution. In what areas of your life do you know you need to move forward? In what ways can you be strong and courageous each day, taking one step, choosing one thing you can do to make progress following His lead?

In Christ, we have all we need to live and die without fear, walking in His perfect love!

Fight or Flight? (Part 3)

This is the third part in a four-part series.

Two Empty Chairs in a Field“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

I can’t speak to how anxiety manifests in any other person or why others struggle. I only know my story and if there is anything anyone can relate to and learn from then it’s worth telling.

This has been by far the most difficult post to write. I have anguished over how to describe my anxiety: what caused it, how I reacted, what it turned into, how it affected me, how it affected others and finally realizing that everything I thought I knew about it was wrong.

Flight, n.: The act of fleeing; the act of running away, to escape danger or expected evil; hasty departure.

I grew up believing lies about myself, about others and about God.

It’s funny how the smallest thing can change your perspective of yourself. I have spent my entire life trying to hide and keep myself safe. I have feared the opinions of others, their judgment, their rejection and my own failure. I avoided and ran from anything that put me in the spotlight. As long as I was left alone to do my work I was fine. No challenges, no confrontations, and no humiliation. To even consider the thought of making a mistake and being found out was paralyzing. Running and hiding was my way of taking control, but you can’t out run God and nothing is hidden from His sight.

The stress associated with my fears manifested physically and the anxiety grew with each incident. My internal flight instinct grew. I was trying to escape a perceived danger.

There came a point when I truly began to understand the lengths I was going to trying to protect myself. All these years, I was hoping that someone would step up and protect me. I needed to believe I was worth protecting; that somehow I was worth more than the pain and suffering they would endure.

And then God reminded me of Jesus, the pain and suffering He endured on my behalf to protect me from death, to set me free and to give me a place in this world for Him.

See, God was calling me out of the shadows and He wasn’t giving up on me. The more He worked, the more I fought and the more I ran from the very situations and people He was using to grow me, change me, and transform me. I questioned His authority and control over my situation. I struggled with the reality of who He was making me and who everyone else expected me to be.

When my knowledge was challenged, I assumed I didn’t really understand. When I wasn’t perfect, I assumed I’d never really be good enough. And when I gave in to pressure, I assumed I’d never really be different so why bother.

What I had forgotten was that Christ is not only with me, He’s in me. When I am uncertain, He knows. When I think I’m not enough, He is more. When I don’t trust myself, He is faithful. I didn’t need to rely on my own understanding or strength, but turn to Him in every situation and His peace would be my guard and my protection.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There was a time when I didn’t know better. But that’s all changed. And in my knowing better I have decisions to make. I can rely on my fears and worries to keep me safe or I can turn to God, relying on and trusting in Him completely.

Something to Consider…

Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled. We are to trust in God and in Him. (John 14:1)

In what areas do you worry or doubt the most? What is your ultimate need in the moment? Give this worry to Him and tell Him about your need. Trust that He not only knows, but he is faithful and more than enough to meet your every need.

Into what lie does God want to speak His truth? As you give Him your fears, He will tell you the truth about who He is, who you are in Him and what that means for you going forward. Peace is found when we rest in His truth.

Fight or Flight? (Part 1)

 IMG_1655This is my story…well, at least one of them. This is what came from years of trying to deal with, manage and hide the truth. I am not perfect, but I have gained ground and found freedom. I hope by sharing my story someone else will gain ground, find freedom and have hope as well.

I was recently at the doctor with one of my daughters. I was listening to the doctor and her carry on a conversation about the nervous system. She had recently covered all of this in her high school biology class and was completely engaged in the conversation about all the different systems and what they control.

I, on the other hand, could barely listen without feeling like I was going to pass out. That was until I heard the part about the sympathetic nervous system which brings about the “fight or flight” response.

I have been plagued with anxiety since the early 2000’s. From approximately 2002 to 2007, I didn’t really understand the occasional attack that would send me into a panic. There had to be a physical problem for this feeling so I would go to the doctor to get various issues checked never considering the anxiety itself was the problem.

In 2005, depression was added to the mix. It wasn’t until 2007 that I finally went to a counselor after an anxiety attack landed me in the emergency room. We talked through all of the situations that came to mind with my angst and all of the situations that led to my thinking a certain way about myself and others. During this time I found ways to deal with and manage my anxiety. I also discovered the tale-tell signs of an attack.

Most attacks at the time began with anger. And not just a little anger. I would get really angry. At times, I felt rage in the situation. I told my husband once that it felt like it wasn’t really me. This happened in situations where I felt I had authority. I was ready for a fight.

At other times, my mind would race with worry. The thoughts flew at me and my mind ran circles trying to avoid the barrage. In those situations where I felt I had no authority, I would have a worrisome fear. Flight: getting as far away from the situation as I could was the answer.

“But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” Jonah 4:4

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27

In both situations, my anger and fear were over things in which I felt I had no control. Neither response was appropriate and the weight of the guilt was overwhelming.

The truth is there are many situations and circumstances in my life in which I have no control. The idea that I could not change where I was and that I had limited options on how to survive threw me into a fight or flight response.

The truth is in Jesus I don’t need to go to extremes in my response to problems. Jesus is helping me turn anger into a solution and worry into peace. In my next few posts, I’ll go into more detail on just how that has been possible for me.

Something to Consider…

How do you react in difficult situations? Do you tend to strike out with a fight mentality? Or do you retreat escaping in flight, ignoring the situation or denying the problem?

This may not be an extreme issue for you, but you may find you have hot buttons that when pressed set you in one direction or the other. How does your ability to control the situation influence your response?

Ask God to show you the truth of the situation. Choose to be open to what He has to say.