Recently I was thinking about a mistake I had made and it literally consumed me for the entire day. No matter what task I was working on my thought pattern reverted back to the area of failure I had felt. Most of us as women have a heart to serve, to please and to produce positive results. When we fall short or don’t meet the expectations we put on ourselves it can easily affect our thoughts, our behavior and emotions. But God has not called us to succumb to condemnation. When reminded of the verse that says, “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1) I was instantly freed of the burden of what was done wrong. I was no longer a prisoner of my mistake.
Oh my goodness! That was great news! People have a tendency to hold things over your head and bring to your remembrance all of the things you’ve done wrong, but thank God we have a Heavenly Father who remembers our sins no more! Many of us deal with perfectionism to a degree and some deal with this more severely than others. Perhaps you don’t deal with perfectionism but performance nonetheless. We “feel” good if we’ve “done” good. While it is true that our devotion to Christ should produce good works, our emotional well-being should not be based on the nod of approval of our latest A+ in life. Ladies we must learn to lay down our strengths and weaknesses alike at the foot of the cross and surrender them to Jesus. Any good that comes out of my life is because of the grace of God enabling me with gifts and talents that I alone could not attain. Anything that is considered a failure or mistake is drenched with His mercy and purchased by His sacrifice.
Can I encourage you ladies? Know that there is nothing you have done or will ever do that can separate you from the love of God. Mistakes big or small are forgiven when true repentance takes place. It is then your responsibility to adopt the mindset of a victor. We have been made MORE than conquerors. We have a responsibility to live our lives in Godly confidence that is bold in who He has created us to be. Our identity is not in what we’ve done (good or bad) but what’s been done for us. My identity is in Jesus and in Him alone! When we determine to live life according to who we are in Christ we encourage those around us to do the same. We can approach our day with confidence with the realization that there are going to be days that we miss the mark. With that in mind, we’re not given permission to abuse His mercy but access it as freely as needed. That’s why for each new day He’s provided a new mercy to keep you covered. It’s okay to admit your “Wonder Woman” cape has wrinkles in it, or perhaps even a few stains, but it doesn’t make you any less valuable. If anything it makes your story all the more powerful as you share from a place of authenticity that demonstrates the beauty of His grace actively at work in your life.
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“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11) Joy is an inner happiness and peace that comes from God. Happiness is just a feeling that fades away, but having true joy lasts if you reside in Christ. God has shown me what it means to have joy in all aspects of my life. I believe it is a mindset to live a joy filled life. Thinking positive thoughts is a huge part of it. Looking at your life with the glass half full will help you see the positive things in your life. Also, thinking about all the things God has blessed you with and being thankful for what He has given you is key in seeing the joy in your life. Being optimistic will bring these positive thoughts and keep you from negative thinking.
I know when I look at my life and thank God for all that He has blessed with me from my home to my family, I realize how much joy that brings me. Philippians 4:8 put it this way about how we should think, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” What is worthy of praise? Everything that Christ encompasses is worthy of praise! You have to surround yourself with positive people as well that uplift you and encourage you to be all that God wants you to be. It is really hard to have joy if you hang out with people that are negative and suck the joy right out of you. I am not saying to not love on them, but if you are constantly around them they will affect your mood and attitude. People can rob your joy if you let them. Therefore surrounding yourself with like-minded people that share the same Godly values as you is key. Choose people that will encourage you to not be selfish, to serve those in your life and be humble.
Being humble is a huge part of the harmony, unity and joy you can experience with others. Let this joy fill your life and be your strength. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10. Experiencing God’s joy is like no other and you won’t want to live without it once you do! I challenge you to wake up meditating on God’s promises and surrounding yourself with people that live life to the fullest for God. Don’t compromise living a joy filled life. Experience it today!
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Whenever we do everything right, make all the right decisions, and take all the proper steps to do anything in life, our expectation is that all will work out perfectly. If you stay in school and study hard, you expect to get good grades and graduate. If you show up to work every day, punch in and punch out, and do all of your work, you get a paycheck at the end of the pay period. If you are kind to others typically you will receive kindness in return. These are simple principles that anyone can follow, and there are also biblical principles to be followed as well. Give and it’s guaranteed that you will receive. Make yourself friendly, and you will have friends. Obey the commandments of God, and you will be blessed. Sounds simple enough right? However, I’ve found that there can be a certain level of pride and self-righteousness that comes along with doing everything just right. At some point we can start to think that we are the ones that cause great things to happen to us based on our good deeds. We can easily look back at our accomplishments and pat ourselves on the back.
So crossing all of our “t’s” and dotting all of our “i’s” will probably get us a pretty good life, but more likely than not we would end up depending on ourselves and not God. There is an element to life and salvation in Christ that is a complete and total game changer. That element is grace. Grace kicks in for the many times that we do not get things right, for those moments and instances where we feel like we’ve done everything wrong. Maybe we haven’t done everything wrong, but deep down we know we’ve done something wrong or at the very least we haven’t done everything right. Grace is a gift given to us by a loving God. A God who knew that no matter how hard we tried, we could not get everything right. We were born with a nature to do the opposite of what is right, and He knew that we would need help. If doing the right thing has the propensity to produce pride, doing the wrong thing has the ability to produce shame. Grace takes the shameful part of our incorrect actions and gives us what we know we do not deserve. There is nothing more humbling than having God…or anyone for that matter…continue to be good to you, even when you are not good to Him. Grace is mysterious, all consuming, healing, encouraging and powerful. Grace at its highest expression has a beautiful way of taking all of our wrongs and making them right.
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I’ve been thinking lately about the way I tend to categorize things. Putting things in its proper place is a good thing. It’s what helps to keep our pantries at home nice and neat, our work spreadsheets clean and together, and our Pinterest boards streamlined and cool. You get my drift. Labeling things whether literally or figuratively can help to keep the clutter away. But where it gets tricky is when I want to put myself into a category. If I’m not careful, I start labeling myself with words that box me into a space I was never meant to live in. I’ve had some life experiences in my 30+ years. I’ve experienced wonderful things like motherhood, traveling to foreign countries, and amazing moments in the presence of God. Like anyone else I’ve also experienced hardships as well. I’m talking about the very things that seemed to nearly take me out like divorce, depression, panic attacks, to name a few.
For whatever reason, in those dark moments I found myself taking out my label maker so I can stamp and shelf myself into some category. I know I can’t be the only one who does this labeling. Seems like when something negative happens in someone’s life there can be the tendency for the person and others around them to place that permanent scarlet letter on their chest or that big “L” stamped on their forehead.
God must have known we’d have this tendency. He must have known that there would be times when we literally begin to forget who we are. Yet God’s word shows us time and time again that when He looks at you and me, He sees the blood of Jesus that has covered us. He sees His creation, and He sees His sacrifice. He sees the ones whom He “so loved”. Friend, take that sign off of your forehead, rip that scarlet letter off of your chest, and put that label maker away. Pick up His word…the mirror, take a look at it, and slowly you will begin to see that God has a place and label on you too, a banner if you will. That banner over you is love.
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
~Song of Solomon 2:4 KJV
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