striving, hope, joy, righteousness, peace, glory, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Striving: Focusing on God’s Glory to Share His Love

Striving to show others the love of God is not what was ever intended by our Creator. We often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love.



Flowers.

I would have never guessed that flowers would be the last straw. You know, the straw that broke the camel’s back?

I might have expected it to be the dress; or maybe even the food, but certainly not the flowers.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

Striving for the Wedding

Our wedding was quickly approaching. My fiancé and I had been working diligently at planning a simple, yet elegant wedding. It had been really well! There were some stressful moments, sure, but generally, it was pretty easy and enjoyable.

Until it wasn’t…

With a cart full of flowers and one attempt after the other to keep this expense as small as possible, the reality finally set in. Flowers are simply a large cost, regardless of my greatest efforts.

And that’s when things started spiraling.

God’s Love, Not Ours

From Day 1 of our engagement, my fiancé and I have been set on using this special day to display God’s love story more than our own. 

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 has been a bedrock verse for us in this season of life. Constantly serving as a reminder that it is Christ’s love that compels us and not our own. 

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV

That doesn’t mean the hype of wedding planning hasn’t crowded my thoughts though. Over the last several weeks, from reserving venues to deciding on our bridal party; from wedding dress shopping to premarital counseling, the wedding has been at the forefront of my thoughts.

Understandable as this may be, when I found myself crying over a $20 purchase of ugly flowers that didn’t match my vision but fit the budget, I realized that some things had gotten out of line.

Approaching God’s Word

Sometimes we read passages like 2 Corinthians 5 with the right idea, but still just slightly off from its original meaning. God’s Word is perfect, flawless, and infallible, but that doesn’t mean its readers are. Which is why it is so important we approach the Word of God wisely and with diligent devotion to understanding it correctly.

Thank God for His grace in this though, because we don’t always do this well. 

I realized that I was focusing so much on the ‘no longer living for myself’ part that I missed the ‘living for Him’ part. I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to be selfless with my time and money in the fine details; trying to make it a day that displays Christ more than myself that I neglected the condition of my heart in doing so.

Living for Him

Romans 14:17 tells us that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.’

When we consider the context of this passage, Paul is encouraging the believers in Rome to discern religion from relationship. It does not matter if someone eats food that is clean or unclean according to the Law. With Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father in absolute victory over sin and death, it is no longer about following the written code. However, about growing in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And, thus, serving Christ with such a heart.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point.

We could have the greatest, most pure motives, yet if our hearts are not resting in the Holy Spirit and in the grace of Jesus Christ, then regardless of what we do or how well we do it, we’ll be missing the point. Click To Tweet

Striving To Do What’s Been Done

I don’t believe that God gets angry or disappointed with us when we get distracted like this. I truly believe He delights in our efforts and our diligence to glorify Him rather than ourselves. However, I believe it saddens Him when we strive so hard to do what He has already done.

Christ is glorious. That’s a fact and it will never change. He doesn’t need us to make Him glorious. He simply is. Yet He invites us to join in the blessing of sharing that with others. But when we attempt to do this in our own strength, we stray from what truly pleases the Lord.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 147:10-11, NIV

The greatest attempts at pointing others to Christ or at seeking to glorify Him rather than ourselves, if done without an appropriate fear of the Lord and hope in His unfailing love, remains empty.

So as our desire may be to use our wedding day as a display of God’s greater love story more than our own, by God’s grace He gently reminded me, through tears and a weary heart, that I need to first see Him. See Him as glorious and worthy before effectively displaying that to others.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us plainly that we are to ‘guard our hearts, for everything we do flows from it.’ If our hearts are not resting and focusing on the glory of Christ and His unfathomable love for us, then any attempt on our part to display that to others will be tainted and ineffective.

A Place of Hope

Is there something that you have been trying so hard to do right, but feel like you’re still running in circles?

Do you feel no matter how great your efforts to honor and glorify God are, you still come up short and exhausted?

Sister, this is not how it is supposed to be. Looking at the glory of God through the grace of Jesus and pointing others to it was never intended to exhaust us. It was meant to rejuvenate, refresh, and fill us to the brim (Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 19:7-9).

Take a moment today and evaluate your heart. Are your attempts coming from a place of hope or striving? Righteousness or regret? Peace or panic? Joy or duty?

God loves it when you desire to serve Him (John 12:26), but He delights even more in a heart that is aligned with His; in a heart that finds righteousness, peace and joy in Him alone.

In striving to show others God's love, we often fall short. Focusing on Him alone is the only way to align our hearts and share His love. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #righteousness #striving #joy #peace

unsplash-logoJez Timms
abide, obedience, peace, striving, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Posture: The Difference Between Striving and Obedience

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. 



The week was spent running errands, making phone calls, meeting with other people, processing what was gained from the meetings, making stuff, prepping meals, laundry, loving on children, correcting children, loving on children more. Tiring? Yes. Peaceful? Actually, yes.

The following week followed the same pattern: On the go, checking stuff off the list. But it felt different. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be hitting a dead end. Nothing was going smoothly. Instead of tired and peaceful, I was exhausted and frantic. Outwardly, my actions looked exactly the same. Inwardly, I was drowning.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Striving

I can drive myself bonkers and wear myself out striving to do good things, giving things, ministry things. But if it is not what God wants me to do, or at the time He wants me to act, then it is the wrong thing and my work will not be fruitful. If I am striving to make things happen in my time and in my way, then I have made my ministry about myself.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance.

Striving leaves us looking for the next win, the next pat on the back, the next recognition. More than likely, we are looking to fill a void within ourselves, rather than serving out of an abundance. Click To Tweet

Obedience

Rather than striving, we are to be obedient. Obedience may not bring any recognition from people. It will, however, bring us closer to our Lord. Only His love and affirmation will sustain us. Praise received from people runs empty very quickly. Trust me, as a self-proclaimed “Approval Junkie,” I know.

Obedience doesn’t mean everything is suddenly simple. God still calls us to move forward. But our spirits are calm because the source of our energy is coming from Him. We are not mustering the energy from within ourselves.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.

John 14:21, NLT

Posture

On the outside, striving and obedience can look very much alike. The difference lies within the posture of our heart. If we give, and do, out of our own will-power then we are going to end up depleted, exhausted, and burnt out. But, serving from His power and out of abundance leaves us fulfilled and at peace.

The only way to serve in this manner is to abide in His love. He is the source of our love to others. He is where our focus has to remain. And He is who brings us fulfillment and peace.

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 15:4, ESV

Are you striving, or obeying? It is a daily acknowledgment we each must recognize.

Outwardly, striving and obedience may look exactly the same. It is the posture of our hearts that determine if we are acting with confidence. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Disappointing: Acceptance Is Not Based On Perfection

We don’t need to attain perfection in order to have acceptance from God. We may feel we are disappointing, but this is not how He feels about us.



I was at the gym a few days ago when I got a text from my mom that quoted a devotional we both read. “If God had a face, what kind of face would He be making at you right now?” I responded, “What are you waiting for? Why are you wasting time? Come to Me. I’m here.” I know there is much to be had in the presence of God, but I feel like my feet are cemented in the ground. I have been praying for the strength to shake it off and move in His power.

My mom responded “I used to always see a disappointed face. Now…He’s usually smiling.” When I read that I started crying! It took me by surprise, but I didn’t even care that I was in public. How long have I been operating from a low-level belief that God is often disappointed with me? Since that day I have been seeking to erase that lie and, as my 16-year-old daughter likes to joke, kill it with fire!

Disappointing: Striving for Perfection

Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love.

Micah 7:18, ESV

Don’t we all agree God loves His children where we are? Yet we don’t fully believe it. It sounds good. Our spirit wants to trust that He is pleased with us. But our flesh is hard pressed to maintain the appearance of perfection. Pride is a liar. Striving to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect is a worthy goal. But He never once said in scripture that we were to strive alone. Jesus sent us a Helper.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.

John 16:7, ESV

Yesterday morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “No one is as disappointed in me as I am.” We are our biggest critics, our own worst enemy. We’re relentless! I referred back to the conversation with Mom and soaked up her final thought from that day at the gym. “As we draw closer to Jesus, the Spirit searches deeper, turns the spotlight on brighter, so to speak. So what you’re feeling is a sign of growth.” Essentially, now that I feel like a fool I’m free to get over myself! It’s time to shake off that cement I was griping about and move toward truth.

Let those who delight in My righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of His servant!’

Psalm 35:27, ESV

We don't need to attain perfection in order to have acceptance from God. We may feel disappointment in ourselves, but He feels love and fondness for each of us.

Disappointing: Acceptance

Several years ago, while at Sojourn Church in Louisville, Daniel Montgomery shared two situations with the congregation before posing a question. First, he told us about a day where he basically got up on the wrong side of the bed. He was a grump-o-potomus the entire day, yelled at his kids, snapped at his wife and acted like a bear with his co-workers. The following day his quiet time was anointed and birds were singing. He loved on his family, was courteous to strangers at the coffee shop, and encouraged and laughed with his coworkers. That evening ended with a time of family devotion.

He asked which of those days we thought God was more pleased with him. The obvious answer is the day where he did everything right. But he said, “Neither!” God doesn’t base His affections toward us on our performance. He loves us and delights in us because we are His workmanship. Clearly, we are accountable for our actions, but we are His kids no matter how emotional or irrational we happen to be feeling on any given day.

We don't need to attain perfection in order to have acceptance from God. We may feel disappointment in ourselves, but He feels love and fondness for each of us.

Your turn…

Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. We belong to the King of kings. Struggles are inevitable. Temptations win out. But when God looks at us He sees Jesus, not our shortcomings. How differently would your day look if you truly believed that? The God of creation is fond of us.


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We don't need to attain perfection in order to have acceptance from God. We may feel disappointment in ourselves, but He feels love and fondness for each of us.

Erin Perrilleon


Fight the lies with truth!

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