Don’t Worry About Seasons & Stages – Just Fix Your Eyes on Jesus!

The Christian Journey – The Good the Bad and the In-Between

For Christians, holding on to God is the first and foremost priority in our lives during the good, the bad and the in-between seasons of life. Now we do know that God has said there are seasons for everything in life. This we know and believe. Things such as a time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted. And so forth and so on. And so these seasons will come and these seasons will go.

But in recent years I have heard of another set of seasons pertaining particularly to the life of the believer. It has been said that the Christian life is made up of three seasons and/or stages…these being that you are either going through a storm, coming out of a storm, or in a relative “peace” time getting ready for a storm to come any day. In some senses this is true, although I don’t think it can be as neatly packaged as this. Yet the reality is there could be multiple stages of these three going on all at once. As Christians, we are not guaranteed specific times of peace and/or specific times of trouble.

On the contrary – what we are promised as believers is constant trouble and constant peace.

In our times of peace there typically is still some trouble. And in our times of trouble, we can still be at peace. This is the paradox of our journey with the Lord. Always dealing with trouble. Always having peace. So what is the encouragement to us? What is the takeaway here? What is the lesson to be learned in this?

I’d say it is to not focus so much on defined periods of where we are, worrying ourselves with questions such as, “Am I in a storm now or am I coming out of one now? Is this a season of peace for me? And if so, should I be bracing for a coming storm? And if so, what do I need to do to get ready?”…..Please. Brother. Sister. Stop. Don’t get yourself caught up in this exercise of futility! Because if you do, you will be trotting down the very path Jesus was trying to have us avoid when he told us in Matthew 6 to not be anxious and worry about our lives. For each day has enough trouble of its own.

So know this for certain – that every day there will be something. And over the course of days there will be things. And over the course of months there will be loads. And over the course of years there will be permanent thorns we have to live with. But the key to victory here is to not focus on this. That is what the enemy wants. The adversary wants us to become so preoccupied with our storms and our stages of life and where we are now and where we are going and when we are coming out and when we are going in, that we totally lose focus and sight of the mission at hand!

And so let’s not let the enemy distract us. And how do we do that? Well one way is to not get caught up in exalting the seasons and stages we go through as Christians. Just know that all of our days and ways are known by God. He has assured us in no uncertain terms that we will have sufficient trouble for each day, and that these troubles will last as long as we are on this earth. But thanks be to God that He has also promised that even in the midst of these troubles, perfect peace that surpasses all understanding can be ours!….What good news that is for us who believe!….A peace given to us by God Himself that the world does not offer and cannot know apart from the Spirit of God.

So let’s take heed to the admonishment in Hebrews 12 to “lay aside every weight and sin that so easy entangles us and instead run with patient endurance the race set before…and get this…looking not to what is the next “season” or “stage” in our Christian life- BUT rather …looking unto Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.”

So, believer, let’s not get caught up in worrying about what’s the current or next season or stage in our lives. Let us instead fix our eyes on Jesus, fix our eyes on the prize, carry out our mission and finish the race we have set before us until we get to our final rest with our Master.

And there we won’t have to play guess work on the seasons or stages we are in….because every day will be like Sunday! 🙂

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In This Will I Be Confident…

In this will I be confident…

Psalm 27:3-4

New Century Version (NCV)

3 If an army surrounds me,
I will not be afraid.
If war breaks out,
I will trust the Lord.

4 I ask only one thing from the Lord.
This is what I want:
Let me live in the Lord’s house
all my life.
Let me see the Lord’s beauty
and look with my own eyes at his Temple.

 

Psalm 27:3-4

Common English Bible (CEB)

3 If an army camps against me,
my heart won’t be afraid.
If war comes up against me,
I will continue to trust in this:
4 I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek—
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
seeing the Lord’s beauty
and constantly adoring his temple.

 

Be blessed friends!

Your Current Condition is Not Your Conclusion – Part 2 of 2

So for any that have been following my blog in recent weeks you will recall that I recently posted a blog entitled Your Current Condition is Not Your Conclusion – Part 1 of 2.” In that post I sought to point out that those who put their faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone are ultimately a victorious people. And that is true. We are. However, sometimes the reality of life is that we don’t feel like we are. It may be that we are in heated battles of spiritual warfare, or just weighed down by the normal and generally “uphillish” realities of life that all, both the just and the unjust, face.

So, how can we be assured as believers that in all of these things we are victorious? Well in short, it is because God says so, and who can argue with God? So if the God of the universe says we are secure and victorious in Him through trusting in the sacrifice of His Son for our lives, then we can take this promise to the bank. And we can know that it is both a reality for us now, and for all eternity.

But some will say, well, if we are so victorious as Christ-followers then why is it that sometimes it seems like we are losing? Why does it seem at times that we don’t win the victory? How come it seems like sometimes the enemy has triumphed over us? Whether it’s that we prayed in faith for a loved one (or ourselves) to be healed and the prognosis got worse, not better. Or that we were being faithful to raise our children up in the Lord and follow God in obedience and then one day they got killed in a car accident by a junk driver? How can we still claim victory in these circumstances and sooo many others that just seem impossible to see as “for our good?”….

Well here’s how. We grab hold to the secret. The secret the Apostle Paul discovered, and looked to and leaned on in difficult times. Times when it seemed like he was the victim and not the victor. It is the secret he commended to the believers in Corinth and that he commends to all believers for all ages. And it is this: to “look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient (temporal), but the things that are unseen are eternal(2 Corinthians 4:18). So then you might ask – well, what is the unseen thing that we are to look at that causes us to know that we are victorious no matter what, if we are in Christ? I’m glad you asked. It is the promise found in the verse right before this one that assures us that “…this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”(2 Corinthians 4:17).

Wow! What great news that is for the believer! That, not only are all the afflictions we endure down here lightweight things when matched up against the longevity of eternity, but that those very things are actually working to produce for us a glory beyond the grave that will be for all eternity and beyond all comparison! Man, if that doesn’t make you want to shout Hallelujah, I don’t know what will!! 🙂

So in closing, know this: that whatever your current condition is now– if you are in Christ – you have an eternal hope awaiting you that will take you and me beyond this brief momentary life with all its afflictions, into an eternal glory that is beyond all comparison.

So do pray that God will deliver you from whatever you are experiencing now. But know this. That whatever the outcome, whether in life or in death, your current condition is nothing compared to our glorious conclusion if you are in the arms of Christ as your hope!

Amen!

No Greater Love than the Greatest Love of All

(Sorry this post may be a little longer than what I intend for most of my post to be but there was much to say on this topic– so bear with me )

Well we are almost a week removed from having celebrated Valentine’s Day, affectionately known as the day of Love to most people. As we consider this holiday and all that it has come to mean in modern times, it caused me to again consider what Love truly is. Of course if you randomly ask ten people walking the street what they think Love is it’s likely you’ll get ten different perspectives emanating from a number of different worldviews. But many will likely be tied to either the Eros or Philos form of love. So what are Eros and Philo? Eros and Philos are three of the four different Greek versions of the word Love used in the Bible. Eros is typically associated with a more sensual form of love. It is most often connected to a person having a strong physical and/or emotional attraction to another person that makes the person feel “happy.” This love is therefore desolately conditional because if the person who was initially attracted to another ceases to be made to feel “happy” with the once-object- of -their -affection, they feel they have “fallen out of love” with that person and suddenly the love that once was, is no more. A second type of love which is perhaps not as fickle as Eros but is still conditional is Philos. This word, though it can be related to a love between two people in a romantic relationship, is most often associated with friendship and family. This is a brotherly (and/or sisterly for the politically correct :-)) love between friends, neighbors, family, etc. This love is regarded to be a bit more virtuous than Eros, going beyond just merely the external and superficial. Yet it is still inhibited in that it, too, has a conditional element to it. The conditional element is one of give-and-take. It is a love that says, “as long as they are giving to me and holding up their end of the deal, then I will give back in return and hold up mine.” But what happens when the other person doesn’t hold up their end of the deal? What if they start dropping the ball? What if they miss the mark? What if they fail to meet your expectations? Then what? Well most often Philos would say, “well since they are no longer doing their part, I will no longer do mine.”

Pretty sad, huh? If we are honest, looking at these two types of love at face value can be quite depressing. They can really make us question if there really is such a thing as “true love.” A love that gives and needs no return. A love that is steadfast through the good and the bad. A love that never quits. Never fails. Never runs away. Stays the course no matter what. Good and bad weather. Sad and happy times. Whether you hold up or even exceed your end of the bargain, or whether you fail, drop the ball, mess up or fumble in the worst way.

But wait……what’s that I see?…do you see it?….I know what it is. It’s a light. More specifically, it’s the light of hope. It’s hope saying, wait a minute, don’t forget about this one…..which one? This one.  Agape. What is Agape? Well some have said Agape is the greatest love of all. Let’s explore Agape.

Agape is an unconditional love. It is that love that gives and needs no return. It is the love that is steadfast through the good and bad. Through the happy and sad. Through ups and downs. This love gives to others when others have nothing to give back. This love keeps no record of wrongs, and in fact loves even after it’s been wronged. But how can we know this love? What does this love look like expressed? Well there was one paramount way this love was expressed that has since swung the door wide open for this type of love to now be experienced, perpetuated and spread throughout the ends of the earth. I’m referring to the single most self-less act of love known to man. And it is the act of God Almighty in the form of His Son Jesus leaving His place in Heaven, breaking in to space and time here on earth, living in relative obscurity for several years until the fullness of time comes, and He begins a three year journey of ministry that climaxes at a Cross on Mount Calvary. And why did He do it? Did He do it because He had to? Because He owed something to man? No. In fact He did it at a time when not only did man not have anything to offer, but when man was in his most helpless and unappealing state. We were lost. Depraved. Guilty. Fallen. Spiritually dead. And yet in one stroke of Agape, the God-Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, offered up Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of fallen humanity…and get this….while we were STILL sinners! What a demonstration! What a gift! What an act of Agape! That He who knew no sin became sin so that those whom He loved could become the righteousness of God through Him. This, my friends, is the epitome of Agape.

And so as we settle from celebrating our modern day of Love, let those who believe treasure this truth in our hearts and make it our aim to love others as we have been loved….and for those who may not yet believe, I pray that you might consider accepting and embracing this love that is also offered for you today. And guess what….no pre-conditions. No stipulations. No standard to meet first. No this-for-that. Just come. Just as you are today. Come. Believe. And receive…. the Greatest LOVE of ALL.

Other Great passages on Agape Love for inquiring minds:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Matthew 5:43-44

Matthew 22:37-39

John 13:34-35

John 14:21

John 15:12

Galatians 5:22

James 2:8

Your Current Condition is Not Your Conclusion – Part 1 of 2

Christians are a victorious people. Romans 8 makes that clear for us. But sometimes the reality is we don’t feel very victorious. I can personally attest to this. Recently I had breakfast with two godly men who are not only friends of mine, but beloved brothers in the Lord. They were graciously sharing their time with me and offering me counsel as I am in a period of discerning the Lord’s will and direction for my life in the midst of some great personal challenges. At one point during the conversation one of these men looked me in the eyes and said – “your current condition is not your conclusion.” This, he went on to share with me, was the title of a sermon he had delivered a few weeks earlier. The message was based on the text of 2 Kings 20:1-3 when King Hezekiah had become “…sick… at the point of death…”(vs. 1). He was subsequently notified by the prophet Isaiah that he should get his affairs in order because he was going to die (vs. 2). Rather than going to see doctors or going into a frenzied panic about his prescribed condition, Scripture says King Hezekiah, after receiving this news, “…turned his face to the wall…”(vs. 2) and prayed to the God of Heaven to address his condition. As a result of his prayer, God moved and in the end God added 15 years on to Hezekiah’s life span. So though his current condition at the time he was diagnosed looked bleak, God turned it around and changed what the apparent conclusion of his story was. So…what is the encouragement for us today? It is that our current condition does not necessarily dictate our final conclusion.

Now I am sure some are saying –  Well, what about those who get bad news or are in a bad situation, pray to the God of Heaven for a turn around, but it doesn’t happen as it did for Hezekiah?

Say someone prays for healing and the cancer diagnosis gets worse? Or they pray for the marriage to be reconciled and they still end up in divorce court? Or they pray for their children to return home and they still have not shown back up? Then what? Does this mean that they didn’t pray hard enough? Or that God did not hear their prayer? Or that they are not victorious?

I’m so glad you asked! And I plan to address these questions in Part 2 of this post…so stay tuned!

But in the meantime, the takeaway for today is that God is in control. And no matter what your current circumstance, no matter how dark or bleak, it does not mean that is what the final verdict for you will be. So rest in that. Rest in the fact that God is in control of your destiny. And trust that His will and plan for you is right and good.

* A huge shout-out to those brothers who are helping me bear these burdens (Galatians 6:2), and continuing to stir me on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), and who have helped carry me to the One who can heal all of our problems (Mark 2:1-5).

It’ll Happen Again

I went to the cleaners recently and the clerk promptly told me that they were able to get the ketchup stain I wasted on my white sweater (with gray stripes) out. I was very grateful of course because I have become very fond of this sweater. I then proceeded to say that I hoped I could keep it as it was, to which she replied – “it’s white, so you won’t.” I also happened to be dropping off a pair of pants I had just picked up from there only days earlier. They had been cleaned better than they’d ever been when I picked them up. And the first day I wore them low and behold I was sitting at my desk eating Subway when out of my oven roasted chicken footlong came the sweet onion sauce that I love so much – right on to my newly cleaned pants. How frustrating. I shared this little experience with the clerk and she reminded me that’s what they (the cleaners) are there for. She aptly sought to put me at ease saying – “don’t worry, it’ll happen again.” How right she was. And how sobering. No matter how many times I came to the cleaners. No matter how hard I tried to work at not letting my clothes get stained again, the stark reality was that in all likelihood they would again be stained. They would again need cleaning. Just as sure as the sky is blue, it would happen again.

As I drove away, this caused me to think about how the Christian experience is much like this. Despite our best efforts in life, we often find ourselves falling into sin. And to add to it, we then wrestle with the sorrow we feel over our failure when we slip again into sin. Though this is a reality (a grievous one, but a reality nonetheless) of the Christian’s experience, we should take heart. We do have hope. And that hope lies in the fact that we have a “Master Cleaner” that is ready and willing to clean all the stains of our messes and present us as good as new every time we confess our sins and seek His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

Now make no mistake. Once we accept Christ and the glorious salvation He offers, we immediately become forgiven for ALL of our sins. And we are then supposed to go from that moment seeking to sin no more (Rom. 6:1-2, John 8:11). Yet thankfully, we are given a promise that as believers, if we do happen to sin, that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1) And what good news that is! So, as a believer will we continue to sin? Um, Yes. Unfortunately. We still live in a body of unredeemed flesh and have not yet reached the promised glorification we know awaits us. So while we are still here on earth, we will sin. It will happen. The prayer is, however, that we will do so less and less as we continue to become conformed into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29), and continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, burning off the dross and replacing it with the fruit of the Spirit. But even with this, it will not be until Christ returns or calls us home that we will be totally free from sin. So as long as we are in this body of flesh we will continue to fall. We will continue to stumble. It will happen again. But thanks be to God we don’t have to worry about striving to clean ourselves up. Christ has. And Christ will. And He will continue to plead our case before our Father in Heaven until that great day when He brings us on into the kingdom and we are finally saved to sin no more.

And there, dear brothers and sisters, it WON”T happen again.

Hello World! My official intro into the Blogosphere…

Hello World!

Well the moment has finally come and I am officially entering the world of Bloggers! By way of intro, my name is Chris Love and I first and foremost a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Christ is my everything and without Him there is no me (or you for that matter). I am a proud husband, father, son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, colleague, mentor, mentee, and host of other things to many. I love to do a number of things, but most likely the one that tops the list is writing. I am a very reflective person by nature, and if you become a regular follower of my blog that will likely bear itself out over time. For the longest time I thought this might not be the coolest thing to claim about myself, however over time I have really come to embrace my love for reading and writing. Not only is it therapeutic for me, but I find that a lot of what I write is actually spiritually edifying to my soul. My prayer now is that this will be the case for you and all others who chose to read my blog posts. I don’t necessarily have a set day and time or amount of posts I hope to write, but since I write often I imagine it will be often. Definitely regular. And, again, aiming for it to be spiritually edifying – that will be the main aim of all my post – to edify and uplift (and at times even challenge) the readers with the Truth. God’s Truth. Prayerfully if you will be reading these, you are already a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. If not, I pray that something you read in any of my post might intrigue you and cause you to inquire more about what it is I am talking about. If so, just let me know and I will most gladly share with you the reason why I wrote what I did and/or believe what I do! (1 Peter 3:15)

Well, one of the first tips they tell you about blogging is to not make it too long, so I don’t want to blow it on my first blog out the gate. So I’ll stop here. My hope and prayer is that over our journey together of me writing and you reading (and providing comments from time to time), you will become well acquainted with who I am and what I stand for. In the meantime, take good care and may God’s peace be with you! Oh, and let’s definitely not make this one way. Feel free to contact me at anytime.