You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘changed lives’ tag.


He did this so that we could be the kind of people the law correctly wants us to be. Now we do not live following our sinful selves, but we live following the Spirit. Romans 8:4 (NCV)

I don’t understand genetics. I’m not sure any of us do, but some understand far more than I do about what makes a person the way he/she is. For example, how is it that two people, born of the same parents can be different as night and day in personality, looks, and body shape/size? Or, how is it that a child, separated from parents at birth will have many of the same traits, likes and dislikes at their parents even though they have never ever seen them? These are just a few of the amazing things about how we are put together as human beings.

What’s even more amazing is how we can be ‘put together’ in Christ. We are born into a human body. We are influenced by our surroundings in more ways than we can imagine. The older we get, the more the effects of our past can dictate who we are and how we react to things in our environment.

Jesus came to give each of us a new start in life. Because of his grace and forgiveness we no longer need to be imprisoned by the things that happened along the journey of life.

“But,” you may say, “You don’t understand. I was abused as a child.”

“I know but” you may say, “my parents divorced [died, abandoned me, were drug addicts, are in prison,]. So that’s why I am the way I am.”

I won’t minimize the fact that life experiences have a huge impact on us. We are wounded, bruised and scarred by a whole variety of things. With Jesus in our lives those things that once were destructive influences on our ability to live free can be used for the glory of God. Because of Jesus we don’t need to walk as wounded any longer. That’s what grace is about. That’s what mercy is about. That’s what forgiveness is about.

Jesus Christ is well aware of your past. He sees the scars. He saw the abuse. He knows the feeling of being rejected. He came to free you from the effects of all the bad stuff that’s happened in your past. We no longer need to live the way we once did. God’s Spirit in us gives us new life through Christ. God’s Holy Spirit in us allows us to use the struggles of our past to strengthen those who are hurting.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, my past continues to haunt me. I see myself becoming the very type of person I don’t want to be. I relive the abuse of my past on a daily basis. Forgive me once and for all for the mistakes I’ve made. Free me through your grace to leave the old life behind and live the new life you have prepared for me. Amen.


I am proud of the good news! It is God’s powerful way of saving all people who have faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Romans 1:16 (CEV)

All of us want to be a part of something really big. That’s why we line the streets to cheer for our champions; to be a part of a protest rally; to join in a big race. It’s all because we want to be able to say, “I was part of that!”

One of the reasons we all have this desire to be part of something ‘big’ is that we are all born with a desire to make a difference. We make a difference by changing lives, defeating an enemy or solving a problem. When we do that we can take pride in ourselves for our accomplishments or the accomplishments of our group.

Paul testifies in his letter to the Romans that he’s proud to be part of the gospel message. Some translations put the words “I am not ashamed” but I sort of like the Contemporary English Version’s rendition of the verse. “I’m proud of the good news…”

This phrase gives the verse a meaning I hadn’t thought of before, and in reading it I have to ask myself, “Am I really PROUD to be a follower of Christ?” When I ask myself that question the obvious, quick answer is, yes, of course. But then I think of what it really means to be proud of something I’m a part of.

When I’m proud of the group I’m in I would never to anything to hinder the success of that group. Ah. There’s a problem hidden deep within that. How many times do I hide my prayer of thanks for the food I’m eating because I’m in a school lunch room, a restraint or with someone I know is a non-believer.

How often am I short with someone who is inept at their job, pushy or arrogant?

How many times do my words, my attitudes and my reactions to others bring embarrassment to ‘the cause’?

How often have I failed to speak up for Jesus because I don’t want to be ridiculed or considered some religious nut?

I don’t agree with every social action group out there, but I admire their pride in their cause. Even if they are what we may consider some fringe group, they aren’t afraid to speak their mind about their cause. They aren’t afraid to make the plight of some life form or the destructive action of a political system of government action known to the public.

So, I wonder. How would the world be different if we as Christ-followers took the position in our daily lives that said, “HEY, I’m a follower of Christ? Do you know what he’s done for us? Do you realize how he changed me and how he can change you? He’s not concerned about your past, your present or your cultural or religious background. He won’t judge your lifestyle. He’s about healing relationships! He’s awesome.”

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. I thank you for all you have done for me and for the promises I have of life with you. I confess to you that there are times I feel weighed down trying to live the Christian life. There are times I’ve not taken the pride in my faith like I should. Empower me with your Spirit to live the life I live for you with pride. Remind me on a daily basis that I’m part of a group that changes lives for eternity. In your name, Amen.


Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? Romans 2:4 (NLT)

Everyone likes to be right. Everyone likes to be in the popular crowd, the winning team, the champions. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the book of Romans, his readers were mostly made up of Jewish people who laid most of their spiritual integrity on the fact that they were the people of God. This status gave them great pride.

The problem was, according to Paul, they were basing their position on the wrong thing! There were some Jewish believers that thought themselves a step above other believers because of their Jewish heritage. Paul tells them to step back and take another look at what got them where they were. Paul reminds them that the only reason for their position of faith was God’s goodness. It had absolutely nothing to do with their religious tradition.

The message is the same for us today. Everyday we are bombarded with horrific stories of how people treat one another. Even within so-called Christian circles there are people who place their entire identity on their religious tradition, the number of ‘spiritual activities’ they participate in, the music they listen to, or even the version of the Bible they read.

Our position in Christ has nothing to do with anything we have done, either good or bad. If your past is full of addictions, poor choices, or dysfunctional relationships and you have found forgiveness in Christ, you are no different than the squeaky-clean person who has grown up in the church or hasn’t been involved in all sort so sordid activities.

God doesn’t base His love for us on a background check. He bases it solely on who Jesus is and what He did on the cross for you. There is no grading system among Christ-followers in God’s eyes. His love, forgiveness and power isn’t given according to whether you are more, or less worthy than the next person. All are equal in his economy regardless of race, gender, or denominational background. God loves you regardless of all the bad or good things you have done.

None of us are any better or worse than the next person, in God’s eyes. Don’t let others judge you on the basis of your past. Don’t judge others on what you see on the outside. Learn their story before you judge their character. Consider how good God has been to you before judging how other people are. Unconditional love for others is based on the fact that the God of the Universe loves us all the same regardless of our past.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank and praise you for the fact that even though you know how rebellious and stupid I can be, you still love me dearly. Thank you for choosing to love me in spite of myself. Forgive me of my past and empower me by your Holy Spirit to live in close relationship to you. Help me to live unaffected by those who judge me wrongly. Keep me from judging others on the basis of what I see. In Jesus name, Amen.


I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11 (New International Version)

Contentment: The feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.

The Bible tells us in numerous places and ways that we are to be content; have the joy of the Lord in our hearts; be joyful always; trust God in tribulation and the list goes on and on. When things are going well for us (the job is going well, gas prices are down, the teenagers are behaving and you are getting along with your spouse or significant other) it’s easy to be joyful, trusting and content.

But what about the other times? How can you be content when everything seems to go wrong around you, when God seems distant or angry with you and you feel yourself getting older and not getting better? How can you be content then?

There are many people out there that will give you three easy steps to contentment, or a product, service or program that will ‘bring you contentment’ but the reality is you already have everything at your disposal to be content!

While it’s not an easy thing to admit or practice, contentment is really about our reaction to the event around us more than it is the actual event, person or place. Contentment isn’t really about being happy! You can be content with your situation even though you aren’t happy about it. You an also be happy on the outside even though internally you are miserable. Paul tells us in Philippians he is content regardless of his circumstances because he ‘learned the secret’ to being content.

I’m not going to be one of those people who gives you the ‘three easy steps to contentment’. First of all, there is nothing easy about being content. Secondly each of us reacts to situations differently. However, here are some ideas to help you on the road to contentment.

First of all, each of us must realize that coming to the point of contentment is a process, a part of the journey of life. Paul says, “I have learned…”. Learning takes time and work and is best learned by experiencing discontentment. If you read the life of Paul you find that he was a man of extraordinary talent, wisdom and spiritual strength. But he was also a man who’d endured prison, had numerous attempts on his life and was physically and emotionally beaten.

I’m sure that the contentment the Paul talks about to the Phillippians was a contentment resulting from all the turmoil of his past. Little by little Paul saw that God provided for him in times of danger and prosperity. He had to go through the bad part of life in order to learn that God could really be trusted to take care of him.

Secondly contentment comes to us when we have a proper view of God, ourselves and others. When contentment is based on external things we are bound to be disappointed. Relationships fail. People fail. Economies and politics take different directions. Life is fluid and sometimes we end up in places we hate to be in.

Contentment based on the Soveriegn God isn’t dependent on external factors. He is always God. He is always in control. He always loves us and wants us to experience his love. Because of this, there is nothing that can effect His working in our lives.

We also need to have a proper view of ourselves. Sometimes the situations we find ourselves in are the result of choices we’ve made in the past or actions others have taken to hurt us. To live a life of contentment we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others for the things of our past. As long as we hold on to the issues of our past we will never be able to experience the contentment that God has for us.

Contentment based on relationships will fail regardless of how good those relationships are because relationships involve humans and humans fail. Sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to end relationships because they are harmful to us emotionally or physically. Ending a bad relationship, in some cases, may be the safest way to find contentment, but this must always involve forgiveness of the offending party as well. Even if trust is no longer possible, forgiveness is a requirement for your own healing.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many things right now that are keeping me from being content. I worry about my job, my school, my friends, my family. It’s so hard for me to be content when everything seems to be falling apart around me. I realize now that I’ve been basing my contentment on external things and not the eternal and internal things you have for me. Help me to be patient and trusting as you bring the trials I must endure to learn contentment. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to trust you. Amen.


For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:1

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I have the tendency to hesitate to ask for help. It doesn’t matter how heavy the object is to lift or how hard the task is, if there is any way I can do it on my own I’ll do it! I’ve had plenty of sore backs and pulled muscles to prove it!

The ridiculous part about being driven to do things by ourselves is that it often causes physical pain, frustration and even damage to people and property. Still each of us is inclined to risk our physical and emotional health to do things on our own.

Sometimes we do that because we see the need for help as a sign of weakness. Sometimes we do it ourselves because we have that ‘pride thing’ going on inside us that says: (1) My way is the best way; and (2) No one can do it as well as I can!

What is true for us in the physical realm can also be true in the spiritual realm. In fact the two intersect in some ways. Those of us that are Christ-followers agree that we are sinners and willingly rest on God’s promise of forgiveness and grace for our eternal lives. However, for some reason, if we aren’t careful we think that once we receive this ‘free gift’ of grace we need to work hard to keep it or earn it.

We do this by taking responsibility to make sure our job is right, our kids are healthy and responsible, or homes are fancy and well kept, we have all the right toys and latest gadgets. We even work hard to make sure our ministry or church is stronger, larger and has more technology than the people across the street. Not all of these things are bad unless they become the sole reason for our existence. When they become all we live for then frustration sets in because we can’t possible achieve all we want!

Jesus says, in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus isn’t necessarily talking about physical rest here. He’s telling all of us who are spiritually tired and emotionally spent that we can come to Him for rest. He wants to comfort us and encourage us when we are struggling to keep afloat.

One of the mysteries of our human existence is that when we are at peace with ourselves on the inside, the things that bring stress on the outside aren’t as powerful. When I allow Jesus to completely control my thoughts, my attitudes and my feelings about people, places and things I have the strength to endure the attacks that are thrown at me.

God’s rest is both present and eternal. His rest gives us freedom to live life to the fullest while we are here on earth. When we rely on God’s power nothing that comes our way brings complete despair. This is true whether the circumstances we face are a result of our own failures or the attacks of others.

God’s rest is also eternal. As Christ-followers we have a hope that reassures us that no matter how bad things are now, someday all the pain and frustrations will be gone. Our physical lives will end, but will usher in an eternal life of peace, happiness and health, all in the presence of God Himself!

PRAYER: Father God. I’m tired. I’m tired physically, emotionally and spiritually. The things that are happening around me have taken away the joy I thought I was supposed to have in you. I confess that I’ve been struggling at my spiritual life all alone and not accepting the help you have promised. Forgive me for trying to do it alone. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to accept your comfort, your power and your help to make it through the daily grind that seems to pull me down. Thank you for your understanding and your rest. Amen.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,945 other followers

RSS Podcasts from Zion

  • Rising to Excellence
    From our series, "On This We Stand." Each part of the Body is gifted and needed if the body is to function effectively.
  • Opportunity is Knocking
    From our series, "On This We Stand." Our foundation and our joy should be the motivation for action!
  • The Source of Joy
    From our series, "On This We Stand." The strength of the body of Christ lies in unity
  • Got Milk?
    From our series, "On This We Stand", God’s word is our sole source of direction for life.
  • When we pray power is unleashed
    From our series, "When We Pray", The power of prayer is unleashed when the church focuses on God's work and not the problems that attack it.

LinkedIn

Candle Lighter Award

Built With Grace

Twitter Updates

Archives

June 2017
S M T W T F S
« May    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
Follow Built with Grace on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: