It’s Not About Me!

Having too high a view of yourself is no good, you’ve just got an inflated ego.

Having too low a view of yourself is no good, you’ve just got a deflated ego.

Both at the root, are pride. I have a problem with the “too low a view of myself in many instances. I, then find a way to boost my ego to get a high view of myself. It’s the daily struggle. The ego gets hurt, and then I try to find a way to blow it up again. The ego is the problem. Our ego is NOT who we are, it’s who we THINK we are on our own power and strength. So lets pay no attention to it. Give it up and over to Him. “Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, its thinking of ourselves less.” Tim Keller

Read more about this from Tim Keller’s book “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness’

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus was always concerned with others like in the parables, it’s not the 99 its the 1 lost sheep. He chases after that one lost sheep. He doesn’t say “oh well all these good sheep, this is good enough.” In the prodigal son, the father didn’t say “oh well I have other children, let him go.” So Jesus is concerned with every lost sheep, and so should we. It’s not about me and my holiness and “woohoo! now that I am found I can sit nice and comfortable” We have been found and now are fully aware of the lost. It was not about me when I was lost, how much more is not about me now that I am found?

Lord I am thankful that you have found me not so I can sit comfy, but because of your grace and love and the gift of who I really am. I am hopeless without you. My identity is in You!  Help me show the compassion, kindness, self-discipline, and love for not only my fellow brothers and sisters but more for those lost souls. Help me to think of myself less, so that I can fill up on Jesus, and in my actions show Jesus to every lost soul.

“I am truly hopeless, yet full of hope, truly lost, but nonetheless truly found.” Michael Card.

Find your real identity in Him!

Blessings,

Johanna

Get in on the Action!

But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 1:20,21

We are not programmed robots. God created us with a free will to do as we please. As I study this verse in Jude, I see four action verbs.

The first is “building up.” Every day our actions are either building us up in the faith, tearing us down, or complacency is causing a slow deterioration. The apostle James said “faith without works is dead.” How can our faith grow without the right orthopraxy (doing of the word)? We must not just be hearers of the Word but doers as James instructs. What does our behavior do in efforts to build us up? Do we just admire the ideals of Christianity and read about Jesus with fondness or are we trying to live our lives like Jesus? Are we just hearing what He says or are we doing what He says? How can we be “building” if we are not “doing”?

The second action verb Jude gives is “praying” Prayer is our direct line to God. This is our communion, our one on one communication. We would never expect any relationship to grow if we never spoke to the person; the same is with Christ. He is on the other end, saying come talk to me. He is calling but we must decide to answer.

Thirdly, “KEEP yourselves in the love of God.” To keep is to “retain possession of.” We have been given God’s love and we must accept and hold on to it. Grasp tightly to the love that sets us free through Jesus Christ. Don’t lose sight of this love.

And this brings us to the fourth; “LOOK for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The enemy does not want us to build up in the faith, to have communion with the Father, to know Christ’s love, so he will do all he can to distract us from Christ’s mercy. The enemy will condemn, but take heart, we know better; Jesus is merciful. He knows our weakness. He knows we fall short of the holy standard and yet, he is merciful.

Let’s look at them in reverse order:

  • Look for the mercy of our Lord, the one who saves us from our sins and gives eternal life.
  • Keep His love and hold it close so that we can give love to others and show the world who this Jesus really is.
  • Always be in prayer, our direct line of communication.
  • Build up your faith continually to the glory of God.

Go ahead! Get in on the action!

In His love,

Johanna

Whatever is True

One of my favorite verses in scripture is “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” Philippians 4:8. I admit I would think of this verse with warm feelings, maybe even a bit shallow. I would think of this wonderful paradise a sort of utopia or even comparable to that feeling on Christmas morning. As I have been reading and studying it other ideas began to pop out at me–a very different idea than I have had in the past.

The first virtue that the apostle Paul states was “whatever is true.” This got my wheels turning. Is truth easy to think about? Does it even maybe give us pain at times? When Isaiah saw the truth of God in all His holiness, He began to see the reality of His sinfulness. He said “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah was clearly in anguish over this revelation. He had been exposed. I don’t know about you, but I have encountered times in my life that I had to face the truth about something and it was painful and even sometimes traumatizing. This sort of puts a damper on the warm fuzzy feeling.

Can we really think genuinely of what is noble and right and pure, lovely and admirable if we don’t first come to know what is true? Truth is what gives reality meaning. If we don’t first define truth, we are left defining all the latter attributes by what standard? Without truth, you will have a false security in everything. I understand that the only way to genuine righteousness, genuine purity, genuine nobility, genuine compassion, genuine love, and genuine forgiveness is when I understand the very truth of my own brokenness. When we cross this threshold from death to self and walk into true life eternal within the person of Jesus, we will find the absolute blessed freedom that we longed for. He does not fail. He will not fail.

In His love,

Johanna

My Identity 

I come to the Father through the cross of Christ.

I will not be oppressed by my weaknesses and strength.

I will not be knocked down by the power of sin and death.

I boldly stand as the person I was made to be.

I am looking unto Jesus who is alive in me.

In His love,

Johanna

What is Giving Our Best to God?

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:14,15

In the beginning of the chapter the Psalmist describes a picture of the people of Israel making prized animal sacrifices to God(as was done in the Old Covenant), they are good but not what God really desired.

What is giving our best to God? The Israelites were concerned with giving the prized bull or venison. God says, though these things are good, do you think that this is what I need? They were caught up in thinking this is what was the best. It says “sacrifice thank offerings.” When I think of the word sacrifice, I think of giving when there seems no way to give or when it involves trust and faith. Its real easy for a millionaire to give $100 but a whole other thing to someone who just made a $100 days wages and decided to give that away. Which one seems more of the sacrifice? How about the widow’s offering in Luke 21. Jesus said this woman gave more than all the others. The others gave out of their abundance but she gave out of poverty and gave all she had to live on.
Apply this to our own thankfulness, of course always having a heart of thankfulness is the way we should be, but how easy is it to be thankful when all is great; the “sacrifice of thank offerings” comes when we give thanks when things don’t seem so good. The apostle Paul says “give thanks in ALL circumstances.” Giving this sacrificial thanks and praise requires faith and trust in God and this comes from the heart.

God doesn’t need your money or your good deeds, or your willingness to sit in the pew on Sunday morning. These are all good things but they are not what God looks at. I Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord doesn’t look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God wants us to give thanks and praise from a heart full of Jesus. Good deeds should be the result of a thankful heart, but sometimes good deeds are used as a way to get to God. There is only one way to the Father and it was a gift and his name is Jesus.

The verse continues on saying “fulfill your vows to the Most High.” The Message translation says serve High God with a feast of kept promises. This is important passage because when we genuinely care and love someone we make sure to let our yes’s be yes and no’s be no. The day we said “Lord I am yours. I turn from my ways,” we told our King I choose you and I say no to my sinful self. God honors and loves our faithfulness to keep our promises.

The last part of the verse is Gods promise to us. When His children call on Him, He will deliver in times of trouble. He will always deliver. God is saying I am not going to let you leap out and let you fall. Our sacrifices and kept promises will be honored by the most High. He will always reach out and make a way when we can’t conceivably find a way. It requires full dependence on Him. This is where He wants us to be. He delights in our willingness and faithfulness to trust Him completely. His desire is a relationship.

So go ahead and give your best to God! Give Him everything you have. He won’t let you fall! He always makes a way.

Lord, I am thankful for all you are and all you do. You sustain me. Help me to show more sacrifice in my thank offerings, so my trust in you will grow. Let my yes’s be yes and no’s be no. I seek to serve you. Lord I know that you are faithful to your children to deliver in time of trouble, you will deliver and I will honor you.

In Jesus name,
Amen

In His love,

Johanna

“Thy Word Have I Hid In My Heart

Why do we put precious valuables in safes? Why do we put alarms on our houses? Why do we lock our cars? We do all these things to keep from harm or danger; for protection.

When I make efforts to read scripture and study it, memorize it, I’m hiding His word in my heart. I’m locking it in a safe with a standing guard. We make great efforts to guard our material things, how much more do we guard our hearts?

Who/what are we guarding against? We have 3 enemies of the soul: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The world –We are instructed not to love the things of this world 1John 2:15. Worldly wisdom is contradictory to heavenly wisdom. When we become Christians we are to leave these worldly idols behind and follow Christ.

The flesh– The bible says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9. Our flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh. Galatians 5:17. It’s in opposition.

The devil– Scripture says, “Stay alert! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

We know the enemies and we are given a way to protect against this danger. After we have repented and first trusted in Jesus we must continue to guard our hearts lest we fall.
We took the first step when we trusted Jesus and he gave us living water. Now we must continue to hide his word in our hearts by reading what he has revealed in his word and through prayer.

Today and everyday “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 Lock his word in your heart and make Jesus the standing guard of your life. If God is for us who can be against us!