Thursday, January 3, 2013

Life Recap: God is Still Faithful.

Well, it's that time again :) 

A friend of mine from Calvary reminded me today that it was high time to write another entry on this blog! If only I blogged as much as I journaled.... Oh wait. Nobody would care to read that much about Stephanie. Trust me. It's probably a good thing I don't get on here too often ;)

So, life update: It's now 2013!! I have officially finished my first semester of "real" college, and I can honestly say I loved every single moment of it. It amazes me just how GOOD God is to me! He has brought me to the closest place on earth to heaven, complete with the truest and most genuine friends. I have 150 new family members- even if I did just meet them four months ago, they have become brothers and sisters to me (and a couple "moms" and "grandmas" too (; ). 

Looking back to where I was a year ago (quick recap: frantically visiting all the universities within an hour of my house, completely unsure of the future as a whole, but leaning towards an education degree at a secular university), all I can see is God's faithfulness. A year ago today, God burdened my heart to go to a Bible College. In His perfect sovereign plan, He used a friend of mine to light the fire in my heart and remind me that God has called me to live my life completely for Him. I do feel called to full-time ministry, but somehow that got foggy in my mind. Praise the Lord that He got a hold of my heart again and brought me exactly where I needed to be.

Following God's leading was the number one reason for choosing Calvary, but besides that, I loved Calvary because it was close to home and because it offered a degree in Elementary Education. Funny how God works, because through my first semester those two reasons became mostly irrelevant! Being close to home, while an awesome joy to be near family and stay connected in my home church, was actually the hardest part of adjustment. Learning how to balance living a completely new life in a new setting, AND still trying to maintain the life and friendships that I have known my whole life proved to be hard, but not impossible. More importantly, I had to learn to give all of me, regardless of where I was, and not give into the temptation of self-pity. 

Similarly, God changed my heart yet again and reminded me that my life has been set apart for Him and His service. About half-way through the semester, I sensed God's leading in my life away from education. There were a number of factors that went into it, but the bottom line came down to the fact that ministry for me is not a "side job." It's my life. And while there are plenty of opportunities to minister being a teacher, that's not the area I feel called to. God placed it on my heart to switch majors in order to be fully devoted to the kind of ministry He has called me to. So I am overflowing with joy to be a Biblical Counseling major now, ready to learn how to better use the Truth of God's Word to impact others for Christ. That really is my heart's desire and life goal- and I get to study it in college for the next five semesters!

God is so faithful to me, and that fact alone challenges me everyday to remain faithful to Him. Relationships are always two-way, and I often do not fulfill my part. My prayer for this upcoming semester and year is that I would earnestly seek God with my whole heart and that everyday I would wake up, ready to kill the flesh with it's pride and complacency, and truly live out the life to a committed follower of Christ. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Time to Start

It is time to stop living comfortably. 
It is time to start living intentionally.

It is time to stop doing the minimum to get by.
It is time to start maximizing what little time I have.

It is time to stop taking the easy way out.
It is time to start stepping outside my comfort zone and serve.

It is time to stop wasting my life.
It is time to start making an eternal impact.

As I am adjusting to life at Calvary, I have found myself slipping back into an apathetic lifestyle. I've found my groove here; my comfort zone has been established. I love the life I'm living.

Yet something is missing.

"Do not be slothful in zeal; be fervent in Spirit; serve the Lord." [Romans 12:11]

Three short commands. One unified topic. Passionately serving our God. 

To me, I see a direct correlation between service and passion. When we are passionate about God, we will serve Him. When we serve God, it shows and grow our passion for Him. This is what is lacking in my life right now. I've figured out how to serve just enough to feel good about myself. But that's definitely not the life that I as a Christian and committed follower of Christ have been called too. Following Christ requires passion.  

So what does this service look like? For me, it's personal interaction with others. It's relationships that glorify God in every part, all the time. It's a heart of genuine, not-hypocritical love, a brotherly affection that delights in outdoing others in honor. It's a life that is presented to God as a holy and acceptable sacrifice. 

Ultimately, Paul says it best. "But I do not account my life as any value, nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." [Acts 20:24]

This is the heart I want to have. Thought it's incredibly hard, it's incredibly worth it. I will fight for this. Praise the Lord for the grace given to be convicted, be led by the Spirit, be changed. It's only because of Him that any life is in me at all. To God be the glory!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sufficient Grace

God has been teaching me a lot about His grace recently, and I knew He had something wonderful in store for me today when I woke up to a text of a Bible verse, reading:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I decided to study out these verses for my devotions this morning, as this has always been a favorite passage of scripture and always a great reminder that feeling weak and empty isn't always a bad thing. When we focus on Christ and His strength in the midst of our weakness, I believe that's the best place to be! I'd even go as far as saying it's my favorite place to be.

But anyways, as I was studying these verses, I read Matthew Henry's commentary on them. I love the way he explains them and talks about them, so here it is below (I bolded a couple parts that were really significant to me.) Please read and marvel on the wonders of His grace!

"We have an account of the answer given to the apostle’s prayer, that, although the trouble was not removed, yet an equivalent should be granted: My grace is sufficient for thee
Note, (1.) Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always answer it in the letter; as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. (2.) When God does not remove our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives us grace sufficient for us, we have no reason to complain, nor to say that he deals ill by us. It is a great comfort to us, whatever thorns in the flesh we are pained with, that God’s grace is sufficient for us. 
Grace signifies two things:—[1.] The good-will of God towards us, and this is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort us, to support our souls and cheer up our spirits, in all afflictions and distresses. [2.] The good work of God in us, the grace we receive from the fullness that is in Christ our head; and from him there shall be communicated that which is suitable and seasonable, and sufficient for his members. Christ Jesus understands our case, and knows our need, and will proportion the remedy to our malady, and not only strengthen us, but glorify himself. 
His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified; he ordains his praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.

III. Here is the use which the apostle makes of this dispensation: He gloried in his infirmities (2 Cor. 12:9), and took pleasure in them, 2 Cor. 12:10. He does not mean his sinful infirmities (those we have reason to be ashamed of and grieved at), but he means his afflictions, his reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake, 2 Cor. 12:10. And the reason of his glory and joy on account of these things was this—they were fair opportunities for Christ to manifest the power and sufficiency of his grace resting upon him, by which he had so much experience of the strength of divine grace that he could say, When I am weak, then am I strong. This is a Christian paradox: when we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we see ourselves weak in ourselves, then we go out of ourselves to Christ, and are qualified to receive strength from him, and experience most of the supplies of divine strength and grace."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Savior Please

Well, this song is pretty self explanatory as to how I have been feeling as of late. At the beginning of last week I prayed and asked God to stir me up spiritually, awaken my tired eyes again, and give me a renewed passion for himself and for holiness. 

After a long and hard semester, I had grown accustomed to running endlessly, working through the pain, and just trying to get through time as quickly as I could. Once break started though, God began to show me that eventually, my strength will fail. Eventually all that I have trusted in with fall through. All that I have depended on will be gone. Only HE is faithful to the end, only his strength will never fail. 

I think that if I just work hard enough, I can make it through anything. "You're strong enough," I tell myself everyday. But what a lie have been preaching myself. It is only by God's faithful hand that I am able to accomplish anything- even down to the littlest detail, like breathing. 

"For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16)

I've tried to be so tough, but by God's grace I am realizing that none of my efforts are worthwhile. I don't need to be tough- God's ever present strength is guiding me every step of the way. 

Anyways, if you are reading this I would appreciate prayer and accountability. Pray that I would trust and depend on God's strength and ask me how I'm doing when you see me, if you don't mind. Watch the video and be inspired by God's pure and simple wonderfulness like I am :) 

Savior Please