True Grit, Perseverance, and the Joy of the Lord

Circumstance and life in general can be a joy thief. What do you do when you uncover hidden bitterness, anger, or resentment in your heart? Allowing it to fester and germinate; tendrils of twisted negativity taking root, coloring our thoughts and deeds as they invade, destroy, and eventually kill our joy and the very strength God has given us as sustenance.

Hard providence is often accompanied by sharp pain and heavy burdens. How we respond to the waiting is our heart’s choice. Patiently waiting on the Lord, grounding ourselves in faith, accepting we are where we need to be; must be, allows our story to unfold the way God intends. We need to get out of our own way and allow His way to light our path and condition our heart.

“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10

Charles Spurgeon described the joy of the Lord as, “…a joy of divine origin…a source of strength to  all who partake…” This joy springs supernaturally from God Himself radiating outward to us as we contemplate all He is, has done, will be. 

“All these attributes of my God are mine: his power, my protection; his wisdom, my guidance; his faithfulness, my foundation; his grace, my salvation” (Charles Spurgeon)

This delight in His character, His salvation, His abundant grace, promises, and providence stems from a heart tuned to the Lord — filled with HIs very presence; the indwelling Holy Spirit. Joy is our reaction to abiding in Christ, our expression of fellowship with our Savior.

It is this joy — the joy of the Lord — that strengthens; bubbling forth when we fix our eyes on the Gospel — on Jesus, the author of our faith, the coming glory, who is seated now at the right hand of God. It is our girding and our underpinning, our sunlight and our hope, the fuel that fires our determination to finish the race.

Seek the Lord through His Word, fix your mind on Him, draw close to His heart and allow His joy, the joy of salvation found in Christ, to strengthen.

The following article by Jon Bloom explores the necessity for “grit” or the stamina to continue pursuing the goal to the end:

We Have Need of Grit

So life is hard — harder than we ever expected. Well, Jesus told us it would be hard (Matthew 7:14; John 16:33), and our gritty forebears all found it harder than they expected too, so we are in good company. Like the Bible says, we have need of grit:

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36).

The reason we have need of grit is…

Please continue reading here: True Grit | Desiring God

Is it Biblical to ask Jesus Into Your Heart?|Examining the Sinner’s Prayer|Part 1

“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” –John 8:24

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” –John 3:16

The Southern Baptist blogosphere has erupted in conversation on whether it’s proper to use phrases like “asking Jesus into your heart,” “accepting Christ,” or methods like the “sinner’s prayer” when sharing the gospel. Like many online conversations, this one has tended to generate more heat than light, and I get the feeling that good folks on both sides of this issue may be talking past one another.

This discussion over methods and terms has been bubbling under the surface for a good while now. A younger generation of pastors look out at the state of evangelicalism and are rightly concerned that many people with cultural Christianity in their background cling to assurance they are saved despite an overwhelming lack of evidence of genuine conversion. It’s no surprise that some pastors are blaming the methods and terms that became prevalent in the previous generation. That’s why we hear a pastor like David Plattconsider a phrase like “asking Jesus into your heart” to be “dangerous” and “damning.”

The response to this critique has been to trot out the biblical and historical precedent for using such terminology. That’s not hard. The idea of “receiving Christ” is all over the New Testament. It is certainly a part of the good news that we are not only in Christ, but that Christ is in us. Pastor Steve Gaines’ rebuttal to David Platt, for example, focused on the biblical preponderance of such language and how it offers a full-orbed view of what takes place when a sinner places faith in Jesus Christ.

A Global Perspective

The first time I questioned the legitimacy of expressions like “ask Jesus into your heart” was when I was a student in Romania. Several Romanian pastors challenged the use of such terminology. They considered it to be another example of the American tendency to water down the nature of true repentance, and they recommended the use of such phrases only if fully explained. They saw these expressions as distinctively “American” and worried that they did not give sufficient weight to the idea of surrendering one’s life to King Jesus in repentance and faith.

Though some in the Southern Baptist Convention want to make this a debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists, a broader perspective shows that this is part of an ongoing conversation between Christians in the U.S. and Christians in other parts of the world. The pastors I knew who had concerns with this language were not Calvinistic at all. Still, they were afraid of creating false converts and offering them false assurance. It ought to at least give us pause that many Christians in other parts of the world are uncomfortable with this terminology.

The Real Issue is False Assurance

At the end of the day, the conversation about “the sinner’s prayer” and “asking Jesus into your heart” is not really about the legitimacy of such methods or the biblical justification for using expressions like “having a personal relationship with Christ” or “receiving Jesus.” I believe that properly understood and explained, any of these methods and terms can be used, to good effect. And I bet David Platt would have no problem at all with the careful way that Steve Gaines explains what it means to “receive Jesus.”

The real issue comes down to finding our assurance in these methods and phrases. False assurance is when a pastor says, either explicitly or implicitly, “as long as you walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, or asked Jesus into your heart at some point in time, you’re safe.” It’s the kind of false assurance that doesn’t take into account a Christian’s fruitfulness (as Jesus commanded us to) and tries to convince tares they are wheat. The debate is not really about the usefulness of a sinner’s prayer, but the grounding of one’s assurance in a particular moment in time where one felt remorse for sin, regardless if true repentance was present or later evidenced.

Growing up in independent Baptist circles, I recall how much emphasis was placed on the moment of conversion. Revival speakers would come into town and scare us as teenagers, telling us, “If you don’t remember the when, the where, the how, and the who of when you got saved, you’re probably not. So come down and get it settled today!” Multiple baptisms were good for the evangelist’s PR and dozens of teens getting re-baptized made the church feel good (“Look what God is doing in our young people!”).

Despite the hype, I never got re-baptized. I couldn’t articulate all the reasons why this was wrong, but I knew something wasn’t right. It felt like the shenanigans of these revival speakers put way too much emphasis on a moment in time and not on a life of fruitful faith.

True Conversion

This conversation about our methods and terminology in evangelism is an important one. I just hope that people who share a lot of the same concerns will understand the common ground they have and not impute mistakes to one another.

To my young pastor friends, we are often more apt to express concern about the precision of evangelistic language than we are to celebrate the passion of evangelistic outreach. Let’s not impute the excesses of revivalism to everyone who uses terms that are familiar within that stream of evangelicalism.

To my older pastor friends, please don’t assume that those who critique shallow evangelism are necessarily criticizing you or your ministry. And don’t think that young guys are gun-shy when it comes to evangelism, afraid to call people to personal faith and repentance, or have a problem with a moment of conversion.

Again, the issue is one of false assurance. No pastor wants to stand before God and find he offered false assurance to someone who showed no signs of genuine repentance and faith. We all ought to tremble at the thought.

Meanwhile, is it biblical to ask Jesus into your heart? Absolutely. We ought to say more than this when we evangelize, and our main focus ought to be on the biblical terminology of repentance and faith, but surely it is proper to speak of receiving Jesus.

Let’s just make sure we explain our terms and phrases so that the nature of true repentance and saving faith is communicated clearly, boldly, and graciously. I hope that’s something all of us can agree on.

From: Is it Biblical to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart? – Trevin Wax

Surrender Your Heart

TREVIN WAX|12:05 AM CT

Take Full Possession of My Heart: A Prayer of John Wesley

john_wesleyO merciful God,
whatever You may deny me,
do not deny me this love.

Save me from the idolatry of loving the world,
or any of the things of the world.

Let me never love any creature
but for Your sake and in subordination to Your love.

Take full possession of my heart;
raise there Your throne
and command there as You do in heaven.

Being created by You, let me live to You;
being created for You,
let me ever act for Your glory;
being redeemed by You,
let me render to You what is Yours
and let my spirit ever cleave to You alone.

– John Wesley

Reblogged from: Take Full Possession of My Heart: A Prayer of John Wesley – Trevin Wax

What A Difference

 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” –2 Peter 3:18

Shortly before this blog’s inception my husband of more than fourteen years, who was apathetic towards my faith and possessed no true belief, agreed to attend a church service with me and went from derision to acceptance of Christ as his savior in a very short period of time. I realized there were changes I was making that had helped to facilitate a healing within our relationship and there was more growth on the horizon. I had grown a tough sort of unapproachable exterior which often made the ease with which my children and family members moved about tough to grasp. I craved personal interaction and contact but was prickly, cold, and hard making it nearly impossible for others to truly know me. I buried my longing for true friendship and chewed on the lack like so much bitterness. During this time I watched as men in our church family discipled my husband and his faith grew exponentially. His growth and the Holy Spirit made me brave and I endeavored to step out boldy in faith and risk vulnerability. It was on my heart to become a part of women’s ministry and I began to formulate meaningful relationships rooted in Christ. Together our family became more involved and “life together,” “community,” and “church family” were no longer abstract concepts.

Fast forward to today and my heart swells with the joy one can only find at the foot of the cross as I see my husband off on a trip to the unreached Adavasi in India. He is part of a group of four men embarking on a mission trip to Siliguri, Inida. As he prepared to leave I wept with a mixture of joy, awe, love, and gratitude at the changes God has accomplished.

I thank and praise God for His faithfulness, grace, and mercy. He has blessed my family in ways I could never have imagined and continues to grow us in the likeness of Christ.

See also: The Sovereign Grace of God: His Story — My Life

Economics Lessons Are For The Birds

I love the way God reaches out to us to provide assurances we do not deserve

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

[From the archives.]

Sparrows came cheap back in Bible times. Two for a penny. Makes them sound disposable, doesn’t it? But Jesus said that even for something so cheap, God follows the doings of each and every one, right up to the time of their demise.

Why was Jesus talking about sparrow economics? He was assuring his followers that if God cared for sparrows like that, then they should take confidence that he would do as much for them:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than…

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Let Grace Carry You ~

CHRISTian poetry ~ by deborah ann

Grace Unmerited Favor by Luis Rivera free photo #11776

Let grace carry you,
when you are weary
let it bring you hope
when you are teary.

Let grace carry you,
it’s arms are open wide
let it be your light
your everlasting guide.

Let grace carry you,
thru the storms of life
let it bring you calm
in the midst of strife.

Let grace carry you,
your burdens it’ll bear
let it remove from you
your every single care.

Let grace carry you,
past the pain and grief
let it comfort you
with everlasting relief.

Let grace carry you,
in the arms of eternal love
let it bring you the peace
from our Father up above!

~~~~~~~~~~

Hebrews 4:16
King James Version

“Let us therefore come boldly
unto the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need.”

Copyright 2013
Deborah Ann Belka

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NEVER AGAIN ~Daily Affirmations

I came across this heart felt blog and I could not resist sharing this post from Cindy Livingstone. Check out her blog!

NEVER AGAIN ~Daily Affirmations.

Never again will I confess “I can’t” for “I can do all things thru Christ which strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Never again will I confess lack, for “My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Never again will I confess fear, for “God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Never again will I confess doubt and lack of faith, for “God has given to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3

Never again will I confess weakness, for “The Lord is the strength of my life” Psalm 27:1

Never again will I confess supremacy of satan over my life, for “Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.”                  1 John 4:4

Never again will I confess defeat, for “God always causes me to triumph in Christ Jesus.”   2 Corinthians 2:14

Never again will I confess lack of wisdom, for “Jesus Christ is made unto me wisdom from God.”1 Corinthians 1:30

Never again will I confess sickness, for “with His stripes I am healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Never again will I confess worries and frustrations, for I am “Casting all my cares upon Him who cares for me” 1 Peter 5:7

Never again will I confess bondage, for “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”   2 Corinthians 3:17

Never again will I confess condemnation for, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1

Never again will I confess loneliness. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20 and “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

Never again will I confess curses and bad luck for, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles thru Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit thru faith.” Galatians 3:13-14

Never again will I confess discontent because “I have learned, in whatever state (circumstance) I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

Never again will I confess unworthiness because “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Never again will I confess confusion because “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33 and “We have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”   1 Corinthians 2:12

Never again will I confess persecution, for “If God be for me, who can be against me?” Romans 8:31

Never again will I confess the dominion of sin over my life because “The law of the Spirit of the life in Jesus Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2, and “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 103:12

Never again will I confess insecurity because “When I lie down I will not be afraid; yes I will lie down and sleep will be sweet, for the Lord is my confidence and will keep my foot from being taken.” Proverbs 3:24-26

Never again will I confess failure because “Nay, in all there things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Never again will I confess frustration, for “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusts in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Never again will I confess fear of the future, “But as it is written, my eye has not seen or ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Gad has prepared for them that love Him, but God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”                                                1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Never again will I confess troubles because Jesus said “In the world you will have tribulation; BUT be of GOOD CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!” John 16:33