Reign in Life

Do you want to reign in life? You can by receiving an abundance of GRACE and the GIFT of righteousness.

I believe that the church’s biggest problem today is “self righteousness.” When we exchange our self righteousness which counts on our own goodness (behavior) to earn us something from God, and instead believe we will receive from God because of Christ’s righteousness, we will reign in life. For it is by RECEIVING an “abundance of grace” and the “gift of righteousness” that we are enabled to reign in life (Romans 5:17). This is NOT man’s way, but it IS God’s way. Even to reign over sin requires that we live under grace (Romans 6:14). We also receive our right standing with God through Christ’s behavior – His perfect life and work on the cross, not our own. Righteousness is a GIFT, not something we can earn. Our flesh fights this truth because it is contrary to human pride. And, the enemy leads us into defeat deceiving us with teachings from those who do not understand God’s amazing grace that put us under “laws” instead of “grace.”  The Christian life is all by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9) from beginning to end. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians who were being tempted to mix behavior as a means to earn favor with grace, saying, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 ESV).

Start reigning in life today! Believe and Receive. That’s your part. The rest has been done by Christ.

~ Pastor Sarah

God’s Reigning Power & Our Obedience

As you know, I am still working on my Master’s degree through Regent University’s School of Divinity. I love interacting with the other students on our discussion boards and I thought I would share my comment for this week’s discussion board with you on the interpretive role of the Book of Joshua in a contemporary Christian context in lieu of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Perhaps God will speak to you through it. Feel free to enter into the discussion.

The Book of Joshua is a theological history centered on God’s role with His people. He is at the center of every activity. He commands the Israelites to enter into Canaan. The occupants of Jericho are terrified because they have heard of the power and faithfulness of the Israelites’ God so it is He who terrifies them. It is God who parts the Jordan so that the Israelites may cross its raging waters, and, it is the Lord’s army, His strategies, and, thus, His victories on every account. In the midst of God’s reigning power, we see His faithfulness as we realize that the giving of Jericho is the first fruits of the land promised Abraham to be given to his descendants.

Interpreting the book of Joshua in light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, I would suggest that faith in God’s reigning power coupled with His faithfulness to fulfill His promises to His people is the foundation for our training and growth in righteousness because without such, we are weak in our obedience and unable to perform the good works ordained that we should do. If we fail to take the steps we are commanded that lead to the fulfillment of the promise, then we may fail to experience God’s reign and faithfulness in whatever challenge lie before us, whether it is to conquer an addiction or to walk into a particular destiny God has showed us He wants to give us.

The message of the book of Joshua is as relevant for believers today as it was for God’s ancient people. God reigns and He is faithful to fulfill His promises as we step out in faith in obedience to Him.

Unlocking True Gospel Obedience

faith through loveSome Christians do no more than penance as they outwardly conform to a set of rules. Romans 3:20 tells us that no flesh can be justified by the deeds of the Law for by it is a knowledge of sin. Galatians 5:6 tells us that the Law doesn’t count for anything for the New Testament believer. What counts is faith working through love.Therefore, true  obedience to count for anything must be motivated by love.

We are grateful to know our sins have been forgiven  – past, present, and future and we walk on eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness. However the key to unlock change in your life at this point in the journey is to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that even though you fail, you are ALREADY completely righteous before God. So I ask you, “Do you know you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?” Without such knowledge you will lack the power for permanent change, to respond to others in love, and to pursue holy living. It is trust in the REALITY that you are forgiven, accepted, and welcomed as a righteous child of God that gives you the courage to approach God for the help you need to break free of addictions or a sinful lifestyle. Faith, hope, and courage spring forth from knowing you are right NOW perfect in God’s sight.

Yes, Christ loves you so much that He didn’t just give you a clean slate to start your Christian walk from, but He gave you His record of good works so you can rest and enjoy your relationship with Him. He gave you His righteousness. It is a free gift. It was not given to you because of who you are but because of who He is. This is amazing love that when received, transforms lives!

When we truly believe we have been given in Christ Jesus the gift of righteousness, and we do not have to earn it, we are enabled to respond to our rebellious teens, our grouchy spouses, and our angry co-workers and employers in love. We are enabled because we ourselves have known such amazing love.

This love is the ONLY motivation powerful enough to turn self penance to true gospelized obedience where “faith is working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Do you know it? Have you embraced it? It is your key to unlock true gospel obedience!

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”

“Abide in Him?” What Does it Mean? Does It Mean to Pray and Obey More?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Yes, Christ is the vine, and we are the young branches in union with Him who are toldgrapevines to “abide.” However, the mistake we make so often when reading this passage of Scripture is that we immediately begin to try to figure out what we must do in order to abide when the point of the imperative being given here is simply that we are to receive. Thus, we miss altogether the indicative statement being made, and that is that all the nourishment we need to produce fruit comes from the vine (Jesus Christ), and not from ourselves. This must first be acknowledged before we will see the fruit of true obedience, an obedience that flows from the heart and is not just an outward action in an effort to conform.

Let’s consider the new growth on a grapevine. Obviously, the new growth is helpless and unable to do anything to support the vine from which it is attached. The tendril goes on to maturity, by resting there in union with the vine, receiving all that it needs to grow in strength, endurance, and fruitfulness from the vine itself. If it becomes separated, it’s fate will be death.

You see, it is not our ability to bear fruit that is the focus here. The emphasis is to rest in Christ’s ability and His dedication because of His amazing love for us, to transform us and produce the fruit He desires of us. This passage is all about Jesus Christ, and His promise of devotion and affection to produce in and through us, fruit. It is not about what we ourselves need to try to do, separated from Him. Christ clearly tells us, we can do nothing in our own efforts. However, as we know and abide in His love by believing Him concerning His love and what He has done for us, and as we expose ourselves to the Word of God, and rest in His promise  concerning what He is doing in us, we are continually cleansed (John 15:3) and we are guaranteed to bear fruit.

In other words, yes, we are called to obey God. Our love is seen in our obedience to Him. But,  our obedience is not a life of striving. The fruit of obedience doesn’t come before receiving the nutrients from the vine, which are only received if we are abiding. We abide by trusting wholly in Christ, not ourselves. True obedience is a by-product of what God has planted and is tending within us. We must leave our self improvement programs and efforts, and our tendency to trust in ourselves, and instead, trust fully in Jesus Christ. We must trust in His love for us, believing in what He has dJohn 15_9one and is doing in us.

We can believe and rest in our union with Him in order to absorb all we need to produce fruit as His life flows into us to nourish our souls. Jesus said, “I’ve loved you with the same intensity of love that my Father has for me” (John 15:9). Believe that this kind of love is possible and that it is yours.” Rest in this love and He will see to it that you bear the fruit He has intended for you.

Furthermore, notice I said “for you.” Each branch will bear the same kind of fruit, yet perhaps a different amount of fruit, according to the Lord’s desire and plan, so don’t get caught up in comparing your fruit to another, resulting in either condemnation or pride. Remember, to rest in His love and promise, and know it is His ability not yours, to produce fruit in your life. It is all about Him and what He has done and is doing.

I will close with this quote I love from Elyse Fitzpatrick which sums it up well. “We are eternally united to Christ, the true vine, and His fruitfulness is ours. Your obedience will grow because he’s your husbandman. Rest here. Endure here. Remain here. Tarry here. Abide”



Be Established in Grace

Hebrews 13_9

What do you need today? God’s provision for  spiritual growth as well as material needs is experienced increasingly more in our lives, not according to our goodness, but according to our belief in His love and desire to provide for us through His amazing grace despite our failures and weaknesses. So let your heart be established in God’s grace (Hebrews 13:9) and abide in His love – (John 15:9). It is in resting in God’s amazing, unconditional love and grace that you as a believer in Christ will be positioned to experience His undeserved, but available provision for you!John 15_9







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Your comments and questions are welcome. Disagreements are fine as long as presented in a loving manner that honors Christ. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and for sharing yours with me.

Spiritual Growth:Be Like a Child

Becoming like little children who are creative and counter-intuitive, without self-consciousness –unafraid of what others may think of us – is key for genuine spiritual growth. We can’t truly walk in faith unless we care only what God thinks about us and unless we have a willingness to look foolish and be the unique person God created us to be. In fact, the more we grow up spiritually, the more we resemble a child, the more nonconforming we become, and the more passionate we become, because we are becoming more like Christ who Himself was  extremely passionate and an extreme nonconformist for that day.

Chasing After Your God-Sized Dreams (Pt. 2: Defying the Odds)

With God, we can defy the odds. What appears impossible to us as three-dimensional beings is very possible for God who has no dimensional limitations whatsoever. In fact, our impossibilities are the soil in which God performs miracles. To experience God in this way, however, we must get the right perspective about God, who He is, how big He is, that nothing is too difficult for Him, that He is sovereign, that He wants the best for us, and that He is always at work in the unseen realm setting us up for success. In other words, it is our view of God that determines what we have faith for, what we speak, what we ask God for, what we do and what we become.

On the other hand, our irrational fears and misconceptions can prevent us from being who God has designed us to be, living the life He has called us to live, and experiencing all the good He has for us. After weighing the consequences, our fears can prevent us from doing what is right. We should pray for courage to do what is right even in the midst of our fears. We can pray that we recognize and seize the opportunities God has laid before us that can catapult us into our destiny. To do this, however, we need to unlearn our paralyzing fears and misconceptions and replace them with God’s Word, aligning our thoughts with His. To do this, we need to spend time with God and grow in our love relationship with Him. As we are perfected in His love, our faith is energized, and enables us to face our fears and we begin to experience the liberty, fulfillment, and fruitfulness God has intended for us. We begin to walk on the offense instead of the defense and we begin to storm the gates of hell.

Chasing After Your God-Sized Dreams (Pt.1)

I recently read a book called, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson. In the book, he encourages Christians to trust God and realize that the future God wants for them is hiding in their biggest problem, worst failures and greatest fears! He emphasizes, as does the Bible, that God is glorified as His people step into the seemingly impossible opportunities that stand between them and their dreams because these are the places where God’s involvement can be the only explanation for success.  Even if the outcome is not that which was hoped for according to our definition of success, we are still ahead because we will have the opportunity to grow in our relationship with God, thus, find ourselves changed. Besides, we can trust that God doesn’t waste anything. The efforts made will certainly be used for God’s purposes to bring forth the planned outcome of God.

For instance, a number of years ago, Jon (my husband) and I answered the call to plant a church in Lumberton, NC. With little financial support and no previous pastoral experience; with statistics saying small towns that are no longer growing are not the place to plant a new church especially by an outsider; with the knowledge that it was an area with more than significant spiritual warfare and that a previous attempt to plant there by our sending church had failed just two years prior; with some reluctance of this area being expressed by our sending pastor who at first suggested we consider a different town; and with a support team made up of individuals who barely knew us and therefore had little faith in our call but had more faith in their own call, we went in full obedience and faith that God would take care of us and accomplish His purpose. Although there were many struggles, there were many great things that happened through the plant to include salvations, water baptisms, new commitments to the Lord, divine relationships established through the fellowship, and the redirection of the life of a young man (I’ll call him “E”). This young man was talking about going off to New York and training to become a fireman. A worship pastor from our sending church told us about him and told us he felt he might have a call to lead worship, but that he could not see that “E” would ever have the chance to discover it at that church. Besides he was making other plans and the pastor was afraid the young man was about to miss his destiny. Jon and I were already acquainted with him so Jon (my husband) met with “E” and asked him to lead our worship team for six months while the man he promised that position to was called away to serve in Afghanistan.  He ended up leading for a year or so and even for awhile after the original leader returned, and in that time came to realize his calling as did we. I remember clearly the day Jon told him he felt he had a pastoral gifting and he encouraged him to take classes at the Bible college. This experience with us turned this young man’s life in a different direction than he was headed. This became his initial training and preparation for becoming ordained as an associate pastor just this week at an existing church in a growing area. Besides that, this young man met his wife while in fellowship with us in Lumberton. All of this was God’s plan and this is just one example of what came out of our obedience to “go” even in the midst of defying odds.

As for the church plant, it fell apart in its sixth year and we have moved on. But you see, nothing was wasted! God was glorified in our obedience in many ways as He worked out His plan for so many people through our obedience; and Jon and I are that much closer to our own destiny of becoming like Christ as well. Our relationship grew with Christ through the experience of obedience and in the experience of letting go of God’s people for Him to do as He pleased. We are not even close to being the same today as we were when we set out on that journey. You can only WIN in being obedient to God. As Batterson says, “I wish I could tell you that every lion chase ends with a lion skin hanging on the wall, but it doesn’t…the dreamer is successful beyond his wildest dreams, but the guy with political aspirations lost the election. However, both of them are LION CHASERS in my book. What sets lion chasers apart ISN’T THE OUTCOME. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams. Lion chasers don’t let their fears or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do.

So, we are called to run after these opportunities as God puts the desire on our hearts. Or, as Batterson puts it, “chase lions” and lay hold of God’s best by not allowing our past experiences, present circumstances, fears, doubts, bad decisions, or habits keep us from stepping into what God has called us to do. Instead, chase these opportunities and with God’s help defy the odds, face our fears and re-frame our problems, embrace uncertainty, take risks, and seize opportunities – all at the risk of looking FOOLISH. As our trust grows in God’s sovereign timing and positioning us for His purpose in our life’s circumstances, and as we learn to recognize and lay hold of our God-ordained opportunities, we are transformed from glory to glory. And, that is God’s best no matter what the exterior circumstances look like. Next time around, the outcome may be just what one expects! So continue on chasing lions knowing God is with you. It’s all good! It’s all in God’s hands to be used for HIS eternal purposes!

Satisfaction – Dissatisfaction: The Choice is Yours

As we pursue God as first priority in our lives, His love satisfies our restless souls. On the other hand, ignoring God results in a loss of awareness of His amazing, unconditional love leaving us empty and dissatisfied. Therefore, you can choose to be satisfied or dissatisfied by choosing to pursue God or to ignore Him. What will it be?

Resisting Worry

“Worry is a form of atheism, for it betrays a lack of faith and trust in God” (attributed to Bishop Fulton J. Sheen). In this fallen world we live in, we are often faced with challenges that, if we are not careful, can overtake us with anxiety and distract us away from the very Source that can supply our need. We or our loved ones may be facing illness, living in a strained marriage, struggling through a stressed work environment, experiencing a loss of income and the list goes on and on. Worrying about things we have no control over is a waste of our time and energy and can result in “killer” stress in our lives.Keys to Freedom & Transformation

The Apostle Paul instructs us as we face our life challenges: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6). The truth is, we are not created in such a way to successfully carry the kind of burdens we are faced with that come our way as a result of the fallen world and fallen nature of humans. Therefore, Paul is telling us to take our concerns and anxieties to Christ and let Him handle them for us. Christ Himself implores us to do the same: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The Apostle Paul who suffered persecution in all forms and levels, from false allegations to beatings, walked out his journey without stressing these matters. His attitude was: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). What was it about Paul that he could maintain contentment and hold this noble attitude in the midst of all his afflictions? To answer this question, consider the following habits we clearly see in Paul’s life as we read his New Testament letters. These habits give us insight into his worry-less lifestyle:

  1. Paul was totally surrendered to God’s purpose for his life. He knew His purpose was greater than his human mind was able to comprehend. Isaiah 55:9: As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. When we accept this truth as did Paul, we can quit trying to figure out what God’s reasoning is, and instead rest in God and His plan for our lives.
  2. Paul trust God’s love and lordship over His life. He knew that no man or circumstance could take his reputation or his life unless God allowed it. It was his steadfast belief that God was sovereignly involved in the affairs of his life that gave purpose to every situation Paul faced. His attitude was like that of Jesus as seen in John 19:10-11 when Christ stood in front of Pilate. Pilate said: Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you? Christ responded: You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…

  3. Paul focused on the reality of eternity and his rewards in Christ. We are able to remain content and at peace in every situation as we view it from the perspective of eternity. Matthew 6:25-40 informs us that as the righteousness of God in Christ, we are the partakers of divine riches. We must do as did Paul and remind ourselves of this. One of those riches is strength for every situation (Phil 4:13). Knowing you have God’s power on your side and that He will meet all your needs, gives you reason to rest. Psalm 1:3 describes the righteous who trust in God as being…like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
  4. Paul prayed and maintained a grateful heart. When we pray, we are releasing our fears and worries to God. As we do this, His peace floods our souls, as He guides us as to what we should do, if anything. There is no situation we cannot take to the throne room of grace, whether it is a situation existing because of our own sin, failure, or poor choice; or, a situation that exists due to something or someone outside of ourselves. We are told to bring it all to God with prayer, supplication (intense fervor) and thanksgiving. We can have such confidence that we thank God in advance for taking care of it. As we do this, we exchange our burdens for God’s supernatural yoke of peace and we discover His yoke is light, indeed.
  5. Paul looked at his present circumstances in light of the promises of God for his future. Search the Scriptures and know God’s promises. Put them on your lips and in your heart by meditating on them. When you are tempted to think contrary to what God has said, take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and take authority in the name of Jesus over your thought life insisting on thinking thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). When you are going through a difficult season, you may want to carry some Scripture cards with you and place them in handy places to remind you of God’s faithfulness to bring you through.

    To close, I do want to point out that there are times we can reduce the opportunity for anxiety in our lives by making changes that may be needed. If fretting over the bills, ask God to help you implement a change in your budget and lifestyle. If concerned about your health, take steps to improve it through diet and exercise and your doctor’s suggestions. Taking steps to improve the particular area of life that is giving you concern can help bridge the gap between worry and faith. Still, even in this, your first step is to go to God and allow Him to give you His guidance on the situation. Then, follow His guidance and refuse to be anxious, but instead continue to give all things in and outside of your control to God as you pray with supplication and thanksgiving. He will keep you at peace as you put your trust in Him.