Limitless

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day! You are loved!

Do you find yourself putting boundaries on God? Do you often think, “He can do this, but probably not this.” Those thoughts can cause us not to seek God because we’ve set limitations on His capabilities. For some reason we think we know best. We give up on God and then go about trying to fix our problems alone.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭29:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This passage doesn’t describe a God with parameters to me. I see a God of mystery, wonder, might, and power. I picture a God to be feared and to be praised. I do not see predictably or complacency towards creation.

Maybe you’ve thought, “God answers prayers like that for others but not me.” When we think like this, we make ourselves feel as if God might love us less. We start believing our prayers might be answered if we behaved better. We begin thinking we are less adequate compared to those around us.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God doesn’t answer prayers based on good behavior or favorites. We have all sinned. Our only righteousness is in Jesus Christ.

Don’t let your doubts stop you from praying. Your requests aren’t too big for God.

“pray without ceasing,”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God wants us to come to Him. When Jesus died and rose again, we gained access to the Heavenly Father. Why why why would we ignore this privelage and try to do life on our own? Nothing is too big for God! Stop thinking God won’t answer your prayers. There is always an answer. We have to be willing to listen, patient, and trusting. Nothing is off limits.

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If you are someone who struggles to pray, it’s okay. I’ve been there. Here’s some things that helped me:

  1. Don’t be rigid. God doesn’t delight in wordy prayers. He wants us to be real. You are talking to a person. A friend. A Father. It’s a real actual relationship. There are no rules. Be real.
  2. Start a prayer journal. In those moments where focus is an issue, I find writing to God beneficial. I don’t forget what I was saying because it’s on paper! I also tend to feel extra connected to Him this way.
  3. Use the Psalms. The psalms are full of so much emotion. When you don’t know what to pray, start there. Utilize those words and turn them into your own prayers.
  4. If all else fails simply say “Jesus.” There is power in his name alone.

I hope this was an encouragement to you!

Much love,

Ashley

God Desires Good For You!

I’m going to be honest. I had a difficult time writing the title of this post, because I struggle to believe it myself. However, I write in order to encourage and to spread God’s truth. Regardless of whether I always feel it or not, God desires good for me. He desires good for you.

Let me ask you this: how far does your faith go? This isn’t to guilt you. We have to look at ourselves in order to grow closer to God—in order to know Him more.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God knows you, and He knows the extent of your faith. He’s not shocked if you doubt his goodness. He knows your every thought. Maybe you know you’re saved. You know Jesus lived the perfect life, died, and rose again so that you could be made righteous in the eyes of a Holy God. Yet, inside you know you aren’t living out this faith. There is a yearning for more. If this is the case you aren’t alone. I believe many Christians wrestle with these thoughts and feelings.

This is partially because we are foreigners of this land.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:13‬ ‭NIV

We were created for heaven and that longing inside of us is for home. It’s easy to forget what our faith is pointing us to, so we try to fulfill ourselves with what cannot be found.

God delights in those who seek Him. Our faith helps us to believe in the unseen, satisfying that thirst we can’t quench elsewhere. We find that when we seek the Lord, there is direction. We aren’t wandering aimlessly and hopelessly throughout this life until we get to the next.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do you believe that God wants to reward you just because you seek after His face? Or do you kinda just shoot off prayers into the dark with your fingers crossed, hoping that maybe he will hear you? God desires to be known by us. He wants a relationship. Like a good Father, He wants to love you.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we as sinful humans can show others goodness, why wouldn’t the Lord of all creation want to demonstrate the same towards us? Start believing that God desires good for you today!

Focus Forward

It’s too easy to look at one wrong thing and let it turn into a laundry list of negativity. Before we know it, we’re being sucked into darkness grasping for anything and everything to make ourselves feel better. After reaching for whatever that was, we find it didn’t satisfy. In our sober thinking, we realize those things we were upset over that led us to act out in self destructive ways, weren’t worth it.

There’s an enemy. I often forget the devil exists, and even though he has already lost the war, he still wants to inflict pain during the battle.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

In order to move forward, we first have to acknowledge the devil and his desire to break us. He wants us to stay focused on what is wrong. When we are fixated on what isn’t going our way, we can’t be satisfied in Jesus.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This verse is a game changer. It absolutely works. Instead of trying to fix our problems with tools that are often broken, let’s take them all straight to the God who is known for his restoration powers. We don’t have to be anxious. We don’t have to drown ourselves in worry and fear. There may not be immediate resolution to what is bothering us, but there is peace to be had.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In this peace we find ourselves able to move forward. Our thoughts are no longer consumed by the defective. Negativity fades away, the cross comes into focus, and we can resume life forward with new confidence.

One Step At A Time

When I think of perseverance I think of: charging ahead, courage, strength, “mind-over-matter-defeat-all-the-odds”, kind of mentality. But what if perseverance was just taking the next small step forward? Sometimes you don’t have the strength to charge ahead. There are days you don’t have the capacity to face tomorrow. But, get through the next hour? Sure, that’s doable.

According to the “New Oxford American Dictionary”, Perseverance is defined as: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

No matter how little you think you are achieving, if you are making the initiative to keep moving forward, you’re persevering.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we aren’t challenged, we don’t grow. Suffering is painful but it teaches us perseverance. There are boundless opportunities within the difficult circumstances we face to become more mature in our faith. We can always choose to learn. In the midst of such painful learning endeavors, we have eternal hope. His name is Jesus.

What are you persevering? Are you exhausted because you feel like your good just isn’t good enough? Give yourself permission to stop looking at life from a big picture perspective. Leave that part up to God.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance…”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What we don’t have immediate control over, we pray over. Stop agonizing over the details and hand them over to God. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Your only job is to keep moving forward, one step at a time.


Attitude Of Gratitude

My posts are meant to encourage, but they are also meant to challenge. I called this blog  “Living Faith”, because I desire for your faith to be alive. I desire for my faith to be alive. It’s not easy though. To live out our faith often requires a “retrain of our brain.” Luckily we don’t have to do it alone. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, and fellow believers to help us stay connected to what is right and true.

Attitude of gratitude. Ugh. But it’s not even Thanksgiving! Doesn’t matter. Grateful hearts keep our faith alive. Once we lose sight of what Jesus did for us, and all the blessings in our lives, we get stuck in stinking thinking. We won’t bare any fruit.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:16 ESV

We first receive fullness from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing else that will satisfy you. I promise. I’ve tried, and sometimes I’m still guilty of thinking I can find things that will fulfill me other than Jesus. I’m always proven wrong. Fullness in Christ comes first. Then out of that fullness comes “grace upon grace.” We overlook these graces. I’m a “nit picker”, a perfectionist, a “if it isn’t done right, then it isn’t worth doing” kind of person. Let me tell you, it’s a seriously disappointing way to live.

However, in gratitude there’s life. It changes your whole outlook. It takes intentional effort to be grateful. Our society doesn’t recognize gratitude but one time out of the year. All of a sudden, Thanksgiving rolls around and we are making lists, doing 30 day challenges, and opening our wallets.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Don’t get me wrong, you may be going through some tough circumstances. It may be really hard to see the good. It’s much easier to see the negative and fixate on it. I understand completely. But, what if we both committed to the renewal of our minds and started living in gratitude? I’m willing to bet it would change our day instantly.

Listen To My Voice

I’m just going to start right off and say: this is hard. If any of you have a solid grasp on hearing the voice of God loud and clear, feel free to share your experience. I’d love your insight.

I feel like there are so many competing voices for my attention every day. As a Christian I’m supposed to listen to the Spirit and trust His leading in my life. But how do you hear Him? 

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I often ask God to help guide me through my day. Many times I need Him to show me how to make very basic decisions. I drive myself crazy over details that in the end don’t matter. Details that don’t improve the quality of my life or anyone else’s. Yet, despite my prayers, I insist on listening to the critical voice inside my head that drowns out the Spirit.

It’s those moments that convince me Christianity is a fight.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

God will never let me go. Ever. No matter how far off my thinking gets. However, a relationship requires two people. I have to draw near to God If I want to hear His voice. When I’m stuck in obsessive thinking, shame, worried about somebody else’s opinion of me, terrified of my future, and my thoughts are spinning out of control—I can turn to another voice. I need to fight against being “double minded”.

“I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭26:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I believe that with willingness comes wisdom. God blesses us with greater clarity and discernment when we choose His voice over the many others in our lives. When we obey His voice, we will never be disappointed. There is always peace. Never chaos. Fullness. Blessing. Joy.

Ask God to help you hear His voice today.

What Will They Think?

Stop and think for a moment. Really think. How much do you allow your life to be controlled by what others think of you? Think about the choices you’ve made today. Did you make them because they were best for you? Or because you were afraid of what someone else would think of you if didn’t make those choices?

Did you not do something because you were fearful of what someone else would think of you, even though deep down you knew what you ought to have done?

Did you obsessively check your phone for likes and comments on Facebook in order to get that approval you so desperately desire?

Did you compromise your values in some way in order to hear words you’ve always wanted to hear?

There are so many examples. I could go on forever. I’ve experienced all of the above and then some…and then some…

It’s a pretty miserable way to live, and in todays world it’s as if it’s the only way to live. We are so desperate for approval, attention, affirmation, and love. The problem is we are all guilty of seeking it in the wrong places.

Where have you tried to find your affirmation?

Maybe a diet. If I could just lose enough weight then people would notice me. 

A job. If I could just get that promotion my family would finally look at me as a success. 

A relationship. If this person would love me, then I would feel whole. 

A hobby. Once people see how good I am at this, then they will see my worth. 

Again, I could go on and on. Been there, done it all.

This thinking is flawed. Once we get that affirmation, approval, and acceptance, we still aren’t satisfied. The cycle continues. There is a never ending hunger to people please in exchange for their love. A love that can never fully satisfy.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This verse gives me rest. It helps me realize that putting my faith in mankind is a trap. However, when I put my trust in God I have peace. I already am fully accepted, affirmed, approved of, and unconditionally loved because Jesus died for me.

The great news is, he didn’t just die for me, he died for you too.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who are you aiming to please? Who are you living for? 💜💜💜

A New Life

Happy Saturday Everyone! January is finally behind us and that is worth celebrating. It was one…long…month.

Today I want to talk about Romans 6. Paul speaks of grace and asks if we should continue to sin so that grace would increase. (Romans 6:1) In other words, do we keep repeating the same sins over and over because we know we will be forgiven? The answer is, no. If we truly understand grace, we are moved by it. Simply put, grace changes us. Grace gives us a new life. 

Grace also challenges us. It convicts us. Many times we have to look at ourselves. We have to ask if our thoughts and actions align with Gods Word.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We weren’t meant to stay trapped in sin. Not only are our sins forgiven, but with that comes newness of life.

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Sometimes this requires making changes. We have to change the way we think, the places we go, the people we talk to, the things we look at, our schedules, our spending habits, etc. However, when we do, we find freedom, peace, a new life.

“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Start living in grace. Let it change you. Walk freely in the new life you’ve been given.

What Are You Thinking About?

I’m an anxious person. It’s one of my biggest struggles. Once I stop worrying about one thing, I move onto the next. The problem with worry, is that the more you focus on a problem, the bigger it seems to get. Half the time, I worry over things that aren’t that significant or never end up even happening. Sometimes I worry, obsess, try to fix a situation, and then make it worse.

Can anyone relate?

There’s a solution. Believe it or not there’s actually more to life then well…this life.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Spiritually speaking, because I’m a believer in Christ, I’m dead to this world. Christ has made me alive. He didn’t intend for me to spend the new life I was given by obsessing, worrying, and “fixing.” When I focus on what matters most, the grace so freely given to me, my perspective changes. The things “worth” the worry I can take to God in prayer. And the worries that are simply a waste of time and energy seem to fade.

When we set our hearts on the things above several things are bound to happen:

  1. We experience joy. Joy isn’t contingent upon circumstances.
  2. We spend more time praising God. We’re naturally more grateful people.
  3. We are more willing to serve. We begin to understand that our time on earth here is short. God wants to use us while we are here.
  4. We are more attentive towards our loved ones. When we aren’t consumed in negative thinking and our priorities are straight, we have more to give to the ones who need us.
  5. We begin to demonstrate more grace towards those around us.

What are you thinking about today?

Hold On Tight

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s pretty easy to proclaim the goodness of God, serve, worship, and obey when things are going right. But what about when they aren’t? Do you hold tight to your faith? Do you find the same comfort in it as you did when life was going pretty well for you? Or do you decide to put your faith on hold, start doing things your own way, and hope that you can get your life back on course?

Holding onto anything other than Jesus is a lie. An illusion. A myth. A disappointment. To hold onto something unswervingly means—“not changing or becoming weaker, steady or constant.”

We can’t allow life to sink us. Jesus is the only option. He is the only hope. This hope we profess will carry us through any and every circumstance. It isn’t just reserved for blessing. Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life. In fact he promised us trials. But with the assurance of difficulty in this life, comes his peace:

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.””
‭‭John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Hold on tight. Don’t give up. Keep looking towards the cross.