One theme I write about often is understanding and embracing my progressive sanctification in Christ, being transparent about my sinfulness in my old flesh and about my frustrations with my slow progress in Christ. Today I turn the coin to the other side, and I want to write about my rejoicing in and praising God for how I can see He is changing me and how He has given me my new nature in Christ. What has inspired this is my pastor Jeff Lacine’s message on Sunday 1/26/20 on Acts 2:1-41. His sermons are available at my church’s website as well as on The Podbean App.
My pastor teaches the Bible usually not topically, but straight through a book of the Bible. Sometimes he does an overview series that covers large chunks of scripture at a time (for example his Romans Overview series of 2018) and sometimes he goes through a passage in smaller chunks in great detail (for example his series on Ephesians in 2019). Presently he is teaching through the book of Acts. Chapter 2 is about how the New Testament church was founded and how the Holy Spirit was given to empower the church as the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Jesus Himself promised would happen. There is much contained in this message that would pertain to and help both those who have not yet believed in Jesus as well as those who are believers and desiring to follow Christ in obedience.
So last Sunday, I was able to attend church and my husband came with me. I was so sick and tired after we got there, remarkably on time for a change, that it was literally painful for me to try to stay seated and focus and listen. This is because of my sicknesses and health issues, not because of any lack of desire to worship and participate in the excellent service. I dozed off multiple times during the message. It was very frustrating. But this post is not another vent on my sicknesses (another one of my writing themes). This morning (1/30/2020) I turned on my phone’s auxiliary speaker loud and was able to listen to the message intently while I was doing some other morning routine chores. I thank God I was able to pay attention today. Toward the end of this message, Pastor Jeff reminded we believers, my church and me, to rejoice and praise God for the good things, fruit, new nature, and the Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering us. I tend to always see glasses as half empty, never as half full. I tend to see my sinfulness not my fruit or good works. I tend toward despair rather than toward joy. So this is a significant reminder for me personally. Though this may seem self-serving, to think about the good “progress” and “success” one is experiencing in Christ, it really isn’t. It isn’t if you are really, genuinely thankful to God and praising God for what you are seeing, because you full well realize it is God/the Holy Spirit doing the work in you by grace through faith in Jesus. I’ve prayerfully asked God to help me rightly evaluate myself (letting God evaluate me and speak to my heart through His Word and this message I heard) to see some good He is doing in me by grace. So here I go–encouraging myself and praising and thanking God for the good I can see in myself (despite how sinful and slow in progressive sanctification I have remained):
- I do really believe in God, through Jesus, one day at a time, and am committed to live for Him, despite so many things I can’t fully comprehend and understand about God and how difficult this present life is with all its death, suffering, etc.
- When I sin, I agree with God it is horrible, turn from it, repent, and receive forgiveness in Christ. I am not content to remain practicing or approving of my sin.
- I genuinely love and am dedicated to my local church family as well as Christ’s Universal Church of all believers.
- I am faithful to my husband, family, and household work.
- I desire to serve God well and I am learning (it’s a hard learning curve) to stay within the bounds of my current limitations and to serve in the strength God provides and to be content with that.
- I desire to be compassionate, patient, kind, to others, and though I often fail, often times I am enabled to be loving to the people around me.
- I really, really love the Bible, and I study it well, am beginning to memorize some passages by putting them to music, and am learning more about how to properly analyze and interpret scripture to better enable my own learning, enable me to discern false teaching which is so prevalent today, and to even teach others as God may call, through Simeon Trust class and other sources.
- I am a woman of prayer. Not as much or as consistently as I would like, but I often pray for many people besides myself, and often for people who I don’t even know through Facebook, news stories, etc. I really believe God hears and answers my prayers and I desire to know God more each day and to converse with Him.
- I often encourage others and I believe God has gifted me especially in this area.
- I teach piano students, encouraging them toward Christ while I do so.
- I care for my granddaughters, also encouraging them toward Christ and teaching them the gospel and the Bible as I do so.
- I persevere through many illnesses, including bipolar disorder 2 mood shifts, that make life very difficult.
- I could go on, but you get the idea. God has given me a new nature by His grace because I have believed in Jesus. I at least have the right desires, even as I keep fighting back my old nature’s tendency to want to slide backwards. This is a gift from God that I am eternally thankful for.
What do you want to praise and thank God for today? How can you rejoice as Jesus shows you some of what He is doing in your life? And I realize also as I write this that we believers are only capable of seeing SOME of what God is doing in and through us. God may be doing something above and beyond what we can discern and beyond what we have even asked for or thought about. Oh how I hope God will show me on judgment day and into eternity purposes for my earthly life and good outcomes by His grace that I can’t yet see. Oh God–this is my earnest prayer today and every day — I am Your instrument by Your grace. Play me as You will. All glory be to Father God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, to my incomprehensible Triune God, for anything good in my life. Keep me encouraged and rejoicing by Your grace.