Giving Yourself Over To God’s Sovereignty

Sovereignty. Supreme or absolute power. Authority. The aforementioned words and phrases all represent the same basic concept, the ability and jurisdiction to rule over something and/or someone else.

Now, as modern, and free-thinking/free-willed human beings, the concept of allowing and giving ourselves over to a sovereign power seems quite foreign and fairly undesirable. Human history as we know it has rebelled and fought against such concepts and rulers. How many times have you ever heard the phrase, “Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t do!”?

But the sovereign and absolute power that I am talking about giving yourself over to is a power that desires you to lead a prosperous, happy and fulfilled life, not one that wishes to boss you around and limit your rights and life. The sovereign power that I am talking about giving yourself over to is God’s sovereign power.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.- Jeremiah 29:11

Sure, it’s easy to just “go with the flow”, or say “it is what it is”, but to actually wake up one day and truly learn to place your life, hopes, dreams and fears into God’s hands and watch Him take control, can bring a peace to your life that you have never known before.

This is not to say that once you give yourself over to God’s absolute control that you can just put your feet up and go on cruise control. God still requires that you do your fair share of work and put in your rightful effort. The combination of faith, prayer and effort can be a game changer in one’s life.

From my own personal experience of learning to put my life and faith into God’s ultimate sovereign power, it has brought me through some stressful and challenging trials and tribulations. I definitely did not just sit back and think that I was just going to let God direct my thoughts, steps, attitude or actions, but I knew that If I kept striving forward with a Christ-like composure, God would see me through. And He did.

Trusting in God’s plan and will can be an extremely useful tool, especially if your own personal plan does not produce that outcome that you desired. We’ve all been there, when things don’t work out the way that we may have wanted, but remember:

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.- Psalm 115:3

I can only speak from my personal experiences and learning in my new walk with God/Christ. It hasn’t been, nor will it always be, a peaceful walk in the park through this life, but with the tools I have learned to use, and with my faith in God’s sovereignty, I have found much more peace and grace than I did in my previous life.

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The Beauty Of Perseverance

After coming home from work last night and preparing for some much-needed rest & relaxation, I had every intention of waking up this morning and taking some time to craft a new blog for this site. I wasn’t sure what the specific topic would be, but I had faith that the subject would come to me as I sat down to think and write.

But like most, and many things in this life, my plans did not go as smoothly as I had hoped and envisioned. As I opened my eyes and filtered my first conscious thoughts this morning, I realized that I had a terrible sore throat and stuffy nose. I rejoiced at the fact that the Lord gave me another day, but cursed the undesirable head-cold I had developed.

After taking stock and accepting what was, along with a few strong cups of coffee, I reminded myself of God’s will and sovereignty and chose to make the most of my situation by soldiering on with my original plan to write this piece.

And in my decision to be tenacious, one single word popped into my head and gave me my topic for this blog, and that word was “Perseverance”. I then turned to my helpful friend, Google, and searched “What does the Bible say about perseverance?“. My search yielded one specific verse from Romans that completely hit the mark:

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” -Romans 5:3-5

The verse hit me like a ton of bricks and was exactly what I needed at the moment. It was as if God came down and gave me the remedy for my current affliction. If I’ve learned anything in my walk with God/Christ, it’s that answers and inspiration will unexpectedly present themselves.

We all face trials, tribulations, and road-blocks that hinder our plans and happiness. No man, woman or child can avoid this, even if it appears that somebody has the most perfectly ideal life. It is only through perseverance, endurance and faith that we can push on through life’s rough-patches.

And the concept of rejoicing in our sufferings is such a foreign concept for most people, but when you can accept and apply this method to your life, it can provide a useful tool to overcome and endure your suffering. It’s a notion so strange and unique, that it’s almost beautiful.

Head-colds will give way to clear breathing, heartbreak will make room for love, and darkness will be broken by light. It is through patience, perseverance, faith and love, that we will find relief from our suffering.

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Dressing As Christ In The New Year

Don’t let the title of this piece fool you, I’m not encouraging you to brave January weather in robes and sandals (but feel free if it floats your boat), instead I am suggesting that we should all fashion ourselves spiritually after Jesus Christ in the upcoming New Year.

Now, I understand that this is not a groundbreaking or new idea by any means, nor do I claim to be the originator of this concept. While reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis last night before bed, I was reminded of the importance of putting on a Christ-like attitude in our daily lives. Here’s what Lewis says in the book:

Now, the moment you realise “Here I am, dressing up as Christ,” it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you really were a son of God. Well, stop them.

As Lewis states, “dressing as Christ” allows us to recognize and overcome the pretenses that hinder us from living and leading a Christian life. It’s very easy to have the passing thought of wanting to help or uplift others one second, only to move onto something unhelpful or selfish the next second. I will be the first to admit my guilt in this area.  Trying to stay in more constant Christ-like state allows us to better serve others.

Living in such a hectic and stressful world/society, it’s extremely important that we all take the time everyday to “dress up as Christ”, especially when we find ourselves in moments where we could easily fall into sinful/hurtful talk and/or actions.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t claim to be the originator of this concept, and I’m willing to bet C.S. Lewis would not dare to try ad take credit either. The Bible mentions the importance of putting on a Christ-like attitude in numerous passages. For example:

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. – 1 John 2:6

The Christmas season is unfortunately (and a bit ironically) a stressful, hectic and trying time of the year for most of us, whether at our jobs or just dealing everyday tasks. As 2016 knocks on the door, I encourage myself and everyone to put on their best Christ-like outfit and make the new year a more enjoyable, productive and compassionate one for all to experience.

 

 

 

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In The Beginning There Was Grace

Welcome to by forbygrace.org, a blog created out of a desire and a need to express and share my new spiritual journey as a follower of Jesus Christ. By no means do I consider myself an expert on the Bible, Christ and/or Christianity, Instead, I consider myself an excited and willing student who is eager to build a lasting and meaningful relationship with God.

The story of how God came into my life and gave me the gift of grace started to unfold very naturally in the later months of 2014 and into the early months 2015. I was 30 years old at the time, and for the most part, I was a happy, responsible and healthy adult. I had job, was able to pay my bills and still have a little money left over to go on occasional trips, I had a roof over my head and a family who loved me.

But ironically enough, a series of events starting on Christmas Eve of 2014 sent me into a depression through the first half of 2015. I had a dramatic falling out with my father (we have since made amends), went through a heartbreak/break-up and became unhappy with my job/daily grind. Now, I know many people have gone through much more trying, tragic and difficult times in their lives, but these events really brought me to a lackluster and dark point in my life.

I was never suicidal, nor did I have any thoughts of harming myself or others during this time, I was simply living a life without joy, purpose or direction. I have battled moments and periods of depression, melancholy and heavy self-medication throughout much of my life, as most of us have, thankfully it was never to an extreme extent where I was a danger to myself.

It was during this point of depression and isolation (something else I’ve always been rather good at) that I turned to music as a source of comfort and healing. Specifically, I got heavily into two bands, Killswitch Engage and Times of Grace. Both of these aforementioned groups are fronted by a singer, Jesse Leach, who has used his own struggles with depression as a source of inspiration.

Leach’s lyrics and vocals reflect the depression, anger and frustration that many people in the world feel, but at the same time preach the love, compassion, faith and strength needed to overcome the darkness.

I had no idea at the time, but God was planning to bring me out of the darkness. I planned a weekend trip to Pittsburgh to attend a Killswitch Engage concert in July of 2015 while simultaneously staying and visiting with a lifelong/childhood friend. It would turn out to be a weekend that would change my life.

Unbeknownst to me, my friend, whom I have known since first-grade, had at the time recently devoted his life to Christ after his own personal bout with depression. We spent the entire weekend catching up, sharing laughs and drinks and discussing the Bible. I couldn’t help but think how the previous six months of my life had prepared me for this one weekend.

Those three days I spent in Pittsburgh completely inspired and energized me to start living a new life, a life with Jesus Christ. Upon my return to Tennessee, I went out and purchased a Bible and was amazed at how both the book and the word of God opened itself up to me. I couldn’t help but feel that the trials I recently went through were part of a higher purpose, to bring me closer to God.

And for that gift of grace, I am eternally thankful, and forever changed. I look forward to growing, learning and sharing God’s grace.

 

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