“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”James 2:14-17 NKJV
There is a good and glorious work that Christ has begun in our hearts and promises to complete until he is fully unveiled.
Philippians 1:6 Passion Translation
Good and glorious work.
Good and glorious work.
We are almost at the end of January and the year is quickly flying by.
Do you still have the momentum that you had on 1st January? If not, what’s made you lose your mojo?
Be encouraged today that the good and glorious work that The Lord has begun in your heart, He will bring it to completion.
Our spiritual hearts are the well-springs of our lives and house our desires, thoughts and will.
In your mind, you may believe that God hasn’t or will not fulfil your desires
but ask yourself, do your desires align with His Word and His ways of being and doing?
Are you being impatient, stubborn or unwilling to submit your desires to God and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading about that particular desire?
On the other side of the coin, if you have handed your desires over to The Lord and you’re waiting for what’s in your heart to manifest into your day-to-day life, don’t get weary and don’t give up
keep feeding on God’s faithfulness
don’t fret and don’t get angry because the promise is that God will complete all that He has begun.
Take heart that if you haven’t yet seen the full unveiling of what’s in your heart, that it’s only because all shall be unveiled and completed in sequence with the unveiling of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
Matthew 8:2-3 NKJV
We come across this encounter after Jesus has taught on the Mount.
We are told at the end of Matthew 7 that people were astonished by Jesus’ teaching because He taught with someone who had authority.
“When Jesus had finished [speaking] these words [on the mountain], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one who had authority [to teach entirely of His own volition], and not as their scribes [who relied on others to confirm their authority].”
MATTHEW 7:28-29 AMP
All authority has been handed to the risen Jesus Christ by the Father –
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Matthew 28:18 NKJV
The question that remains is, are we willing to approach Jesus and receive?
Are you willing to repent?
Are you willing to surrender?
Are you willing to accept that you are saved by grace and not works and that whilst you were a sinner Christ died for you?
Are you willing to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Are you willing to lean on, rely on, trust in God when the road twists, turns or meanders?
Are you willing to love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?
Are you willing to slow down or up the tempo accordingly?
Are you willing to embrace rest?
Are you willing to be accountable?
Are you willing to pray; Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses whilst forgiving those who trespass against us?
Are you willing to pray for; wisdom, knowledge, understanding, strength to know the depth, width, height and length of the love of Jesus Christ and to be filled with His fullness?
Are you willing to hear the voice of the Lord today, not harden your heart and obey His commands?
Are you willing to humble yourself before the Lord and receive His exaltation in due course?
Are you willing to follow Jesus Christ although you cannot explain your circumstance?
Are you willing to lay aside your plans, ideas and dreams down and pick up His?
Are you willing to leave this “promise land” and embrace His new direction?
Are you willing to leave behind your old ways of thinking, being and doing in order to continue on the journey of being conformed to His image?
Are you willing to embrace the stretch and learn something new?
Are you willing to admit “I don’t know” but say “teach me Lord”?
Are you willing to; love patiently and kindly, not give up, not lose faith, hope and endure?
Are you willing to let go of some old relationships and embrace the new ones?
Are you willing to let go of the weights and the sins that beset?
Are you willing to let go of the disappointments, hurts, failure, rejection and hand them to the Almighty who makes all things work together for your good?
Are you willing to; let go of jealousy, boasting, pride, not depend your own way or be irritable, hold record of wrongs and rejoice in the Truth?
Are you willing to endure, plant, persevere and sow?
Are you willing to be misunderstood, be alone and isolated?
Are you willing to feel the pinch of your flesh and the ridicule of the world?
Are you willing to take His peace and believe when He says “My grace is sufficient for you…don’t worry, don’t be anxious, don’t be afraid”?
Are you willing to pray about everything?
Are you willing to think on what’s true, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy and admirable?
Are you willing to run with endurance fixing your eyes on the Author and Perfector of your faith?
As Christians living in an interdependent, fast-paced, social- media connected, “let’s eat out together because we spend a lot of time together because of ministry” culture – it can be hard to discern real friendships from connections based on convenience
Some may say that our interconnectedness should make it easier to develop a healthy community of disciples, because let’s face it – we can’t do this walk alone – but I would beg to differ. With faster communication, access to information about people’s day-to-day lives and the lack of discipleship coming from older saints within some Christian communities, casualties of the heart happen more frequently and often go undetected.
I am all for community but what happens when lines get blurred and wires get crossed very quickly, emotions become microwaved even quicker and hearts get broken?
God heals, reconciles and restores but it would be great to have some wisdom to help us along the way and maybe minimise it happening so often.
I say these things from a place of love and after my own experiences and speaking to numerous young men and women over the past three years – it’s something that we have to be more aware of and address head on.
Some of us are the first born-again Christians in our families and come with baggage that needs to be unpacked and we are just learning along the way.
Some of us were brought up in born-again Christian families and communities but the topic of boundaries was not discussed or was just something that everyone thought you knew or caught via osmosis
We are encouraged in community to share the burdens of our brothers and sisters by praying for one another and encouraging one another in the Word. In millennial Christian circles, buzzwords such as transparency and vulnerability are applauded, however we need to be careful and exercise wisdom when it comes to where we bleed and whose shoulder we cry on.
I’ll write another blog on confidants and gossip soon – but before I go on I would like to say that I am not against mixed sex fellowship groups as they definitely have their place but I am pushing forward the idea that we should be more intentional about creating safe environments for and seeking fellowship with members of our own gender – especially when it comes to opening up about the deeper issues of our life.
For those of you who were brought up in the Christian faith or became born-again during your teenage years, maybe no alarm bells have gone off for you and you’re probably thinking “well duh Isha?!” but bear with me as I point out a few things for those who may not be aware.
I myself have been burnt whilst trying to navigate the tight rope of building healthy relationships within the Body of Christ.
You see our generation likes to label/box people according to what makes us feel comfortable or superior. As a young adult leader I found it very difficult to balance between being “too deep” and “relatable”. I have no idea what either of those meant, and almost a year later I have no care for what people think- but again that’s another blog post.
So, on side A of the tight rope, I tried not to fall into the mud of being labelled
unapproachable, legalistic and stoic and as a result I have fallen (a few too many times, I didn’t learn after the first time!) into the mud on side B of becoming a close confidant, operating an “access all areas” (emotionally) and “laid back” stance – which is fine when discipling young adult women but not so much when it came to young adult men.
Well fortunately or unfortunately, this tight rope is very difficult to manoeuvre and I will not make excuses for myself or feel sorry for myself because now I can share this with you!
You may ask, what’s so bad about side B?
Side B is the territory of a girlfriend who will become a wife.
As a woman I am wired to be a helper and the keeper of my future husband’s heart.
Like the women reading this, I find it second nature to pray with, support and speak words of encouragement to a man.
However, as a woman who isn’t a wife, I fell into tricky
territory as these men hadn’t pursued a relationship with me and although I had seen myself as a “good friend”, at the back of my mind I was hoping that one day one of them would see me as more than a friend.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it was impossible for you to move out of the Friend Zone, but I would now say, years later – if possible, save yourself the potential heartbreak and back away from the situation.
Here’s how I believe I fell into side B:
I have a good memory and so I tend to remember important dates like appraisals, deadlines, interviews etc.
This isn’t a bad thing.
I like to intercede on matters whether it’s a mortgage, business funding, a family member who has an illness etc
Again not a bad thing.
I have the gift of encouragement and I enjoy writing words of encouragement accompanied with scripture.
Not a bad thing, but I should’ve considered the frequency and format that I was sharing this encouragement (see 6 points below)
I am a hugger and dish out compliments.
Not a bad thing, but I should’ve been aware of my triggers and my weak spots.
I also like to eat out and wouldn’t mind meeting up with a brother during the week to talk about whatever issue was pressing in his life.
I should’ve thought of my Love Languages and encouraged my brothers to maybe meet up with other brothers to discuss matters of the heart.
And as a result, I soon caught feelings but they were not reciprocated …
I am not blaming the men for these situations as it was my duty to guard my heart and be honest about what I could and couldn’t handle and not try to fit into a status quo of how other young adults were building friendships! But I would like to encourage you to be more aware of our interactions with the opposite sex and to check our motives when we decide to “bear each other’s burdens” as it is unwise of us to try and help someone else if we are also in the same pit. We must call on our church leadership to shepherd us through the valleys
I read Jackie Kendall’s book Lady in Waiting a few years ago and a particular statement stuck out for me – if you wouldn’t do x for your sister in Christ, why are you doing it for him?
My sisters can vouch that I am generous with my talk, time, treasure and talent with them also but I had to learn to be more aware of my interactions with men.
Here are a 6 things that I’ve learnt from my experiences:
1) It is very important to have a godly person or persons in your life of the same gender who you can speak to and receive counsel from.
Some of us would say that we “get on better with women/men” but as believers we are encouraged in Titus to learn from older godly women/men. If you don’t have them, pray for God to identify them to you and you to them.
2) Seek out and invest in the appropriate resources, counselling and find a single sex small group to help you walk through any addictions, trauma or hurt from your past.
Don’t offload these issues onto members of the opposite sex.
3) If you are currently struggling with lust and temptation, seek out an older godly person of the same gender who you can confide in about this – and who will pray with you through this.
Begin to pray for God to help you to cast down imaginations and fantasies about members of the opposite sex.
Don’t share this information in a mixed fellowship setting or seek the counsel of the opposite sex.
4) Know your triggers/ love language
You can take the Love Languages test for free online to find out how you receive love (words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, touch and quality time)
It is important to know what your trigger is so that you can set the appropriate boundaries and guard your heart against catching feelings; they may just be being chivalrous or hospitable.
5) Monitor your communication
Are you texting or whatsapping all throughout the day with one person in particular and you’re not in a relationship?
Do you call that person when something happens instead of praying or calling a person of the same gender?
Do you check a person’s social media more than anyone else’s?
Are you on the phone to that person until the early hours of the morning?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, I would recommend that you cool it and pray. Be honest with God in prayer and then as you’re led speak to a person who you trust.
6) Be bold and courageous
Pray for the wisdom and the ability to speak to a person who you feel has overstepped a boundary.
As a married brother shared at The Love Limitless Brains & Beauty Conference I attended in September, it’s never too late to put in place boundaries or add additional boundaries.
Again, I am not saying that we should avoid members of the opposite sex or be robotic in our interactions – as I have been blessed, encouraged and refined by the friendships that I have developed with my brothers, have learnt a lot from watching them maintain their boundaries and they’ll be able to vouch for my character when my husband does come along (LOL) but I am saying BE AWARE OF YOUR PERSONAL BOUNDARIES and be considerate of the boundaries of your brothers and sisters.
God wants us to flourish and to be whole for the glory of His Name. The Holy Spirit guides us to be conformed into the image of Christ and His grace enables us to overcome sin and let go of weights that so easily entangle us.
I hope this was helpful and it’s my prayer that we are a generation who have healthier, God glorifying friendships and relationships.
Books that have helped me along the way:
Fight like a girl by Lisa Bevere
Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere
Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer
Captivating by Stasi Elderidge
Wild at Heart by John Elderidge
Unashamed by Christine Caine
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall
Love Languages singles edition by Gary Chapman
Boundaries in Dating by John Townsend
Good or God by John Bevere
When godly people do ungodly things by Beth Moore The Wait by Devon Franklin and Meagan Good
Moral Revolution by Kris Vallaton