Thriving in God’s Assurance

Author: Linda L. Kruschke

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Some people give him a bad rap for calling himself that, saying it’s arrogant. I disagree. I don’t believe this title for himself is any indication he thought he was the only one. Rather, I believe it reveals how certain he was that Jesus loved him and everyone else, including you.

Linda L. Kruschke ThriveMy memoir, My Name Is Beloved, is so titled for the same reason. I don’t believe I’m the only one who is beloved by God. I know that I am not and I want other women like me to know they are beloved, too.

I love John’s Gospel, his three epistles, and Revelation. One of my favorite passages is from 1 John 4:7-21. It’s all about God’s love for all of His children and how we should love each other in the same way. There’s not a hint of arrogance here.

There are a number of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eye witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That means he writes with truth and authority of what he knows to be true.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity. Especially in the Gospel, where we see the “I am” statements of Jesus.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God. In fact, he says “God is love” twice in 1 John 4.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. It is by the Spirit that we overcome sin and know we are God’s children.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

Thrive Linda L. KruschkeJohn here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. Throughout this epistle, John offers further confidence that those who trust in Jesus can be certain of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word know appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

“I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.” 1 John 2:21

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask,…And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 1 John 3:21, 24

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:15-16

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:13-14

Not one of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

Are you struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, that you’ve sinned too much, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation? Meditate on John’s words, inspired by God, and know that these worries are unfounded. It is the struggle itself that proves you are alive in Christ.

Remember, God is faithful in His promises. He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us, but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom.


Linda_2017_01.jpgLinda L. Kruschke is the author of My Name Is Beloved, winner of the Unpublished Memoir category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest, as well as self-published author of two poetry books. She is a wife, mother, active member of her church, and former Bible Study Fellowship leader. After struggling through years of major clinical depression and finding God’s healing grace, she is now a fearless follower of Christ, living in the assurance of her salvation and God’s love. She blogs at Another Fearless Year and Broken Believers.   
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When Faith Feels Like Failure

Author: Chara Donahue

My husband and I took a step of faith this year by walking away from a place we loved. We knew we were stepping onto the path God had laid before us, but it felt horrible. We have peace that it was the right decision along with expectant hope for what is to come. And yet, it hurt, it was hard, and something about it left an aftertaste of failure—even though we knew it to be faith.

A step of faith is not faith at all, if it never wanders beyond safety, but what do we do when we begin to wonder if we chose rightly? As I processed my thoughts and sifted through the echoes  of fear, shame, and uncertainly that haunt us when we leave the known for the unknown, I found God waiting for me as reached for Him. Here is what I learned.

Don’t Be Afraid to Wrestle

Many who know me have heard me say, “I am not afraid of wrestling with God, because I know He loves me. Knowing that He will win, only makes me love Him more.” Sometimes, I wonder if I am asking for it by saying such things, but I know to my core that He is not out to get me. For, He is good. He will choose rightly. I am His, and He is love.

That will not change when I approach Him with questions. It will only thrust me into His arms and drive me deeper into the relationship we are in together. So when He asks me to take a certain path, die to something so another thing can live, and step into the unknown, I can still say, “I trust you.” I long to cultivate a deep trust that hungers for the voice of God, so that I follow Him even if the rest of the world thinks it looks like failure.

Jacob Knows Your Pain:

In Genesis, there is an account of one of the early patriarchs of the faith, Jacob, wrestling with God. After grappling with the Lord all night and being willing to suffer to find the blessing of God, he walks away a changed man, a better man. One who’s walk with the Lord was changed forever both physically and relationally. Like Jacob may we not fear the struggle, so that like him we can say, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:30)

Listen for His Voice

When we move forward in faith, change is usually required. Word to the wise: change makes most people uncomfortable, even when it’s not happening in their own life. As someone who tends to be excited about and embraces change, I have had to learn that some people dread it and have deep emotional reactions when confronting it. Give grace.

We also need to be ready and willing to be misunderstood and misrepresented when we are propelled by conviction. People unknowingly develop stories they are comfortable with in attempts to make sense of what is happening around them. Unfortunately, we don’t always tell ourselves true stories, because we rarely have all the information needed to do so. This means there will be plenty of voices ready to offer their opinion, support, or objection to what we might be stepping into, even when they do not know the facts. But if we allow the truths of others to distort the truths given by God we will know only more misery. We cannot listen to all the voices; we must find God’s, and stand firm in the sanctuary offered in unchanging truth.

Also, let’s keep in mind people probably don’t think of us nearly as much as we think they do.

Samuel Knows Our Pain: As a young boy, this would-be prophet was woken up multiple times by a voice calling in the darkness. He went to his mentor Eli three times before Eli began to suspect where the voice was coming from. Eli swiftly encouraged him, “… and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” (1 Samuel 3:9)

Realize Sacrifice is not Failure

People can have trouble discerning between their emotions at times because they feel loss and can’t figure out why. Yet, scripture tells us that Christian’s will experience loss. We must lose the ways of the world ,and we must cast off the sin that so easily entangles. When our steps of faith don’t produce immediate fruit we are tempted to believe we made the wrong decision. We do our best to avoid the feelings of loss.

When we step out in obedience we want to see immediate miracles, but we must wait. Before the new comes we often find a part of us must meet its end­—our flesh, our desires, or our comfort. That takes courage, gained from living in the presence of a mighty God who tells us we can stand even now, even in this time. So when it is hard, even if it costs us something we wanted, or demands death of what we think are our rights, we must be willing to give what is asked from us because its being asked by a love so devoted, it was willing to die for us.

Paul Knows Our Pain: One of the first carriers of the good news to the world, Paul the Apostle, lived in constant sacrifice, and gave us these words: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)

There is hope in day of failure, as much as there is hope in the day of faith. For this hope we have: That He who said He will return, will. That there will be a day that those saved by faith cease to know pain and failure. A day will come when we will live in the presence of He who has redeemed the world. Until that day, I will keep stepping out , standing firm, and relentlessly throwing myself into the work of God.

There is no place I’d rather be.

~~~

This is the last in our January series: Facing Failure.  We thank you for reading and hope you will join us for our February series: The Wait

Hope at the Strip Club

Author: Amy Wallace

I was asked to write this months ago but couldn’t figure out what to share, or even where to start. Hope in strip clubs? Come on, this is the enemies play ground.

For the last 5 years, I have been involved with the ministry POLE Gems.  We venture into strip clubs and hand out gifts to the ladies and some of the gentlemen that work there. It sounds scandalous and is sometimes a little crazy. However, I have come to understand that following Jesus sometimes includes going to places you never thought you would go, and every once and awhile places others think you shouldn’t go.

When Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee, He took the road through Samaria. A road Orthodox Jews avoided, when two others were avalible. But He had  a specific purpose in mind. He wanted to reach those the religious zealots wouldn’t reach out to and invite them to true life. He sat at a well and spoke to a women familiar with disgrace and asked for a drink. As she served Him, He spoke to her hope. He saw her, He loved her, He promised her she would never thirst again, because he is the living water.

On my last outreach I walked into a local strip club, as I have many times before, not really expecting anything. I started handing out these cute plastic Christmas tumblers. I approached one girl who looked at the gift, gave a huge smile and asked me, ” why did you give this to me you don’t even know me?”  I smiled at her and said because you are special. With tears in her eyes she again asked, “Why?”

This is the hope.

Jesus came for her; He loves her; I get to tell her.

I gave her another hug and said, “because Jesus says you are beautiful and worth it.” She looked at one of the other girls and jokingly said, “I’m only worth $40 tonight.” My heart sank as I put my hand on her shoulder and said “No honey, you are worth far more than that.”

I don’t know if I will see her again, but at least I know a little bit of hope was shared that night. My prayer for her is that every time she uses that cup, she remembers being seen. Not for what she could give, but for who God created her to be. The cups in my home don’t always represent hope, but I pray that as that jolly tumbler sits on her counter it will somehow remind her that she need not thirst for empty hope when the greatest love awaits her through Christ.

 

Interested in helping with POLE Gems? Email Amy at amy.marie.spivey@gmail.com