Taking Him at His Word

It’s no question that these last couple of months have been a challenge. Routines have been shaken up, weddings put on hold, human contact limited, jobs lost, and most tragically of all the lives of dear loved ones taken away.

Although I’ve only been slightly affected in comparison to many, I’ve had to deal with my own feelings towards being stuck a country away from some of the people I love most. And seeing friends and families of friends struggle to put food on the table because both parents have lost their jobs. And not knowing what to say to a someone whose loved one is barely holding onto life. All due to this unseen, unpredictable virus.

In a few cases it has even brought into question my own view of God, His character, and His goodness to allow something like this to shake up the lives of so many across the world.

It reminds me of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 when God leads Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.

Yes. God leads Him into a wilderness. A probably dry, unkempt sort of place where no one (besides maybe John the Baptist) lived and where you’re left to your own thoughts. And who’s in the wilderness? Yes. Satan. Just waiting to catch Jesus in one of his stealthily placed traps.

Just like in the Garden of Eden, Satan tempts Jesus to question His Father in three ways:

1. Questioning the identity and power given to Jesus by God by tempting him to make food for Himself

2. Questioning God’s love and protection for Jesus by telling Him to throw Himself down

3. Questioning God’s timing of Jesus’ reign and His allegiance to the Father by tempting him with power and dominion

Sometimes, being in our own kind of wilderness of separation from friends and family, I can feel the same kind of spiritual warfare going on in my own heart and mind.

When I see all the hurt and distance caused by this virus, questions about God’s love, His power, and His timing can slowly start to trickle into my mind. It’s in uncertain times like these when, even before I realize it, I can begin to doubt not just God’s power but ultimately His good character.

Although Matthew 4:1-11 starts off with a David vs. Goliath sort of scene where Jesus, a half-starved lowly carpenter, and Satan, one of the most powerful created beings behind God Himself, go head to head, we see that the Jesus has a powerful, secret weapon that Satan knows nothing about – the truth of God’s word. With it, He is able to slice through every temptation to question His Father like a steak knife cutting through a piece of fried baloney. All with one simple tool – The Word of God.

Hebrews 4:11 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

And in John 17:17 Jesus prays that His disciples would be covered and sanctified in the truth of God’s Word.

Lately, I’ve been learning that like Jesus, if I’m going to win against the war of questions and doubts in my mind, I’m going to have to use something more powerful than my own willpower. I’ve got to use God’s truth. It is so important for me that when I notice these thoughts come to the surface, I don’t let them roll around and lead me to fear, anxiety or despair, but that I take them captive and put them up against the truth of God’s word (2 Corinthians 10:5). This means that I have to know the Word of God and daily submit myself to it.

The devil is crafty and He knows our weaknesses. That’s why His lies are so tempting and so believable! But in giving us His Word and His Spirit, God has provided us with everything we need to fight and win.

In fact, we’ve already won if we believe in Jesus because He won the victory over Satan and death before we were ever born!

Luckily God doesn’t make us suit up for a physical battle, but He does tell us to put on armor for a spiritual one. God calls us to take hold of His Word, submerge ourselves in it, and believe it. Only then will we be able to fight off temptations to doubt God’s character. Through His Word we will come to know our God so well that the moment these questions arise we will hold them up to God’s Word and trust that despite our changing circumstances, God’s character and His promises never change and they are always good.

-Maggie Addison, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Maggie as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!

What do we truly need for a healthy spiritual life?

Getting healthy… fitness Instagram accounts, green juices everywhere, gluten-free, non-GMO, plant-based protein shakes, supplements, all the athleisure attire you can buy.

Health inspo is everywhere these days. Maybe it’s just me or the accounts I come across online, but I feel like these days almost everyone is on a health or fitness journey. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE healthy lifestyles and I believe it’s important to take care of the bodies that God has blessed us with.But have you seen all the “perfect diets” that promote healthy weight loss? What about all the processed food at the grocery store that has the word “healthy” “natural” or “organic”? What about the “skinny margarita” on the menu at the Mexican restaurants? Usually anything with the word “skinny” on it – isn’t going to be the healthiest option.

Of course getting the “diet coke” could be a better choice than the all-out sugar-filled drink BUT isn’t water the best choice? Isn’t straight up protein and veggies going to be better than all that processed food that has the words “natural/organic” written on the box? Usually, the best thing for our health is the simplest.

Too often we try to take shortcuts to try and stay healthy when we could just turn to the simplest options that would be the healthiest, richest source of nutrition. When we try to create these shortcuts to a healthy lifestyle is usually when things get complicated.

Before I get into writing some kind of nutrition blog, let me switch gears. Lately, I’ve been thinking about these ideas but in our spiritual lives and our walks with Jesus.

What do we truly need for a healthy spiritual life??

-Time in the Word with Jesus – 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119: 105

-Time in prayer talking to Jesus – Matthew 6:6, Mark 1:35

-Community with brothers and sisters in Christ – James 5:16

It’s pretty simple, but again, too often we try to complicate and even compromise these values. Let me use an example I find myself guilty of often…

What do I want (in my flesh)? To scroll through social media mindlessly.

What do I know that I actually need? Time with Jesus

So what do I do? I follow Christian accounts that share scripture so that I can get a taste of it while I decide to scroll mindlessly.

Again, I’m not against uplifting Christian social media accounts, I’m just showing how we can sometimes use surface-level substitutes for what we truly need, which is simply time alone with God.

Here’s another example…

What do I need daily? Time with Jesus

How does my time get filled each day? Work, taking care of my family, church, helping with the youth group at church, a little Netflix and trying to start a Women’s Bible study

What gets left out? Time ALONE with Jesus

Bible studies are awesome. Working hard is GOOD. Serving your church body is awesome. But none of it can substitute for what I truly need to be spiritually healthy – time alone with Jesus. These are like the “natural” or ”organic” processed foods at the grocery store. These are great options but only on top of our basic nutritional needs of fresh fruits, veggies and protein, which is time with Jesus.

We can create Bible studies, programs, Christian chat groups, and do all sorts of “Christian” things – but there are no substitutes for our basic needs as a follower of Jesus. We need intentional time with Him, His word, and His followers to be spiritually healthy. Simply sitting at the feet of Jesus is good and necessary for my soul. Let’s not put too much importance into anything else.

– Rachel Ellzey, Sponsorship Coordinator