Renewed

Some of us begin our spiritual journey searching for relief from pain or difficult circumstances. Others are looking for direction or meaning in life. These can be powerful motivators to explore new options and initiate change, to find a different and better path. They may lead us to a personal relationship with Christ, even if that was not where we expected our journey to lead. For a while, that new relationship brings new awareness, positive change, and motivation to begin or continue doing what is good and right. We experience far more life than we have experienced before!

But we cannot sustain Christian growth for an extended time with personal fulfillment as our motivation. If we want far more life to last a lifetime, our motivation must become our love for God. As our relationship with Him matures, our perspective on Him naturally changes. We grow to see Him less as Santa Claus or a cosmic vending machine — someone who gives us what we desire if we perform correctly. Instead we recognize His character and the reverence He deserves. Here are a few examples of His name and titles that reveal His character:

  • Yahweh (Usually translated “LORD”, this means “self-existent one” or “He who brings into being”. Yahweh is God’s name, just like my name Shari.)

By Wisdom Yahweh laid the foundation of the earth. By understanding he established the heavens. (Proverbs 3:19, NOG)

  • Elohim (title meaning almighty or all-powerful):

In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1, NOG)

  • Elyon (title meaning supreme or most high):

…Your name is Yahweh. You alone are Elyon of the whole earth. (Psalm 83:18, NOG)

  • El Olam (title meaning everlasting):

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? El OlamYahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach. (Isaiah 40:28, NOG)

  • Adonai/Adonay (title meaning master):

The priests who carry the ark of Yahweh, the Adonay of the whole earth, will stand in the water of the Jordan. Then the water flowing from upstream will stop and stand up like a dam. (Joshua 3:13, NOG)

  • El Shaddai /Shadday (title meaning all-sufficient sustainer):

…The breath of Shadday gives me life. (Job 33:4, NOG)

  • Roeh (title meaning shepherd, friend):

Yahweh is my Roeh. I am never in need. (Psalm 23:1, NOG)

He who brings into being. All powerful. Supreme. Everlasting. Master. All-sufficient sustainer. Friend. Those terms describe Someone worth getting to know! Not just because of what He can do for us, but because of His own merits. They describe Someone who deserves our respect. Someone we can learn from. Someone we would do well to emulate. And God does want us to emulate Him! The Old Testament and Jesus’ first recorded sermon both include this instruction:

…I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too! (Leviticus 19:2, CEV)

But you must always act like your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:48, CEV)

Of course, humans are incapable of living a completely sinless life. We are born with a sinful nature that desires to do our own thing and be our own boss instead of giving God His rightful place in our hearts and lives. (Romans 3:23, James 4:17) Fortunately, when we accept Jesus as our Savior we receive a built-in “righteousness guide”, the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, I Corinthians 6:19). From that day forward, God the Spirit lives inside of us, giving us the power to overcome sinful thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions (2 Peter 1:3). But the change is not automatic; we must reclaim control from our sinful nature.

“…Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants.” (Galatians 5:16, GW)

Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2, NCV)

We know that we are being directed by our spiritual nature when we display His characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Any time we do not feel or display those traits, we are being directed by the corrupt nature. We can try harder to push it aside, but sometimes our effort is not enough to create permanent change. Instead we must be changed from within through a new way of thinking.

We change our thinking by changing our core beliefs. Sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions reveal core beliefs that are still spiritually “corrupted”. But we can “follow the feelings” to bring them to the light. First, we recognize what negative emotion we are feeling. Then we ask ourselves why we feel that (i.e., what do we believe). Which may lead us to another negative emotion; asking “why” again reveals another belief. When that back-and-forth reaches a belief about our identity or God’s character that disagrees with the Bible, we have exposed our corrupt thinking! Bringing to mind God’s truth — His perspective, words, and actions — at that moment allows us to renew that part of our mind for God. When presented with a similar situation in the future, we will be able to respond as God would! It can be a slow, painful process to find and replace corrupt beliefs. But it is worthwhile because each step of that process yields far more life: becoming more like God!

Sisters,
What initially prompted you to seek out God? What prompts you now?
How would you describe your friendship with God? Is it one-way or two-way?
Which name or title of God is most meaningful to you? Why?
How do you feel about being more like God? Any hesitation or reluctance?
Do you experience negative feelings regularly? Are you willing to try “following them” to renew your thinking?
Praise God for allowing you to keep growing far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Great Adventure

The thief comes with the sole intention of stealing and killing and destroying, but I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. (John 10:10, PHILLIPS)

Jesus came to earth to bring humans far more life than they had without Him. So we could experience all that He intended for us and become who He designed us to be.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51, NIV)

…The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28, NIV)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10, NIV)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4, NIV)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17, NIV)

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28, NIV)

Jesus is the light that leads us to eternal life. He offers us salvation from the punishment we deserve for our sin. He paid the ransom that set us free. Jesus was not focused on His own comfort during His time on earth. He did not pursue wealth, power, or influence. He was not trudging through His weeks, living for the weekend when He could immerse Himself in what He wanted to do. His life was centered on His God-given mission: to restore our relationship with God.

But His life was not drudgery. It was overflowing with love, joy, peace, and more because those are the character traits of God. Jesus experienced far more life! Pursuing His God-given mission did not detract from Jesus’ life, it helped Him model far more life for us.

We find far more life as we pursue our God-given mission, too. And rather than pulling us away from the good things in life, focusing on our mission will enhance our lives. So what mission has He given His children?

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:29, NIV)

…Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)

…Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:12, NIV)

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31, NIV)

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

…Do good … be rich in good deeds … be generous and willing to share. (I Timothy 6:18, NIV)

Our mission is to draw attention to God. We sometimes call this bringing Him glory. But it just means giving Him the honor He deserves and making His magnificence and beauty known to others. He wants us to become like Him so that others can see His character in action. He wants us to tell others about Jesus and the way to a relationship with God. He wants us to teach them how to become like Him, too. He wants us to do good things to show His goodness. He wants us to model Him in every area of life, not just on certain days or at certain locations. In doing this, we experience far more life!

The best this world can offer pales in comparison to God’s glory. The most beautiful scenery is more beautiful when we acknowledge God as its Designer and Creator. The most rewarding experiences are more rewarding when they are investing in relationships that will last for eternity. Wealth is more satisfying when it is seen as a gift from God and used to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others. Love and laughter are deeper and richer in relationships that are unconditional, pure, and unified. Songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman described far more life as “The Great Adventure.”

God knows we are incapable of living for Him perfectly. But Jesus has already paid for those moments. We can recognize them, apologize, and get back on mission. In fact, sometimes failures give us a chance to draw attention to other aspects of His character. I see Jesus clearly in others when I sin against them and they show me grace. I model God when others sin against me and I quickly and compassionately forgive them. These, too, are far more life moments! Our sins and failures do not define us. Part of our adventure is turning from our sin to glorifying God to the best of our ability. May we, like Jesus, be able to pray this at the end of our lives:

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4, NIV)

If you have been on mission, keep up the good work of far more life! If you have not, start today…the adventure of far more life is waiting!

Sisters,
How does it feel to know that Jesus’ mission was to bring your far more life?
Do you think Jesus’ life was drudgery or an adventure? What about your life?
How can you draw attention to God — bring Him glory — with the personality, blessings, and opportunities available to you today?
Embrace the great adventure of far more life with Jesus!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso