Far More Building

Luke chapter 4 describes the encounter Jesus had in the wilderness where Satan tempted Him to sin. Twice Satan starts his offer with the phrase, “If you are the Son of God…” Although Satan probably knew Jesus’ identity and was taunting Him, he voiced a common human concern.

All of us, at some point, have asked the questions, “Is God real?” and “Is Jesus truly God?” Many examples of this are recorded in the Bible, and people of all generations have wrestled with this question. We want proof! Throughout history, once proof is offered, some people believe and become followers of Jesus while others do not. We lay the foundation of far more life when we believe that God IS real and Jesus IS God.

Once we know God, through Jesus, we do not need to keep revisiting those questions; our foundation is secure and we are ready to build a relationship. My friends who are adopted illustrate this. Those who have sought their birth parents needed proof before accepting them. But once that proof was offered and validated, the question “Are you my parent?” was put behind them. There was no need to revisit it time and again. They were free to move forward in building a relationship.

But I know some Christians who miss far more life because they continue to question whether God is real and if Jesus is truly God. Why? Because they have an enemy! Satan knows that if they doubt God — and the reality of their relationship with Him through Jesus — they cannot experience far more life. They cannot share Christ with others. They cannot fulfill the purposes for which God created them. So he strives to cripple them by making them doubt the foundation of their faith.

Others never doubt God’s existence or Jesus’ deity, but they miss far more life because they don’t recognize God’s work. Their experiences leave them with unmet expectations about God’s character and actions. So the words of the Bible do not feel true and they are unsure how to reconcile them with the circumstances of their lives. Their foundation lies empty and their lives lack joy and spiritual fruit. But if we believe God is truthful, then we should also believe the Bible is His written Word. He said it is Truth (John 17:17), so we can take hope from this declaration:

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. (Luke 1:37, AMPC)

Far more life rests in the fact that God’s Word is flawless while our interpretation can be flawed. It is a willingness to believe that seemingly irreconcilable circumstances indicate we are missing something, that our perspective is skewed due to incomplete information or sin. I like how The Message explains it:

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (Matthew 5:8, MSG)

God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8), so we find far more life when we adopt His perspective and work to understand it. Then we are able to experience all He has promised. And what wonderful experiences those are! Even when our circumstances are challenging, we traverse them with joy and peace because we are confident God is working in and through them for our good and His eternal purposes (Romans 8:28).

Although we are surrounded by change, God knows our need for stability and provides it. His reassurance of what is unchanging gives us something to hold onto during the times we are shaken or struggling. Right after He destroyed the earth by flood due to man’s wickedness, He made this promise:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NIV)

What a comforting knowledge! Each day the sun rises and each night the moon rises is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and truthfulness. Each change of the season, we are reminded His promises are reliable. Each year crops are planted and harvested, we can have confidence in Him. We can build our life on Him, on His instructions, and find far more life! He stands the test of time. This reminds me of lyrics from a wonderful hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness…
When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace…
His oath, his covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

(“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote)

Jesus is the best foundation we can choose! Far more life starts with Him, builds on His truth, and changes us to be like Him. The life we build on Him is secure and will last forever. Why would we want to build on anything else?

Sisters,
What proof convinced you that God is real? That Jesus is God?
What tempts you to trust your perspective and experience over what God’s Word says is true?
What reminds you of God’s faithfulness and truthfulness?
What have you built that will last forever?
Praise Him for making our foundation secure and offering far more life for all of our days!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Not Afraid

Overhearing what was being said, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].” (Mark 5:36, AMP)

Do not be afraid. God or angels say this nearly 80 times in Scripture. And it is always accompanied by an instruction or an explanation why:

  • God has heard you.
  • God has come to test you so you will fear Him and not sin.
  • God will fight for you.
  • God will not fail you or forsake you.
  • God has graciously spared your life.
  • God is with you.
  • God is your shield.
  • God has determined to do good.
  • Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.
  • Serve the Lord with all your heart.
  • Be strong and courageous.
  • The battle is not yours, but God’s.
  • What can mere mortals do to you?
  • Listen to what God says.
  • You are highly esteemed. Peace. Be strong.
  • Be glad and rejoice; the Lord has done great things.
  • God knows what you are looking for.
  • God gives you peace.
  • God is the First and Last.
  • God will give you life as your victor’s crown.
  • God brings you good news.
  • This is from the Holy Spirit.
  • There is nothing hidden that will not be made known.
  • You have found favor with God.
  • Your King is coming.
  • Keep on speaking, do not be silent.
  • The Lord is your helper.

We become afraid when we forget who God is and how He feels about us. When we believe we are on our own. When we cannot see the way ahead. When we lose sight of the eternal picture and get caught up in the current situation. But God wants us to find far more life by placing our confidence in Him.

If we belong to Christ, we never have reason to fear! We never have to fear people; they have no true power over us. We never have to fear circumstances; they have passed through God’s filter and He has a purpose for allowing them. We never have to fear the past; it does not define or control us. We never have to fear the future; our future is secure in God. Since God is for us and with us, what do we have to fear?

Only keep believing in Me and my power. This is the key to fearless far more life. The better we know Jesus, the less we fear. When we know Him, we believe He is all-powerful. We believe He is good. We believe He loves us. We believe He is all-knowing. We believe He is greater than any bad we encounter. We believe He keeps His promises. We believe we will spend eternity with Him in paradise. We believe the struggles of this life are temporary. We believe we will one day be done with sin, illness, and death because He will defeat them. We believe He is working everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

We are imperfect people and, despite our best efforts, are bound to give in to fear and unbelief sometimes. Jesus knows our weaknesses and limitations. And He meets us wherever we are. I love the story of a man whose son is demon-possessed. He begs Jesus:

“…But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24, NIV)

Jesus could have easily criticized this man and refused to heal his son, but He does not. It is safe for us to be honest with Jesus, to admit our weakness — even our unbelief. He faithfully reveals Himself to us and meets our need. Which grows our faith and reduces our fear moving forward.

This aspect of far more life is easy to understand, but it can be hard to practice. God knows this and reward us with a special blessing:

…Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29, NIV)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, NIV)

To help us believe, God’s Word is filled with examples of His trustworthiness and character. And as we follow Him, we experience it in our lives as well. So we can turn from our fear, confess our unbelief, and pursue a deeper trust relationship with Jesus. We find far more life as we repeatedly choose belief over fear, until the day we see Him face to face and all our fears evaporate in His presence.

Sisters,
What is making you afraid?
Which instruction or explanation brings you comfort, peace, and strength?
Are you facing any barriers to believing in Jesus and His power?
Do you need to confess any unbelief and deepen your trust in Jesus?
Thank Him for far more life and the promise of a fearless future!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jenjo
e Marsh

Far More Confidence

As a newlywed I did not want to bother my husband by asking for help with chores we had agreed I would complete. One Saturday it became obvious that I couldn’t get everything done on my long list before company arrived. And I started to stress. Finally, I broke down and asked if he would be able to help with a few tasks. He was surprised to see my level of distress and gladly pitched in, doing what I asked and even offering to do more. Later he gently asked why I waited so long to ask for help. His response to my explanation has stuck with me over the years: “I am always going to be busy doing something. But helping you was more important than what I was doing. You are always free to ask for my help, even if I look busy.”

Asking for help can be hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes we are afraid of rejection. Other times we prefer to avoid the disappointment of hearing “no”. For me, it is often hardest to ask for help when I feel insecure. Will the person respond with annoyance? Ridicule? Or worse, ignore me? It feels dangerous to make myself vulnerable to someone who might minimize, judge, or criticize my request. So I hesitate, trying to decide whether, how, and when I should ask. I forfeit the peace and joy of far more life at those times.

Sometimes we are hesitant to ask God for help for many of the same. Fortunately, the Bible addresses our insecurity:

Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16, GNT)

The High Priest held a significant role in the Jewish community. When questions arose, He took them to God and communicated His will to the people. He also went before God once a year to make a sacrifice for the people’s sins, to attain God’s forgiveness and favor. Jesus serves as our High Priest. The passage encourages us to boldly ask God for help, being confident that we will receive mercy and find grace from Him. But the verses go a step further by explaining WHY we should have confidence, WHY it is safe to approach God: because Jesus can relate to us. He has been in our shoes. He has faced temptation and experienced the challenges we face. And while He never sinned, He knows we will sometimes fall short. Since He is never surprised by this, it is always safe to ask for His help.

We experience far more life when we know God well enough to approach Him confidently at any time. He is our Daddy who is always ready to listen. He will take all of our requests seriously, never laughing at our weakness or lack of understanding. And He always knows exactly what help we need, even when we are uncertain. Far more life feels safe in approaching Him and trusts Him to respond well.

God’s help is always what we need but He does not always give the answer we expect. In His wisdom, He can see what is best for us — and His kingdom — in the long run. Sometimes it is best for Him to change the situation we are facing, which is usually what we want. But often His answer is to give us the opportunity to change to be more like Him. His most merciful and gracious answer may be encouragement to persevere. Or a reminder to forgive. It could challenge us to adopt an eternal perspective. Or to point out where we have missed His way. His answer often grows us to better reflect His character in our difficulties: love; joy; peace; patience; and other qualities of His Spirit. His answer to our requests leads us to far more life in both the current and future difficulties. These verses reveal His long-term goals for us:

…We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, GNT)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (I John 4:18, NIV)

Once we have accepted Jesus’ offer to take the punishment for our sins, we know that God will never punish us. We have no reason to be afraid of Him. We have every reason to love Him and believe that He loves us perfectly. We can always approach Him with confidence, regardless of our circumstances. We can expect Him to respond to every request with mercy and grace. We can trust Him to give us only the best answer every time we ask for His help.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11, NIV)

Because of His goodness, we can confidently ask Him for help and expectantly look for the good — and far more life — in each of His answers.

Sisters,
What makes it hard for you to ask others for help?
What kind of reaction do you expect from God when you ask for help? (annoyed, critical, apathetic, kind, compassionate, etc.)
What prevents you from approaching God confidently?
What helps you accept His answer when it is not what you expected?
Ask Him to help you see the help He offers is best and grow your confidence — and far more life.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Untouched

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (Proverbs 19:23, NIV)

What a fascinating verse! Concise, straight-forward, and yet hard to grasp. Can it be literally true? Is this the ultimate experience of far more life?

The fear of the Lord. Other translations use respect, reverence, surrender, awe. They all indicate an awareness of God’s authority over us. We recognize Him as the alpha male, our leader. There is competition for this place of prominence in our hearts and minds: we can give our ultimate respect to people instead of God; we can revere power and prestige over Him; we can surrender to a lifestyle of pleasure or ease; we can be in awe of money and its privileges. It is good for us to examine our hearts and ask, “What is my primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe? Is it God or something else?” Fear of something is the foundation on which we build our lives. This verse instructs us to place that fear in the Lord. Other verses outline more benefits of following that instruction:

But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. (I Samuel 12:24, NIV)

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. (Psalm 19:9a, NIV)

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. (Psalm 25:14, NIV)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7, NIV)

…The Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children. (Psalm 103:17, NIV)

The fear of the Lord adds length to life. (Proverbs 10:27a, NIV)

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress. (Proverbs 14:26a, NIV)

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Isaiah 33:6, NIV)

Leads to life. Whatever we fear (surrender to), it leads to something. Fear of people leads to a compromised life. Fear of power and prestige leads to a consumed life. Fear of pleasure and ease leads to a self-focused life. Fear of money leads to a greedy life. But fear of the Lord leads to far more life, a life marked by integrity, investment, eternal focus, and generosity. Consider these verses about such a life:

Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39b, NIV)

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (John 6:47, NIV)

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63, NIV)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NIV)

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. (Acts 2:28, NIV)

…Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:13, NIV)

…The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:7, NIV)

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11, NIV)

Then one rests content. It is only after we have placed our fear in the Lord and found far more life that we rest contentedly. This means that we can relax in peace rather than being tied up with anxiety. It means we have joy rather than being afraid or angry about our circumstances It means we are not burdened by the past, present, or future; instead we are free to remember, enjoy, and dream. When God occupies His rightful place in our hearts, everything else falls into place.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him…Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:1, 5, NIV)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

…I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices, my body also will rest in hope. (Acts 2:25-26, NIV)

Untouched by trouble. At first glance, this appears to be untrue. Christ-followers are plagued by trouble: health trouble, job trouble, relationship trouble, financial trouble, and more. It certainly does not feel like we are “untouched”. But our eternal security IS untouched by trouble on this earth. And our ability to walk in the Spirit — to experience love, joy and peace and be patient, kind, good, and faithful — remains untouched by trouble. We have the power, through Christ, to view our troubles as He does: momentary light afflictions. When we stay focused on eternity, we can walk through them in far more life.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. (Psalm 9:9, NIV)

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19, NIV)

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him (Nahum 1:7, NIV)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

 …I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:4, NIV)

Sisters,
What is your primary object of fear, respect, reverence, surrender and awe?
Is that leading to temporary things or far more life?
Do you rest content? If not, what is preventing that?
What perspective helps you be untouched by your troubles?
Thank God for offering you far more life today…and every day for eternity!
-Shari

Wrapped in Prayer

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

Heavenly Father,
I am so glad that I know where my help comes from — You! You made everything I know, so none of it is confusing to you. You understand what I cannot; you always have the right answer. You are the perfect helper in every situation. Knowing you is far more life.

Loving Father,
I am thankful that You are always willing to help me. Because You love me. Because You have made me part of your family. Because of Your character and who You are. I can look to You with confidence, knowing You are capable. I can look to You expectantly, knowing you are available and willing. And You will not let me down or leave me to suffer or struggle alone. Trusting you is far more life.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:3-4, NIV)

Faithful Father,
I am so thankful that I can never fall from Your grace. You have promised to never leave me or forsake me. You have promised that nothing can separate me from Your love. You have promised that nothing can destroy me. I am secure in You, regardless of what happens in my life. Neither circumstances or sin can break the covenant You made with me. Being held by You is far more life.

Watchful Father,
As I write this I am so tired. I long to lay down, close my eyes, and drift off to sleep. I face exhaustion every day — physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, spiritual exhaustion. But You do not. You never get tired. You never need a break. You always think clearly and act rightly. I can sleep in peace because You are awake and alert. I can rest in the knowledge that no evil will overcome me while You are distracted or unavailable. I am safe in Your care, even in my most vulnerable condition. Resting in You is far more life.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night. (Psalm 121:5-6, NIV)

Protective Father,
I am so glad that You shelter me. There are so many things in life that could burn me. I do not always recognize the dangers that surround me, but You do. I am often unable to see clearly, but You see everything perfectly. You do not miss anything. With You as my guard, no threat is cause for concern. Day or night, light or dark, sunny or stormy; You are there through it all. I am wise to stay under Your shelter, to accept your protection. Sometimes I ignore Your protection or reject it, thinking I am capable of keeping myself safe. I am so thankful that You never scold or criticize me when I call out to You from a dangerous or sinful place. You gently pick me up and tenderly care for me. And I realize You were protecting me the whole time — even when I tried to push You away. I find far more life wrapped in You.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:7-8, NIV)

Eternal Father,
It is comforting to know that You know everything about my life. My past. My present. My future. My sin as well as my righteousness. My best moments and my worst. Wherever I am, You are there. You will always be there with me and for me. Not just for this lifetime, but for eternity. Right now we have a long distance relationship. I see You with my heart. I see Your work; what You promised in Your love letter to me is coming true. I see evidence of Your provision and care. But I look forward to the day I will see You with my eyes. I look foward to being wrapped in Your arms. I look forward to hearing You say out loud, “Well done, my daughter, whom I love. Come share my happiness”. Living with You — on Earth today and all the days of eternity in Heaven — is far more life.

I offer this prayer in the name of Jesus, Your Son, My Savior,
Amen.

Sisters,
Offer up your own prayer. Use this psalm or another Scripture passage as a conversation starter. Bring God’s Word to life by telling how you have seen His truth in action. Remind yourself of His promises and character. Anticipate your future together. Wrapping yourself in Him is wrapping yourself in far more life.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Facing Forward

Do you identify as a “sinner saved by grace” or a “saint who sins”? It may sound like semantics, but there is a big difference between these mindsets. The one we choose impacts our self-perception, which is critical in our pursuit of far more life.

Biblically speaking, sinners are people who are separated from God and have no relationship with Him. The Bible clearly contrasts them with those who are in good standing with God.

Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things. (Proverbs 13:21, NIV)

All the sinners among my people will die by the sword… (Amos 9:10, NIV)

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32, NIV)

We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. (John 9:31, NIV)

Separation from God was not His plan for us; He created Adam and Eve to be in fellowship with Him. But when they chose sin, they became sinners and experienced spiritual death. All future humans, including us, were born spiritually dead and separated from God by a sinful nature. So God sent Jesus Christ to redeem sinners and restore the relationship between Himself and people.

…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

Those who accept Christ — acknowledging they are incapable of meeting God’s standard of perfection and accepting Christ’s death as payment for their sins — are no longer separated from God. The relationship is reconciled. They become a member of His family, and He makes them into a new and different spiritual person, transforming them from sinner to saint. This is our first taste of far more life!

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. (Colossians 1:13, HCSB)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household. (Ephesians 2:19, NASB)

But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come. (Daniel 7:18, NASB)

Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, GNT)

…Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:6-7, NASB)

Although God has changed us, we are still tempted to look at ourselves in the old way and forfeit far more life. This is tempting because we still sin. We still make wrong choices and have wrong thoughts, every day. We can still be deceived by Satan. And our understanding of God and the systems of this world remains imperfect. The changes God makes are not always obvious; our outward appearance and life circumstances stay the same. So we consider ourselves, our identity, to be the same as it was before accepting Christ.

But our identity was irrevocably changed; we are a new spiritual being that is alive and longing for far more life. We have a new desire: a yearning to grow in righteousness. We also have the ability to say “no” to sins that we felt powerless against in the past. But we also have a new enemy who wants us to continue living in sin and miss far more life. The battle between good and evil can trick us into forgetting that we are a new creation, a saint.

Psychologists tell us that how we view ourselves influences our choices. So if we view ourselves as sinners, we expect ourselves to sin. We also expect to feel empty, defeated, discouraged, fearful and more. But understanding that we have become saints enables us to expect ourselves to live righteously. We also have the power to feel and share love, joy, peace, patience, and other aspects of God’s character. We realize we will not be perfect in our actions, thoughts, or feelings, but we are willing to keep growing in understanding and righteousness. Each step that we take toward righteousness brings the experience of far more life, which increases our desire to keep growing.

Consider this analogy. We can only face one direction at a time, either backwards or forward. When we cling to our old “sinner” identity, we are facing backwards to our life before Christ. We are focused on the bad things we have done and continue to define ourselves by those thoughts and actions. But when we turn toward our new “saint” identity, we are facing our future with Christ. We can focus on the good things we want to do and can define ourselves by His qualities that are growing in our lives. Rather than striving to be less sinful than we used to be, we can strive to be the most righteous we have ever been. Would you rather be facing your future with anticipation or facing your past with regret? I choose the future and hope you do, too!

…This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, GW)

Will you join me in facing forward, saint? Far more life is waiting for us each step of the way!

Sisters,
Are you a sinner, a sinner saved by grace, or a saint who sins?
If you have never acknowledged your separation from God, would you like to do so now? If you aren’t sure how to do this, ask for help at farmorelife@gmail.com. I’m happy to talk with you about it.
Have you missed far more life by facing backward? How?
How have you grown in righteousness by facing forward?
Thank God for the prize — eternal life — waiting for saints in Heaven. And for far more life as we journey toward Him.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Small Matters

Do you desire bigger things in life? Is your mindset, “Bring on the challenge and I will grow into it?” Do you feel a lot of opportunities are too small to be worth your while?

It is good to grow and be stretched. It is good to set and pursue goals, even lofty goals. There are times we need to say no. There are times to make changes so your potential is being fully utilized and appreciated. But often we need to wait: wait for more experience; wait for an opening; wait for the right time; wait until our current commitment is fulfilled. And while we are waiting, we have a choice: will we wallow in dissatisfaction or embrace far more life?

I remember facing this choice when my student group was appointing new small group leaders. I desperately wanted the position; I knew it would be a challenge, but I was confident I could be faithful with the responsibilities if given the chance. I wanted to be stretched. I thought I would find far more life once I was a leader.

When I was not selected, I was tempted to become less committed to the group, thinking they were not willing to invest in me. But soon I realized my motivation was pride and the desire for recognition; the woman who was chosen to lead invested her life in loving God by loving others. She didn’t care if the need was large or small, she didn’t consider some tasks “beneath her”. And yet she was experiencing far more life, even in small, ignoble tasks. She was already acting as a leader by caring for others the group, so it was only natural that she be recognized and supported in that role. Her actions and mindset demonstrated this Biblical principle:

“Someone who is faithful in a small matter”, Jesus continued, “will also be faithful in a large one. Someone who is dishonest in a small matter will also be dishonest in a large one.” (Luke 16:10, NTE)

We are tempted to misread this verse to say, “Someone who is faithful in a small matter is paying their dues; after proving themselves they will be awarded larger matters and find far more life.” But that is not what it says!

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit; as God’s daughters we always have access to it. Whether we are taking on a small or large matter, far more life is available — and God’s desire — for us. The situations we encounter give us opportunity to grow in consistently choosing to be faithful. That is far more life!

Far more life is faithfully persevering, despite the barriers and challenges we face:

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial… (James 1:12, NASB)

Far more life is making wise decisions about which matters we take on so we can faithfully complete them:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise. (Ephesians 5:15, NIV)

Far more life is giving of ourselves willingly:

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV)

Far more life is doing what pleases God and trusting Him with the results:

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, NIV)

God does not measure our faithfulness by the size of the task. Larger matters are often more complex and require more skills, but we can find far more life doing a small matter with a faithful heart.

Sometimes a seemingly small matter is really a large matter. When I was learning to play the flute, I was disappointed to start with just the mouthpiece. Then I was frustrated because I could not make it produce a sound. While I spent hours learning how to shape my lips and precisely where to position them on the mouthpiece, my friends were playing a variety of actual notes on their reed and brass instruments. It was discouraging to see them progress when I was stuck on what seemed like a simple task: blowing into the flute to generate a sound. But faithful practice allowed me to master that skill. I “graduated” to learning actual notes on the full instrument. Then I was able to take on the seemingly larger matter of learning notes and rhythms. Years of practice allowed me to play increasingly difficult pieces of music. But looking back, I realize that learning how to shape my lips and position them on the mouthpiece was actually the LARGEST matter; it laid the foundation for all that came later. If I had not been faithful to learn that, I would have not have been able to play even the simplest song.

Faithfulness often has practical rewards as well, as we read in Proverbs:

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men. (Proverbs 22:29, NASB)

This verse shares a principle, not a promise; not every skilled person will literally stand before a king in their lifetime. But faithfulness yields opportunities and blessings we would otherwise miss. One of those blessings is far more life in Him every step of the journey!

Sisters,
Is it easy or challenging for you to be faithful with the matters in your life? Does the size impact your faithfulness?
Which is easiest for you: persevering, making wise decisions, giving willingly, or trusting God? Which is hardest?
When have you discovered a “small matter” that was actually large?
What opportunities and blessings has been generated by your faithfulness?
Thank Him that far more life is always available through every matter you face!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo from wwe.songflute.com