The Way, The Truth, and the Life

The Way, The Truth, and the Life

Think about the person you most trust in your life. It could be a friend, a parent, a sibling, it could be anyone. Why do you trust them? Is it because they’re loyal? Are they trustworthy and honest? Do they love unconditionally? We all have lists a mile long of what makes someone a good friend. Whether its red flags or green lights, some sort of list or criteria has been created to help us filter out who we want in our corner and who we don’t.

Often times, this list gets projected onto our relationship with the Lord as well. Our experiences shape and define how we see Him. Whether it’s truth or not, we have this lens we see the Lord through. But how kind is He to remind us time and time again of who He really is? How encouraging it is to know He’s a God who isn’t afraid to confront our doubts and fears when they don’t align with His truth.

So how do we align ourselves with God’s truth about who He is? How do we make sure our list, our criteria matches with who He actually is? And most importantly, why should our thoughts about who He is be rooted in the actual truth of who He is?

“Don’t worry or surrender to your fear. For you’ve believed in God, now trust and believe in me also.” John 14:1 TPT

 In the first part of this verse, Jesus is empowering His disciples to not worry or surrender to their fear. Immediately after, Jesus calls them to trust and believe that He is who He says He is. Jesus does the same for us: He empowers us and then He calls us. Why? Because He know we can’t do it alone. He knows that if it were left up to us, we would cave to our worries and our fears. We would’ve already given up before the race even starts. But what happens when you focus on the Lord instead of your worries or fears is things change. Truth begins to take the place of lies. Chains begin to fall off. Transformation begins to happen and it’s important to know that Jesus first and foremost empowers the transformation and then calls us to trust and believe Him.

 I think this is how we start to align ourselves with God’s truth about His identity: we choose to trust and believe instead of surrendering to our worries and fears. The moment we take our eyes off our worries, our fears, and even the ways we think God is lacking and focus them on Jesus we allow change to happen. This heart posture of, “Lord I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going to choose you even though I don’t understand,” is all the Lord needs to remind you of who He is. It’s an open invitation to know Him and be known by Him. 

Now why is this important? Why should we be rooted in the truth of who Jesus is instead of who we think He is?

Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. And from now on you will realize that you have seen him and experienced him.” John 14:6-7 TPT

It’s so easy for me to overlook this verse and just say, “Yupp. He sure is. I’ve heard this before.” But the moment I slow down and breathe and let this sink deep into my bones, I can’t help but be in awe.

 To put this simply: Jesus is everything.

 He is everything we will ever need—whether that’s where we are going, what we are believing, and even the air we breathe. And the best part of it is He’s inviting us into a union with Him.

He’s inviting us to know Him and be known by Him—to the depths of our being. He’s inviting us to see and experience who He is. He’s inviting us into truth and life because that’s who He is.  Jesus is inviting us into a relationship that encompasses every aspect of this declaration He has just made.

 When we trust and believe that Jesus is everything, nothing else matters. These identities He reveals in John 14 are quite literally filled with truth and life because that’s who He is. He’s not subject to changing, He’s actually constant and steadfast and these are the identities He empowers and calls us to believe in John 14:1. In this place of choosing belief over unbelief we break the holds the enemy has on our life. We begin to let light into dark places. We begin to choose resurrection over death. We choose a King who unconditionally empowers us and loves us however many times we need Him to.

 So in the times where you want to surrender to your worries and fears, I pray you would choose to trust and believe in Him instead. I pray you would choose to do the hard thing over the “easy” thing. I pray you would choose to fight instead of laying down. I pray you would choose light over darkness and resurrection over death. I pray you would choose this relationship that will always offer truth and life because that’s who you’re choosing: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Author | Elizabeth Sprinkle

Worship

Worship

Worship is at the heart of my relationship with God. I know it is a pivotal point in many people’s, but for me, if I don’t posture my heart toward God in worship, I’m not in a good place. Worship has given me countless moments with God that have pushed me to pursue Him even more. Worship has always pushed me to find God in the midst of the hard moments. In times when I did not know if I would find God, worship reminded me He was the same God in the hard moments as He was on the mountain tops.

 Worship brings us to a state of remembrance (s/o to Housefires for finally releasing I’ll Give Thanks). Just hearing that song brings me back to moments of intercession this past year whether it was a lead prayer, weekly staff prayer meetings, or personal moments. This one song reminds me of all God did throughout the entire year. It reminds me that there is so much more to believe in. I can point to so many songs that bring me back to these deep wells with God.

 Worship is like a spiritual reset button. This has been true throughout my entire college experience and into a summer that was characterized by difficulty. Summers are hard. Summers physically away from community are especially hard. Worship reminds me of the character of God when the ways that He works in my life has not been so evident.

 Worship has meant everything to my relationship with God this summer. I have been in a season that has been defined by resting in the actual character of God over any promises or anything I think I hear from God. When my mind and heart have not known how to trust God, my soul has remembered the person I’m trusting in when I have taken the space and time to worship.

The hard thing is worship in the summer outside of church can be hard, depending on how you define worship. Worship can look like playing worship music in your room at home, your apartment, or even just in a coffee shop. It’s not necessarily about the setting, it’s about the posture of your heart. If you aren’t feeling worship music that day, the book of Psalms can be a great tool to use to say over yourself, write down on a sticky note to read throughout the day, etc. Worship has to do with our positioning toward God.

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” –Romans 12:1

Worship doesn’t even have to do necessarily with singing, it can be about the way we respond to the world around us. Worship puts God in His rightful place, it lifts Him up. So, if you’re at work and in a moment where you could be frustrated and take it out on your team, if you choose to serve and love them the best way you know how to, that is worship. Worship is any point where we can take the focus off ourselves and onto God.

When we worship, it postures our hearts to receive from God. That should never be the intention of worship. We should not worship just to treat it like a magic 8-ball that will give us the answer to every question. Worship just opens up the space for God to reveal Himself, and as He does so, our hearts and minds are set right. When our hearts and minds are right, we are better set up to hear God’s voice through all the other voices coming at us from our friends, family, culture, etc.

Author | Cristina Rosiles

I Am the Resurrection + the Life

I Am the Resurrection + the Life

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

“Do you believe this, Hannah?”

When I’m reading this, I cannot help but to imagine Jesus explaining to me that He is the resurrection and life and that believing this means that I will never die. And then Him straight up asking me: Do you believe this?

I think I would obviously want my answer to be yes. A resounding yes! And honestly, I think that if Jesus came and asked me that question right in this moment, I would say yes and mean it.

But...

But then begs the question: Am I living as though I believe this truth? Am I living as though I have access to the fullness of life and eternity?

I think in some ways I do live this way, but if I really sit and think about it, there are definitely ways that I am not living in the fullness of this truth.

Now, you might be sitting here thinking, “What does it even mean to live like that?” I don’t have all of the answers, but I think it’s beneficial to break down what Jesus really means when He says that we get to live life in this way.

Faith

If we are living with the assurance of eternal life, I think that this requires some faith. And faith is literally what this is all about. Living as though we have access to the fullness of life and eternity. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

I think this looks like if God asks us to do something—even if in our own eyes, it looks like the end result will be a disaster—we do it! I think it means that knowing that the hard stuff is worth it because it is walking in line with the One who loves us unconditionally. I think it means just trusting in God in every circumstance and believing Him to be good and to be who He says He is.

Hope

When we have faith, we also get to operate in hope. Hope means that we get to know that the best is yet to come and that when bad things are happening, we can rest in a supernatural peace that God has us. Now, this isn’t a self help thing, where we always just get to hope that every single thing we want is going to come to us. But it is knowing that no matter the outcome, God is going to care for us because He loves us and has our best interests at heart. We get to lean into the best case scenario instead of the worst case scenario.

Like in this story from John, we get to lean into hope that the dead will come to life. We get to lean into hope that the sick will be healed. We get to lean into hope that financial ruin will be reconciled. We get to lean into hope that broken relationships will be restored. We get to lean into hope that our histories will be redeemed. And this is all within complete reason because we have God on our sides when we believe Him to be who He says He is. Y’all, this is HUGE. I don’t know of any other way that we have access to this sort of hope outside of the love of Jesus. I don’t know of another religion, I don’t know of another lifestyle.

The fact that we have the hope of God just simply being who He says He is is insane!!! When we choose to believe Him, something crazy happens!!! He responds.

He responds

If you read the entirety of this passage from the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus’s friend Lazarus has died. And in the midst of this is where Jesus is talking to Martha about His giving access to eternal life.

When He asks her if she believes these things, she says yes. And she believes it. And what happens next is crazy: Jesus directly responds to her belief!! He quite literally walks into a grave of a man who has been dead for days and RAISES HIM TO LIFE. I mean, this is CRAZY!!!!!!! This blows me away.

When we believe and we have faith and we have hope in Jesus, He responds!! I don’t know all of the theology and mechanics and reasons behind it, but I just know He does. Faith and hope give space for God to do the literal impossible in our lives. Again, I don’t fully understand it, but I just know that this is what I see over and over and over again in the Bible, in my life and in my friends’ lives.

But what about doubt?

I think this could be easy to read this and be thinking, “Well, I have a lot of doubt, so I’m not sure how this would work.” Listen, I think that you can have faith and doubt simultaneously. Faith is choosing belief, choosing action, choosing hope and truth despite the doubt. It’s saying yes to God’s whisper when doubt is screaming in your ear. So, if you have doubt, that’s okay! Please do not feel shame.

I just want to encourage you that these things of faith and hope are for you. You don’t have to be some sort of special Christian to have access to these things. Jesus says if you believe, they are yours. 

I want to encourage you to sit down and ask God where there is space for faith and hope in your life. Ask Him to give you direction on what it would look like for you to live the truth Jesus speaks of here in John 11. He doesn’t want to keep you in the dark. He will give you direction. But simultaneously, He will give you grace upon grace upon grace. I’m SO excited for you to lean into more faith and hope and truth. It will bring about so much freedom and goodness and intimacy and joy!!!!!!

Author | Hannah Cole

Life at His Feet

Life at His Feet

I wonder if Mary’s heart was beating fast as she gazed upon her Savior for the first time. Her sister’s complaints fading into the background as she heard the sound of His feet walking around her home. He stops walking, and words of life start flowing from His lips. 

Her heart whispers, “Closer, Mary, closer.” She stops at His feet and sits. Listening intently to every word He says. 

This was the moment they met. At His feet. That was kind of Mary’s thing- intense adoration and beautiful devotion to her King. Each step Jesus took closer to her, she took another until she was there again- bending low in worship, bestowing beauty to the author of her heart. 

Jesus shared a precious exchange with Mary as well as her sister Martha and her brother Lazarus. There was a love there that bonded them together so uniquely. I can imagine when Lazarus became ill there was panic laced with faith. Death was on the table, but there was still hope because they knew Jesus.

But Jesus didn’t come until 4 days later (John 11:17), and Martha met the Lord in sorrow, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” (John 11:21)

Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

“Yes, Lord,” She says. “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world” (John 11:27)

Gosh, do I commend her faith here or what. So many times when brokenness becomes too real of a reality I can lose sight of who I know the Lord to be. Even in heartbreak, Martha was resilient in her faith and hope in who Jesus was. 

Hearing of His coming, Mary ran out of her house to meet Him. I would love to have seen this moment between the two of them. Bloodshot eyes and tearstained cheeks, she once again fell at Her Savior's feet. This time filled with a defeat that pierced her soul.

“Lord, if you had been here…” she declared to Him and wept.

This moment wrecks me. I can so easily be Mary, can’t you? The countless moments we meet Him at His feet with wonder in our hearts- contemplating the brokenness of our reality and the divine timing, hope and life giving spirit of our King. They don’t always intertwine the way we dream for them to, do they? But then I read stories like this and it gravitates me back to the heart of God. It reminds me of who He really is. 

There was something in Mary’s posture, in her words that struck the Lord’s heart so deeply tears welled in His eyes. Though He was determined for His beloved family to know there was a greater glory on display, He wept with her. 

There bent low in the dirt, compassion met heartache as hope lingered on the horizon.

Can we stop here, just for a moment, in the dirt with them? This is where hurt sliced so deep and the God of life came closer and closer to His child in need. 

I read in a devotion this morning about the beauty of Jesus’ identity revealed in this chapter. It said:

“To Martha, Jesus established Himself as God.

To Mary, Jesus established Himself as human.” 

(She Reads Truth)

Resurrection. It’s not just a promise for the sting of death to leave. It’s a promise for rebirth and restoration. Dead things will live again. Cold hearts will beat again. Voids will be filled again. And life. It’s a promise of abundance, a fullness we can’t explain, a compassionate and deeply kind God who will always give love, and light, and life to His children. 

There are times I am so faint of heart that I just need Him, I just need His presence to do what only He can do. So when Jesus stopped, and wept with His girl, my heart is filled with so much hope that He will always stop in His tracks to give life back to my heart however it needs. 

Here with Mary, Jesus displays a great glory of God. He isn’t afraid to endure pain with us and even more, He isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes so that we may weep no more. 

The brokenness of grief remained in the tomb with Lazarus’ grave clothes, and the hope of Christ was established once again.

I wonder how their faith and hope felt after their brother’s resurrection. The admiration in their eyes gazing at their Savior. The gratitude in their hearts. Little did they know another tomb would soon hold the grave clothes of their King and resurrection and life would rise to greater heights than they could dream. 

Mary. A woman enthralled by her King never stopped drawing near to Him. Many days after her brother’s return to life, there was a dinner held for Jesus. Martha served like she always did and Mary drew closer, like she always did. She knelt at His feet and let her hair fall as she anointed the God of life. 

I pray that our faith would be encouraged by this story. That our hope would be restored in believing the Lord will give life to us forever. That like Mary, our hearts would long to sit at the feet of our King in every season. Jesus, crown your children with lovingkindness and redemption. Reveal yourself to us, with personal intimacy, the beauty of who you are. Thank you for never leaving us but filling us again and again. 

“How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord; within their hearts are the highways of holiness! Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. He gives them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring.” Psalm 84:5-6

Author | Emily Goldin

Community.

Community.

Community can look very different during the summer. Especially if you are going from a place with constant accountability like Wesley, to different places around the world away from what you’re used to, community can look very different. Your community may look like just you and your family, different faces every week, or a group of total strangers that you have to live with. Whatever it may look like for you, know that if you are struggling with it, you are not alone. Community over the summer is HARD.  

One of the biggest things I have struggled with over the years during summer break has been how to operate with healthy boundaries in a community that looks very different from our day to day at Wesley throughout the school year. At Wesley, we have a safe environment that encourages vulnerability in our relationships. Between small groups, discipleship, and friends who are chasing after God with you, you have numerous opportunities to open up and talk about what’s going on in your life in a healthy way. But when everyone separates for the summer a lot of these things stop. When this happens, how do you handle the shift? Because, God is still moving in your life, things are still happening that you may need to process out, you’re still human and therefore you are still going to face trials… So what do you do?

It has been my observation so many times that one of two things can happen when you don’t have your normal community to talk to.

  1. You overshare with people who probably don’t need to know all of these personal things about you.

  2. You isolate yourself and rebuild walls you spent the past year tearing down. You may not even realize you are doing so, because you mistake walls for boundaries. 

If you fall into this first category, it can get messy pretty fast. Community in your life should have different levels. Jesus demonstrates this in His time here on earth. He is kind and loving to every person He encounters, but He has 12 who truly know Him. Beyond that He has two that know more than the other 10, John and Peter. You could say they are Jesus’ right hand men and have the most access to Him and His life. Jesus modeled this lifestyle, and therefore it is important that we practice it as well. 

During the school year, you have your discipler/small group leader/mentor, and a couple of very close friends who will walk with you through the deepest parts of your life. These are what our director, Daniel Simmons, would call your “not everyone needs to know, but someone has to know” people. Then you have your friend groups, who get to do life with you, but aren’t going to know every detail. Then you have your coworkers and acquaintances, who get to spend time with you and have some good conversations here and there, but they won’t know everything you do. Then you have your peers, who you should be kind to and love them well, but they don’t get access to any part of your personal life. 

Over the summer, these circles get distorted due to differing physical locations, change in schedules, and other things that change your day to day interactions. So, if you are not with your close people, you may begin to crave talking out the things happening in the depths of your heart, especially if you are a verbal processor. But, its very important that you don’t go out and begin letting random people into places of your heart that they haven't earned access to yet. This can wind up hurting you, and may put unfair expectations on the other person that they won’t know how, or even be able, to meet, leaving you both hurt in the end. 

If you find yourself falling on this end of the spectrum some helpful tips to keep your boundaries clear and walk in spiritually healthy community are:

  1. Identify your inner circle people. (Your personal John and Peter) 

  2. If you are with them this summer, great! Do what you normally do :)

  3. If they are far away, set up some type of accountability system with them that works for the both of you. (For me, if I begin feeling a certain way that is connected to the deeper parts of me, I shoot my people a text and say “Hey! Just letting you know this is happening in me, I would love to talk when you are free. No rush, I’m just texting you now so you can hold me accountable to talk about it when we are together.” Yours may look similar, or it may be totally different, as long as both of you are happy with it, do your thing :) Accountability is key.

  4. Know yourself. Take notice of patterns you fall into, what emotions are drawn out in what circumstances? When you begin to identify triggers to emotional things that may be heavy for you (or just topics that identify with the depths of your heart), make sure you have an outlet where you can talk about it after you experience these things so you don’t spill your guts to the first person you see. 

  5. Journal. If you don’t have a way to contact your people, writing everything out on a page can be extremely helpful to both process, and have as a reference for whenever you get back with your people and want to talk. 

Now, if you find yourself falling into the second category, it can be a little sneakier, but eventually it will cause issues down the road. Not having set times in your week with the people you normally let in can cause your mind to start spinning in circles and you can easily forget to look at what God is doing in a certain situation. If you have a hard time trusting people you may not know how to reach out and speak up when something is stirring inside of you. And when you get around new people you may act more cautious as a means to not let people in too early. There is a lot of wisdom to this one, but sometimes, in an effort to maintain healthy boundaries you can accidentally build a wall in its place. By hiding what is happening within you to those around you, the walls begin to form and eventually trap everything into a small compartment where even you may not be able to reach them. To some of you, that may sound great because it means you won’t feel the hard things. But I can promise you that that is not the case. I have learned that numbness is a type of pain we don’t have words for. You think you’re good but when you finally crash, it hurts more than before because the whole time you were numbing, the wound was digging deeper. 

So how do you avoid numbing your feelings and isolating yourself in the summer when your community is not around? I would say that my advice is pretty similar to the first side, the difference is the inner battle in yourself you will need to overcome when putting them into practice.

  1. Know your inner circle people.

  2. Set up your accountability - and actually reach out to them. 

  3. Journal - let God into this process with you.

  4. Make plans. Don’t get swept away in your inner world and pull back from normal community fun. Hang out with people. You can have a healthy balance of rest and activities. 

    1. If your summer is pretty dull, try to set a schedule and stick to it. It can have grocery store runs, cooking, gym time, and reading on it in addition to work and plans with people. But stick with it, this will help you avoid overthinking everything by yourself or, on the flip-side, just laying in bed and not addressing anything going on in your life.

  5. Take time to remember how far God has brought you in the past year. It may surprise you how much He has moved - this will help you to maintain your breakthroughs and keep yourself from falling back into old habits and keep your eyes towards God when you feel alone. 

Summertime can be the best - but it can also be really tough. So keep your head held high and keep moving forward, God has good things for you this summer. And August will be here sooner than you know. :))


Author | Tori Kramer

The Shepherd & The Sheep

The Shepherd & The Sheep

I love that Jesus is our Good Shepherd.  A shepherd is such a perfect way to describe who he is to us.  It gives us a window into God’s character. In John 10:1-21, Jesus tells the Pharisees the parable of the Good Shepherd.  

“I alone am the Good Shepherd, and I know those whose hearts are mine, for they recognize me and know me,  just as my Father knows my heart and I know my Father’s heart. I am ready to give my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15

First I think it’s important to understand the parallels in this passage.  Jesus says that He is a mirror image of the Good Shepherd that he is describing, and Jesus is a mirror image of God.  So when I’m describing the character of the shepherd, I’m also talking about the character of Jesus and ultimately God.  God is so kind to give us Jesus.  He is God in human form, so we can understand Him better.  God got on our level to make sure we understand his character.  

“But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in. And the sheep recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, for he calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to him. And when he has brought out all his sheep, he walks ahead of them and they will follow him, for they are familiar with his voice.” John 10:2-4

The sheep know their shepherd, they recognize his voice, and they follow him.  Jesus says the sheep will run away from a stranger and not follow him because they know it is a voice of a stranger.  How beautiful that is.  It’s a mirror image of what our life with God is like.  We belong to God, He has made us part of His flock; therefore we recognize His voice.  He created us with the ability to know our creator and know His voice.  

I love that. We were created to know God.  You innately know the voice of God.  He has been speaking to you your whole life.  You are not the exception to the rule.  

God is trustworthy.  The sheep follow their shepherd without hesitation.  They have pure, untainted trust in the shepherd.  They will follow him wherever he goes because they know that the shepherd has good intentions.  The shepherd knows what’s best for his sheep and will not lead them astray.  

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  John 10:10-11

The image of a shepherd shows us the sacrificial love that God has for us.  John 10:11 says that the good shepherd will sacrifice his life for his sheep.  God made the ultimate sacrifice by sending his son to die for our sins.  God is not in the business of giving up on us.  He was willing to sacrifice his son in order to have a right relationship with us.  So He’s not giving up on you now. 

When I read that passage, it makes me feel safe.  Part of the shepherd’s job is to make sure that his sheep are safe and the thief does not harm his sheep.  He is even willing to lay down his life for his sheep.  God will keep us safe.  He is our protector.  He does not want any harm to come to His own.  It’s super comforting to know that the creator of the universe is on our side.  

“If a man owns a hundred sheep and one lamb wanders away and is lost, won’t he leave the ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go out and thoroughly search for the one lost lamb? And if he finds his lost lamb, he rejoices over it, more than over the ninety-nine who are safe. Now you should understand that it is never the desire of your heavenly Father that a single one of these humble believers should be lost.”  Matthew 18:12-14

I know this isn’t part of the same parable, but I think it’s important to talk about.  In all this talk about the shepherd protecting his flock and the sheep following him, it could be easy for you to think that you’re just part of a crowd.  That the shepherd doesn’t notice you.  But he does.  God knows YOU.  Individually.  I love that in Matthew 18, Jesus is using the analogy of sheep again. If just one sheep wanders off, the shepherd will go after it and will rejoice when he finds the lost sheep.  

So all these things that are true about God are true in your individual relationship with God.  God sees you in his flock of sheep, and you are important to him.  So here’s a list of characteristics about God that I see from this parable of the Good Shepherd.  Even if you can’t fully believe these things about Him, try relating to Him as if He is these things anyway.  Speak it until you believe it.  

God is kind

He is good

He is trustworthy

He speaks to you, and you know His voice

He is gentle

He is a strong leader

He is protector

He is provider

He is our guide

He wants good things for us

He is comforter

He is safe

He is home

Author | Sam Forbes

The Lord is My Shepherd

The Lord is My Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 ESV

 Wow. What a declaration David makes. David, who was also a shepherd, knew the depths and the power of this declaration. He knew the hours of hard work and labor it takes to be a shepherd. He knew how tough it was to keep the flock of sheep together and he also knew how rewarding it was to find his sheep that had been scattered. He knew every aspect of what it means to be a good shepherd and how much that job requires of you. This statement is drenched in intimacy, hope, and confidence because David knew the faithfulness and intentionality of the Lord on such a deep level. David fully related to the Lord as “his shepherd” because the Lord met him in those places. The Lord met him on those long nights turned into early mornings. He met David in the valleys and on the mountains, in the pouring rain or the sunniest day of the year. It didn’t matter where David was, the Lord was always there with him making sure he wanted for nothing.

 I think it’s important to understand that if the Lord is the shepherd of our lives, then we have to be His sheep. That’s the role we have in this relationship: He is the shepherd and we are the sheep. What does this mean? It means we have zero obligations or expectations other than being a sheep. The Lord expects nothing from us; He carries all the responsibility in this relationship because He is the shepherd, not us. So when David writes this Psalm he fully understands the role of being a shepherd, but he also understands the role of being a sheep because the Lord has this place in his life.

 But, what exactly is the job of a shepherd? You see, David knew the Lord as shepherd because David was a shepherd. Before David was anointed to be king, he was keeping the sheep for his father and I can only imagine in 2019 shepherds are few and far between these days. So, what does a shepherd do? Obviously a shepherd takes care of sheep, but there has to be more to it than just standing around looking at a herd of sheep all day and all night right?

 Shepherds honestly have the hardest job of anybody. They have to maintain the health of their sheep, as individual sheep and as a herd, and they have to find the sheep if they have wandered off. Being a shepherd is a 24/7 job with no breaks and no rest. While this is the hardest job, it is also the most important job. If it weren’t for the shepherd there would be sheep everywhere doing whatever they wanted to do. Back in the Old Testament they didn’t have fence lines like we do now; they just had wide open fields where everything could roam together. Quite literally, shepherds take on the role of a vet, search-and-rescue team, and a fence all in one. It’s crazy all the responsibility shepherds carry, but what’s crazier is all the opportunity shepherds have access to.

 Shepherd’s get to build and steward life and they protect the sheep when an enemy comes against them. They provide safety and security for their herd of sheep and they provide healing if the sheep get sick or injured. I mean this is some anointed, heavenly work if you ask me. Shepherds are fully responsible for every aspect of a sheep’s life and in the exact same way, the Lord is the shepherd of our lives. He builds, stewards, protects, heals, and anoints us as His people.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5 ESV

 A little context for this verse—In the Old Testament, it was very common for shepherds to anoint their sheep. During the summertime, sheep are susceptible to a disease known as “scab.” This disease is super contagious among a herd of sheep and is caused by a microscopic parasite that thrives in warm weather. Scab is a disease that could wipe out an entire herd of sheep and in order to heal this disease shepherds have to go, catch the sheep, and individually anoint their head and bodies with oil. How intentional this act is for the shepherd to care for his sheep.

Now let’s apply this verse knowing the intentionality and context behind it.

Not only does the Lord prepare the table in the presence of our enemies, He invites us to sit down and eat. We aren’t meant to stand against the wall while everyone else eats at the table. As the sheep of the Good Shepherd, we are created to sit down at the table and freaking eat. And not only are we created to eat, we are empowered to eat. You’re battling shame? Okay. Sit down at the table and be anointed by the Lord. You’re battling fear? Sit down and eat. You’re battling every sin in the book? Okay. Sit down, let the Lord bring a 5-course meal, and eat every bit of it in the presence of your enemy. When you “eat” the Lord’s goodness and truth in front of your enemy you are actually disempowering the hold he has on you. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” Basically, the Lord wipes His feet on the floor mat of the enemy. So, when the promise is “you anoint my head with oil” you are empowered by the very breath of heaven. Just like the shepherd anoints the sheep to heal scab, the Lord will anoint you to empower and to heal even the dirtiest, most diseased places of who you are.

 Shepherds are with their sheep through thick and thin. In the midst of every storm, every sunny day, every lost moment, shepherds are there making sure their sheep lack in nothing. Sheep would die without the shepherd taking care of them, and I think the Lord is inviting us into that kind of dependence on Him.

“You were like sheep that continually wandered away, but now you have returned to the true Shepherd of your lives—the kind Guardian who lovingly watches over your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25 TPT

 Every moment you’ve wandered away, every time you’ve been afraid or broken, every time you were scattered from the Lord, He’s waited patiently for you to return. He’s sought you out, anointed you time and time again, and even empowered you to face your enemies every time. He’s made sure you’ve lacked in nothing and has filled your cup till it was overflowing. He is the Good Shepherd that lovingly watches over your soul, over your heart, over every part of who you are and He invites you to come home no matter how far you wander away.

So Lord, we ask you to take your place as the Good Shepherd in our lives while we take our place as the sheep. Remind us that you are in charge—that it’s your job to take care of us. Help us, empower us, anoint us to be so dependent on you that we would trust and know you as the one who cares for our deepest needs and desires. Remind us that you lovingly watch over and care for every part of who we are. Thank you that you expect nothing from us and you actually empower us every day. Thank you for the grace you give us to be your sheep while you’re the Good Shepherd—come and have your way in our lives Lord. We need you, we want you, and we are desperate to encounter you. Thank you for your grace-filled, unconditional love Lord. You’re better than our wildest dreams.

Author | Elizabeth Sprinkle

A Beloved Family.

A Beloved Family.

Family has always been God’s design for us. All throughout Scripture we see God bringing back together family like in the stories of Jacob and Esau and the prodigal son to show God’s heart is for us to live together, being for each other as deeply as possible. Even though it is God’s original design for us, unfortunately, humanity doesn’t always get it right. We are people; therefore, we are flawed. No matter how good we like to believe we are, we are prone to error. So, family on Earth is messy. We all come from different upbringings that have shaped our foundation and that have given us unhealthy tendencies in one form or another.

God’s design was corrupted at the fall. You see moment after moment after moment throughout history of people turning against each other, brother turning on brother, father turning on son, grandparents turning on grandchildren, etc. Part of God’s redemption arc for humanity is bringing us back together into family. One of the greatest gifts that God could give to us is the fact that community is meant to mirror family.

One thing I am absolutely convinced of is that God’s redesign is ALWAYS better than the original. There is a fascinating verse in the Bible that constantly reminds me of this nature. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But all of us who reflect the Lord’s glory with an unveiled face are being transformed into his own image, from one degree of glory to another. This too is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The interesting part is we don’t know what better looks like. We actually cannot conceptualize what better looks like, because we have yet to experience it. So, if you come from a rough family life, there is better for you. If you come from a great family, there is still better to be experienced with God. We are constantly moving from one degree of glory to another, what a wonderful gift that God can give us. God, in his infinite kindness, gives us a second chance at family as we grow up and have the ability to choose our family, our people. Even better yet, God gives us another chance at being a part of his family. 

Family is hard for some and a treasure for others. Your family is the most fundamental building block of the way you operate. Whether we see it or are desperately fighting against it, your family is a large part of who you are and why you do the things you do. You can let that be a good thing, even if your family history isn’t so good. Your family might have done the best they absolutely could or they might have royally messed up, you can still find the goodness of God in it. God is offering the most hope-filled alternative in offering you your place in his eternal family. He is choosing you. Nothing else matters. It is you and God FOREVER. God chooses you in every stage of life, not just the you right now. God has seen the scared little kid you used to. God has seen the angry, angst teenage you used to be. God has seen the cocky, eighteen year old young buck you used to be, thinking you had it all together. God chooses each side of you. 

“And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty,” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!” –Romans 8:15

We’re all moving towards something at any point, desperate to belong somewhere. That truth isn’t a bad thing, it is simply a state of the human condition. As you draw closer to God, you will come to the simply truth that you are enough for God. You have never been an orphan. We may act out of an orphan mindset, but you have always been chosen by God. You, exactly as yourself, mistakes and brokenness as you are is enough. You are 100% entitled to be exactly where you are, whether that is a good or bad place.  

You are defined by your family, and it is okay to say that. Your new family is God’s, that includes the people you get to do life with. Your family is your people, let that comfort you over the summer. You are not doing life by yourself for yourself. You are doing life with people for God. There is no such thing as lone ranger Christianity. Let that truth wash over you today. God did not leave you stranded this summer, whether you are back home or in a completely new city. God is right beside you, let God love you in the place you are in right now. He longs to love you in this moment, let him show you his love for your season right now. Let his love look differently this summer, it is a good thing. I promise.

Author | Cristina Rosiles

Brighter and Clearer

Brighter and Clearer

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 

My name - Claire - means “bright and clear.” As a child I had a blanket with my name and this verse embroidered on the corner. I used to run my fingers over the stitching, “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” It brought me joy and made me proud of my name. 

Over the years, however, there have been times when this passage filled me with shame and sorrow - a fear that my light had dimmed, or worse, gone out. 

There have been plenty of days when it seemed impossible that I ever have or ever could shine bright and clear enough to light a house, much less a city. 

Things that make me feel dim: 

  • Distraction 

All too often I find myself running to a thousand different things - tv, food, friends, etc. I am searching for rest and joy, but I am left feeling frantic and frail. 

  • Disobedience 

Ouch. This one hurts but it’s so true. I actively resist Christ, along with His compassions and commands, and my clarity suffers. This often comes from and/or results in deeper fear, reverence, or love for something other than Jesus in my life.  

  • Denial 

Denial prolongs my battle with distraction and disobedience. I pull the covers up over head and hide just a little longer.

We all have our ways of feeling dim. We can even get comfortable in the lower light, in the squinting and suffering. But Jesus calls us higher and deeper - and brighter and clearer. He calls us to Himself. 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

The light, the imparting of it, the maintaining of it, the brightness, the clarity - it doesn’t come from us. It comes from the Light of the world. Our light then, depends on our proximity to the Source, on our willingness to let Him be our keeper. It comes from our denial of distraction and things that dim. 

We come to Him - flickering and fighting, covered in dust and darkness - and He wipes us clean, so that we may shine again, brighter and clearer. It is Him who brings us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). It is Him who finishes the work in us (Philippians 1:6). It is Him who polishes and positions us to shine as a city on a hill.

Jesus, 

You are the Light of the World. You are our source of light. I’m sorry for when I run to the dimmer and darker things. Restore brightness and clarity once again. Thank you for your command and kindness in helping us complete it. 

I love you. Amen 


Author | Claire Jordan

I am the Light

I am the Light

One thing that I have realized about Jesus over the years is that while He is humble and walks in the utmost humility, that does not shake the fact that He is fully confident in His identity: He knows who He is and whose He is. Whose He is matters because when we know that Jesus is God’s, we can fully trust what He says about who He is.

In John 8:12, Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world. Since Jesus is so sure in the truth surrounding His identity, I think it’s important that we take seriously His choice to use the word “light” here. When He says that He is a light, what does this say about His character in a way that we can truly relate to?

I think that there is a lot more that can go into this, but I think more than anything, I realize a sense of how absolutely safe Jesus is. I know that may seem like a bit of a jump, but don’t worry—I’m going to elaborate!

What do you look for in a friend? Obviously, there are a lot of things that I like to see in my friendships, but a big one for me is safety. I want to be free to be myself around them without fear. If something hard is going on or there’s something that I don’t love about my past, I want to know I can open up those parts of my heart to them without being judged. I want them to know my hopes and dreams and for those things to be celebrated and not pushed to the side.

When I think about Jesus being the light, I think about how light exposes everything in its path. So, if Jesus is the light of the world, when He is around us, things are going to be exposed. The good, the bad, the ugly. My past sins? Seen. My hopes and dreams? Seen. Literally every single aspect of my heart and my mind? Seen.

And at first thought, the idea of that vulnerability can be honestly really scary. The things of our hearts are special, so letting Jesus expose all of these things (since He is the light) can be a lot to take in. However, a few verses later in the same conversation, Jesus tells us that He judges no one. If you look at this passage from John 8 and then one a few chapters later in John 12, you will see that both times when Jesus talks about being the light, He also talks about trust and the idea of judgement. Jesus tells us that He is not here on earth to judge.

This is important: when Jesus tells us He is the light, He almost immediately follows this by saying that He does not judge. He knows that it can be scary to expose our hearts and our histories and literally every part of our hearts, but after He tells that we are seen, He lets us know that what is seen is not judged. We actually get to choose to trust Jesus and be in relationship with Him instead of simply being scared of HIs judgement.

So, when we realize that Jesus is trustworthy and that His seeing us is a good thing, we get to live in the safety of friendship with Jesus. So, what does this mean for us?

I think that it means that we get to live in the freedom of knowing that God is trustworthy. He sees our sin, and when we live in Jesus, He chooses to not judge us for it. He actually loves us, comforts us, and calls us out of the darkness and into the higher places. Every single part of our hearts is safe with Him, and we have the privilege to choose to trust Him.

I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to just sit and be with Jesus. (Maybe play some peaceful background music like this.) Ask Him to come in and be the light. Ask Him to expose the good things He sees in you. Ask Him to expose the hard places. Acknowledge that He doesn’t judge. (If you feel judgement in shame in this moment, know that this is not of Jesus. That is not in His character. Hold fast to the truth of His character and not any negative things you’re feeling in the moment.) Ask Him where He wants to go from here. And even where it’s hard, allow Him in. The places and peace that will come in this process are worth it.


Author | Hannah Cole

Summer Intimacy.

Summer Intimacy.

Meditate on His word.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. "

John 15:4-5 NIV

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The summer is full of wonder, and mostly time. Long days, warm nights, twinkling stars, and golden sunsets call summer its natural home. During the season of beauty and awakening, an abundance of God's words freely flow like fireflies in the night, waiting for someone to notice and capture the magnificence. If you look, the Lord is painted within every character of summer, as her breeze dries the sweat on your brows. It's a beautiful time to be with God and to wait with Him for the promise of fall to come.

It can feel exciting to have this special type of freedom, but the solidarity of the few months can also provoke anxiety for the very same reason. Structure has the potential to be small, alone time makes itself more certain frequently, and purpose/calling/mission of your life can feel temporary or at a distance.

Of course, this can all depend on where you are or what God has called you to this season. For some, the summer can be full of adventure in a foreign place or it can be full of adventure right where you have been for a long time.

Either still and slow or from one adventure to the next, summer is a season of waiting and anticipation. And it requires full surrender.

In my experience, this summer has been slow. So slow, I am almost wishing fall would come sooner. It's okay that I am honest about the way I feel toward this season, but I know I need the rest. It’s painful for someone that is used to running about 100 mph with a full schedule for most of her life. Last time I was in a period of stillness, it didn’t go so well for me. However, I knew before entering, the Lord was calling me to rest in a way I never had before. It's the beginning of July, and I am finally learning to love where I am.

The acceptance of this season, and seasons in my past, has given me peace only by wholeheartedly handing my need to control and understand everything to the Lord. It is truly incredible the amount of heart work and revelation I have gained through this simple and continual act of dying to myself.

To be honest, I spend most seasons with Him intimately through surrender to my flesh and obedience to His Spirit. I need to do this most in seasons that are still and slow, because my mind tends to wonder, anxiety increases, and then I begin fill my schedule with useless addictions. This tends to happen when am running ahead of Him.

For me, the surrender looks like choosing to be connected to Him every day despite my fears, doubts, and uncertainty about the future. I intentionally seek Him when I first wake up, and ask Him to create my day. I ask Him to be Lord over how I react to my day reflecting the essence of everything that is Him. Intentionally asking Him to be Lord doesn't happen everyday, if I am honest. Sometimes, I rant about what is on my mind or rush into reading scripture without asking Him to reveal Himself through the words. I want Him to be Lord, so I am more frequently trying to avoid projecting every emotion or religious tendencies on Him without asking His love to be present first. The first gaze upon His eyes affects everything.

After I know that my spirit is connecting with Him, I read His word or do something with Him that is on my heart or feels "right." Sometimes, I have gut intuitions that lead me to what we are supposed to do together and sometimes it's hard to be obedient. This is a part of being disciplined in my faith. What I find over and over again, each time I surrender to His leading, the time spent with Him is always amazing and exactly what I needed.

Most of the time, He gives me freedom to choose however I want to spend time with Him. Remember, He called us friends… not slaves.

This summer I am taking the mornings to create spiritual discipline, reading through the Old Testament and New Testament in a parallel form. I have more time in the mornings, so this gives me space to really dissect what I am reading and experience Him through accounts of the beginning of creation, Joseph, Moses and Jesus/His disciples at the same time. It has actually been really fun, and sometimes difficult too.

Throughout the day, I try to stay connected to Him all the time. I am always talking to Him in my mind, asking Him questions, inviting Him to lead me, and asking Him to awaken me to His kingdom everywhere I go. Talking to Him without ceasing has been a quite process throughout my life. Even now, sometimes I find myself complaining or questioning rather than letting Him speak to me or show me His faithfulness in my life and in life surrounding me.

I also stay connected with Him by having worship music playing or silence (allowing conversation with Him) whenever I am in the car or in the house. I find that it purifies my thoughts, or turns into a song of prayer. I'll often speak to Him about other people. My friends, family, issues I care about, and ministries are often on my mind. When hopelessness or concern about them enters, I immediately cast all of my cares on Him. Again, this has been a process and more often than not, it takes me a second to remember not to dwell on what is on my mind but talk to God about them. I find myself shifting atmospheres quite a bit, too. So, whenever I am driving around Athens, running on campus, or completing errands, I am always praying-- releasing hope, joy, love, and revival in those places.

During this season I am trying to stay connected to community and spiritual guides as best as I can. In other seasons, those two things can be automatic, but in seasons of transition or isolation, it takes effort to choose to be vulnerable and held accountable with the family God has given me in Athens. This summer, I have been intentionally surrounding myself among trustworthy friends and I meet with my spiritual mother at least once a week. Every time, I experience the Lord with them as I surrender to the treasures of the Lord I hold and the treasures they have for me, even when it is difficult to be vulnerable or trust.

In the evenings, I go on runs with God or sometimes walks, and I ask Him to be so present I can feel His touch. I often see Him in creation with little ways He knows I receive Him. I enjoy the sunsets or the night full of stars most, so those are often the times that are the most intimate for us.

I also love to do things with Him like sitting at Jit Joes in five points with an iced coffee and a mind full of revelation or contemplation and my laptop. In these moments, I like to write what I am feeling or pieces of revelation to give other people! Other times, I look through my old journals full of prophetic words and encounters with Him from seasons past. He reminds me of His faithfulness and beauty throughout my life.

Believe my words and experience. It is possible to be intimate in the Lord with everything you do… I even go hit softballs off the tee sometimes with Him!

In the process of allowing yourself to surrender to His intimacy in everything, do things together you love, be obedient to the things you don't love, and let Him speak more than you do.

Ask Him to reveal Himself in everything that you are seeing -- people, places, His creation, etc. Go to a coffee shop. Hike on nearby trails. Have a date with Him. Consume His word with your Spirit. Listen to worship music and praise Him in every environment. Pursue intimate relationship friends and intentionally ask them about their relationship with the Lord. Be vulnerable. Be challenged. Run or dance. Find Him in books, in movies, in sporting events. Speak with Him wherever you go. Invite Him into your dreams. Surround yourself in love, peace, and joy. Be healthy with Him. Cook with Him. Eat with Him. Live this season unselfishly surrendered to the journey He is unfolding, whether steady rain, vibrant sun, cool air, dry wind, or intense storm.

He is Immanuel- God with us. He isn't going anywhere, and it is always perfect timing to get to know him… no matter the season.

Author | Emily Helton

Our True Provider

Our True Provider

So many times there are things in our life that we think are too much for God.  We think that we have to fix them ourselves or figure out how to maneuver our way through life while dealing with these things.  That is just not true.  God wants nothing more than to be a part of every aspect of our lives both big and small.  When we think about God as our provider, we typically think about Him providing financially and I know just as well as you do, that He does that in abundance for every person who gives Him the opportunity.  But how else can we let God provide for us? 

As I began praying my way through this topic, I remembered the story in the gospels about the woman with the issue of blood.  This woman had been suffering for twelve years from constant bleeding.  The story tells us that she had spent every penny she had on seeing specialists and no one could find a cure.  She had one last resort.  She needed to find Jesus. Luke 8:44 it tells us “she touched the fringe of His robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.” Without even asking for anything or expressing her need, this woman was healed! I don’t know about you, but if I was her, I would have stopped right then and there and shouted or done a dance or something! She was healed!! But that’s not this woman’s story.  Jesus asked who touched Him and no one would own up to it, until she realized she could not hide.  When she fell in front of Him, she explained to Him how she had only touched His robe and that she was immediately healed and He responded “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Can you imagine? 

What if we approached our issues with this mindset? What if we were confident that just one touch from Jesus would be exactly what we need? What if we knew without any doubts that one encounter with Him would be the way to heal our hearts? We would probably live life a little differently.  So as you remember God as a provider, I think it is so important to remember that he provides more than just money. He provides safety and security. He provides adventure and freedom.  He provides healing that is complete and full. Many times it seems like our last resort, but maybe we should start to see Jesus as our initial instinct. Just to touch Him. 

There is a song that so beautifully paints the picture of this story.  My favorite lines are part of a verse and the chorus.  It is so simple and so sweet. It says:

Well I'm desperate 'cause it's never or it's now

If I could just touch the hem of His garment

I know I'd be made whole

If I could just press my way through this madness

His love would heal my soul

(One Touch: Nicole C Mullens)

I pray today, we can see Jesus as the only true provider of this beautiful life that we get to live.  That we see Him in a way that highlights His glory and wonder. Because of this we would long daily for Him to provide everything that we need both big and small.

Author | Morgan Attebery

The Source of Life

The Source of Life

Imagine our entire Wesley body, all 1000 + of us climbing up a mountain together. Now imagine that times five. Climbing up the mountain step by step, a crowd so thick forming not even the mountain top is visible anymore. Can you imagine the sweat dripping down our backs, the dirt on our feet, the grumbling of our bellies…the wonder in our hearts as we made our way up the ascension in search of Jesus?

I imagine this to be like the five thousand seeking the One who could perform signs on the sick and leave their eyes astonished at the miracles before them.

Who could this man be? How could it be? When death hovered so closely, when thirty years of illness lingered, just His word alone brought forth life that should have been impossible. 

Every step they took on that rocky hill marked by the anthem of their search “who is He?”

As they searched, He saw them. One by one arising to the ground He stood on, and He didn’t miss the emptiness their journey brought. 

His first thought when He saw them lingered around filling their stomachs: “Philip, where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” John 6:5

Now can you sit with me here and imagine Philip? Jesus knew He was asking a trick question, but here’s Philip staring at the horizon of the mountain watching person after person making their way up. I would’ve thrown my hands up and laughed like Sarah. The impossible things you say, Lord!!!

Here is Philip. “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” John 6:6

Have you ever been in a position where even the best solution you could dream up wouldn’t really even cover the need you see in front of you?

Same. 

Sometimes I will let myself dream of the best solutions…the ideal ones that make my heart giddy. I see colorful life building up, lights shining bright, every good thing coming forth and I drink it all in. Gosh, yes, this would be perfect.

And then I get a scary dose of reality and all the bright lights dim, all the color fades, and I just see the black and white. But…it won’t work. It’s not working. 

It’s in those moments that the emptiness deep in my heart, deep in my belly creeps back in again, and I realize just how much I’ll need God to come through to make any kind of ends meet to my dreams, to my reality, to my life. 

So, with empty bellies shouting loudly, what did Jesus do?

He gave them their fill. As much as they wanted. And nothing was lost. No one was missed. No stomach wished for more.

Yet, even on the mountain getting their fill, they had only guesses for their search of who He could be.

“He’s the prophet!” they declared. But, even their best guesses of the king he could be, didn’t compare to the King He was. They still didn’t understand. All they could think about was their history- the way God had provided for Israel in the Wilderness and the way He had provided for them on the mountain. But every moment they deemed Him provider was based solely on temporary sustenance.

Jesus is the King who permanently sustains our lives not the king who temporarily fixes our emptiness.

He is the source of our lives.

So just a few days after they took bread from His hands and ate their fill, they heard the words of life spill out over His tongue as He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35)

This statement was radical. He was telling them who He was- the kind of King He is. The source of all life.

Whether you’re in a season of ascension, seeking out more of Him, wondering at who He is, wondering at the miracles He’s done before you…or if you’re in a season looking at what’s ahead and not even your dreamiest solutions could handle the multitude before you…I encourage you to dwell in His presence and remind yourself of the kind of King He is.

He’s the King who doesn’t let emptiness get the last word. He fills every gap and nothing is missed. He speaks and life springs forth.

He is and life flows.

Jesus, we are in awe of you. You are the King of Life. The One we so long for, the One our deepest cravings are satisfied with. Thank you for never leaving us thirsty or hungry. Fill us to overflowing, Lord. Fill our hearts, fill our minds, fill our emptiness. Where we doubt provision, may Your presence break open doors of impossibility. You are our everything. Thank you for who You are, King Jesus.

Author | Emily Goldin

Summer Survival Guide

Summer Survival Guide

Summer is a special time.  It’s my favorite season and it holds a special place in my heart.  There’s a freedom and playfulness that doesn’t seem to be there in other seasons.  The days are longer and I have more time for things I love.  

As much as I love summer, I notice that I sometimes put God on the back burner.  I don’t do it intentionally.  I just fill my days with other things, then realize that I haven’t been including God in my plans.  Honestly it makes sense that it’s harder for us to find God in the summer.  During the school year, we have a rhythm with God.  You have certain times a day you know you will spend with God, reading, or listening to worship music.  You have different activities in your schedule with a community of people also going after God.  Once summer comes, your rhythm with God is changed because your schedule changes.  You might have so much time you don’t know what to do with it, or you might be so busy that you think you have no time at all for God.  Either way it’s so important that you know you can thrive spiritually in a season that looks different than what you’re used to.  

My advice to you if you’re feeling disconnected with God in the summer:  think about what you normally do in the school year to connect to God and do those things.  It’s so simple.  You just have to intentionally put God into your new schedule and make a new rhythm with Him.  

Here are some things that I do to connect with God.  

Get in the word.  If you want to know God’s heart and learn what His voice sounds like, it’s important to know His word.  Get to know His character.  Pick a book of the bible and start reading.  

Listen to worship music.  Worship Him.  

Beni Johnson says this about worship in The Happy Intercessor- “The Greek word for worship is proskuneo; it means ‘to kiss.’  It is a feeling or attitude within us that keeps us close to God…. Worship comes from within us and goes with us throughout our day.  When we adore God, we are kissing Him.”  

Journal your prayers.  Write down your thoughts.  Let God speak through you.  Go back and read your journal from the past and take note where God has come through.  If He did it once, it’s a lot easier to believe He’ll do it again.

Read books.  I highly recommend Garden City and God Has a Name by John Mark Comer! 

Talk to God.  Out loud.  Randomly thank Him for things.  A relationship is built from spending time with someone and having constant dialogue. 

Surround yourself with community.  This one is so important for the summer.  We lose our built in community, so you have to intentionally create it for yourself.  Reach out to people.  They need community too.

Do something creative with God.  Get out of your box.  Take a risk and include God in the process.  Paint something, create something with your hands, design something.  Do it without the pressure of perfection.  Just let God create through you.

Those were some things I like to do to connect with God, but there are so many other ways.  

I also want to say that your life wasn’t meant to be compartmentalized into “God things” and “regular life things.”  Literally everything you do, God is involved in it.  So everything that you love about summer, beautiful landscapes, yummy food, driving with the windows down, God wants you to enjoy those things.  He delights in the fact that these things give you joy.  So practice bringing God into the simple things you delight in by simply thanking Him.  

Summer is a special time with God.  There’s less distractions.  All you have to do is look at Him, and He’s there, excited to spend time with you.  

Author | Sam Forbes

 The Most Precious Claim

The Most Precious Claim

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

Jesus released cultural whiplash with those two words.

The Jewish leaders started looking for stones to throw at Him. To them, what Jesus said was blasphemy against God. To those who trust in Him, it is His most precious claim.

The Pharisees knew exactly to what He was referring. In Exodus 3, God called Moses to go and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt. Moses asked God, “who should I say has sent me?” God replied,

“I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14).

I AM - by giving Himself this name, God was declaring Himself eternal, completely self-sufficient, and uncaused. There was none before Him and He is forever. When Jesus took the name upon Himself, He revealed Himself to be God and claimed His very nature.

This claim supports the start of the gospel of John, in which John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2).

The Greek word here for “Word” is logos. Greek philosophers referred to logos as the “the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning.” It was seen as the force behind all perfection and harmony in nature. They spent their lives trying to find/define/pin-down logos. Some believed it to be a set of rules, while others thought it may be the feeling of happiness itself. For the Jews, it was the law of the Old Testament. Regardless, they agreed that the ultimate goal in life was to align with this logos.

Enter Jesus - who broke the rules, shirked His own feelings, and gave His very life to be with you.

The logos - what we are to align ourselves to - is not a set of rules or a fleeting feeling, it is the person of Jesus. For, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:4). He is God - the perfection and harmony behind nature, the source of life, the unchanging, eternal force of existence itself - the “I AM.”

He entered into His own creation that we may align with Him. He came to take our scramblings for self-righteousness and give us Himself - the source of perfection.

And as we see with the Pharisees in this passage, He does not please the world or what is left of the world in us. He denies what we know to be true and flips our little worlds upside down.

Dallas Willard said it best in The Divine Conspiracy:

“He comes where we are, and he brings us the life we hunger for. An early report reads, "Life was in him, life that made sense of human existence" (John 1:4). To be the light of life, and to deliver God's life to women and men where they are and as they are, is the secret of the enduring relevance of Jesus. Suddenly they are flying right-side up, in a world that makes sense.

Call off the search. Stop chasing after rules, regulations, formulas, and feelings that come and go like vapors. Embrace Jesus as I AM. Enter into a living, breathing relationship with the true, eternal Word.

Jesus,

You are I AM. Thank you for entering into my mess and embracing me. Help me let go of trying and striving and scrambling. I want to cling to You. Amen.

Author | Claire Jordan

I Am Who I Am

I Am Who I Am

Do you ever get so caught up in just trying to figure everything out? Because for me it seems like that is a constant state of being… I get so caught up in trying to understand all of the details that I make everything so much harder than it needs to be, or I miss the beauty that is in the simplicity of sitting with God. I am in a book study right now and someone made a comment that hit me hard - they said “we always talk about having a peace that exceeds understanding, but in order to have that peace we must give up our belief that it is our right to understand.” You see, sometimes in God’s kindness He gives us details in order for us to understand, but sometimes He is asking us to trust Him and believe that He is who He says He is; and out of that comes this peace rather than our ability to understand.

I think, in a way, this is the tension that Moses is sitting in when He meets God at the burning bush. When God first calls out Moses’ name Moses is eager and ready to meet with God replying “Here I am.” But when God gives him the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses begins to let his mind get the best of him. He questions God, saying “who am I that I could do such a thing?” He begins to doubt himself. When God tells him that He will be with him, Moses then gets concerned and says “oh but if they start asking questions what do I say? How will I make it clear that you are the one doing it?” (this is me paraphrasing of course) And at that God replies “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites; ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 Moses was sitting here questioning every detail, but it was always as simple as God declaring who He is. Once Moses took Him at His word and stopped trying to figure everything out on His own, God orchestrated it all together for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt.

This summer, while on a mission trip, I was sitting down having my time with God and I sat there so confused. I said “God, I came here in faith because you clearly told me to. I am having a great time and the people are amazing, but I still can’t figure out why you had me come here. Am I missing something? Do I need to look harder? Do I need to do more?” After a few minutes of silence and more confusion it became abundantly clear. God gently replied, “Tori, relax. Just slow down for a minute and take it all in. Look around you and see where I am. You are just going through your day going from thing to thing and you are doing a great job getting it done, but today look for me in the mundane tasks. Look for me in every activity, conversation, location, etc. I am here. I am doing so much more than you think, I am in the subtle things. All you have to do is breathe and look around to see that I am all that I am.”

You might be asking what all of this has to do with God and His declaration of “I am.” It actually has everything to do with that statement. We know the character of God to be a good, loving father. We know Him to be provider, healer, the one who sees us, the one who is near, almighty, all powerful, king of kings, etc. He is all of these things – and because He is all of these things we often overcomplicate who He is, when He simply IS. It sounds weird, but Yahweh just IS all of these things. Once we give up our right to try to understand this, we can begin to build this trust with God because we will simply get to know who He is at a personal level. When we try to psychoanalyze everything about who God is, we miss the chance to know Him in the ways that He wants us to see and trust Him.

In my time in Nashville, God wanted me to see him as near, ever present, and always moving in the stillness. At the burning bush, God wanted Moses to trust that He is a God of His word, that He will pave the way, and that He will always be with Moses.  Sometimes it’s okay to step back from all of the details… and trust me I LOVE the details… but sometimes it’s more important to see the bigger picture and just relax for a minute while God launches everything into action. Sometimes the details are too much for us to handle, so in God’s protection we aren’t given them right away. That is why Moses only saw God’s back through the fire and had to get on His face, the details of God’s glory are too much for us to handle.

It all comes back to trust. I know that trust can be really difficult with people, but I also know that it can be extremely easy with God. God doesn’t change. He was, and is, and is to come. He will always be who He is. So take heart in knowing that no matter what happens around you on earth, God is Yahweh, the ultimate I am. You can always trust Him because He isn’t going anywhere and His deepest desire is simply to know you and connect with you.

Author | Tori Kramer

To Be Exposed.

To Be Exposed.

Nakedness is not a bad thing. We come into the world unveiled before Him, humanity's exposure to the Earth in it's very first breaths took place in exposure, and all of God's creation thrives unashamed in His glory. The trees, the flowers, the rocks-- everything cries out for Him, unashamed, knowing that He is their creator. So, why is it that we cover ourselves so much?  

Spiritually speaking, we do this because we are afraid.

 Fear is rooted in the false mindset that God is not inherently good. In seasons where we let fear dictate our thinking, we let the fear drive us to believe that He isn't trustworthy and that He will never complete the things that we think He has been saying to us, what He says in scripture, or what He says through people. Sometimes, we are afraid of what He thinks about us.

In addition to the mental chaos, we aren't only afraid that God isn't who He said He was, we are also afraid of people. We are afraid of what they may think, we are afraid that they will hurt us, and we are afraid that we are not good enough for them. In that same place, some of us are even afraid of ourselves. We don't trust our own decision making, we are afraid of leadership, and we are afraid of voicing our own opinion.

I am in an exposing season of life right now where fear is very literally being ripped out of me. To be frank, I really don’t like it. Everything in me wants to run and hide somewhere in isolation, or I have inclinations to cover up and be short with people and the Lord. Stiff arming and self sufficiency is never the answer, I can attest to that over and over again. Being fully exposed before God and others is exactly what I need so that I can be full with Him and full with people. 

For me, letting go of fear looks like being vulnerable with people when I don’t feel like it. It means letting others who are wiser than myself look at me and call me into higher and deeper places. It means expressing exactly what I am feeling and what the Lord is speaking to me no matter the audience. It means being unapologetically myself in my relationship with the Lord during worship, during prayer meetings, and in meetings with people.

In recent months, I have found myself with waterfall tears covering my face just about everyday due to transitions that are taking place in my life and the lives of the people I care about most. On the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, I have also found myself in the same predicament thanking the Lord for every single miracle, delivery, obstacle, and revelation that we have seen together this past year. Then, there have been times of compete joy and excitement for what He is doing in the moment and what is to come. I have trembled in tears, I have trembled in holy laughter, I have trembled in passionate anger, and I have trembled at the glory of His presence over and over again. I am coming to realize that my emotions are very very good and they expose me to what is happening deep within my spirit. However, they are in submission to me. I get to dictate what I believe is true in the midst of them. Yes, the days are unpredictable, but at least I am not numb anymore. Over and over again, I will say yes to fear being exposed within me and being unveiled before the Lord.

Love is worth the risk every single time.

Let Him be the anchor in times like these. No matter how I am feeling, all I want is Jesus and every single thing that He is, even if that means dying completely to myself. I choose to trust that He is who He said He is. I choose to believe that He is good. I choose to let Him guide my life with the Spirit inside of me. I choose to trust myself, what I say, the decisions I make, and the people that the Lord put in my life to help guide me. I am no victim.

When I let go of fear, I find myself in peace and completely rested in God. The truth is the anchor that stables me, and when I feel like my clothes are being ripped to shreds, I know He is standing right beside me and is whispering, “everything is going to be okay, it doesn’t matter what they think.” I just know that I can’t hide, because no one will be able to see me. People won’t be able to know me. Recently He told me this when I had several conversations with people that initially intimidate me. He said, "Let them look at you. You have things to offer them.” Wow. What a humbling moment to know that I have things to offer the people that I aspire to be like one day. I can also look at the people who have hurt me with the same eyes and know that I am a mess just like they are and probably even more so. 

While He is teaching me exposure, He is also sweetly guiding me into wearing that royal crown that He bought for me a very very long time ago. Slowly, He is replacing my nakedness with a dress, sparkling with jewels. I Never take it off. It’s my identity. Royalty is what I am called to walk in no matter where I am-- the gas station, jittery joes writing this very blog, or praying over people at Wesley. I have keys to Heaven, a crown of beauty, and a royal dress that was made by Him.

 He is inviting you to put it on as well. Ask Him what He is giving you instead of what is keeping you from the depth of who you are. Ask Him what needs to be exposed in your spirit. I promise, He is more than willing to take the grave clothes you put on every morning. You were created to be free and wear the finest of fragrances and fabrics. Let Him free you. Let Him clothe you. Let Him be the one to tell you who you are. 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. “ Isaiah 61: 1-3 NIV

Author | Emily Helton

A Life Proclaiming Redemption

A Life Proclaiming Redemption

“and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.”

-Isaiah 61:3

If there is one thing that I have become absolutely convinced of in my past 21 years, it is that Jesus is better than we think at any and every turn of our lives. He gives a hopeful alternative when the world simply hands us an awful card or when people around us make decisions that hurt us whether that be a bad breakup, your parents getting a divorce, a close family member dying, etc. With God, there is always more to look forward to, because he is never done with us. God persists. When the world teaches us to back down, Jesus teaches us to step forward into our Father’s arms who is eagerly waiting on us.

God is always looking for an opportunity to redeem, it is in his very nature to redeem. Redeeming something literally means to “compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something.” God does not just compensate for out faults but instead goes one step further and makes us beings blameless in his sight, covered by the blood of Jesus. There is never a situation that is outside of the reach of our God. God makes the impossible probable. He takes something as lifeless as ashes and turns them into beauty. He spoke life into dry bones. He split the sea so the Israelites could walk through it. The greatest masterpieces come out of the worst situations. When all light is lost, God can still speak it into existence.

There is purpose interwoven into your story; that in the worst moment you have faced God would come down to pick you up out of the mess and give you a crown of beauty. You were meant to be significant. You carry with you an inheritance that is backed by the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator of the cosmos. Your crown was meant to be on full display for all of creation to see. Jesus gave up his seat, so you could rise up with him. The depth of honor that Jesus showed in that moment should be reflected in us and how we honor those around us. We honor people, knowing that we are worth honoring as well.

We should always meet God in our brokenness. Brokenness is never a concept I have been all too comfortable with for many reasons. The main one is that I thought I had to get it all right before God would even look at me, because I never learned what unconditional love truly means until much later in life than normal. God’s love outweighs the cost of our sin. In fact, our ashes may be the biggest indicator to the goodness of God’s heart. In our failures, God meets us and shows us the everlasting depths of his heart. His love is the deepest thing known to mankind. No storybook romance could ever compare to love of God for his people in that he did not care what it would cost him to get us back, he only cared what it would get him: the possibility of relationship with his people.

Satan’s worst for us will never be able to overcome the goodness God has for us. God’s rebuild on our lives is going to look better than the original design. What Satan meant to shatter the walls will only serve as windows to the goodness of God. God is doing a supernatural exchange in this verse in giving his people joy instead of mourning. He is the only one that can take away the mourning we can get so easily entangled in. His joy speaks of a higher promise, and eternity that was echoed as Jesus rose on the third day. His promise gives us something to look toward, because this earth is not our ending.

There is trust that can happen, because you can rest in the truth that the God you serve is not some distant King that wants to keep his hands off the process. he is the best Father you could ask for that will step down from the highest place, so he can let you have his throne. I am convinced that the Father heart of God is the best way we can experience the presence of God on this side of heaven. He invites you to step into family, he chose you to be a part of his forever story.

You are a living invitation for others to see the goodness of God on FULL DISPLAY. Your story does not scream “MESS,” but it actually proclaims of the Redeemer that lives inside of you now. Live your life boldly, always showing off the Spirit that roars on the inside. Your testimony is someone else’s prophecy.

Author | Cristina Rosiles

What Would Jesus Do?

What Would Jesus Do?

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn” – Isaiah 61:1-2

These verses were first spoken as a promise of who Jesus would be and what he would do as the Messiah, the anointed one. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord promised to us that he would send someone who would come to take care of the poor, the brokenhearted, those held captive, the mourning, the world as a whole. And the craziest, coolest thing about that is that God isn’t limited by time. God sent Jesus physically into the world thousands of years ago, yes, but because he was fully God while he was also fully man, these blessings that have been placed upon him transcend time. These promises aren’t limited to just the people who were on earth while Jesus was alive – God didn’t just guarantee 33 years of healing and justice, then deny everyone else who existed after that point. He promises these things over everyone who has ever and will ever exist. Jesus exemplified these verses in everything that he did – through every miracle, every teaching, every step that he took, he brought comfort, freedom and wholeness.

This anointing isn’t only placed upon Jesus either. Romans 8:16-17 tell us that “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

This means that we are coheirs with Christ – we share the inheritance of God along with him. So, these things that God has promised, that he has anointed over Christ, he also gives to us. We have been given this same anointing that is spoken over Jesus in Isaiah. We have the promise of being able to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim the good news, and set free those held in bondage. I think so often, we get it set in our head that the things Jesus did while he was on earth are things that we aren’t capable of doing – and to a point, that’s right. In our own power, we pretty much cannot do anything Jesus did. But that’s just it – we have the Spirit of God within us, just as the disciples did when the Spirit of God fell upon them in Acts. Therefore, we have the capability to do more than we give ourselves credit for. Paul even goes on to say in chapter 12 of Romans that,

“...we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” (v. 5-6).

Through this anointing that God has placed on our lives, we get the opportunity to use our gifts and talents to make an impact on the world. A week ago, I was asked to write a mission statement for my life. I had to describe why I existed, my purpose in life, who I was with God, and it honestly was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in a long time. But, as I finally typed out what I believed my mission in life to be, I feel like it largely encompassed the essence of what these verses in Isaiah are saying. I talked about being called to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives and that I have an anointing to help walk with them into freedom – and I didn’t even know I would be writing this blog post at the time. I think that sometimes we get caught up in Jesus’ ministry being in the past that we at times forget that we aren’t just trying to fit into cultural Christianity. We are still called to radically change the expectations and the experiences of the world. It doesn’t matter if that looks like full-time ministry, being a stay-at-home parent, or working a 9-5 corporate job for the rest of your life, one part of our calling is always the same: to follow the example Christ set by reaching the lost and the hurting with the healing, saving, and freeing grace of God. So, take an example from that little bracelet we all wore at some point in our lives, and ask yourself:

What Would Jesus Do?

Author | Emma Whitmer

He's Better than We Think

He's Better than We Think

Forgiveness. What is it? I’m sure we can all define what forgiveness is not, but can we define what it actually is? We all have our own definitions of forgiveness, but the bigger question is are we believing what God says to be true about forgiveness? Forgiveness influences every part of our life and if we aren’t grounded in truth we will fall for anything every single time. So, what is the foundational truth about forgiveness?

Truth number one: forgiveness comes straight from the heart of God and is actually an overflow of His character.

You see, we have a God in Heaven who unconditionally loves us. And the word “unconditional” implies that forgiveness has happened along the way. There are no strings attached to the love of God because we could never earn it. He freely gives and all we have to do is freely receive. This unconditional love and forgiveness is the overflow of His character.

“Yahweh, Yahweh, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6 AMP

This is the first verse in the Bible where God reveals His name, Yahweh, which translates to mean, “The LORD.” And right after He reveals His name He also reveals characteristics of who He is for the first time, which include (but are not limited to), compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and truth (faithfulness), and forgiving. Our foundation for God’s character needs to be set on the truths mentioned in Exodus 34:6 because those are the first things He reveals about Himself. He could have said anything, literally anything, and He chose for the very first thing to be compassionate and for the last thing to be forgiving.

Our heavenly Father is filled with infinite amounts of unconditional love and forgiveness and these things are just innately who He is. When you know the character of God you are able to trust the character of God. Imagine trying to know the darkest secrets of a complete stranger without ever speaking a word to them. How ridiculous is that? There is an invitation to know and be known by God and all we have to do is trust that He is true to His character. And in this invitation there are promises filled with compassion, love, and forgiveness just because we know Him!

Truth number two: unconditional love and forgiveness are inseparable.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17 ESV

We have access to the most powerful tools in all of creation, unconditional love and forgiveness, and both of those relate back to the character of our heavenly Father. Not only did God promise forgiveness and unconditional love back in Exodus 34:6, He delivers it in John 3:16-17. And not only does He deliver it, He destroys condemnation in the process. Unconditional love and condemnation cannot coexist—condemnation loses every time. If a knight were fighting an enemy with a sword, unconditional love would be the knight, forgiveness would be the sword, and condemnation would be the enemy. Forgiveness dismantles condemnation because you can’t condemn what’s been forgiven. The same well that holds unconditional love and forgiveness cannot also hold condemnation and it’s important to know that if you are facing condemnation there is always a way out through unconditional love and forgiveness.

Do our feelings always align with this truth? Absolutely not. But the promise is Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it. And how deeply and powerfully does the Father love us?! He sent His only Son—He sent Jesus to die for us so that He could be in relationship with us! HOW RADICAL?! HOW FORGIVING?! HOW FREEING?! We don’t have to do a single thing except receive the unconditional love, forgiveness, and salvation that has already been freely paid for and given.

Truth number three: God’s heart of unconditional love and forgiveness is directed towards us, His children.

“I, only I, am He who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 AMP

Other translations say “It is I who sweep away your transgressions.” The idea behind this imagery is when you sweep something away you forget about it. Once you’ve trashed what you’ve swept up, you’re done with it. You don’t even remember what you threw in the trash to begin with. This very same idea applies to us and how God forgives us. He doesn’t remember our sin and that’s a promise, Isaiah 43:25 reveals that.

I also think it’s important to highlight the phrase, “for My own sake,” in this verse. Why? Because this shows that forgiveness is an overflow of His character and not out of pity or obligation. We already established that forgiveness is innately part of God’s character; so when He forgives us it’s because He actually wants to. His character is to forgive and it will always come from a place of compassion, grace, and unconditional love because that’s just who He is. His character will never change, which means His forgiveness towards His children will never change.

Truth number four: forgiveness applies to you, not just everyone else.

In John 8 there’s a story about a woman who was caught in adultery. The Pharisees, or the religious people, brought this woman to Jesus because adultery was illegal according to the Law of Moses and the punishment for it was being stoned to death. Real crazy I know, but the whole point of the Pharisees bringing this woman to Jesus was to test Him. Because if He disobeyed the Law He would also be arrested and have charges brought against Him. So Jesus looks at the people and basically says you can stone her if you have never committed a sin, which obviously isn’t true at all. We all have our own sin that we have to deal with and the Pharisees knew that. So what did they do?

They walked away one by one and left Jesus and the woman alone. Now here is my favorite part of this whole story.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No, not one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:10-11 ESV

I can only imagine being caught in the lowest of lows during this time and then being brought to the feet of Jesus, expecting to be stoned to death. But instead, Jesus looked this woman in the eyes and said, “I do not condemn you,” or, I forgive you. How life changing that statement must have been for her. In the middle of her shame and condemnation, Jesus invited her into the more He had for her. He was inviting her into freedom and unconditional love. He was inviting her into a life full of abundance instead of a life full of condemnation and shame. And how did she know it was for her? Because Jesus told her! Jesus protected and defended His Daughter, His Beloved, and then He called her into fullness and abundance by forgiving her.

The promises made in Exodus 34:6, John 3:16-17, Isaiah 43:25, and John 8 are as true for us today as they were 2,000 years ago. We are not condemned, we are forgiven. We are the Beloved of God. We are the Sons and Daughters of a good Father. We are unconditionally loved and always forgiven no matter what we do. Once our sins are swept away they’re gone forever. This is the foundation for forgiveness. A foundation that is built on unconditional love and compassion and is the overflow of the heart of a good Father. A foundation that has nothing to do with who we are but everything to do with whose we are.

So here is my hope and prayer: is that you would unconditionally love and forgive yourself the way your heavenly Father does. I pray you would choose self-forgiveness and self-love every day, but especially when it’s hard. I pray you would look in the mirror and see yourself as the Beloved of God because that’s how He sees you. He doesn’t see you for anything besides who He made you to be and the power of His unconditional love and forgiveness far surpasses anything you have done or could ever do.

Dare to believe He’s as good as He says He is—He’s waiting with arms wide open.

Author | Elizabeth Sprinkle