Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.
The apostle Paul’s letters can seem to exude confidence, as they are written with authority and well-meaning advice. Often, Paul wrote about finding joy and clinging to faith even in difficult times, and his verses rank high on many people’s lists of favorite scriptures.
But a number of people don’t know the same man who wrote so passionately about faith penned many of his letters from prison. Paul was once an enemy of Christians (Acts 8:3). Then he had a transformational experience and became instrumental in spreading the Good News about Christ to non-Jews throughout Greece, Rome, and beyond (Acts 9:15, Acts 21:27-28). Many don’t understand he endured great hardship in his life and was arrested, shipwrecked, stoned, tortured, and ultimately executed for his beliefs.
Paul’s words on suffering, having been written by someone who knew suffering intimately, carry much weight. And his deeper points about perseverance in faith weigh even more given this.
Here are five ways Paul’s struggles can help us understand the importance of perseverance in faith.
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The clamor of a me-focused culture can be overwhelming for many Christians, who try so hard to tune out the noise and focus on what God holds dear. But sometimes, culture’s lies can sneak in and confuse us. Part of this is because they make sense to the logical sides of our brain, or they are woven tightly into our upbringing or work-oriented mentality. And, in truth, they often don’t seem so bad.
But each one of them is a lie, for they run counter to God’s instructions and promises for us.
Here, we explore five lies of culture and how to counter them with Scripture.
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Comparison doesn’t lead to joy. It steals our joy. In fact, studies repeatedly show a strong link between social media scrolling and decreased self-esteem and poor self-image—including other problems including anxiety and depression. The Bible warns us repeatedly to be happy with what we have and to shut down any tendency to compare ourselves to others.
If you’re feeling vulnerable and rootless today because of the ever-changing tides of culture and the sweep of violence and sometimes evil that often clutches onto this world, take heart. He was, He is, and He will always be. Hold tight to Him, and everything will be as it should: good, right, and part of God’s ultimate purpose.
We cannot care for others unless we ourselves are in a position to care. When we care for ourselves, we are showing ourselves love, we are honoring the gift of life that our Creator God offered us, and we are equipping our bodies and minds to serve others in a multitude of ways.
As summer brings warm weather, sunshine, and rest from work, many of us will slip away to the coast to enjoy time at the beach. If that's the case for you, consider these five prayers as you stick your toes in the sand.
Whether Jesus is speaking to an unbeliever, a believer grown cold over time, or a church that has lost its fire for Christ, the most important thing to know from this verse is that Jesus wants us—every one of us. He’s there, knocking and hoping, eager for an invitation and acceptance inside.
One of the most basic yet profoundly deep names for God is revealed to us in the Bible as “I Am.” God first revealed this name to Moses during their encounter at the burning bush, just before God called Moses to lead the people out of slavery.
Moses, who saw the bush ablaze but not consumed, had been astounded at the sight and crept closer for a better look. God then called Moses by name, identifying Himself as “the God of your father” and, further, “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).
“I Am” is a powerful, mighty name for God, for as we are told in Genesis 1, God is the creator of all—heavens and earth, darkness and light, and in Revelation 1:8, “the Alpha and the Omega … who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
He is all, everything. The world started through Him and is all according to His perfect and good design.
But many people don’t know there are other, parallel “I Am” statements in Scripture, these all spoken by Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God. Jesus—who is also God, part of the holy trinity that is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—made seven “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John. Each of these teach us something about the open, loving, accepting, and divine nature of the Lord.
What are the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus? And what do they signify?
The seven “I Am” statements all appear in the Gospel of John. In each, Jesus proclaims His essence: I am the bread of life (John 6:35), the light of the world (8:12), the gate (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (11:25), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and the true vine (15:1).
Each signifies a different aspect of His divine nature, and many of them appear to be tied to a miracle or important teaching moment that had just been offered, perhaps as illumination.
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We might “keep the Sabbath” by going to church or not going in to the office. But if we spend the rest of the day knee-deep in work-as-usual, are we truly honoring God’s command or just paying lip service? Here are some ways (in addition to church) to practice Sabbath-keeping in today’s nonstop world.
God made us human, a mixture of emotion and reason. Sometimes, intellectually attempting to understand something helps us know it better in our soul, or vice versa. Questioning God means to ask Him the meaning of something so we understand it better. It helps us wrap both our hearts and minds around the matter.