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Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
— Philippians 2:12
During the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, people came to California from all around the world because they had heard there was “gold in them thar hills.” Apparently some people imagined they would arrive and find chunks of gold just lying around in the streets. Well, there was a lot of gold in California back then, but people quickly discovered that the gold wasn’t as plentiful as they’d hoped. Yes, a lot of gold was in the mines, but it was necessary to work hard and stay with it in order to find that mother lode.
This is the idea the apostle Paul was conveying to the saints in Philippi when he wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). We need to work out what God has worked in. We need to discover what God has done for us.
However, we don’t work for our salvation; we work it out. Salvation is a gift from God. We are told in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So we don’t work for it; we work it out.
Remember, Paul was directing this statement to believers. The idea of working out one’s salvation is referring to living out one’s faith—carrying it out correctly. In fact, the term work out carries the meaning of working to full completion. So we need to carry it to the goal.
As believers, the work of God is in our hearts, but we need to live it out. Like the gold seekers in California’s early days, we need to mine it. That means carrying to the goal and fully completing our own salvation with fear and trembling.
Busy. It’s a word many of us use most of the time—we’re too busy, so busy, very busy, or just plain busy. We’ve got work to do, children to raise, meetings to get to, appointments to keep, friends to connect with, spouses to love.
So how to we stay connected to God even when our lives swirl around us at a rapid pace? How do we keep Him central in our hearts and minds while we live our very busy lives? Here are a few ideas for staying close to Jesus even when life gets crazy:
Start with Scripture.
My goal is to read the Bible every day—early in the day—so that everything else I do is seen through the Biblical lens of reality. Reading the Bible is one thing that keeps me grounded in truth and connected to God. I have found, for me, that when I start my day in the Bible, my heart and mind are better prepared to respond to God’s presence throughout the rest of the day—and I usually find that I am kinder in my responses to other people and more gracious with myself.
And yet, even though I know how important it is for me to read the Word in order to stay close to God, it is surprising to me that something so simple can be so difficult to do on a consistent basis. So get creative if you need to. Do you commute to work? If you’re driving, listen to the Bible on audio. If you’re sitting on a train or on a subway, read the Bible on your phone or carry a pocket version of the Bible with you.
Listen to Truth.
There are a lot of voices swirling around us every day—voices that tell us we aren’t good enough, that we have to find love for ourselves, and that we need to be more attractive and make more money. If I listen to those voices too long, I get sucked into those lies. So I seek to fill my head with music and words that keep me focused on God throughout the day.
If you’re reading this, there’s a high chance that you have access to an incredible amount of Christ-centered media options. Podcasts that point me back to Jesus in the midst of a crazy world, music that focuses my attention on Him and sermons that keep my mind grounded in truth—these are the types of things I try to fill gaps of free time with. They help me remember that in Christ, I am loved and that I have all that I need—things I constantly need to hear.
Pray Throughout the Day.
It is important to have regular time set aside to pray, but as in any relationship, ongoing communication is important. I often pray in shorter bursts while I’m driving, or while I’m walking across campus to my classroom, or while I’m picking up toys in the house.
I had a professor in college who prayed for a particular person each time he turned on a light switch, and I love that idea of partnering normal, daily actions with intentional prayer. It keeps our hearts in conversation with God and invites Him into the normalness of our lives—which is right where He already is.
Pause When You Feel Overwhelmed.
In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
But it’s difficult for me to receive God’s peace if I’m so busy that I don’t make time to stop, even briefly, and ask for His help. And so this whole idea of pausing is an important one for me. There are often multiple times each day where I can start to feel overwhelmed, anxious or concerned—usually about things that are outside of my control. If I actually take time to pause and turn to God when these moments come, rather than letting fear or anxiety overtake me, I find that He is always offering me his peace, which is bigger than any fear.
I also have a couple of friends who I text if I’m feeling overwhelmed—I ask for their prayer and sometimes for their advice. What I’ve learned is that the time it takes me to pause and pray and ask for help is always shorter than the time it takes me to be worried about something for another five minutes—or five days!
Invest in Relationships That Help You Love Jesus.
In order to live any life—let alone a busy life—that still has God at the center, I need people who are close to me to help me stay focused on Him. That doesn’t mean that all of our friends need to be Christians—far from it. It does mean, however, that we should aim to have a few deep friendships that flow out of a common love for Christ.
These are the friends in my life who challenge me when I’m living in a way that doesn’t line up with what I say I believe. These are the friends who offer to pray with and for me when life feels out of control. And these are the friends who bring me food when my kid is sick and bring me coffee when I’m too tired to make it for myself.
These are the friends who show me how Jesus loves me even when I don’t feel lovable—and they point me back to who God is and the truth that living with Him at the center is worth everything.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/when-youre-too-busy-connect-god#asakfh4sqzoERqlg.99
So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— Romans 5:21
There is a game I like to play with my granddaughters that I call Squiggles. I will tell them, “Just put down anything you want on a piece of paper. Make any line—just a little drawing. I don’t want it to be anything.”
So they will draw some crazy little lines. Then I will take their squiggles, their lines on paper with no rhyme or reason, and I will turn them into something. Usually it’s a funny face or a character.
In a much greater way, God can do the same for you. Maybe you have messed up. Maybe you have made a mistake and have done a wrong thing. Guess what? We serve the God of second chances. So you can come to Him and say, “Lord, I have really messed up. Can you help?”
His answer is yes. God will come and redeem the mistakes we have made.
Even Christians can wander away from the Lord. Even Christians can make bad decisions and do really bad things. We are effectively capable of doing anything, even as followers of Jesus, because we still have free wills and old natures. However, if you are a true Christian, even when you have blown it or gone astray, you always will come home again.
Hopefully you will learn from your mistakes. Hopefully you will not go and repeat them again. Hopefully you can fail forward, which means learning from your mistakes, determining to live a more godly life, and helping others not to fall in the same area.
The good news is that God can forgive you and give you a second chance. He will complete the work that He has begun in you (see Philippians 1:6). So even if you have messed up, God still can turn it around.
They did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.
— Jeremiah 7:24
My dog practices selective listening. When he doesn’t like what I am saying, he acts as though he doesn’t understand me. If he is in my room at bedtime and I tell him to leave, he looks at me as if to say, “What?” It’s as though his hearing is gone. On the other hand, he can be asleep behind closed doors, and if I go downstairs, open the cupboard, and pull out his leash, he suddenly has supersonic hearing. He is right there at my side. When he likes what I want him to do, my dog hears and obeys me. But when he doesn’t like what I want him to do, my dog doesn’t hear and doesn’t obey.
We can be the same with God. When God tells us to do something we like, we say, “Yes, Lord!” But when He tells us to stop doing something, we say, “God, I think you’re cutting out on me. There’s too much static. I’m not hearing you clearly.”
Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). He didn’t say, “You are My friends if you do the things that you personally agree with.” God has told us in His Word how we are to live. It is not for us to pick and choose sections of the Bible that we like and toss the rest aside.
If God tells you to do something, He says it for good reason, and you need to obey Him. If God says not to do something, He also says it for good reason. Even if you don’t understand it, obey Him.
Hope you had an amazing Christmas with family and friends! The VSM leaders have missed you guys and will miss you another week! Just wanted to give everyone a reminder that Winter camp is coming up quickly. This is something you DO NOT want to miss! Get signed up and get money in and get ready to have a good time. This cold weather is a great sign because it means we will most likely get snow! (Yes real snow) DO NOT miss this event. If money is an issue talk to one of us VSM leaders and we will figure something out. We love you guys!
Hey guys! so stoked about our new website! it is still a work in progress getting information and content on so please be patient with us. If you have anything you want to see on the new website just go ahead and comment to this post. The blogs will just be encouragement for you guys throughout the day. The devotionals will be up within a week or so to help you guys apply what you are learning. Hope you guys like the site!
What does it mean to have faith? This word is tossed around often within today’s society. So what is faith? Faith is the ability to envision what needs to be done and to trust God to accomplish it even though this may seem impossible to some people. You will come across two types of people considering faith. First, you will run into the person who is going through a difficult situation that seems impossible and will just be ready to give up. Second, you will run into the person who is in the same type of scenario but instead of giving up they will trust God in their difficulty. These people are usually known as the visionaries who dream big dreams, pray bold prayers, and attempt to accomplish incredible things for Jesus. These people tend to be optimistic, hopeful, persevering, and future-focused. These people also tend to be very convincing about the truth of Scripture because they themselves are so convinced of the truth and power of God and his Word. So the question for you is which person are you? The first person or the second person?
Faith is seen very often throughout scripture. The first that comes to mind is the life of Jesus. In one sense, the life of Jesus and his ministry can be summarized as one of faith because he continually trusted in God the father in all things. Faith can also be seen within the life of Paul the apostle, which is seen in the book of Acts. Stephen is also known as being “full of faith” (Acts 6:5). Mary was a woman of faith shown within scripture by trusting in God to give her a child even though she was a virgin (Luke 1:26-38). Scripture also has the “Hall of Faith” I like to call it in Hebrews 11. This gives many more examples of people throughout scripture who have displayed a life of faith.
Furthermore, the Christian today is called to a life of faith. There has to be faith since none of us were the twelve disciples who were with Jesus and seeing Jesus do many miraculous signs and wonders. The faith of a believer is trusting in the gospel message of what Jesus did during his time on earth as well as his crucifixion and resurrection. We are called to have “child like” faith. We are to be like a child who trusts their father in wherever the father may lead. The father is not going to lead their child into danger. The father is going to look out for the best interest of his child. The same is with God and us the father. My encouragement to you is to have that child like faith and have faith that in whatever situation you are in, God will be there alongside of you and guiding you.