An Uncomplicated Guide: Who is Paul in The Bible?

Have you ever run into an old friend or someone from your past and you didn’t recognize them? That is how it was with Paul. Click to read this uncomplicated guide; Who is Paul in The Bible?

Thank you so much for reading the posts about our identity in Christ. I have so enjoyed putting this blog series together and I hope you have enjoyed it. Today, I have another guest blogger, Natasha Smith, who shares an uncomplicated guide: Who is Paul in the Bible?

Natasha Smith is a wife, homeschool mom, and North Carolina native who loves Jesus. She is passionate about sharing her life experiences and biblical perspective to “Inspire you to do life better” through faith and with Intention. To learn more about her, you can find her at lovelyyoublog.com and Facebook. You can also find her bio at the end of the blog post.

a picture of two people walking near the water. Next to the water there are the words Who is Paul in the Bible?

Who is Paul in the Bible?

Have you ever run into an old friend or someone from your past and you didn’t recognize them? Like there were some things that were familiar, but something was definitely different about them.

Or have you ever looked back in your own life and thought, I don’t even recognize myself?

I’ve been there.

I had left behind a career of over a decade to homeschool our children. And it somehow grieved me. And I was challenged for the first few years.

I felt, with each passing year, that I was losing myself. Like I did not know who I was.

It wasn’t until later that I realized I had placed so much of my identity in my career. Instead of placing it in Christ.

So, I believe that sometimes it takes an “identity crisis” of sorts, in order to realize that our truest self, that our truest identity can only be found in Christ. The one who created us and the one in whom we were made for.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16

But this is what we find has happened to Paul in the book of Acts.

Paul Changed

People who encountered Paul noticed that something had changed about him..

“But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Acts 9:21

There was something different about Paul. What was it?

Paul’s identity in Christ had changed because of his heart being changed. It all begins with his life as Saul.

Paul’s old self

In Acts 9, we find Paul has been continuing to make threats. He was arresting Christians of that day, having them imprisoned and even witnessing them being killed.

Then we know, the story continues that on Saul’s way to Damascus, “suddenly” a light shined on him from heaven.

Paul fell to the ground and heard a voice.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. Acts 9:4

God’s Grace toward Paul

Saul must have thought, I’m about to die. God is surely going to kill me.

Paul deserved to be killed on the spot. He had killed many Christians. If we knew Paul and saw what He did to others, I am sure we would have condemned him to death.

But God had other plans.

The story goes to tell how Saul being struck blind, later receives his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the start of Paul’s identity in Christ.

Acts 9:6-19

6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Paul’s Identity in Christ

What we find in this story is the goodness of God “leading” Saul. Paul’s identity in Christ changed through a heart change.

Paul could not have changed on his own. He needed the power of God in him to make the change.

After everything that Saul had done, God could have chosen to just strike him dead, but he didn’t.

Because it is never God’s goal to kill us. But it is his goal to reach us.

And it is God’s intention, that every person experiences a change of heart towards him. Which in essence is a changed identity in Christ.

Let’s look at how Paul’s identity in Christ happened and how it can relate to us.

  • God’s voice from the light leads Saul to ask who God is. And maybe you have experienced this. Something happened in your life that brought an awareness that God is real. And that God is good.
  • Saul was led by those that were with him to Damascus to see Ananias. As God is leading you to a change of heart, there will be others along the way. These people are ones that God has strategically placed in your path that will help you. Or maybe you are being led by God to read out to others. Remember that there are many “jobs” to be done for God. Some planted, some watered but God gives the increase.
  • Saul was led to a change of heart. Being healed of his blindness signifies his conversion from Saul to Paul. A complete change of heart. A change to his identity in Christ. Maybe you have a dark past that you are ashamed of and think that God could never forgive you. That is a lie! Just remember Paul and all that he did. God still forgave him and used him in a powerful way. If you are still alive, there is time to turn away from sin and towards God.

Lasting Change

We know Paul had a lasting chance of identifying with Christ based on some of his last words found in the new testament.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

So, may we be found as Paul has stated “Not I, but Christ that lives in me”. May we be found in Christ. And Christ found in us.

A heart change, an identity in Christ.

In the comments below, share your thoughts on Paul’s identity in Christ. You can also share how God has changed your heart.

What it Means to be a Child of God

I am so excited to share this blog post with you. It is part of my series on our identity in Christ. Today’s post is written by Cathy McIntosh. She is an author, speaker, and blogger.  Cathy is passionate about helping women nourish their spirits and pursue their calling to follow God. Today, she shares with us what it means to be a child of God.

To learn more about Cathy, read her bio at the end of the blog post, or connect with her on her blog cathymcintosh.com, Instagram, or Facebook.

A picture of a woman sitting on a couch. Beside the picture are the words what does it mean to be a child of God?

All at once, our world shifted. One moment we were living the blessed life, hard at work, and pursuing our comfortable, daily routines.  The next moment we found ourselves in isolation, reading headlines that spur fear and anxiety.

We watch for God to move through this trial. We hope to see His power and might,  but instead, we see very little obvious involvement. As His children, we wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” Our unvoiced concern is “Has He abandoned us?”

In times of trials and crisis, a steadfast knowledge of what it means to be a child of God can be the difference between conquering a fear or succumbing to it.

Knowing what God says about us as His children can secure our faith when it seems the world has gone off-kilter. The problem is, we’re familiar with what the Bible says, but its truth doesn’t always transition from our heads to our hearts. 

Determining our value

Instead of resting in the truth of what God says about us as His children, we assess our personal value based on what we do rather than who we are. Even in our slowed world, it’s hard to be still because we see so much that needs to be done.

  • employers want us to work from home,
  • schools want us to coach our kids through online curriculum,
  • we’re to keep those same kids entertained without the benefit of neighbourhood friends or fun, local destinations
  • the result of panic-buying leaves us to create healthy family meals with missing or unusual ingredients
  • we must keep our homes—and our hands—cleaner than ever to avoid illness
  • we long to offer help to those in need

In many ways, it feels too much to bear. How we know we should feel is drastically different from our raw emotions.

We easily identify with the Apostle Paul when he declared in

Romans 7:15 (CSB), “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate.” 

We hate feeling fearful and the idea of working to earn God’s favour. Yet that’s just where our thoughts and our emotions land.

We want to walk in unshakeable faith, but our anxiety and rampant emotions get in the way.

In an attempt to mask it all, we’re tempted to press into our to-do list instead of pressing into God.  It’s as if we need to prove our worth to help fend off anxiety. Somewhere deep inside we believe if we can accomplish good tasks, it may pull our attention from all the things we know we shouldn’t do. Like worrying and fretting.

It’s imperative to remember who we are in Christ. You can read more about the benefits here.

The struggle to embrace what it means to be a child of God

During a time in my professional life, I worked in a very small office. Our team brought in a new, part-time employee who was highly qualified and a good fit for our team. There was much I liked and appreciated about him, including his commitment to Christ.

Because of my position, I was privy to his employment package. Although he worked part-time, his hourly rate of pay was far more than my own.

His skill set was fairly technical, so I could see the justification in pay. Mostly. What really got under my skin was the benefits package he received. From his hire date, he received 3 weeks of paid vacation per year. After 7 years of employment with the company, I had just recently reached the benefit of 3 weeks of vacation.

As much as I tried to stuff my emotions, I was really struggling. I knew how unprofessional my emotions were. I knew that I had accepted what I was offered when I started my employment and that my employer had fulfilled every promise made to me.

There’s a story about this in Matthew 20:1-16. A landowner hired workers for his vineyard, paying those he hired in the afternoon as much as those who’d worked all day. He asked the disgruntled workers, “Are you jealous because I acted with generosity?” 

I felt that same question stir my spirit and my answer was YES! Yes I was jealous!!

It’s my nature to obsess over situations and this was no exception. I began wrestling with God about my own pride and the truth of His Word. How I knew I should be feeling was drastically different from how I was feeling.

When this man was hired, I felt completely undervalued and taken for granted. It was like my employer had just poured gasoline on a buried piece of hot coal that neither he nor I realized existed. For something so simple to bother me so deeply, I knew I obviously faced a much bigger problem.

Turning to God for help

I’ve learned something very helpful. If I want to identify what triggers certain attitudes and behaviours in my life, I do something radical. I ask God. Straight out.

So I asked the Lord why I was so wrapped around the axel over this situation. In time, he revealed a battle I’ve fought for ages: the temptation to estimate my own personal value.

As I asked God to reveal the problem, He stirred memories in my heart. I could finally see that I learned to believe that my value is derived from things I produce, my grades, my success, my pay.

While the battle hadn’t raged to this degree before, God helped me see that it wasn’t a new problem. I struggled with personal value many times before.

It was prompted by things like

  • The schoolmate who stopped being friendly when I started covering my paper during a test
  • Struggles with a college organic chemistry class when I couldn’t earn an A
  • Below-market pay for jobs where I pour out my energy and talents
  • An awkwardly absent “thank you” at the completion of a big project
  • An overall sense that some appreciate what I do more than who I am

That flare-up seemed far worse than normal. It felt much harder, lasting far longer than I believed it should.

For some reason, I struggled to grab hold of the truth long enough to walk in it. Just when I’d think I started to grab hold, it all slipped through my fingers.

Then God reminded me of another powerful truth: I am created in His image (see Genesis 1:27). Thinking negatively about myself meant I was thinking unfavourably about what God has created in His own image.  He showed me the incredible power of thoughts.

The power of thoughts

Yes, thoughts are powerful.

What we believe about ourselves is powerful. Declarations are powerful. Negative self-talk is powerful.

So it’s time to change the way we think, believe, and ultimately behave as it comes to our personal value.

You and I are beloved children of God. He tells us so in His Word and now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we embrace that truth.

I believe as women we all need to hear that we are enough, even before we accomplish a single thing. We need the reminder, especially in times like these, that God sees us and He knows us by name. His love for us never falters, regardless of how we feel or the number of new experiences we don’t accomplish perfectly.

When I wonder who I am, the Holy Spirit reminds me to Whom I belong. I am a child of God and I am His. And so are you. Consider what God’s Word says about what it means to be a child of God.

Scripture about Our Identity in Christ

Isaiah 49:16 Look, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

Romans 8:4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  

Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ;

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favoured us with in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:11 In Him we were also made His inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. walk as children of light-

Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. 

Philippians 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Declaring what it means to be a child of God

In my own struggle, I needed to do more than reviewing or even memorizing these verses. I needed to declare their truth over my life.

I created notecards with bold declarations from the Word of God that I could speak aloud and remind myself what it means to be a child of God.

Would you like to have the notecards for your own use? Click here and I’ll gladly share this gift with you by email. They are a proven and valuable resource in my own walk with Christ and I trust they’ll bless you and your thought life, especially during uncertain times like these.  Because you, dear one, are a child of God—loved, known and fully seen. Walk in that truth today, regardless of current situations and trials.

In the comments below, share your thoughts on what it means to be a child of God.

Emmanuel God is with us

As a mom, I never want my children to feel alone. I can’t be in three places at once. I can’t go with my kids to school, or to a friend’s house, and I can’t comfort them in their sleep. There are many places I can’t go to. That’s why I am so thankful that Emmanuel God is with us! He can go everywhere with my kids. He can comfort them when I’m not around.

This week, we continue the blog series about the names of God.

Summer Marrero Cordón shares her thoughts on Emmanuel God is with us.

Summer is a wife and a stay-at-home mom. Summer’s passion is to make the true Gospel known. You can learn more about Summer on her website or in her Bio at the end of this post.

Emmanuel God is with us

As I write this, it’s long past Christmastime. I have put away all the glittery decorations and the joyful tunes of the holiday season are no longer lingering in the air.

It’s been two thousand years since that first Christmas when the Savior was born and was called Emmanuel, but many have wondered over the centuries “Is God still with us?”.

What is the significance of the name Emmanuel?

The meaning of the name Emmanuel God is with us. It was a name given to the prophesied Messiah in 

  • Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel 
  • Matthew 1:23 the narrator reminds the reader of the prophecy in Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel

Through the virgin birth, God gifted man with His only Son, who was also God. It was the first time God stepped into time for an extended stay and dwelt among humans. He didn’t arrive in all his glory. He arrived quietly, and humbly.

This is truly astounding. The significance of the name Emmanuel should give us all goosebumps.  

The holy, eternal God of the universe came down and chose to live among evil men.  

He came to save us from the consequences of our sin and offer us eternal life because “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

“By the light of nature we see God as God above us, by the light of the law we see him as God against us, but by the light of the Gospel we see him as Emmanuel, God is with us.”  

Matthew Henry

A picture of an adult hand holding a child's hand. At the bottom of the picture are the words: Discover who God is. Emmanuel God is with us. One Determined life

Why is the name Emmanuel important?

In Old Testament times the visible manifestation of the presence of God was called Shekinah or the Shekinah Glory of God.  

We see God’s presence first in the Garden of Eden where God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day.  

After the fall, God’s presence could only be found between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, when the Law was given to Moses on the mountain and when the people of Israel were led in the wilderness by a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

Shekinah means “dwelling or abiding”.   

So, when we read in John 1:14 about how “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” we see the importance of the name Emmanuel.

When God became man in the incarnation of Jesus, it meant that God chose a path of redemption for sinful man in the most personal way possible.  

Jesus, in veiled glory, fully God and fully man, dwelled among us with the goal to become sin for us on the cross, so that we could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

But it wasn’t just about the cross. Jesus experienced every type of suffering and temptation we suffer today. 

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:18

They rejected Jesus

Not only was Jesus tempted, but He was rejected and ridiculed

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Isaiah 53:3 ESV

For God to dwell among us meant to suffer the things we suffer, to feel the pain of loss. 

It also means He treasured close friendships and felt compassion for those where were sick and for the hungry.  

His divine sight saw through human eyes the hearts of those wandering in spiritual darkness, and he wept.

Imagine being the woman at the well (John 4), or Zacchaeus the tax collector (Luke 19), or the rich young ruler (Matthew 19) for a moment.  Sinners having a personal conversation with the God of all creation.  That’s us.  And that’s our Emmanuel.

In the book, God Came Near**, Max Lucado wrote, “There is not a hint of one person who was afraid to draw near [Jesus]. There were those who mocked him. There were those who were envious of him. There were those who misunderstood him. There were those who revered him. But there was not one person who considered him too holy, too divine, or too celestial to touch. There was not one person who was reluctant to approach him for fear of being rejected. Remember that. Remember.”

** This is an affiliate link, please read disclosure policy.

Emmanuel – God with us – is important because in the incarnation of Christ we get a foretaste of eternity with Him.  It’s what God wanted all along:  To walk with us in the cool of the day for all eternity.

Emmanuel God is with us today

Before Jesus was arrested and began his journey to the cross, He made a promise to His disciples.  You see, his disciples, after being with Jesus every day for nearly three years, were troubled by the knowledge that Jesus would leave them.  He comforted them by promising to send a Comforter, a Counselor, a Helper.  

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

That promise was for all believers. 

God is with us because he indwells us through his Holy Spirit, whose role is to teach us, convict us of sin. He comforts and guides us, helps us in our weakness, and intercedes for us.

God has promised that

I hope you’re encouraged today that Emmanuel God is with us. He is with you now and forever. Share your thoughts in the comments.

19 Amazing promises of God verses

In this post, you will discover 19 Amazing promises of God verses. These verses include God’s promise to be with us always, The Lord’s promise to direct us, The Lord’s promise to provide for us, and so much more. It’s important for us to learn these promises and use these promises when we are praying and need encouragement. Continue to read as I share 19 Amazing Promises of God verses. 

19 promises of God verses

1. The Lord takes all your sins away 

  • Ephesians 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
  • 1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • Romans 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

2. The Lord looks at our heart 

  • Titus 3:5  not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

3. The Lord preserves us 

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory
  • Psalm 121:7-8 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

A picture of 3 women jumping up for joy in front of a yellow brick wall. Above them are the words, the best Bible verses, 19 amazing promises of God verses. www.onedeterminedlife.com

4. The Lord is with us 

  • Genesis 28:15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
  • Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
  • Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

5. We become part of His family 

  • John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
  • Romans 8: 14-17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

6. We will spend eternity with Christ in Heaven

  • John 14:2-3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

7. The Lord changes us 

  • Romans 8:10-11 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
  • Ezekiel 36:25-26  Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

8. We have peace with God

  • Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
  • John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

9. The Lord directs us

  • Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

10. The Lord will supply all our needs

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Do you want more?

Do you want to read your bible more consistently? Do you want to know how to study the Bible on your own and know how to apply it to your life? 

You are a Christian woman who is dedicated to living a life for Christ. You want to read your bible every day, but sometimes you get distracted or are too tired to collect all the resources you need. 

It can be hard to figure it out on your own. 

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about The Christian Growth Hub

The Christian Growth Hub is an online, monthly membership focused on helping Christian women read the Bible, understand it, and apply it to their lives. 

The Christian Growth Hub helps you in your faith by: 

  • Providing monthly Bible reading plans so you never have to think about what you’re going to read in the Bible next
  • Giving you on-demand training on how to understand the Bible and new monthly training on how to apply the Bible to a particular area of your life. 
  • Connects you to an online community to give you encouragement, support, and accountability

There are so many more features. Click here to learn more about them, and see what The Christian Growth Hub offers.

a picture of all the products in the Christian Growth Hub

Hope During Times of Struggle: How to Rely on God

Life is full of ups and downs, and there are moments when we find ourselves facing immense challenges and difficulties. It is during times of struggle that we often yearn for a glimmer of hope to guide us through the darkness. In the midst of our trials, one constant source of unwavering support and strength is our faith in God. Continue to read as I share how to find hope during times of struggle.

The episode:

Timestamps

00:00- Exploring Faith and Resilience: A Conversation with Carmen James”
02:15- Reflection on Growing Up in the Nazarene Church and Finding Faith in Adulthood
_:__:__ Reflection on Finding Faith After a Difficult Marriage and Cancer Diagnosis
09:36- Rediscovering God’s Priorities
_:__:__ Finding Faith in the Face of Cancer
14:10- Faith, Hope, and Overcoming Cancer
19:57- Exploring Faith-Based Support During Cancer Journey
25:58- Faith and Overcoming Adversity
30:39- The Power of Scripture in Healing and Encouragement
36:27-  A Reflection on Faith and Miracles
38:38- Trusting the Lord and Cancer Treatment
40:28- Experiencing God’s Presence During Cancer Treatment

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

Hope During Times of Struggle: How to Rely on God

Have you ever noticed that spiritual growth only comes through trials?? I know for me, the times I grow the most in my walk with God is when I’m facing hard things. This is also true for my guest today.

Her name is Carmen, and in this episode, Carmen shares her journey through battling cancer and the profound lessons she learned along the way. Carmen’s story is one of resilience, faith, and the incredible power of community.

Throughout her trials, she discovered a deep trust in God that carried her through the darkest moments. In today’s conversation, we delve into her experiences, the transformative healing she underwent, and the role that prayer played in her journey.

Carmen’s story proves that even in the face of unimaginable difficulties, it is possible to find strength, joy, and purpose.

Carmen’s journey reminds us that our greatest battles can become the catalysts for profound personal growth and transformation. Join me as we dive into Carmen’s inspiring tale, exploring the invaluable lessons she has learned and the wisdom she gained from her encounters with both darkness and light.

So continue reading as we discover how unwavering faith in God can help us navigate the unknown and embrace the healing journey with grace.

Meet Carmen

I was born and raised in the Nazarene church. I grew up in a very strict home. We went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night.

My dad was very big into our church, and very much lived out. His faith has been a tremendous role model for me through the years.

But like a lot of kids, I didn’t grow up loving church. When I went off to college and was obviously out on my own. You know at that age you you’re just exploring the world. You’re out from underneath your parent’s roof and their rules. And my rules at that point didn’t include church and I really started to drift.

Church was not a priority. A relationship with God was not a priority.

I wasn’t in the word of God. I could give lip service because I’d had years of going to church, but going to church is not the same thing as being in a real relationship with the Lord.

And so I got into young adulthood and married, and he was Catholic.

I made that conversion to Catholicism, did that for about 10 years, and learned a lot, but it just wasn’t for me. After our divorce, I continued in the Catholic Church for a very short time and my second husband’s father was well shall we say an atheist.

And so that presented a lot of challenges in our marriage and how I wanted to raise the kids. And I often found myself going to church alone and trying to take three small kids by myself and it was a real struggle and I gave up. I gave in.

And that marriage ended 10 years later.

And so at that point, I was in a space where I felt like I need to get back to church. And so I went back to more of a Protestant church like I was raised in and fell in love and started taking my children because I wanted my children to have that base right.

The person who I’m married to now was not going to church at that time and I just didn’t let that deter me. But what I found over the years was it did start to impact me.

A picture of Anne Markey and Carmen James. Above their names and pictures are the words, Hope during struggle. How to rely on God to thrive amidst cancer diagnosis.

The Importance of being equally yoked

We’re told in the Bible to be very careful about being unequally yoked.

I truly believe that people become like the five people that we spend the most time with. And that impacted me and I found myself again, once again drifting away from church.

So Long story short, five, 5 and a half years ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma stage 3, which is a blood cancer.

For those of you who know nothing about that disease, that illness, that type of cancer, you hear the words incurable when you sit with that oncologist. And that dropped me to my knees. It was a big wake-up call because God had been pursuing me.

Jesus had been pursuing me, and the bells and whistles were going off on the dashboard of life.

I was just choosing to ignore and live my life the way I wanted to live on my terms. And that diagnosis brought everything to a screeching halt. It literally.

My world crashed. It was turned upside down.

In that moment, I realized that I was not in control and that someone else was calling the shots for real and had delivered me something to which I wouldn’t be able to figure a way out.

Because I’m a firstborn. A type A personality, very driven, a control freak if you will, up to that point. And this diagnosis would be the one that I would find myself on my knees begging the good Lord.

The word of God does not return empty

I love hearing testimonies of how as a kid you got to know the Lord and that it wasn’t wasted. Yes, you drifted a little bit, but because of that solid foundation, you went back to it.

I know that as a mom I always worry about whether or not we are teaching them the right things.

But it’s just an encouragement to remember that training our children in The Lord can produce fruit now and/or in the long rung.

Even if they make wrong choices, it’s not wasted. God can still redeem it and can still use it and can still, bring them back.

A Father’s example

The interesting thing behind this is my dad was diagnosed with the same cancer 12 years prior and so I watched my dad walk in faith, never wavered, and really took a hard-line position that he was going to do the aggressive chemo route and that he was going to stand in faith and believe for his healing, believe for his miracle.

He was not willing to claim the word incurable because my dad believed that The Lord is the great physician and if He wants to heal me He will. And if He doesn’t heal me here, He will heal me on the other side.

So it rocked our world when we got the news that Dad was sick and we were shocked. When this sort of thing happens, you start to ask: How did we get here and were there signs that we missed along the way?

At one point I was heartbroken and scared that I would lose my dad. And my dad said, Carmen, I’m going to tell you something right now. Don’t cry. Don’t waste your tears. I’m good. My eternity is secure. And I’m good. If the good Lord calls me home today, I’m good. Waste no tears. I’ve lived a great life.

Do I want to go in this moment? No. But it’s up to God and we have no control. So I will do my part and I will do the treatment.

But if the answer is still no and he takes me home, we’re good. We’re at peace.

And I remember thinking – wow, I’m not at peace and I’m not good with this.

And I wondered why would my God do this to my dad. He was so active in his church and volunteered and, he was always the first one to jump up and volunteer.

When the church was raising money for a project, my dad would stand up and commit thousands of dollars. And I would look at my mom and she would have this like look of horror on her face because she was like, we don’t have that money. She didn’t know where that was coming from, but that was what I learned. Faith and action. And I’m thankful for that. Because as I walked that journey with Dad, little did I know 12 years later, that was going to be me.

Carmen’s Cancer Journey

I underwent the same aggressive chemotherapy that my dad did. I lost all my hair. I was deathly ill.

At that time, I was an entrepreneur trying to run a book of business. So I have no guaranteed paycheck.

I needed to work and I was scared to death. I also recognized that God has already prepped the stage. And I already had a great example of faith.

Now did that great example make it super easy for me to go through that process? 100 % no.

In fact, I had to work through the stages of grief. I had to take my own journey in it and let it play out.

In the 1st 24 to 48 hours of reality really sinking him for me, I remember sitting at the kitchen table. My husband came home from work and sat there bawling. And my husband like, what’s going on?

And I’m like, I am just so angry at God right now. Look what happened to my dad. And now it’s happening to me and this isn’t fair. And why me? And you know the whole- what did I do to deserve this?

I had this anger that just spewed out at me and I remember who I needed to get that out.

I needed to work through that and process all of that if I was going to move forward. And I let the dust settle and I didn’t linger there.

I would say within a day or two I was out of that pit and I was like going to rise up and kick cancer to the door.

Using the pain for glory

But what I would say is there were moments in the six months of chemo and being very sick and trying to hold on to my business. I never ever blamed God, but there were moments when I didn’t see how any good can come from this.

Here’s what I know today, 5 and a half years– I received a phone call that my dad would battle cancer again.

I could not believe what I was hearing and that was hard. But I was like, oh, my gosh, we just, it just feels like we came up for air and we’re going to get hooked under yet again.

Praise God he would come through for my dad yet again. My dad is still here, he’s in his eighties, and he has now beat cancer twice. And what I have come to realize is 2 of the clients in my Virtual Wellness coaching program have found out that they have cancer as they’ve been a part of my program.

And I have one right now who’s about to battle breast cancer for the second time. We have Bible study on Monday nights over Zoom and this particular client has been very active in my Bible study. She nearly lost her husband last year. She’s been through so much. So as a tribe, we call ourselves a tribe. We’re devastated by the news. But we’re not going into battle asking for the victory. We are going into battle proclaiming the victory.

Don’t be afraid to express your feelings to God

The Bible tells us the story of when Lot lost everything. He had these extreme emotions.

And so we see it in scripture.

But then when it comes to our own personal journey and we have these feelings of anger and feelings of things being unfair, I find that most Christians get really uncomfortable with those feelings.

Because you’re not allowed to be angry with Go. I’ve always felt like you like its OK, be angry but go to God with that anger. Express it and get it out on the table. Tell Him.

And so I love that you shared that you share how it’s messy. Our feelings and our faith aren’t always linear, and kind of get muddied up.

But I love that you were able to move. Out of that, into a space where you know you were trusting God through the process and then being able to use that experience to then encourage others.

God trusts us with the story

God trusts us with the story, right? He can’t trust everyone with incurable cancer.

He can’t trust everyone with breast cancer for the second time. But He’s entrusted us because He knows. That we will use that story and He will use it for our good in His glory if we allow it.

And I have been very open, very vulnerable, very raw, very real with my clients about this entire journey, very transparent.

One of the Bible verses that early on in my cancer journey really stuck out for me is from the book of Esther. And that the verse about perhaps, perhaps you were creative for such a time as this.

And in the moment I remember thinking, well, that really sucks. You mean to tell me that’s what this is all going to boil down to, that I was created for this? I mean, what good is going to come from this? What I can tell you is what I’m so passionate about. God has made it very real, the calling on my life. And who and what is my mission field?

And these women that I get to do life with and I get to be their Wellness coach. That’s my assigned mission field.

And I have watched God move inside my client’s lives. I have watched God show up.

When COVID hit, I was in a gym as a personal trainer. So basically all I did was give people great workouts. When COVID hit, I had a choice. At that moment, I prayed about it and I had a certification as a Wellness coach. But I had not used that certification.

God opened the door for me to be able to have an income, to still be able to have a job, because I could move my clients online, turn my business upside down, and go from just personal training to giving my clients workout, faith-based spiritual component, a nutrition component, a stress management component.

We talk about sleep. We talk about work-life balance, which is where I found myself when I had the cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t living in alignment with God’s priorities and there was no number work, life, balance. It was all about work.

My clients get to see me walk that out in real-time. And it’s one thing to sing a song about faith, you know, I’m always reminded of that song, Oceans.

That was such a popular song at the time I was diagnosed with cancer. I know that song because I would sing it and sob. That was my victory song, if you will because I felt like God was taking me into the deep where my feet wouldn’t touch on purpose so that I would become so dependent on him.

And when we’re never called to the deep, we don’t know the definition of faith. We can sing about it till the cows come.

But when you’re fate, when your feet don’t touch the bottom of that ocean and you have to lean on him and not yourself, that is the game changer.

Trials test your faith

I grew up in a Christian home and I thought I had faith. When you face those hard things, it’s the rubber hitting the road.

And this is when you have to decide: is this real?

And I remember for myself, it’s like I could spend all my time angry or frustrated or questioning or anything like that. But if I really believe that God is who He says He is.

I have to choose to trust.

And so it’s always these points where you have that choice.

You have the choice to say no, I don’t know what God is doing, but I trust Him.

Or it’s really a whole bunch of baloney.

But I know that it’s in those hard moments where you see Him so much stronger. That builds your faith.

Why is it the hard things that help us grow? I don’t actually want to go through all those things.

But then on the other side, it’s seeing how the Lord carried me through. He helped me grow. I understand so much more. And so there are these benefits, even though it’s sometimes a circus or a gong show or just a lot of ridiculousness.

We are the proof of God’s existence

If we’re not entrusted with the story and we don’t live it out, how will others really even know God exists?

Because if we can just be cured by modern medicine, which I know God uses medicine why am I doing this if we can just do it without him.

No one’s ever going to believe that He exists or that He is sovereign and that He is in control and He has the bigger picture.

We are the miracles.

When people say to me, I’ve never seen a miracle, I tell them “you’re looking at one”.

God knew that His strong-willed child needed something that would reguire me to need Him.

In the Bible, wasn’t it Paul who had the thorn in the flesh and He kept going back and asked God to remove it. Please remove this. Please take it. And God’s like, no, I’m not taking that away.

Why? Because it creates dependent on him.

Midset is life changing

I’ve learned a lot about mindset. I’ve learned a lot about the battlefield of the mind because that’s where the battle is won or lost.

In most things in life and the enemy very early on. When I was not rooted and grounded in the word of God, when I did not know my identity in Christ, when I did not understand love, not your life, even unto death.

I’m not here for me. I’m not here to just get married and have kids and be glam on run a business and make money and go on vacation.

I’m here to serve him.

He’s not here to serve me.

Standing of the Word of God

I love how practical scripture can be and how it becomes so real in certain circumstances.

When I was younger, I would read scripture and ask, what do you mean? I would think, this makes no sense, and how is this possible?

And then you go through an experience, it clarifies to truth of The Bible.
We know that the word of God can come in and give us life.

How did Scripture help you in your journey?

I’ve shared this story before on a couple of other podcasts. At the time that I was diagnosed with cancer.

I was in a gym, and the gentleman who owned the gym that I was renting space from, he’s a Christian. He’s now an associate pastor at a local church. 1 morning I was sick that morning. I didn’t feel like I look good. and he met me at the door and put his arm around me and he spoke scripture over me and he prayed over me and he did that more than once.

It was a game-changer for me. He was the reason I started going back to church.

God does put the right people in the right places for us. And encourages us.

He was the reason that I got back in my Bible, that I really got back in a relationship with the Lord because he ministered to me every day and he believed in me and he spoke life over me when others were not.

God puts the right people in place

When you hear incurable and people aren’t educated, sometimes they say things that mean and they’re devastating.

He was that one person that would speak the word of God, pray the word of God, and stand in the gap. And it was amazing and I’m thankful for that because. That was life-giving, life-changing.

That was God who put that person right there when I needed them the most. And I really have prayed that God would give me those same opportunities to pay that forward for others to be the one who speaks. Life stands in the gap, intercedes and walks out of the difficult.

And I was so thankful that God put him there.

The Peace of God will wash over you

We read about, you know, and the peace of God will wash over you. And that was going through my mind when you were saying that it doesn’t even necessarily need to be a specific scripture, just the opening of God’s word and speaking it out loud and speaking it over people can bring people peace.

I think sometimes people want to do this, but ask what scripture and you can get hung up on, What do I say? What do I do. Instead of just being, saying- I’m just going to speak whatever words, whatever scripture the Lord tells me to and let God bring the peace.

It’s not about magic words

I was that person early on who I googled healing scriptures. And I’m obsessed. I printed them all off. I started putting them on index cards.

I started trying to memorize them because that was me trying to take control. That was me thinking there must be this magic formula that by praying the right words or memorizing enough scripture that God was going to love me enough that He’s going to come through.

It was never about that.

The other thing that I’ve really learned since then is we don’t have to pray some big, laborious, perfect prayer when it comes to healing because it isn’t about that.

It’s about do we believe, Do we have faith? Do we understand our identity in Christ? And who God is and what He’s capable of.

But then also recognizing there are no perfect words and it doesn’t matter how much we memorize or we could drone on in prayer for 20 minutes. If there’s healing, it’s because God’s organs that God gets the glory. God does the healing.

It isn’t because 10 people laid hands on you and prayed over you. Even though we realizethe Bible tal ks about that. I’m not negating that. I’m simply saying sometimes we get hung up on that.

We worry, did I say the right words. We worry that if we say the wrong words they don’t get healed.

We can also think wedon’t have the magic scripture to give you.

At the end of it all, God knows our hearts. He knows.

It’s not about OUR faith

I want the formula. I want The Lord to just tell me what specific steps do I need to take so that my kids get saved. Lord, tell me the specific steps I need so that …fill in the blank.

You can have the most amount of faith and say all the right things and do all the right things and the Lord still chooses not to intervene.

I remember this instant in the last year at our church. Within the span of one week, two different girls got diagnosed with the same cancer.

The church gathered around both and poured the oil and prayed and laid hands on them both. And one was healed miraculously. She went to hernext appointment and it was gone.

And then the other one walked through the cancer journey.

And I wondered why this one and not this one?

And I know the mom must have been thinking the same thing and it was kind of hard to watch.

We did all the same things, and the results were very different.

But they both walked the road that the Lord had put in front of them. And both of them gave the glory to God.

And thankfully, the second one is now in remission.

That tought me that it’s not about what we do, and what we say. It’s about the Lord. And it doesn’t take a magic verse. It’s just trusting the Lord for His plan, even if we don’t know what that is or agree with it.

Praying through the pain

Carmen had six months of treatment and the oncologist said we’re going to do something called our CHOP. And for anybody who’s been through cancer, you know our CHOP is literally the most aggressive cancer protocol out on the market today and it’s.

It, you know, it knocks you. I mean, I would literally get home and I spend the next 24 hours literally beside the toilet on the bathroom floor, face down, like help me survive, like just get me through the next 24 hours. It was debilitating.

In those moments, I did pray a lot.

I had this one moment when I was walking the hospital floor, I rounded that corner with an IV pole and in the blink of an eye I saw that sun setting and I felt the Lord put his arm around me. And I knew at that minute He was walking that hall with me. His presence was so real.

I just knew he was right there beside me and we would get through it one way or the other. We were going to get through this. I mean, I didn’t know if the kid, if the chemo would work, but I knew he was there. I absolutely knew He was present.

Struggles can take various forms – whether it’s battling an illness, facing financial hardship, navigating through broken relationships, or dealing with the loss of a loved one.

It is during these moments that our faith can be tested and our hope can waver.

However, by seeking a deeper connection with God, we can find solace and renewal even in the midst of adversity.

In the beginning was the Word, and The Word became flesh

One reason I love reading The Bible is for its word pictures and uses of literary devices. Today, we will explore the idea: In the beginning was the Word, and The Word became flesh. What does it mean? What can we learn? Come study The Bible with me as we learn these truths.

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Join me as I go inside one of the Bible study workbooks I’ve created and show you exactly the process I go through to dig deeper into scripture. 

These workbooks were created so that you do one day every day of the week or sometimes five to six days in a seven-day week. But instead, we’re going to take it slow and we’re going to do one day per week for the next couple of weeks.

Following a daily, or weekly bible study workbook is a really good way to dig into God’s word. 

Bible study can be as simple as taking a few minutes every day and answering some questions. 

So the workbook that we’re going to be going through is this one is called. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. It is free for you right now to use, so if you don’t have your copy, fill out the form below this paragraph. The workbook will go straight to your inbox. You can then print it off and join me as we go through it together. 

Verse to Read Today

John 1:14 and the word became flesh. And dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.

In the beginning was the Word, and The Word became flesh

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Bible Study Questions & Answers

1. Who came to Earth to be among us? 

I like repeating things that the Bible says, word for word. So we’re going to say: the word became flesh. 

2. What does it mean when it says: the word became flesh

The Bible uses “The word” as another name for Jesus the son of God. Jesus came down from heaven to earth as a man. 

To rephrase the saying Jesus came down in the flesh. 

The Christian Growth Hub

3. Whose glory was revealed? 

The rest of this verse says the glory of the only begotten of the father. So the only begotten talks about children, and that this has the only begotten. 

So this is the only son that God has. Jesus, we’re going to say God’s only child. Jesus. 

Related Blog Posts

How does Jesus differ from other gods? 

When you read this question, you’re not gonna find a direct answer in the verse that you read. But I want you to take a minute and to think about the other religions that you know about and to think about just one or two things.

That tells you that Jesus is different from other gods. The first thing that comes to mind is that most other gods don’t have children, or if they have children, it’s not their children who are doing all the work. 

Other gods don’t have kids. And then if they do, the kids aren’t the ones doing the work. It’s usually these other gods that do the work and take all the credits.  

This question really makes it so clear this special relationship between God the Father and his son. And that this differs from any other gods that I’ve heard about.

And like I said, there are many religions out there with many gods. So maybe I’m wrong and there are. But for me this relationship. Is really different and completely stands out for me just again. 

This is a reminder that God came down from heaven onto the earth. Which is also very different from other religions. 

Example:

In Islam, it’s a prophet who came down. Another example is some Mormon churches, they talk about prophets that came to Earth and lived a good life.

Whereas in Christianity, God himself came to Earth. And so we can see here just how amazing this piece of the gospel. 

God had sent prophets in the Old Testament. He sends a bunch of prophets to spread the word they don’t listen to them. The people of Israel don’t listen. And so then God sends his own son. God himself comes down to Earth to be with us here, and to live a life like we have, which is amazing to me. And it’s just really encouraging.

Just to take a few minutes and to think about God’s relationship with His son. And Jesus’ willingness to come and to be on Earth and to save us. It’s incredible. 

What have you learned today?

I want you to think of one thing that really you either learned or that stuck out to you. 

Today I’m going to be really thinking about how God himself came to Earth and that special relationship between God and his son. And so I’d love for you just to take a minute. And to think about one thing that stood out for you.

In the comments, I would love for you to tell me what stuck out to you today. Maybe you’ve learned something, maybe a verse just got a new perspective for you. Maybe something really just jumped off the page and stuck in your mind. Or maybe a word. It’s just being repeated in your brain and so whatever that is, I’d love for you to share in the group and the comments below.

A quick Bible study tip for you

Always look for who so who wrote the book, who’s talking and who is the author or speaker talking to. Sometimes when you read Scripture, we assume that the author is speaking to everybody at all times.

This is not always the case, so we want to make sure that we understand who’s speaking and who’s the audience.

It’ll give us just a much richer understanding of what scripture is saying.

Do you want more?

Do you want to read your bible more consistently? Do you want to know how to study the Bible on your own and know how to apply it to your life? 

You are a Christian woman who is dedicated to living a life for Christ. You want to read your bible every day, but sometimes you get distracted or are too tired to collect all the resources you need. 

It can be hard to figure it out on your own. 

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about The Christian Growth Hub

The Christian Growth Hub is an online, monthly membership focused on helping Christian women read the Bible, understand it, and apply it to their lives. 

The Christian Growth hub helps you in your faith by: 

  • Providing monthly Bible reading plans so you never have to think about what you’re going to read in the Bible next
  • Giving you on-demand training on how to understand the Bible and new monthly training on how to apply the Bible to a particular area of your life. 
  • Connects you to an online community to give you encouragement, support, and accountability

There are so many more features. Click here to learn more about them, and see what The Christian Growth Hub offers.

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3 Steps to having Time With God

One of my biggest struggles in life is having a daily time with God. In this post, I give you 3 simple steps to having time with God.

Every year, I would make a new year’s resolution to spend more time with God. And Every year I would fail.

My biggest obstacle was myself. I just made it too complicated.

I thought I needed lots of time and I needed to be . So, I let those things get in my way.

I failed to realize that I was letting all those things get in between me and God.

Don’t overthink it

The biggest thing that has helped me overcome my struggle was to not overthink things.

All I need is a few minutes and a bible.

Yep, it’s that easy.

Related Posts

3 Steps to having time with God

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To read more about this, read this blog post: How to create a Quiet Time with God

Do you want more?

Do you want to read your bible more consistently? Do you want to know how to study the Bible on your own and know how to apply it to your life? 

You are a Christian woman who is dedicated to living a life for Christ. You want to read your bible every day, but sometimes you get distracted or are too tired to collect all the resources you need. 

It can be hard to figure it out on your own. 

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about The Christian Growth Hub

The Christian Growth Hub is an online, monthly membership focused on helping Christian women read the Bible, understand it, and apply it to their lives. 

The Christian Growth hub helps you in your faith by: 

  • Providing monthly Bible reading plans so you never have to think about what you’re going to read in the Bible next
  • Giving you on-demand training on how to understand the Bible and new monthly training on how to apply the Bible to a particular area of your life. 
  • Connects you to an online community to give you encouragement, support, and accountability

There are so many more features. Click here to learn more about them, and see what The Christian Growth Hub offers.

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What is God’s purpose for your life and how to find it

The search for God’s purpose for our lives can be a long and difficult process. The Bible is a guidebook that can help us along the way. It can assist us in the steps we need to take to obey and honour God through the way we live our life. Let’s take some time and see God’s purpose for your life and how to find it.

How to Find God’s will for your life 

As a Christian, my desire is to know God and His will for my life. 

The best place to start is by reading the Bible. It is God’s direct word to us. In it, He tells us who we are, how to get saved, and how to live a life that will glorify Him. 

To learn more about finding God’s will, read the blog post 9 things you should do to know God’s will

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God’s purpose for your life

Even though I have known God for so long, there are still some things that I am working out and some questions that I ask God.

One question that I have found myself asking repeatedly is: what will you have me do and God, what’s next?

So maybe you are wondering about something similar. Maybe you have made the decision to follow Christ and you are wondering what to do next.

Today I want us to discover God’s purpose for your life. There is the specific will of God and the general will of God. Since I can’t know everyone who reads this blog, I can’t speak to the specific will of God in your life, but I can share  3 things that Jesus wants every Christian to do.

1. God’s purpose for your life: Love the Lord

The First thing God wants from us is to love Him and to love others.

Luke 10:27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’ ”

Jesus wants us to Love Him—with every single part of ourselves—heart, soul, strength, and mind – that means that every single part of us needs to be loving Him.

When we Love God- it spills into our lives and helps us do the next part of the verse- Love your neighbour as yourself.

People like to take care of themselves. We feed, cloth, and bathe ourselves. We also don’t cause ourselves pain or hurt. We don’t call each other names. We keep the best for ourselves.

Since these are some of the ways we love ourselves, then loving others means giving people food, water, and clothing. It means that we share with them our toys, house, food, etc.

Take some time to think about the things you do to love others and love the Lord. When we love people like ourselves, we give them a small picture of how much God loves them.

2. God’s purpose for your life: Tell Others about Him

The second thing that God wants us to do is to share all this awesome news that we have.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

This verse makes it clear that we need to share with others Who God is and what He has done.

Some ways we can tell others about God:
  • Tell people what you know about God—this week we have learned so much about God—so when you go home and your parents ask you what you learned- it’s a perfect opportunity to tell them what you learned about God.
  • Invite them to places and events that share who God is- bible study, church, church events, dinner with other Christians 
  • Become a missionary– tell people about God on a full-time basis at home or in another part of the world. There are many opportunities all over the world to share about God.

 

3. God’s purpose for your life: Remember Him

The third thing that Jesus wants us to do is to remember Him.

 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

In the old testament, the people of Israel had a short memory of God’s power. God had led them out of Egypt and showed his power through the plagues. But as soon as the Israelites faced a new barrier, they complained and asked why The Lord was doing this. 

As a child, I was so confused about how the Israelites could see God’s miraculous power one day, and wonder where He was the other. But, as I grew up, there have been many times I have forgotten who God is and what He could do. I let the circumstances doubt my salvation and God’s love for me. 

Because we are so apt to forget Him, He tells us we need to remember Him. He wants us to remember that He died, that He rose again, and that He is coming back one day.

Many churches will have a service once a week that is called The Lord’s supper. This is where people can share about who God is and what He has done and remind each other about His goodness. Other churches pass the bread and wine once a week or once a month.

Why is it important to remember Christ?

As mentioned earlier, if we forget who God is and what He has done then we might become worried, and afraid.

But, when we remember God – who He is and what He has done- then we will have joy, peace, security, hope, and so on. When we remember what God has done, it gives us confidence that He can do it again.

When our oldest daughter was 2 years old, my husband lost his job. At the time we were worried and afraid—so we turned to God and trusted that He would provide for us and He did—so when my husband lost his job again a few years later—we knew God would provide for us again because we remembered He had provided for us the first time.

When we trust God during hard times and see Him work- it’s easier to trust Him with the smaller things- so it’s important to remember all the ways God loves you and provides for you. It helps build a strong foundation of trusting God.

Our lives are a gift from God. How will you live yours?

Do you want more help to know God’s purpose for your life? 

I just shared with you 3 things God wants every Christian to do. This is a great first step in knowing God’s purpose for your life. But maybe you are already doing those things and you are ready to know more. 

Well, I have something that can help. The Grow in Trust Course is a 3-day virtual event to help Christian women stop feeling lost and discover God’s plan for their lives so they can be free to love God and pursue His will. Click here to learn more. 

5 steps to Hearing God’s Voice

It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t know if you’ve heard God. You feel like God has gone silent, but that is probably not the case. God is always speaking and listening. We are not listening or we don’t realize how God is speaking to us. Here are 5 Steps to hearing God’s voice.

A picture of a woman with her hand towards her ear. Under the picture are the words, 5 simple steps to hearing God's voice. www.onedeterminedlife.com

5 Steps to Hearing God’s Voice

1. Identify God’s voice

It is hard to hear a voice when you don’t know who it belongs to. The first step in hearing God’s voice is knowing what it sounds like.

In 1 Samuel 3, God was calling out to Samuel, but he didn’t recognize who it was. Once Eli told Samuel who was calling him and what to say, Samuel responded to God. “And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

At first, Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice. He had to be told who was speaking to him and how to respond. One he knew, he was willing to sit and listen. 

By experience, you can learn to recognize God’s voice when He speaks and to confidently respond to what He says. 

How can we be sure what we are hearing is actually of God?

If you think God is speaking to you, ask Him to confirm so as you study and meditate on the Bible, as you’re alert to the circumstances you encounter, or as you experience the Holy Spirit’s impressions in your mind.

2. Be still before God

It is impossible to hear something when you are always hearing noise around you. When we become preoccupied with the things of the world, we can often miss God’s voice because everything else is taking up our attention. 

We live in a 24 h/day world. We have immediate access to news, updates, and entertainment at all times. When we get bored, the first thing we do is reach for our phones.

We don’t take the time and sit still before God.

The word of God encourages us to stand still in His presence. 

Psalm 37:7 Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

Psalm 62:5-6 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

3. Expect that God will speak to you

We may be in an exciting time where we have access to the Bible in our home language, but that doesn’t mean that we are always hearing what God is saying to us. 

We have to expect and believe that God speaks to us. We have to make the extra effort to listen and to see what God is saying to us.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

4. Recognize that God communicates in many forms

You may have heard that God speaks to us through the Bible and prayer, but did you know He has other ways to communicate with us? 

He talks to us through:

  • Prompts in our mind and hearts: Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
  • Other people: Proverbs 19:20 Listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.
  • Through our circumstances: Acts 16:6-7 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them

God is always there communicating with us; we just need to pay attention.

5. Pray for a greater ability to hear God’s voice

It’s often tempting to try to do things on our own or go our own way. Through many years of following God, I’ve learned that I may not understand the road He guides me down, but He knows and I can trust Him. 

There are many things we will never understand and The Lord encourages us to come to Him and ask for wisdom. 

  • James 1:5-6  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

If we don’t root ourselves in Christ and who He is, we won’t have an anchor and we will jump from one belief to another and won’t have any stability. 

  • Psalm 37:23-24  The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Need more help? 

I just shared with you 5 steps to hearing God’s voice. But, maybe you have already done all those things and need more help. Or, you haven’t done any and feel lost- not knowing what to do first. 

Well, I have something that can help. The Grow in Trust Course is a 3-day virtual event to help Christian women stop feeling lost and discover God’s plan for their lives so they can be free to love God and pursue His will. Click here to learn more.

3 common mistakes keeping you from discovering God’s will

The realization that your relationship with God isn’t what you want it to be can feel discouraging. You might look at your life and wonder why you’re feeling lost and why you can’t apply God’s truth to your life. Today we’re going to go over 3 mistakes keeping you from discovering God’s will for your life. 

You are at a crossroads in your life, and you want to know which direction to go or, you are trying to hear God but aren’t sure what to listen for. 

I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

It’s a scary feeling, but know that there’s always a way to improve and start turning your spiritual life into what you want it to be.

Over and over again I see the same mistakes Christian women make when trying to follow God’s plan for their lives.

A picture of a woman looking up with her hand on her forehead. Above the picture are the words, 3 mistakes keeping you from discovering God's will for your life. www.onedeterminedlife.com

3 mistakes keeping you from discovering God’s will

1. They listen to other voices instead of God’s 

In today’s world, people are surrounded by so many voices. We have thousands of voices that are shouting at us to listen to them. Unfortunately, many of the voices distract us from hearing God’s voice.

Taking the time to know who God is and how He speaks to us is one of the most important things you can do to help you grow in your desire to follow God. 

If you need more information, be sure to check out Stephanie Isaac’s presentation: How to Hear God’s Voice: 5 simple steps to learn how God speaks presentations!

2. Lack the faith to take a step of faith 

It’s hard to take a step of faith. You may not see the outcome, but you know you need to take that step. However, you are afraid of the unknown, and you are afraid of going forward not knowing what you are getting into. 

You need the confidence to take each step by faith. 

To help you take those steps, be sure to check out Stephanie Miller’s presentation called Living Out Your Calling Once God Has Revealed It To You. 

3. They don’t know what steps to take next 

Maybe you are a seasoned Christian, and you know how God speaks to you but you are not sure what steps you should take next. You have biblical answers but need help to apply the truth you know to your life. 

Take some time to learn what area in your life you want direction in and find a presentation that can help you grow in that area. 

Some suggestions are a presentation from Lori Armstrong called Cultivating a Joyful Heart, and Alicia Michelle’s presentation called How to Use the Bible + Brain Science to Better Manage Your Emotions. 

Choose 1 and take action

Look back at the 3 mistakes keeping you from discovering God’s will that we went over, and choose the one that is currently affecting you the most, and take action on it!

And for a lot more help with discovering God’s plan for your life, I have something that can help. The Grow in Trust Course is a 3-day virtual event to help Christian women stop feeling lost and discover God’s plan for their lives so they can be free to love God and pursue His will. Click here to learn more.

We’ve got 18 experts lined up and ready to teach you everything from discovering God’s call for your life, God’s plan for the family, hard times, and more! Click here to grab the recordings from The Grow in Trust Summit today!

 

14 Lies we believe about reading The Bible

Even though I grew up in a Christian home, starting to read The Bible on my own felt intimidating. It looked so big and I told myself that I could never read the whole thing. The Devil wants nothing else than for people to NOT read The Bible. His biggest tool is making us believe lies about the Bible. So, today, I want to share with you 14 lies we believe about reading The Bible, and some facts to prove they are lies.

14 Lies we believe about reading The Bible

1. It’s too hard to understand:

There are many Bible versions out there and some are harder to understand. Like the King James Version. It uses words we don’t know and are not used to.

But, there are other versions out there that are very easy to read and understand.

We have been reading The New King James Bible to our children since they were young, and they can understand many of the verses and the large themes in The Bible.

2. I don’t have time to read it

The truth is that nobody has time for Bible study unless they make the decision to do so. You are not a victim of your situation, despite what the world would have you believe. The pace of our lives is much more under our control than we may be aware of. And we never have too much time for the things that are most important to us. NEVER!

Make a weekly commitment to Bible study and choose a time each day to work toward your study objectives as a way to overcome this lie. However, be careful that your weekly commitment doesn’t exceed what you can finish in a single sitting. 

A picture of a person sitting in a field with a blanket over their lap and a closed Bible in their hands. Above the picture are the words, 14 lies we beleive about reading The Bible. www.onedeterminedlife.com

3. The Bible isn’t true

this is a lie that we see everywhere we look. But, when we take a look at who is saying that, we realize that it’s coming from people who have not read and studied God’s word.

I have a whole video and blog post that shares proof The Bible IS the word of God and that it IS TRUE!  

4. You already know it, so don’t read it.

I have read The Bible many times. Each time I read it, I find a new truth, or it speaks to me in a different way. Passages I think I know, I go back too and realize I missed a detail. Or time and experience give me a new perspective on truths I know.

The Lord is so large and deep and endless. The Bible is just the tip of the iceberg. We will be spending eternity learning about God, who He is and so much more! 

A picture of a table that has a laptop, cup, and blanket. Over that image are the words The Lord is so large and deep and endless. The Bible is just the tip of the iceberg. Anne Markey, www.onedeterminedlife.com

5. It’s boring. So don’t read it.

I thought this when I was young. I would listen to the Bible being read to me and feel so bored. But, as an adult, I see how scripture is knit together and how the whole book covers themes and truths.

I also have many years of proof behind me- my experience tells me God’s word is alive and that The Lord brings me exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it regardless of what passage I’m reading in His word. 

6. I’m not smart enough for Bible study

Ladies, this is a big one for us. The enemy doesn’t fight fairly, and he enjoys giving us a false sense of security. And using lies like this one to keep us imprisoned in a spiritual wasteland is one of his most successful tactics! We need to develop the skill of Bible study. Time and practice are necessary.

And I don’t think we’ll ever fully comprehend everything we read in the Bible. Because doing so would imply that we are able to fully appreciate God’s glory. Never read the Bible on your own to overcome this lie. Find some reliable believers to read The Bible with you through.

Find people you trust to ask questions. For me, it’s my dad. He has read so many books and has studied so much! I can trust his answer to any of my spiritual questions.

 

7. You need to understand Greek and Hebrew to know what it really means.

It’s easy to believe we need to understand Greek and Hebrew to know what The Bible says. This lie then makes us think we shouldn’t bother reading it.

I’m sure knowing the ancient texts helps in certain contexts as we know that some things just don’t translate.

For example: Greek has at least 4 different words for love when we only have 1. In that instance, it’s helpful to go back to the Greeks.

But, we live in a world where translators have done the work for us! They have translated it so we can understand it. 

8. It’s contradictory.

So don’t read it.” The truth is the opposite. Many people who search scripture to fund proof of contradictions step away without understanding the opposite.

There is nothing in scripture that contradicts itself. It all works together so beautifully- it’s a masterpiece. 

A blue and yellow background with text that says, There is nothing in scripture that contradicts itself. It all works together so beautifully- it’s a masterpiece. Anne Markey, www.onedeterminedlife.com

9. The Bible isn’t relevant to my life

The Bible was written many years ago, it’s a big, confusing book, and occasionally the stories seem so archaic. Although we must all overcome these challenges, the Bible remains relevant in spite of them. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness,” according to 2 Timothy 3:16.

Because of this, we can be sure that the Bible has a lot to say about living in the twenty-first century. You won’t like this, but here’s how to defeat this lie. However, in my experience, the only means of dispelling this lie. 

10. Experts disagree on what it means.

So, don’t read it.” The Christian church, no matter what denomination, agrees with 90 percent of the Scripture message. Or even more.

11. The Bible is outdated

Not for our modern times. So, don’t read it. I find it quite the opposite. In Songs of Solomon, there is a verse that says nothing is new under the sun. And it’s true.

There is nothing going on in the world today that has not accrued before. The Lord, knowing this, wrote The Bible to be relevant to any person during any age they live in. I find so much wisdom for me and my family in navigating this uncertain world.  

The Bible is extremely practical. I’ve written a few blog posts that share so much practical wisdom that has lasted the test of time.

12. The Bible is just a bunch of rules

So, don’t read it.” The Old Testament does hold a bunch of laws. But when you look at those laws, it was to keep the Israelites clean, healthy and in good relationships.

There is so much wisdom in some of those laws. The New Testament also tells us that we need to law, to show us how much we can’t follow it on our own and how sinful we really are.

That we ALL need a saviour. The Law actually points us to Christ as He is the only one who lived a perfect life. 

13. No one with intelligence reads the Bible anymore

Only religious fundamentalists and extremists. So, don’t read it.” Some of the smartest people on the planet–including scientists and professors and philosophers read and love the Holy Bible. And they are some of the sanest people on the planet.

14. I don’t need to study The Bible

I don’t know if anyone else finds this lie difficult, but I certainly do! My entire life has been spent as a Christian. I’ve been in the church for more than 35 years. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover several times, and worked in ministry most of my life. I’m fine! I don’t require a daily schedule for Bible study.

This lie has its roots in self-sufficiency and pride, two vices I personally struggle with quite a bit. The issue is that we were not made to live independently, but rather in constant reliance on our Creator.

Do we ever really outgrow the need to spend regular time in the Bible? Never. I find myself so much more emotionally “unstable” when I don’t read my Bible often. 

I know that Bible study can be intimidating. I also know that you may feel you don’t have the time, or you don’t know where to start. I get it. 

That is why I am so excited to invite you to The Faith in Action Conference.

The Faith in Action Conference

The Faith in Action Conference is a FREE 4-day virtual event to help Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive Bible study of Mathew 5-7 & James.

The conference is all about helping Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive into Bible study.

16 speakers over 4 days will help you discover how to live out your faith by looking at Mathew chapters 5-7 & James. These chapters are filled with practical advice for us. Everything from how to treat one another, to marriage advice.

Click here to register for your FREE ticket today!

7 Myths about Studying The Bible

Do you have myths about studying The Bible? As a Christian who grew up in a Christian home, I often take The Bible for granted. I have a hard time accepting that people may not believe The Bible is the word of God and are intimidated by what they hear about The Bible and studying The Bible. Continue to read as I dispel 7 myths about studying The Bible.

7 Myths about Studying The Bible

1. You need special tools to study The Bible. 

There are many Bible study tools out there that make Bible study easier. But, they are NOT needed to study The Bible.

All you need is The Bible and the help of The Holy Spirit. A pen and paper are handy to write things down, but they are not necessary. 

2. Only Pastors and leaders should study The Bible

Spiritual leaders SHOULD study The Bible because they are teachers and examples to others. You should not teach what you don’t know. 

But, all Christians should learn how to study The Bible. 

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:11

Spiritual leaders are just people. They sometimes make mistakes.

It is our responsibility to test what a preacher says against scripture. We can’t do that if we are not spending time in God’s word ourselves. 

A picture of a couple sitting a table together whith a Bible open in between them. Above The picture are the words, 7 myths about studying The Bible, www.onedeterminedlife.com

3. Group Bible studies are not necessary 

We can sometimes assume we can study the Bible on our own. We might believe that we don’t need to study the Bible with others because there are so many materials (both print and online) readily available to us.

Reading the Bible in a group has many benefits! 

The insight and wisdom of other believers, however, is one of the primary ways that God utilizes the Bible in our life, and it is lost when we exclusively study the Bible on our own.

Because the Bible can be complex and layered, there are truths we can overlook while studying it on our own.

When we study the Bible with others, it helps us see more of it than we would if we were studying it alone.

Being in the Word together is one of the many advantages of assembling with God’s people. When Paul instructs Timothy,

“Until I arrive, commit yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching,” he emphasizes this.

1 Tim. 4:13

We should seek out chances to spend time with other believers studying the Bible, whether that be in a small group, adult education class, or some other setting, in addition to giving great attention to the Word being preached on Sunday mornings.

If that sounds like something you want to do, check out The Christian Growth Hub.

4. Bible study takes a lot of time.

Most of us have busy schedules that are full. We feel pressure from difrent commitments that fight for our time and attention. This includes family, work, education, church, and relationships, and others.

Because we believe it takes a large amount of time to study the Bible, it might feel like one more item we don’t have time to for.

Most of us have access to more time than we think. Take into account how much time many of us spend using our phones, checking social media, or watching TV. 

If we really don’t have time to study the Bible, God’s Spirit is still able to use even short periods of time (even as little as 10-15 minutes) to help us understand who God is.

5. You require a difficult procedure.

Some methods for learning the Bible involve a lot of steps and are quite intricate and difficult. These techniques can be beneficial for exploring the depths of Scripture.

However, it is not necessary to be that way. Jesus provided us with instructions on what to concentrate on when reading the Bible. He answered when asked what the Bible’s greatest commandment was:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matt. 22:37–39

According to Jesus, everything in Scripture in some way relates to loving God or loving our neighbour. So one very simple method for studying the Bible is asking good questions that help us to see the very things that God wants us to see in Scripture.

There are simple Bible study methods you can use to dig into scripture. Start with those and see how it changes what you know of scripture and how you approach it.

6. Bible reading is the same as Bible study

Reading The Bible and studying it is quite different. They are both useful, but are used for different functions and are used in different contexts.

You can read this blog post to learn more about the differences. 

7. The New Testament is more important than the Old Testament. 

The Old Testament is 3/4 of the Bible. The Old Testament is the major context for understanding the New Testament. New Tribes missions, a missionary organization. Once the missionaries have learned the language and trust in a village they start giving Bible Lessons. They start in Genesis. The Old Testament holds so many truths that give us a good understanding of what then happens in the New Testament. 

I know there are many myths about reading the Bible. I also know that you may want to learn more and get some amazing Bible teaching.

That is why I am so excited to invite you to The Faith in Action Conference.

The Faith in Action Conference

The Faith in Action Conference is a FREE 4-day virtual event to help Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive Bible study of Mathew 5-7 & James.

The conference is all about helping Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive into Bible study.

16 speakers over 4 days will help you discover how to live out your faith by looking at Mathew chapters 5-7 & James. These chapters are filled with practical advice for us. Everything from how to treat one another, to marriage advice.

Click here to register for your FREE ticket today!

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