Open Hands & The Whisper of His Voice
1 month has gone by since my last blog post and yes, this was on purpose. But first...
Hi!! I've missed y'all!! How are you? How's it going? I cannot believe that it is March 2019 already but I have so much to fill you in on so here it goes!
The last time we spoke, I just surrendered my plans over to the Lord and man was that difficult for various reasons: traveling sounded pretty cool, my life's work involved Jesus, I'd get to experience new things that I wouldn't get to do in South Carolina, etc But if you hadn't noticed, there was something missing: God. "But Sabrina, you just said your plans involved Jesus!" Yes, sweet reader, I did say that. But what I didn't say was that Jesus was the center of my plans. In other words, I made plans to live for myself and what made me happy but simply added Jesus as if he was some kind of side dish at a restaurant to my meal called life. Have you ever made plans for yourself and just fit Jesus somewhere in the midst and call it His plan for your life? No? Just me? Cool, good talk. But seriously, jokes aside, that's exactly what I did. I thought that if I merely included Jesus in my plans, that somehow I was doing what He called me to do but I was so far off! The whole point of my life is to bring God glory because my life is no longer my own. Jesus paid the debt of my sin, therefore, I was bought at a price and because of this, my sole purpose is to bring glory to the One who saved me. But wait, there's more!! As I go through this process of growing into the person He created me to be, I will be discovering more and more about His holy character and what I've discovered so far is wholly beautiful and more than deserving of my affection. And y'all!! If I desire Him with all my heart, then He will be what brings my joy in life. not the things of this world that are fleeting and temporary. Living for Him will be what makes me happy and I will literally have the desires of my heart (because my heart will desire more of Him)! There are so many bible verses about this very thing but the ones I want us to look at are below. Here is what His word says:
Passage 1.) " 5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8: 5-17 NIV)
Passage 2.) "19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2: 19-21 NIV)
Passage 3.) " But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43: 1-7 NIV)
I know, that was a lot; let's unpack that together (don't worry, we're not going line by line haha).
Starting with passage 1: the first part of verse 5 says, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires..." What does that mean? It means that when we are living for ourselves with our own interest at the forefront of our minds, we focus on what we want, what we desire in life, and not on the things of God. It's not saying that what we want is always inherently bad. For me, what I wanted was to travel and sing in different cities, focus completely on my writing and go on adventures. That's not a bad thing, it's a great thing to want in life! But just because something is good, doesn't mean it's good for me right now in this moment and God knew that before I did. Let's keep going, "...but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." So, if we live with His Spirit at the center of our lives, we will living from that holy place that is always in tune with the Lord. Have you noticed? We never have to ask the Spirit inside us to return to alignment with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is always in tune with God because He is God! He is always in communion with God (#trinity haha). But we constantly have to ask for the Lord to turn our hearts to Him and sing His praise. Our hearts are the thing that wanders from His will. But sometimes, because our Spirit and our heart are often associated with being located in the same place in our bodies, we think that it's Him who walks away. But friends, that's just not the case. He is always faithful (and I can't wait to share with you how faithful He has been in my life as of late) and will never leave us. In the (approximately) 6000 promises God makes to us in the bible, never forsaking His children is among them (refer to Deuteronomy 31:6).
From verse 5 through 8, we see how we (as human beings who are not perfect) can fall prey to living from the comfort zone of our old selves, before Jesus and salvation. Living from our the mindset & heart posture of our old selves may seem like a fine idea in the moment, but in the long run, God knows that our plans aren't going to be sustainable, they won't bring us actual joy but only temporary/situational happiness, and our lives won't be serving its true purpose which is to serve Him and bring Him glory. But there is hope in verses 9-11 that says, " You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." That's good news, y'all! We aren't beholden to our old selves anymore! We aren't subject to serving what we want all the time, instead, because we have Jesus, we are liberated to do the will of the Lord with joy. But because of this, we have been given an invitation, a calling to serve Him and do His will and not our own because of this incredible gift we were given from Him by way of His Son, Jesus. Verses 12 and 13 even say, " Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." Instead of living for ourselves, we get to live for Christ (Can I get an amen?) Because like verses 14-17 say, we are now children of God and because we have received the Holy Spirit, we can call Him, Father.
Now let's go to passage 2: this one is pretty straight forward. (Please keep in mind, if you want to go more in depth and really study these books of the bible in depth, I highly suggest you download the YouVersion bible app! There, you'll find that they have some incredible plans that will take you through both topical and whole book studies and you'll get a deeper understanding of the things I'm discussing. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post) Apostle Paul is speaking here (yay context!) and he is addressing the people of Galatia. In this part of his letter, he is opposing Cephas and basically setting him straight because he says a little ahead of the verses I've put here, in verses 13 & 14, "The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Paul was saying, "listen! Jesus was literally just here, you were changed by Him, yet you're out here living for yourself like the people who never knew the law Jesus came to fulfill (not abolish, but complete). You had one job, Cephas!" And because of this, Paul then goes into the verses I've included in passage 2 which say, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" In other words, Paul, in his old life, did all that he could to live for God in the way he knew how and thought was good. But because of Jesus, Paul's world was forever changed and because his heart was changed, his desires changed with it. And it is because of this love that God showed us through Jesus, Paul no longer belonged to himself but now completely belonged to God and His will for his life. If there was any other way to please God outside of living for Him through His will, Jesus' sacrifice would've been for nothing. And I don't know if y'all know, but Paul wasn't about that life. He was about that eternal life! (I'm sorry, I'll stop now lol)
Finally, passage 3: listen, Isaiah 43 just keeps coming with that fire!!! If you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do that. It's incredible! Here's why I find these first 7 verses so profound: God literally just rescued His people from slavery, showed great wonders and signs (#miracles) and He says, "You are mine, I am yours, I am staking my claim to your hearts because I love you and I want to be with you." The God of the universe wants to be with His children. Us! Y'all, come on!!!! Is that not incredible? God is out here being God, running the galaxy and He wants to be with us. That is one incredible Father! He wants us and says so in His word and goes to great lengths to show us how much He wants to be with us. And because He loves us and calls us His, we were made to recognize that we were created by Him to bring Him glory as He says in verse 7, "-everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." We were made for this. Made to bring Him glory and experience true joy in the process. As we grow and go through trials, each step of the way is supposed to bring us closer to Him and our identities in Him. It's a hard and often not fun process but so worth it and fulfilling.
So, now that we've unpacked a little bit the passages I showed you, what does this all mean in terms of where I've been and where I'm headed? I'm glad you asked! (I need to get out more y'all, it's the only child in me that's so comfortable talking to myself) After much counsel, prayer, and discernment, I have determined I am called to stay in South Carolina for a while. Though it's not what I wanted, I am slowly but surely seeing the promise and faithfulness of God through my decision to stay and witness what He is doing here in Charleston, SC. For starters, I am apart of a growing ministry of young people who are determined to live for God, be intentional as a community in a world where that kind of dedication is far and few between, live out the Gospel and mission to go and make disciples (refer to Matthew 28: 19-20), and be apart of a movement in South Carolina that is headed away from "cultural christianity" and towards biblical Christianity. A way of living that calls those saved by grace through faith into a outpouring agape (biblically sacrificial) love for all of God's creation and a pursuit of holiness so fierce, the devil himself will tremble when he hears us marching in formation. To be apart of this movement has been life-changing so far and to also spearhead the worship ministry has been incredible. God has also called me to love college students by working as an Enrollment Counselor for Charleston Southern University (Go Bucs!) and I couldn't be more excited to be starting this new career and journey. God even provided a space for me to live so that I'm close to work and to the people I'm doing life and ministry with. Wow, He is faithful y'all. And I got to see all of this when i put myself aside and took up His plans for me. (DISCLAIMER: Now please hear me, this is NOT prosperity Gospel!! When we lay down our lives and pick up our cross (refer to Matthew 16: 24-26), He lets us know that suffering will come. Trial will come. Things don't inherently immediately get better because we are following Jesus. In fact, He lets us know that that won't happen (refer to 1 Peter 3: 14) and we will suffer. But there is incredible joy in that and because we know what we will encounter, He sends us immense comfort and grace.)
I am so excited for what's to come and I know I shouldn't be so surprised but I truly am overwhelmed by His faithfulness and the overflow of rewarding my faith as He says He'll do. I wa so unsure of what would come when I laid down my plans and pursued Him and His will but I am so thankful I was obedient and I cannot wait to share with y'all what He is doing in my life.