• Your Faithfulness is the Key.

    When life doesn’t seem worth living or feels like too much to bear, courage can come from setting our sights beyond our own plights to the hope of salvation and deliverance for others. – Beth Moore

    Ever notice how people don't know how to respond when you're honest and say you're not okay? They stumble around trying to come up with something to say.

    The truth is, today we have it a lot better than most KINGS did centuries ago. We have running, heated water, plumbing, roofs over our head, clothes on our backs, our choice of car, bus, train… and most days we really can’t complain.

    But then there are those days where you’re just not okay. The days where your heart is in pieces, you’re struggling to hold back tears, and the smile that’s on your face is simply not genuine.

    And yet, we stand there and pretend that we’re fine. We tell everyone we’re okay when it’s so far from reality because we’re under the impression that we have to keep up appearances.

    How did we get there?

    How did we let what other people think, or say about us become the standard to which we strive to live up to?

    All that does is add unnecessary stress, pressure, hurt, and pain in this life which at times feels like navigating a mine zone.

    Wearing the label “Christian” automatically places you on a pedestal. You will be held to a different standard than everyone else when people know you’re a Christ follower. It’s a real struggle there. I know, I’ve been there. It’s even more difficult when you work hard to make sure that you are careful with what you say and do only to have someone who claims to be a Christian, yet with one simple word or act, they manage to decimate everything you’ve established.

    So let the letter that Paul wrote to Timothy encouraging believers to do what they know is right encourage you,

    Share in suffering as a good solider of Christ Jesus. No solider gets entailed in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him…”

    We don’t do it for anyone but Him, because He asks us to. That reason, and that reason alone is what should push us to keep our head high, and push forward.

    But what about when it’s nearly impossible? You know the days I’m talking about? When you’re struggling to keep your head above water, every possible emotion hitting you all at once, out of nowhere. Those days where the enemy manages to take hold of every doubt and insecurity and blow them up in your face. It’s the moments where you just can’t help but cry out, “Why do I always have to be the one that’s doing the “right thing, doing the “good” thing when everyone else seems to have a lot less stress and a lot more fun doing it the other way?”

    Encouragement this time, came in the form of conviction as Paul writes,

    “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!”

    Paul was bound as a criminal for speaking truth, literally in chains, and here I am, comfortable in every way, complaining about walking the narrow road when it comes to friendships, boys, words, and actions!

    Finishing the next couple of verses brings even more encouragement, and it was the answer to my previously anguished question about why I should choose to do the good and the right thing when it seems completely useless to,

    “Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

    Why did Paul do it? For others to obtain salvation. Why should I do it? So others may obtain salvation. And that’s when it stood out. The simple phrase that was emphasized on the margin of the study meant to draw our gaze and make its way into the depths of our hearts,

    Your faithfulness is the key to somebody else’s faith.”

    That’s it. You could be the key to somebody else receiving eternal life. Me. Y O U.

    Let that settle into your weary bones for a moment; it’s a pretty heavy thing. But the more you revel in it, the more amazed you will become. That simple phrase means that absolutely EVERYTHING that you go through is a chance to show others that it’s not all about you and it’s 100% all about Him. Choosing to focus on that truth will help us to choose Him over ourselves.

    I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. In fact, the pain and the heartache, when we focus on it, when we focus on ourselves instead of the end goal, it will magnify everything and cause us to shut down, feel sorry for ourselves and lean towards the wide path instead of the narrow. In those heartbreaking moments, we become the selfish two-year-old instinctively; but we need to remember that, “Nothing about outward focus during inward pain is natural, but it could very well be our survival.”

    Because the truth is that the sad, the heartbreaking, the hurt, and the tears are actually teaching us something if we will listen. Yes, it feels as though we are walking through fire, but that fire is simply refining us. And if we choose to learn from it the first time, not only will we not have to go through it again, but we can help someone else who is going through something similar.

    And that leads right back to you being the key to someone else’s eternal life.

    Yes, you are held to a higher standard Christian. You are placed on a pedestal, treated differently, and yes it is a struggle. But if that’s what it takes to show somebody else that God is out there loving them, then bring it on.

    And when you fall, when you are not okay, don’t fake being fine, because then you are stopping Him from working with you, molding you, and you’ll just have to learn the lesson over and over again. Instead, walk through the fire with your head high and the knowledge that He is refining you, and when you do that, you get the chance to show others how unbelievably faithful, merciful, and loving He truly is.

     

    Janine Carattini

    http://janinecarattini.com/

    Instagram: @therelentlesspursuit_

  • YOU are the example. Stay salty.

     

    I distinctly remember the first time my friend asked me if I was “salty”. I had no idea what she meant by that phrase. Confusion hit my face and it must have been clear to her as she quickly explained what she meant by the word “salty”. She was asking me if I was bitter by the circumstances that were going on around me. I then answered no, and that I wanted to be salty like the salt mentioned in the book of Matthew, where he talks about the importance of living a life that is salty. I didn’t want to be held back by circumstances that life threw my way and I wanted to live my life as an example of being the salt of the earth.

     

    Salt is something that we take for granted. We use it every day with our food at every single meal. But, do you realize how important salt is? Without salt, our food would be bland and tasteless. I am always adding salt to food before I even taste it just because I love the salty flavor! I mean can you image a world where there was no salt or no seasoning for our food? Everything would be bland and would taste the same. Salt has a way of causing us to want more. Then after wanting more salt, it causes us to thirst, like a dry parched kind of thirsty!

     

    When I think about salt and how just a few grains of it drastically change the taste our food and cause us to crave more, I am reminded of the importance of salt in our lives. There is so much more to salt than just to the grains that we put on our food bur rather Matthew uses it as an example for how Christians are to live.

     

    “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16

     

    He exhorts the believers to live their lives as through they were the “salt” of the earth. When salt loses its flavor, then there is no good for it and it is useless. When believers are not actively pursing the Lord, listening to His heart and voice, and living their lives as an example, then we are like the salt that is useless. Live your life to display Jesus! Life your life close to His heart! Live your life by actively pursing His will and drawing near to Him in all things!

     

    Are you living your life to display Jesus? Is your life salty? We are to be living our lives as the salt of the earth! Stay salty!! Being the salt of the world for everyone to see! Living your life to display Jesus to the world around you!! There is so much more to living than just living life! I have found the best kind of life is when I allow my life to be salty for Jesus. Living life with love, forgiveness, peace, and contentment; with Jesus filling the empty places of my life and giving me a second chance and a new beginning.

     

    I want to encourage you to stay salty through all seasons of life and not just the easy ones. It can be easy to become bitter by the circumstances of life especially the ones that rock the boat and make us unsure, but this is the time to draw close to Him. It is in times of trials that we can be even saltier to the world around us and it allows them to see the treasure that we have found in Jesus. He is the only hope for us to have a life that is filled with flavor and filled with His Spirit! I am always so encouraged when I see other believers living a sold out life for Christ in every season of life, and not just the easy ones.

     

    You have something that nothing in this world could ever compare to because you have Jesus as the salt in your life! Don’t hide your example because you are afraid of letting your light shine and that you will lose your “salty flavor” the more that you pour into the lives of other. But, Darling, you won’t!! You will never be able to run out of salt unless you stop spending time with the only one who can continually make you salty; Jesus! Live your life to stay salty!!

     

    So, my encouragement to you is to stay salty! To live your life as an example for many! You never know who is watching you and who is examining your life when you don’t even know they are paying attention to you. Actions speak louder than words and your saltiness will speak volumes to the world around you! Don’t allow your walk to lose its flavor but keep adding salt on a daily basis by spending time with your Savior; the giver of life and life so abundantly! So, stay salty!!

     

    Caitlyn Burns 

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