Rising Above the Negativity to Sludge to Live in the “Heavenlies”

Scripture tells me I’ve been “seated in the heanvenlies” but I often allow myself to get caught up in the sludge of negativity. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of pride and selfishness.

I can become so consumed with all the chaos and noise around me, I forget I was redeemed to rise above.

When this happens, I must remind myself of who I am, who I belong to, and therefore who’s sovereign over the big and little details of not just my life, but all of humanity overall.

I’m not a powerless, helpless orphan forced to navigate this harsh world on my own. I’m blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen, adopted into God’s family as His beloved child, forgiven, and lavished with kindness by the One who has full authority of all things, my family and circumstances included, and is, at this moment working everything out in accordance with His good and perfect will. (Eph. 1:4-11).

Standing on those truths allows me to shift from reactionary living to empowered, courageous, and eternally impactful purpose.

To look beyond the problems and concerns of today to the victory of tomorrow.

Last month, I spent an evening serving in a local church spanning three stories accessed by relatively steep stairs. As children raced up and down, their breath grew heavy, their faces sweaty, and their legs fatigued. The younger ones, however, moved much slower, their much shorter legs greatly challenged.

Standing at the bottom, or even the midway point, the climb ahead of them must have felt monumental, as if the staircase went on forever.

You may know precisely what that feels like.

One little girl in particular, perhaps two years old, clearly labored for every step. Her father, holding her hand, watched her patiently, lovingly, gently tugging her forward. Then, about halfway up, likely sensing her strength was gone, he scooped her up and balanced her on his shoulder.

Resting deeply in his embrace, she smiled and watched his strong and sure feet take her higher and higher, effortlessly. From that view, those stairs looked much different. A little less steep, each one not quite so high. Not nearly so insurmountable.

This is the type of view our heavenly Father offers. He knows our journey is tough. Exhausting. He knows, at times, the climb feels never-ending, and ten times more so when we survey the staircase from a ground level view. But God wants us to shift our perspective. To remember we’re not stuck in the muck that appears to stretch for miles in every direction. The anger and confusion and uncertainty of this present world. We are, at this moment, raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly realms.”

Our home is elsewhere, so though we still struggle with the day to day, we have the power and authority in Christ to do as victorious daughters of the risen King. Notice, this is the truth. Where we presently, at this moment, reside.

Jesus paid a high price to grant us this position. With every action, reaction, and interaction, may we choose to live in the reality of this standing.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you give negative thinking more power than God’s voice? How can you more intentionally and more consistently focus on truth? What are some ways you currently do this? Share your thoughts, examples, and suggestions with us, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

You may find this video, week one’s video presentation for our Becoming His Princess Bible study, encouraging and helpful as well.


 

If you haven’t grabbed your free copy of our study yet, you can do so HERE.

Want me or my team to come speak to your Bible study group, Moms group, or next women’s event? Contact me HERE.

Advertisements

Cultivating Sincere Love

 

Image of a sunrise peaking out from behind storm clouds and text pulled from the post.

We can’t feed bitterness and simultaneously cultivate joy. We won’t experience the full to overflowing life Jesus promised if we cling to unforgiveness. And perhaps most importantly, we can’t display the beautiful, grace-giving love our world needs when pride, envy, or malice clog our hearts.

I wish I could say I routinely radiate Christ, but unless I guard against this, when difficulties hit, I’m often quick to complain and slow to pray. I’m easily distracted by the imperfect, unexpected, or undesired rather than the abundance of blessings God’s provided.

In fact, there was a time when that was my default demeanor, until God woke me up through a series of encounters.

Initially, when I met Tracy*, compassion drew me to her. She was new to the area, appeared to be hurting, and I thought perhaps she could use a friend. So, I issued an invitation, and we began meeting for coffee.

Soon, our conversations felt repetitive, filled with complaining and bitterness. At first, I wondered if she was depressed, and she may have been, and if so, in need of patience and grace.

She may have been depressed. But I wasn’t, and yet, I’d been acting just like her.

In other words, though I had much to be thankful for, including a daily connection with God Himself—the source of all joy—I chose bitterness and negativity. I chose to focus on momentary “offenses”, what I didn’t have that I wanted, on expectations gone awry, and robbed myself of the peace and full to overflowing life Jesus died to give me.

Through my interactions with this other woman, God helped me see how my attitude, which I’d displayed without thinking, was choking my spiritual vitality, hindering my relationships, and diluting my prayers.

Worst of all, it was squelching my love, the one thing those I care for most needed from me.

In a letter bearing his name, Peter, an early church father who spent time with Jesus before His death, wrote to Christians experiencing oppression and persecution. Living under the evil emperor Nero, they needed not only encouragement but also incredible emotional Picture of two friends with text from 1 Peter 1:22support. So he urged them to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22, ESV).

We all know what casual love looks like—the type that offers kind words when it’s convenient but seems absent when needs arise. The kind that’s more self-protecting than sacrificing and prideful than initiating. The kind that might look good on the outside but lacks substance when it counts.

That’s not the kind of love Peter commanded. Instead, they were to demonstrate a sincere, unfeigned love free from hidden agendas and selfish motives.

Sadly, I can’t remember the last time I showed that type of love. Selfish motives often creep into my best, most altruistic intentions. This lessens, however, when I diligently practice Peter’s admonitions that follow in 2 Peter 2:1-3: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk”—Scripture— “that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted the Lord is good” (ESV).

In other words, we can’t harbor bitterness or envy in one area or in relation to one particular person and expect our other relationships to remain pure and sincere. Malice, deceit, and slander, and all their equally destructive sisters, once entertained, invade our hearts until everything becomes tainted.

To display the love, joy, and peace God commands, we need to both purge and fill. We need to actively and continually throw out everything that hinders while soaking in everything that ignites.

That is the only way we will truly be able to love others well, as Christ loves us.

Let’s talk about this. What’s hindering you from fully expressing the love of Christ? Is there an old offense you’re rehashing? Unforgiveness you’re feeding? If so, hand that to God. Ask Him to remove it from you, to replace it with truth, and then intentionally remember all the ways God has shown you that He is indeed good.

It’s really hard to remain angry or bitter when focused on the love and grace of Christ.

It’s equally hard to experience the full to overflowing life Jesus promised when we’ve chosen bitterness instead.

What resonated or challenged you most in today’s post? Share your thoughts, stories, examples, and questions in the comments below.

***

Join the Wholly Loved team on March 23rd to discover how to live fully, vibrantly alive, prioritize your time according to God’s leading, and experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in your most enjoyable and difficult moments. Visit the Wholly Loved website to find out more and King of Kings Lutheran Church in Omaha to register. We also encourage you to grab a free copy of our Bible study, Becoming His Princess. You can do so HERE. Listen to each week’s opening session HERE.

Want Jennifer or her team to come to you? Contact her HERE.