Do you know what your failure is for? It has a purpose, and that purpose is to help you succeed. Not just so you’ll try harder next time. Not just so you’ll be wiser next time. Not just so you’ll do better next time. But rather so you will rely more fully on Jesus next time. His strength. His guidance. His way. His plan. His timing. His help. The right response to failure is faith, for every person who turns to and trusts in Jesus will win in the end. Remember this when you find yourself coming up short: Futility and frustration are intended to move you away from self-reliance to Savior-reliance. And that move is always for the better.
There is often a tension between belief and doubt when things become difficult. It would be plausible to lose hope and lose heart when facing things that are too much for us to handle if we were forced to handle them alone. But Jesus has promised to never leave us alone, always supplying the grace we need for the needs we face. The more we trust in Him, the more we will rely on Him during the unexpected, uncertain and unpleasant difficulties of this broken world. He will work it out for good as we work out His purposes for us. With faith all things are not made easy. With faith all things are made possible.
Dying ready is not about trying hard to do more and be better so God will accept you into heaven when this life is over. Instead, it’s about trusting in Jesus and the work He has finished on your behalf and, in response, finishing the work that Jesus has entrusted to you. We don’t work for our salvation; we work out our salvation. We don’t pay Him back. We love Him back. With our hope in Him, we journey homeward in loving obedience (though imperfectly executed) knowing that the death we once feared is actually the doorway to full and lasting joy with Him. Death is not the end; it is just the beginning.
Living fully is not about having the most fun, experiencing the greatest pleasure, and doing the biggest good in this world as if this place is all there is. Instead, it’s about the eternal ripple your life can make when you use it for Jesus. That doesn’t mean you leave happiness and helpfulness behind; it means you find it in a more meaningful way. We are to be faithful witnesses for God in the everyday things of life that we’re doing on earth (from cookouts to workouts to hangouts) in such a way that we’ll be glad we did when we get to heaven. Enjoy blessings. Do good. Glorify God. Live this life in light of the one to come.
We don’t like to think about it. We don’t like to talk about it. But death is coming for us all. We may not be certain of the time of its arrival, but the certainty of its arrival is never in doubt. Instead of ignoring, downplaying, or fearing it, we should let its reality accomplish two essential and monumental things in our lives: be purposeful to experience life before death, and be prepared to experience life after death. Jesus makes both of these possible as we trust Him. He gives us grace so we can give ourselves to the things that matter most. In every step of faith, let us rely on Him to help us… Live fully. Die ready.
Remember this as you follow Jesus in faith: it’s not what happens to us that is of greatest importance, but rather the end result of what happens. Things often won’t go as we plan, things often won’t work out like we hope, and things often won’t be as simple or easy or comfy as we would like. But in the hands and plans of God, our struggles are not setbacks. They are stepping stones to the good result He has in mind. So… Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop proceeding. Something good is coming even if you don’t yet see it. Take heart! Things would look much better if we could see them not as they are, but as they will be.
Followers of Jesus take steps of faith in our day-by-day “walk” with Him. Wherever He leads, we follow in the same direction, one step at a time. In loving obedience. With humble dependance. For a blessed experience. While there are many places we will go and things we will do, there are four basic steps that every Christian never stop taking until they follow Jesus all the way home: Pray. Read the Bible. Respond to what tells you. Help others do the same. This is how God is honored in us and we are happy in Him. Certainly we will take mis-steps along the way; but Jesus will never let us permanently lose our way.
There’s only one reason we persevere through trials, troubles and tragedies in this broken world: grace. God gives us the strength, encouragement and provision we need to keep going when the going gets tough. He is always graciously working in us, working behind the scenes for us, and working all things out for the good of us. When He does not give us grace to escape problems, He will give us grace to endure them. We will keep going. We will get to the other side. We will make it through. This is our hope in Jesus… When the time is right, God will bring our hurting to an end and give us happiness without end.
All of God’s gracious actions toward us are designed to lead us toward Him. He means for us to respond to His gifts not by seeking more gifts, but by seeking Jesus … to know, trust, serve, obey, honor, enjoy, worship and love Him as we follow Him. Grace enables and encourages us to take steps with Jesus. When we do, we grow in our relationship with Him as we go with Him wherever He leads to do whatever He says. God woos us with His kindness along the way because He wants us to be together every step in this life until we are with Him forever in the life to come. Grace points the way to be with Jesus.
There are no grace graduates. None of us get to the point where we no longer need God’s provision. We aren’t who we used to be, but our transformation isn’t complete. We’ve been fruitful, but our good work isn’t finished. We’ve come a long way, but our journey home isn’t over. We don’t move on from grace; we move on because of grace! So, let us confidently call on God for help to joyfully live out His plans, live for what matters most, live with our circumstances and live in this world, not as independent people, but as His grace-dependent people. Until the very end… We will not stop needing. God will not stop supplying.
There is a daily tug-of-war for control of your thoughts, feelings, motives, attitudes, words and actions, pulling you in the opposing directions of what sin entices you into and what God invites you into. Look to Jesus for help and look for His help to arrive in your time of temptation as a way to leave it, the power to say “no” to it, a divine removal of it, the arrival of someone to help you through it, and / or a promise of something worth waiting for that is better than it. He is bigger than your biggest need! Take heart… You are never helpless against temptation as long as there is a throne of grace for you to run to for help.