Our Forney, Sunnyvale, Kaufman and Rockwall locations are now open for limited-capacity Sunday services by reservation only. We're also taking reservations for our preschool and children's services!
If you are unable or not quite ready to join us in person on our physical campuses, we encourage you to join us at our online campus! We will be streaming the 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. services at clifec.com/live, on Facebook Live and on our YouTube channel.
For a full statement from our co-pastors about our phased reopening strategy, visit clifec.com/update!
Why do we put limitations on God? Why do we tell God, “I can’t”? It has to do with doubt. For some reason, we forget God spoke the universe into existence, and we forget God can do anything through us.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13
Your mind is a war zone, and there is an enemy that wants to control you. One of his greatest weapons is doubt. We doubt our abilities, and we doubt others, but we should never doubt our God. He is the God of consistency. He is the God of his promises. He is the one who has never failed us.
Why do we doubt? One reason is the enemy’s attack (we will talk about this in another devotional later this week), but another reason is that God’s plan doesn’t always line up with ours. Sometimes, our doubt is our fault. We try to be in control. We want to protect ourselves from whatever lies ahead. But, when that doesn’t line up with God’s plan, we begin to doubt him instead of our plan. In essence, we start playing God. We believe our idea is better than his. Why would we ever doubt the one who created us? Why would we ever want to be in control when the God who created the universe wants what is best for us? Why do we question his authority?
A lack of trust, our pasts, and our sin can all make us question him, but we have to remind ourselves that God can use all things. We have to remind ourselves that God has yet to fail us, he has won every battle, and he will never lose. So how do we remind ourselves? Throw yourself into his word, surround yourself with people who will point you to Jesus, journal your prayers, and focus on God’s promises for you and me.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God.
— Psalm 42:11
Whatever you are facing, remind yourself who is in control.
When I was a young boy, I decided I would get on the roof of my house. I thought it would be incredible! I thought I could see my grandparents’ house from the top of our roof. I was sadly mistaken. We had a one-story house surrounded by trees, and my grandparents lived over five miles away. After realizing there was no way to see my grandparents’ house, I decided it was time to get down. I planned to jump onto the ground, but as I walked to the edge of the roof, that eight-foot drop felt more like a 50-foot drop, and I froze in fear.
It wasn’t too long before I started yelling for my Dad. He came out, looked up at me and told me to get down, and I explained to him that I couldn’t. It was too far of a drop. When he told me to jump to him, I couldn’t do that either. Fear had overcome me. We are talking about a three-foot jump into my Dad’s arms, and my Dad is not a wee little man. I couldn’t help but think about all the things that could go wrong and how I was going to get hurt. But my Dad kept reminding me that he could catch me, that he could keep me safe, and that all I needed to do was trust him. I jumped, and he caught me. I was safe, but then I was in trouble.
Fear can and will cripple us.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
— Proverbs 12:25
We all can relate to this. It seems like life is going great, and then suddenly, I get focused on something from my past. It’s like a small voice in the back of my head telling me that I’m not good enough, that I can’t do it. I feel weighed down and not willing to “jump.” When we listen to the wrong voice, we focus on our past, not our future.
We need to identify the voices that are talking to us. God does not use your past against you (Romans 8:1). That is forgiven. So any time guilt and shame are spoken over you, remind yourself who is doing the talking. Our God is the God of redemption and the God of restoration. If he brings up the past, it’s because he is going to use it for your good and for the good of others.
The enemy wants to weigh you down, and the only way to let go of that weight is to trust God with your past. Allow him to take the burden from you. His death and resurrection are proof that you were not supposed to carry that weight. So trust him and jump.
Frequently the world says that if we fail, we are done. But God is bigger than our failures. R.A. Dickey was an incredible pitcher for the Tennesse Volunteers who drafted by the Texas Rangers because of his 94-mph fastball. But when he had surgery to remove a bone spur, everything changed. Doctors found that he was born without a Tommy John Ligament in his right elbow. For those that don’t know baseball, you need that ligament.
In 1997, R.A. was stuck in the minor leagues and could have called it quits, but he changed his perspective. He decided to start pitching the knuckleball. This took years to perfect, but by 2012 he was selected to the All-Star Team for the first time. He ended up winning the CY Young Award that year with a 20–6 record. Those are incredible stats.
Perspective is everything. You can allow your sin and failure to own you, or you can use it to make the world a better place. The enemy wants to make sure you don’t impact the world, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to convince you that you are worthless, that you have done something so bad, so wrong that God can’t use you. For some, you have been stuck in the minor leagues for so long because someone told you that God couldn’t use broken things. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t align with scripture.
Romans 8:28 says, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. God has a plan for your sin and failure. The enemy and the world doesn’t want you to know that. Think about it this way: God knew you before you were born (Psalm 139:13). He also knows everything about you (Psalm 139:1) — the good, the bad, and the ugly — yet he still loves you and wants to use you. That’s a great perspective. And because it’s a great perspective, the enemy wants to keep you from that truth.
There is nothing in this world that God can’t forgive. There is nothing God can’t use. So we must change our perspective of sin and failure. Is sin harmful and wrong? Yes. Does that mean God can’t use it to make this world better? No! We just have to be willing to allow God to use it for his glory. Often the thing we think will keep us from ministry is the thing God uses to change lives.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
— Psalm 51:14
Let’s have the right perspective and sing aloud God’s righteousness!
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
— Psalm 51:12
“But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
“All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
— John 16:5–15
In John 16, Jesus is telling his disciples that he is leaving them but not to be sad because he is sending an advocate to them. He says it is actually better for them than if he is there with them in the flesh.
I can understand what it must have been like for them to hear their leader, their friend, and their pastor tell them that he will leave them. They must have felt heartbreak, disappointment, and disbelief. They probably wondered if the past three years had been worth it at all. Without knowing what was to come, they might have asked what the point of all of this was?
They were in for a surprise when the Holy Spirit showed up. Before his ascent, God was with them in the form of Jesus. And suddenly, after facing the pain of his departure, they knew what it meant that God was with them.
The Christian life is hard! Salvation is a beautiful gift, but sanctification, the process of becoming Christ-like, is really hard.
It’s not easy making choices that are not what you want because doing so is more Godly. It’s not easy to, as Christ says, take up your cross and follow him. Often it may even feel like too heavy of a weight to carry. The good news is that this is not a process we endure on our own. We have the Holy Spirit! He is living in us, guiding us, giving us strength. And not only that, but he is in other believers, encouraging them to advocate for us, help us, and pray for us. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is sustaining you and giving you a willingness to endure every day.
Be encouraged today. The Holy Spirit is with you to make you more like Christ.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
— Psalm 51:12
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit, what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
— Galatians 5:16–25
Most of us are aware of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that if we cultivate our relationship with God, it will produce those things in us.
But there is another part of this scripture in Galatians that we rarely discuss. Prior to the fruit of the Spirit is a list called the acts of the flesh. If you can see your life as producing fruit, this is what your life will look like if you are in the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Both the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the flesh reveal a simple truth. The choices you make are producing the fruit of your life. David’s broken heart in Psalm 51 is the product of his sin. He is living in the reality of his choices, which produced sexual immorality, hatred, discord, death, and grief. He is a broken man.
But we can learn from the example here. David’s response is to confess and repent. He saw the fruit of what his sin had caused, and he confessed, sought forgiveness, and lived differently.
Are you experiencing things in your life that are contrary to the Spirit? Envy, fits of rage, selfishness? Here is the good news: like David, you can identify the source of those things in your life and repent. You can choose to stop living in the flesh in those areas and start living in the Spirit. When you do, you will find that God will restore the joy that has been missing.