My Compounded Grief

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By Michael W. Raley

I thought I could stay a step ahead of my grief,

But it ran me down.

Grief was the ferocious lion

And I was the helpless gazelle.

Grief has permeated every area of my life,

Even to the core of my identity.

My grief is compounded by the weight

Of depression and anxiety,

Which are enough on their own.

I pray desperately for a light

To pierce through this dark night of my soul,

However, the darkness remains.

The harder I push through,

The tougher the resistance.

The greater my cries,

The more resounding the silence.

 

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The Prodigal’s Brother

In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son (or Prodigal Son if you prefer), which illustrate God’s grace and the lengths He will go to save lost souls. Jesus’ audience represented a spiritual dichotomy of sinners and tax collectors with Pharisees and scribes. Jesus spoke these three parables as a response to the criticism leveled by the Pharisees and scribes of how Jesus sat in the company of sinners. We will look more specifically at the story of the Prodigal Son.

The story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is a familiar one to Christians and the phrase “prodigal son” is used as a euphemism to describe someone who has wandered away and returned. There are two brothers and the youngest brother goes to his father and demands his share of his inheritance, while his father was alive. Typically, an inheritance can only be received once someone has died. The father, knowing the social meaning of his son’s request, and divided his estate among both brothers.

In a tale similar to today’s news reports of celebrities, actors, and athletes squandering king’s fortunes and going bankrupt, the Prodigal Son partied like a “rock star” and blew all of his money. It was all gone. The Prodigal was busted, broke, and bankrupt. A famine soon after came upon the land and the Prodigal was hungry and desperate. The Prodigal went from living “high on the hog” so to speak, to literally the hog pen as he had to get a job feeding swine. The Prodigal comes to his senses and decides to go back home to his father, not as a son, but as a servant.

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:20-21, NKJV).

The story then pivots on the contrasting reactions of the father and oldest brother.

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:22-24, NKJV).

The older brother was working in the field and heard the party taking place. The father explained that they are having a party for his brother who has returned home. The older brother refused to go to the party and justified his actions to his father:

“So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I could make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’” (Luke 15:29-30, NKJV, emphasis mine).

The older brother’s statements consist of “I have done this, I have done that.” “Where’s my party?” I stayed here and did what was expected of me.” The older brother refuses to acknowledge his brother, simply calling him “this son of yours.” It is certainly easy to read self-righteousness into the older brother’s statements, but does he on some level have a point?

Everybody has worth and wants to be appreciated. Nursing homes are full of sick and elderly people who simply want someone to spend a few minutes with them. Parents want to know that their children appreciate their sacrifices for them to have a better life. Dedicated and faithful employees want to know that their work is appreciated and serves a greater purpose than getting a paycheck. This is not about vanity or seeking the approval of others, but we want to know we are on the right track and we are making an impact in life.  If we do not perceive that we are appreciated, then we get discouraged, which leads to self-righteous comparison when we see “someone less qualified or deserving” get the blessing we seek.

The older brother could have gone off on his own adventures, but he chose to stay home. The older brother was wise and responsible with his money and continued to work. However, when we grow discontent with our situations in life, we often overlook the tremendous blessings we do have. At the end of the story, the father gives the oldest son a different perspective on the situation:

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:31-32, NKJV).

The older brother has always been in the presence of the father and he also received his share of the inheritance, while the younger brother wandered from the father. Though the older brother did not see a physical reward for his service to his father, his father did notice his faithfulness. The older brother did not perceive that he had his father’s approval. The same principle applies for those of us who have been saved for many years in that we often lose the meaning of having our Father’s presence in our lives at the expense of what God’s presence means for others.

We should serve God and others with a servant’s heart, but we must not make the mistake of the older brother and serve with a “religious works” mindset. If we see serving God as a means to an end, we will lose the perspective that we are sons and daughters of God and not simply servants. Let us not try to value ourselves by any fleeting external measures such as money, recognition, titles, or family status. Instead, let us see ourselves first as children of God and draw our worth from there. God bless you all.

 

Ephesians 2: Our Identity before Christ

In the previous post, we looked at Ephesians chapter one and how the sovereignty and purposes of God played the defining role in our salvation and identity as Christians. To read the previous post, click here:  https://triumphantinchrist.wordpress.com/2016/08/27/ephesians-1-gods-role-in-our-identity/

Of all of history’s recorded events and notable people, I believe the most influential person in the history of the world is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection represent the ultimate expression of God’s love for humanity as Christ died for our sins. The entire Christian religion hinges on the historic event of the resurrection of Christ.

In fact, for centuries, historians marked the passage of time with the era “Before Christ” (BC) and “In the year of our Lord,” commonly referred to as AD. Of course, secular historians now use the terms “Before Common Era” and “Common Era” to refer to time.

No matter how historians mark the time, all Christians can point to the before Christ time in their lives. We can look back with shame, pain, and regret at our past lives, or we can bask in this current day of our Lord, who has forgiven us for all sins and transgressions, past, present, and future.

In Ephesians chapter one, Paul beautifully explains God’s purposes, plan, and grace toward us in our salvation. In Ephesians chapter two, Paul pivots and contrasts the Ephesians’ identities were before and after Christ.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3, NIV).

Paul metaphorically takes the Ephesians, and by extension, you and I back in time to remember who we were:

*We were dead in our sins.

*We followed the world and Satan.

*People in the world still live sinfully.

*We used to be like them and lived and did as we pleased.

*Everyone, including us, deserves God’s wrath for our sins.

Here comes the “AD” part:

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in this kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NIV, italics mine).

Compare our previous position with who we are now:

*God’s mercy and grace has made us alive, when we were dead in our sins.

*We no longer take our seats with Satan and the world, for we are seated with Christ.

*We are living examples of God’s grace to our generation and those who follow.

If we try to live our faith by ritual, we develop a religious mindset and rely on our abilities and traditions to carry us. While there are steps we can take to become better people in our thoughts, words, and deeds, our salvation is solely the work of God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by work, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV, italics mine).

*We cannot earn our salvation- it is a gift that must be received.

*Our boasting does not impress God.

*God has created us and saved us to fulfill His purposes in our lives,

All of us at one point have faced the sting of exclusion and rejection, though by varying degrees and circumstances. Paul drives home to the point that the Ephesians were at one time:

*Gentiles by birth, therefore excluded from citizenship in Israel and the promises of God. Therefore, the Ephesians had no hope and did not have God. (Ephesians 2:11-12).

*Now, all, regardless of birth, Jew, Gentile, nation or status, have been reconciled by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13).

*Christ has broken down all walls that separate us, and reconciled them by the cross, and now we all have access to God by the same Holy Spirit that lives in each of us. (Ephesians 2:14-18).

*We were once strangers and foreigners, but now we are members of God’s family and household. Christ is our cornerstone and the foundation is also built upon the apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 2:19-20).

*The temple of God is no longer about a physical building or a group of people, but we, our bodies, our spirits are God’s temple. God through the Holy Spirit dwells in us. (Ephesians 2:21-22).

Though we are no longer part of this world, we remain in this world until either Christ comes back or He calls us home. As we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ and those who do not know Christ, let us treat them with compassion, for we were once sinners who needed grace. Do not grieve who you were in the past, but rejoice in the future God’s grace has given you.

Ephesians 1: God’s Role in our Identity

Who am I? This is one of the fundamental questions of human existence. The question, “Who am I?” has inspired countless theologians, philosophers, poets, thinkers, and everyday people since time immortal. “Who am I?” has launched countless discussions, religious pilgrimages, great works of literature, deep soul searching, and the occasional mid-life crisis.

It is inherent in our human nature to believe in something greater than ourselves, to believe in a world beyond our own where someday every wrong, slight, or injury, we perceive has been perpetrated on us will be corrected or explained. We often think, What’s the point of all this suffering? or Is this all there is to this life?

While living out our day-to-day lives, we are simultaneously attempting to forge our own identity, trying to answer the question of “Who am I?” We attach sociological labels to ourselves in an effort to forge an identity. We can identify ourselves by age, race, education, marital status, social standing, occupation, sexual orientation, nationality, or religion to name a handful. For those of us who believe in God and identify ourselves as being Christians, what role does God play in our identity?

I have over the years heard it preached that we need to know “Who we are in Christ,” meaning our identity in Christ. Paul in the Book of Ephesians, lays out a good foundation for God’s role in our identity. As you read through Ephesians, it is easy to focus on the blessings God has given us and not look as to how we have obtained our identity in Christ.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3, NIV).

Paul goes on to make it very clear that our new standing with God and our identity in Christ is based on the acts of God’s sovereign will.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV, italics mine).

Paul makes several points concerning our identity in Christ and our responsibilities concerning our standing in Christ:

*We have been chosen by God.

*God chose us to live holy and blameless lives.

*We are only God’s adopted children through Christ, which aligns with God’s pleasure and will.

*We are to praise God for the gift of His grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The format of the following verses play out much the same as the introductory verses. For example:

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment- to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Ephesians 1:7-10, NIV, italics mine).

Thus, we are forgiven of our sins solely because:

*The riches of God’s grace.

*God gave us the wisdom and understanding to know His will- to be saved and believe on Christ, thus God’s will is no longer mysterious.

*God is working in these last days to reconcile (bring together) the world and universe under the Lordship and rule of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on further to elaborate on the purpose of God’s will and one of the benefits of living the Christian life:

In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him, with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-14, NIV, italics mine).

Once again, we learn of the plan of God:

*God is working out everything to conform to His will.

*God brings us to Christ that we may bring Him glory.

*God included us in His plan when we said, “yes,” to the gospel.

*God has empowered us with the Holy Spirit to live until we are called home to heaven.

Ephesians chapter one concludes with Paul’s prayer for the church, which also serves as a reminder that God does not simply save us and leave us to figure things out, but rather God seeks to keep us rooted deeper in Christ by:

*Giving us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know God better. (Ephesians 1:17).

*That we would understand fully the depths of our hope and inheritance as God’s people. (Ephesians 1:18-19a).

*To realize that the same power God use to raise Christ from the dead resides in us. (Ephesians 1:19b-20).

*God’s purposes have placed Christ head over all on heaven and earth. (Ephesians 1:20b-23).

May you seek to grow and understand your identity in Christ.

 

Before and After

If you have spent any time watching television, no doubt you have come across commercials advertising ways to lose weight or get in shape. No matter if the commercial is for a piece of exercise equipment, a weight loss pill, an exercise program, or a diet plan, there are always “before and after” pictures of the successful people who have used said product. If you have accepted Christ as Savior, your life could be considered a “before and after.” However, our dramatic and eternal transformation has delivered us from the sins and unhealthy spiritual lifestyles we used to live.

Throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul uses many examples comparing our lives before and after Christ.

Romans

 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” (Romans 3:23-25, NKJV, emphasis mine).

 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6, 8-11, NKJV, emphasis mine).

 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

  “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Galatians

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:3-5, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Ephesians

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-6, NKJV, emphasis mine).

 “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.” (Ephesians 2:11-17, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Colossians

  “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”  (Colossians 1:21, NKJV, emphasis mine).

 “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12, NKJV, emphasis mine).

 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1, NKJV, emphasis mine).

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Though these are but a handful of verses, these verses demonstrate our new identity in Christ as compared to our old, sinful natures. We also have no need to feel condemned for past sins of which we have confessed, for Christ has forgiven us. There is no need to grieve over our old lives when we have been blessed with new lives in Christ. As Christians, we have been forgiven and redeemed and we have been clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Let us work out our salvation and seek the heavenly things. God bless you all.

 

Do Not Be Bound By Expectation

Trying to live within the expectations of others can be a gut-wrenching and soul- crushing experience. Even the expectations of well-meaning people who love us can bring us frustration as we try to achieve a goal that we may have no true desire to achieve. The expectation is the proverbial carrot that is always dangled in front of us. Or maybe we live based on the expectation of a family name, a level of wealth, an occupation, or a certain degree of education. Maybe the opposite is true for you. Maybe the expectations were set low for you because of the family name, poverty, lack of education or even your gender or skin color. If we live our lives based on the expectations of others and not God’s expectations, we will live our lives as typecast actors and actresses who cannot break free from a famous role.

Let me state that we should always hope for the best in those we love and know. We should always encourage others to pursue excellence. We should also follow the Bible’s guidelines for living and the laws of society. However, we should never compare people in our lives to someone else. There is a saying that goes, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”God created everybody to be unique and He has instilled different gifts and talents within each of us.  Thus, we should never say, “Why can’t you be like so and so?” nor should we try to live out our dreams or unfulfilled dreams vicariously through someone else.

One person in Scripture who overcame the stigma of negative expectations was David. First Samuel chapter 16 tells the story of how David was anointed king. Because of his continued disobedience, God reject King Saul and sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king. Jesse brought out seven of his sons and God rejected them all. At this point, Samuel had to be wondering about why God sent him to Jesse’s house, but God had someone else in mind.

“And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.’ So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes and good-looking. And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:11-13, NKJV).

What kind of expectations did Jesse truly have for David? Jesse for whatever reason did not see David as worthy as his brothers and gave him the job of tending sheep, which a hired hand could do. Jesse did not even think to include David when Samuel asked to see his sons. I believe that deep down David knew he was more than a shepherd, while Jesse’s expectation for David did not seem to go beyond being a shepherd. However, Scripture shows us that David was a man of many talents- musician, writer, warrior, a natural leader, a giant killer, and a king.

I believe that everyone has talents. Our talents are unique to us.  There are obvious talents that God gives us and other talents we have to draw out as we seek Him. We should not allow ourselves to be limited by the expectation of others, for our talents and dreams come from the Lord. When we breathe our last breath, we will stand before God alone and give an account for the talents He gave us (Matthew 25). We must seek God’s expectation and not be bound by the expectation of man. As long as we have today, it is not too late. We serve a God of infinite resources, why look to people who have limited resources? God has blessed us and wants us to use our blessings for others and to bring Him glory in whatever we do.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).

“There is nothing better for a man, than that that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24, KJV).

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, NKJV).

If you believe God has called you to something greater than what you are currently doing, I urge you to pray and fast about it. As we step out of our comfort zones, expect to face opposition and expect a little fear, but know that we serve a mighty God. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Remember God has the final word and as long as we have breath, He is not through with us. God bless you all.

Going All In for the Journey

When the Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519, history states Cortes instructed his men to “burn the ships.” Imagine for a moment what must have gone through the minds of Cortes’ crew. The crew was thousands of miles from home in a hostile land with no escape plan. There was no turning back; there would be no retreat. At that moment, Cortes’ crew was forced to go “all in” on the journey.

The apostles Andrew, Peter, James, and John did not burn their ships, they simply left them to follow Jesus.

“As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fisherman. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow him.” (Mark 1:16-20, NASB).

These four men, who were fisherman by trade, walked away from their livelihoods and immediately followed Jesus. Of course, the Bible commands us to work and to take care of our families. However, how much does your job consume you? Do material possessions have more of a hold on us than we have a hold of Christ? Are we like the rich young ruler, who followed all of the commandments and wanted to follow Jesus, but was too attached to his possessions?

If we can shed our material attachment, our journey with God can still come with its share of difficulties as we try to live as Christians in a world growing more hostile to the things of God. There may come a time where we may consider the cost of following Christ and look back with pain, but God will always give us back so much more than we could every give up.

“The Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.’” (Matthew 19:27-29, NASB).

Once we have decided to fully follow Christ, there is no going back to our old way of life because it will simply not work and be unfruitful. Consider the actions of Peter in John chapter 21. Jesus has risen from the dead and had appeared to His disciples multiple times. However, Peter decides to go fishing, along with Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two other disciples. The experienced fishermen do not catch any fish after what must have been a long night. Jesus then appears on the beach and tells the disciples where to catch the fish, and they catch multitudes of fish. Jesus and Peter have a conversation, where Jesus reiterates for Peter to follow Him. Jesus also tells Peter that he will one day die for his testimony. This is the point where Peter’s journey changed. Just weeks after this discussion, Peter stood up at Pentecost, full of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the Gospel and 3,000 souls were saved (Acts 2:14-41).

Just as God did an amazing work in the life of the Apostle Peter, so too He wants to do a work in you. This journey may be long and difficult, but the Lord will be with you each step of the way. God has given us all that we need- His Son, His Holy Spirit, and His Word. We must seek out the Lord and allow Him to prepare us for the work ahead. We must be willing and obedient in order to hear from the Lord. We must remember that our sufficiency is not in anything the world has to offer or even in our own abilities. Our sufficiency is found in Christ and in Christ alone.