Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Jesus has given you the hope of heaven in your grief. Let the promise of heaven sharpen your focus to help you see that any difficult situation you're going through now is temporary compared to a joyful eternity with Jesus. Look forward to the reality of seeing Jesus face to face and enjoying the company of loved ones who have gone before you, when it's your time to go to heaven.
Pursue more of His hope in your grief.
Pursue more of His fruit in your service. If your service for God lacks the fruit of changed lives, you don't have to try harder, pray more, or claim greater territory in service. Instead, you should examine your personal relationship with Jesus to see how closely you're connected to Him. It's the quality of your connection to Jesus that will determine whether or not you'll have the power to bear good fruit for His kingdom. The fruit you bear isn't produced through your own efforts; it's produced by the Holy Spirit through you as you consistently rely on God. Jesus is the Vine and you are the branches. God may sometimes choose to prune you to bear good fruit by cutting out of your life everything you depend on – except your relationship with Jesus. When you're forced to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus because that's all you have, your connection to the Vine gets bigger, empowering you to produce more fruit. Trust God when He prunes the branches of your life; He knows what's best to help you grow. Pray for greater fruitfulness in your service, asking God t conform you more closely to the image of Jesus, use you to make others want to know Him better, give you opportunities to share His Gospel and give you the fruit of changed lives as a result, draw others to Himself through a Bible study you lead, or give you one person to share His love with today.
Pursue more of His love in your home. As you give Jesus more of your heart, He will fill it with more of His love, and that will overflow into the lives of the people with whom you interact each day. When you let God's love flow through you, it will empower you to love even those people who are difficult for you to love – those whose personalities or behavior makes them seem completely incompatible with you. Rather than just avoiding or tolerating difficult people, choosing to show God's love to them will bless you in the process because God will use them to grind off the weak edges of your character to make you stronger. Ask Jesus to help you love people sacrificially, as He does. Instead of choosing to love only people who meet your needs, whom you get along with, who make you feel good, who do things for you, who give you things you want, whom respond with love, and whom you like, choose to demonstrate love to everyone, regardless of whether or not you like them and how they respond to you. When you love someone sacrificially, your act of love then becomes an act of worshiping Jesus.
Pursue more of His courage in your convictions. Be willing to stand out and speak up for Jesus in all areas of your life, and with whoever you meet. Take a strong public stand for the uniqueness of who Jesus is; for the truth of the entire Bible; and for the necessity of living a life of integrity, purity, and humility in order to please God. Rather than living a lifestyle that simply blends in with that of non-believers, show people the difference that your relationship with Jesus makes in your attitudes and actions. Pray for the courage you need to stand by biblical convictions when others pressure you to be complacent or politically correct. Ask the Holy Spirit to use all of your conversations with others to glorify God in whatever ways He guides you to do so. No matter how much pressure you encounter to compromise your convictions, decide that you will never give up, shut up, or let up, because of your love for Jesus.
Pursue more of His nearness in your loneliness. When you feel lonely, remember that Jesus is always with you. Pray for more awareness of His presence close to you, and take comfort in it. Although other people may sometimes disappoint you or abandon you, Jesus will always be there for you. Remember that Jesus is much more than just a man, prophet, teacher, revolutionary, icon, or symbol. Jesus is God Himself – and He loves you!
Pursue more of His answers to your prayers. It's an incredible privilege to be able to go directly to God at any time and in any place with your prayers. Jesus has promised that when you ask Him for anything according to His will and believing in His power to act, He will answer. Whenever your prayers seem to go unanswered or turn out the opposite of what you asked God to do (such as when you pray for your career and get laid off or when you pray for a loved one's healing and he or she dies), trust God anyway. Remember that His ways are not your ways, and He will act according to what's best from His unlimited perspective on every situation.
Pursue more of His glory on your knees. Embrace God's purpose for your life single-mindedly and wholeheartedly. Stay focused on what God wants for your life, and do all you can to fulfill that purpose well. Let your determination to do the work God has for you to do lead you to make wise choices like: less sleep and more prayer, less TV and more study, less shopping and more tithing, less eating and more exercise, less talking and more listening, or less work and more worship. Serve God faithfully to glorify Him every day.
Adapted from Pursuing More of Jesus, copyright 2009 by Anne Graham Lotz. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the President and CEO of AnGeL Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through His Word. She is the award-winning author of 10 books, including Just Give Me Jesus and I Saw the LORD. Anne has spoken on seven continents, in more than 20 foreign countries, proclaiming the word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and even prisons.