In For the Long Game

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Patience, patience, patience. This past week I experienced a couple situations that tested my patience with others. People running much later than expected for scheduled appointments. Another didn’t have all of their stuff together. Since I asked God’s help two years ago in further developing me in the nine fruits of the Spirit (faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control; found in Galatians 5:22-23), He’s been strengthening my patience with and love toward others more than anything else. Another word the bible uses is “long-suffering” or “forbearance.”

In this development and extending the fruits of the Spirit to those I encounter, I’ve definitely noticed growth. Several things that used to shorten my patience no longer grate me. I experience calm and peace beyond what I thought possible in those situations. Yet, there are events such as those that occurred this past week that stretch me beyond the threshold of patience I’ve been exercising toward others. I mean stretched me to the point of frustration with some of God’s children. Just when I thought this area of my life was settled and accomplished, I realized that I still have more to grow.

This past week’s events on “patience” reminded me of a good word shared by a dear sister in Christ. She said, “God is doing the long game. We’re more focused on the short game because that’s all we can see.”

Whether within me, or you, or those who are seeking Christ Jesus, God is always working.  As creatures of limited scope on this side of heaven, we look for the tangibles. We need to see immediate evidence of things changing, improving, shifting, God’s Hand at work. If we don’t see those immediate changes or if the changes are gradual but not occurring at the speed we desire, we can become frustrated. But trust that God is ALWAYS working, particularly on the eternal piece.

Snail Run Near The Finish Line

As told to us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (NIV).

As we seek God for our continued development and perfecting and as we pray for others, engage with others, plant seeds, minister to, let’s remember that God is in it for the long game. The Lord will perfect that which concerns you (and me) (Psalm 138:8)

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

I’m in for the long game. Will you endure? While you endure, will you do so in Christ’s love and patience? Will you be in for the long game? You may not see everything right now, but trust that the work is being done!

God bless you,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

 

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A Good Person?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“You’re such a good person. You are so good-natured. You are humane.” If I hear these words told to me once more, I may scream. But I realize that the people speaking those words don’t know any better. They measure “goodness” by worldly standards. I haven’t killed anybody, haven’t shot anybody, didn’t curse anyone out. I must be “good.”

Yes, I was raised in a loving household, by a mom and dad who loved me and my brother dearly. Our parents taught us to be kind to others—even when we were called the “n-word” in our predominately White school district. We were taught to say “may I,” and “please” and “thank you.” We were taught not to steal because the item didn’t belong to us (though this still happened—that’s another story). We were raised in a Christian household, blessed by generations of family members whose love for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has bestowed God’s blessings and favor upon us today, as promised in Exodus 20:6

My grandma said that I was “born smiling.” Yet, in all of this “goodness,” and the compassion and kindness I show toward others today, trust and believe it’s not because I am “good.” I am still a product of being born into sin and a fallen nature. All of us are, due to mankind’s fall/Adam and Eve. Unequivocally, what you see outwardly from me is the Holy Spirit living and working moment-by-moment within me. Countless times the Holy Spirit has stopped me short of saying words that would be unkind. Countless times He has settled me with His love and peace toward others when my flesh wants to rise up and lay them out. As I wrote in this March 10, 2016 post, “10 Things I Shouldn’t Do But Do Anyway,” I am an imperfect vessel.

Transformation

I’ve purposely asked the Lord to transform me into His likeness. I daily pray that He help me extend toward others greater levels of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, joy, kindness, love, patience, peace and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I give Jesus ALL of the GLORY for who I am, because of His living in me. I am not foolish in thinking that all of this has come because I am “so good.” It’s because I’ve made a deliberate choice to walk in His ways, to yield to His spirit and instruction to love others.

In fact, the Scottish Baptist evangelist Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), said “love means that there is no longer a visible habit, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously.” Loving others is becoming more and more for me each day, less of a habit and more a fabric of my being. Thank you, Jesus!

Those of us who daily yield our actions, words and thoughts to the Holy Spirit’s ways understand this humbling yet joyful transformation. As told in Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

It’s a blessing when we see God’s perfecting at work in our lives and others see the EVIDENCE as well. To call it anything less by saying “we are good” is to deny the greater work that has been invested in us by a loving God who values us so. If not for Him, we’d be left to our own devices. Without inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, it’s foolish thinking to consider ourselves “good.” As a dear sister in Christ says, “We underestimate our sin. We underestimate who we are.”

So please, do not consider me “good.” But rather, consider me being perfected daily in Christ Jesus!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

Finish What You Start

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  (Philippians 1:6 MSG)

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

Jill Tomlinson, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer, co-founder of Transcend Ministries

Can you relate to the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you feel when you complete a project? It’s a great feeling to see the fruit of your labor and to know you persevered to see it to completion.

On the other hand, have you ever begun a project with great enthusiasm only to throw in the towel before it was time? Admittedly, this is not a great trait to possess, but it is pretty common among people from all walks of life. I know I have been guilty of leaving some things unfinished and abandoning projects in my lifetime. It is a character flaw and temptation that many people wrestle with at home, at work, or in school.

The great news is God is not flawed and He finishes every single thing He starts! He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Sometimes in the craziness of life or the storms that are sent to discourage us, we begin to believe the subtle lie that God has forgotten us or our situation. We can remember His all-sufficient grace that was so real at salvation, but somehow feel as though we need to help Him finish the good work He began.

The belief that God has forgotten or failed us even for a minute couldn’t be further from the truth. God is for us, He is with us, and He is always perfecting His “project” and purpose within our lives. He will not fail or falter. He has also given us the mind of Christ and the ability through His Spirit to resist the temptation to give up. You and I are overcomers through the blood of Jesus. What we start, we can see to completion and enjoy the fruitfulness of it.

startfinish

Be encouraged today, knowing that what you start you can finish through the strength and wisdom of Christ and that the good work God has begun in you, He will finish. Nothing gives Him greater satisfaction—He delights in it!

– Jill

Jill is an author, writer, speaker, and teacher. In her book, No More Lies, Jill leads others through the same journey of biblical truth that brought her freedom and wholeness. Jill and her husband, Jimmy, are the founders of Transcend Ministries—a ministry dedicated to empowering the body of Christ and making disciples worldwide through teaching, writing, and evangelism. They reside in Colorado and have four amazing children—two daughters, a son, and a son-in-law. Jill’s next book, Forgiven, Favored & Free, is available September 2015. For more information or to order her books, visit www.transcendministries.org.

Learn more about Jill Tomlinson here.