Here we are, a handful of days into a new year, and my inbox is noisy: buy this, try this, join this, and break free in ’23 by checking off your bucket list!
On and on and on it goes.
What if we dismissed the razzamataz and choose to embrace godly wisdom?
Lamentations 3:24 tells us: “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.“
Scripture leaves little room for bucket lists and personal agendas. Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24) is the song of holy living. This is how the Lord becomes our portion.
Is the Lord your portion? Will you hope only in him?
A few days before Christmas, I ordered a small book called Narrow Gate Narrow Way by Paul Washer. I devoured it in one sitting, and then I cried.
I cried because the Holy Spirit was close, stitching up my sore heart. I cried because I suddenly knew that as much as my husband and I often feel alone in ministry–solitary in our belief that God is to be utterly adored, obeyed, cherished, and trusted– we are never alone. God is with us.
And so are others.
Indeed there is a remnant of surrendered Christ-followers, as God is at work, gathering and strengthening his people.
Listen to Paul Washer:
I want you to know that when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more on a godless culture than it is on the Word of God. So many young people and adults are deceived into believing that because they prayed a prayer one time in their life, they are going to heaven. Then, when they look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people living just as the world does, and when they compare themselves to themselves, nothing troubles their heart. They think, “Well, I am the same as most others in my youth group. I watch things I should not watch on television and laugh about the very things God hates. I wear clothing that is sensual. I talk like the world. I walk like the world. I love the music of the world. I love so much that is in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian. Why am I a Christian? …Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.
I want you to know that the greatest heresy in the American evangelical and Protestant church is the false idea that if you pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, He will definitely come in. You will not find that in any place in Scripture. You will not find it frequently in church history until the last century or two. What you need to know is that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ. And faith alone in Jesus Christ is inseparable from repentance. Repentance is turning away from sin; a hatred for the things that God hates and a love for the things that God loves; and a growing in holiness and in the desire not to be like the latest popular idol, like the world, like the great majority of American Christians. It is a desire to be like Jesus Christ! (Narrow Gate, Narrow Way pp 6-7)
He doesn’t mince words, and why should he?
A few days ago, I received an email from a woman who is currently in the throngs of horrific suffering. Her husband has abandoned her, two of her grown children have left church while thumbing their nose at God, and her third adult child has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. There was even more to it, but the point was that in the midst of it all, she is clinging to God. She thanked me for openly writing about faith in Christ, suffering, repentance, and holiness, and what Scripture has to say about narrow way living.
Twenty-four hours after reading and responding to her kind words, I was confronted by another who shared that I was far too serious and narrow minded in my writing. God accepts us as we are, said she, and we should not judge how others live.
Oh, the vast sorrow I felt, within my frail human skin.
My desire is not to strive to offend, but to stir and awaken sleepy souls. I was once a sleepy soul, and it is no place to remain.
Speaking clear biblical truth is highly offensive to the flesh. People walking on the wide path do not have eyes to discern that pursuing holiness is paramount. Until the Holy Spirit opens one’s eyes, we are continually speaking two different languages: one which condones and enables wide path living, and one that follows the difficult, narrow way. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Genuine redemption will breed healthy, growing fruit, nourished by the richest of soils, Jesus Christ himself. A true believer will desire to pursue godliness at all costs, because a true believer is filled with the Holy Spirit.
I also wept after reading Washer’s book, because I am saddened by the reality of painful relational shifts due to my faith. While suffering has shattered my fear of man into a million pieces that I have gathered and tossed into the trashcan, relational losses still sting. And yet I remain grateful for the jagged slashes of suffering, aches which pull me closer to the heart of Christ.
Many people I care about adore the world and are deceived, infatuated by the Atta boys of man, remaining prisoners of this present world, chained and enslaved to their lust of people-pleasing, rendered incapable of glorifying God.
God cannot be your portion as long as the world is.
And if God is your portion, the world will persecute you.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12)
If you are not being persecuted for your faith, examine your life. Do you desire to live a godly life? If your answer is yes, how are you obeying God on narrow path living?
I have circled the sun 50 times, and not once have I met a godly person who is consumed by pleasing man, building personal platforms, or checking off bucket lists of self-gratifying pursuits.
The godly people I have known have been consumed by the same burning fires: soaking in Scripture daily, loving God through obedience, walking in ongoing repentance, praying continually, speaking truth boldly and steadfastly, and denying themselves while serving others.
The Lord is their portion, and every single one of them has suffered persecution.
While my heart’s desire is to invite as many as possible along the narrow path, the reality is that this is a work of God. I can exhort, encourage, and even plead, but according to Scripture there are four soils, and only one of them yields genuine faith. (Matthew 13:1-23) And the hard truth to embrace is that those three unfruitful soils are the majority, scattered within churches, thieving the name Christian, appearing godly but denying the power of God. (2 Timothy 3:5)
It is heart-wrenching to watch so many people I care for skipping merrily along the wide path, bent on fulfilling their dreams, grandstanding, eager to accumulate popularity and wealth, while choosing to protect fragile, ungodly relationships, so terrified to offend.
What are genuine Christians called to do?
Perhaps it will encourage and embolden you to consider this:
If a tornado was approaching your friends’ home, and you knew it, but they did not, would you swiftly pick up the phone and warn them? Or would you pause and weigh out your options, fearful to cause offense because they were a tad busy, inside that endangered structure, enjoying family dinner and a movie?
What would be the most loving thing to do?
The good news this new year is that you may dismiss worldly pursuits and make God your portion and your hope.
If you are reading this, you are alive. And because you are currently breathing, is not too late to trust fully in God. Ask him to give you saving faith, transforming your limp and wicked heart with a swell of his transforming power, making you eager to love and obey him. Or if you are already a Christian, but have grown sleepy, return to the Lord with renewed vigor, feasting on Scripture and prayer.
Determine to saturate your heart, soul, and mind with the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. If reading is difficult for you, listen to a Bible app, or ask someone to read aloud on your behalf. Dip yourself deeply within the pages of Scripture. There are no shortcuts to personal holiness. Pay attention to what every chapter teaches you about the character of God. Learn what he detests and seek out that which he praises and requires. Then obey.
May God be your portion and your hope, now and forever.
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8 thoughts on “The Lord is My Portion”
I just returned from my morning routine walk with my fury friend, and I had you so profoundly on my heart. I rise at 5:00 AM to read, pray, and search my heart for my ever present sinful ways. Uncharacteristically, I opened my email and saw your post. I read and praised the Lord for you in my life, albeit if only through technology, yet ever my blessing.
I, too, have read the for mentioned book by Paul Washer. I gave thanks and praise for Paul and the gifts our Lord has blessed him with. I am in awe of the gift of salvation from God’s leading toward His sacrificial Son, Jesus’ arms of love… purification and regeneration of my wicked hard heart to a pliable, soft, born-again heart that actually feels.
God bless you, your husband, his flock, and all your children.
I love the Lord, Psalm 116 🙌🏽💕✝️
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Thank you for such rich encouragement! I am grateful to count you as a faithful reader here.🙏🏻
Amen and Amen! Kristin- your words are 100% the same as the words the Lord has been speaking to me. We are not alone. God Himself is with us in the Person of His Son, who has given us His Spirit to dwell within us. And preserved for His written word the Bible. And the Fellowship of the Saints. And the Privilege of Prayer!
My cup overflows!
Ezek 12:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people.
Mark 4:22-23, Luke 8:8 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
I am determined to saturate my heart, soul, and mind with God’s Holy Word.
I want to KNOW HIM, LOVE HIM, and TRUST and OBEY HIM.
O for Grace to Trust Him more!
God Bless you! I look forward to your Thursday post and your words never fail to encourage and touch my heart!
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Thank you for these wonderful Scriptures! And for taking the time to comment!🙏🏻💛
Hi Kristin, I am a regular reader and I very much appreciate your thoughts and perspective. Your words really hit home to me today and I wanted to share my situation and ask your advice. You said, “…relational losses still sting.” But what if they do much more than sting?
About 8 years ago, our middle son and his wife, who do not know the Lord, decided that their then 4 year old son should have been born a girl. They proceeded over the next 2 years to completely “transition” him to become a girl. At the time we were so stunned that we could hardly speak. We told them we loved them, but we barely said anything else. We watched in horror as they began a very public process. You can google “David (Dave) Edwards” and see all that happened. They did not speak to us for almost 4 years I guess in part because we did not stand with them during all the turmoil. I can still remember seeing my daughter-in-law on TV and she was crying. My heart broke but we did not know what to do.
At the end of that time, we met with them and told them we believed that there was such a thing as “gender dysphoria.” We told them we loved them and Hildie (Holden) and that we would never do anything to hurt her and that we wanted to be part of their lives. We did NOT say that we agreed with them in every way or that we supported everything they were doing. Our son grew up in our home so he knows what we believe. Since that time, we have had somewhat of a relationship. We are invited to their home and to choir concerts, etc. We love them all dearly. And sometimes I just want to shout at them and ask what they are thinking to destroy this child’s life the way they are. But, I know that should I do that–or even speak to them kindly with love, they would instantly reject us and ask to never speak to them again. They said at the beginning, “If you can’t celebrate this, then you can’t be a part of our lives.” I have three sons, and a second son has joined this brother in his support of all they do. They even left their good church to find one that is more “welcoming and affirming.” I’ve come to hate that phrase! It is so hard to know what is right here. If we speak up, we will lose any chance we have at all of having any kind of influence in our grandchildren’s lives. I do truly know that the battle is the Lord’s, but we struggle with exactly how to handle this. Most of our pastor’s don’t really know exactly what to do either.
I see the tornado coming but what can I do?
Thank you for reading this. If you have any thoughts, I would welcome them. Thank you again, Kristin, for your wisdom and your words.
Sincerely, Connie Edwards
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Oh Connie, this is heartbreaking to read. I am praying for you now. 🙏🏻 Also, I will be emailing you personally this weekend with words that I hope will encourage you and your husband. It will be too long a response to include in this space. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙏🏻
Thank you Kristin for highlighting “Narrow Gate Narrow Way” by Paul Washer. I read the book and listened to the sermon that the book is based on. I searched online and found that Tim Challies gave a good background for the sermon. The sermon is part of the Great Sermon Series sponsored by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Blessings to you and the family.
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I did not know this!! Thank you for telling me!🙏🏻