New Designs

Newly budding leaves at the end of a branch.
Mary DeMuth/Lightstock

One of the things that constantly amazes me about God is the way He's always doing new things. His nature is unchanging—the Bible says He's "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)—and yet, He's always in motion, never stagnant. He's always doing creative things in new ways, and He's full of surprises.

That's a model we want to build on. You might only be on page 5 of this issue, but by now, you've doubtless noticed that Citizen is sporting a new look this month—a little sleeker, a little cleaner, a lot more streamlined than we have been over the last few years. We think it's a good update that brings you information in a way that's easier to read, and we hope you do too. (As always, you can share your thoughts by emailing us at citizeneditor@focusonthefamily.com.)

Political conservatives are already well-versed in what is colloquially known as "the culture war"—that line of demarcation between biblical values and the system at work in the world. But as Christians, we know that war is really taking place in the spiritual realm—and that's where it is won or lost. What we see taking place in the culture is a reflection and a result of what's going on spiritually. 2 Corinthians 10:4 reminds us that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power to destroy strongholds" (English Standard Version).

Have you ever considered the fact that faith, hope and love are actually spiritual weapons? Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1); hope is the confident expectation of good (2 Corinthians 1:7, Amplified); and love is God Himself (1 John 4:8).

What does the enemy have in his arsenal that could possibly overcome that combination? Nothing–but that doesn't keep him from trying! Discouragement, discord and distraction are three of the things he uses a lot. The enemy wants to keep us focused on our circumstances and not on God's plans or overcoming ability to work in our midst and on our behalf for one simple reason: Discouraged, disunified people pose no threat. On the other hand, encouraged people of God become absolutely devastating to the enemy, because they know nothing is about their abilities: Everything is about His.

So our main goal at Citizen—one which has always existed, and which remains unchanged—is to encourage you. Change is possible. God isn't done with us yet. We can make a difference! Think about it: When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, He said, "Do it like this … 'Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.'" Would He have instructed us to do that if it wasn't actually a possibility? How's that for counterintuitive? The God Who can do everything with a word, Who doesn't need us at all, loves us so much that He sent his Spirit to live inside us—to make us new designs—and chooses to partner with us to accomplish His will. That is mind-bogglingly amazing.

So let's take heart, and be encouraged. Let's be spiritually dangerous people who know how to wield faith, hope and love the way God wants us to—with creative, joyful abandon.

© 2015 Focus on the Family. Originally published in the March, 2016 issue of Citizen magazine.