A Call to Action

So what does it mean to be a Christian? Someone of faith? A follower of Jesus? First, it means that you have been saved. Receiving salvation simply means that you have accepted the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth to willingly be brutally murdered for us and our sins. It is also believing that He was raised to life again, conquering our hopelessness of eternal death. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10). Through Jesus, we are able to have eternal life in Heaven. But that’s just the first part… the second part of being a follower of Jesus is taking action. We spend our time studying the bible, going to church, participating in Bible study, or small group. We listen to K-Love, we read the verse of the day, but what do we do about it? Are we just containing the information God has given us or are we actually acting upon it? Are we ignoring that still small voice or obeying and trusting in it?

 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31).  Could you imagine if everyone who has ever read these words actually applied them to our lives daily? How much greater this world might be; spreading love instead of throwing hate at everyone. This is just one example, the whole bible is full of “calls to action.” The bible is a guidebook, not just a book of information. It will lead our next steps, tell us where to go, how to love, how to have hope, how to be a follower of Jesus. 

What are we specifically asked to take action on as Christians? Jesus answers this very clearly, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Mathew 28:19). Jesus wants us to use our time on this earth to help others join the kingdom of God. Now, the next part of this paragraph is very important. Judging, gossiping, hating, arguing and telling others they are wrong is not even close to the way we should be treating others. That turns people away from God faster than anything else! I’m sure we have all experienced that ourselves. Unfortunately, there are many people who have missed out because of the hatred and judgment of Christians they know in their lives. So how do we make disciples of others? We love them. That’s it. We love them even when they don’t want to be loved, we forgive, we accept, we only spread joy and light. That’s what Jesus did and that’s the action we are called to do.
Right now I want you to think of an action you can start to take to love others into Jesus, starting today. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). Make an impact for Jesus!
Advertisements

God’s Timing is Perfect

“God’s timing is perfect,” “Just trust in God’s timing,” I am sure you have heard these phrases a couple times in your life. Maybe you’ve even heard them when you least wanted to. But I am here to tell you that what can be misconstrued as an over used christian phrase, or a comment someone makes when they don’t know how to explain your current life struggles, is completely true. God’s timing is indeed perfect, in every way. If you have been able to recognize God’s timing in your own life, I am sure you agree that it always ends up being better than us trying to rush something, or trying to make something slow down ourselves. It is much better to wait for God and have everything fall into place than to rush and have everything fall apart.

So why is it that God’s timing is a topic discussed so often? I believe it is for two reasons 1) Waiting for God and understanding God’s timing is mentioned in the bible over and over again because God knew it would be something we would struggle with. 2) Our idea of the right timing and God’s idea of right timing tend to be very different.The least will become a thousand, and the smallest a powerful people. I am the Lord; at the right moment, I will hurry it along.” (Isaiah 60:22). When the moment is right, in God’s eyes, it will happen. So why is it that it always seems to take so long? God knows everything about your life, every moment from the past, present and future. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). The reason you have to wait sometimes is because He has a plan greater than you could imagine. For example, sometimes the job you’ve been wanting doesn’t take you, but something better comes up later. That’s the beauty of God’s timing!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). So now you may be asking, “Why should I trust in God’s plan for me, if I already have plans for myself?” Trusting in God’s plans for our lives is one of the biggest struggles of being a christian. He answers the question above in a very simple way though. Here it is: He knows more than we do. That’s it. When it comes to our futures we have blinders on, but He knows everything that is going to happen in our future. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

Just let go, let God control, and let Him be the God of your life. One of the major roles in having a good relationship with God is trusting in His timing and His plan. When we decide to move forward without God, it is as if we are telling the God of the universe that He has no idea what He is doing. When in reality, we have no idea what we are doing and God is the one who knows the outcome. Take comfort in the fact that the one who holds your life loves you more than anyone ever could. When you put Him first things really will start falling into place. Trust in Him, put your hope in Him, His timing is perfect.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

 

Finding Your Identity In Jesus

I think that many of us have struggled with the unavoidable question of, “who am I?” Usually, this question doesn’t just come up once or twice, it happens all the time. Every new stage in life seems to bring about this soul-aching question. So how do we truly answer it? Is there a way to be able to confidently proclaim who we are even when life is changing all around us? Well…yes, there is a way to boldly claim who we are and know confidently what our identity is.

One thing we must understand before discovering this answer is that the answer to the question, “who am I?” can always change. It is allowed to change along with life’s unpredictable circumstances. The one thing that will never change is Jesus. No matter what is going on in our lives, good or bad, our identity in Jesus is the same now and forever. We will never be able to find fulfillment in ourselves or in anything of this world. Even if we try to find meaning in our accomplishments, we will never be fully satisfied. The same holds true for our identity. When we try to find our identity in this world, we will always be searching and it will always be changing. Finding our identity in Jesus will bring peace and fulfillment.

Below are a couple of bible verses to help answer our identity crises…

(1) You are made in the image of the Almighty God

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

(2) If you have received salvation, you are a child of God 

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” (John 1:12)

(3) You are loved immeasurably more than you could imagine 

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

(4) You are new 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

(5) You are a working and purposeful part of one body 

 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

(6) You are gifted 

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)

(7) You are set free, you are unchained from sin 

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—” (Romans 6:6)

(8) You are worth dying for 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

If you are struggling with your identity, know this truth: you are a child of God, made in the image of God. You are loved, you are made new and you are a very useful part of one body, with other believers. You are gifted, you are free and Jesus Christ said you were worth dying for. Even if you cannot figure out who you are on this earth, hold onto the most important identity you will ever have, your eternal identity through Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weakness is a Strength

It is okay to be weak, actually, it is good! Weakness is seen as something that must be weaned out if this world. God’s measure of weakness and strength is much different than our measure of it here on earth. We see that many people struggle with letting go of control and admitting they need God’s strength to fill where they are weak. But in the Bible, God constantly shows us that weakness is necessary. Understanding our weakness and being fully dependent, is what faith in God is all about. Weakness is a strength.

but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

We must understand that we simply can not live this life alone, we can not go through all of these battles alone. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.” (John 15:5). Without God, we can do nothing, with God ALL things are possible. This is especially true in difficult times. Unexplainable strength can be found in us when we give our weakness to God. When we are able to say, “I have nothing left” or “I don’t want to do this without you,” your strength changes, your heart changes and your joy changes… even if the circumstances don’t change.

To have an awesome relationship with God we must learn to be dependent on Him. The Bible gives us a great metaphor for this by suggesting for us to be childlike. What does this mean? It does not mean to be childlike in maturity or wisdom, it means to be childlike in dependency. Children depend on their parents for their daily needs and wants. This is how we are to go about our relationship with God. Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 18:3). If we try to provide our own daily needs and wants every day, we will get worn down extremely fast. So rely on him for everything! Depending on God will lead you to that place of immeasurably more hope and joy; it will lead you to immeasurably more peace and comfort. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29). Freedom is found through dependence on Him.

So, how do we depend on Him? We let go of control! He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;…” (Psalms 46:10). Be still and understand that we have beyond less control of our lives than God. We forget the past, ignore the present and focus too much on planning a future that may or may not turn out. God knows every second of our past, present, and future. When we accept our limits and give it all to God we stop just surviving and start thriving. “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b). 

It is not about our strength, it’s about God’s strength. Where we are limited, He is limitless. Where we are weak, He is strong.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

 

What The Bible Says About Heaven

So, Heaven…what is Heaven really? What can we expect? How do we get there?

Well, no one truly knows what Heaven looks like. Unfortunately, we don’t have a full description of what to expect when we get there. My guess is that it is just too amazing to even describe with words. “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Though we don’t know everything, the bible does give us a few hints here and there to help us imagine a perfect eternity with God. The only reason we can have true hope in this life is because of Heaven. As people who have received salvation, we are able to hold onto the fact that the pain of this world is so temporary compared to the perfection and joy in Heaven. One thing that we know for sure is that Heaven is the kingdom of God. It is a place where people, who have received salvation, go when their physical bodies die here on earth. We also know that Jesus Christ, our savior, sits at the right hand of God. If  we are saved we will be able to live and dwell among God for eternity! I want to share with you guys some of the verses we are given about Heaven; and why we can can be encouraged to await going home, to the place where we are true citizens forever. “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21). 

So why is it going to be so amazing? Why are we going to be joyful all of the time? Because sin doesn’t exist in Heaven. Sin is the root of every problem in our lives here on earth. Even if not directly, sin creeps into our emotions, our relationships, our words, even our physical health. One of my favorite sections in the entire bible helps me to picture even just a little of bit of Heaven. It gives me encouragement and life: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.” (Revelation 21:21-25). Picturing this scene gives me chills. That is our forever home.

I mentioned before that Heaven is our hope for our temporary pain on earth; why is that? That is answered here: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21: 4-7).

In Heaven pain does not exist, worry does not exist, stress does not exist, murder, death, fear, addiction, sorrow, grief… They are nonexistent. We will be unable to feel these horrible things. Only joy, happiness, laughter and love will take over our lives. That is why everyday we wake up in this broken world, we can have hope and joy for our future.

So, I have asked this question before, but I want to ask it again:

Are you going to Heaven?

 

 

 

 

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Hi everyone! Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! This is truly a day to celebrate. This amazing man knew God and He knew Jesus’s heart better than many people ever will. I think we can all follow his example to becoming more like Jesus and learn how to spread the love of Jesus throughout our broken world. That is the ultimate goal right?

Marin Luther King Jr. fought for equality in a time of hate, pain and discrimination. Unlike many during that time, he fought with one weapon, that weapon was love. Like Jesus, MLK had hate thrown at him from every angle, yet he still fought with love. He wanted the world to be peaceful. He didn’t create grudges against the people who persecuted him, he just wanted them to feel the love that could be possible if there were no more discrimination and hate. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” -Martin Luther King Jr. MLK truly put the verses of the bible into action. Our immediate response to people insulting us is, usually, to insult back, to “get back at them”, to hold a grudge or gossip against them. Yet, MLK took Mathew 5:44 and lived it out loud. Could you imagine what the world would be like today if we all took this verse seriously? “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mathew 5:44). 

What we have to understand here is that it is not like MLK was immune to human nature. I am sure that he had to fight the urges to hate, he had to fight the urges to retaliate and get even. This man resisted the devils calling and realized that God has everything under control. He trusted that his calling through love could do so much greater than his calling from hate. He gave his hate and his pain to God; and God took that hate and turned it into some of the greatest moments for equality in history. Hate is extremely unproductive compared to love. Why is that? Because love covers sins. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). 

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” -MLK. Martin Luther King Jr. had the wisdom to see what many of us still cannot see. He had the wisdom to see that a motivation fueled by love can do much more than motivation fueled by hatred and fear. Hatred and fear come from the devil; while love comes from God, God himself is love. Because God has already conquered the devil, hatred and fear flee and cower in the presence of love. “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2). 

I truly believe that Martin Luther King Jr. was able to accomplish so much, and spread this message of love because he knew that this was his temporary home. He knew that society’s views of him meant absolutely nothing compared to how God viewed him. He knew that eternal treasures and Heaven itself would cover the pain that he had to endure on this earth. “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right. Especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” -Martin Luther King Jr. 

Today I challenge you to take a look at your own life, are you motivated by love? Are you standing up for what you believe in or are you letting society’s views get in the way? Let go of the hate in your heart and give it to God. Start being who you were made to be and make an impact on this earth. Leave a legacy of love.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr. 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

** Don’t forget to subscribe to my page to get more posts like these sent straight to your inbox.**

Pray More Worry Less!

Prayer is one of the most fascinating and amazing parts of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, I think that many people see prayer as a task and not as a privilege. Honestly, I used to feel that same way about prayer. I would say a prayer before I went to bed every night, just to be able to check it off my mental to do list. I realized though that I was treating prayer as if I was following a religion, and not following faith. I was not following the freedom that God has given me. So, I soon started praying multiple times daily, I prayed not as a task but with my full heart. From then on, I noticed what a blessing seeing prayer as an opportunity could be.

Prayer is power… how you might ask? We must realize that when we are praying we are literally standing or kneeling before God… the God of the whole universe! Not only are we standing before Him, we are able to speak to Him. The best part is that we don’t have to get permission to speak to Him, He is constantly listening and constantly waiting for your voice. What an honor it is to get to talk to the Lord of all. “The Lord is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity.” (Psalms 145:18). Come close to Him and He will come close to you, prayer is the best way to reach Him!

He not only hears our prayers, but He answers them too. “I took my troubles to the Lord, I cried out to Him and He answered my prayer.” (Psalms 120:1). We must understand that He ALWAYS answers every single prayer. It is just that the prayer may not be answered in the way you planned it too. God answers every prayer and sometimes it is simply a no, but there is meaning behind that no. God does not shut doors without opening others. It is true that when He says to be patient or when He says no, He has something else planned. His plans are much greater than our own. “As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9). His understanding of us and our lives is much deeper than we could imagine.

Prayers do not necessarily have to be a cry for help… prayer can just be a happy everyday conversation with God. Simply talk to him… If you notice a beautiful sky on your way to work, let Him know that He makes such amazing things. If you see someone racing down the highway texting and driving pray for them to get to their destination safely. You can even just tell Him about how your day is going, good or bad. “Seek the Lord and His Strength; seek His face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:11). He is just waiting to hear you. Talking to Him and reading His word is how we are able to get to know Him and in turn how we get to know ourselves.

Pray without holding back who you are. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He knows everything about you, so you can not hide anything from Him. He knows what is truly in your heart and He knows your needs. “…because your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.” (Mathew 6:8). 

Now I know many times it is difficult to stop and pray, many times we think we are just too busy to pray. I want to offer you this theory, maybe its not our lack of time that causes us not to pray; maybe it is the lack of prayer that causes us to feel like we don’t have enough time. “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6). Maybe if we could just take the time in our busy schedules to stop and pray, the day wouldn’t feel so busy anymore.

Prayer eliminates anxiety; it puts your responsibilities and your worries in someone else’s hands. Not just anyones hands, the hands of God… The one who controls the outcome. So, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).

Living Free

IMG_6228.JPG

When you think of faith do you think of freedom? 

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

I think when many people think of the Bible and Christianity they think of what they can’t do and what they are limited to. This perspective is a false sense of a Christian identity.  People who claim Jesus as their savior are free, completely free. They are considered unchained and able to walk through life with no fears of tomorrow. What we do with this immeasurable freedom is completely our choice.

But… there is difference between the freedom to serve and freedom to sin. As said in 1 Peter 2:16, “Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves.” Freedom to sin is not freedom at all. Sin traps us deep below the surface. Darkness, fear suffocation, and all of the weight of our shame.

We must remember that our God is a living and loving God. As a matter of fact God is love. We are His prized creation, we are his masterpieces and does not want us to feel an ounce of pain especially pain from our sin. So he sent Jesus to save us.

“For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

We are set free for freedom! The more we embrace this amazing freedom the more faith and trust we can have in our amazing God and eternity. So we must live today for our God as free servants not chained slaves!