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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

My New Years Resolution

Hi everyone! I decided that I want to share my new years resolution with you, because it is something I believe many of us forget to do. So here it is.. slow down. That’s it, just slow down and experience the world that God has designed for us. I want to take the time to appreciate every moment for what it is. I want to live my life paying attention to the journey, not just impatiently waiting for the arrival. I don’t want to chase someone else’s life or waste my time comparing myself to another person. “Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever—of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth (Exodus 20:4).” I want to be able to wake up everyday with the perspective that it is a new day that God has given to me for a reason, it is a chance to experience something new, a chance at learning something new, and a new chance at sharing the love of Jesus with other people.

I believe it is so easy for us to get caught up in the everyday routine. Rushing back and forth, finding the next thing to do seems like our default setting. Fortunately, that is not what we were made to do. We are made to slow down and enjoy this life. We must take time for God first, then everything else second; we are meant to work but not make our career an idol. The point of this life is not to waste time searching for earthly treasures, but to instead spend time slowing down to focus on eternal treasures.  “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17).” This life is so temporary, it is just a time of passing through. Spending life trying to gain more money, trying to please people, or trying to be exactly what others or society wants us to be just doesn’t make sense. We spend our lives chasing things that have no meaning in the end.

My suggestion is to constantly remind ourselves to slow down. Stop to think, relax, pray, praise… whatever it is. Just stop rushing and stop wasting time. We are not made to just kill time here on earth. “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (Jeremiah 2:25 MSG).” God wants us to slow down and He tells us that many times in the bible. Our priority should be to make time for Him, because only then will everything else fall into place. Saying we’re to busy to pray, we’re to busy for Him right now, or we have to much to do to read a verse or two everyday, is a false sense of control on our lives. When we put God first all else falls into place. When we stop to slow down and realize our true purpose and forget the meaningless things going on around us, we will be living out God’s will. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need (Luke 12:31).”

So, as we go into this new year of 2018 lets decide to slow everything down, so we can grasp the true meaning in this life.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)”

There is a time for each and every thing here on this earth, so don’t miss it. Slow down and seek God, it will be worth it. Think about this, Jesus was on the greatest rescue mission of all time, and He was still able to slow down and enjoy the blessings that God gives on earth.

 

Prayer: Lord, Today I want to pray for my new years resolutions. I want to use these resolutions for your glory, so I can be more like Jesus everyday. Lord help me to continue to slow down. This life is not a constant run, that is not what you made it to be. Help me to appreciate every moment made by you. Help me to be present in the life you have put me in. Help me to remember that my true purpose and goal is to share you and your heart. Be by my side this year, and help me to make it a of year of focusing on you. Amen. 

 

 

Faith is Not Religion

Hi everyone! I want to share a very real truth with you today! So, here it is… faith is not religion. Let me explain further, there is a huge difference between faith and religion. You can have both together at the same time and many times this does happen, but they are not the same thing and they are not interchangeable. Religion can be defined as, “a personal set or institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs and practices. While faith is defined as, complete trust or confidence in someone or something; in this case Jesus. As you can see these are very different definitions. Again, they can also be used together. Most religions and religious practices are based off of faith, but you can have faith and be completely saved without being religious. I personally see faith as, following the bible and Jesus’s heart alone, nothing else is added. This is why I do not identify myself as a religious person; I am simply a follower of Jesus and saved by grace and grace alone.

In the bible it is clear that Jesus comes to help distinguish between religion and faith, by explaining that people do not make the rules and following a set of religious rules and doing good deeds will not get you into Heaven. “Before faith came, we were guarded under the law, locked up until faith that was coming would be revealed, (Galatians 3:23).” So going to church every Sunday is an absolutely wonderful thing to do, to hear the word of God, but that alone doesn’t get you into Heaven. Being baptized without accepting Jesus as your savior doesn’t get you into Heaven. Doing charity work everyday does not get you into Heaven. Doing good works is a wonderful thing to do in accordance with your faith. Giving for the purpose of loving others and loving God is vital to living out your faith. “See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete in his faithful actions (James 2:22).” We should be careful how we live our life once we do have faith because we may be the only bible some will ever read.  But it is only through Jesus. 

Not a single person on this earth has not sinned, it is in our human nature to sin. Even though we are sinners God wanted to be with us. He didn’t need us at all, but He wanted us so much that He sent His one and only Son to earth. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” God himself became flesh to dwell among us, and offer himself as the ultimate sacrifice so we could have a chance to live with Him in Heaven. Now when we accept Jesus as our savior, God sees the new us, He sees Jesus in us, He sees the forgiven us.

The most important point of this message is that no matter what you identify yourself as, no matter what religion you are or are not, there is only one way to Heaven and it is not through man-made rules or good works it is through accepting Jesus as your savior. It is by knowing that you are a sinner, knowing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and knowing that through accepting Him you will receive the ultimate salvation. One of the awesome things about faith is that there’s not any gray area, it is black and white. If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you are not saved. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, you are saved. So I encourage you to ask yourself these questions, “Am I following a man-made religion without putting Jesus at the center?” and “Have I truly accepted Jesus Christ as my one and true savior?” “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). 

Thank you guys so much for reading! Comment below or contact me with with any questions! 🙂

My College Experience

Hey everyone, I am so excited to announce that I graduated!

This is not a story about my education though, it is about my experience through college and how God was there holding my hand through each step. I also want to share some tips I learned from my college career, that I wish I would have known or applied to my life sooner.

So, I’ll start at the beginning… I have never known what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do. I always thought it was so unnecessary for someone to have to choose and hold onto one subject for the rest of their life. During my senior year of high school, while I was applying to colleges, it was thrown into my face too many times to count that I had to choose a career choice. I even went to a professional who is supposed to tell you what you should or could do, but his answer was just as broad as mine. So finally at the very end of summer going into college I decided to try nursing. I thought, “maybe if I go for something specific and get in I will end up liking it.” So I went through my first year of pre-nursing prerequisites and got into nursing school. I was so excited… I thought, “this is it, this is obviously my path!” Unfortunately, I knew something was wrong the very first day in the very first class. The professor stood at the front of the class and said, “alright, I want everyone to go around the room and say why they want to become a nurse.” I thought, “well this should be easy,” but as everyone went around the room my mind was blank, I had absolutely no clue why I wanted to be a nurse… as I was panicking about my answer it became my turn to talk. I looked up, paused, and took a mixture of the answers I had already heard such as: “I am a caretaker, I love the medical field, this is my calling.” Though I felt like my heart couldn’t have been in any of those answers. Knowing that getting into nursing school was such an amazing opportunity, I ignored my first day and continued through nursing school for a year. I was miserable, I knew that I didn’t want to be a nurse.

There I was again back to square one; I had no idea what I wanted to do. So towards the end of that semester of nursing school, I searched through different majors that had a lot of the same prerequisites. I found Health Information Management, I thought, “yea this could be good, healthcare without the direct care.” So I went through the tedious process of switching majors. I spent a lot of hours and summer classes trying to catch up so that I could still graduate on time. At first it seemed fine, it seemed like a field I could tolerate. To no surprise I got to the end of my junior year to find out that not only was I starting to think this was not the right choice, but they were adding to the curriculum. So, I would have to attend an extra semester or two. At this point, I already knew that I didn’t want to do Health Information Management anymore, I especially didn’t want to have to extend my school career even longer for it.

So, I called my advisor, embarrassed and concerned. I asked her if I had any other options without having to add semesters. She said that there was one option I could choose. She explained that I could graduate a semester early with a Bachelors degree in General Studies of math and science and pursue a Sociology Minor. I reluctantly took this offer, remembering all of the bad thoughts and awkward silences that followed when someone said they were a General Studies major. I was embarrassed to switch my major again, I was embarrassed to major in General Studies and I was embarrassed to be a senior in college who didn’t have a single clue what to do with my life.

Then something changed, I found that switching my major to General Studies was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, because I was able to find out who I was without someone telling me who society wanted me to be. During this time I also realized one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. This was that I did not include God in my decision making process throughout college. Though I didn’t try to include Him, He stayed by me. It was clear to see that I was tangled up in a mess of expectations of this world. Throughout my college career God slowly untangled me into the spot where I am now, perfectly happy to be me.

Through my last semester of college, as a General Studies major, God showed me so many things that I want to share with you in hope that you will apply them to your lives.

  1. Your strengths are not necessarily what you are good at, they are what gives you energy and life. Strengths that drain your energy are not strengths at all.
  2. Weaknesses are just strengths waiting to be noticed. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  3. Curiosity creates passions and passions create values. Stay curious, be a life-long learner, do not stop trying new things! The things that you value most in life should be your compass to what you want to define yourself as or what you want your life to be like.
  4. IT IS OKAY TO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO. Schools should be encouraging us to find out who we are, not who we want to work for.
  5. Its okay to not answer with a job title when someone asked you what you do. If you want to define yourself by something else, go ahead! If you want to define yourself as sister, golf player, follower of Jesus, or even just say I do too many things to choose one, that is perfectly fine because God doesn’t define you as the career you do.
  6. Most importantly, Put God first. When I stopped worrying, started praying and put my focus on finding Him, I found myself and my purpose.

So, I hope my experience and advice can help some of you to take steps toward being happy with who you are! Comment below and let me know what you think!

We Know How the Story Ends

Recently, it has been easy to see that there is a war going on in our nation and around the globe. The pain, the brokenness, the hatred, and the violence that I am discussing is not being caused by a war between flesh and blood. This war is a war that has been going on ever since sin blanketed the earth and entered into human nature… it is called spiritual warfare.

Spiritual warfare is the battle between good and evil, the fights between angels and demons and the constant devouring of the earth and the people on it by Satan himself. I know this sounds scary and maybe you don’t even want to believe it, but it is true. Yes, Christianity and a relationship with Jesus do bring joy and they do bring hope, but being a Christian does not mean that you or people around you will have a pain free life. It doesn’t simply remove bad things from happening. This is because Satan knows who is threatening him. He knows the people who are making a difference for the kingdom of God, so he wants to make them turn away from God. He does this by putting doubts inside of our head, distracting us with sin, or many other difficulties leaving us lost and afraid. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be clearheaded. Keep Alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world.” 

But the good news is that by having Jesus in your life and in your heart, you are able to be free from the pain of fear because you have hope. This hope is in the fact that this world is so temporary, but God and Heaven are forever. If you are saved and you truly trust that your home is in Heaven, Satan cannot touch you. So be a warrior of grace and truth, arm yourself with the shield of God. Tell EVERYONE about Jesus and show EVERYONE love! The only way to fix a broken nation and broken people is through Jesus Christ. For darkness cannot resist light… so be the light.

And guess what guys! No matter how many cheap shots evil tries to take upon this earth you must know that SATAN HAS ALREADY LOST THE WAR. God has won and all of His people are going to go home to Heaven, where the bible says there will be no more pain and no more tears. Revelation 12:9 and 12 say, “So the great dragon who was thrown down. The old snake, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was thrown down to earth; and his angels were thrown down with him.” “Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them. But oh! The horror for the earth and sea! The devil has come down to you with great rage, for he knows that his days are numbered.” His days are numbered… Evil will not be forever.

It ends with Jesus, that is a promise that we can all hold on to through times of trouble. Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13)

“Yes, I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:20)

Living Free

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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!