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!
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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)

 

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).

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The Keys to Curing an Anxious Heart

Happy Friday everyone! I want to end this week with some positive vibes. As we all know anxiety is inevitable in this world of ours. God knew this as a fact, which is why He gave us so many verses about anxiety, worry and fear. Our God is called the “comforter” for many reasons, the main one being that He can be the ultimate comfort to your anxious heart. I have personally experienced the comfort that these verses provide. I, and I bet many of you, could almost say that worrying is a habit. But being able to live by the truths I am about to share with you below, has created peace inside of me that gets me through anxious moments in my life.

Before we get into it, I want to teach/remind you where fear comes from. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (1 Timothy 1:7). God did not design fear for us, fear is the work of Satan. In my opinion it is probably his “best act.” We all experience fear, worry and anxiety in many ways about almost everything under the sun. I know this sounds scary, but it is actually great news! Why? because we know that God has already won the ultimate war against Satan. So fear is not forever, and it can be resisted. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). The devil has no real power compared to our God and Savior. Just as the devil will flee, so will fear. They only have power over us if we let them!

Now you may be asking, “How the heck do we resist fear?” God gives us a very simple answer in Philippians 4:6. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Do not be anxious about anything, instead pray about everything. His answer to resisting fear is to pray. When we hand our fears to God, we are letting go of control. Letting go of control of fear, is the equivalent to letting go of fear’s control over you. When I am feeling overwhelmed and anxious I like to ask myself, “Have I prayed about this situation as much as I have been worrying about it?” The answer is usually a no. As soon as I cast my cares onto him everything seems to fall into place. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).

Now let’s talk about some preventive care; or not having anxiety in the first place. This is one of the hardest tasks anyone could ever do. We as humans hate letting go of control of our lives. We are infamous for having fear of the unknown. We like to know what is coming next; we like to have schedules and plans. Unfortunately, that is not how life works most of the time (cue anxiety).

What we must understand is that God is in control of our lives no matter how hectic it may seem. Recently in one of the sermons at church we learned a really great metaphor for God when we are going through fearful times. Think back to when you were little and getting a shot was the scariest thing that could possibly happen to you. You were sitting there, in the doctors office, on a giant piece of crunchy paper. A nurse with cartoon characters on her shirt comes in smiling at you, while holding the biggest needle you’ve ever seen, up to your arm. You just don’t understand why your parents are forcing you through this awful pain. As a child we don’t understand that the shot that we are receiving is for our own good, it is to help us in the future, it is so we can live healthy and happy lives away from certain diseases. Well God is our father, he is much like a father would be in this situation. We are the child, who just doesn’t understand why this pain is supposed to help. “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).

God knows our paths and He has a plan for us. He knows our past, present and future. We do not have the understanding that He has. So when we go through certain trials in life, we must try to remember that God knows exactly what He is doing. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” (Proverbs 3:5). If you start to feel anxious cling to Gods promises. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25). We were not made to fear, we were made to be strong and courageous, we were made to have complete faith in God’s plan and we were made to welcome the unknown of the future! 

P.S. Feel free to save the image attached to this blog, just in case you need some emergency bible verses! 🙂

 

 

How to Have Joy When There Isn’t Happiness

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).

Today I want to talk about the differences between joy and happiness. By understanding the difference between these two words and being able to live out that difference, we can potentially travel through life with much more fulfillment. Joy is a word associated with God and Christianity for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that it is mentioned in the bible over and over again during a multitude of different circumstances. It is a word used to describe an inner feeling that one can obtain through salvation and through trust in God. In the bible it is used in situations such as: praying, praising, positive circumstances and negative circumstances. The point I want to make today is that happiness is good, but it is completely circumstantial. If we depend solely on happiness in life we will be let down, but if we have this inner joy, that only God can provide, then we can walk through life with hope for tomorrow.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter: 8-9). Joy comes as a result of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is a result of the hope that is generated from knowing that Heaven is in your future. With this hope, no matter what the circumstance, we can find joy from within ourselves. Why? Because we know that the end result of our life is eternal serenity, Heaven, an eternal life with God: where there is no pain and no fears. “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.” (Revelation 21:4).

We see time and time again, that people without joy continue to search for it, even if they do not know what they are searching for. Look how many books, diets, morning routines, drugs, etc. that claim to be the ultimate key to happiness. The happiness industry is booming because people today are missing something in life. They think it is a problem with their earthly happiness, but what they are really missing is inner joy! The reality is that nothing in this life will give us full-time happiness. There is nothing in this life that can secure our happiness. But having joy can give us the peace to deal with the hard times and it can give us appreciation during the good times. One other really important aspect of joy is the message it displays to others. Joy makes others curious about how someone can be so content during a storm in their lives. Being able to hold on to joy, can become a conversation piece. When others ask how you do it, simply saying Jesus is enough to strike up a fire in the curious persons heart.

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen
and there are no herds in the stalls,
 yet I will celebrate in the Lord;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17)

Joy is the unexplainable peace that someone can find even though they have lost a loved one. Joy is the hope that someone in poverty can have because they know their earthly status is not the same as their status in Heaven. Joy is the trust in God’s promise that He has already overcome the world, so we only need to be still. When I think of joy I think of the love of God. When I think of joy I think of the comfort of knowing the one who knows every single one of my flaws loves me more than anyone on this earth ever could. “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.” (Psalm 20:5). Shout for joy, He has already won!

So even if you can’t find anything to be happy about, maybe you can still find joy. If you have salvation find joy in the fact that no matter how tough your life is here on earth, you have hope of Heaven. If you have not received salvation and you feel like you have been searching for happiness lately, I suggest talking to God about it. Dig a little deeper, I bet you will be surprised about the fulfillment you find. Set out to live a life full of joy, not just happiness.