Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting to Know God

"But I am close to God. I go to church three times a week, and read a Psalm everyday."
 "I do know God. I've read the entire bible twice, and I'm halfway done for my third time." 
"I already have a relationship with God. My dad's a pastor and so was my grandfather. It's in my blood."
All that stuff is great, but it does nothing to get you any closer to God. If you really want to get closer to God, you're going to have to take some major steps. Here are three points that I came up with to actually know God.

1. Simply reading isn't enough.

In all honesty, we all could probably use some work in this area. But seriously, you can't read about someone and expect to get to really know them. That's knowing about them.
For example, if you clicked my name up there and read everything I have on my Google Plus profile, does that mean you know me? Personally? Or does that mean you know stuff about me?

Sadly, that's how many of us are with our relationship with God. We know all about God--that He's Almighty, Sovereign, omnipresent, the Beginning and End, our Comforter, our Protector, etc. But many of us never actually experience any of that in our own day-to-day lives; it's just knowledge. Like knowing your friend is a doctor, but never going to see him when you have some disease.
I'm not saying it's bad to read about God--it's great. But it's no replacement for an actual relationship. Knowledge is useless if not applied. Actions and understanding need to come with it. This leads me to my next point.

2. A relationship works two ways. 

A common definition of "relationship" is
"Emotional or other connection between people: the relationship between teachers and students." 
Notice the word "connection." A relationship is a connection between two or more people, not one person doing all the work while the other just sits and listens. Unfortunately, we've began to apply this to our relationship with God, in two ways.

The first way is when we work tirelessly to reach God, but don't give Him any time to talk or say anything back. Some people teach that if you read your bible cover to cover, or pray every hour of every day, then you'll be "spiritually connected" to God.
That's not true.
That's the equivalent of someone trying to do all these nice things to get close to you, but forget to actually spend time with and get to know you. They're so busy with their works, that they forget the relationship part.
In reality, we get ourselves even farther away from God than we were at the beginning.

The second way is when we turn ourselves off to God completely. Our world becomes us-centered and all we think about is ourselves. God becomes some distant memory, and we're off indulging ourselves in what we want to do. We basically say to God, "If you want me, come and get me!"

Neither of these examples are relationships with God. You're either trying to hard, or not trying at all. You're either not letting God in or pushing Him out. If there's a secret ingredient to a good relationship, then in my opinion; it would be balance.
You need to balance your relationship. Remember that some of the responsibility falls on God, just as some of it falls on you. You don't have to do everything; God doesn't have to do everything. You guys are supposed to meet in the middle-ish area. (I say that because God probably does more work than we do) While we definitely have to do our part to stay on key with God; it's not all our responsibility.

In our Relationship, we have to trust God as well. If we take too much of it on ourselves, we become crazy workaholics, only working ourselves away from God. If we take on too little, we became lazy brats who expect God to do everything. How do you balance it then? Simply get to know Him. :] Which leads me to my third point.

3. Simply Obey

If you want to really advance in your Relationship with God, you need to be willing to take those steps to obey Him, completely. Take Moses for example. Exodus 33:11 tells us that he spoke with God face to face, totally unlike anyone before or after him. How exactly did Moses get to this point? I believe it was because Moses obeyed God.

From appearing before to Pharaoh, to leading the Israelites out of Egypt, to parting the Red Sea and leading God's people to the Promised Land, Moses was obedient. Not to say he never disobeyed, as Moses had his moments as well. Numbers 20:12 gives us an example of that. Moses had his doubts, his fears, his "what ifs", and his worries.
But you know what? Most of the time, Moses didn't let those stop him from obeying his God. Despite criticism, backlash, arrogance and complaining from the +2 million Israelites he was leading, Moses never resigned from, backed out of, or left the calling God gave him. And simply because of his obedience, Moses experienced God in more ways than many of us can even dream of.

Obedience puts your faith into action. If God tells you to run head-first into a brick wall, for whatever reason, what do you do? Do you ignore God's command, or do you start running?

Seriously. Think about it.

Usually, when we obey, it usually put things at risk. There's usually some kind of doubt in our minds or a chance that things will go wrong. But God uses those experiences to teach us who He is and how He works. You get to know Him more when you obey. When you listen, you get to see how He works through you. You get to witnesses for yourself God's plans and what He has in store. You get to experience Him in a personal way, in a way that only you can.

These are just three things I think are really essential to having a genuine relationship with God. Many people--while sincere in their motives--end up getting themselves farther from God then they were in the first place. We've become more focused on us and what we can do, than on God and what He will do. We need to stop just knowing about God and actually get to know Him!

Because God knows you. He's already at the door, knocking and waiting. (Revelation 3:20) Either you can be like Mary and let Him in, or you can be like Martha and get so caught up in what you think is right that you miss God yourself. {Luke 10:38-42}

Let's pray that we all let Him in. :]

Have a great day and God bless!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Giving Jesus Everything

   There is a big difference between living like Jesus, and letting Jesus live through you. A lot of Christians try to live like Jesus, without Jesus. Do we really have that much confidence in our own ability that we tell God we don't need him? It's impossible to live a godly, Christian life without Jesus. But if we remain in Jesus, he can do everything. Apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). 1 Corinthians 2:5 tells us that our faith should rest on God's power, not our wisdom. It's the power of God that saves and transforms people. But God will not force us to give up everything. He wants us to want him. He wants to do life for us because he loves us so much. It's like when you offer to help an older lady with her groceries and she says she doesn't need any help. You know that she does need help, but you won't force anything. You really want to help her, but she just won't let you. Sometimes we can be that stubborn, older lady when God wants to help us. The God of the universe wants to do life for us, and we're too prideful to admit we need help. Galatians 2:20 says that when we accept Christ as our Savior, we are no longer living but Christ is now living in us. Our worldly passions and desires are crucified, and now we live by faith in the Son of God.

    If we haven't truly died to self, (1 Corinthians 15:31), then Jesus really isn't living in us. We are still making our own decisions and we haven't allowed Jesus to take the wheel. A lot of people are comfortable talking about Jesus' love and his grace. But when Jesus asks us to give up everything, a lot of people cringe and can't believe that he would dare ask us that. Some people view the Christian life as a chore. Christians walk around miserable because they're trying to live up to this perfect standard that is Christ Jesus, on their own. God tells us that his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9). His power is made perfect in our weakness. Just trust in God's grace and let him live through you! Give up! It's impossible to live the pure life that God has asked us to live, without him. When we just give up and admit we need help, God will rescue us and will give us his power and strength.

     Just let God help you! God wants everyone to experience the joy that he gives. When we quit chasing after the meaningless things of the world, and we turn our eyes to God, we can experience that deep joy of the Holy Spirit. God's weakness is stronger than our strength (1 Corinthians 1:25). Trust him who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Once we finally give up and let Jesus take the reigns in our life, we can experience the abundant life that he has promised us (John 10:10).

    Philippians 1:21 says that to a believer, to live is Christ and to die is gain. To live is Christ! We are dead to sin but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11). The Christian life should be a joyful celebration of what Jesus did! Lets humble ourselves and ask God to help us. Everyone needs a Savior, but Christians are the people who admit it. Don't act like the Pharisees who were so confident in their own ability to earn salvation that they rejected the Son of God. The only thing we have to do to qualify for God's grace is admit we don't qualify. Once we admit that we need a Savior, we receive God's abundant provision of grace and his gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). Praise the Lord for his willingness to do life for us! Amen!


    Have a great day!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keep Calm

This is just something I found online and thought would be awesome to share with you guys. I know a lot of you live stressful lives and have to put up with a lot; so I imagine this will help you guys carry on even when you don't think you can.

Remember Ephesians 3:20:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
And Philippians 4:13:
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Whatever situation, trial, or hard time you're facing; remember that you are more than a conqueror through Christ. -Romans 8:37

Whatever you're going through, God's going to use it for your good. -Romans 8:28

Whatever you're enduring, it will mold you into the strong, spiritually mature man or woman of God that you were created to be. -Hebrews 12:7, 10-11

Let's just trust that. :]

Have a great day and God bless!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Forgiving and Loving your Enemies

"Not willing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

  As Christians, we are called to forgive and love our enemies (Luke 6:27-31). A common thing that I hear is, "If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you." Jesus says just the opposite. He commands us to love those who are not nice to us. He also tells us that if we do not forgive others, he will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). It's sometimes impossible for us to forgive people. But that's okay. God doesn't want you to do it on your own. He does it for you if you're willing to let him. The love of the Holy Spirit that God has poured into our hearts will give us the power to forgive (Romans 5:5). Here's an example that shows the power of God's love in action:

  "The place was Ravensbruck and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard;  one of the most cruel guards. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!"
  And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course. How could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
  "You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there." No, he did not remember me,
  "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you forgive me?"
  And I stood there. I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven, could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
  It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’ I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that. And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’
  And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
  ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.

  For those of you who don't know, Corrie ten Boom was a devout Christian who lived during the Holocaust. Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to multiple concentration camps for hiding Jews. Betsie died in the concentration camp and Corrie was "mistakenly" released a week before all the other women her age in the camp were killed. She was a great woman of faith and after the war, she traveled all around the world preaching the gospel and sharing her testimony. But, she wrestled with forgiveness. No one would blame Corrie if she was a bitter, angry person after the Holocaust. But instead of hanging around in the land of resentment, Jesus helped her to forgive her enemies, and now she's a huge inspiration to many. It wasn't Corrie's love that was able to forgive. It was God's love in Corrie. If you're struggling to forgive someone right now, pray. Ask God to give you his love. Sometimes we just can't forgive. Jesus doesn't expect us to forgive on our own. We can't, but Jesus, who lives inside of us, can.

  "When I try, I fail. When I trust, He succeeds!" -Corrie ten Boom

Proverbs 25:21-22 - If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Romans 12:14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.                         

Colossians 3:13 - Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.                    



Friday, October 5, 2012

Asleep in the Light

    It's better to be awake in the dark, than to be asleep in the light.

   What I mean by "asleep in the light," is that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, but you haven't let him steal your show yet. You haven't allowed the Holy Spirit to change your heart. You haven't surrendered your life to the Lord. You don't care about the lost, when Jesus pleads and cries that you speak! But sometimes, like Jonah, we run when God commands us to do something. We keep holding it in because the fear of man is so strong. An unfaithful god, would pack up his bags and walk away if Jonah ran. But, God's name is mercy. Instead of just forgetting about Jonah and choosing someone else to preach to Nineveh, he kept seeking Jonah...and you know the rest of the story.

   Why are we so dead when we've been so well fed? Jesus commands every single one of us Christians, to preach the Word. (Mark 16:15) As Christians, we need to wake up. People are awake in the darkness. They are searching for answers. God is constantly seeking them. He wants to use us. He wants to live in us and to speak through us. He wants our heart. But Jesus doesn't just say "give me everything." He gave his life first. He humbled himself, and became a man. He learned to cry for his milk and walk on his own. He was born in a manger! He lived a life of rejection (Isaiah 53:3). The Son of God who came to save the world was despised and rejected by the men he came to save. The Pharisees hated him. He was called a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34). And then came the cross. The whipping, the spitting, the insults. He was nailed to a cross for us. He spent 6 hours hanging on a piece of wood. All for a bunch of sinners like us. If that isn't giving up everything, then I don't know what is. Jesus doesn't just sit on his throne commanding us to surrender. Jesus' love and his sacrifice should compel us to change and surrender our lives. We are saved by grace. But the grace of God should spark a fire inside of us that results in a joyful surrender. God isn't a fan of robots. He didn't make us to worship him, he made us to worship. It's our decision to choose what we're going to worship. It's ultimately a decision between shallow happiness and deep joy. God wants us to want to worship him. He doesn't force anything. What an awesome God!

   So anyway, God wants us to share the good news with others. He doesn't want us to fall asleep in the light. Some Christians really do have a desire to share their faith, but they're scared of what others will think about them. They're afraid of rejection. Jesus was rejected. He was despised and rejected. Romans 8:18 tells us that are present suffering is nothing compared to the eternal glory that awaits us. There are lost people out there! There are looking for the truth! They need a Shepherd. And no, it is not our job to be the shepherd. We need to point lost people to the One Shepherd Jesus Christ. We are only called to share Jesus, not convince people. We can only plant the seed and water it with prayer. It's God's job to save. It's our job to share.

   But how can we share Jesus if we've fallen asleep? It's time to wake up because Jesus' coming is nearer then ever. Remember not to use your own words and ideas when sharing the gospel. 1 Peter 4:11 tells us to use the very words of God. The Holy Spirit will carry the conversation, and tell us what we need to say. Someones eternity is more important than your discomfort. It's my prayer that the Christians will wake up, and be alive in the light of the Lord! I also pray that God will use us to help rescue those that are walking in darkness. He will use us to introduce people to the Light. Praise the Lord!

 "Yet I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first Love." -Revelation 2:4

*This post was inspired by the song, Asleep in the Light, by Keith Green.

God Already Has.

Yes, I did in fact take this picture. B)

The other day I was talking with God, and I asked Him for more Christ-loving friends in my life. Not that I don't have any; I do. They're like brothers and sisters to me.
But I just haven't really been meeting that many people here who love God like I do lately. So I decided to pray about. *shrug*
But God answered before I could even finish, "I already have." And that's true; he has.

See, sometimes circumstances and situations blind us from what God has already done.
Say you're living on your own in a third-world country. For the past month, you've barely been able to scrape together enough food to keep yourself from dying of hunger. But you're wet, cold, constantly on the move and always hungry.
You turn to God and ask him why he's turned his back on you.
He answers, "I didn't."
In actuality, he's been providing for you all along. He's been giving you what you absolutely need, instead of what you want.You're still alive, right? That's solely a result of God meeting your needs.

We always seem to get those confused. At the church I'm attending, the youth pastor just finished wrapping up his series on contentment. The verse he pinpointed last Sunday was Philippians 4:19:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Notice how Paul says "will" supply your needs. God always gives us what's necessary, even if we think it's too much or too little. I mean, come on; he's GOD. I think he knows our limits and what we can handle, seeing how he knew us before we were born. (Jeremiah 1:5)

So maybe God has already taken care of that one thing (or things) you keep bugging him about.

"God, I really think I need some more friends.."

"Lord I really need some extra money now."

"God, I need courage."

"Lord, I need strength."

"I need boldness."

"I need your Love."

"God, I really really need girlfriend/boyfriend." [Can't forget that one. xD]

Just remember this: Whatever your needs are, God has already fulfilled them. No doubt.

So what about all those other things God seems to forget about?
Well, I guess they just aren't necessary. :]

Have a great day and God bless!

. . .

Matthew 6:31-34
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Note: Sorry if my posts seem a lot shorter and more brief than they were before. I am busier now, so I don't time to sit down and write a 5,000 word post like I could earlier. I'm working on my first book and trying to keep myself caught up with school, so that takes a huge chunk out of my blogging time. xD But I am trying to at least post something weekly, and Hannah seems to be back in business; so there will always be some kind of awesome-inspiring-mindblowing-epic-amazing-jesusrelated post being written or published on here during the week. :P Even if I fail to finish mine on time. xD
Alright, that's all. Have an awesome weekend! :D 

Oh, and how do you guys like the new look? Yes? No? Comments?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dealing with Doubts

 As Christians, we all go through seasons of our life when we have doubts. We doubt God's plan for our life, and we doubt that he answers our prayers. We doubt his goodness and his love. Sometimes we even doubt God's existence. A few days ago, I was reading about what agnostics believe. One agnostic said that he wouldn't believe in God unless he came down from the heavens and told him a bunch of things that would happen in the future. If the things God told him happened, then he would quote "maybe consider" God's existence. I honestly prayed to God a prayer similar to this:

"God, why don't you just give up on all the atheists and agnostics? God it's impossible for them to have faith. Just quit trying because they're never going to turn to you."

     And then, the gentle answer came back from the King.

"I didn't give up on you."

    I asked God's forgiveness for my small belief and lack of faith. Maybe God really meant what he said in Luke 1:37. For nothing is impossible with God. God didn't give up on me, and he won't give up on the atheists and agnostics. Even if I ask him to ;)

    So anyway, here are a few tips to help us deal with doubts as Christians. These are some of the things that helped me when I've doubted the Lord.

1. Pray! Even if you think you're talking to a wall. Ask God to give you faith. Let him know (even though he already does) about your doubts and what your feeling. He cares about you! He wants you to have assurance and to feel comfort. Some people think that God doesn't care about what we think, or how we feel. In Matthew 11:2-5, John the Baptist has doubts about Jesus. He wonders if Jesus really is the Messiah. And instead of Jesus rebuking him for his lack of faith he encourages him. Jesus wants to encourage us also when we doubt him.

2. Sing! I don't why but singing to a good Christian song and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit really gives me comfort and peace.

3. Continue to go to church. Hanging out with a strong group of believers will strengthen your faith. Ask the youth pastor to pray for you and tell others what you're feeling. Be real!

4. Doubt your doubts. Fight back against that voice in your head that's telling you lies about God. Stand firm in your faith and ask God to help you.

5. Read the Bible. Dig into the Word of truth. Ask God to reveal things to you in his Word. There's nothing like the feeling of power you get from holding the sword in your hands! God knows exactly where you are with your faith. He wants to comfort you, and give you assurance.

    These are five tips that have helped me with my faith in the Lord Jesus. Also, thinking back to amazing stories of faith in the Bible have helped me grow. Remember the Lord wants you to be assured. He wants you to have faith. I think that God's hardest job is to get us to trust him.

The amount of trust you have in Jesus, determines the amount of joy you'll have in life.

    When we trust in Jesus we will still have trials and tribulations. The Bible promises that. But if we have truly put our faith and our trust in Jesus, than we should have peace and joy in knowing that we have eternal life. We shouldn't doubt or worry because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. And when you have the Prince of Peace living inside you, it's hard to worry and doubt.

    Have a blessed day!