Breaking Open the Bottle

Surrendering our sorrows is a sacred form of worship.

Why do we bottle up our emotions away from God?

We know we’re supposed to cast all of our cares upon Him, as the Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, but many times we find ourselves unable to fully release all of the hurts that hold us captive. Whether we harbor bitterness, or we’re simply incapable of forgetting our pain, we humans manufacture various excuses for not giving our troubles over to God.

We not only make up these excuses, but we also have a long list of reasons why we justify ourselves for making them. “They never apologized to me!” Is one of the most common phrases that signifies a lack of forgiveness. “If I move on from this experience, it will be like pretending it never happened to me.” Is another one that shows a lack of faith in God’s grace. However, as stubborn as these reasons might sound, there is a third reason that comes from a broken heart which is simply unknowing of God’s goodness: “Can God really handle the pain that I’ve been through? How can I possibly heal from this?”

The answer is, of course He can.

Surely the same Lord Who worked physical miracles on this earth over two thousand years ago can also work emotional miracles in our hearts today. It’s simple logic, really – if we were able to trust God to give us salvation for all eternity, we should be able to trust Him to heal us from whatever hurts us in the past or present.

So why do we still have so much trouble actually trusting Him with this? I believe it’s the same reason that human psychologists would ascribe to an earthly relationship – we’re afraid of vulnerability.

Just as we might have trouble opening up to other people we love, we can have the same problem with God sometimes.

Maybe we’re afraid that God will judge us for holding onto something negative for so long. Or perhaps, we think that He might be angry with us for some reason, unable to relate to us due to His status of divinity. Whatever our thinking might be, we need to change the way we view God’s ability to understand us.

In order to access God’s gift of understanding, we must be unafraid to approach Him.

In the New Testament, we are told of the time Jesus and His disciples visited the house of two sisters, Mary and Martha. While Martha, the older sister, was busy preparing a meal in the kitchen, Mary chose to give her time and attention to Jesus Himself. She had been saving a costly bottle of ointment, or perfume, for a special occasion, and decided to use it on Jesus’ feet as a way to honor Him as her King and Savior. She also wept before His presence, using her long hair to wipe her tears off of Him. Mary didn’t care that other people were watching her; she only cared about intimately worshiping her Savior.

Immediately after this took place, Judas Iscariot, the greedy disciple who would later betray Jesus for money, criticized her actions by saying, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5) Jesus corrected him right away, by explaining that poor people will always exist in this world, but Mary chose to use her valuable possession to honor Him before He died.

We must remember that people, like Judas, will always judge our actions based on their own perceptions, but God knows our hearts and can tell if we are sincere towards Him. Therefore, we should never be afraid to open up the treasury of our hearts to give Him what He rightfully deserves.

So instead of saving our emotions to deal with later, we should open them up and give them to Jesus.

Our pain and problems of the past won’t go away if we just keep burying them. Just like dust, they keep building up gradually as a source of constant irritation until we finally deal with them. We shouldn’t be keeping them in a bottle for a special occasion – once Jesus lives in our hearts, He is the special occasion. Unleashing our cares into His loving hands is an act of sincere trust and intimacy. Sometimes the only way to expel recurring issues from our spiritual system involves shedding tears before His presence, just like Mary did.

Showing Jesus that we are willing to be vulnerable before Him lets Him know that we not only trust Him, but love Him as well. We are giving Him the most fragile part of ourselves – our very heart and soul. It’s a sacrificial offering that is the only thing He requires of us, but we must be willing to give it to Him. Shall we selfishly hoard away our bottles of fragile emotions, or shall we entrust it to the care and keeping of His loving hands?

Finally, the ritual of surrendering our sorrows should be completed with sincere worship.

When Mary poured the ointment and her tears on Jesus’ feet, she had to be in a lowered position beneath Him to do so. Likewise, we also must demonstrate humility before Jesus when we ask Him to take our pain away from our hearts. We acknowledge that only He can heal us as the divine Savior of the world. Once we have made our earnest request to Him, He works a miracle in our hearts by relieving us of our enormous burdens. All the heaviness that we carry as a weight inside our hearts will be lifted away, thrown far from our reach.

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, neglecting or refusing to give our burdens to God is a type of pride and unbelief. We think to ourselves that God isn’t able to care for us as well as we think we can. Oh, what an ignorant way to think! Certainly the One Who made the human heart is able to care for it and meet all its needs. Therefore, by letting Him do His work in our hearts, we are acknowledging His authority over us as God and Savior.

Once we have committed our cares to Him, they are no longer our concern. They’re in God’s hands. By confessing our woes to our Savior, we grow even closer to Him, developing a strong, supernatural bond. This special relationship is something that we should cherish all our lives, taking time to nurture it and keep it well.

Why suffer longer when you don’t have to? Give your sorrows to Jesus today.

Satan wants nothing more than for us to hold onto the things that hurt us so we’ll be distracted from serving God. He knows that if he can get inside our heads, he can use our pain as a tool to exploit our primary weakness. Don’t let him have the privilege of knowing your inside information! Give those valuable details and secrets to God before they take root in the form of bitterness.

Holding onto the things that hurt you only prolongs your suffering needlessly. Remember, God is omniscient; by trusting Him with what He already knows about just shows Him how much you love Him. He will show you just how understanding He is, since He was right there with you when you went through everything that ever hurt you. He loves you, and sharing your pain with Him is a sign of strength, not weakness. Jesus made Himself vulnerable for us on the cross, so we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable before Him. Break open your bottled up emotions for Him today – I promise that you won’t regret it.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

A King Worth Loving

A righteous Savior is worth serving as a Sovereign.

Whom do you swear your allegiance to?

In the Middle Ages, knights of European kingdoms had a noble duty to uphold the laws and wishes of the kings or queens they served. After completing years of hard training as a young squire, they would eventually be pronounced an official Knight by the monarch of their royal court.

From the point of their knighthood, they were charged with all the responsibilities and rules that their king or queen gave them. This sometimes included a code of honor, such as chivalry, which concerned the knight’s personal conduct in specific situations. Failure to follow the king or queen’s expectations would most likely lead to imprisonment, if not immediate execution.

Thankfully, we do not live in the “Dark Ages” anymore.

In terms of history, we are free (for the most part) from the iron fist of absolute monarchy. However, we do live in an increasingly dark world that is groaning for the return of the Lord of Light. All of Creation cannot be freed from the curse of mankind’s sin until the Savior comes back to restore it. If you have accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior, your individual restoration process, or inner transformation, has already begun.

Hopefully you have experienced his goodness for yourself in your everyday life. If your heart is truly in the right place, you have sworn allegiance to God as the King of your life. Surely the Creator of the entire universe is worthy of being in control of your daily destiny, if one of His royal titles is “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Here are three reasons why we serve a divine King Who is WORTH loving:

1. He saved your soul from Hell.

As a true Christian, the very reason you should want to serve God is because of all He did for you on the cross. He sent His only, holy Son to die for you and became sin Himself for the sake of your eternal life. God has never wanted anyone to go to Hell when they die; He sincerely desires that all come to repentance from their sins. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ~ “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“)

(2 Peter 3:9 ~ “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.“) Hell was created as a place of divine punishment for the eternally wicked Satan and his loyal following of rebellious fallen angels; it was never meant to be the destination of mankind’s souls.

Sadly, the moment man chose to listen to the voice of Satan, he became just like him, choosing a lifestyle of sin over God’s righteousness. That is why Hell exists for human punishment as well as demons – because they chose to follow Satan’s ways of wickedness over God’s holiness.

But thanks and praise be to God, Who saw fit to SAVE us from a fate of eternal darkness, despair, and pain, completely separated from His goodness and light forever. We did nothing to deserve it, no, but He extended His grace and mercy toward us so we wouldn’t have to know that terrible fate. (Romans 5:8 ~ “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.“) Instead, we gained the privilege of knowing Him, which leads to the second reason He is a King worth loving…

2. He is kind and merciful.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is overflowing with benevolence towards our souls. He not only forgives us for all our sins (which we should ask for daily), but also makes intercession for us on our behalf to God the Father Himself. (Romans 8:27 ~ “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”)

When Satan accuses us of our sins daily, Jesus Himself stands before His Father in Heaven and says “Wait a minute – I know exactly what *insert your name* is going through right now, and it isn’t easy. Since I know everything about *insert your name in the possessive case* life, I understand why they did what they did. It doesn’t make it right, but I already paid the price for their sin. So please Dear Father, forgive their sin on My behalf.”

As you can see, Jesus is the lover of our souls – that’s the whole reason why He did what He did for us on the cross. He gave us the chance to have eternal life when we didn’t deserve it whatsoever. He loved us, even when He knew it was likely we might never love Him in return. That is unconditional love, and we can never repay Him for it in full. However, He is satisfied with us giving our best to Him, which leads to the third reason why He is worth loving…

3. He is understanding.

The Lord knows our weaknesses, and rather than showing us cruelty for them, He offers His compassion instead. He knows that we are but made of dust, and remembers that every time we fail Him, which is often, if not daily. (Psalm 103:14 ~ “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.“) Because we are saved from the pit of Hell by His grace, He shows us refuge instead of condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2 ~ “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.“)

Therefore, we have a much better life of service than the European knights of the Middle Ages. Rather than being thrown into the dungeon or executed, we are spared from our punishment by the loving kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is well within His right to judge and condemn us if He chose to, but since we have chosen to place our faith and trust in Him, He acknowledges our loyalty to Him and gives us more grace.

As the Good Shepherd, He knows us by name and calls us unto Him every day. He protects us from physical danger on Earth, as well as supernatural attacks from Satan himself and his demonic minions. Jesus is truly a warrior king, and stands apart from all other human warrior kings, because he has already won the victory, which lasts forever. We can choose to ride with Him in safety into spiritual battle every day, or we can choose to stumble along the sidelines where are vulnerable to satanic attacks. Hopefully you choose to ride with Him, charging against the hordes of spiritual darkness.

For an infinite Creator and King, we have infinite reasons to love Him.

The number of reasons we owe our love to God doesn’t stop at three – on the contrary, the list is endless. Each person is free to fill the list with his or her own reasons, based on the marvelous works He has done in their lives. The three reasons I’ve listed here are simply basic, fundamental reasons for loving God that are derived from biblical truth. I hope that this month and every month, no matter what the holiday, you will remember to love the One Who loves you the most. Jesus IS WORTHY of our love, our life of service and sacrifice, and our loyalty. Let Him be your Valentine daily, and you will see for yourself just how much He can fill your heart with His unconditional love.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Generating Power

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Winter has come – …Are you prepared?

 

Where does your warmth come from?

Now that winter is finally here in its full force, you must have all the essentials necessary to survive the cold elements: soft, thick, insulated clothes, lots of moisturizing lotion, lip balms to spare, a heavy coat or weatherproof jacket, a fluffy scarf and hat, fuzzy gloves or plush mittens, fleece-lined pants or leggings, and sturdy boots for walking in the snow. Most people use these things during the cold months, and if they don’t already have them, they put them on their shopping list. However, while these things are all helpful for sustaining internal body temperature, most people neglect to prioritize another essential supply in their daily routine that is actually the most important of all.

That particular supply item is none other than the power of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

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Yes, even Christians who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them can sometimes forget to take full advantage of His supernatural strength, which they need each and every day. When we pass by on the power of the Holy Spirit, we are also passing by access to His wonderful, daily blessings. Without using the power of God, made accessible to us by the Lord Jesus Christ, man is left in his natural state, stranded on the cold outside looking in to the warmth of God’s love. (James 1:23-24 ~ “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”)

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This neglectful choice is comparable to someone who has lost all power in a huge snowstorm, yet also owns a personal power generator and deliberately chooses not to use it. What good is it to own such an important resource, if you forget or choose not to use it? It simply makes no sense. Likewise, we also go through many different forms of power outages in our Christian lives. We endure countless seasons of suffering and trials, times when we are all tempted to feel like just giving up. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”) Why would we make the mistake of relying on our own strength to overcome life’s numerous obstacles? Whether the reason is personal pride or unintentional ignorance, we should take care to remember exactly Who it is that truly takes care of us. (Matthew 10:29- 31 ~ “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”)

We must also remember that there are many others around us in our everyday lives who depend on us to be a spiritual power source of encouragement for them.

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Whether these people are born again Christians or not, we have a responsibility to them to show forth the warmth and light of God’s love, grace, hope and joy. How can people stay warm from the harsh, bitter cold of the fallen world we live in if we don’t offer them any sort of spiritual refuge? (1 Peter 3:15 ~ “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”) Therefore, it is our duty to not only take care of our own spiritual well being but also to look after everyone else as a natural side effect. This is God’s great and glorious purpose – that through His power we not only receive a blessing for ourselves, but share that same blessing with others. (John 7:38 ~ “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”) Even if the unsaved people we know continue to reject the blessing of God’s love we show them, they can never say when they stand before God someday that it was never offered to them.

In order to generate God’s power in our everyday lives, we must follow His instructions.

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God wants us to exercise our faith in Him daily by praying to Him and reading His Word. It’s been preached and taught countless times over the years, and its truth remains the same. People have tried unsuccessfully to live their lives without this strategy, and end up miserable with their results. (John 15:5 ~ “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”) The power generator itself is our heart, and in order for it to function properly, we need to be connected to the proper outlet and source of energy. To do this well, we need to use the wireless cables that connect us to God, which are effective prayer and sincere reading of Scripture. God wants to know how much we truly want Him in our lives, and its our job to prove that to Him. We must seek Him with our whole heart, and only then will we find Him.  (Jeremiah 29:13 ~ “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”) Once we have disciplined ourselves to do this every single day, we will be generating spiritual power to bless ourselves and others around us before we know it.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

The Guiding Star

 

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The true Star of Christmas will always lead you to what you seek.

 

“Wise men still seek Him…”

You’ve probably seen this quote plastered on a large billboard posted at the side of a highway, next to the iconic image of the three ancient biblical travelers from the Orient. While nonbelievers of all kinds may scoff at and scorn this saying, it is immediately understood by true Christians who strive to follow its message. The original wise men described in the Bible died thousands of years ago, but modern day believers still carry their same quest until the day the Lord Himself returns to Earth.

Those biblical wise men earned their title through their reputation for discerning the meanings of the stars, as they were ancient astronomers who studied God’s intricate design of the universe. They sincerely believed in the existence of the one true God, Who not only created the stars they watched nightly but also their very own existence. The biblical wise men desired to see the face of the newborn baby Jesus, whom they correctly believed was the human manifestation of God’s Son on Earth. So they began an epic journey to find Him, their famous quest taking them great long distances across the lonely deserts of foreign lands. As biblical historians reveal to us, their quest was not in vain, as they successfully reached the Savior two years after His birth and gave Him symbolic gifts that were worthy of His royal, divine identity.

 

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As told in the Scriptures, those wise men did not rest until they had finally reached their goal – the purpose of their journey was to find the Lord and Savior of all mankind, the infant form of Jesus Christ. The star was the special compass that led them all the way to their ultimate destination. The wise men didn’t care how long it took them to journey towards the Savior; they only had their one goal fixed in their mind. They were absolutely determined to find the baby Who was King of kings and worship Him the way He deserved. The fact that the wise men came all the way from the Orient (or the Far East) proves just how much finding Jesus was important to them. The light of the star led them straight to the Light of the World.

Today, people all over the world are seeking that same Light. God has given mankind the best resource possible to find their way to Him – the wonderful gift of His holy Word. The Bible points the way to the true Star of Christmas, which is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Star of His own story, shining the light of His love unto all who would seek Him. Unfortunately, in our sinful world, there are millions of other stars that would use their lesser light to distract people from the true Star that can save them. These “lesser lights” are the many various things of this world that Satan loves to divert people’s attention with. When people concern themselves too much with the lesser lights of the world, they often end up lost, confused and disillusioned. Instead of being led to the bright light shining down into the stable, they wind up alone wandering the dark streets of Bethlehem, where there is no room for them to stay anywhere. Worse still, their distracted vision may lead them far away from the city of the Savior, all the way into the deserts of disappointment and despair.

Perhaps you too have found yourself wandering aimlessly in your search for the Light, even if you’ve already accepted the Savior into your heart.

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Even as Christians, it can be all too easy to let ourselves get distracted from our goal of seeking the Savior. If we’re not careful, we can allow Satan’s influence to enter our minds and discourage us, becoming completely overwhelmed with the stressful circumstances of our lives. It is Satan’s primary goal to shut out the light of Jesus’ love from our eyes, regardless of whether or not we know Him. He wants us to stumble around in the darkness, utterly oblivious to the light of Christ that would lead us out of the shadows. However, if we want to find the right direction, we should be looking up towards the true Star, rather than focusing on the dark streets around us.

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Just like the wise men did before, we need to chart our course directly to the Savior, ignoring any distractions along the way. This is a time of year when we can tend to feel lonely, even if we have family and friends around us. We may try to stuff away our feelings like how we hide Christmas presents for others in the closet, but just like those presents, they are bound to be discovered sooner or later without fail. Rather than suppressing them in an unhealthy way, we need to deal with our emotions by expressing them openly and honestly. We think we can try to cover them up, but if we don’t take care of our personal well being, it will inevitably affect everyone around us. The last thing everyone wants during the Christmas season is a friend or relative who is so overcome with anger, stress, or sadness that he or she suddenly snaps at them without warning.

So how can we redirect our gaze to the true Star of Christmas and find our way out?

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The first thing we need to remember is that if we’re feeling lost, alone, stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed this time of year, someone else we know is most likely feeling the same way. Modern celebrations of Christmastime have become such a huge annual production for most families that everyone involved can get unwittingly caught up and carried away from the holiday’s true meaning.

 

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“…yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light.”

 

 

We might compare ourselves to some straggling shepherds, who have the best intentions of seeking Jesus at heart, but somehow lost our way and took a wrong turn in the busy streets of Bethlehem. What we need to do for ourselves and for others around us is look up past the city buildings and fix our gaze on the Star of Bethlehem, Whose shining light cuts right through the darkness. Following its piercing rays, we will be led straight to the Savior, Who should always be the real reason we are celebrating anyway.

What I mean by all this is we need to take some time out for ourselves to refocus our minds and hearts on Jesus Christ Himself, just like we ought to do each and every day.

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In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we should set aside some quiet time to pray and meditate on God’s holy Word, reminding ourselves of what’s truly important. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-4) Because after all, God’s Word says that if we love Him first, we’ll be able to show His love to others around us.If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21) This verse certainly applies to the holiday season, when people may be forced to interact with relatives that might be difficult to get along with. When we find ourselves in this situation, we should respond the way the Lord wants us to, by following the Golden Rule found in Scripture: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

These are verses we should meditate on to love God and others properly, but God still deeply and personally cares about each individual too.

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We should always remember that Jesus coming to Earth as a human baby is a divine miracle that is a personal gift to our own hearts. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8) Instead of feeling lost and alone amidst the chaos of Christmastime, we should simply make time to talk to Jesus Himself and tell Him about everything in our hearts and minds. He came to save all the people of the world, including you personally. He wants to free you from any darkness that is holding you captive – whether that be spiritual or emotional darkness. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Jesus wants to show you the wonderful, glorious light of His love, reminding you that He is always there for you. Even if other people (including Christians) may treat you poorly, Jesus will always treat you with kindness out of the abundant grace of His heart. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Don’t let your present circumstances or past experiences from this time of year control the joy in your heart that Jesus sacrificed His life for you to have!

As you can see, the true Star of Christmas will lead you out of the darkness and straight to Him.

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Just like the biblical wisemen embarked on a long and difficult journey to meet the Savior in person, from the moment of our salvation we Christians have also embarked on a similar lifelong journey that is filled with perilous paths and treacherous territory. The wisemen did not fear the trip ahead of them though, for they were skilled navigators who solely relied on the star of Bethlehem as their main compass. We also should never fear what we encounter in our earthly lives, because Christ is our central, spiritual Compass. No matter what darkness we face, we can survive every kind of danger this world throws our way because we have the Savior with us in our hearts at all times. Jesus is the Star of Christmas that not only leads us out of sin, but also out of depression, despair, and distractions that Satan tries to use to defeat us. We too can be navigators, just like the wisemen, and let Jesus, the precious Son of God and Prince of Peace, guide us in every aspect of our lives.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Too Much Stuffing

 

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Don’t become so overstuffed with blessings that you forget to share them with others!

 

As we all know, Thanksgiving is a time that is popular for stuffing ourselves.

I will be the first to admit (among MANY) that I enjoy immense amounts of carbohydrates on Thanksgiving Day, and the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy are my favorite parts of the menu! My eyes are often bigger than my stomach, so I am prone to piling it all on my plate before I realize I can’t quite finish it all; this is NEVER the case with my mashed potatoes and gravy, however! The excessive portions of rich food are all too easy to over-indulge on, usually followed by a massive coma. I’ll also admit that it is sometimes hard to remember that I’m supposed to leave some helpings of my favorite dishes for my family members, but I usually try to remain self-aware of my servings before I let myself get too carried away.

Basically, I’m heavily inclined to want too much of a good thing.

This applies not only to heaping amounts of food, but also to all manner of material objects in addition to the food. Whether we are shopping for others or for ourselves on Black Friday (or literally any other time of year), the natural human instinct of selfishness can easily display itself, even in good people with the best intentions. Our culture’s philosophy of commercialism during this time of year boils down to the simple yet harsh idea of “survival of the fittest.” Everyone is preoccupied with getting all they can for their own individual purposes while the getting is good. It would seem at times that some people push aside all pretenses at human civility and decency in favor of their ruthless quest in pillaging for treasures. Sadly, this is the reality of our modern society that has become obsessed with the culture of commercialism and consumerism.

However, we must never forget about the real treasures that are at risk of being lost.

As you go about the day shopping for the holidays during this time of year, you will see multitudes of faces in every corner of every store – faces that all belong to people that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His precious life for. Each and every individual is a completely unique entity that was created and formed in the divine image of God. Just as you have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and problems in your own life, so does everyone else. Instead of focusing on your own needs, try to think about people around you who may be in similar (or even WORSE) situations. Many people in today’s world do not know God as their Creator and Savior, or if they do know, they willfully choose to reject Him and His love for them. Just as Jesus Himself stated in Luke 10:2, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.” It is therefore imperative that we don’t neglect the enormous potential for harvesting lost souls for Christ’s sake during the holidays, just like any other time of year.

The best way to take advantage of this potential spiritual harvest is by sharing our spiritual treasures and gifts with everyone else, rather than hoarding everything good for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what we have, and we are commanded by God to be thankful, but the Bible also instructs us to follow Christ’s example by giving unto others. If Jesus Himself was willing to go out of His way to show His Father’s love to people on this Earth, then certainly we must do the same.

What are some ways that we can share Christ’s love and His blessings during this time of year? you may ask.

Believe it or not, the available options are surprisingly simple and quite manageable, even if you’re on a tight budget:

1. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with His presence.

 

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

Before you take one step inside your local shopping mall (or anywhere else, for that matter), make sure you consciously remember to ask God to fill you with His Spirit. There are countless hurting people in the world with broken, confused, and disillusioned hearts; they just need someone to look at them with love through the eyes of Jesus. Instead of blending in with the stressed out hordes of humanity, stand out from the crowd with the light of the Holy Spirit’s love shining inside of you. No matter how many other bodies are surrounding you, your presence filled with God’s peace will not go unnoticed. Someone who has a truly Christ-like countenance is rare to find these days, and if someone is brave enough to put it on display, it will be like a breath of fresh air to a lost and fallen world.

2. Give the gift of joy by sharing a smile.

 

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Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

 

“Joy to the world! The LORD is come!” It’s so sad to think about the countless people who don’t have any sense of joy in their hearts; they probably don’t even understand the true meaning of the word. Unfortunately, Satan is responsible for this circumstance in our sinful world. The good news is, we HAVE the Good News to share with others – the Gospel, which describes how God loved mankind so much, while it was still yet cursed with sin, that He was willing to send His Son JESUS to die on the cross to take our punishment away for all eternity. To escape from eternal death unto eternal life is an opportunity that ought to put a smile on anyone’s face, but how can the fallen world understand that concept of joy if we Christians don’t keep up a joyful countenance? Sure, I understand how stressful this time of year can be, and the levels of stress inevitably vary based on individuals’ circumstances – but we can still make an effort to spread true, Christian joy with those around us by keeping a warm smile on our face to help melt away the bitter coldness on other people’s faces.

3. Serve others with little acts of kindness.

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Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Even if you think that you don’t have much to give to others, a helping hand is always a welcome gift when needed. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about donating money for a cause or getting someone a financial boost; I’m talking about just showing kindness to others on a daily basis. Whether it’s holding a door open for someone else (regardless of their gender), carrying heavy bags and/or boxes, shoveling snow off a driveway or parking lot, assisting with cooking holiday meals, wrapping presents, or just doing the dishes, the list of helpful actions goes on and on. Another act of kindness that is simple to carry out is being a listening ear for someone else. Surely people have all kinds of problems this time of year, just like they do in any other month; the least we can do is let them know we’re there for them by just listening. If the other person welcomes it, we can also offer helpful advice from our personal experiences and also God’s Word. Of course, praying with and for another person is the greatest act of Christian love you can do for someone else. So as you can see, no matter how small your “gift” is, there will always be a need for it somewhere by someone who truly appreciates it.

These spiritual blessings are not limited to this time of year alone; rather, we are called to “be the light” 24/7, 365 days a year.

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By providing others around us with these gifts of spiritual blessings, we offer them an even GREATER gift of hope – hope that can ONLY be found through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal relationship with Him. After obtaining this divine, personal relationship with Jesus, people everywhere receive the true meaning and manifestation of “blessed hope” in their hearts. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13) We should go out of our way like Jesus did to make a conscious effort to bless others, no matter where we are or what our circumstances may be. We should never keep the light all to ourselves, but share it freely in the darkness of this world full of hurting people. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) It is our sacred duty and privilege as Christians to carry out the Great Commission for the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so that lost souls might be saved and realize just how much God loves them. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Now that you know these budget-friendly options for sharing spiritual treasures with the world, I hope that you will go out and try them to the best of your ability. Remember, nobody wants to be labeled as a selfish, over-stuffed turkey that’s close to the verge of exploding! Get out their and share your stuffing, and show the world the stuff you’re made of – God’s love.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

The Dragon in the Dungeon

 

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Are you brave enough to slay the Dragon who is trying to devour your mind?

 

Deep within the castle of a person’s mind, there is a dark dungeon.

This dungeon holds hostage many unpleasant thoughts, including bad memories of all kinds which we desperately wish we could forget. As Christians who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we know that God sits on the throne of our hearts and minds; nevertheless, this dungeon still exists for all of our earthly lives. The black shadows of former things that continually cause us pain are determined to resurface in our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Even though we might earnestly ask God to help us defeat them, we constantly struggle to achieve the victory in keeping these metaphorical monsters in the dungeon where they belong.

Still, there is an even GREATER monster that lies deep in the dungeon who is responsible for setting these dark shadows free…

A destructive Dragon, who is so bitter about his own future imprisonment that he wishes for nothing more than the total and utter defeat of mankind, Christians included.

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This Dragon is none other than Satan himself, whom the Bible describes as “that old Serpent.” (Revelation 12:9) He is hateful and spiteful, full of nothing but malice and contempt for mankind. He is painfully aware of the fact that Jesus Christ dealt him a deathblow on the cross, and since he can’t do anything to change his fate, he’ll do everything he can to drag down all the people he can with him. His attitude is, “If I’m doomed to darkness and despair for all eternity, then I refuse to be the only one!” Even if he can’t drag born again Christians to Hell with him, he’ll try with all his might to drag down the thoughts in their minds, as well as the emotions in their hearts. Satan knows full well that God reigns as King in the throne room of Christians’ hearts, but he still seeks to destroy them within the dungeon of their minds. He realizes that infiltrating the walls of their castles and attacking from within is the most effective way to ensure their defeat.

“But how did this Dragon get in?” you may ask. “How can he possibly sneak his way inside a fortress where a mighty King reigns supreme?”

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The answer is simple – the royal guards fell asleep on their watch. Being constantly vigilant on a daily basis is quite tiresome, as you would probably imagine. The royal guards that are supposed to protect the castle of a Christian’s mind are godly habits that everyone absolutely MUST take the time to develop. These habits include meaningful, Spirit-filled prayer, and Bible reading. Doing these things each day will remind the guards of their duty to keep the royal fortress safe from Satan’s attacks. However, every once in a while, even when the guards are doing their very best to stay awake, that crafty creature still finds a way to creep inside the castle, evading the watchful eyes of the guards who would try to keep him at bay. This is because Satan is incredibly subtle, just as he chose to possess the body of a slithering, silent serpent in the garden of Eden. It’s not always easy to recognize when he’s moving in for the kill, even with our best efforts to remain vigilant. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – (1 Peter 5:8)

Once the Dragon realizes he has made a successful entrance unnoticed, he proceeds to wander the endless, abysmal halls of a person’s thoughts and consciousness, sniffing out the passages to a person’s greatest weaknesses.

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Satan knows that if he can distract your thoughts away from the awareness of God’s presence and power within you, he can easily have access to roam freely wherever he will. Remember, this castle is a metaphor of your mind, so if you see or hear something that might turn your thoughts from God or the things that please Him, Satan takes the opportunity and runs with it. That sly serpent is able to spy on you in secret, taking note of the things that upset you, frustrate you, or stoke the fires of unmet desires. As he makes his way through the dark, hollow halls, he leaves a trail of temptations to follow behind him, confidently expecting you to take the bait and leave the safety of the King’s quarters. This is why it’s so important to keep you thoughts focused on Christ, Who would have you to fix your eyes on Him at all times so you won’t be led astray. All too often, however, we follow the Dragon’s alluring scent, who promises us a false sense of security in entertaining the thoughts of our flesh. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” – (Romans 8:5)

After succeeding in leading us away from safety, the Dragon delves down deep into the dark dungeons of despair, where he knows all of our worst memories are held prisoners.

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Reaching the very core of what makes our minds most vulnerable, the Dragon knows he has us right where he wants us. He seeks to ignite the torches hanging on the damp walls, releasing the fearsome phantoms of former things. While there may be many cells containing painful pieces of the past, the Dragon purposely unshackles the memories we hate most to deal us the greatest possible harm. Once he sets them free, the Dragon stirs them up by fueling them with his fire. He causes us to believe the lies we’ve battled for many years, forged in our thoughts by the actions and words of other people, or even ourselves. Satan wraps his scaly tail around us, hoping to crush us to death as he forces us to confront the powerful pain of our inescapable memories. He knows that if he can isolate us in the shadowy dungeon of our past, he can easily make us feel lost in a labyrinth of endless distress and sorrow. The mighty, arrogant Dragon whispers his hateful lies in our ears, wanting to steal our hope and joy, the greatest gifts from God. To add insult to injury, he even blames us for being so weak and easily overcome, making us feel guilty for allowing him to invade our castle in the first place. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – (Ephesians 6:12)

How can we possibly escape the death grip of the Dragon in the dungeon? By crying out to our King and looking upon His light.

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In spite of the strong hold Satan might gain upon our thoughts in his attack, he forgot one important fact – our mind’s castle is still GOD’S stronghold. We have to muster the courage to call for God’s help in order to overcome the Devil and claim the victory. Instead of being clouded by confusion and cares from our past, we must remember that Jesus is deeply concerned for our mind’s well-being; He CARES about us! “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” – (1 Peter 5:7) / “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” – (Philippians 3:13) It’s our responsibility to sound the royal alarm to alert the Holy Spirit of the Devil’s presence in the dungeon of our memories. He was already aware of it to begin with, but He was anxiously awaiting our call for His help, acknowledging our need for Him. While the all-powerful King might not be available to physically help us in our mental and emotional predicaments, He is more than willing to send us the strength we need to withstand Satan and all His subtle snares. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – (1 Corinthians 10:13) That prideful, selfish, wrathful Dragon might consider himself king of the castle, but he will never truly succeed in his quest to destroy us as long as we ask God for His help in slaying Him. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” – (1 John 4:4) That wiley wyvern has already received a mortal wound at the hands of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross, yet he continues to return in search of his revenge while he still can! With the aid of our loving, kind, all-powerful King, we can cast out that slinking serpent by turning over our bad memories to Him each and every time they resurface in our minds, keeping them captive forever. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then, and ONLY then, will we be able to truly defeat the Dragon in the dungeon!

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Five Reasons To Stay “Weird”

 

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Live boldly. Live Loudly. Live life in FULL COLOR!

 

Have you ever heard of the quote that says, “Be yourself – everyone else is already taken?”

This is not only a true statement, but also the only option that is presented to each and every individual. While “stay true to you” has become an increasingly popular motto over the past few decades, our society at large has purposely hidden the fine print of this philosophy. Through the lense of political correctness, it is only okay to be 100% yourself when your qualities properly align with whatever is popular with the world at any given moment. Yes, that’s right – the world doesn’t tell you about all the minor details concerning the circumstances of your acceptance as a unique individual.

This unfortunate reality is not exclusive to the context of the secular environment’s behavior towards Christians, however: sadly, there are also plenty of “Christians” who are more than willing to pass judgment on each other, which is often unmerited. I’m not talking about spiritual judgment of another person’s sins; I’m talking about plain old shallow judgment of another person that originates in the prideful flesh. Take it from someone who has spent her whole life growing up in Christian environments – no matter where you go, there will always be at least one person, if not several, who will reject you as an individual. This fact is proof that even born again Christians still struggle with their sinful nature, and it is most evident in the way they sometimes treat other Christians.

It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or how you act; people will always form assumptions about you as an individual based on their own natural perceptions and shallow prejudice. Even if you go out of your way to be nice to some people, they will undoubtedly find some superficial reason to exclude and isolate you from their personal or group acceptance. They may even fabricate lies about your character to ostracize you, showing zero remorse for their malicious behavior. The saddest part about all of this is that some Christians who act this way are either completely oblivious to the harmful nature of their actions, or willfully proud and ignorant in their hearts, believing that they are still right with God in spite of this. They may even go so far as to twist God’s Word out of context or use their so-called belief in Him to justify their wrong behavior.

Like I’ve mentioned before in other posts, there are always going to be some people who will just make up their minds that they don’t like you. Even if you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong to them, they can still choose to make this ignorant decision. Sometimes, the reason for their judgment is as simply shallow as thinking you are WEIRD. Whether these people come right out and say it or not, they expect you to automatically conform to their standards of what they believe is normal.

Well, as a person who has experienced this unfortunate circumstance several times in my life, I’m here to give you five reasons why you should go against the negative flow and STAY WEIRD.

  1. You are one of a kind.

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The truth is, you weren’t made to fit in – you never were! You were made to stand out as a unique, special part of God’s infinite creation. Out of billions of people in this world who may share similar traits with you in one way or another, NO ONE will ever be exactly like YOU. That’s something to be excited about! You are so rare and special as God’s original work of art, that all of your qualities combined together cause you to stand out from a massive sea of other people! Imagine being in an art gallery in a big city – there are literally hundreds of different pieces to look at, and they all have unique features of their own. However, there will usually be at least one piece in particular that catches your eye for some reason. That’s the artwork that will stick with your memory when you leave the gallery or museum. I encourage you to BE that work of art. Don’t waste your time wishing that you were made like everyone else in the gallery of your life; instead, stand proudly on display for people to appreciate who you are!

2. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay.

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Ask God to give you the courage to accept and acknowledge the fact that some people will never like you, as I already mentioned. Because every person is different, possessing a unique flavor of their own, they will constantly be seeking others who only match their own flavor, because they’re too afraid to try new tastes. They might have been expecting something ordinary like sweet tea, while you’re serving something special that totally surprised them, like chamomile or Earl Grey! So before discovering the bold elements in the flavor, they might spit you out upon their first sip. Don’t let this discourage you into trying to change your recipe – for every person out there who dislikes your flavor without giving it a chance, there will always be at least one other person who thinks your flavor is the best they’ve ever tasted! Take the time to discern and recognize who these people are in your life, and focus your mind on the positive influence they give you. In other words, don’t waste your time worrying about the doubters, haters, and snobs – appreciate those who appreciate you.

3. Your uniqueness is worth celebrating.

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Just as everyone else who chooses to exclude you may exalt their own self-importance and qualities, you too have a reason to celebrate your individual identity, within the bounds of reasonable humility. Ask God to remind you daily of the special way He made you, and rejoice in it! Thank Him for making you the way He did! Realize that He designed you a specific way for a specific reason. Know your worth, and don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise. Wake up every day and be happy that you’re different! Be confident in the Lord, and remember that as your Heavenly Father, He rejoices over you with singing! How great is that?! When other people fail to include or recognize you for who you truly are, God always knows and appreciates you. There is nothing wrong with appreciating yourself either, within reason.

4. Only you can show the world what you have to offer.

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All of the special talents and abilities that God gave you, as I mentioned above, are meant to accomplish a specific purpose for His glory. Only God knows what that exact calling is, but He counts on you to stay close to Him and ask Him about what it is each and every day. No matter how many people He put on this planet, He still needs you to be faithful in fulfilling your ultimate purpose. Whatever this purpose is, you were specially designed to carry it out, in a specific time and place, whereas no one else can. It’s your job to discover this through the course of your life, and boldly go forth into the world with the special calling God has given you. You were handpicked and chosen by Him alone to reach out to a desperately hurting world! Don’t throw away your opportunity to change it for the better in a way that only you can!

5. Your colorful personality deserves a place in the spectrum of society.

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Just as everyone else in the world shines with their own bright, vibrant hues and intensity, so should you! We all have different personalities, and we were all made to complement each other in beautiful, colorful harmony! Don’t envy the colors of others; embrace the rich, saturated hue of your own identity! Put together, the human race comprises a remarkable rainbow that makes this world a wonderful place to live in, despite our sinful nature. This was God’s divine design (NOT SIN), the way He intended it to be. Discover your true colors and own them, wearing them proudly for everyone else to see! If everyone else gets a place on God’s canvas with their special colors, then so do you! Don’t doubt your importance or value that your existence contributes to this world!

Don’t be afraid to be different – you were made that way on purpose!

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Now that you know the five reasons to stay weird, you can possess a new sense of confidence like never before! Best of all, you can rest assured that your confidence is well placed in the hands of Almighty God. This does not mean that there won’t be any more days when you’ll struggle with keeping it, but hopefully it will be much harder for Satan and the world to snatch it away from you in the future. In other words, you’ll find the strength and courage you need to achieve victory every day in the quest to keep your God-given confidence. As for all the other people who choose to reject us for no good reason? The best thing we can do is to pray for them and ask God to change their hearts. Whether or not they decide to apologize to us and give us a chance is up to them; however, it is also up to us to forgive them regardless of what they do or don’t do. Remember, God loves everyone, including those who do wrong things to us. He doesn’t ask us to do anything that He doesn’t already do every day – showing others His mercy, grace, and unconditional love. The important takeaway for us to remember is that we are always appreciated and accepted by God for who we are no matter what.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Redeeming the Reprobate

 

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“So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost; evil be thou my good;” – Satan in Paradise Lost, Book IV, lines 108-110.

 

Is there really such a thing as a point of no return?

In the Christian faith, God’s Word teaches us that all men are capable of being saved, no matter how many or what kinds of sins they’ve committed. God’s abundant grace and mercy are more than sufficient to release us from the chains of darkness and condemnation. It’s all because of the selfless sacrifice that Jesus Christ Himself performed on the cross over two thousand years ago, giving up His life to redeem us by atoning for the wrong things that we have done, effectively releasing us from the eternal punishment of sin. However, this free gift of eternal life, also known as salvation in Christian vocabulary, is ONLY accessible through the voluntary act of a person choosing to accept it, changing his life forever. No one can make this decision for anyone else; it HAS to be an act of their own free will. God does not force anyone to believe in Him or trust Him and His Son Jesus to receive salvation – He only wants it to be a conscious choice from the sincere desire of a person’s heart. God knows that the only way a person is guaranteed true happiness and eternal life is by choosing to serve Him, but it is not in His character to make His human creations mindless slaves to His will. He is only interested in a person’s heart that is willing to serve Him out of pure, genuine love.

So yes, it is possible for a person to be redeemed… – but only if they want to be.

The above paragraph describes people who have yet to become Christians, but what about those who claim to be saved, though their lives and actions would make you seriously doubt their spiritual identity? Yes, it is the sad truth that there are many, MANY people out there who will swear up and down that they are Christians, yet the evidence of their personal lifestyle proves that they actually live without a conscience. By this, I mean that their lack of self-control or respect for God’s requirement of holiness shows that the Holy Spirit’s presence is either nonexistent in their hearts, or pushed so far into the background that you could hardly recognize it anymore. You probably know someone like this in your own life, from either your past or your present. This person may have accepted Christ in his heart, but eventually moved so far away from God that His influence in the person’s life became imperceptible. The way this person acts is so indistinguishable from the world, that you wonder why he bothers calling himself a Christian to begin with. In his mind, being a Christian is more like being in a trendy, exclusive club, rather than the life-altering, sacrificial transformation it really is.

There’s a word in the Bible for this kind of person – a reprobate.

 

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Satan traverses the dark, void realm of Chaos during his escape from Hell, unaware that his physical form has changed from angelic to demonic.

 

In further detail, a reprobate is someone who is fully aware of God’s truth in his life but chooses to ignore it anyway, despite receiving multiple warnings from other people that he is going in the wrong direction. He is incredibly stubborn and stiff-necked, refusing to heed spiritual advice when he needs it the most. When he is corrected by a pastor or other spiritual influences in his life, he reacts with anger to loving reproaches, lashing out in rage at the very wisdom that is meant to benefit him. The only thing he cares about is having his own way, acting as if he were God Himself. No matter how many times he has been warned, he refuses to listen to anyone who contradicts his ideas and desires. He has no use for the feelings of other people who know him and care about him; he doesn’t give any thought or remorse about how many others he hurts along the way. He has chosen to go so far along the path of darkness in his life, that any attempts to stop him or change his mind have proven to be utterly futile. In essence, a person like this can be described as strikingly similar to Satan’s character in John Milton’s classic epic, Paradise Lost.

In this book, the first chapter begins with the aftermath of Satan’s rebellion in Heaven, where he finds himself bound in chains to the Lake of Fire with the other fallen angels who followed his influence. Despite being completely overthrown and cast down from grace, Satan is literally Hell-bent on getting revenge on God. He is so disgustingly filled with pride that he is incapable of recognizing that the whole incident was entirely his fault. He blatantly claims that God is an unfair tyrant, while he is merely misunderstood. Not only does he hold these blasphemous beliefs, but he also fills the minds of his demonic followers with these wicked ideas. Throughout the entire book, Satan stubbornly holds onto the belief that he doesn’t need God and outright states that it’s better for him to “reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” He’s a rebel and a vagabond, whose only real home is in Hell after his betrayal against God; however, he refuses to accept the fate of his punishment and plots to drag down mankind with him.

How sad it is when someone who formerly served God and claimed to know Him turns against Him out of pride and selfishness!

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Satan is cast out of Heaven by God, fallen from the grace of His presence.

Anyone who falls under the biblical category of a reprobate has had numerous second chances given to him, both by God and the people in his life, yet he has chosen to repeatedly spurn and squander them. The Bible says that when a person chooses this path, God decides to turn him over to a reprobate mind, giving him exactly what he thinks he wants – to be king of his own life, free to revel in his own wickedness. God says to this person: “You want Me to leave you alone? Fine. I’ll do just that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the consequences though.” Eventually, God gets tired of fighting against a person with a strong stubborn will, and leaves him to his own devices, no matter how foolish or evil they might be. This is an extremely dangerous zone for a person to enter, because once you have effectively pushed God’s influence completely out of your life, you open the door for all kinds of Satanic influences to fill the void.

Judas Iscariot, the traitorous disciple of Jesus, is a perfect biblical example of a reprobate. He spent so much time walking with the Savior, yet he never got saved. He witnessed all of Christs’ miracles (except for His resurrection), yet he never glorified Him as the Son of God. However, to the outside observer, Judas looked just like the rest of the eleven disciples, closely following Jesus’ every move; who could suspect him of becoming filled with the Devil at the time he later betrayed Christ? The same thing is true of faux Christians – no one ever suspects their true spiritual nature, since they are experts at putting on a good show on the outside. On the inside though, they are rotten to the core. In a previous post I wrote, called “Betrayal By A Loved One,” I described how we all know at least one person in our lives whom we would describe as our personal Judas. No matter what manner of wickedness our Judas has wrought on us, we still are required to forgive him since it’s what God commands us to do.

However, it can become a dangerous trap for us if we allow ourselves to obsess over the possible redemption of this reprobate.

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Satan is sent away by Michael the Archangel when he is caught hiding in the Garden of Eden.

God wants us to forgive those who have wronged us, yes, but He does not expect us to devote every ounce of our energy towards whether or not their hearts are convicted. We are told in the Bible to pray for our enemies, but not to the point where it becomes the main focus of every waking moment in our lives. There is a very fine line between praying fervently for someone and having an unhealthy fixation on that person. Why do I say this? you may ask. Because, when you repeatedly pray for the same person, you need to assess what your intentions and expectations are for God’s answer. If you have good intentions while praying for this reprobate, you sincerely want him to turn back to God before it’s too late, and you fully trust that God is in control of the situation. However, perhaps your intentions for praying for him are a little bit self-serving – maybe the reason you want him to get right with God is somehow related to your own personal benefit, and what you see as devoted prayer is really an indirect way of trying to control the situation’s outcome. Whether we like to admit it or not, this can very well be the case.

The reprobate I’m referring to in my life is someone whom I once loved very much, with all my heart. Like Lucifer the Angel of Light, he first portrayed himself to be perfect, everything I ever wanted – but later his true nature revealed itself to be dark and rebellious, much like Satan in his demonic form. When he betrayed me, I had already fallen so deeply in love with him to the point where my affection for him was unconditional, regardless of how he treated me. So in an effort to save the only love I had ever known at that point, I prayed for him every single day for an entire year, begging God to change His heart, convict him of betraying me, and lead him to apologize to me. I would always break down crying each day as I desperately pleaded to God: “Dear Lord, please…CONVICT him. I don’t even care if you give him back to me; I just want him to be right with you. I love him unconditionally, the same exact way You do. Please protect him from the foolish choices in his heart! Please keep him safe!” Even though I still loved him deeply, I didn’t even ask for God to renew my relationship with Him; I just wanted him to get right with God so I could be reunited with him in Heaven someday, even if I never got to see him again on Earth. I later came to severely regret this, for even though I was reunited with him a year after, his apology to me was a temporary ruse designed to manipulate me and betray me all over again. Thus I was once more sucked into his cycle of emotional abuse, all because I lost myself by praying for him because of the unhealthy attachment I had from before.

Here are some verses to remind us that the fate of a reprobate is his own doing, not ours:

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Satan falling from Heaven as he escapes to Earth.

Proverbs 1:24-28 ~ “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

Isaiah 14:12- ~ “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Jeremiah 7:16 ~ “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

Hosea 4:17 ~ “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.”

Romans 1:28 ~ “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,

Hebrews 10:26-31 ~ “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

2 Peter 2:4 ~ “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

So what can we do to redeem the reprobate in our lives? Nothing?

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The simple answer to the above question is this – Let go and let God.

We can present the issue and our concerns about it to God, like we’re supposed to, without letting it consume our minds and hearts. We need to trust God that He knows what’s best, and that He has absolutely everything under His divine control. However, if we do allow the situation to consume us, we’ll be caught in the trap of subtle idolatry, placing our fears and desires above God’s will. When it comes to the redemption of a reprobate, it is utimately up to that person himself, since neither we nor God Himself can control the free will of someone else. It’s so easy to obsess over a situation in the name of fervent prayer, when really we’re indirectly trying to control the outcome since we don’t fully trust God. If we can learn to set the matter entirely in God’s hands and forget it, then we can know true peace that surpasses all understanding. God does not hold us accountable for the actions and choices of a wayward person in our lives, so we shouldn’t have to worry about it since it’s out of our control. Instead, we can say to God, “I know You hold this person in Your powerful hands, and I trust You to take care of this situation no matter how hopeless it may seem. God, I relinquish my desire to control the situation and circumstances regarding this person I’m concerned about. Please help me to keep my focus completely on You, so I don’t lose sight of my own purpose and identity. Amen.”

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

A Missed Understanding

 

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We all need someone who “gets” us, but do we care enough to “get” God?

 

“No one understands me! What’s the point of talking to anyone anymore?!”

Teenagers are often ridiculed for this verbal stereotype, but sadly, this desperate claim of angst is true for people of all ages. This anguished question has resonated from the minds and mouths of every person who’s existed down through the ages. Human beings were created by God as social creatures, desiring more than anything else to connect with other, separate entities. This truth is described in the book of Genesis, when God created a helper for Adam in the person of his wife, Eve.

Unfortunately, after they opened the gateway to sin on this earth, Adam and Eve inhibited themselves in all areas, including the realm of communication. Once they bit into the forbidden fruit, which grew from the sin of selfishness and pride, their true natures were transformed from serving God and each other to serving their own egos. They were no longer concerned with listening to each other’s words; they cared only for the thoughts inside their own heads. Ever since then, mankind has constantly struggled to make his voice heard, crying out loud to the dark, far reaches of the universe.

“If only there was someone who’d listen!” he cries. “I would give anything just to have someone care enough about me to understand how I feel inside!”

Oh, what a sad, tragic mistake it is when man has chosen to remove himself so far away from God that he forgot how God has always been there for him in the first place! In human relationships, misunderstandings often stem from a lack of communication; the same principle applies to our relationship with God. We choose not to open up to Him because we assume that He’s just going to judge us for our thoughts and feelings, just like what many teenagers and young adults assume about their parents. So instead of pouring our hearts out to God in prayer, we shut Him out of our daily lives by not talking to Him, just like a typical moody teenager locks him or herself inside their bedroom.

The surprising truth is, God is FAR more understanding than we give Him credit for.

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How do we little, puny humans get the nerve to think that God is incapable of knowing our thoughts and feelings when He’s the One Who orchestrates the circumstances of our lives to begin with? Within a parent/child relationship, the parents have years of experience dealing with the same issues that their children face every day, but a self-absorbed teenager or young adult either does not realize or refuses to acknowledge that fact. This is due once again to the common faults of stubbornness and pride, when they think or say out loud, “Mom and Dad don’t know what they’re talking about! They’re just trying to control my life; why should I listen to what they have to say?!” This ignorant claim echoes constantly in today’s world when people say horrible, blasphemous things like “God is dead!”, or “If there is a God, why would He care about me?!”

We are fortunate that God bestows His grace and mercy upon this world at all times, for there are innumerable lost souls who try His patience and kindle His wrath every day. The very fact that He delays the punishment of man’s wickedness until death is proof that He is mindful of our fallen, corrupt state. God is longsuffering, meaning that He’s patient beyond our human comprehension, and is merciful enough to let every man live long enough to have a chance at knowing Him. Unfortunately, there are many people who pass away from this world without ever knowing Him, therefore missing out on the very thing their souls craved the most – a loving Being Who infinitely understands them.

Sadly, there are also many Christians who miss out on God’s gift of understanding.

Now, please don’t misunderstand the above sentence – this is not in any way meant to question the salvation of those who claim to be born again Christians; that deeply personal matter is between their hearts and God alone. What I mean is that some Christians fail to take full advantage of all the privileges they gained access to once they formed a renewed relationship with their Creator and Savior. Of course, the one particular privilege I’m referring to is the aforementioned gift of being completely understood by Someone, regardless of circumstances. Why do they miss out on such a wonderful treasure? Because of mistaken, preconceived notions on their part, also known as faulty assumptions. This symptom occurs when Christians choose to listen more to the inner voice in their human minds, limited by human reasoning, rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit, Whose purpose is to draw them closer to God. Another reason that faulty assumptions are formed about God and His character is when Christians might also choose to listen to the voice of Satan, the Father of Lies, who desires nothing more than their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual destruction. In fact, sometimes the lies that Satan tells Christians on a regular basis are the same exact lies that he tells to unsaved people to prevent them from knowing their Savior and gaining eternal security for their souls.

He whispers wicked things like, “God doesn’t care about your happiness.” “He doesn’t want you to have any fun in your life, because He’s selfish.” “Why should you trust Him with the things you care about the most when all He cares about is telling you what to do?”

Rather than entertaining these malicious lies from the pit of Hell, Christians should seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit Himself to gain the courage and strength they need to say, “Get behind me, Satan! Leave me alone, and get out of here!”

 

So, to help anyone who might be struggling in this area, here are three things to always remember about God to prevent missing out on His understanding.

 

1. God LOVES you.

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A few months ago, I wrote a post about how God is everyone’s true “First Love.” In it, I described the two main attributes of God’s love – it is eternal and unconditional. Knowing that God’s love for you will never end should bring hope and peace to your soul while knowing that He loves you unconditionally should bring comfort and reassurance to you. With these two truths combined, you should always know that God will NEVER stop loving you, no matter what you do or don’t do. Therefore, you shouldn’t be ashamed to share anything with Him, including all the hurts, hopes, fears, failures, pain, and passions that reside within you. Many people are afraid that God is always angry with them for sinning, and is only interested in judging them for it. While it is true that God cannot and will not tolerate sin in our lives, His attitude toward us as Christians is not spiteful or passive aggressive. God is so loving to us, that even though He knows about the sins in our lives, He is patiently waiting for us to confess them to Him so He can forgive us. God waits for us to do this in His mercy since He is fully aware of our every weakness. With that being said, here is the next thing we should always remember about God:

2. God knows and wants what’s best for you.

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Because God is so loving, it’s only natural that He would also be caring and concerned about every detail in your life. Now, God is sovereign, and it is important to remember that He has complete control over all circumstances; however, even though He possesses this authority and power, God does not try to directly control our lives. If we claim to know Him as our Savior, then we should want to give Him complete control over the decisions we make, because He deserves it after all He’s done for us. Saving our souls from an eternity in Hell while we were yet unworthy is MORE than enough reason to justify giving God the divine right to direct us in everything we do. From the very beginning, God has only had man’s best interest at the core of His heart. Consider how Earth is the only planet in our galaxy that is capable of sustaining human life, and that’s where God chose to make our home when He created everything. Also, don’t forget how even though man chose to rebel against God’s command in the Garden of Eden, resulting in sin, God provided a free way for Him to escape eternal punishment so he wouldn’t have to suffer in the same place that was made for the Devil and his fallen angels. So if you remember these facts, you should be more than comfortable with trusting God enough to share whatever is on your heart with Him, and know that your past, present, and future has always been, and will always be in His hands. With that knowledge, here is the third and final important thing to always remember about God:

3. God MADE YOU.

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Yes, that’s right – contrary to popular, secular belief in today’s world, God is STILL the Creator of the entire universe, including man himself. No matter how many false theories are proposed, celebrated, or taught in schools and museums as fact, the Word of God, the Bible, still stands true and firm. Man was created in God’s divine image, with three parts to his being that form a complete whole. The Bible says that God fashions every person in the womb with His own hands, and I believe that is true because of how different each individual looks from another. To me, the eye sockets on a person’s face appear to be molded by a Person’s thumb to make two, deep, circular impressions. The nose and jawline are always so unique on each person that it looks like they were sculpted by hand. The same principle applies to every other part of a person’s body, in my opinion. However, that is only the outer, physical evidence of Who made you – the internal part that is the real you is unrepeatable and irreplaceable. Your soul, the true, essential identity of your being, is God’s signature as the Master Artist Who crafted you. Your inner essence is the most intrinsic part of your existence as a person, the part that processes emotions, thoughts, and ideas. Since God designed you in a specific way to express all of these things, He certainly knows and understands all the reasons why you respond to various feelings you experience in different circumstances. Because of this fact, God isn’t going to judge you or condemn you for your feelings when you share your heart with Him, unlike how some people do. You can always feel completely free and comfortable to be yourself in God’s presence, no matter what.

 

Here are some verses to assure you that you can trust God with your innermost thoughts and feelings:

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Psalm 9:9 ~ “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”

Psalm 31:1, 5, &7 ~ “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;”

Psalm 32:7 ~ “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psalm 46:1 ~ “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalm 61:2 ~ “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 91:1 ~ “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 139:2, 23-24 ~ “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Isaiah 41:10 ~ “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Zephaniah 3:17 ~ “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

Matthew 28:20 ~ “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you.”

Hebrews 4:15 ~ “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

 
God’s understanding is our true “safe space,” our purest secret place.

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Now that you know these three important truths to always remember about God, you should never again feel discouraged by the failed attempts of man to understand you. God will always be there for you with loving, open arms that are ready and willing to accept you no matter what. No secrets you have will ever surprise Him, because He is omniscient – meaning He already knows everything anyway. If you know God as your Creator and Savior, then He is your Best Friend and trusted Confidant. He alone has the power to free you from the negative influence of other people’s thoughts and judgments about you. He is reaching out His hand to you today, waiting for you to take it in full confidence and assurance that He will take care of your heart and all its needs. The disappointment of man’s failures to understand you won’t matter anymore once you’ve received a taste of His glorious compassion and mercy. God is inviting you to experience life with Him as a thrilling adventure, filled with intimate moments that you can share with only Him. Don’t miss out on God’s gift of understanding – take His hand, and let Him embrace you with the warmth of His unconditional love today.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

“Natural” Worship

 

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God is everywhere around us, but He is NOT everything around us.

 

Our natural world is filled with many beautiful wonders.

Since the beginning of time itself, man has always admired the great beauty and majesty of nature. The universe was created by an almighty, loving God who desired to give us a pleasant environment to live in, while at the same time leaving His divine fingerprints everywhere we look. Unfortunately, after the entrance of sin into our world, man began to replace his ideas of the Creator with His creation instead, choosing to serve anything and everything else but the Deity that formed him.

About a month ago, the relatively new holiday called “Earth Day” was observed. While it is allegedly celebrated for a noble cause, we should be careful to maintain a spiritually accurate perspective on it. Although it’s a good thing to want to be good stewards of the natural resources God gave us, it’s quite another thing to elevate the cause of protecting nature to the point of worshiping it. There are many people today who self-identify as “neo-pagans,” however, there is absolutely nothing new about paganism, which has been wrongly practiced for thousands of years. From Wiccan Druids to tribal shamans, practically every single culture in the world has been guilty of worshiping nature as god at some point.

While it’s certainly easy to point fingers and criticize pagans, whether they be ancient or modern practicers, it’s also easy to see why they would fall under Satan’s spell of confusion and error. As I already stated before, nature in all its various forms is undeniably beautiful. Every aspect of it points to God’s love for design and artistry. Not only is everything aesthetically pleasing, but it is also fully functional with a distinct purpose. Surely, whenever people look at mountains, oceans, or sunsets, they simply cannot miss the supernatural evidence contained in all the natural elements. For this reason, we can understand why people are susceptible to fall under the temptation to practice paganism. However, while nature is indeed glorious and of divine making, God never intended for us to worship it – God wants us to give Him His rightful glory by praising Him for the many things He made. Instead of worshiping nature, we can look at the wonderful gift of nature as the best way to worship God the way He deserves.

Here are three ways we can get closer to our Creator through His creation:

 

  1. Recognize that God is always superior to the things that He made.

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When God created nature, He designed everything in a specific way that would lead man to the knowledge of Himself. Since we were created in God’s image, He made us with an inherent need to discover His identity and seek out His presence in our lives. For thousands of years, sinful man has been trying to do this very thing, yet with the wrong approach. Because man has a rebellious, wicked heart, he chose to fulfill his God-given needs and desires in a twisted and corrupt way, rather than the way God intended. Man’s sinful heart decided to pursue its goal by following Satan’s pattern of taking something perfectly good that God made and turning it into either a cheap imitation or outright mockery of God’s original plan. When ancient pagan cultures worshiped nature, they subconsciously realized that there was a God, and their first instinct was to recognize His presence in their surroundings. While the very first people groups should have known better and knew what they were doing when they turned away from God, their descendants had been exposed to error for so long that they sincerely believed in their hearts that the false religion they practiced was true.

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As you can see, the ancient pagan cultures were so close, yet so far from the truth when it came to fulfilling their quest to worship God properly. Rather than making the same mistakes that the ancient pagans did, as Christians, we have the benefit of taking a more spiritually enlightened approach. When we look at the beautiful world around us, we acknowledge that it came from the mind of the same all-powerful God Who made us and gave us life. If we ever find ourselves tempted to be deceived by Satan to turn away from the truth, we can resist his lies with very simple questions, such as: Did a tree give me the breath of life when I was first born? Can a mountain actively take care of me from its own conscious will? Does the ocean care about my feelings and have compassion on me? Can the wind hear me when I need to talk to someone about all my problems? Of course, the answer to all these ridiculous questions is NO. The point of these questions is to acknowledge man’s need of a personal Creator Who cares about him in a deeply intimate way. Only He can satisfy the inherent needs of our heart, and provide us with a fulfilling existence.

2. Point out God’s presence through the things He made to those who don’t know Him.

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Once we have realized that God is greater than His creations, we can help others come to see the truth by showing them the beautiful wonders He made. There are countless people in the world who are constantly searching for answers to questions about their own existence and purpose on this planet. Sadly, many of these people turn to secular reasoning to explain these burning questions that were placed in their hearts by God Himself. While using good discretion, we can determine the proper context and timing to share the truth with people who sincerely desire to know it in their hearts. Once you gain a precious opportunity to witness to someone, you can use the different elements of nature as a direct comparison to help the other person understand how much God cares about them. For example, you can tell that person how there are trillions of stars in our universe, and yet God knows each and every one of them by name, just like He does with the people He made. You can also describe how every time a small bird falls to the ground, it never goes unnoticed by God’s eyes, just like how He always watches over us and protects us. You can express how the greatest depths of the ocean are no match for the depths of God’s love, mercy and compassion on us as humans.

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These are all simple suggestions that you can use; however, as I stated before, it is imperative that you exercise wisdom when deciding to witness to someone. The condition of another person’s heart is between them and God alone, and they must be ready to listen to the truth from their own will rather than having it forced upon them. I recommend using your best judgment with the help of the Holy Spirit to determine the proper context and timing for witnessing to someone. Perhaps this other person you’re concerned about will bring up the subject themselves in the form of a simple question, or maybe you’ll get the chance to walk outside with them while engaging in pleasant conversation. If you happen to discuss your surroundings or the weather in that conversation, that would be an ideal way subtly bring up the subject. However, I cannot stress enough that this strategy all depends on the person in question and how well you know them. Nobody likes to feel attacked or blindsided with heavy subjects, even from someone they consider to be their friend. Once you have confirmed that the other person is ready and willing to listen to the truth, then you can find endless ways to explain it to them through the world of nature. Tell the other person that God put so much effort into creating our beautiful world because He wanted us to be happy, drawing attention to His inherent goodness. Explain to them that no matter where they are in the universe, God is always there with them, watching over them with loving care.

3. Intimately connect with God by worshiping Him outside in His Creation.

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Perhaps it’s because Man was first created in the Garden of Eden, but I truly believe that Man’s natural instinct to worship God is best performed outside in the physical realm of nature. Before sin entered our world, Adam used to walk with God in the Garden of Eden every single day, conversing with His loving Creator. You can call me a hippie if you want, but personally, I just feel closer to God when I’m outside. I even have an opinion that some might feel is too radical – I believe that all church services should be held outside. Of course, certain adverse weather conditions during particular seasons might prevent such an ideal concept from becoming a reality, but in the case of such exceptions, you could easily have a designated tent or building close by to your original natural worship spot. Here’s how I see it – when Jesus Himself taught His truths to His followers, the majority of the time He was outside in His Father’s Creation. For example, He had His famous sermon on the mount, and there were many other times that He preached by the seaside. Not only were these natural locations a beautiful setting, but they allowed a greater audience of people to be present for His teachings.

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When it comes to one on one personal worship with God, I also believe that doing it outside is the very best option. Depending on the location you choose, you can have all the privacy you need to commune with God in the midst of His Creation. Enjoy the tranquil sounds of birds chirping, breezes blowing, or water flowing, as you contemplate the many joys of what He made. Enthrall yourself with the divine euphoria of being completely alone with God in a naturally beautiful setting. Make it your preferred method of worship whenever you can, and you will come to find that it’s the highlight of your day, as it should be. Consider this as well – when you’re spending time with someone you’re romantically attracted to, don’t you like to pick a spot with a beautiful view? If we want to pick the very best for the people we care about, then God deserves so much more from us too. Although a personal relationship with God is different from an earthly relationship, the same principles are still in effect when it comes down to it. God loves us infinitely more than any other person can, and He will feel extra loved when we decide to pick a beautiful setting to spend time with Him.

 

Here are some verses to prove that Man is meant to worship God, rather than “the universe” around him:

 

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Genesis 1:1 ~ “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Genesis 2:7 ~ “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Genesis 3:8 ~ “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

Psalm 115:1-8 ~ “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”

Psalm 139:7-10 ~ “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Matthew 5:1 ~ “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

Matthew 6:26, 28-30 ~ “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

And why take ye thought or raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”

Mark 4:1 ~ “And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.”

Luke 5:1 ~ “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,”

Romans 1:20-23 ~ “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Colossians 1:16 ~ “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”

Hebrews 11:3 ~ “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

1 Peter 3:15 ~ “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

 

 

By practicing these three things, we can easily distinguish the difference between nature worship and natural worship.

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Rather than confusing the Creator with His Creation, like the ancient pagans did, we know better enough to give God the rightful glory He deserves. By doing the three things listed above, we can still appreciate and enjoy the wonderful elements of nature without falling into the trap of worshiping it. God will smile upon us when we make an effort to respond to His Creation the way He intended us to. By recognizing that He is over all the things He made, we acknowledge God’s power and dominion. By showing other people who don’t know Him the truth about where the universe came from, we are giving God His due credit and praise while also obeying His command to witness to the lost. By spending time with Him in worship outside, we come full circle by completing the connection of our Creator to all the things He made. Man was designed with an inherent, undeniable need to worship something, and once he realizes the truth, he opens up his life to an entire world of beautiful spiritual fulfillment. It is only natural for Man to worship God, and the most natural way to do it is for him to commune with God in the natural surroundings that were specially designed for him to enjoy.

– Gloria D. Hopkins