Faithful, Not Forgetful

Does it ever feel like the train of life keeps moving along without you?

Have you ever lost something valuable on a ride before?

We’ve all been there at some point – you’re blissfully enjoying a peaceful ride while out in public somewhere, maybe on a bus, boat, or train, and you get so caught up in the ride itself, that by the time you get off, you completely forget something important behind. The after effects of feeling relaxed take a few minutes to wear off, and you realize too late that something very important is missing. Your first instinct is to contact the company responsible for the vehicle, inquiring about your missing item. They have an employee search the vehicle for you, but inform you that it’s nowhere to be found, suggesting that perhaps it fell out during the ride at some point. Unfortunately in some cases, the company has a zero liability policy, and if they can’t find your possessions, your valuable object is gone forever, never to be seen again. You wish more than anything that you could get it back, but this particular object is already lost beyond all hope. People will tell you to just replace it, but it was more than just an object to you; perhaps it had some sort of special meaning and sentimental value for you.

You start to blame yourself, thinking that if you had just asked the driver or conductor to stop or turn around sooner, you might have been able to save it. However, contemplating the hypothetical circumstances proves to be futile, as nothing can be done at that point. You feel sad about the loss of your valuable possession, but have to accept that it’s gone no matter what.

Perhaps you feel like God has forgotten you, leaving you behind just like the scenario described above.

There may be opportunities, circumstances, goals, and many other things that you clung to with all your heart, trying your best to keep them safe everywhere you went. However, you may feel as though these things have been taken, lost, or broken due to forces outside your control. You may quite literally feel left hanging, wondering what in the world is going to happen to you next. You sigh and pass the time as best as you can, but constantly wonder when God is going to “come back for you” and pick you up again. The waiting feels endless, and you grow more and more anxious with each passing day. You start to believe that you’ll remain in this forgotten place forever, in spite of what you’ve been told or taught about God’s goodness all your life.

Even though life has no “round trip” ticket, you can rest assured that God has not missed you on any of His “stops.”

Just when you feel like abandoning all hope about the lost things that were important to you, God has a way of reminding you that He still cares, regardless of how it might appear to you. Maybe you decided to leave the important thing behind you already, quite literally leaving it in God’s hands. Time passes, and you happen to be going about your day, when news reaches you about this thing that you had previously signed off as long gone. No matter what the context of your circumstances is, God might show you later on how He was guiding you along the right path the whole time, sparing you from hidden dangers, or redirecting your course. He lovingly and gently acknowledges your situation, while reassuring you that He has you exactly where you need to be. God is faithful to remember you in all the details of your life, because what is important to your life situation is always important to Him. God knows that everything close to you has meaning, and even if something feels lost forever, He is there to remind you that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Marble Memories

Our most sacred memories are safe in the treasure houses of time, under God’s watch care.

Do certain moments in your life hold a special value in your heart?

Throughout history, from ancient to medieval times, kings, queens, and other noble monarchs held royal treasure houses that guarded all their most precious riches. These elaborate structures were often constructed of marble and other valuable substances to showcase the splendor of their opulent lifestyles, from the past and their present. Only their most trusted guards had access to these secret places where they hid away their most costly artifacts. Sadly, these places are lost in time, standing isolated and collecting dust as they are forgotten through the ages. While we may not bear a title of earthly royalty, as God’s adopted children we have eternal royalty that gives us noble titles of a spiritual nature; because we are sculpted in God’s likeness, our spiritual and emotional treasures mean a great deal to Him.

Our memories are irreplaceable, priceless treasures that happen only once in a lifetime. As much as we might wish otherwise, we cannot travel back in time to revisit the best ones we have. On a similar note, there are other memories we may wish to erase, but by the same token that feat is also impossible. We may try to grasp tightly onto these tokens of time with all we have, but each passing day they continue to fade away into the shadows. No amount of recording events or recounting them to others will ever be able to replicate the actual sensation of experiencing those moments for the very first time, no matter how hard we try.

So what do we do when we’re afraid to forget about the moments that matter the most to us?

We commit them into the Lord’s hands for safekeeping.

I know what you’re probably thinking: If I give these memories up, it will be like saying they never mattered to me in the first place, right?

Not necessarily.

On the contrary, handing over our most valuable memories to God ensures that they will be carefully preserved to a far greater extent than we are capable of doing. So how can we be certain that God understands how much our special memories mean to us, before we’re ready to commit them to His hands?

Well, here are a few reasons why we can rest assured of this fact:

  1. He knows how often we wander these hallowed, hollow halls.

Our memories we create through our lives tell the story of who we are, and as such they form a metaphorical museum of everything that has ever influenced us, for better or for worse. Some people are prone to introspection more than others, and can easily find themselves wandering aimlessly through these marble walls of memory until they inadvertently become lost. While it can be a good thing to develop self awareness by revisiting one’s own history, it can easily become an abysmal labyrinth that may be impossible to escape from. Those of us who endlessly search these corridors are looking for clues to understand why certain events transpired the way they did, hoping to discern a formerly undiscovered truth. Since many of our past events were crucial keystone points in our personal development, it can be difficult to leave these halls behind. Because the Lord can read our every thought at any given moment, He undoubtedly understands why these past places are so important to us.

2. His home is in our hearts, so He respects our personal emotions and feelings.

From the moment we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we invited His Holy Spirit to come dwell inside us for all eternity. While God is omniscient to begin with, He has another reason why He cares about everything that is important to us – His spiritual palace in our heart is where He resides every day. As the royal King of Kings, He not only exercises authority over our lives, but also deeply understands why these moments in our past mean so much to us, because He created us the way we are for a specific reason. Being the very Maker of our souls allows Him to have an intimate knowledge of what makes us vulnerable, including why we react to certain life events the way we do. Whether our memories are from the distant past, or the more recent present history, God cares about every single thing that takes up place in our hearts. Since He indwells us and gave us our existence, He is filled with compassion towards whatever caused us sorrow, anger, or joy. He regards these feelings as the precious riches He imbued us with when He made us in His divine image.

3. He longs to be the preeminent Muse in all our thoughts.

God is deeply interested in all the thoughts we think, and made a supernatural investment in us when He sent His Son Jesus to Earth to sacrifice His life for us, beginning the process of sanctification at the moment of salvation. We are instructed in His Word to do everything for His glory, no matter what it is concerning our daily lives. All actions, words, and attitudes begin in the same place – our thought life. Each day we have a choice to decide what we want to think about, directing our path for the rest of our waking hours. We can use this time wisely if we make the choice to honor God in our thoughts first, giving Him ultimate control through His Holy Spirit. Alternatively, we can also make the choice to be careless about our thoughts, letting our flesh become the director of our day instead, grieving the Holy Spirit of God Whose presence is always with us. Apart from God, we can do nothing, not even breathe, and He knows that if we assign authority to Him in our thoughts daily, He can help us accomplish great things for His glory.

4. He is aware that the shadows of past sin can shroud us in shame.

We are all born sinners, under the curse of a fallen, broken world. Therefore, we have all made mistakes that we are not proud of, including those that we already confessed to our Savior. When we spend too much time wandering the marble halls of our memories, we can get trapped in dark despair if we linger in a particularly shadowy section. Satan is aware of this too, and is all too delighted to use this to his advantage against us. While we are no longer condemned after accepting the blood of Christ for our sins, we can be tempted to listen to the voice of Satan and condemn ourselves all over again, becoming defeated by something God has already pardoned us for. We try to retrace our steps and wonder where we went wrong, wishing that we could somehow erase the evidence of our failings, but all of this is to no avail, especially when attempting to do so in the flesh. God can deliver us out of the dark hallways of sinful shame and despair if we choose to give all our memories to Him.

5. He knows that fixating on unchangeable facts can spiral us into insanity.

As fragile human beings, it can be all too easy for us to focus on the negative occurrences in our life and completely ignore all the positive aspects that have shaped us. Our museum of memories can be very extensive, and if we’re not careful, we can descend into the lowest levels of depression without stopping to check how far we’ve gone. Whether we like it or not, there are some things that others have done to us that cannot be undone, or couldn’t be changed because the people who did them WOULDN’T be changed. Trying to resolve impossible circumstances is as futile as banging your head against the wall. Satan wants us to be so fixed on what can’t be changed so that we are prone to overlook the change God is attempting to do in our life. If we commit these difficult facts that are set in stone to Him, we can escape the snare of the Devil himself, who seeks to use these circumstances to destroy us.

Here are God’s own Words of timeless truth that prove He can be trusted with our most sacred memories:

Deuteronomy 32:35 ~ “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

2 Chronicles 16:9a ~ “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”

Psalm 26:2 ~ “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”

Psalm 34:18 ~ “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

Psalm 139:1-2 ~ “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”

Proverbs 4:23 ~ “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 14:12-13 ~ “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.”

Proverbs 16:1-3 ~ “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

Jeremiah 17:10 ~ “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Ezekiel 36:26: ~ “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

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

Romans 3:4 ~ “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”

Romans 5:8 ~ “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 8:1 ~ “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Romans 8:27-28 ~ “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. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 10:9-10 ~ “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Romans 12:19 ~ “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Romans 15:13 ~ “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 ~ “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

2 Corinthians 10:5 ~ “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 11:3 ~ “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

Philippians 3:13 ~ “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 4:6-7 ~ “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:1-4 “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. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

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.”

James 4:5 ~ “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”

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

1 John 2:15-17 ~ “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

God’s Words are eternal treasures of infinite value.

1 John 3:1-10 ~ “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”

 1 John 3:20 ~ “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”

1 John 4:20 ~ “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?”

As you can see, the Lord Himself is more than trustworthy of keeping our most sacred memories safe in His royal treasury.

As our Divine Creator and the Keeper of our very souls, God is more than worthy of being trusted to keep our most treasured memories safe, no matter what circumstances took place in them. We have no need to worry or fret about our story not being told to others on Earth, because God is our Witness, and He sees all AND knows all. It matters not what may have happened to us by the hands of others; God is aware of all the facts. He also places a high value on whatever is near and dear to our hearts – if it is important to us, it is important to HIM too. God is infinite, and has more than enough room to tenderly place our intangible keepsakes in the vaults of His loving care, watching over them with the abundant stores of His compassion. He is never going to forget us, even if others have. The Lord holds us in the palm of His hand, and our existence, along with all that pertains to it, is secure in His divine possession.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Unscripted: Following the Director’s Cut

Whether the hard events of our life are a normal theatrical release or an extended edition, we all can be tempted to sit in the Director’s chair.

“Mister Director, this is not the script I wanted…”

LIFE. Nobody gets out of it alive, ironically, yet strangely, such short statements are hardly a source of consolation for those whose experiences are anything but ideal. We all grow up having hopes and dreams for our future, at any age, but what happens when the facts of our serious disappointments don’t measure up to our expectations? It was William Shakespeare who famously once said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” (As You Like It), and his assessment is pretty accurate to the truth. While we are not puppets, because we have the divine gift of free will, we are still insignificant chess pieces in the grand scheme of God’s ultimate purpose and plan for the universe that HE created. The very word “history” itself combines the words “his” and “story,” showing God’s relation to mankind which He made with His own hands. With this knowledge, all humans created in His divine image are faced with a perpetual burning question that is universal to the human experience in this sinful, fallen world:

What are we supposed to do when we feel like the Director isn’t following the script we imagined for ourselves? Do we panic when we feel helpless about what’s happening onscreen?

We all think we have some idea of how our lives should go, based on society’s expectations and pressure it puts on us, which in turn, are founded on events that have transpired since the Garden of Eden. This is further complicated when we create our own imagined scenarios in our hearts and heads that generate from our innermost desires and thoughts. We all have a very unique backstory, with different set pieces, characters, conflicts, tension, action, and themes. All of these elements combined form an original script that plays out the story of our lives. Based on all of the established information in the introduction of the script, we as humans try our best to guess the plot before it has a chance to play out. However, no matter how many plot twists await us in our lives, God doesn’t believe in giving us spoilers.

Since we know that it is His divine prerogative as the Director of our life story to orchestrate the events we see unfold, why is it so difficult for us to trust Him with the ultimate outcome?

There are many reasons for this, and thankfully for our sake, our Creator is more than compassionate enough to understand our natural, human reactions to these unexpected plot twists. He also has divine wisdom to compensate for our limitations in trusting Him.

Here are just a few common reasons that account for our universal, human struggle –

Reason #1: We can only see through the scope of the lens of our limited, finite perspective.

This might run the risk of sounding oversimplified, but we are humans, and God is GOD. Only He can see the ultimate end of all things, in every sense of the phrase. As the Alpha and Omega, He is the Author and Finisher of the script He’s written for His creations. Since we are not infinite as He is, we don’t have the divine advantage of knowing not only the future, but also every imaginable circumstance that provides the context of the lives of every single person on the planet. Because we only have access to our own script one page at a time, it can be easy for us to start questioning our role that we play in our own plot, or even the plot itself. We must remember that even though we are limited to our own perspective on the stage of our lives, the Divine Director can see everything on the set of His Creation from ALL angles. He can move cameras and set pieces around that we probably are not even aware exist in our script, much less have the power to control them. God is determined to make the greatest production possible through the resources of His infinite power. Even if our personal perspective is out of focus, we can find peace in knowing that our Director commands the overall view of our original production.

Reason #2: We cannot control the roles others choose to play in our lives.

When we are carrying out the scenes in our scripts, we interact with a full cast of characters of all kinds. These characters all have their own unique scripts too, which they can choose to follow or turn down at will. Just like actors and actresses, people can and do affect our lives in multiple ways, for better or worse. Some who initially choose to sign onto the project of our scripts might suddenly decide to walk off the set at any time, for any reason. Alternatively, the divine Director might make His own executive decision to write them out of the script. Sometimes this is simply because of outstanding circumstances in their own scripts beyond their control; other times it is because of a deliberate decision they choose to make. Although they said they were dedicated to the role they chose to play in our lives, for whatever reasons they decided that the part just wasn’t for them. They fully know the part they were supposed to play, but they refuse to stick to the script and abandon the project altogether. Whether the reasons they had for walking away for were valid, or born of pure selfishness, we cannot force them to honor their metaphorical contract with us. Does this mean the divine Director necessarily approves of their choice, or the way they may have unprofessionally exited stage left?

Not always.

But, regardless of their decision, the Director knows that the show must go on. He doesn’t throw away our whole script just because some people choose to not follow it along with us.

Reason #3: Our plot tends to unfold in the darkness of the film Developer’s studio.

Our Director has been planning the plots of our lives since before we were born, and is intent on bringing them to an expected end. Just as God had plans for the Universe in the darkness of the Void before Creation, He has plans for us long before our moment of conception in our mother’s womb. Since one of the greatest mysteries of the universe is the miracle of new human life itself, it is no wonder that the details of our lives are hidden away in a metaphysical dimension that only God Himself holds the key to. Rather than assuming God keeps secrets from us out of malice, however, we should realize that the greatest artists of any sort do their best work in solitude, and the Master Artist of all Creation is no different. Although it is easy for us to conclude that God is withholding details from us about our lives because He doesn’t want us to know, we should look at His strategy through the lens of His love instead, knowing that He is guarding His artistic process because He’s busy doing His best work for us.

Reason #4: We care about the reviews we receive from a critical audience.

It’s all too easy for us to compare scripts with other people around us, and think that our Director has unfairly given them a better part than us. We can fall into the trap of jealousy, bitterness, covetousness, and resentment towards other people, even if they haven’t done anything wrong to purposely make us envy their personal circumstances. Although we put this unfair pressure on ourselves on a regular basis all on our own, it also can result from pressure we feel from the outside world to “get our act together,” or to “look the part.” It is our responsibility to know that we are only obligated to answer to God Himself, and we are not placed in this production to please people who might happen to be onlookers. Our earthly audience should not be our top priority. We have a duty to make sure we carry out our roles to the best of our ability in order to fulfill the divine Director’s vision for ultimate good. It will be easier for us to stick to our assigned scripts and roles when we remember that His final review is the only one that truly matters.

Here are some Director’s notes that show He understands how difficult it is for His cast to work under pressure:

Psalm 103:14 – “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

1 Corinthians 10:3 – ““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.”

Philippians 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

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.”

Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Revelation 22:13 – “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Instead of having us abandon the project completely, our Director is willing to let us “take five.”

Unfortunately, we don’t get a choice in the scripts that life hands to us; however, we do have a say in how we choose to play our parts. Thankfully, our Director is patient enough to give us all the time we need to process our roles and understand the direction He wants us to take with our individual performance. Our script was written by His loving hand, even if the details of the setting and plot don’t seem that way. We all have specific parts of our script that we wish with all our hearts could be “redacted,” whether those details were already written into our script or added by our own choices. We don’t get to pick and choose our circumstances, but we can control the way we respond to them. Every day that God allows us to live is another chance to shoot another scene, and because of the current, fallen condition of our world, some scenes might require several takes. Because our divine Director is understanding and compassionate, He may allow us to “take five” in between those “takes,” whether those translate into five weeks, months, or years. God is willing to work with us if we are willing to work with Him. The only option that is completely off the table is throwing away the script, because we do not possess that authority. No matter how many difficult plot twists occur that were unscripted in our heads, we have to accept the unacceptable whether we understand it or not. Our scripts may not make a bit of sense to us, and we do not have to like them, but we are expected to cooperate with our Director out of love, faithfulness, and obedience. If we make a conscious effort to follow the vision of the divine Director’s cut, He will bring our story to an expected end.

– 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

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

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

Why It’s OK To Be “Broken”

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Many have said that we’re all a little broken.

To some extent, that statement is true. Whether we like it or not, we have all gone through something (or several things) in our lives that left us in a very dark place for a very long time. When we finally emerged from the situation, we found that we could never be the same way again, the way we used to be before it happened.

Yes, these are the dark circumstances that scar us, the situations that Satan uses to try to destroy us. If you think you haven’t experienced a traumatic event in your life yet, you can almost count on it to happen at some point in the future. For those of us who have already survived dark circumstances, however, we know just how hard it can be to reclaim our inner peace and heal our broken hearts.

Sometimes it feels like we’ll never get better.

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No matter how much time passes after our traumatic experiences, it often feels like we’ll never reach the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It seems to be taking forever for our hearts to heal, despite our desire to just “get over” whatever it was that happened to us. We tell ourselves that there must be something wrong with us, since there are many things to be thankful about, and yet we still can’t force ourselves to just “be happy.” Other people might tell us to stop whining, complaining, or feeling sorry for ourselves, because there are so many people in the world who might have it worse. While in some cases we might be guilty of falling into self-pity, and there are certainly always going to be other people who “have it worse” than us, that in NO way invalidates the pain that we feel in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

If your heart is feeling pain for a long period of time, then there has to be a valid reason for it, regardless of what other people say.

Fortunately for us though, our lives aren’t supposed to revolve around what other people say about us. When they fail to understand what we’re going through without making an effort to help or listen, they have no right to judge or criticize our pain. If we know the Lord as our personal Savior, He will ALWAYS understand what we feel and why we feel it. His Word promises that He is close to the brokenhearted, and that truth will never, ever change. (Psalm 34:18 ~ “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”)

Just remember: whatever pain you’re going through, God will use to make you new.

When people say that everything happens for a reason, it’s not some random chance of fate that was the result of some explosion in the vast cosmos. Even though God doesn’t like to see us in pain, He has a divine purpose for our suffering. God desires to make us stronger in Him by strengthening our faith in the midst of trials. (James 1:3-4 ~ “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”) It’s a long, tedious process to build strength, whether in a physical or spiritual context. The end results aren’t going to happen overnight, even though we wish they could. Therefore, it is hugely unfair for us to beat ourselves up emotionally just because we’re not in a better place yet like we want to be.

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Healing TAKES TIME.

That’s all there is to it.

If you try to rush through it, you’ll have an exercise in futility, even with your best attempts. Don’t try to deny your pain, just accept it. It is only by acknowledging and accepting our feelings that we are able to finally move past them. That’s why it’s called a “grieving process,” not a “grieving express.”

By denying or ignoring our pain, we are only prolonging it. God seeks to help us through it if we have the courage to acknowledge our need for Him. He wants you to know that you are not alone and that it is perfectly okay to be feeling the way that you do. God isn’t going to shame you or make you feel guilty about the emotions He gave you; He wants to help you learn how to handle them. They are there for an important reason, and that reason is most likely a natural reaction to whatever traumatic event you went through.

 

However, there is a far greater important reason that you experience pain in your life.

 

Remember the Sunday school song “This Little Light of Mine?”

 

That doesn’t just apply to the context of having a godly, Christian testimony in your personal lifestyle. It also applies to the light of the Holy Spirit that you have inside you from the moment of your salvation. The light of the Holy Spirit isn’t just there for the conviction of sins; it’s also there to inspire other people with what God is doing in your life. People around you might notice that you’re going through a dark time in your life, but they’ll also be able to see that you’re still shining with the joy of the Lord in your heart because you trust God and His goodness.

They’ll look at you, and they’ll say to themselves, “Hey, that guy or girl has every right or reason to give up in life, but they’re still going strong because of God’s help! I want to have that kind of strength in my life too!”

That is what this blog, called “Do You Glow In the Dark?”, is all about – not necessarily about shining exclusively to unsaved people for their need of salvation, but shining to the unsaved AND Christian population to prove that it is possible to keep your joy in spite of dark circumstances.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ~ “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”)

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So don’t look at your current condition and despair of your life, even if you do feel “stuck.” You might feel broken because of what life has thrown at you, but that does not detract from your value as a person whatsoever. You are still incredibly special, as a human being that God made with His own hands, no matter what other people (or you yourself) tell you. Your purpose in this world will prevail, regardless of your pain. I don’t want you to look in the mirror, gazing at your brokenness, and think that there is something wrong with you. YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS just because terrible things happened to you. You never have been, nor will you ever be, worthless. God is going to use you and your story as a powerful testimony to bless other people and improve their lives. You are a beautiful creation of a loving, Almighty God, and nothing He allows to happen in your life will ever go to waste. That’s why it’s okay to be a glowstick – whatever God allows to happen in your life that breaks you will also allow you to shine for Him.

– Gloria D. Hopkins