Five Reasons To Stay “Weird”

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. You are one of a kind.

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

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

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

3. Your uniqueness is worth celebrating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins

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

Looking Over the Summit

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So you’ve reached the peak of personal success – now, what comes next?

As we recently welcomed a brand new year, it’s also time to welcome an all-new adventure!

So, it’s now 2018. We have officially turned the page from yesterday to reveal a new beginning for the present and the future. Whether we’re ready or not, time is going to just keep flying on by, regardless of us noticing it. The new year is a time of celebration, in two different contexts – leaving behind the past and all its negative memories, while also embracing the present and future with all their positive possibilities!

Perhaps this past year was more than a little bit rough for you, as I know it was for me. You know what? Don’t let it keep you down, for there is still a whole new world out there for you to explore! Maybe you just accomplished a HUGE personal goal over this past year that has been gnawing at you relentlessly for years. If so, I wish you a whole-hearted congratulations for that important triumph! You’ve definitely earned it! If this past year prevented you from achieving all that you hoped you would, don’t let that discourage you – this year is another brand new chance for you to make it happen!

After wishing you a heartfelt congratulations over your achievements or ongoing goals, I just have three helpful tips of advice to give you:

1. Don’t get stuck on the summit!

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You’ve spent a long time trying to climb this mountain, and it took you a whole lot of effort just to get this far, so I understand the desire and need to stop and take a rest. However, don’t let this temporary resting period become your final destination! You don’t want the achievement of your goals to be a trap, where you stay stuck on the very top and have no idea how to get down again! Remember, life on this earth is a journey, and if you know Christ as your personal Savior, then Heaven is your final destination! In the meantime, we are supposed to be advancing the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father as much as we can with the precious time He has allowed us. There is a time for everything, just as the Scriptures say, for celebration and resting – but don’t let that be the only phase of your life just yet! God seldom calls His people to do just one thing for Him throughout the course of their lives, and if there is one specific calling, it usually has several components that go along with it. After you’ve finished recognizing your hard work and reaping the rewards of your labor, ask God to help you seek the next path on your way down, which leads us to my next tip…

2. Don’t be discouraged by the valley that lies before you.

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As you prepare to descend the steep slope leading away from the previous summit in your life, you’ll surely discover a brand new, challenging obstacle course standing in your way. We have to remember that there are as many lows in life as there are highs, and accept them all with equal courage and humility. I understand the fear that comes from stepping out of secure, familiar territory very well. During this past year, my family had to move away from the place I called home for the last twenty-two years of my life. The location we moved to was more familiar to my parents, but I was too young to remember living there when I was just a baby. I only mention this to tell you that you’re not alone when it comes to facing daunting obstacles in life, for the purpose of helping you and providing comfort. Try your best to not view these winding valleys in a negative way – instead, view them as exciting opportunities for endless discoveries! Sure, it can be a little bit unsettling, but that’s the exciting part. When descending a mountain into the valley below, you don’t always know what you’re going to find: it could be a beautiful river full of crisp, refreshing spring water, a dense forest with lots of dark shadows, or a barren landscape with little more than sharp rocks and dead shrubbery. Whatever you might find at the bottom, just know that God has a purpose for it, and holds your best interest deep within His heart. After all, without exploring the valleys, we wouldn’t be able to proceed further on our journey, which leads us to my next tip…

3. Boldly explore the chain of mountains that the Lord has laid out for your life!

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Once you finish accomplishing one goal or dream in your life, don’t be afraid to pursue another! You’ll find that your life is full of more possibilities than you realize, if you give it some careful consideration. We only have one life on this earth, so in that sense, we really do only live once, but that’s all the more reason to live it wisely! What we do with the time God has given to us makes all the difference in our quality of life. It’s up to us to form the proper priorities that please our Creator, by learning which ones fulfill His purpose for us, and which ones don’t. Rather than being sad or feeling apathetic after completing our achievements, we should be reinspired to conquer whatever new worlds God has called us to! The ending slope of one mountain is usually connected to another, and that’s just what we need to keep our lives interesting! As we take the necessary courage to look out beyond the horizon of our surroundings, we should not be filled with fear over what lies before us, but full of awe and hope. How boring would it be if God chose to only give us one quest in our lives? Be inspired to do all you can, while you can before the Lord escorts us up to Heaven someday!

 

The Lord is our travel Guide in this grand expedition we call life, so let’s take a look at His Special Map for directions to our ultimate destination:

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Deuteronomy 5:33 ~ “ Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

Deuteronomy 13:4 ~ “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Joshua 14:8-9 ~ “Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God fully.’

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Psalm 23 ~ “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

Psalm 27:33 ~ “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

Psalm 40:2 ~ “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

Psalm 119:133 ~ “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Isaiah 48:17 ~ “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Jeremiah 2:2 ~ “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”

Jeremiah 3:19 ~ “”Then I said, ‘How I would set you among My sons And give you a pleasant land, The most beautiful inheritance of the nations!’ And I said, ‘You shall call Me, My Father, And not turn away from following Me.'”

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.”

John 8:12 ~ “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 12:26 ~ “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”

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,

Hebrews 13:5-6 ~ “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. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

 

Now that I’ve shared these tips of advice with you, take them with you as you enjoy scaling the slopes of success and exploring the peaks of prosperity!

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Our life is meant to be one grand adventure, with many winding roads and twisting turns. The journey we travel cannot be lived in one place, otherwise it simply isn’t a journey. We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied while staying in one spot – it is our divine privilege and duty to keep on exploring the paths God has for us, while staying connected to Him through the spiritual ground of His Word and the special power of prayer. With God’s help, we can set our sights on any mountain He wants us to climb, so long as we have faith the size of a tiny little mustard seed. Just like the nun sings to Maria in the classic movie, The Sound of Music, we truly can “climb every mountain” we face in our lives, by keeping our faith in God and overcoming our fears. After succeeding in the dreams and goals God has given to us, we still have so much to look forward to as long as we live, both in this life and the next. It’s our job to just be brave enough to look over the summit, and see the beautiful view for ourselves.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Speak Up, Don’t Give Up!

 

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Please don’t choose to end it all, when you don’t know the end of it all.

 

I realize that September is nearly over already, but I feel compelled to write about this subject before it passes: National Suicide Awareness Month. While I am happy that there is a specific month dedicated to making people more mindful of this issue, I wish that our society would realize just how serious it is throughout the entire year, as this problem will never completely go away while this dark, fallen world exists.

There are countless people in this world who suffer from depression, which as a condition itself comes in many different forms. It is far more than just a negative emotional state; it is medically proven to be a mental illness that strongly affects one’s emotions and sense of rationality. However, I’m not writing this post to elaborate on the complex definition of depression – I’m writing this to help those who might be struggling with it, and also people who have loved ones in their lives that are also struggling with it.

Before I continue, let me clarify that the entire reason I started this blog was for the purpose of encouraging people to keep their joy in spite of dark circumstances. Satan’s primary goal when attacking Christians is to steal their joy. He achieves this by causing them to focus far too much on all the many negative things in their lives instead of God and His goodness. You see, because Satan hates God so much, he goes out of his way to convince people, including Christians, that God is not the good, loving Creator that He says He is. Satan even tells himself this lie to justify his rebellion against God when he still lived in Heaven. Satan reasons that if he can’t win against God, then he wants to pull as many people into the darkness with him as he possibly can.

Now, Christians have already been saved from the darkness of Hell, but they are still not immune to emotional and spiritual darkness.

God has already won the victory over Satan, death, and Hell, and Christians who have accepted Him are granted eternal security. Satan knows this, and he HATES that there is absolutely NOTHING he can do about it. God’s power will ALWAYS be superior to his, and Satan can never change that fact. However, Satan is certainly not above being petty against God, because he is the biggest sore loser in the entire universe. Even though Satan cannot counteract what Christ did for us at Calvary, he resorts to an alternative strategy to try to destroy Christians’ lives – he wants to render them completely useless for God’s service in this world.

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” ~ Colossians 1:12-14

 

Painful Reflection
Artist credit: Geoffrey Jones

 

Satan knows that a Christian who is filled with God’s power will be victorious over him, so he makes it his primary goal to convince Christians that they are powerless over their lives. He relentlessly attacks people by taunting them with the difficult life circumstances they face and drives them into despair and agony by reminding them that they are helpless to do anything to change their miserable condition. Satan wants to emphasize how Christians don’t possess God’s power over their circumstances themselves and wants to keep them ignorant of the fact that they are capable of spiritually and emotionally rising above the circumstances that he (Satan) is using to harm them.

“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

Once a Christian makes the heartbreaking decision to end his or her own life, Satan rejoices at winning a trophy against God.

Now, please don’t misinterpret the above statement. After receiving salvation, a person belongs to God for all eternity, and Satan can never possess custody of his or her soul again. However, if a Christian chooses to kill himself, Satan sees his death as one less warrior in God’s army to be used in the ongoing spiritual battle against him. The more Christians that Satan can take out of the fight, the less opposition he’ll have to face in this world, meaning that the billions of other lost souls that exist will have a much stronger chance of remaining lost forever, doomed to Hell.

“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

Therefore, committing suicide as a Christian is not only a sin, but it is also STEALING a valuable servant and potential warrior from God Himself.

When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, He gave everything He had just so you could be freed from Satan’s evil clutches and join Him in Heaven forever someday. Jesus gave you this opportunity through His glorious act of unconditional love on the cross, even though you had the option of never loving Him back. Jesus gave up His own life because He loved you enough to rescue you from the punishment of sin; He didn’t make His ultimate sacrifice just so you could throw your life away and all of your limitless potential you had to serve Him. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God literally bought you back from Satan himself, since he is the god of this present world. After you accept salvation, Satan and the love of self are no longer your true masters – God alone is. Without trying to sound harsh or judgmental, my friend who is reading this, what right do you have to rob God of the service of your life that He rightfully purchased with the blood of His precious Son?

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Now that I have explained the tragic loss of suicide from God’s perspective, allow me to just talk to you as a friend.

First of all, let me just say that I know exactly what it feels like to struggle with suicidal thoughts. In my life, I have been through several dark experiences that Satan has tried to use to destroy me to the very best of his ability. These include being bullied severely during my entire childhood at school – in elementary, middle, and high school; being involved in an extremely emotionally abusive romantic relationship; being betrayed by people whom I thought were my real friends, and the list goes on and on. I fully realize that I am not the only one who has suffered these things, but that in no way detracts from the great deal of pain I have been through because of them all. In fact, to this very day I still have to ask God to help me deal with the emotional scars that I’ve gained from my difficult past. There are certain negative things that will trigger my memory, which just so happens to be photographic, and my brain doesn’t need help remembering what it already holds onto so vividly whether I like it or not.

Mood Ring Finger
I’ve worn this mood ring on my right middle finger since the summer of 2013, the last time I was really struggling. Half of it changes color, and the other half glows in the dark. My mom bought it for me at the beach when she was trying to help distract me from my pain. I have worn it every day ever since to remind me of my mom’s love for me, and also to remind me to keep glowing in the dark.

The way that people have treated me throughout the course of my relatively brief lifetime has taken an immense toll on my personal self esteem. Because of this, I am not ashamed to admit that I still struggle with issues such as my self worth, since many people made me feel like I was never good enough for them, and that nothing I did could ever please them. Satan loves it when I feel this way, because he wants me to forget about how God sees me in His eyes – which is a valuable soul that He created, and sent His Son to rescue from Hell by dying on the cross for me. Whenever I’m tempted with suicidal thoughts, I remind myself of how I belong to God in both body and soul, and I have no right to steal from Him what He has already rightfully bought.

 

So I say all that to say this –

 

I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with the rainstorm of your own emotions.

 

Alone In the Rain

I have endured many sleepless nights where I was drowning in my own tears, helplessly engulfed in the sea of personal sorrow. My mind has the potential to be my own greatest enemy, if I allow it to be. When I don’t give God full control over my thoughts, I can very easily be dragged down into the depths of despair if I’m not careful. My negative emotions, if left unchecked, can numb me to the outside world around me to the point where I don’t even notice all the other many people who are suffering from their own pain. That’s the thing about Satan’s strategy of self-pity – he wants us to be so wrapped up in our own problems that we won’t have any time left to care about those around us. Who knows how different things would be if we took the time to ask other people how they’re doing, and discovered that they’re struggling with the same problems that we are? Not only would we be helping other people to see that they’re not alone, but we’d also be helping ourselves to find out that WE’RE not alone after all like we thought!

If you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, please, by all means, TELL SOMEBODY. Speak up, just don’t give up! Don’t feel ashamed to be honest about how you’re feeling with someone you trust. Believe me, that person would much rather have you tell them NOW about your problems than feel guilty for the rest of their life after you’re gone because they didn’t know you were struggling. You are NOT a bother by telling someone whom you trust about the issues you deal with, even if you might feel like it sometimes. You might have had other people treat you like a bother in the past, which is what probably led to these negative feelings you’re having now. However, if you can find someone that you believe is willing to listen to you, they will assure you that your feelings are perfectly valid and worthy of consideration. Be aware that Satan will whisper lies in your mind that everyone else doesn’t have time for you or your problems, because he wants to keep you from the help you need.

Furthermore, Satan seeks to isolate you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Alone In The Mist

When you’re feeling depressed to the point of having suicidal thoughts, your natural instinct is to shut yourself off from other people, simply because you assume that nobody else understands what you’re going through. However, this is the worst possible thing you can do, since Satan loves to attack us when we’re most vulnerable, just like the roaring lion the Bible describes him as. He attacks when you’re locked away in your bedroom, silently crying in anguish as you play the same sad songs you relate to on repeat. He attacks when you’re out in public and you see other people around you who appear to be perfectly happy, enjoying all the different things you wish you had. He attacks when you go through your daily routine at work or school, through the comments or actions of other people that may or may not be intended to hurt you. I know exactly how Satan approaches his prey, because I myself have been his targeted victim in all of these scenarios.

Instead of hiding out in your room or anywhere else you go to avoid other people, try seeking out those who you feel you can trust, even if you don’t think they’ll ever understand how you feel. Chances are, you’ll wind up surprised at just how understanding other people can be in spite of your pre-existing judgments. Even if there is no one in your everyday life that you truly feel you can trust, you can seek out the help of professional counselors, as their whole career is about providing the listening ear you need and desire. If you cannot afford professional counseling, another option is seeking out someone involved in a ministry who has a godly testimony that has been proven over a long period of time. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you spend sufficient time in prayer about it first. Don’t neglect the resources that are available and designed to help you. Remember, your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being as a whole is the most important thing you can invest in for your life.

 

You life HAS MEANING, and the unique touch that you give to this world would forever be sincerely missed.

 

Handprint

Whether you realize it or not, your life is important and special, because God created it ON PURPOSE. You do not exist for no reason! Every single person who has ever lived was made by the hands of an Almighty Creator because He wanted them to be a part of His living Masterpiece. There are countless other lives that you touch every day which you are unaware of, and will most likely remain unaware of until you get to Heaven. Once there, God will reveal to you all the many other people who were affected by your life in a positive way, regardless of how significant you felt your words or actions were. That is the true definition of eternal riches – affecting and influencing other people’s lives so their souls can have hope and happiness forever.

Refuse to believe Satan’s lie that “everyone else would be better off without you.” The only thing he can do is tempt you with his evil influence; YOU are the one who has the free will to make a decision. If you need help resisting Satan’s attacks, pray to God to give you the strength, courage, and determination you need to fend him off. Satan is persistent, so don’t expect to see the last of him if you succeed in pushing him away the first time. Become resolute in your heart that you will turn to God for help every single time you need Him when it comes to this deadly temptation. If you feel that you lack the ability to achieve victory in this area on your own, ask God to send you someone who can be your human guardian angel. Just remember, the amount of emotional pain that you’re feeling right now will NEVER outweigh the pain of everyone around you once you’re gone.

 

If you know someone who is severely depressed and struggling with suicidal thoughts, please try to be sensitive to their feelings and HELP them.

 

Depression

Whether it’s a friend, family member, or just a casual acquaintance, anyone you know could be secretly struggling with suicidal thoughts on the inside. Because these feelings are symptoms of severe depression, they also make the person feel too ashamed to talk about it voluntarily. Society has placed a negative stigma on this issue for years, but recently it seems to be getting progressively better about being sensitive to it. We should always be concerned and care about the well-being of others, but if we ever have good, solid reason to suspect that someone is sincerely struggling emotionally, we ought to go out of our way to reach out to them. Suicidal feelings are a result of the notion that nobody cares about the person, and that no one would care enough to ask how they’re doing. You never know how much of a difference you could make in someone’s life if you decide to step up and show that you care about them. In fact, the difference just might be that you helped save their life.

The correct way to approach the issue is by just being a friend to that person. DON’T treat them like a freak who has something wrong with them. DON’T come across as patronizing or condescending. Just talk to them, ask open-ended, non-threatening questions, and BE THERE to listen. You don’t have to be a licensed therapist to listen to someone else’s problems – being a friend to someone includes being their personal confidant, with whom they can share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets. Do little things for them to help them out, such as chores or errands that they might lack the emotional or physical energy to do. Surprise them with little things you know they like. Write them an encouraging note or letter to express just how important they are to you. Or, if writing by hand isn’t your thing, just a simple text message or email to let them know you’re thinking and praying about them would suffice. No matter what you choose to do, make sure that person knows that you have love for them in your heart, as God’s unconditional love is what makes ALL the difference.

Here is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, if you or someone else you know is struggling and needs help RIGHT AWAY:

Call 1-800-273-8255

You are NOT alone.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

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The Gift That Is Always New

christmasgifts
We have one Present that we’ll never finish unwrapping, even as time is passing.

Have you ever had a favorite Christmas gift?

For those of us who celebrate Christmas every year, we look forward to the annual exchanging of gifts between our friends and families. Most people look back on a specific year when they thought their Christmas experience was particularly special. Their good memories of a specific Christmas might stand out for a variety of reasons, including time spent with loved ones, participating in family traditions, or even a vacation trip to a special place for the holidays. There is one thing, however, that many people associate with their favorite memories of a specific Christmas –

Receiving a gift they wanted with all their hearts.

Perhaps they received this gift when they were a small child, and it became a memory milestone that defined the way they view Christmas for their entire lives. Lots of people fondly remember a childhood Christmas when they got their first bike. Or maybe, for some families who could afford it, they might remember an adolescent Christmas when they got their first car. Whatever the item might have been, it probably satisfied their hearts’ desire in a way that nothing else possibly could.

However, we’ve all received some presents that we were less than thrilled about.

I’m sure that if we asked a crowd of people if they’ve ever gotten a pair of socks for Christmas, almost every hand in the room would be raised. There are some presents we’ve all gotten that we’d either just rather forget about completely, or wish we had never gotten them at all. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t appreciate the thought the other person put into the gift they gave us; it’s just a disappointment that they didn’t fully understand our desires, or were unable or unwilling to meet them.

This disappointment can be lessened, however, once we remember that celebrating Christmas, and just life in general, is not really about the things we have. Why waste time being upset just because you didn’t get everything you wanted? Think about it: before you wrote down a Christmas list this year, or picked out things you liked during all the months before it, were you happily content? Be honest with yourself, now. The whole entire advertising industry is centered around creating a desire or need in the mind of the customer. Before their ads and commercials reached you, you had no idea that you wanted something. That’s exactly how their business works, to produce a constant feeling of discontent in the heart and mind of the consumer. You have the power to outsmart them by thinking independently, though.

You can choose instead to be thankful for the gifts you already have.

This year, I wasn’t quite sure about or fully interested in what I wanted for Christmas. So in the earlier days of this month leading up to Christmas, I made it a point to enjoy the things I’ve gotten from the years of past Christmases, and remembered just how much those gifts meant to me at the time. It wasn’t long before I realized that these former Christmas presents were still useful to this very day, and that I could continue to appreciate and enjoy them no matter how many years had gone by. Some of these things made me feel very nostalgic, as if I were a teenager all over again. Revisiting these items helped me to experience the joy they gave me the first time as if they were all brand new.

Instead of getting caught up in our culture’s overly commercialized version of Christmas, I chose to view it as my own, personal, second Thanksgiving. My family wasn’t planning on spending extravagant amounts of money on Christmas gifts, and in truth, I wasn’t really expecting that much either. This was fine with me, though, since I honestly felt like I have more than enough stuff as it is, and that Thanksgiving is always overlooked each year. I wanted to focus on the many blessings that I already had in my life, especially the ones that weren’t material. I learned the value of appreciating the people I know and love, and realized how special it is to make the most of all the time I get to spend with them. I can sincerely say with all my heart that I was more satisfied this Christmas with the souls of people I care about than any tangible thing that they gave to me.

If you are a Christian, you already have a Gift that never grows old, and isn’t material.

Just as I learned to derive additional joy from my gifts of Christmas past, we as Christians have access to a wonderful gift that is continuously new every day. It is an eternal gift that keeps on giving in more ways than we can imagine. It is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given to mankind by God Himself. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not only the greatest gift that we can ever have, but it is also a gift that never loses its lustrous shine as the years pass by. The gifts we receive on earth will all eventually lose their exciting attractiveness long after we’ve torn the wrapping paper off of them. Our relationship with Jesus will always have new things to discover, as God’s mysterious ways can never be fully understood by our finite minds. Metaphorically, we’ll never finish unwrapping the gift of Jesus Christ. The joy of learning new things about Him is ours to delight in every day if we choose to spend time with Him.

Earthly things we receive will bring us temporary happiness, but our relationship with Jesus gives us lasting fulfillment. After accepting salvation, He is a Gift from Christmas past that can never fade away or be forgotten. Jesus is the reason why we celebrate Christmas, and His birth is a direct gift from God. His existence on earth as a human inspired the very first Christmas ever. Jesus wants us to keep unwrapping Him every day, so we can see all the endless blessings He has to offer. We can enjoy Him for all eternity, just as we enjoy the tangible gifts we already have from years ago. The main difference is, Jesus will still be here for us long after our material possessions are gone with the earth we live in. It is up to us to make an effort to appreciate the wonderful Gift we’ve been given. We can only enjoy our relationship with Jesus as much as we choose to. The more we spend time with Him and invest our hearts in getting to know Him better, the more fulfilled we will be in our lives. You wouldn’t leave a present for you sitting unwrapped under the tree, would you? Don’t make the same mistake by overlooking your relationship with Jesus.

 

Here are some verses to help you appreciate and enjoy this eternal, wonderful Gift:

 

Psalm 19:9-10 ~ “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Psalm 27:4 ~ “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27:8 ~ “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Psalm 40:16 ~ “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.

Psalm 119:2 ~ “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.”

Proverbs 8:17 ~ “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

1 Chronicles 16:11 ~ “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.

2 Chronicles 22:19a ~ “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God;

Romans 8:31-32 ~ “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

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.”

Isaiah 55:6-7 ~ “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Hosea 10:12 ~ “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ~ “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. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Matthew 7:7-8 ~ “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Ephesians 3:20 ~ “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”

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.

 

The gift of Jesus’ love is something you can take with you into the New Year, and all throughout the rest of your life.

The Christmas season might be behind us, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying your gifts, especially the most important One I’ve described above. You can rejoice in knowing that your relationship with Jesus stands the test of time, and lasts throughout all eternity. Even if other gifts you received disappointed you, this is one Gift that never disappoints. Jesus will never, ever fail you. If a terrible day comes in the future when all your friends and family forsake you, He will still be there. You can count on it. Jesus is ALWAYS reliable. He NEVER changes, unlike people. Whatever people have come into or gone out of your life this year doesn’t matter as much as you think; Someone will always be there for you. Jesus will fulfill your every need, and what’s more, He’s capable of fulfilling you in a unique way that people never can. Jesus can satisfy the deepest, genuine desires of your heart. Best of all, He understands you completely and perfectly because He is GOD. No matter what you might face in the future, if you truly share a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I guarantee you that He will be right by your side, supporting you through it all. But don’t take MY word for it; GOD promises many times in His Word that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you. And that is the best reason for you to have a Happy New Year. Not only that, but a happy life also.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

The Essential Equinox

autumn-leaves
Just as the seasons must change, our hearts must do the same.

Everyone looks forward to many different things during the season of autumn.

The air gets cooler, giving people the perfect excuse to wear their favorite sweaters and jackets. The nights last longer, allowing people more time to sleep. Because of the colder weather, annual summertime insect pests finally disappear. Other enjoyable things include bonfires, jumping into piles of leaves, toasting marshmallows, savoring warm, hearty soups, sipping hot cocoa, wearing soft, comforting scarves, and attending social gatherings to celebrate the harvest.

However, there is one important thing that occurs every year during autumn that everyone simply cannot ignore: the annual changing of the leaves.

light-breaking-through-giphy

Although the changing colors of the leaves are beautiful, they are also foreboding.

As most people know, the leaves changing color represent their imminent death during the coming winter. The lowering levels of chlorophyll present in the leaves are responsible for making them lose their shades of green. Carotenoids, chemicals which cause plants to appear yellow, and anthocyenids, chemicals which cause plants to appear red, are the two remaining sources that give autumn leaves their fiery hue. Also responsible for this change are the shorter hours of sunlight during the annual autumn equinox. Without chlorophyll and sunlight working together, the trees are no longer able to make food for their leaves, and the natural consequence is a gradual death for the leaves.

dying-leaves-giphy

For nature lovers like myself, this scientific fact is quite sobering, and makes me feel sad when I think about it. As much as I love seeing the trees throughout all their stages during the year, I hate the thought that their leaves are subject to an annual death. Being a spring baby, I am more comfortable with the trees coming back to life after winter, when their leaves and flowers are growing and blossoming all over the place. However, I always need to remind myself to accept the fact that the changing leaves and their subsequent death is necessary for the trees to have a new, fresh life in the spring. If they constantly hold onto the old, dead leaves, they won’t be able to grow the young, living ones. God designed the trees this way as an essential part of His cycle of nature in His creation.

Just as the leaves have a necessary cycle of change, we as Christians do also.

It is important for us to remember that although we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we are still sinners saved by grace. This means that even though we strive to sin less, we have a long way to go before we obtain sinless perfection in Heaven. We all struggle with sin every day, in various different forms and degrees. Only God knows the content of our hearts and whether or not our sins are intentional. This is why it is necessary for us to make a daily habit out of prayer and ask God to search our hearts for us, to make sure that there is nothing between us in our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit will gently make us aware of anything we need to confess to God so that we can rid ourselves of it and remove it completely from our lives. We must also keep in mind that the process of change in our hearts is a slow one, just like anything else that changes, so that we do not become too hard on ourselves if we happen to fail God more than once.dead-leaves-giphy

The greatest obstacle in accomplishing change is establishing new habits while abolishing old ones. When the leaves die and fall off the trees, they are not needed any more as they are no longer useful. In the same way, God is able to examine our hearts to see what problem areas are hindering us in our spiritual walk. When we read His Word and a certain verse or passage convicts us of something, that is the Holy Spirit talking directly to us, saying, “Get rid of it; you don’t need that anymore. If you hold onto this sin or bad habit, you will be blocking access to My blessings in your life. Only after you kill off this unnecessary thing will you be able to see new growth and transformation take place in your heart.” If we listen to the soft whispers of God’s Holy Spirit, we will achieve two victories – pleasing God by practicing obedience to Him, and bettering ourselves for our personal benefit and for His glory.

We are all like swaying tree branches, and God grounds us as the solid trunk.

There is no need for us to be afraid of letting go of spiritual hindrances in our lives, as we can live much better without them. The tree branches don’t die when they release their leaves to the ground; only the leaves themselves die. We can still live without the sins and bad habits that we might cling to, and have a much improved quality of life as well. Although we might sway in the breeze when experiencing personal change, God is still there to help keep us grounded. He is the Vine (or Trunk), and we are the branches. We have no life in and of ourselves, but only when we are connected to Him. It is through God alone that we are able to attain new life in the spring of spiritual growth once we receive salvation. He is our support system that keeps us firmly rooted during all the trials of life. Though the winds of autumn weather may get rough, the trunk keeps the branches strong and secure. We have no reason to fear about falling off when we are connected to God.

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Even though the season of autumn symbolizes the coming of death, we know that eventually springtime will return. Once we have completed our process of earthly transformation, in Heaven we will be rewarded with a brand new, everlasting life. The wickedness of this world will pass away, and God’s righteous rule will finally be set up to reign over the new Heaven and Earth. Just as in nature’s autumn equinox, the days will grow darker before they get brighter. However, we have an eternal hope and joy that we have invested our faith in; and that’s something that God has promised us. We must trust that God has everything in His ultimate, divine control, and not allow the troublesome, chilly breezes of this world to blow us to and fro. Therefore, we can have peace in knowing that God will allow everything to unfold according to His perfect plan, and watch the changing natural process take its course.

“Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.” ~ Emily Bronte

Here are some verses to help us understand the need for our essential equinox:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 ~ “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

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.”

Acts 17:28 ~ “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

Romans 6:4 ~ “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 12:2 ~ “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Ephesians 2:15 ~ “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Ephesians 4:22-24 ~ “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

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:”

Colossians 3:5 ~ “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”

1 Thessalonians 5:24 ~ “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

We must embrace the essential equinox in our everyday lives.

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When the autumn leaves change colors and eventually fall off entirely, it does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process that occurs over the three months of the season. In order for us to experience real change in our hearts and lives, we must have realistic expectations and exercise patience with ourselves. We will accomplish very little if we do the opposite and end up making ourselves feel discouraged and hopeless. This is also why we need to call upon God to ask for His help in our process of change. Remember, we are helpless to do anything without Him, and He will hear us if we come to Him in humility. God understands our weaknesses, and takes pity on our human condition. He is more than happy to help us if we are willing to acknowledge our constant need for Him. God will provide us with the courage and strength we need to release the sins and spiritual bad habits that are holding us back, so we can fully experience newness of life. Instead of resisting these changes, we would do well to embrace them, and let God perform the miracle that He desires to work in our lives. In the process, we will witness something amazingly beautiful take place as change occurs inside us.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Stepping Out of the Cell

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God has already given you the freedom to escape, you just need to trust Him enough to leave.

Do you live your life behind bars?

At some point in each person’s life, Satan decides to cast individuals into a prison of pain. Whether the jail cell is fashioned from sin, self doubt, or depression, Satan ensures that each captive is held in solitary confinement. Each cell is soundproof, so that the victims he holds hostage are thoroughly convinced that they are utterly alone in their suffering. The hallways in this prison are long, dark, and endless, while the only noise that passes through the silence is empty echoes of former, forgotten happiness. The air is cold and damp, making the atmosphere feel musty and uncomfortable. No matter how many times the prisoners cry out in desperation for help, Satan purposely ignores them, choosing to mock their anguish by prolonging it as much as he can. The Devil is a cruel prison warden, and he has no intention whatsoever of releasing the inhabitants held within his dungeon.

However, there is only one way to escape.

Despite the many defenses around Satan’s prison of pain, there is one Person Who is able to storm its gates without any trepidation. God alone is the only One powerful enough to bail people out of their personal torture chambers. Since Satan holds each individual hostage within the high walls of his fortress, he requires a ransom before he’ll even consider unlocking their cells. The good news is, God has already provided payment for Satan’s ransom of individual souls – that payment is the blood of His only Son, Jesus Christ. God was the Designer of the greatest master escape plan ever invented, far greater than Mission Impossible itself. It doesn’t matter if people are in need of salvation, reassurance, or hope; God is fully capable of rescuing every last soul in peril.

Yet successful escape can only be accomplished through one condition:

People must possess the will to escape.

You see, once God unlocks the door to a person’s cell, He is inviting that person to make a choice to come follow Him out. He can’t yank on his arm to make Him get up, neither can He pick him up and carry him out. The reason for this is the fact that the keys God uses to open the cell are fashioned from His grace, which can either be accepted or rejected. God gave every human being the special gift of free will, allowing man the ability to make his own decisions. You would think that the logical, reasonable thing for a person to do in this prison situation is bolt out the door as soon as he heard his cell creak open. However, sadly, there are a few reasons why he might choose to stay, trapped within painful solitary confinement:

1. Personal Pride

Yes, one of the most common reasons that people might decide to linger behind in their cell is the matter of their human ego. Whether it’s because they truly believe that they’re fine on their own, or they’re too ashamed to admit that they need help, some people tend to naturally resist God’s outstretched hand reaching for them. To ensure a successful rescue, people must prevent themselves from falling prey to Satan’s own original sin – pride. Satan would love nothing more than for his prisoners to be sincerely convinced that they don’t need God’s help at all, that they can handle their personal pain alone. Through this cleverly crafted lie, the prison bars become thicker and stronger than they ever were before. Since man is hopeless and helpless without God, trying to deny that truth makes all of his own attempts to escape from Satan’s prison become futile.

What they need to realize is, the only way to access the keys of God’s grace is through simple humility. Once people become humble enough to acknowledge that only God can save them from their pitiful condition, it is then that they can finally accept the reality of being released from Satan’s prison of pain.

2. Foreboding Fear

Another common reason that people may choose to stay behind in their cell is their fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown can be either positive or negative – people are either afraid of being happy, or they’re afraid that their pain will only get worse. It might seem strange to say that some people are afraid of being happy; however, this claim is indeed valid, as it occurs in some people’s minds daily. This is mostly because they fear that once they dare to rediscover happiness in their lives, they will only have it taken away from them all over again sooner or later. On the opposite end, people who fear the unknown are reluctant to trust God to lead them out of their personal pain, believing that their personal circumstances may never improve. Their mindset is, “Why bother trying to leave this prison cell and be happy, when it’s unattainable anyway?”

Instead of fearing the unknown, these people must believe that the only way out of Satan’s prison of pain is by trusting God enough to take His hand. Once people fully grasp and understand the eternal truth that God is good, they can finally gain the courage to follow Him out of Satan’s dark dungeons of despair.

3. Satisfying Sorrow

Finally, the most common reason of all that people might refuse to leave their cell is that they have grown complacent in their grief. Preferring to nurse their sadness over searching for God’s joy and peace, these people lie down to sleep in their cell each night upon pillows of self-pity. As strange as it sounds, these people find comfort in their calamity, making heartbreak their new home. Instead of trying to break free from Satan’s chains of misery and woe, they openly embrace the deepening shadows of sorrow that surround them, feeding their burden of brokenness. It’s not that these people don’t want to be happy again; quite the contrary – they simply have just become too comfortable in their own sorrow, accepting it as the new norm in their lives. Their emotional eyes have adjusted so much to the darkness of their circumstances, that stepping out into the light of God’s hope is enough to almost blind them.

These people can only be freed from their cell once they accept that the light of God’s hope is far more satisfying than Satan’s shadows of sorrow. Rather than wallowing in shrouds of self-pity, it is so much better for these people to wallow in the golden goodness of God’s love for them. Only then can they truly experience a renewal of happiness in their hearts and minds.

 

Here are keys from God’s Word to encourage you to step out of your cell:

 

Isaiah 42:6-7 ~ “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Luke 4:18-19 ~ “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ~ “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;”

Hebrews 2:14-15 ~ “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Psalm 91:14-15 ~ “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”

Psalm 118:5 ~ “I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

Isaiah 61:1 ~ “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

Colossians 1:13-14 ~ “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

 

Your cell door has swung open – will you take the chance to step out?

Taking your freedom is a risk, and a very frightening one at that; but the only way to get past your fears is by remembering the One Who risked everything to give it to you. God Himself allowed His only Son Jesus to endure the worst pain possible during His time here on earth, all so you could have the freedom to live victoriously. Jesus’ death ensured that no one, not even Satan, could hold people hostage from Him, in spite of Satan’s best efforts to do so. No matter how many times Satan has slammed the cell door shut on you after throwing you into his prison of pain, you have been offered the chance to unlock it. The keys you need to accept from God are grace, trust, and faith. They are capable of unlocking the deepest, darkest dungeons in any person’s life, regardless of their individual circumstances. God is shining the bright rays of His goodness and love upon you, inviting you to join Him in the eternal sunshine of His joy and peace. The only thing holding you back at this point is your own free will, as the choice is entirely up to you. Will you take a risk at rediscovering happiness in your life? God is waiting earnestly for you, wanting you to experience healing in your life. Will you leave the prison of pain behind for good? Will you step out of your cell?

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Five Reasons To Eat Your Words

Sugar Lips
Taste the flavor of your words before you spit them out.

As we all know, words can be either helpful or harmful.

It is extremely important for everyone to examine the content of their speech before they let their thoughts escape their lips. While this is a lesson that most people should have learned at an early age, unfortunately there are many individuals who are quite careless about the things they say. Sometimes those of us who try to be careful in this area can be capable of accidentally offending someone, or simply saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Within the confines of human nature, it is a difficult challenge to tame the tongue.

Let’s take a look at five reasons why it is necessary for us to eat our words on a daily basis:

  1. Words are verbal symbols of objects or actions.

What most people seem to forget is the simple fact that words are tools to represent things. As an avid lover of the English language, I thoroughly understand the truth that all words have a very distinct, specific meaning. Therefore, it confuses me to no end when I hear people around me using profanity, since those words are usually unpleasant. This is especially true when I hear people using curse words that refer to bodily functions or other vulgar things that should never be mentioned. Instead of preaching at those who commonly use profanity, I would just ask them one question: Would you still use those disgusting words if the objects they represent literally came out of your mouth?

Think about it – would you really want something nasty to emerge from your mouth just because you weren’t being careful about what you were saying? I know it’s a bit of an extreme metaphor, but it’s an accurate depiction of what occurs when people choose to use vulgar profanity. Once a particular bad word is spoken, an image of the object it represents is planted in the mind of the person who hears it, just because of its common association. The result is a distasteful mental picture, all because one person did not make any effort to use decent, polite vocabulary. Instead of resorting to using profanity to express yourself, try to challenge yourself to use accurate, precise vocabulary words for the sake of being courteous to those around you.

2. Words can stay in people’s minds for the rest of their lives.

I believe that everyone who has ever lived has been guilty of saying something they shouldn’t have in a heated moment of anger, or at the very least speaking without thinking how it will affect someone else first. While you can always apologize for something you said to another person, your apology may not necessarily guarantee their forgiving you. Even if they do the honorable thing by forgiving you, it is unlikely that they will forget what you said to them anytime soon. No matter how much time might pass, or what you might try to do to compensate that person, the damage has already been done, and there is nothing you can do to reverse any emotional scars your words might have caused. It makes no difference whether you said something in haste or not; once spoken, your words can never be taken back.

While every person has the ability to make their own choices in life, hurtful words can still affect the outcome of a person’s decisions. Since most people are born with a natural desire to please others and be accepted, anything and everything they are told can be taken to their heart, whether they like it or not. Man’s opinions are fickle things; but how a person’s heart and mind responds to those opinions is not easily changed. The truth is, all people are sensitive deep down, even if they make an effort not to show it. Therefore, it is highly important that we show the utmost respect to everyone around us by being very careful with the things we say to them, since we never know how strongly our words might affect them.

3. Words and the way we use them define who we are as people.

Whenever you hear someone speaking with an accent, you can usually tell where they are from, especially if it is a very strong accent. The same thing applies to the words we use – our speech allows others to determine our level of education, our cultural background, and our character. Of course, for every occasion there is an appropriate style of formality in which we should use our speech. For example, the type of casual conversation you would carry with your friends at a party is quite different from the professional way of speaking that would be expected of you at a job interview. Instead of laughing it up and joking around with a potential employer, you would want to portray yourself in the most polished, refined way possible. Doing so will cause them to perceive you as mature and respectful. You should want your words to benefit you in all of life’s many different situations.

Also, the words you use every day will give your community a reflection of your testimony. If your words are positive, uplifting, helpful, and kind, then people will be more likely to say good things about you. If your words are negative, discouraging, contrary, and unkind, however, then people will be more inclined to say bad things about you. However, it is important to use good words for the sake of your own testimony, since people will always tend to criticize you no matter what you do or say. Your testimony in your local community is quite valuable, especially if you claim to be a Christian. The things you say are ultimately a reflection of the contents of your heart, as the Bible says. As a Christian, you are an ambassador for Christ to the world around you. Keeping your speech pure and your words honorable is one of the best ways to make God’s light shine brightly from your heart.

4. Words used in the appropriate time and context can be very powerful.

You’ve probably heard the saying “silence is golden” before. The main reason that phrase is so humorous and popular is because most of the time, the world around us is incredibly noisy! There are people who love to talk, and then there are those who just love to hear themselves talk. It doesn’t take very long to discern the difference between someone who is sociable and someone who is domineering. Sadly, many people think that for their friendships to last, they must be with someone who loves to talk just as much as they do, labeling any others who have a more quiet nature as “boring.” This unfortunate misunderstanding comes from these people choosing quantity over quality. It is far better to use fewer words in a meaningful way than to talk excessively and make white noise.

For example, if you have friends who are going through a very stressful situation in their lives, they would find you to be much more helpful to them by just listening to their problem instead of volunteering your input. Remaining silent as they tell you about the difficult time they’re experiencing is better than trying to fix their problem without knowing all the facts. However, your friends would be extremely grateful to you if you said something encouraging, genuine, and heartfelt to them once they are through explaining their rough circumstances to you. You never know just how much your appropriately timed words might mean to them while they are fervently seeking for hope in their life.
5. Words are a gift from God, and should be used to honor Him, not disrespect Him.

All language and forms of communication are direct gifts from God, and serve as evidence that we are all created in His divine image. However, because man chose to rebel against God back in the garden of Eden, he tainted the divine image in which he was created with sin, losing his former respect for God and taking the gift of language for granted. Because of this lack of respect for God, man began to take God’s holy Name in vain, exchanging its powerful association for a common curse word. Of course, God was not pleased by this whatsoever; and as a result of man’s wickedness, He made one of the Ten Commandments say, “Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Apparently it was such a prevalent issue back in Bible times that God literally had to set it in stone. Sadly, it is still a huge problem today, even with many Christians. God’s Name should only be used in a respectful way when people are talking to Him in prayer or praising Him.

When people take God’s Name in vain, they are forgetting that He is a real Person with feelings and emotions just like we have. Taking God’s Name in vain is essentially the same thing as hearing someone call out your name, only to hear them say “Never mind,” when you reply. Imagine if someone kept repeating your name many times, and each time you say “What?” the person just says “Nothing,” for the sole purpose of annoying you. You would most likely be tempted to lose your temper with them for wasting your time. Well, that’s how God feels every time someone decides to take His Name in vain as profanity. Most importantly, it offends God because people are using His powerful, holy Name as a cheap way of sinning, by turning it into a form of corrupt communication known as cursing. The blameless Name of God Almighty should never in any way be associated with the very thing He detests the most – sin. God specifically warns people in His Word that He will not hold people guiltless who take His Name in vain. A much better alternative to say is the word “goodness” in place of the perfect, pure Name of God.

 

Here are God’s own Words to help us to make better choices in selecting our words:

 

Ephesians 4:29 ~ “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Ephesians 5:4 ~ “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”

Proverbs 25:11 ~ “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Proverbs 16:24 ~ “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”

Exodus 20:7 ~ “Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain.”

Psalm 12:6 ~ “The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

1 Corinthians 10:31 ~ “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

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;”

Matthew 12:36-37 ~ “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

James 3:6 ~ “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Proverbs 21:23 ~ “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”

2 Timothy 2:14 ~ “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.”

Luke 6:45 ~ “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Colossians 4:6 ~ “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

 

What’s the flavor of the words you’re using?

Now that we’ve discussed five reasons we should eat our words, we should be more conscious about the flavor of the words we speak. Just like people prefer sweet and salty flavors with real food, Christians have the best tasting speech when their words match those same flavors also. Just like a chocolate-covered pretzel, we should be sweet to others around us by showing God’s love in our words, but also salty by preserving our Christian testimony when people ask us about our faith. Don’t be like some Christians whose words taste like vinegar due to their bitterness; but rather a perfect balance of good flavors to edify and build up the people in your life. So before you serve other people a meal made of your thoughts, make sure you taste and swallow them in your mind first! The Master Chef of course should be the Holy Spirit inside you, Who will let you know whether or not he approves of the way your words taste. Don’t feel discouraged, as this subject is something ALL of us must work on daily, myself included. If I can refine my speech with God’s help, then I know that you can too; you just have to trust Him and believe in His amazing power.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

 

Canning the Cravings

Crushed Coke Can
Instead of filling up on emptiness, we should quench our thirst for fulfillment with God.

Do you ever find yourself craving something?

Usually, people have cravings for certain foods, activities, or music, depending on whatever mood they’re experiencing. Most people live off of coffee, tea, or energy drinks; but my main caffeine source comes from soda. Since a very young age, I have loved the bubbly, fizzy, sweet taste of carbonated liquid sugar, equating its delightful properties to a magic potion. Being very imaginative, I always like to pretend that the soda I’m drinking is a special substance found only in fairy tales, such as a divine nectar produced by fairies. Aside from the fantasies of my mind, my soda addiction certainly isn’t helped by the prolific advertising campaigns of the mass corporations that market my favorite brands. Almost everywhere you go, you can find the logo of my favorite sodas plastered across billboards, race cars, posters, t-shirts, and a large variety of other media serving as a commercial canvas.

However, one day I noticed a significant difference.

As a teenager, whenever I was thirsty, a can of my favorite soda was my go-to beverage of choice. Like most other young adults, I could bond with other teens my age through a mutual love of the same sodas, even if we had nothing else in common. Being a rabid fan of a specific brand of soda meant that you were cool, since that’s what everyone else was drinking. Several years later, I was a sophomore in college at home during Christmas break, reveling in my favorite food and drinks that I had been deprived of during the previous semester. I took a drink of one of my favorite sodas, and noticed something different that I had never been aware of before – even though liquid entered my mouth, it still felt dry and sticky, with my thirst unsatisfied.

I realized that no matter how many drops of soda I drank, my thirst would ultimately never be quenched, because the caffeinated contents were dehydrating my body. As most health experts will tell you, soda consumed in large quantities can have quite a damaging effect on your body. Without turning this post into a nutrition or diet-themed lecture, I will simply state that from that day forward, I made a solid decision to drink less soda than I had been all the previous years of my life. I am currently trying to make water my main source of hydration in an effort to be healthier and improve my quality of life. Sometimes, I tend to relapse and find myself drinking lots of soda all over again; but when that happens, I try to turn myself around right back where I left off, forcing my brain to choose only water when it recognizes that I am thirsty.

In a similar way, my struggle with soda can be compared to putting aside the flesh.

Every person who has ever existed came into this world with desires. No matter how many desires people have, or what type of desires they may be, all of us are connected by one single desire –

fulfillment.

God created us with an inherent need for fulfillment because he wanted His creations to be drawn back to Him, no matter how far they might stray. If we were all made to be self-sufficient, we would have no need for God whatsoever; but the truth is that we are incapable of being self-sufficient. You see, the very fact that we were created by God means that we are dependent on Him: we cannot even have life at all without Him. Those who choose to deny this biblical truth and advocate the atheistic doctrine of evolution instead are only fooling themselves, preferring to live in darkness instead of light.

At the end of a long day at work, most people will automatically turn to their favorite interests and hobbies to relax themselves, wanting to think about as little as possible. Christians are no exception, as I am prone like others are to immediately engage myself in electronics, television, books, or literally anything else besides reading my Bible and praying. It is indeed a natural instinct to do so, since the flesh always demands to be satisfied before anything else. However, there have been many nights that I have sadly discovered that I have neglected to spend time with the God Who loves me far more than I could ever deserve. I lie down in my bed to rest before the next day, and then I suddenly realize that I have left no part of my day reserved for acknowledging God.

The problem lies in misplaced priorities and misunderstanding.

Just like my addiction to soda, our tendency to put self first and God last comes from being ignorant about what is truly good for us. In our flesh, we think that we can satisfy ourselves by doing whatever we feel like at any given moment, when in reality we are just perpetuating a vicious cycle. God designed us to need Him, and the more we keep ignoring that need, the more we’re going to feel a gaping hole inside of us. There is an intrinsic void that only He can fill inside of every human being, whether saved or unsaved. We were created for God’s pleasure, and we were meant to spend time with Him to give us our much-desired fulfillment. When we do spend time with Him, we can discover that we have been depriving ourselves of what was meant to be ours the whole time – lasting peace and contentment.

The solution can be achieved through a method of replacement.

The first step I took in overcoming my addiction to soda was replacing the urge to drink it by choosing water instead. Likewise, the most effective way to overcome the natural, selfish instincts of the flesh is by replacing them with spiritual activity, such as praying and reading God’s Word. To help myself make spending time with God a priority, I’ve been trying to set aside time for Him immediately after I come home from work. That way, my heart and my mind can be refreshed through the replenishing waters of God’s presence. Instead of choosing to surf the internet or play games with no point to them, my mental energy has a redirected purpose when I decide to spend time getting to know God better. I realize that all of us are different, so some people might prefer to take a different approach that works better for them; and that is totally fine. However, I would encourage you to use this strategy: Whenever you are inclined to do something else with your free time, spend time with God first. That way, you will not be filling up on emptiness, but instead the rest of your day will have meaning and purpose.

 

Here are God’s Words to encourage you to fill yourself with Him regularly:

 

John 4:13-14 ~ “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Jeremiah 31:25 ~ “”For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.”

Psalm 17:15 ~ “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”

Psalm 63:1-5 ~ “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:”

Isaiah 55:1-2 ~ “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”

Ephesians 3:19 ~ “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ecclesiastes 4:16 ~ “There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Romans 8:19-20 ~ “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,”

Jeremiah 2:5 ~ “Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Acts 14:15 ~ “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:”

Psalm 42:1-2 ~ “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”

Ephesians 4:22 ~ “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;”

Galatians 5:16-18 ~ “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

 

Canning our cravings will always be a work in progress.

While it is possible to permanently change physical habits over a period of time, changing our spiritual habits will always be a struggle. However, I do not say this to discourage you; but rather to encourage you to always rely on God for His help. Remember, we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. Overcoming the natural cravings of the flesh by replacing them with spiritual habits is expected to be challenging, thus emphasizing how much we really do need God in our everyday lives. Just keep in mind that achieving success in anything we desire is dependent on keeping a positive mindset. Whenever you need help in this area, remember that God is always just a prayer away. He is more than happy and willing to give you the victory in overcoming the flesh with the spirit. I am still learning to kick the proverbial soda can on all of my bad habits, both physical and spiritual. If I can learn how to change my ways with God’s help, then I know that you can too.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

Protecting Our Planet

Earth Eye
The people of Earth need saving more than the planet itself.

Society’s eco-friendly obsession is tragically misguided.

 

Before I begin, let me clarify that God’s natural creation is very special indeed, and should not be misused and abused. However, in our modern-day culture’s attempt to rescue the Earth, it has carelessly overlooked one glaring fact – this planet will not last forever, but the people who inhabit it will.

After man chose to rebel against God by deliberately sinning despite warnings, the entire creation became corrupt, and entered into a chronic state of death and decay. The once perfect and beautiful creation that God made to reflect His glory and for mankind to enjoy became a devastating portrait of the ruined state of man’s sinful heart. The curse upon creation was meant to be a punishment to man for his sin, but it certainly was not God’s original plan for His perfect, supernatural design. As a result of man’s sin marring God’s creation, God promised to destroy the earth someday and replace it with a new, better one.

 

Isaiah 65:17 ~ “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

 

The Earth was made as the perfect home for humans.

When God created this world, He lovingly fashioned it with His words for our well being as He simply spoke the universe into existence. He desired for us to have a wonderful, vivid place to live in because He loves us so much. This truth is proven by the scientific fact that Earth is the only planet naturally capable of sustaining human life out of all the other celestial bodies in our solar system. God wanted our home to be functional, fascinating, and fantastic, providing endless proof of His existence to us. Everything that we observe around us in nature was made by God for us to use and enjoy, while giving thanks and praise back to Him for His loving care and thoughtfulness.

People (NOT the planet) are positioned at the pinnacle of God’s creation.

The Bible says that God formed man from the dust of the ground, so that people’s bodies are literally a part of the Earth, God’s tangible creation. However, the part of us that manifests who we really are, the human soul, was created from the mind of God Himself. People were created in God’s likeness by symbolizing the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We represent this three-part union of the Godhead through our body, soul, and spirit. While God’s existence is infinite without beginning or end, our human existence is both finite and eternal at the same time. Our lives have a beginning and an end here on Earth, but when we die, our soul lives on forever in eternity.

Because God took so much time and care to design man as a divine reflection of Himself, He treasures our souls as priceless, and sees them as being worth immeasurable value. When man chose to sin against God, he became separated from the heavenly fellowship he used to enjoy with his Creator. In turn, God saw the tragic Fall of Man as the fateful event when He lost a part of Himself, His prized creation whom He loved more than anything else He made. Despite the evil heart and wickedness of man, God’s unconditional love for his soul endured, determined to save and protect him from a horrible, agonizing eternity spent in sorrow and darkness without Him. God could not bear to see His favorite creation, human souls, go to Hell, the fiery pit filled with unspeakable torment that was designed to be eternal punishment for Satan and his rebellious fallen angels.

God took it upon Himself to save the world from man’s mistake.

Now God knew that He could always create a new earth after man’s sin, but He also realized that the souls of people He created would have to face eternity after death, the punishment for man’s disobedience. God placed His priorities in saving that which would be lost forever if He chose not to intervene – the eternal souls of human beings. So He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to our world here on Earth so He could die for our sins and take our punishment upon Himself. When God chose to save the world, He cared much more about the people who live in it than He did about the physical surface they walk upon. Being made from a special part of Himself, people are the apple of God’s eye. While God regularly maintains His natural creation daily, His concern for the people He loves takes the place of utmost importance.

God doesn’t need our help to save the planet; He needs our help to reach its people.

Our beautiful planet Earth is filled with a vast amount of different peoples, all of whom need to know the truth of the gospel. For every person who would choose to scorn and reject God, there is another one out there who is desperate to hear the truth about His love. No matter how many cultures, languages, and people groups exist on our planet, God is concerned about every single last one of them. It is foolish and arrogant of our society to assume that we alone are responsible for sustaining the planet, which God created entirely without man’s help. Instead, we should consume ourselves with the responsibility of reaching out to people all over the world who need to be protected from an eternity without knowing God in their hearts.

 

Here are verses which prove that people, not the planet, are God’s top priority:

 

John 3:16 ~ “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Romans 5:12 ~ “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:19 ~ “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Romans 6:23 ~ “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 10:13 ~ “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Matthew 9:37 ~ “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

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:

Colossians 3:11 ~ “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Ephesians 1:4-5 ~ “ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

Mark 16:15 ~ “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matthew 28:19 ~ “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Luke 19:10 ~ “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

John 5:24 ~ “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 20:31 ~ “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

 

The rescue mission of Earth needs to be redirected.

Rather than celebrating the planting of seeds in temporary soil, we should be celebrating the planting of seeds of truth in the eternal soil of human hearts. Instead of bending over backwards to save the planet, we should be going out of our way to help reach the lost souls who need salvation. Just as Jesus took it upon Himself to reach out to the Samaritan woman whom no one else would associate with, it is our job to reach out to those all around the world who need the gospel, no matter what they look like, or where they come from. God’s love is for everyone, to be received, enjoyed, and spread all across the Earth. Don’t waste precious time and effort trying to save the temporary parts of God’s creation; use it wisely by giving your heart to God so He can use it to reconcile the hearts of the lost.

Guard yourself from falling into the trap of modern-day pantheism, where the Earth and all its animals are worshiped and put up on a pedestal above the well being of man and God Himself. While whales and elephants are my favorite animals, and the oceans and forests of the world are my favorite scenery, I realize that people’s eternal souls are far more important than anything else. We will behold the beauty of the Earth once again when it is remade into a new form someday; but the heart and soul of one individual person can never be replaced. It is my mission to protect the inhabitants of our planet from dying without the knowledge of God’s love in their lives, and I hope that it is your mission too.

– Gloria D. Hopkins