A righteous Savior is worth serving as a Sovereign.
Whom do you swear your allegiance to?
In the Middle Ages, knights of European kingdoms had a noble duty to uphold the laws and wishes of the kings or queens they served. After completing years of hard training as a young squire, they would eventually be pronounced an official Knight by the monarch of their royal court.
From the point of their knighthood, they were charged with all the responsibilities and rules that their king or queen gave them. This sometimes included a code of honor, such as chivalry, which concerned the knight’s personal conduct in specific situations. Failure to follow the king or queen’s expectations would most likely lead to imprisonment, if not immediate execution.
Thankfully, we do not live in the “Dark Ages” anymore.
In terms of history, we are free (for the most part) from the iron fist of absolute monarchy. However, we do live in an increasingly dark world that is groaning for the return of the Lord of Light. All of Creation cannot be freed from the curse of mankind’s sin until the Savior comes back to restore it. If you have accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior, your individual restoration process, or inner transformation, has already begun.
Hopefully you have experienced his goodness for yourself in your everyday life. If your heart is truly in the right place, you have sworn allegiance to God as the King of your life. Surely the Creator of the entire universe is worthy of being in control of your daily destiny, if one of His royal titles is “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Here are three reasons why we serve a divine King Who is WORTH loving:
1. He saved your soul from Hell.
As a true Christian, the very reason you should want to serve God is because of all He did for you on the cross. He sent His only, holy Son to die for you and became sin Himself for the sake of your eternal life. God has never wanted anyone to go to Hell when they die; He sincerely desires that all come to repentance from their sins. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ~ “For he hath made himto besin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“)
(2 Peter 3:9 ~ “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.“) Hell was created as a place of divine punishment for the eternally wicked Satan and his loyal following of rebellious fallen angels; it was never meant to be the destination of mankind’s souls.
Sadly, the moment man chose to listen to the voice of Satan, he became just like him, choosing a lifestyle of sin over God’s righteousness. That is why Hell exists for human punishment as well as demons – because they chose to follow Satan’s ways of wickedness over God’s holiness.
But thanks and praise be to God, Who saw fit to SAVE us from a fate of eternal darkness, despair, and pain, completely separated from His goodness and light forever. We did nothing to deserve it, no, but He extended His grace and mercy toward us so we wouldn’t have to know that terrible fate. (Romans 5:8 ~ “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.“)Instead, we gained the privilege of knowing Him, which leads to the second reason He is a King worth loving…
2. He is kind and merciful.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is overflowing with benevolence towards our souls. He not only forgives us for all our sins (which we should ask for daily), but also makes intercession for us on our behalf to God the Father Himself. (Romans 8:27 ~ “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth whatisthe mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according tothe will ofGod.”)
When Satan accuses us of our sins daily, Jesus Himself stands before His Father in Heaven and says “Wait a minute – I know exactly what *insert your name* is going through right now, and it isn’t easy. Since I know everything about *insert your name in the possessive case* life, I understand why they did what they did. It doesn’t make it right, but I already paid the price for their sin. So please Dear Father, forgive their sin on My behalf.”
As you can see, Jesus is the lover of our souls – that’s the whole reason why He did what He did for us on the cross. He gave us the chance to have eternal life when we didn’t deserve it whatsoever. He loved us, even when He knew it was likely we might never love Him in return. That is unconditional love, and we can never repay Him for it in full.However, He is satisfied with us giving our best to Him, which leads to the third reason why He is worth loving…
3. He is understanding.
The Lord knows our weaknesses, and rather than showing us cruelty for them, He offers His compassion instead. He knows that we are but made of dust, and remembers that every time we fail Him, which is often, if not daily. (Psalm 103:14 ~ “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.“) Because we are saved from the pit of Hell by His grace, He shows us refuge instead of condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2 ~ “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.“)
Therefore, we have a much better life of service than the European knights of the Middle Ages. Rather than being thrown into the dungeon or executed, we are spared from our punishment by the loving kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is well within His right to judge and condemn us if He chose to, but since we have chosen to place our faith and trust in Him, He acknowledges our loyalty to Him and gives us more grace.
As the Good Shepherd, He knows us by name and calls us unto Him every day.He protects us from physical danger on Earth, as well as supernatural attacks from Satan himself and his demonic minions.Jesus is truly a warrior king, and stands apart from all other human warrior kings, because he has already won the victory, which lasts forever. We can choose to ride with Him in safety into spiritual battle every day, or we can choose to stumble along the sidelines where are vulnerable to satanic attacks. Hopefully you choose to ride with Him, charging against the hordes of spiritual darkness.
For an infinite Creator and King, we have infinite reasons to love Him.
The number of reasons we owe our love to God doesn’t stop at three – on the contrary, the list is endless. Each person is free to fill the list with his or her own reasons, based on the marvelous works He has done in their lives.The three reasons I’ve listed here are simply basic, fundamental reasons for loving God that are derived from biblical truth. I hope that this month and every month, no matter what the holiday, you will remember to love the One Who loves you the most. Jesus IS WORTHY of our love, our life of service and sacrifice, and our loyalty. Let Him be your Valentine daily, and you will see for yourself just how much He can fill your heart with His unconditional love.
As we all know, Thanksgiving is a time that is popular for stuffing ourselves.
I will be the first to admit (among MANY) that I enjoy immense amounts of carbohydrates on Thanksgiving Day, and the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy are my favorite parts of the menu! My eyes are often bigger than my stomach, so I am prone to piling it all on my plate before I realize I can’t quite finish it all; this is NEVER the case with my mashed potatoes and gravy, however! The excessive portions of rich food are all too easy to over-indulge on, usually followed by a massive coma. I’ll also admit that it is sometimes hard to remember that I’m supposed to leave some helpings of my favorite dishes for my family members, but I usually try to remain self-aware of my servings before I let myself get too carried away.
Basically, I’m heavily inclined to want too much of a good thing.
This applies not only to heaping amounts of food, but also to all manner of material objects in addition to the food. Whether we are shopping for others or for ourselves on Black Friday (or literally any other time of year), the natural human instinct of selfishness can easily display itself, even in good people with the best intentions. Our culture’s philosophy of commercialism during this time of year boils down to the simple yet harsh idea of “survival of the fittest.” Everyone is preoccupied with getting all they can for their own individual purposes while the getting is good. It would seem at times that some people push aside all pretenses at human civility and decency in favor of their ruthless quest in pillaging for treasures. Sadly, this is the reality of our modern society that has become obsessed with the culture of commercialism and consumerism.
However, we must never forget about the real treasures that are at risk of being lost.
As you go about the day shopping for the holidays during this time of year, you will see multitudes of faces in every corner of every store – faces that all belong to people that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His precious life for. Each and every individual is a completely unique entity that was created and formed in the divine image of God. Just as you have thoughts, feelings, emotions, and problems in your own life, so does everyone else. Instead of focusing on your own needs, try to think about people around you who may be in similar (or even WORSE) situations. Many people in today’s world do not know God as their Creator and Savior, or if they do know, they willfully choose to reject Him and His love for them. Just as Jesus Himself stated in Luke 10:2, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few.” It is therefore imperative that we don’t neglect the enormous potential for harvesting lost souls for Christ’s sake during the holidays, just like any other time of year.
The best way to take advantage of this potential spiritual harvest is by sharing our spiritual treasures and gifts with everyone else, rather than hoarding everything good for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying what we have, and we are commanded by God to be thankful, but the Bible also instructs us to follow Christ’s example by giving unto others. If Jesus Himself was willing to go out of His way to show His Father’s love to people on this Earth, then certainly we must do the same.
What are some ways that we can share Christ’s love and His blessings during this time of year?you may ask.
Believe it or not, the available options are surprisingly simple and quite manageable, even if you’re on a tight budget:
1. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you with His presence.
Before you take one step inside your local shopping mall (or anywhere else, for that matter), make sure you consciously remember to ask God to fill you with His Spirit. There are countless hurting people in the world with broken, confused, and disillusioned hearts; they just need someone to look at them with love through the eyes of Jesus. Instead of blending in with the stressed out hordes of humanity, stand out from the crowd with the light of the Holy Spirit’s love shining inside of you. No matter how many other bodies are surrounding you, your presence filled with God’s peace will not go unnoticed. Someone who has a truly Christ-like countenance is rare to find these days, and if someone is brave enough to put it on display, it will be like a breath of fresh air to a lost and fallen world.
2. Give the gift of joy by sharing a smile.
“Joy to the world! The LORD is come!” It’s so sad to think about the countless people who don’t have any sense of joy in their hearts; they probably don’t even understand the true meaning of the word. Unfortunately, Satan is responsible for this circumstance in our sinful world. The good news is, we HAVE the Good News to share with others – the Gospel, which describes how God loved mankind so much, while it was still yet cursed with sin, that He was willing to send His Son JESUS to die on the cross to take our punishment away for all eternity. To escape from eternal death unto eternal life is an opportunity that ought to put a smile on anyone’s face, but how can the fallen world understand that concept of joy if we Christians don’t keep up a joyful countenance? Sure, I understand how stressful this time of year can be, and the levels of stress inevitably vary based on individuals’ circumstances – but we can still make an effort to spread true, Christian joy with those around us by keeping a warm smile on our face to help melt away the bitter coldness on other people’s faces.
3. Serve others with little acts of kindness.
Even if you think that you don’t have much to give to others, a helping hand is always a welcome gift when needed. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about donating money for a cause or getting someone a financial boost; I’m talking about just showing kindness to others on a daily basis. Whether it’s holding a door open for someone else (regardless of their gender), carrying heavy bags and/or boxes, shoveling snow off a driveway or parking lot, assisting with cooking holiday meals, wrapping presents, or just doing the dishes, the list of helpful actions goes on and on. Another act of kindness that is simple to carry out is being a listening ear for someone else. Surely people have all kinds of problems this time of year, just like they do in any other month; the least we can do is let them know we’re there for them by just listening. If the other person welcomes it, we can also offer helpful advice from our personal experiences and also God’s Word. Of course, praying with and for another person is the greatest act of Christian love you can do for someone else. So as you can see, no matter how small your “gift” is, there will always be a need for it somewhere by someone who truly appreciates it.
These spiritual blessings are not limited to this time of year alone; rather, we are called to “be the light” 24/7, 365 days a year.
By providing others around us with these gifts of spiritual blessings, we offer them an even GREATER gift of hope – hope that can ONLY be found through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal relationship with Him. After obtaining this divine, personal relationship with Jesus, people everywhere receive the true meaning and manifestation of “blessed hope” in their hearts. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” (Titus 2:13) We should go out of our way like Jesus did to make a conscious effort to bless others, no matter where we are or what our circumstances may be. We should never keep the light all to ourselves, but share it freely in the darkness of this world full of hurting people. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid, neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) It is our sacred duty and privilege as Christians to carry out the Great Commission for the sake of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so that lost souls might be saved and realize just how much God loves them. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Now that you know these budget-friendly options for sharing spiritual treasures with the world, I hope that you will go out and try them to the best of your ability. Remember, nobody wants to be labeled as a selfish, over-stuffed turkey that’s close to the verge of exploding! Get out their and share your stuffing, and show the world the stuff you’re made of – God’s love.
I realize that September is nearly over already, but I feel compelled to write about this subject before it passes: NationalSuicide 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Do you remember from history class how people used to believe that the earth was flat?
During the medieval/renaissance period, it was commonly accepted by everyone that our world was completely flat. Scientists, astronomers, and cartographers from that time did not fully understand the true shape of our beautiful planet. This was due to a universal ignorance of facts, but they simply didn’t realize it at the time. Whenever maps were made for sailors who went to explore the New World, the artists would depict the ocean with its usual horizontal surface, but also portrayed the very edge of it as falling straight down as if it were a waterfall. Many times, these same mapmakers would draw pictures of giant sea monsters waiting at the bottom, ready to devour approaching ships in the jaws of death as soon as they sailed over the edge.
Other medieval maps were designed similarly, showing the waters surrounding the New World infested with all sorts of aquatic monstrosities. From giant krakens to sea serpents, cartographers from the Middle Ages let their imaginations run wild when it came to portraying uncharted territory. While it’s logical to say that the ocean has its fair share of dangers, it’s most likely that half the creatures the mapmakers came up with were nothing more than purely mythological. However, we DO know that tales of dragons and other colossal beasts were commonplace back then, so seeing them included in the artwork of maps from that time period is not surprising.
You may ask, “What was the purpose of all this? Were the sea monsters just included merely for the sake of decoration on the maps?”
That might indeed be the case, given that medieval artwork in all its forms tended to be highly elaborate. However, such a hypothesis is only derived from simple speculation. I believe the reason sea monsters were included on medieval maps was much more meaningful. When you think about all the many tales and legends about dragons and other monsters from back then, they were usually describing fearsome beasts that had to be reckoned with, representing the age-old struggle between good and evil. Note: the key word here is “fearsome.” When cartographers from the medieval and renaissance period drew their maps of the New World, they were trying to illustrate the great unknown that they had never seen before. Since they didn’t have any idea what sort of things lay ahead of them in the lands across the waves, in their minds it made perfect sense to associate that dangerous uncertainty with dragons and other types of sea monsters. As you can see in the picture below, they would write on their maps the ominous warning, “Here be dragons.”
With all of these frightening images, you can imagine how terrified the New World explorers probably were.
Just think of how they might have been extremely excited to go out and discover the New World, only to grow increasingly full of dread at the possibility of being eaten alive by a vicious sea monster! They truly feared that the moment they sailed out into the great unknown and passed over the edge of the earth, the head of a gigantic beast would pop up out of the abyss and swallow them whole! Any voyage at sea back then was already full of great peril as it was; certainly the people’s ignorant yet imaginative mindset didn’t do anything to help calm the sailors’ nerves! There are two famous phrases that say “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” and “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When your most formidable fear is created by your own mind, then you’re really in for some trouble!
However, what would our world be like today had they not found the courage to venture out into the Great Unknown?
For starters, there would be no advanced western hemisphere. Many different countries that are part of our modern society simply would not exist if the New World explorers had chosen to stay home because of their fear and anxiety. Yes, there were many different cultures of people living in those lands for thousands of years before the explorers arrived, but our world history would be very different if the explorers let their fears get the best of them. All of the European settlers would have remained in the Old World, where they would continue to be oppressed by their countries’ respective monarchies. They would not only be oppressed by the government of absolute monarchy, but also by the rule of the Church which claimed to hold total power and control over the kings themselves. Any religious system that believes man should be worshiped and honored on the same level of God Himself is critically fallible in its thinking. Without religious freedom or a fair system of government, it is highly unlikely that European civilization would have survived much longer than the Renaissance.
In other words, our world would have remained stuck in the Dark Ages.
With religious and political freedom at stake, it’s a blessing that God enabled the New World explorers to embark upon their dangerous quests. Each sea voyage required the sailors to face the treacherous waves, violent thunderstorms, and of course, whatever mysterious perils awaited them in the new lands ahead. Even though the original explorers were not Christians, as far as we know, it was still the divine providence of God that they were brave enough to risk their lives on the high seas. A whole new world of adventure was ready and waiting to be explored, a gateway to golden opportunities for freedom of all kinds.
In some regards, we Christians can strongly relate to the olden explorers. Whether or not we learn from their achievements all depends on how much we are willing to trust God. Even though the New World explorers lived centuries before us, they still have much in common with us since they were humans just like we are.
There are three ways that we as Christians are like the New World explorers before they left the Old World:
Just like the medieval mindset believed that the Earth was flat, we Christians have a very limited perspective of God’s divine, ultimate plan.
In our everyday lives, we are only able to see the present circumstances that God allows us to see. At first, this might seem rather unfair from our point of view, however, we must also remember that God is omniscient, and knows exactly what He’s doing in our lives. With our finite minds, we would be simply incapable of handling the sheer weight and amount of information that God is aware of constantly. From our perspective here on Earth, we can only see the physical flat horizon of our planet, and also the flat horizon of our circumstances. The only way we can discover what lies ahead of us is by stepping forward in faith, trusting in God’s inherent goodness. The terrain that lies immediately before us may be rough, but God knows that smooth meadows and valleys are just up ahead in the distance. We may be asked to climb high mountains, yet they are not insurmountable with the help of our omnipotent Creator.
Even though we cannot see what’s in the distance, we can choose to trust God as He guides us every step of the way. He is our Lord, we are His servants. He is our Leader, we are his followers. He is our King, we are His subjects. He made this world and our lives with His very own hands, so we can safely rest as He navigates our charted course.
Just as the explorers possessed a fear of the “Great Unknown,” we also fear the “Great Unknown” of our future.
When we go through periods of trial and testing, sometimes it’s easy to forget that God is in complete control. Whatever situation befalls us, whether it’s the death of a loved one, financial difficulty, losing a job, moving to a new place, or experiencing frequent disappointment in relationships or friendships, we must remember that God is alwaysGOOD, no matter what. Even when life proves itself to be “unfair” in our eyes, we should assess exactly WHY we were put on this Earth in the first place – for the purpose of bringing God pleasure and His rightful glory. We might have a hard time understanding why bad or disappointing things happen to us, but as Christians it is our responsibility to keep trusting God’s hand. Our immediate future may be uncertain or “unknown,” but we DO have assurance of our eternal future. If we are willing to trust God with the keeping of our souls at salvation, why are we so unwilling to trust Him with the minor details of our daily lives? There is absolutely NOTHING in this entire universe that can separate us from His unconditional love; God expresses that fact explicitly several times throughout His Word.
When we face “fearsome beasts” of uncertain circumstances in our lives, we should ask God to give us the courage to confront them, because He doesn’t ask or expect us to do it alone. Rather, God desires the opposite: He wants us to fully rely on Him for everything in our lives, acknowledging His strength instead of our weakness, since without Him, we can do nothing.
Just like the historic explorers, we are capable of great discoveries in our own lives.When we decide to completely trust God with our future, He will fully reveal His plan for us one day at a time. It is our duty, however, to make sure that we stay close to Him through prayer and reading His Word. Consulting with our Creator daily reinforces the fact that our will is subject to His. If we are obedient and faithful, we will find that God’s goodness is far greater than we could ever imagine. His divine design is carefully unfolded each day with the utmost care, and we are but small players that are part of His grand Masterpiece. Through this process, we will discover the true nature of God, and become more acquainted with His character. At the same time, we’ll also discover for ourselves just exactly what our true nature is, and hopefully prove to become what God desires us to be – the image of His Only Son, Jesus Christ.
Just as the discovery of the New World was essential for the growth of modern civilization, the discoveries we make about God and ourselves during trials and testing are essential for our growth as Christians. If we do not venture outside the “Old World” of our personal comfort zones, then we forfeit the chance to receive the “New World” promises that God has given us.
Here are several passages from God’s Holy Word to comfort us whenever we must go over the edge:
Genesis 13:15 ~ “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.“
Exodus 6:8 ~ “And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.“
Leviticus 20:24 ~ “But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.“
Deuteronomy 9:1 ~ “Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,“
Joshua 5:6 ~ “For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.”
Joshua 23:14 ~ “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.”
Judges 2:1 ~ “And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.”
Psalm 34:4 ~ “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.“
Psalm 91:4-6 ~ “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.”
Isaiah 26:3 ~ “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.“
Isaiah 27:1 ~ “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.”
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.“
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.“
Micah 7:19 ~ “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
John 14:27 ~ “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.“
Romans 8:32 ~ “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?”
Romans 8:37-39 ~ “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:20 ~ “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 ~ “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Phillippians 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,”
Phillippians 4:19 ~ “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
2 Peter 1:4 ~ “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.“
1 John 2:25 ~ “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.“
1 John 4:4 ~ “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Revelation 4:11 ~ “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
So, are you ready to go over the edge into uncharted territory?
Perhaps God has sent you on a personal voyage of exploration in your life. If so, what fears are holding you back from it? Christopher Columbus and other explorers like him either requested permission from or received direct orders from kings to go forth into the New World, hoping to bring back news of lands filled with material wealth. The explorers mainly sought a “Northwest Passage”, which they thought would lead them straight from Europe to Asia. Little did they know at the time that an entire continent lay between them and the Orient! The “Northwest Passage” they desired to find did not exist after all, but they still reached a new land full of opportunities. Because of this unexpected surprise, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella rewarded Columbus and his men with great riches.
If we are obedient to God’s call in our lives, God will reward us for being faithful to Him, in both eternal riches and sometimes earthly riches also. However, we will forfeit these rewards if we lack faith in Him. Had Columbus listened to his crew men when they wanted to turn back, he never would have discovered America, thus failing the quest appointed to him by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. We do not want to fail our Heavenly King when He has already invested so much in us and our future! We might not always get exactly what we want out of life or what we were looking for, but it will always turn out for the best if we keep God on His throne in our hearts.
There are plenty of biblical examples where God asked one of His servants to leave behind something familiar in order to gain something better in return, such as Abraham, for instance. In fact, the entire meaning of Christianity itself is all about forsaking sin in favor of receiving eternal life from God. We can only receive new blessings from God if we are obedient to Him and trust His goodness. Don’t let Satan, the dragon in the sea, cause you to forfeit your future just because he strikes fear into your heart! Remember that God is far more powerful than he is, and He has already won the victory against him!
Jesus and his disciples were spending their last few moments together in fellowship during supper in an upper room. Before their meal ended, Jesus made a sudden, alarming announcement that someone, one of His own disciples, would betray Him. An instant panic ensued as the disciples one by one began to repeatedly ask, “Lord, is it I?” However, there was one man at the table who remained silent after Jesus’ announcement, waiting impatiently for the awkward conversation to end. Then Jesus calmed the anxious questioning by declaring, “‘He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.’ And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” (John 13:26)
Now when Jesus handed the dipped piece of bread to Judas, many Bible scholars believe that He was symbolically offering Judas one last chance at redemption before he committed his horrible treachery. However, in spite of the Lord’s mercy, Judas had already made up his mind and his heart, and prepared himself to leave the room, separating himself from his Lord and fellow disciples. “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27)
After leaving the last supper with Jesus, Judas Iscariot made his way to the Jewish temple, where the Sanhedrin of Pharisees awaited him. Without any hesitation due to being possessed by the Devil, Judas, a former disciple and follower of Jesus, betrayed his Lord to his worst earthly enemies for thirty pieces of silver. The same man who had heard all of Jesus’ teachings, seen all of His miracles, and witnessed His divine identity up close was also the man who disregarded the privilege of knowing the Lord for material riches. Judas even went so far as to betray Jesus with a kiss right before He was captured, revealing himself to be the two-faced snake he really was.
Why did the Lord allow Judas to betray Him, when He knew it would lead to His death?
While it doesn’t make any sense from a human perspective for Jesus to let Judas leave the room to betray Him, it made perfect sense inside of His own mind and heart because of His Father’s will. The whole reason Jesus came to earth was so He could die for our sins, paying the penalty for our own wickedness. Even though Jesus was all too aware of the terrible torment ahead of Him, He knew that Judas’ betrayal of Him would serve the important purpose of fulfilling God’s will. It must have broken Jesus’ heart to watch one of His own former disciples walk out that door, with no intention of repenting from his evil plan. Judas had no idea how much his Lord loved him in spite of his depraved heart, choosing to follow through with his scheme after refusing His offer of mercy to him. However, this changed nothing about how much Jesus loved Judas’ soul.
How could Jesus love Judas after what he did to Him?
The fact of Christ’s love for Judas should hardly surprise us, since Judas’ soul was just as valuable to God as anyone else’s. God’s love is so great and incomprehensible, that it surpasses all of our corrupt nature in a sweeping, unconditional tide. Unconditional love is defined by loving a person no matter what, even if he chooses not to return it or appreciate it in his free will. Even when Judas’ loyalty changed, God’s love for him never did. In fact, it is because of Jesus’ love for Judas that He allowed him to betray Him. God would not be loving to Judas if He didn’t allow him to have a freedom of will. Also, Jesus knew that by letting Judas leave that room, it would ultimately lead to His death on the cross, resulting in an opportunity for Judas to receive salvation if he chose it. Because Jesus loved Judas’ soul, He willingly let him leave to go do his damage, so he could eventually partake of eternal life after repentance. Although Jesus provided a way for Judas’ redemption, He could not force Judas to follow that path against his will.
Was Jesus’ love for Judas in vain?
Sadly, the Bible tells us that after the death of Christ, Judas finally realized the fatal mistake he had made, and tried to run back to the Pharisees to return his thirty pieces of silver. “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? see thou to that.‘ And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5) How tragic it is that Judas repented too late! Instead of waiting for the consequences of his actions, he could have easily accepted Jesus’ offer of mercy, and end his plot to betray Him. Rather, Judas chose to sentence his Savior to death because of his own selfishness, forsaking the loving, outstretched hand of divine fellowship that could have been his. If only Judas had waited long enough to experience the Lord’s resurrection, he could have received forgiveness and mercy without limits! Yet he chose not to forgive himself, and ended his life because of his guilt and anguish.
The most heartbreaking part of this story is the aftermath of Judas’ foolish decision. When he saw what he had done, the Pharisees couldn’t care less about his guilty conscience, as they were satisfied with finally capturing Jesus and sentencing Him to death. They basically told Judas, “That’s not our problem; get out of here.” It must have felt horrible for Judas when he realized that he had been used by both the Pharisees and the Devil. He was left without a purpose, and without a master, except for himself. Feeling that he had nowhere else to turn to, it must have been the only natural option in Judas’ mind to kill himself. He had made his life devoid of meaning by choosing to serve himself instead of his Lord. When he saw that his thirty pieces of silver were hollow and worthless after what he had done, he must have viewed those coins as a reflection of his own life.
Seeing that Judas learned his lesson too late, it might be easy to assume that Jesus loved him in vain. However, that idea is the farthest thing from the truth. Just because Judas failed to appreciate the value of Jesus’ love for him, it does not make Christ’s compassion worth any less. God has to deal with billions of sinners rejecting Him and His love every single day, but that does not change the reality of His love for them, nor the value of it. Jesus did not die on the cross in vain just because multitudes of people choose not to accept Him. Instead, Christ’s death was worthwhile because it provides eternal security for those who believe, in spite of all the ones who do not. More importantly, Jesus’ love for Judas was not in vain because it was always there for him to accept if he chose to ask for redemption. Just the fact that God’s love was available for receiving to begin with proves that it was not in vain, as Judas could have enjoyed it in his free will if he wanted to.
Who else is guilty of betraying Jesus?
The most despicable part of Judas’ story is how he betrayed the love of Christ. In reality, we all are like Judas in the fact that we are all sinners. It was our wicked hearts that put Jesus on that cross. Because He loved us, Christ was willing to endure pain and suffering for our sake. All of this occurred because God’s very first human creations, Adam and Eve, chose to betray His love by disobeying Him out of discontentment. And Judas wasn’t the only disciple who betrayed Jesus. While he didn’t betray Him directly, Peter was guilty of betrayal by denying Jesus three times in a row. Afraid of being punished by the Jews, Peter pretended that he never knew Christ, his own Lord and Master. Before Peter’s denial of Christ, all the other remaining disciples had abandoned Jesus after His capture, fearing that they might be taken next.
The most sobering thought of all is how God’s own creations, the Jews and the Romans, betrayed Jesus by sentencing Him to death. They chose to release a convicted murderer named Barrabas over a holy, perfect Man Who had never done anything wrong in His whole life. While Jesus hung suffering on the cross, He had to endure the taunts and jeers of the crowds of people watching Him die, knowing that just a week before they had been praising and worshiping Him. Every voice that mocked Him and scorned Him belonged to a soul that His Father knew intimately, the very reason and cause for His death. In the darkest moment of history, the Almighty Creator had to look down in agony as He watched His only Son being disrespected and betrayed by His very own creations.
Betrayal can happen to anyone, sometimes from the very people we trust most.
I too have experienced betrayal on more than one occasion. While many times I experienced it at school growing up, the one I will never forget came from the one particular Judas in my life. I thought that he was on my side for the longest time, until he showed his true colors to me during an already difficult time I was dealing with. In spite of the deep hurt he caused me, I offered him mercy and forgiveness several times, thinking that would be enough to change his heart. Unfortunately, he only threw it right back in my face each time, making me regret that I had ever trusted him in the first place. By the third time, I knew ahead of time that he was going to betray me again, and I let him do it out of respect for his free will. I was angry and bitter for a very long time, wanting revenge as it was clear that he showed no remorse or any signs of repentance. However, I asked God to forgive me, and to give me the strength to finally forgive him, even though he never asked for it. I realized that I was required to show the same mercy and forgiveness to him that God showed to me unconditionally, regardless of whether or not it would ever be recognized or appreciated. I never felt true peace in my heart until I let go of my anger and accepted that God would deal with my Judas in His time, holding him accountable for his actions in either this life or the next. All that really mattered was that I was right with God in my heart, even if he wasn’t right with God in his. However, even though it has been many years since my betrayal, I still haven’t forgotten the hurt it caused me, and I probably never will. I believe that the greatest hurt that anyone can ever experience comes from being betrayed by someone you once trusted with all your heart. Yet I am thankful to God for allowing me to experience something that constantly reminds me of my constant need for Him.
How do we respond to the Judas in our lives?
If you have been alive for a significant time on this earth, chances are you’ve gone through the awful experience of someone betraying you. The worst part about betrayal is the realization that someone whom you believed was your friend has revealed himself to be your enemy. When this happens, we are presented with a choice – to become bitter, or better. The natural, human tendency is to become bitter, harboring anger and hatred long after the time and culprit of the betrayal has disappeared. However, the unnatural, spiritual tendency is to become better, by choosing forgiveness and mercy regardless of our traitor’s actions or lack of repentance. Perhaps you have encountered more than one Judas in your life. I know I have. Maybe there is one Judas in your life who stands out as the worst offender from all the rest. No matter what our personal situation is, we are expected to respond as Christ would, without giving place to wrath and a desire for revenge.
As God Himself knows what betrayal feels like, His Words best describe how we should respond to such a situation:
Luke 22:48 ~ “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”
Romans 12:19 ~ “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
Psalm 41:9 ~ “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.“
Psalm 55:12-23 ~ “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.
We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God. He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.”
Proverbs 20:22 ~ “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.”
Isaiah 53:4-6 ~ “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Colossians 3:13 ~ “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.“
Matthew 6:14-15 ~ “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 ~ “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Will you choose to become bitter, or better?
No matter what the circumstances of your betrayal are, I hope that you can find the courage to rise above them in Christ. You must realize that He is in control of ALL things, and His purpose will prevail in your life no matter what man does to you. No matter what evil has happened to you, God can turn it around and use it for good, if you allow Him to take away your pain and anger. Once you release yourself from negative feelings of bitterness, you will be free to experience God’s power in your life more openly. God can use your circumstances to grow you spiritually into a better person, a mature soul who reflects His wisdom in all aspects of life. Satan wants to defeat you by keeping you a prisoner to bitterness, but Jesus can help set you free through His keys of forgiveness. Only through God’s help can you gain the victory over bitterness from betrayal. But you alone must decide how you will respond – will you give in to Satan’s wishes by locking yourself behind bars of bitterness? Or will you give yourself over to God’s power by following Jesus’ example of forgiveness? The second option is the only way to feel better.
When it comes to spiritual warfare, one of the biggest battlegrounds is the human mind. As the control center for all of our thoughts, it is extremely important to keep a constant vigil over what enters it. If you are a believer in Christ, you are enlisted in the Lord’s army as one of His soldiers. To be a good soldier of God means you must have a solid strategy to defend the most powerful part of your life – the fortress of your mind.
In this post we’re going to focus on five different ways to protect your mind from losing it to the enemy, who is Satan. As the most evil being in the universe, Satan is constantly looking for any weaknesses in the strongholds of our minds. If he can spot a single flaw in our minds’ defenses, he will attack that one spot relentlessly until the rest of our fortress crumbles in defeat. In this brief strategy guide, we shall study some of Satan’s most common attacks and how to combat them.
1. Guarding Against Guilt
This is perhaps one of Satan’s most favorite weapons to use against us. He loves to make us remember our past sins and mistakes so that we’re stuck in shame instead of living powerfully in the present. What we need to do to protect ourselves from this attack is remember God’s forgiveness and unconditional love for us. God wants us to rejoice in our present condition, which is washed clean in the robes of His righteousness. These verses will prove to be useful weapons against the attack of guilt:
Psalm 32:5 ~ “I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.“
Zechariah 3:4 ~ “And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.”
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,”
2. Pressured for Perfection
Satan loves rubbing in our faces that we’ll never be sinless like God. He desires to humiliate us for our natural human fallen nature so that we’ll be discouraged and give up on striving for holiness. This is usually the second approach Satan will take against our minds if he fails at making us feel guilty. While it is true that only God is holy and perfect, He doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up because our flesh is weak. He understands that we are made of dust, and His compassion is as deep as the ocean. These verses will provide a reassuring message to diminish the pressure for perfection:
Psalm 103:13-14 ~ “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.“
Philippians 3:12 ~ “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
Hebrews 10:14 ~ “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.“
3. Battling against Bitterness
This is one of Satan’s strongest attacks, since it is extremely personal and gets under the skin. Satan loves to prey upon those who have an amazing memory and turn it against them. He can stir up deep-seated anger from hurts that happened to us many years ago, at any given time for no apparent reason. A very subtle attack, he begins it slowly and silently, often triggering our memory from someone’s words or actions that may have occurred in a completely different context from our past hurt. If we let our guard down, Satan can besiege our entire castle and set the entire fortress ablaze with bitterness. It is our duty to take action and call upon God’s help before our mind is engulfed in the flames of wrath and revenge. Here are some verses to help achieve victory in the battle against bitterness:
Ephesians 4:31-32 ~ “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Romans 12:19 ~ “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ saith the Lord.“
Proverbs 24:29 ~ “Say not, ‘I will do so to him as he hath done to me’: I will render to the man according to his work.”
4. Driving Out Despair
If you have ever read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, you will recall a chapter where Christian and his friend Hopeful are captured by a cruel giant named Despair, and they are taken to his dark, Doubting castle and thrown into his dungeon. They become so depressed from being tortured by the giant every day, that they actually consider taking the giant’s advice to commit suicide. I won’t rehash the whole chapter, but this is an accurate depiction of how Satan attacks our minds by emphasizing our negative circumstances. If Satan can make us relinquish our hope, then he has already won the battle for our mind. Only God’s powerful grace intervening can help us drive out the attack of giant despair. These verses can help you defeat this ruthless giant:
Psalm 43:5 ~ “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.“
Psalm 27:13-14 ~ “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.“
2 Corinthians 8-9 ~ “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”
5. Fending Off Fear
Finally, we come to fear, which is arguably Satan’s most powerful weapon against us. There are many different types of fears he throws at us: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of following God, fear of witnessing to people, etc.; the list goes on and on. Each Christian will face a unique type of fear depending on his individual situation. Satan wants nothing more than to force us to cower inside the walls of our mind, retreating from the battle dangers of worldly opposition. If he can, he’ll keep us trapped by fear until we completely surrender to him, forfeiting the fight for God’s will. We must look to God for help, and remember His promises to be with us always, guiding our every step in life. These verses should help encourage our faith to be bigger than our fear:
Psalm 27:1 ~ “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?“
Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.“
Psalm 56:3-4 ~ “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”
I hope this strategy guide was a blessing and encouragement to your heart. Remember, it is through God alone that we have the victory, especially in the battle for the fortress of our minds!
We have all felt it at some point in our lives, to varying degrees each time it occurs. It is an integral part of the human condition because of our sin-cursed world. It is something that most people desperately try to avoid or escape, only to find it sneak up on them unexpectedly.
How did loneliness first begin?
The answer can be found in Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve separated themselves from God’s fellowship because of their deliberate sin. Their disobedience caused darkness to enter their hearts, which God, the Holy Father, can have no part with, since He is the very essence of purity and light. Cast out of a perfect paradise in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forced to face their future in the world virtually alone, because they used to walk and talk with God every day before they sinned.
As a result, all of their future descendants would feel a gaping emptiness inside them due to missing God’s loving presence. Countless tears have been shed by many people because of that very first loneliness. Human loneliness is the product of desiring independence apart from God. We were created for His pleasure, to fellowship with Him, and when that fellowship was broken, our souls were broken as well. As humans, we crave affection and interaction with others, so naturally we seek these things in spending time with other people; but the unfortunate reality is, we cannot fill our empty vessels with vessels that are just as empty as we are. It is impossible to find true fulfillment and connection with others who are seeking the exact same thing. God designed us this way in order to draw us back to Him, the only true Source of ultimate fulfillment.
We commonly associate loneliness with being a social outcast, a misfit, or a loner, who has very few to no friends at all. However, anyone can experience loneliness, even with many friends in their social group. A lot of times, loneliness occurs because we feel misunderstood by our peers. Even those who are closest to us are capable of misunderstanding us as a person, since everyone is created as a unique individual.
So what is the solution to this persistent problem?
Because loneliness is an ever-present problem that plagues people’s minds, it is difficult to identify one simple solution for it, since everyone deals with it in different ways. My advice would be this though: try changing your perspective on loneliness instead of trying to make it go away. Trying to permanently get rid of loneliness is like trying to prevent it from raining ever again. It is an inevitable part of this fallen world.
Now, I’m about to suggest something that will seem downright ridiculous to most people, and it will probably shock you the first time you read it –
The next time you’re feeling lonely, embrace it as a gift from God.
“WHAT?!” You may ask. “How can you expect anyone to view an emotion so painful as a gift from God? That’s crazy!”And your reaction would be completely natural and expected. But let me ask you this: If we never felt lonely, would we feel any desire or need to seek God’s presence? Of course not, because then we’d be entirely self-sufficient. That’s why God designed us this way, to need Him at all times, because we really are nothing without Him. We were created to love and worship Him with all our hearts, and if those actions are missing, our lives are vain and empty.
Does God know what it’s like to be lonely?
Jesus, the Son of God Himself, was certainly no stranger to loneliness. The Bible tells us that He was despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3). Apart from His twelve disciples and those who believed on Him, nearly everyone else in Israel hated Him, particularly the religious leaders of the time. In fact, they hated Him so much that they wanted to kill Him when He had done absolutely nothing wrong. During His death on the cross, Jesus experienced the most painful loneliness of all: being separated from His holy Father because of Him bearing our sin. For the first time in the infinite existence of the Holy Trinity, God the Father turned His back on His only Son, Whom He loved so much. Jesus cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?!” Apart from the excruciating physical pain He was feeling from being tortured, and the horrible betrayal by His own human creations, the anguish of His Father abandoning Him was unlike any pain Jesus had ever felt before.
However, there is good news: because of Jesus’ heartbreaking moment of loneliness and separation from His Father on the cross, we have the chance to accept His wonderful gift of salvation, allowing us to be reunited in divine fellowship with God forever! Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, earthly loneliness will be a thing of the past in Heaven if we accept His gift and believe on His holy Name.
But what are we going to do about loneliness until eternity happens?
This is where the miraculous wonder of God’s grace comes in. God is so powerful that He can take something extremely painful in our lives and use it for good – for our spiritual benefit and for His glory. When we’re feeling lonely, we can allow it to consume us emotionally to the point where we’re drowning in self pity; OR we can quiet our hearts, and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit:
“I want you. I made you. I want you to seek me, and find me. I want to share a close, intimate relationship with you. I want to show you that no one person on this earth is capable of wholly understanding your soul like I do. You are a priceless treasure, and I sacrificed so much just so I could get to know you. Please come to me, and tell me everything that’s in your heart. I long to be your best friend, and dearest companion. Know that I love you more than you could ever possibly imagine.”
God understands how our hearts hurt when we’re lonely. He created the human heart, didn’t He? He feels our every pain, and cares for us deeply. When we feel lonely, God is crying out to us, entreating us to come be with Him. Allow His arms to embrace you with His love, and open your heart to all the warm, Heavenly affection He has for you. Show God your appreciation for Him by giving Him the fellowship with you He deserves. His Son’s blood paid for our souls; don’t let Jesus’ sacrifice be in vain!
So the next time you feel lonely, turn to the One Who understands you best. Jesus is waiting patiently for you to answer His call. Will you listen to His silent cries? It would be shameful to grieve Jesus by ignoring Him when He is the divine Antidote to our painful condition. Don’t make the mistake of making Jesus sad when He loves you so much. Perhaps it is that when you feel lonely, He feels lonely as well, and misses your company.
Here are some verses to assure us that with God, we are never truly alone:
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.”
Psalms 27:10 ~ “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”
Romans 8:39 ~ “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Matthew 28:20b ~ “…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
John 14:18 ~ “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
1 John 4:13 ~ “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
Psalms 62:8 ~ “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.”
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.”
These are many affirmations that God is always with us, no matter how lonely we might feel. Let these verses be an encouragement to your heart whenever loneliness occurs, and your soul will be comforted by God’s amazing, unending love.