You’ve probably seen this quote plastered on a large billboard posted at the side of a highway, next to the iconic image of the three ancient biblical travelers from the Orient. While nonbelievers of all kinds may scoff at and scorn this saying, it is immediately understood by true Christians who strive to follow its message. The original wise men described in the Bible died thousands of years ago, but modern day believers still carry their same quest until the day the Lord Himself returns to Earth.
Those biblical wise men earned their title through their reputation for discerning the meanings of the stars, as they were ancient astronomers who studied God’s intricate design of the universe. They sincerely believed in the existence of the one true God, Who not only created the stars they watched nightly but also their very own existence. The biblical wise men desired to see the face of the newborn baby Jesus, whom they correctly believed was the human manifestation of God’s Son on Earth. So they began an epic journey to find Him, their famous quest taking them great long distances across the lonely deserts of foreign lands. As biblical historians reveal to us, their quest was not in vain, as they successfully reached the Savior two years after His birth and gave Him symbolic gifts that were worthy of His royal, divine identity.
As told in the Scriptures, those wise men did not rest until they had finally reached their goal – the purpose of their journey was to find the Lord and Savior of all mankind, the infant form of Jesus Christ. The star was the special compass that led them all the way to their ultimate destination. The wise men didn’t care how long it took them to journey towards the Savior; they only had their one goal fixed in their mind. They were absolutely determined to find the baby Who was King of kings and worship Him the way He deserved. The fact that the wise men came all the way from the Orient (or the Far East) proves just how much finding Jesus was important to them. The light of the star led them straight to the Light of the World.
Today, people all over the world are seeking that same Light. God has given mankind the best resource possible to find their way to Him – the wonderful gift of His holy Word. The Bible points the way to the true Star of Christmas, which is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Star of His own story, shining the light of His love unto all who would seek Him. Unfortunately, in our sinful world, there are millions of other stars that would use their lesser light to distract people from the true Star that can save them. These “lesser lights” are the many various things of this world that Satan loves to divert people’s attention with. When people concern themselves too much with the lesser lights of the world, they often end up lost, confused and disillusioned. Instead of being led to the bright light shining down into the stable, they wind up alone wandering the dark streets of Bethlehem, where there is no room for them to stay anywhere. Worse still, their distracted vision may lead them far away from the city of the Savior, all the way into the deserts of disappointment and despair.
Perhaps you too have found yourself wandering aimlessly in your search for the Light, even if you’ve already accepted the Savior into your heart.
Even as Christians, it can be all too easy to let ourselves get distracted from our goal of seeking the Savior. If we’re not careful, we can allow Satan’s influence to enter our minds and discourage us, becoming completely overwhelmed with the stressful circumstances of our lives. It is Satan’s primary goal to shut out the light of Jesus’ love from our eyes, regardless of whether or not we know Him. He wants us to stumble around in the darkness, utterly oblivious to the light of Christ that would lead us out of the shadows. However, if we want to find the right direction, we should be looking up towards the true Star, rather than focusing on the dark streets around us.
Just like the wise men did before, we need to chart our course directly to the Savior, ignoring any distractions along the way. This is a time of year when we can tend to feel lonely, even if we have family and friends around us. We may try to stuff away our feelings like how we hide Christmas presents for others in the closet, but just like those presents, they are bound to be discovered sooner or later without fail. Rather than suppressing them in an unhealthy way, we need to deal with our emotions by expressing them openly and honestly. We think we can try to cover them up, but if we don’t take care of our personal well being, it will inevitably affect everyone around us. The last thing everyone wants during the Christmas season is a friend or relative who is so overcome with anger, stress, or sadness that he or she suddenly snaps at them without warning.
So how can we redirect our gaze to the true Star of Christmas and find our way out?
The first thing we need to remember is that if we’re feeling lost, alone, stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed this time of year, someone else we know is most likely feeling the same way. Modern celebrations of Christmastime have become such a huge annual production for most families that everyone involved can get unwittingly caught up and carried away from the holiday’s true meaning.
We might compare ourselves to some straggling shepherds, who have the best intentions of seeking Jesus at heart, but somehow lost our way and took a wrong turn in the busy streets of Bethlehem. What we need to do for ourselves and for others around us is look up past the city buildings and fix our gaze on the Star of Bethlehem, Whose shining light cuts right through the darkness. Following its piercing rays, we will be led straight to the Savior, Who should always be the real reason we are celebrating anyway.
What I mean by all this is we need to take some time out for ourselves to refocus our minds and hearts on Jesus Christ Himself, just like we ought to do each and every day.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we should set aside some quiet time to pray and meditate on God’s holy Word, reminding ourselves of what’s truly important. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-4) Because after all, God’s Word says that if we love Him first, we’ll be able to show His love to others around us. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21) This verse certainly applies to the holiday season, when people may be forced to interact with relatives that might be difficult to get along with. When we find ourselves in this situation, we should respond the way the Lord wants us to, by following the Golden Rule found in Scripture: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
These are verses we should meditate on to love God and others properly, but God still deeply and personally cares about each individual too.
We should always remember that Jesus coming to Earth as a human baby is a divine miracle that is a personal gift to our own hearts. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8) Instead of feeling lost and alone amidst the chaos of Christmastime, we should simply make time to talk to Jesus Himself and tell Him about everything in our hearts and minds. He came to save all the people of the world, including you personally. He wants to free you from any darkness that is holding you captive – whether that be spiritual or emotional darkness. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Jesus wants to show you the wonderful, glorious light of His love, reminding you that He is always there for you. Even if other people (including Christians) may treat you poorly, Jesus will always treat you with kindness out of the abundant grace of His heart. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Don’t let your present circumstances or past experiences from this time of year control the joy in your heart that Jesus sacrificed His life for you to have!
As you can see, the true Star of Christmas will lead you out of the darkness and straight to Him.
Just like the biblical wisemen embarked on a long and difficult journey to meet the Savior in person, from the moment of our salvation we Christians have also embarked on a similar lifelong journey that is filled with perilous paths and treacherous territory. The wisemen did not fear the trip ahead of them though, for they were skilled navigators who solely relied on the star of Bethlehem as their main compass. We also should never fear what we encounter in our earthly lives, because Christ is our central, spiritual Compass. No matter what darkness we face, we can survive every kind of danger this world throws our way because we have the Savior with us in our hearts at all times. Jesus is the Star of Christmas that not only leads us out of sin, but also out of depression, despair, and distractions that Satan tries to use to defeat us. We too can be navigators, just like the wisemen, and let Jesus, the precious Son of God and Prince of Peace, guide us in every aspect of our lives.
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.
Deep within the castle of a person’s mind, there is a dark dungeon.
This dungeon holds hostage many unpleasant thoughts, including bad memories of all kinds which we desperately wish we could forget. As Christians who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we know that God sits on the throne of our hearts and minds; nevertheless, this dungeon still exists for all of our earthly lives. The black shadows of former things that continually cause us pain are determined to resurface in our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Even though we might earnestly ask God to help us defeat them, we constantly struggle to achieve the victory in keeping these metaphorical monsters in the dungeon where they belong.
Still, there is an even GREATER monster that lies deep in the dungeon who is responsible for setting these dark shadows free…
A destructive Dragon, who is so bitter about his own future imprisonment that he wishes for nothing more than the total and utter defeat of mankind, Christians included.
This Dragon is none other than Satan himself, whom the Bible describes as “that old Serpent.”(Revelation 12:9) He is hateful and spiteful, full of nothing but malice and contempt for mankind. He is painfully aware of the fact that Jesus Christ dealt him a deathblow on the cross, and since he can’t do anything to change his fate, he’ll do everything he can to drag down all the people he can with him. His attitude is, “If I’m doomed to darkness and despair for all eternity, then I refuse to be the only one!” Even if he can’t drag born again Christians to Hell with him, he’ll try with all his might to drag down the thoughts in their minds, as well as the emotions in their hearts. Satan knows full well that God reigns as King in the throne room of Christians’ hearts, but he still seeks to destroy them within the dungeon of their minds. He realizes that infiltrating the walls of their castles and attacking from within is the most effective way to ensure their defeat.
“But how did this Dragon get in?” you may ask. “How can he possibly sneak his way inside a fortress where a mighty King reigns supreme?”
The answer is simple – the royal guards fell asleep on their watch. Being constantly vigilant on a daily basis is quite tiresome, as you would probably imagine. The royal guards that are supposed to protect the castle of a Christian’s mind are godly habits that everyone absolutely MUST take the time to develop. These habits include meaningful, Spirit-filled prayer, and Bible reading. Doing these things each day will remind the guards of their duty to keep the royal fortress safe from Satan’s attacks. However, every once in a while, even when the guards are doing their very best to stay awake, that crafty creature still finds a way to creep inside the castle, evading the watchful eyes of the guards who would try to keep him at bay. This is because Satan is incredibly subtle, just as he chose to possess the body of a slithering, silent serpent in the garden of Eden. It’s not always easy to recognize when he’s moving in for the kill, even with our best efforts to remain vigilant. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” – (1 Peter 5:8)
Once the Dragon realizes he has made a successful entrance unnoticed, he proceeds to wander the endless, abysmal halls of a person’s thoughts and consciousness, sniffing out the passages to a person’s greatest weaknesses.
Satan knows that if he can distract your thoughts away from the awareness of God’s presence and power within you, he can easily have access to roam freely wherever he will. Remember, this castle is a metaphor of your mind, so if you see or hear something that might turn your thoughts from God or the things that please Him, Satan takes the opportunity and runs with it. That sly serpent is able to spy on you in secret, taking note of the things that upset you, frustrate you, or stoke the fires of unmet desires. As he makes his way through the dark, hollow halls, he leaves a trail of temptations to follow behind him, confidently expecting you to take the bait and leave the safety of the King’s quarters. This is why it’s so important to keep you thoughts focused on Christ, Who would have you to fix your eyes on Him at all times so you won’t be led astray. All too often, however, we follow the Dragon’s alluring scent, who promises us a false sense of security in entertaining the thoughts of our flesh. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” – (Romans 8:5)
After succeeding in leading us away from safety, the Dragon delves down deep into the dark dungeons of despair, where he knows all of our worst memories are held prisoners.
Reaching the very core of what makes our minds most vulnerable, the Dragon knows he has us right where he wants us. He seeks to ignite the torches hanging on the damp walls, releasing the fearsome phantoms of former things. While there may be many cells containing painful pieces of the past, the Dragon purposely unshackles the memories we hate most to deal us the greatest possible harm. Once he sets them free, the Dragon stirs them up by fueling them with his fire. He causes us to believe the lies we’ve battled for many years, forged in our thoughts by the actions and words of other people, or even ourselves. Satan wraps his scaly tail around us, hoping to crush us to death as he forces us to confront the powerful pain of our inescapable memories. He knows that if he can isolate us in the shadowy dungeon of our past, he can easily make us feel lost in a labyrinth of endless distress and sorrow. The mighty, arrogant Dragon whispers his hateful lies in our ears, wanting to steal our hope and joy, the greatest gifts from God. To add insult to injury, he even blames us for being so weak and easily overcome, making us feel guilty for allowing him to invade our castle in the first place. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – (Ephesians 6:12)
How can we possibly escape the death grip of the Dragon in the dungeon? By crying out to our King and looking upon His light.
In spite of the strong hold Satan might gain upon our thoughts in his attack, he forgot one important fact – our mind’s castle is still GOD’S stronghold. We have to muster the courage to call for God’s help in order to overcome the Devil and claim the victory. Instead of being clouded by confusion and cares from our past, we must remember that Jesus is deeply concerned for our mind’s well-being; He CARES about us! “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” – (1 Peter 5:7) / “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” – (Philippians 3:13) It’s our responsibility to sound the royal alarm to alert the Holy Spirit of the Devil’s presence in the dungeon of our memories. He was already aware of it to begin with, but He was anxiously awaiting our call for His help, acknowledging our need for Him. While the all-powerful King might not be available to physically help us in our mental and emotional predicaments, He is more than willing to send us the strength we need to withstand Satan and all His subtle snares. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – (1 Corinthians 10:13) That prideful, selfish, wrathful Dragon might consider himself king of the castle, but he will never truly succeed in his quest to destroy us as long as we ask God for His help in slaying Him. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” – (1 John 4:4) That wiley wyvern has already received a mortal wound at the hands of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross, yet he continues to return in search of his revenge while he still can! With the aid of our loving, kind, all-powerful King, we can cast out that slinking serpent by turning over our bad memories to Him each and every time they resurface in our minds, keeping them captive forever. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” – (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then, and ONLY then, will we be able to truly defeat the Dragon in the dungeon!
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.
You are one of a kind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Is there really such a thing as a point of no return?
In the Christian faith, God’s Word teaches us that all men are capable of being saved, no matter how many or what kinds of sins they’ve committed. God’s abundant grace and mercy are more than sufficient to release us from the chains of darkness and condemnation. It’s all because of the selfless sacrifice that Jesus Christ Himself performed on the cross over two thousand years ago, giving up His life to redeem us by atoning for the wrong things that we have done, effectively releasing us from the eternal punishment of sin. However, this free gift of eternal life, also known as salvation in Christian vocabulary, is ONLY accessible through the voluntary act of a person choosing to accept it, changing his life forever. No one can make this decision for anyone else; it HAS to be an act of their own free will. God does not force anyone to believe in Him or trust Him and His Son Jesus to receive salvation – He only wants it to be a conscious choice from the sincere desire of a person’s heart. God knows that the only way a person is guaranteed true happiness and eternal life is by choosing to serve Him, but it is not in His character to make His human creations mindless slaves to His will. He is only interested in a person’s heart that is willing to serve Him out of pure, genuine love.
So yes, it is possible for a person to be redeemed… – but only if they want to be.
The above paragraph describes people who have yet to become Christians, but what about those who claim to be saved, though their lives and actions would make you seriously doubt their spiritual identity? Yes, it is the sad truth that there are many, MANY people out there who will swear up and down that they are Christians, yet the evidence of their personal lifestyle proves that they actually live without a conscience. By this, I mean that their lack of self-control or respect for God’s requirement of holiness shows that the Holy Spirit’s presence is either nonexistent in their hearts, or pushed so far into the background that you could hardly recognize it anymore. You probably know someone like this in your own life, from either your past or your present. This person may have accepted Christ in his heart, but eventually moved so far away from God that His influence in the person’s life became imperceptible. The way this person acts is so indistinguishable from the world, that you wonder why he bothers calling himself a Christian to begin with. In his mind, being a Christian is more like being in a trendy, exclusive club, rather than the life-altering, sacrificial transformation it really is.
There’s a word in the Bible for this kind of person – a reprobate.
In further detail, a reprobate is someone who is fully aware of God’s truth in his life but chooses to ignore it anyway, despite receiving multiple warnings from other people that he is going in the wrong direction. He is incredibly stubborn and stiff-necked, refusing to heed spiritual advice when he needs it the most. When he is corrected by a pastor or other spiritual influences in his life, he reacts with anger to loving reproaches, lashing out in rage at the very wisdom that is meant to benefit him. The only thing he cares about is having his own way, acting as if he were God Himself. No matter how many times he has been warned, he refuses to listen to anyone who contradicts his ideas and desires. He has no use for the feelings of other people who know him and care about him; he doesn’t give any thought or remorse about how many others he hurts along the way. He has chosen to go so far along the path of darkness in his life, that any attempts to stop him or change his mind have proven to be utterly futile. In essence, a person like this can be described as strikingly similar to Satan’s character in John Milton’s classic epic, Paradise Lost.
In this book, the first chapter begins with the aftermath of Satan’s rebellion in Heaven, where he finds himself bound in chains to the Lake of Fire with the other fallen angels who followed his influence. Despite being completely overthrown and cast down from grace, Satan is literally Hell-bent on getting revenge on God. He is so disgustingly filled with pride that he is incapable of recognizing that the whole incident was entirely his fault. He blatantly claims that God is an unfair tyrant, while he is merely misunderstood. Not only does he hold these blasphemous beliefs, but he also fills the minds of his demonic followers with these wicked ideas. Throughout the entire book, Satan stubbornly holds onto the belief that he doesn’t need God and outright states that it’s better for him to “reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” He’s a rebel and a vagabond, whose only real home is in Hell after his betrayal against God; however, he refuses to accept the fate of his punishment and plots to drag down mankind with him.
How sad it is when someone who formerly served God and claimed to know Him turns against Him out of pride and selfishness!
Anyone who falls under the biblical category of a reprobate has had numerous second chances given to him, both by God and the people in his life, yet he has chosen to repeatedly spurn and squander them. The Bible says that when a person chooses this path, God decides to turn him over to a reprobate mind, giving him exactly what he thinks he wants – to be king of his own life, free to revel in his own wickedness. God says to this person: “You want Me to leave you alone? Fine. I’ll do just that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the consequences though.” Eventually, God gets tired of fighting against a person with a strong stubborn will, and leaves him to his own devices, no matter how foolish or evil they might be. This is an extremely dangerous zone for a person to enter, because once you have effectively pushed God’s influence completely out of your life, you open the door for all kinds of Satanic influences to fill the void.
Judas Iscariot, the traitorous disciple of Jesus, is a perfect biblical example of a reprobate. He spent so much time walking with the Savior, yet he never got saved. He witnessed all of Christs’ miracles (except for His resurrection), yet he never glorified Him as the Son of God. However, to the outside observer, Judas looked just like the rest of the eleven disciples, closely following Jesus’ every move; who could suspect him of becoming filled with the Devil at the time he later betrayed Christ? The same thing is true of faux Christians – no one ever suspects their true spiritual nature, since they are experts at putting on a good show on the outside. On the inside though, they are rotten to the core. In a previous post I wrote, called “Betrayal By A Loved One,” I described how we all know at least one person in our lives whom we would describe as our personal Judas. No matter what manner of wickedness our Judas has wrought on us, we still are required to forgive him since it’s what God commands us to do.
However, it can become a dangerous trap for us if we allow ourselves to obsess over the possible redemption of this reprobate.
God wants us to forgive those who have wronged us, yes, but He does not expect us to devote every ounce of our energy towards whether or not their hearts are convicted. We are told in the Bible to pray for our enemies, but not to the point where it becomes the main focus of every waking moment in our lives. There is a very fine line between praying fervently for someone and having an unhealthy fixation on that person. Why do I say this? you may ask. Because, when you repeatedly pray for the same person, you need to assess what your intentions and expectations are for God’s answer. If you have good intentions while praying for this reprobate, you sincerely want him to turn back to God before it’s too late, and you fully trust that God is in control of the situation. However, perhaps your intentions for praying for him are a little bit self-serving – maybe the reason you want him to get right with God is somehow related to your own personal benefit, and what you see as devoted prayer is really an indirect way of trying to control the situation’s outcome. Whether we like to admit it or not, this can very well be the case.
The reprobate I’m referring to in my life is someone whom I once loved very much, with all my heart. Like Lucifer the Angel of Light, he first portrayed himself to be perfect, everything I ever wanted – but later his true nature revealed itself to be dark and rebellious, much like Satan in his demonic form. When he betrayed me, I had already fallen so deeply in love with him to the point where my affection for him was unconditional, regardless of how he treated me. So in an effort to save the only love I had ever known at that point, I prayed for him every single day for an entire year, begging God to change His heart, convict him of betraying me, and lead him to apologize to me. I would always break down crying each day as I desperately pleaded to God: “Dear Lord, please…CONVICT him. I don’t even care if you give him back to me; I just want him to be right with you. I love him unconditionally, the same exact way You do. Please protect him from the foolish choices in his heart! Please keep him safe!” Even though I still loved him deeply, I didn’t even ask for God to renew my relationship with Him; I just wanted him to get right with God so I could be reunited with him in Heaven someday, even if I never got to see him again on Earth. I later came to severely regret this, for even though I was reunited with him a year after, his apology to me was a temporary ruse designed to manipulate me and betray me all over again. Thus I was once more sucked into his cycle of emotional abuse, all because I lost myself by praying for him because of the unhealthy attachment I had from before.
Here are some verses to remind us that the fate of a reprobate is his own doing, not ours:
Proverbs 1:24-28 ~ “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:“
Isaiah 14:12- ~ “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Jeremiah 7:16 ~ “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.“
Hosea 4:17 ~ “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.”
Romans 1:28 ~ “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,“
Hebrews 10:26-31 ~ “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
2 Peter 2:4 ~ “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;“
So what can we do to redeem the reprobate in our lives? Nothing?
The simple answer to the above question is this – Let go and let God.
We can present the issue and our concerns about it to God, like we’re supposed to, without letting it consume our minds and hearts. We need to trust God that He knows what’s best, and that He has absolutely everything under His divine control. However, if we do allow the situation to consume us, we’ll be caught in the trap of subtle idolatry, placing our fears and desires above God’s will. When it comes to the redemption of a reprobate, it is utimately up to that person himself, since neither we nor God Himself can control the free will of someone else. It’s so easy to obsess over a situation in the name of fervent prayer, when really we’re indirectly trying to control the outcome since we don’t fully trust God. If we can learn to set the matter entirely in God’s hands and forget it, then we can know true peace that surpasses all understanding. God does not hold us accountable for the actions and choices of a wayward person in our lives, so we shouldn’t have to worry about it since it’s out of our control. Instead, we can say to God, “I know You hold this person in Your powerful hands, and I trust You to take care of this situation no matter how hopeless it may seem. God, I relinquish my desire to control the situation and circumstances regarding this person I’m concerned about. Please help me to keep my focus completely on You, so I don’t lose sight of my own purpose and identity. Amen.”
“No one understands me! What’s the point of talking to anyone anymore?!”
Teenagers are often ridiculed for this verbal stereotype, but sadly, this desperate claim of angst is true for people of all ages. This anguished question has resonated from the minds and mouths of every person who’s existed down through the ages. Human beings were created by God as social creatures, desiring more than anything else to connect with other, separate entities. This truth is described in the book of Genesis, when God created a helper for Adam in the person of his wife, Eve.
Unfortunately, after they opened the gateway to sin on this earth, Adam and Eve inhibited themselves in all areas, including the realm of communication. Once they bit into the forbidden fruit, which grew from the sin of selfishness and pride, their true natures were transformed from serving God and each other to serving their own egos. They were no longer concerned with listening to each other’s words; they cared only for the thoughts inside their own heads. Ever since then, mankind has constantly struggled to make his voice heard, crying out loud to the dark, far reaches of the universe.
“If only there was someone who’d listen!” he cries. “I would give anything just to have someone care enough about me to understand how I feel inside!”
Oh, what a sad, tragic mistake it is when man has chosen to remove himself so far away from God that he forgot how God has always been there for him in the first place! In human relationships, misunderstandings often stem from a lack of communication; the same principle applies to our relationship with God. We choose not to open up to Him because we assume that He’s just going to judge us for our thoughts and feelings, just like what many teenagers and young adults assume about their parents. So instead of pouring our hearts out to God in prayer, we shut Him out of our daily lives by not talking to Him, just like a typical moody teenager locks him or herself inside their bedroom.
The surprising truth is, God is FAR more understanding than we give Him credit for.
How do we little, puny humans get the nerve to think that God is incapable of knowing our thoughts and feelings when He’s the One Who orchestrates the circumstances of our lives to begin with? Within a parent/child relationship, the parents have years of experience dealing with the same issues that their children face every day, but a self-absorbed teenager or young adult either does not realize or refuses to acknowledge that fact. This is due once again to the common faults of stubbornness and pride, when they think or say out loud, “Mom and Dad don’t know what they’re talking about! They’re just trying to control my life; why should I listen to what they have to say?!” This ignorant claim echoes constantly in today’s world when people say horrible, blasphemous things like “God is dead!”, or “If there is a God, why would He care about me?!”
We are fortunate that God bestows His grace and mercy upon this world at all times, for there are innumerable lost souls who try His patience and kindle His wrath every day. The very fact that He delays the punishment of man’s wickedness until death is proof that He is mindful of our fallen, corrupt state. God is longsuffering, meaning that He’s patient beyond our human comprehension, and is merciful enough to let every man live long enough to have a chance at knowing Him. Unfortunately, there are many people who pass away from this world without ever knowing Him, therefore missing out on the very thing their souls craved the most – a loving Being Who infinitely understands them.
Sadly, there are also many Christians who miss out on God’s gift of understanding.
Now, please don’t misunderstand the above sentence – this is not in any way meant to question the salvation of those who claim to be born again Christians; that deeply personal matter is between their hearts and God alone. What I mean is that some Christians fail to take full advantage of all the privileges they gained access to once they formed a renewed relationship with their Creator and Savior. Of course, the one particular privilege I’m referring to is the aforementioned gift of being completely understood by Someone, regardless of circumstances. Why do they miss out on such a wonderful treasure? Because of mistaken, preconceived notions on their part, also known as faulty assumptions. This symptom occurs when Christians choose to listen more to the inner voice in their human minds, limited by human reasoning, rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit, Whose purpose is to draw them closer to God. Another reason that faulty assumptions are formed about God and His character is when Christians might also choose to listen to the voice of Satan, the Father of Lies, who desires nothing more than their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual destruction. In fact, sometimes the lies that Satan tells Christians on a regular basis are the same exact lies that he tells to unsaved people to prevent them from knowing their Savior and gaining eternal security for their souls.
He whispers wicked things like, “God doesn’t care about your happiness.” “He doesn’t want you to have any fun in your life, because He’s selfish.” “Why should you trust Him with the things you care about the most when all He cares about is telling you what to do?”
Rather than entertaining these malicious lies from the pit of Hell, Christians should seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit Himself to gain the courage and strength they need to say, “Get behind me, Satan! Leave me alone, and get out of here!”
So, to help anyone who might be struggling in this area, here are three things to always remember about God to prevent missing out on His understanding.
1. God LOVES you.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about how God is everyone’s true “First Love.” In it, I described the two main attributes of God’s love – it is eternal and unconditional. Knowing that God’s love for you will never end should bring hope and peace to your soul while knowing that He loves you unconditionally should bring comfort and reassurance to you. With these two truths combined, you should always know that God will NEVER stop loving you, no matter what you do or don’t do. Therefore, you shouldn’t be ashamed to share anything with Him, including all the hurts, hopes, fears, failures, pain, and passions that reside within you. Many people are afraid that God is always angry with them for sinning, and is only interested in judging them for it. While it is true that God cannot and will not tolerate sin in our lives, His attitude toward us as Christians is not spiteful or passive aggressive. God is so loving to us, that even though He knows about the sins in our lives, He is patiently waiting for us to confess them to Him so He can forgive us. God waits for us to do this in His mercy since He is fully aware of our every weakness. With that being said, here is the next thing we should always remember about God:
2. God knows and wants what’s best for you.
Because God is so loving, it’s only natural that He would also be caring and concerned about every detail in your life. Now, God is sovereign, and it is important to remember that He has complete control over all circumstances; however, even though He possesses this authority and power, God does not try to directly control our lives. If we claim to know Him as our Savior, then we should want to give Him complete control over the decisions we make, because He deserves it after all He’s done for us. Saving our souls from an eternity in Hell while we were yet unworthy is MORE than enough reason to justify giving God the divine right to direct us in everything we do. From the very beginning, God has only had man’s best interest at the core of His heart. Consider how Earth is the only planet in our galaxy that is capable of sustaining human life, and that’s where God chose to make our home when He created everything. Also, don’t forget how even though man chose to rebel against God’s command in the Garden of Eden, resulting in sin, God provided a free way for Him to escape eternal punishment so he wouldn’t have to suffer in the same place that was made for the Devil and his fallen angels. So if you remember these facts, you should be more than comfortable with trusting God enough to share whatever is on your heart with Him, and know that your past, present, and future has always been, and will always be in His hands. With that knowledge, here is the third and final important thing to always remember about God:
3. God MADE YOU.
Yes, that’s right – contrary to popular, secular belief in today’s world, God is STILL the Creator of the entire universe, including man himself. No matter how many false theories are proposed, celebrated, or taught in schools and museums as fact, the Word of God, the Bible, still stands true and firm. Man was created in God’s divine image, with three parts to his being that form a complete whole. The Bible says that God fashions every person in the womb with His own hands, and I believe that is true because of how different each individual looks from another. To me, the eye sockets on a person’s face appear to be molded by a Person’s thumb to make two, deep, circular impressions. The nose and jawline are always so unique on each person that it looks like they were sculpted by hand. The same principle applies to every other part of a person’s body, in my opinion. However, that is only the outer, physical evidence of Who made you – the internal part that is the real you is unrepeatable and irreplaceable. Your soul, the true, essential identity of your being, is God’s signature as the Master Artist Who crafted you. Your inner essence is the most intrinsic part of your existence as a person, the part that processes emotions, thoughts, and ideas. Since God designed you in a specific way to express all of these things, He certainly knows and understands all the reasons why you respond to various feelings you experience in different circumstances. Because of this fact, God isn’t going to judge you or condemn you for your feelings when you share your heart with Him, unlike how some people do. You can always feel completely free and comfortable to be yourself in God’s presence, no matter what.
Here are some verses to assure you that you can trust God with your innermost thoughts and feelings:
Psalm 9:9 ~ “The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
Psalm 31:1, 5, &7 ~ “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;”
Psalm 32:7 ~ “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.“
Psalm 46:1 ~ “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Psalm 61:2 ~ “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
Psalm 91:1 ~ “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 139:2, 23-24 ~ “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Isaiah 41:10 ~ “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.“
Zephaniah 3:17 ~ “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Matthew 28:20 ~ “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.“
1 Peter 5:7 ~ “Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you.”
Hebrews 4:15 ~ “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
Now that you know these three important truths to always remember about God, you should never again feel discouraged by the failed attempts of man to understand you. God will always be there for you with loving, open arms that are ready and willing to accept you no matter what. No secrets you have will ever surprise Him, because He is omniscient – meaning He already knows everything anyway. If you know God as your Creator and Savior, then He is your Best Friend and trusted Confidant. He alone has the power to free you from the negative influence of other people’s thoughts and judgments about you. He is reaching out His hand to you today, waiting for you to take it in full confidence and assurance that He will take care of your heart and all its needs. The disappointment of man’s failures to understand you won’t matter anymore once you’ve received a taste of His glorious compassion and mercy. God is inviting you to experience life with Him as a thrilling adventure, filled with intimate moments that you can share with only Him. Don’t miss out on God’s gift of understanding – take His hand, and let Him embrace you with the warmth of His unconditional love today.
Our natural world is filled with many beautiful wonders.
Since the beginning of time itself, man has always admired the great beauty and majesty of nature. The universe was created by an almighty, loving God who desired to give us a pleasant environment to live in, while at the same time leaving His divine fingerprints everywhere we look. Unfortunately, after the entrance of sin into our world, man began to replace his ideas of the Creator with His creation instead, choosing to serve anything and everything else but the Deity that formed him.
About a month ago, the relatively new holiday called “Earth Day” was observed. While it is allegedly celebrated for a noble cause, we should be careful to maintain a spiritually accurate perspective on it. Although it’s a good thing to want to be good stewards of the natural resources God gave us, it’s quite another thing to elevate the cause of protecting nature to the point of worshiping it. There are many people today who self-identify as “neo-pagans,” however, there is absolutely nothing new about paganism, which has been wrongly practiced for thousands of years. From Wiccan Druids to tribal shamans, practically every single culture in the world has been guilty of worshiping nature as god at some point.
While it’s certainly easy to point fingers and criticize pagans, whether they be ancient or modern practicers, it’s also easy to see why they would fall under Satan’s spell of confusion and error. As I already stated before, nature in all its various forms is undeniably beautiful. Every aspect of it points to God’s love for design and artistry. Not only is everything aesthetically pleasing, but it is also fully functional with a distinct purpose. Surely, whenever people look at mountains, oceans, or sunsets, they simply cannot miss the supernatural evidence contained in all the natural elements. For this reason, we can understand why people are susceptible to fall under the temptation to practice paganism. However, while nature is indeed glorious and of divine making, God never intended for us to worship it – God wants us to give Him His rightful glory by praising Him for the many things He made. Instead of worshiping nature, we can look at the wonderful gift of nature as the best way to worship God the way He deserves.
Here are three ways we can get closer to our Creator through His creation:
Recognize that God is always superior to the things that He made.
When God created nature, He designed everything in a specific way that would lead man to the knowledge of Himself. Since we were created in God’s image, He made us with an inherent need to discover His identity and seek out His presence in our lives. For thousands of years, sinful man has been trying to do this very thing, yet with the wrong approach. Because man has a rebellious, wicked heart, he chose to fulfill his God-given needs and desires in a twisted and corrupt way, rather than the way God intended. Man’s sinful heart decided to pursue its goal by following Satan’s pattern of taking something perfectly good that God made and turning it into either a cheap imitation or outright mockery of God’s original plan. When ancient pagan cultures worshiped nature, they subconsciously realized that there was a God, and their first instinct was to recognize His presence in their surroundings. While the very first people groups should have known better and knew what they were doing when they turned away from God, their descendants had been exposed to error for so long that they sincerely believed in their hearts that the false religion they practiced was true.
As you can see, the ancient pagan cultures were so close, yet so far from the truth when it came to fulfilling their quest to worship God properly. Rather than making the same mistakes that the ancient pagans did, as Christians, we have the benefit of taking a more spiritually enlightened approach. When we look at the beautiful world around us, we acknowledge that it came from the mind of the same all-powerful God Who made us and gave us life. If we ever find ourselves tempted to be deceived by Satan to turn away from the truth, we can resist his lies with very simple questions, such as: Did a tree give me the breath of life when I was first born? Can a mountain actively take care of me from its own conscious will? Does the ocean care about my feelings and have compassion on me? Can the wind hear me when I need to talk to someone about all my problems? Of course, the answer to all these ridiculous questions is NO. The point of these questions is to acknowledge man’s need of a personal Creator Who cares about him in a deeply intimate way. Only He can satisfy the inherent needs of our heart, and provide us with a fulfilling existence.
2. Point out God’s presence through the things He made to those who don’t know Him.
Once we have realized that God is greater than His creations, we can help others come to see the truth by showing them the beautiful wonders He made. There are countless people in the world who are constantly searching for answers to questions about their own existence and purpose on this planet. Sadly, many of these people turn to secular reasoning to explain these burning questions that were placed in their hearts by God Himself. While using good discretion, we can determine the proper context and timing to share the truth with people who sincerely desire to know it in their hearts. Once you gain a precious opportunity to witness to someone, you can use the different elements of nature as a direct comparison to help the other person understand how much God cares about them. For example, you can tell that person how there are trillions of stars in our universe, and yet God knows each and every one of them by name, just like He does with the people He made. You can also describe how every time a small bird falls to the ground, it never goes unnoticed by God’s eyes, just like how He always watches over us and protects us. You can express how the greatest depths of the ocean are no match for the depths of God’s love, mercy and compassion on us as humans.
These are all simple suggestions that you can use; however, as I stated before, it is imperative that you exercise wisdom when deciding to witness to someone. The condition of another person’s heart is between them and God alone, and they must be ready to listen to the truth from their own will rather than having it forced upon them. I recommend using your best judgment with the help of the Holy Spirit to determine the proper context and timing for witnessing to someone. Perhaps this other person you’re concerned about will bring up the subject themselves in the form of a simple question, or maybe you’ll get the chance to walk outside with them while engaging in pleasant conversation. If you happen to discuss your surroundings or the weather in that conversation, that would be an ideal way subtly bring up the subject. However, I cannot stress enough that this strategy all depends on the person in question and how well you know them. Nobody likes to feel attacked or blindsided with heavy subjects, even from someone they consider to be their friend. Once you have confirmed that the other person is ready and willing to listen to the truth, then you can find endless ways to explain it to them through the world of nature. Tell the other person that God put so much effort into creating our beautiful world because He wanted us to be happy, drawing attention to His inherent goodness. Explain to them that no matter where they are in the universe, God is always there with them, watching over them with loving care.
3. Intimately connect with God by worshiping Him outside in His Creation.
Perhaps it’s because Man was first created in the Garden of Eden, but I truly believe that Man’s natural instinct to worship God is best performed outside in the physical realm of nature. Before sin entered our world, Adam used to walk with God in the Garden of Eden every single day, conversing with His loving Creator. You can call me a hippie if you want, but personally, I just feel closer to God when I’m outside. I even have an opinion that some might feel is too radical – I believe that all church services should be held outside. Of course, certain adverse weather conditions during particular seasons might prevent such an ideal concept from becoming a reality, but in the case of such exceptions, you could easily have a designated tent or building close by to your original natural worship spot. Here’s how I see it – when Jesus Himself taught His truths to His followers, the majority of the time He was outside in His Father’s Creation. For example, He had His famous sermon on the mount, and there were many other times that He preached by the seaside. Not only were these natural locations a beautiful setting, but they allowed a greater audience of people to be present for His teachings.
When it comes to one on one personal worship with God, I also believe that doing it outside is the very best option. Depending on the location you choose, you can have all the privacy you need to commune with God in the midst of His Creation. Enjoy the tranquil sounds of birds chirping, breezes blowing, or water flowing, as you contemplate the many joys of what He made. Enthrall yourself with the divine euphoria of being completely alone with God in a naturally beautiful setting. Make it your preferred method of worship whenever you can, and you will come to find that it’s the highlight of your day, as it should be. Consider this as well – when you’re spending time with someone you’re romantically attracted to, don’t you like to pick a spot with a beautiful view? If we want to pick the very best for the people we care about, then God deserves so much more from us too. Although a personal relationship with God is different from an earthly relationship, the same principles are still in effect when it comes down to it. God loves us infinitely more than any other person can, and He will feel extra loved when we decide to pick a beautiful setting to spend time with Him.
Here are some verses to prove that Man is meant to worship God, rather than “the universe” around him:
Genesis 1:1 ~ “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Genesis 2:7 ~ “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Genesis 3:8 ~ “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”
Psalm 115:1-8 ~ “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”
Psalm 139:7-10 ~ “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.“
Matthew 5:1 ~ “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:“
Matthew 6:26, 28-30 ~ “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
And why take ye thought or raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Mark 4:1 ~ “And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.”
Luke 5:1 ~ “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,”
Romans 1:20-23 ~ “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
Colossians 1:16 ~ “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”
Hebrews 11:3 ~ “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
1 Peter 3:15 ~ “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
By practicing these three things, we can easily distinguish the difference between nature worship and natural worship.
Rather than confusing the Creator with His Creation, like the ancient pagans did, we know better enough to give God the rightful glory He deserves. By doing the three things listed above, we can still appreciate and enjoy the wonderful elements of nature without falling into the trap of worshiping it. God will smile upon us when we make an effort to respond to His Creation the way He intended us to. By recognizing that He is over all the things He made, we acknowledge God’s power and dominion. By showing other people who don’t know Him the truth about where the universe came from, we are giving God His due credit and praise while also obeying His command to witness to the lost. By spending time with Him in worship outside, we come full circle by completing the connection of our Creator to all the things He made. Man was designed with an inherent, undeniable need to worship something, and once he realizes the truth, he opens up his life to an entire world of beautiful spiritual fulfillment. It is only natural for Man to worship God, and the most natural way to do it is for him to commune with God in the natural surroundings that were specially designed for him to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.”)
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.
“Who am I? What am I supposed to be? Where do I fit in the world?”
These three questions are commonly asked by every single person in the world at some point in their lives, often becoming recurring questions. Our society has a severe case of missing identity, which is ironic considering how prevalent selfishness and narcissism are in our culture today. In the process of elevating himself to the level of worship that God deserves, man has sadly lost sight of his true identity that can only be seen through the Creator he tries so desperately to ignore.
Man has stared at his reflection in the mirror so intently, that he has shattered the glass from the impact of his efforts. Staring at the looking glass for too long is not a good thing whatsoever, and vanity concerning our outward appearance can blind us to the inward reflection that really matters. After finding nothing but emptiness behind the shards of glass, man is constantly grasping for anything he can use as a substitute for God’s presence and purpose in his life.
The issue of having a personal identity crisis is more pressing now than ever before, and Christians are no exception. If we do not solidify our identity in Christ in our minds early on, then Satan will surely try to snatch it away from us. In order to prevent that from happening, we must assess some fundamental truths that are grounded in God’s Word, thereby finding the answers to these perpetually vexing questions. Once we are assured of God’s truth concerning who we are, we can permanently protect ourselves from Satan’s attempt at identity theft.
Let’s take a look at these three questions one by one, and see if we can make sense of them in this nonsensical world of ours, shall we?
1. “Who are you?”
In Lewis Carroll’s book Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the titular character Alice is a little girl who tumbles down a rabbit hole, only to find herself in a strange world full of talking animals and various other forms of nonsense. After going through several frustrations at the beginning of her adventure, Alice meets a caterpillar who acts rather sophisticated and stuffy, much like a grown-up. He asks her to recite a few poems from memory, just like her schoolteachers always expected of her back home. The caterpillar also asks Alice a simple question, about her identity. Due to the strange experiences she had up to that point, Alice replies to him that she’s not at all sure who she is anymore. In fact, she explains that she had changed several times already since that morning, referring to how she mysteriously grew and shrank in size earlier in the story. This was an intentional metaphor that Lewis Carroll was using to illustrate the challenges of growing up. When we grow older, our physical appearance changes, as do our personal interests to some extent. Some of these changes are under our control, while many of them are not.
Perhaps the greatest change we undergo throughout life is the transformation of our minds – we all start out as happy, innocent children, but are soon exposed to the harsh realities of our sinful, fallen world. The negative circumstances we experience in life have the potential to either make us or break us, and the first outcome is only achievable with God’s help. Just like Alice in her dreamworld of Wonderland, we are often confused by our ever-changing surroundings, feeling lost and helpless in the upsetting events going on around us. However, when we seek God’s face in the midst of troubling circumstances, He can guide us onto the right path in spite of all the utter nonsense.
God has a special plan for each and every one of us; He makes that very clear in His Word. He created us to be unique individuals that are totally different from anyone else He made. You are a work of art from God’s own hands, and if you know Him as your personal Savior, you are also His adopted child. It’s so easy for us to look at other people and compare ourselves to them, whether its’ our personalities, advantages, or abilities, that we often forget that God made us special all on our own. We don’t need validation from any other person on the planet to confirm our worth; we just need to remind ourselves of what we already know to be true. Before we were saved, our former identity was that of a hopeless sinner lost in darkness, but after salvation, we took on a new identity of a redeemed child of God who has been returned to the light. It’s not for us to look at others and wish that we were just like them; God wants us to be content with exactly who He made us.
2. “What are you supposed to be?”
Throughout Alice’s entire journey, she is constantly judged, criticized, and questioned by the curious and madcap residents of Wonderland. The White Rabbit, having poor eyesight, confuses Alice with his housemaid, Mary Ann, and begins to obnoxiously order her around with his list of demands. Alice is also wrongly called a “stupid girl” by other middle-aged, female characters such as the Duchess. The Mad Hatter and March Hare accuse her of being rude for accidentally barging in on their private tea party, even though she had no way of knowing what was going on. The Cheshire Cat suggests that Alice is just as crazy as he is, for the mere fact that she found her way into Wonderland. Last but not least, the Queen of Hearts claims that Alice is a criminal for painting her white roses red, and repeatedly orders the removal of Alice’s head every time she is slightly offended by her. Sadly, even though this book is about a fantasy world, Lewis Carroll accurately portrayed the cold reality of how many adults think it’s okay to emotionally abuse and ridicule children, often for no valid reason. Thankfully, by the end of the story, Alice finds the courage to stand up for herself and silence her insufferable attackers. If there is any character that perfectly fits this modern phrase, “I came out here to have a good time, and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now,” it’s Alice.
In our real-world lives, we often encounter many different people who think they can tell us who we are or what they think we should be. The most common scenario for this to occur is with our relatives, who sometimes make the mistake of thinking they know exactly what’s best for us just because they share our same blood. We can all think of at least one person, whether it’s a relative or not, who constantly oversteps their authority in our lives by assuming they know all the details about our future. There are also plenty of other times when we have been misunderstood by other people for pointless reasons, causing unnecessary conflict due to their closed mindset. Well, other people need to take a step down from the judge’s seat, because that position is reserved for God alone. While helpful guidance and wisdom are beneficial when they come from a loving heart, unwanted orders and prejudice are destructive when other people are just being nosy or critical. Just like Alice was on a literal trial in the book, she also had her patience tried past the point of no return. We need to ask God for the grace and patience we need to deal with other people who think they can take His place in our lives.
What you are supposed to be is a matter that is strictly between you and God Himself. As I stated before, He designed you for a very special purpose in His mind. He has promised that He is going to fulfill that purpose for your life until the second coming of His Son, Jesus. God always finishes the projects He starts, which is far more than I can say for myself as both a writer and artist. He’s not going to leave you hanging as an incomplete draft or a half-empty canvas! He’s going to sculpt you and mold you persistently throughout your entire life until He decides that you’re done. When other people fail to understand what He is doing with your life at the present moment, that’s not God’s fault, nor is it yours. In fact, it’s not meant to be for other people to understand, because God’s ways are much higher than our ways! God is supposed to get the glory for everything He creates, and your life story is no exception. Along the way though, it’s our job to stay close to Him always so He can guide us on this journey of divine transformation.
3. Where do you fit in the world?
Several times during Alice’s adventure, she falls into some distressing situations that cause her to (understandably) ask for help from the citizens of Wonderland. In this picture, Alice has just experienced the strange phenomenon of growing to be nine feet high inside a closed, narrow corridor, unable to escape or return to her normal size. Feeling rather frightened like any regular child would in this situation, Alice begins to cry until she floods the entire room with her enormous tears. Eventually, she notices the White Rabbit casually passing by, who appears to take absolutely zero notice of her in this awful predicament. He just strolls by quietly as if he were the only one in the room, going on about his day as if Alice doesn’t even exist. Poor Alice had just grown into the size of a giant, and yet it was as if she were invisible! Later on in the story, she stumbles across the tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter and March Hare, where there were plenty of chairs to sit in, but they adamantly claimed there was no room for her. Lewis Carroll was portraying how adults often tend to ignore children and treat them as nobodies, or otherwise make them feel like an afterthought. Everyone in Wonderland was going about their business and doing their own thing, but nobody cared enough to help Alice find her way home. She was just a lost little girl who felt like she didn’t belong in their world, but that actually turned out to be a good thing. In the end, it was Alice’s sanity prevailing over all the nonsense that saved her life and provided her escape!
In our lives, all too often we feel like absolutely no one cares about us, or at least cares enough to truly help us with our problems. Even if they do care, they might be too preoccupied with their own problems to take time out of their busy schedules for us. We could be going through an extremely difficult time, but nobody seems to notice us struggling. Everybody has their own issues, so why would they want to help us, right? Many times it feels like we might as well be invisible as far as other people noticing us is concerned. Aside from people not noticing our struggles, it also can feel like we just don’t belong in society, at least not in the same way everyone else seems to. From childhood on through adulthood, our lives will be filled with other people who shun us or reject us altogether, simply because their preconceived notions about us preclude them from getting to know us and accept us. Here’s some good news, however – it’s okay if we don’t fit in with everyone else or the world around us in general, because we’re not supposed to. Individuals we come across in our lives and society as a whole will always expect us to conform to their perfect, artificial mold, built from their own shallow standards and limited perspective. Don’t despair of being stuck in this impossible situation, though, because Jesus Christ Himself was not immune to the shallow judgments of people in this world. Jesus, being the Son of God, was completely PERFECT, and yet He STILL wasn’t good enough for some people! Just like Alice in her story, Jesus was the only truly sane Person when it was really everyone else who had the problem!
If there is any comfort to be found in the rejection or dismissal of man, it’s knowing that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered the very same things. When other people ignore us and make us feel like we’re invisible, Jesus is there to put His arm around us, providing unconditional love and support. When we’re struggling with difficult situations, and no one seems to notice or care about our predicament, Jesus is there to help and comfort us in our distress and sorrow. In addition, God is the One Who guides us along our life’s journey, showing us exactly where we need to be to fulfill His purpose for us. Even if other people don’t give us the time of day, we’re still important to God, and our lives will always matter to Him. We are wonderfully accepted in the love of Christ, and He is our sympathetic High Priest Who cares deeply about each and every one of our troubles. While other individuals may underestimate us, our abilities, and our potential, God is fully aware of what we are capable of accomplishing through Him with His help. We don’t need to belong in the world of other people’s approval, because we already belong to the One Whose approval matters most!
Here are some verses to help us confirm our identity in Christ, as daily affirmations when we look in the mirror each day:
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 1:5-7 ~ “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
Proverbs 3:5 ~ “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Isaiah 54:5 ~ “For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
Romans 8:38-39 ~ “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.”
Romans 9:20 ~ “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”
Romans 14:8 ~ “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ “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.“
2 Corinthians 11:2 ~ “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
John 10:28 ~ “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
John 14:1-3 ~ “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.“
John 15:15-17 ~ “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.“
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:”
Jeremiah 20:11-13 ~ “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.“
Galatians 3:26-29 ~ “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
There is only one way to cure mirror madness – by acknowledging Whose reflection we should be cultivating.
I think we can all strongly identify with little Alice wanting to escape the perplexing world of Wonderland, full of “whos,”“whats,”“wheres,”“whens,”“whys,” and “hows.” With so many tricky questions flying around our heads at such a rapid speed, we’re bound to question our sanity at some point or other. However, this happens when we try to find our own way in the flesh, rather than consulting God and His ways. If we try to contemplate the above three questions by ourselves apart from God, we will most surely be driven to madness by our inability to find the answers. It is first of all our responsibility to remember that we are the creations of God, the Creator, and after that acknowledgment, everything else should fall into place. Discovering our true identity is a life-long journey, and at times it can be very difficult, but that should never discourage us from giving up on it. God Himself has placed these three questions in our hearts so that we will be compelled to rely upon Him, having no choice but to seek Him for the right answers. When we turn to the world’s tactics of defining our identity, we will find nothing but confusion sent by the Devil himself. Fortunately, we know that God is not the Author of confusion, and He wants us to be informed of the divine plan that He has laid out for us. For every single person who has ever lived, God has designed a grand Master plan for their lives that they can potentially follow if they choose to seek His will. Each unique individual will have a unique life story all his own, but regardless of the many different designs, God desires all of us to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus. “What would Jesus do?” has been a popular catchphrase among Christians for years, and it applies to all areas of our lives. When it comes to determining the purpose and direction of our lives, we can do no better than do exactly what Jesus did while He was on Earth, and will always do – trust God, and seek His Father’s will. Rather than saying “All ways are MY ways!” like the Queen of Hearts, we should say “All ways are THY ways!”
Do you remember what it was like the first time you fell in love?
Before I begin, allow me to express that I do not wish to bring up any unpleasant memories unnecessarily; I ask this question first of all so I can lead up to the point I will make later on. There is a first time for everything, and as humans, when we experience something for the very first time, it tends to be all or nothing – that is to say, we choose to invest our energy into that particular thing either one hundred percent or not at all. For many of us, the first time we fell in love was during adolescence, perhaps even much sooner than that. When you become enthralled in the throes of infatuation at such a young age, it is quite easy to put the other person up on a pedestal by seeing them as absolutely perfect. If you were like most teenagers at this stage, you probably thought that you were going to marry that person without a doubt, swearing your loyalty to him or her by promising them that you would be willing to die for them. Yes, that is indeed exactly how intense the emotions of young people in love can get, which is what makes it such a beautiful thing, and yet also a deadly one.
Sadly, this initial stage of romantic attraction is usually short-lived, and for one reason or another, adverse circumstances inevitably led to the relationship falling apart. Because you were most likely entirely invested in the relationship, chances are that you might have lost your identity in the other person, whether intentionally or not. Since it is a perfectly natural, God-given desire to become completely united with another person you love, it’s no great mystery as to why you felt like a piece of your heart went missing as soon as the other person disappeared. You probably spent a long time swearing that you would never fall in love again during your entire life, either because you felt incapable or unwilling to do so. However, no matter how much pain you felt because of that person who broke your heart, deep down, if you’re truly honest with yourself, there will always be a part of you that loves them, or at least the person you thought they were.
For you see, no matter how much time passes by after a person breaks our heart, we will always remember the feelings we had when we first fell in love with that person, and hold onto the memories of how we became involved with them in the first place.
“Why do we do this?” you may ask. Does the human brain delight in torturing itself?
While the quick, simple answer would be “yes,” that is not the complete, correct answer. My most reasonable explanation for the brain’s illogical behavior in this matter is this – the human heart is impossibly stubborn,and refuses to let go of its own understanding of events. In an effort to hold onto what little happiness we may have known in the past, we harm ourselves emotionally by also holding onto the inevitable pain that followed. This torturous process can go on for many months, even long years before we are willing to finally accept the truth and move on. However, it is highly important to understand that sometimes this is actually part of the healing process, and should never be rushed under any circumstances, lest you risk undoing all your progress as a result of your hurry. True healing can NEVER be hurried; pain must always be processed by the brain in all of its natural grieving stages.
Don’t stop reading just yet, because I have something to share that might help you.
After the loss of your first love, and possibly many other loves after that, you might feel like your heart is long gone with them, with no chance of it ever being returned to you. You might feel utterly empty inside, like a shadow of your former self, unable to recall what it was like before your heart was broken. I know exactly what all this feels like, for I have endured this same pain myself for great lengths of time in my past. However, I eventually discovered a powerful secret that held the key to my emotional freedom –
Did you know that no matter how many times you gave your heart away to someone, or had it taken away by someone, that it is still held in the hands of Someone Who loves you?
That’s right – before you ever fell in love with someone, you had a First Love long before you even met the person who broke your heart.
This mysterious First Love is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself. Keep in mind that when I say “God” or the “Son of God,” I am referring to the same divine Entity, one Person in three parts. Before you were even born, your entire existence was planned out in God’s mind as an important part of His universe. God created your unique personality and fashioned your form in your mother’s womb with His own hands. The minute of your conception, God breathed the breath of life into your body from His very own nostrils. Even though you had no control over being born into the sinful human race of Adam, that didn’t stop God from loving His wonderful creation that is you. Because your eternal soul means so much to Him, God was willing to sacrifice the life of His own perfect Son Jesus, just so you could have the chance to live with Him in Heaven forever.
There are two essential truths that are inherent to God’s love for you –
1. God’s love is unconditional.
2. God’s love is everlasting.
It’s important to remember these two truths at all times, for there will be many instances where Satan, the Father of Lies, will go out of his way to convince you that God does NOT love you, usually as a result of your sins. Once you arm yourself with these two essential truths, you will always be protected by the knowledge of God’s undeniable love for you. If you can always remember how much God loves you, then all the pain from the so-called love of people will fade into the background. Let’s explore the reasons why these two truths are so important for us to remember.
God’s love is unconditional, which means that no matter what we do (or don’t do) in this life, His love will always remain constant and unchanging.
From the very beginning of Creation, God has unconditionally loved ALL the souls that He has ever made. Although we are all born with a sinful nature, God still chooses to love us because we were created in His Divine Image. That perfect Image was tainted by the very first sin that Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t change the fact that they were still made to be a reflection of God’s nature. Since God imbued man with three parts, body, soul, and spirit, he became a direct replica of the Holy Trinity, which consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Because of this significant resemblance, God couldn’t find it in His heart to hate the man that He created, although He did hate the sin he committed.
The same thing is true for us to this very day. There is absolutely NOTHING we can do that will ever make God love us any less than He already does, or make Him stop loving us altogether. No matter how far we run away from Him, or try to keep Him out of our lives, His love for us will always remain the same. This truth applies to all people, both Christians, and non-Christians.
Those of us who are Christians are merely sinners saved by grace, and we, unfortunately, are still prone to giving in to our sinful tendencies. God will try to get our attention back to Him in many ways and knows which ways will work best for us individually – through gentle reminders, or stern chastisement. Even though we have the privilege of knowing God’s unconditional love, we should be extremely careful that we don’t fall into the trap of taking it for granted. God’s grace and mercy do NOT give us a license to sin at will; they are there for the purpose of freeing us from it. Those who choose to ignore or reject God’s love in this life are putting their souls in eternal danger, a future where they will be forever separated from God in darkness and torment. While they live on this earth, they have every opportunity to put their faith and trust in the salvation of Jesus Christ, thus becoming a believer in Him. The time they have to live is God’s grace and mercy manifested, by giving them a chance to accept Him before it’s too late. No matter what decision they make about their eternal fate, God will still love them regardless of their choice, since they were made in His Divine Image.
God’s love is everlasting, which means that He will NEVER stop loving us. It also means that He loved us before we existed and will continue to love us through all eternity.
As I already stated earlier, God loved us before we were even born. Since God is infinite, having no beginning and no end, He alone is capable of such a love. It’s impossible for our finite minds to fathom the meaning of this, since we can only understand from a limited perspective while on earth. However, this is the beautiful thing about it – we don’t HAVE to understand God’s love for us; we only have to accept it. God loves us from everlasting to everlasting, because He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. God calls Himself this in His Word, because He literally was there before the beginning of the world, and will also be the One Who ends the world when He decides it is time. This is a statement which shows us but a glimpse of just how powerful He is – He is Almighty God, and NOTHING is impossible for Him. With that knowledge, we should be perfectly capable of believing that God loved us before Creation, and will continue to love us long into eternity.
We never have to worry about God’s love ending, because He is never-ending, neither do we have to worry about God’s love changing, because He never changes. We may have experienced tremendous amounts of heartbreak on this earth at the hands of people who couldn’t care less, but God will never break our hearts by going back on His Word or leaving us. He promises these things to us many times in His Word, to give us assurance and comfort. While people are untrustworthy, God is MORE than worthy of our trust, because He is without sin. God is SO perfect, that He literally CANNOT sin. He is simply incapable of it. This, in turn, means that He CANNOT lie, so we can be sure of His promises to us with absolute certainty.
All of this might sound too good to be true, but our souls can rejoice in the fact that it IS true. God is the only Absolute that we can ever depend on, and the same thing goes for His love for us. When man disappoints us, God is there to exceed our expectations. When man lies to us, God embodies absolute truth. When man forsakes us, God is always there by our side no matter what. NOTHING can separate us from this glorious love of His, not people, not demons, not even the Devil himself. For you see, God’s love is just as powerful as He is, being that it comes from Him. God IS love.
Now that we know the truths about God’s love, we can understand why He is our REAL First Love.
God alone is the One Who is truly deserving of our hearts, and their full capacity for love. This is His divine right because He made them. As if that reason were not enough, God has divine rights to our hearts because He PAID for them with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. We are forever indebted to our Creator to give Him the maximum depths of our heart’s devotion, loyalty, and love. We would be remiss if we ever forgot Him. We should love God because He first loved us, and He knew that we had a choice to love Him back. God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins to prove His love for us, knowing full well that our free will gave us the potential option to reject Him. That is just how powerful God’s love is, because He was brave enough to allow it to be rejected, and even scorned. God’s true love is fearless for that very reason, and we should fearlessly return His love.
I will readily admit that I still remember my first earthly love, and I will always remember him, no matter how much time has passed since he’s been out of my life. I was so devastated by his repeated betrayals of me, and could never forget every word he said to me, both good and bad. I completely lost my identity in how much I loved him, and felt unspeakable anguish once I finally realized that he never really loved me. I was a hopeless prisoner of all the pain he caused me, and remained trapped emotionally for years, until the day God revealed to me that I was totally missing a crucial point. It was one day that I was riding in a van while working at a summer camp, exactly one year after my first love betrayed me for the last time. I was sitting in the back seat while gazing out the window, watching the trees and fields fly by rapidly, and my thoughts were utterly consumed with all the good and bad memories of the previous year. Then I turned my gaze up towards the sky and the sun, which always reminded me of God’s presence. It was at that moment that God silently got my attention through the whispers of His Holy Spirit – He asked me, “Why are you focusing so much on how much he didn’t love you, when instead you could be focusing on how much I DO love you?”
I felt totally shocked at this revelation, feeling like I was completely oblivious to that point. When God whispered that question to me, the voice of His Holy Spirit sounded slightly offended that I didn’t recognize it sooner, as if to imply that I was being foolish and ignorant in my stubborn heart. However, that question was a turning point for me emotionally, and it was only then after I realized its logic that I truly started to heal. All of my former attempts to ignore my pain by distracting myself with my busy schedule at summer camp were in vain, but not after God asked me that question. I even shared this moment with a good friend of mine who also worked there that summer, and she told me that it also helped her in healing from her own heartbreak. That was the year that God set me free from the chains that were holding my heart hostage, and I’ll never forget what He taught me that summer. I found the key to my emotional freedom when I listened to God’s voice in His quiet question to my heart. So now that I have shared this story with you, I hope that it will potentially help you in the same way if you too have been hurt in the past by your first love.
Here are some heartfelt messages from your real First Love to remind you of His passion for you:
1 Chronicles 16:34 ~ “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 86:15 ~ “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.“
Psalm 103:17 ~ “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;”
Psalm 107:8-9 ~ “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.“
Psalm 139:13-18 ~ “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
Jeremiah 31:3 ~ “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
Zephaniah 3:17 ~ “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.“
Matthew 22:37-39 ~ “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“
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.”
John 13:34-35 ~ “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
John 15:13 ~ “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.“
Romans 5:8 ~ “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 8:38-39 ~ “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.“
Galatians 5:13-14 ~ “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“
Ephesians 5:2 ~ “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.“
1 Peter 4:8 ~ “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.“
1 John 3:1 ~ “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
1 John 3:16-18 ~ “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
1 John 4:7-8 ~ “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
1 John 4:9-11 ~ “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.“
1 John 4:18-19 ~ “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved 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.”
Revelation 1:8 ~ “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 2:4 ~ “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.“
The pain of your past is powerless to control you when you remember your real First Love.
Everyone says that time heals all wounds, but I disagree with that saying. The passing of time only distances your memory from whatever happened that hurt you. Deep in the recesses of your mind, you’ll always remember what happened, and your heart never forgets the feelings it once had. However, GOD heals all wounds. Once you discover that His love is greater than all others, you will achieve a powerful victory. For me personally, it actually hurts to think of how long it’s been since I was hurt by my first love, since it makes me feel like there was no justice, as he was never truly sorry. It’s been almost ten years since my heart was first broken, and yet I still remember everything as if it happened yesterday. That is how I realize that time is simply a human construct to help us measure the days and years. I know that my earthly first love has long since forgotten me, but I have never forgotten him. It feels like it’s been a thousand years since I first fell in love with him. I’m sure that if you’ve been reading this, you most likely know what I’m talking about from your own experiences. God exists outside of time – one day to Him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. Don’t worry, for God has promised to avenge our past sorrows on this earth; revenge only belongs to Him. He still remembers our pain just as well as we do, and yet He also helps us to overcome it. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been forgotten by your first love, because God has never forgotten you. When we ask Him to help us remember every day just how much He loves us, then Satan is powerless to use our past pain to defeat us. We must always remember our real First Love, because He is the only One Whose love is actually worth remembering.