Five Reasons You’re Always Special To God

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We must always try to understand that our worth is found in His hands.

Did you know that you are special?

On Valentine’s Day, our society promotes romantic relationships with a special someone. However, this day is not always favorable in the eyes of those who lack a relationship with someone special. In fact, many people downright despise or despair of this holiday, simply because they feel unhappy about the fact that they are lonely. It is a sad truth indeed that our culture has become so oblivious to the real meaning of love, and often ignores that love is not limited to romantic relationships. The result of this faulty mindset causes many people everywhere to believe that if they aren’t in a romantic relationship with someone at any given moment of time, that there is something wrong with them. Of course, this belief inevitably leads to even more heartbreak for those who act on it, as they will never be satisfied with another person who is just as empty and broken as they are.

But I’m not writing this to present the dreary facts that we already know of in this world. I’m here to tell you that regardless of your relationship status during this past Valentine’s Day, you are incredibly special to Someone Who loves you more than you could possibly imagine. Your worth is found in God alone, not a person. Any time you doubt that, ask yourself this question – Who made me, God, or a person? The answer is obviously God. Although He created humans with the physical ability to give birth to other humans, God is the One Who fashioned and formed every detail of your physical and spiritual existence inside your mother’s womb. Your very essence, called a soul, is a gift from God when He breathed life into you. Because you were made by such a powerful, talented Creator, He thought you were valuable enough to save from an eternal death as punishment for sin in a horrible place called Hell. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to take your punishment so you would never have to go to such a terrible place. God wanted you to not just live forever, but to live forever with Him in Heaven.

You may ask, “Why would God bother taking the time to help someone like me?”

The answer is simple – He loves you.

God’s love is so unconditional towards us, that it’s nearly impossible for us to understand why He would care so much about us when we’re so sinful, and He is perfect. The good news is, we don’t have to understand. We merely need to accept the fact that we are loved by Him. Even though accepting that we are loved doesn’t require understanding, it does help to remember the reasons why we’re special to Him, so we can be joyful every day.

Here are five reasons why you are ALWAYS special to God:

1. You are His own creation.

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As a person formed by God’s own hands, you are an original, unrepeatable work of art. No amount of similarities between you and other people will ever change that. Because you are God’s work of art, you are valuable, precious, and special to Him. The color of your hair, eyes, and skin was handpicked by Him. Your personality, emotions, and heart were all carefully selected with His specific purpose in mind. The voice you have is certifiable proof that you are an irreplaceable copy, as it will always be different from the sounds of other voices around you. The combination of all these elements is what makes you unique, and therefore special to God. Just as an artist would never throw away his masterpiece, God never wants to lose you, the Masterpiece that He made.

2. He put you on this earth for a specific purpose.

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The very fact that God made you means He has a special plan in store for your life. He didn’t create you for no reason. God is a God of meaning and fulfillment, not randomness and chaos. God made you because He knew that people you encounter throughout your life would need someone like you, to affect them for their benefit. Although there are many people in the world, the lives you touch of those where God has placed you are equally important as those who live far away. You were specially designed by your Creator to be an instrument of blessing to others around you. The talents and abilities you possess are gifts from Him to use in His service. It is up to you to realize what gifts you have, and to develop them into becoming their full potential that God wants them to be. While there are many people in this world with similar talents, God has placed each person exactly where they are needed, regardless of who has the greater skills in those particular talents. So the next time you feel discouraged about feeling inferior to someone else’s supposedly superior skills, just remember that God designed you to have the unique capacity of abilities He gave you in order to fulfill the specific need or calling for your life.

3. You were made in His own image.

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When God made you, He poured a likeness of Himself into the very core of your being. You, as a person, possess the abilities to think, feel, and speak, unlike animals that function from their God-given instincts. The reason you are able to mentally process your thoughts and emotions and communicate them through your words is because God desired to have a special creation with whom He could share a personal relationship. God gave every human being a soul, a spirit, and a body, which are a direct reflection of the Holy Trinity that is comprised of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Your soul is the essence of your identity, the manifestation of who you are as a person. Your spirit is your divine life source that allows you to worship God and communicate with Him directly. Your body is but a temporary vessel that encases these two intangible, yet very real things that are your existence. Because God made man so much like Himself in this incredibly special way, He couldn’t bear to see His divine image shattered by sin. In a sense, God was a part of man, and man was a part of Him, since God breathed the breath of life into man’s very nostrils.

4. He literally moved Heaven and Earth just so you could be with Him again.

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It’s no exaggeration to say that God used all of His power necessary to restore man’s lost relationship with Him. Because of the reasons listed above, you are SO special to God, that He was willing to give up the very best thing He had – His only Son, Jesus Christ. For thousands of years, while the history of mankind was unfolding on Earth, God was devising a Master plan to redeem His favorite creation that was formed in His likeness. Instead of despairing over man’s choice to sin over obedience to Him, God mercifully gave him an alternative option that would save man from eternal punishment in Hell. God decided to send His absolutely perfect and holy Son Jesus from the shining realm of Heaven into this dark, wicked world, full of the depravity of man’s sinful heart. In order to do this, God orchestrated events throughout Earth’s history that would eventually bring about the promised coming of the Messiah, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God’s hand was behind everything from the very beginning. Man’s foolish mistake did nothing to change how much God loved him in spite of his sin. God not only sent His Son to die for the sins of the whole world, but He also did it for you personally. The beauty of the gospel message is this: No matter how many people have ever lived in this world, Jesus died to save each and every one of them, including you.

5. If you know Him personally, You are His beloved child.

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Once you have decided to receive salvation by accepting Jesus as your personal Savior, you are officially adopted into God’s family. As a member of God’s family, you are blessed with the riches of His grace, love, and mercy. You have access to the privilege of prayer, which is the gift of constant communication with God at any time you desire. God is no longer an estranged Being Who is separated from you by your sin; He is your kind, caring, compassionate Father, Who is more than willing to meet your every need. Any time you want to talk to Him, He’s there to listen with all ears, provided that you are right with Him in your heart by confessing any sin that might be there. God already knows every single thing about you, yet He is always eager to hear about your day and whatever it is that’s on your mind. You are precious to Him, and He has promised to make you an eternal heir to His heavenly Kingdom once you are redeemed. God understands that as His child, you are inclined to fail Him often; but that does not stop Him from loving you. Nothing can ever separate you from His love after salvation, not even the Devil himself. You never have to worry about being disowned by God if you mess up from time to time. You will always have a place in His eternal, righteous family, because as His child, you belong to Him.

 

Here are some verses to further confirm why you are always special to God:

 

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.”

Matthew 10:29-31 ~ “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 13:45-46 ~ “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

Genesis 1:26-27 ~ “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 ~ “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

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

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.”

Ephesians 2:10 ~ “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Psalm 119:73-74 ~ “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.”

Psalm 139:13-14 ~ “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.”

Psalm 139:16 ~ “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.

 Isaiah 64:8 ~ “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.


Romans 8:32 ~ “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

Your identity is not found in a special someone, but in Someone Who KNOWS you’re special.

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Instead of focusing on people who fail you with their artificial, changing “love,” focus on God, Who will NEVER fail you with His real, unchanging love. Don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking that your worth is dependent on other people’s treatment of you. No matter what any person says to you or about you, nothing will ever change how special you truly are in God’s eyes. However, it’s not enough just to be told that you are valuable to God; you need to make a conscious decision to believe it for yourself. It’s one thing to know something inside of your head, but it’s a different thing entirely to sincerely believe it within your heart. The next time you hear a subtle voice in your head silently whispering that you’re not special, recognize it as the voice of Satan, and tell the Devil to go straight back to Hell where he belongs. Don’t choose to dwell on painful memories of your past, when instead you can revel in the joy of God’s love for you in the present! Ask God daily to help you remember how much He loves you, and He will be sure to remind you in His unique, affectionate way. Never forget that you ARE valuable to Him, and your life is of infinite worth.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

In the Not-So-Bleak Midwinter

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Though all the world looks cold and drear, the hand of God is very near.

Winter is now upon us.

When the first official snow falls across a rural landscape, the entire scene appears to be a solid blanket of white, closely touching the grey, cloudy skies. The world seems still, if only for a season. All of nature looks as if it were cast under a powerful sleeping spell, lying dormant until the spring. The cold, frigid air is devoid of sound, except for the occasional howling of the wind. Many animals are hushed in their homes, snuggled away in hibernation. The trees form dark shapes against the sky, their bare branches spreading out in tangled lines.

All of these things combined together seem to whisper one thing – silence.

Silence is something that this world needs a lot more of. It’s rather refreshing to have a break from all the noise when winter finally comes. For some people though, silence can be a difficult thing to endure. Those who prefer the warmer, more active season of summer can hardly bear the inevitable cold and inactivity of winter. Nature lovers might find themselves overcome with a sense of sorrow and longing for spring. They wish with all their hearts that the flowers and trees would come back to life, so that the landscape wouldn’t look so barren and desolate. These are perfectly understandable reasons for people to dislike winter, yet there are three reasons why winter is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Believe it or not, winter can be viewed as a hopeful, positive season, rather than a dull and depressing one.

Here is the first one:

1. Winter is the season when nature gets a period of rest.

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Upon first glance, the winter landscape appears as if everything in nature has died. However, that is the farthest thing from the truth. Actually, the plants and animals are really sleeping instead of dead, although this fact is hidden from our sight. The plants have life within them, but it is well shielded from the cold with their protective outer layers. The animals are simply hibernating in a safe place where they can keep warm, either eating or sleeping most likely. Just like nature, we humans keep ourselves indoors throughout the winter as much as we can to avoid getting hypothermia. It is such a comforting privilege to be able to stay inside where it’s warm and cozy, and look out the window to gaze upon the frosty landscape. While the rest of creation is in a state of hibernation, we too can enjoy blissful moments of peace and rest as we relax inside the warmth of our homes. In the same way that we are content to rest inside our houses, we can also be content to rest in the knowledge of God’s love for us. Just as we feel safe and secure from the cold winter winds when we stay inside, we can feel safe and secure from the cares of this world when we remember that God is protecting and taking care of us. The warmth of a bright fireplace is comforting, but it is nothing compared to the warmth we feel when we know that God is always watching over us.

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Instead of wishing away the time out of longing for spring to arrive, we should choose to embrace this season of rest and relaxation, as it is beneficial to our health. Those of us who struggle with annual illnesses this time of year readily agree to and welcome the need for rest,  so we can take the necessary time required to get well. Instead of worrying about everything going on in our lives, God wants us to be still and know that He is God. If we know that God wants His creation to rest and relax for a time, then we too are automatically included in that category. God wants us to work hard during our time on this earth, but He also wants us to admit when we need to take a break too. Overworking, overthinking, and overstressing is not good for anyone’s well being. Pleasing God is about being diligent, but it’s also about taking care of the bodies He gave us. We cannot possibly expect to continue functioning as normal if we don’t take a time out to let our bodies do the physical maintenance and repair they need. We also should accept the fact that nature needs this time to slow down, which leads to this next reason why winter can indeed be viewed as a positive season.

2. Winter is a season of development when hidden growth takes place.

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God designed the season of winter to be restful so that all the elements of His creation can have a chance to grow underneath the surface of the ice and snow. While the tree branches may look barren, there are brand new leaves growing inside the chambers of bark, waiting to sprout forth the moment spring arrives. Although many animals are hidden from view, they are slumbering safely inside their dens, where they might give birth to new young that will emerge when it’s warm again. The baby animals that are already born also need this time so that they can grow. God established this cycle of transformation so that renewal can take place every year. We can learn a valuable lesson from God’s creation of nature by renewing our hearts and minds. This can be accomplished by recognizing our own need for spiritual growth through the help of the Holy Spirit. Just as the plants and animals have hidden changes occurring on the inside where we can’t see, God wants the same thing to be true within our hearts. While we’re waiting to see God’s plans for our lives unfold, we should take a moment to stop and consider if God is trying to privately teach us something in the meantime. Rather than asking God “What are You doing to change my life circumstances?”, we should be asking ourselves “What do I need to change about my attitude before God reveals His plans for me?” The season of winter evokes a wondrous sense of mystery, and God’s ways are far more mysterious than any of us can possibly imagine. We can’t always understand what God is trying to teach us, but our hearts need to be willing to learn from Him nevertheless. Whatever God is trying to communicate to us, we can only listen for His silent whispers that are as soft as the newly fallen snow.

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Rather than wishing it were spring right away, we need to accept the fact that spiritual growth and development takes time to occur. We need to have honest and realistic expectations of ourselves before we try to see everything the way God sees it in the present. It will take humility, dedication, and a sincere desire for us to make a serious change about our perspective on what God is doing with our lives. If we want to receive the very best blessings that God has to offer, then we need to show Him that we are willing to trust Him to work everything out in His perfect timing. Developing these spiritual character traits in our lives isn’t always easy, but it is well worth the effort. God knows our hearts, so He can see whether or not we’re really trying to change. He also knows our weak and fragile human state, so He is forgiving when we fail to understand Him sometimes. God wants us to grow into strong people of faith who firmly rely upon Him for everything in our lives. In order for this to happen, we need to acknowledge what is or is not under our control, which leads to the third and final reason why winter can be viewed as a positive season after all.

3. Winter is a season of waiting to see God’s miracles unfold.

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Just like all the other seasons, winter takes three months to finish its course of time. All of the beautiful, wonderful things that we see and enjoy during spring time don’t just appear overnight. Instead of despairing over all the ice and snow, we should appreciate the beauty it brings that is unlike anything else we witness throughout the rest of the year. We wouldn’t be able to recognize the colorful flowers in the spring months without first gazing upon the whiteness of the winter snow. In the same way, waiting for winter to pass can be directly compared to the seasons of waiting God puts us through in our lives. We aren’t always able to see exactly what He’s doing as He’s carrying out His will for us. In fact, we might not be able to see any sign of significant progress on the horizon of waiting for His plans to be fulfilled. However, that does NOT mean that nothing is happening behind the scenes. Just as we must wait for all the snow and ice to melt, we must also wait for God to orchestrate all the right circumstances before we can see the answers to our questions and prayers. As humans, we aren’t too fond of waiting, since it means that there are, in fact, some things that we simply cannot control. Even though seasons of waiting might make us feel like we’re stuck and not going anywhere, we need to trust God by knowing He won’t leave us stranded.

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Before we can fully enjoy the blessings of the future, we must be content with the circumstances of the present. When God makes us wait for things to happen in our lives, it is for our benefit, so we can learn how to depend on, grow, and trust in Him. We have no way of knowing exactly how long it will take before God fulfills His plan for our lives, or grants us access to achieve our dreams and wishes for success. In the meantime, however, we can choose to have faith in Him by believing in His goodness, regardless of outcomes. We wouldn’t be able to appreciate God’s answer to our prayers and questions without first waiting to see how He chooses to respond. Sometimes the longer God makes us wait, the more satisfying it is when He finally gives us our heart’s desire. This is good for two reasons: it forces us to remember that we can’t take God for granted, and it helps us realize that God hasn’t forgotten about us, caring enough to remember our requests.

 

Here are some verses to help remind you that waiting in your personal mid-winter isn’t so bleak:

 

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:”

Psalm 25:5 ~ “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Psalm 27:13-14 ~ “ I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

Psalm 33:20 ~ “Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.”

Psalm 39:7 ~ “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.

Psalm 130:5 ~ “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

Psalm 138:8 ~ “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Psalm 145:15-16 ~ “The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

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

Lamentations 3:24-26 ~ “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Micah 7:7 ~ “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.”

Matthew 6:25 ~ “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

Matthew 10:29-31 ~ “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

James 5:7-8 ~ Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

 

In the not-so-bleak midwinter, you can be confident that God’s hand is hard at work.

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 When you look upon your present life circumstances and see nothing but white and grey, do not immediately descend into despair. The color of white that is so prevalent in winter snow represents a blank canvas for the bright colors of the future spring. In the same way, the season of waiting in our lives that at first appears to be barren and desolate is actually a fresh opportunity for God to bring new blessings into our lives later. Just as God is busy preparing His natural creation to have new life in the spring, He is also preparing to bring new things into our lives as well. We can choose to be content with waiting to see what will happen, and increase our faith in God and His goodness at the same time.

The color of grey seen in cloudy, snowy skies also represents the uncertainty of the future.  God works in mysterious ways, and He is pulling things together behind the scenes when we don’t even realize it. God has nothing but your very best interest at the forefront of His mind. He’s not going to abandon you by forcing you to wait for something you’ve prayed about forever. If God cares enough to follow through with His plans for plants and animals to develop, then you can be certain that He cares far much more about fulfilling His plans for you in your life. Meanwhile, you can rest in God’s perfect peace in spite of all your unanswered questions, trusting that you will be given answers in His perfect timing.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

The Gift That Is Always New

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

Have you ever had a favorite Christmas gift?

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

Receiving a gift they wanted with all their hearts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29:11-13 ~ “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

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

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

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

 

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

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Remembering Our Royalty

rose-and-crown
Our holy heritage should be evident by our regal righteousness.

Once upon a time, there was a majestic King, Whose reign was eternal and glorious.

This King had only one Son, a Prince of light, Who was pure and perfect in every way. The King looked upon His vast realm, and felt greatly troubled for His people, who were suffering from a hopeless, endless curse. As the King felt great compassion for His subjects, He sent His only, heroic Son into the cursed realm far away from His palace to rescue the people from their despair and suffering. With good fortune, there were many people who were rescued from the dark curse; yet sadly, there were also many others who chose to remain bound within its horrible shadow. The people that were rescued followed the Prince back to His royal palace, to await the instruction of the great King. The King welcomed His rescued subjects with open arms, and decided to adopt them into His royal family, where they would be loved and accepted forever and ever. However, the King gave His new relatives but one simple command:

“Now that you are officially part of My royal family, you must remember to act like it.”

The people listened to the King’s command, and promised to do their best to heed His wishes. They soon discovered, however, that keeping His command was easier said than done; for they were already accustomed to doing things their way like they used to in their villages before they were rescued from their curse. They tried to improve, yet always seemed to fall short every time. Luckily for them, the King was still compassionate as before, and gave them many other chances to succeed. Though the King was merciful and compassionate, there were some people who seemed to forget that they were ever adopted, and continued to live as they pleased in spite of the King’s command. This angered the King, Who was known for His kindness and patience. The Prince intervened on the people’s behalf by going before His Father, and asked for His grace and mercy. The King took one look at His Son, and remembered all the heroic deeds He did to rescue the people. After beholding the goodness of His Son, the King quickly forgave the people once again, and allowed them continue living in His palace out of His great love for them.

Though told like a traditional fairy tale, this is a true story indeed.

crowning

Perhaps you’ve already heard this story before, when you attended a church service or Sunday school class. Or maybe someone told it to you when they first reached you with the gospel. Either way, The King in the story is God, the Prince is Jesus, and we are the people He rescued. After being adopted into God’s family, we become real royalty, yet in a spiritual sense. As our Heavenly Father, God expects us to behave in a way that clearly shows we are His children. Do we always manage to live up to that extremely high expectation? Certainly not. However, we still have hope, because Jesus makes divine intercession for us before His Father’s throne since He loves us so much. God is always looking to advance His kingdom, so He wants us to be a good example to the world of His love and righteousness. Let’s take a look at a few ways that we can carry ourselves like God’s royal children.

1. We must clothe ourselves with dignity and respect for our bodies.

little-princess

When God first created Adam and Eve, they had no clothes to wear. The Bible tells us that they “were naked and not ashamed.” Unfortunately, after they sinned, their original state of innocence was lost, and their nakedness became associated with shame. God had already planned to give them clothes in the future to protect them from their natural environment conditions, but He didn’t want them to discover they were naked until He chose the proper timing. God covered their bodies with a sheep skin out of His love and compassion. Ever since then, man has had to wear clothes to cover himself. After accepting salvation, what we put on the outside of our bodies should be a reflection of the Holy Spirit Who lives on the inside. Therefore our clothes should be appropriate for every situation, and not draw too much attention to our bodies. If we are to be effective witnesses for the cause of Christ, we should present ourselves in a way that people will take us seriously. Showing respect for our bodies in the clothes we wear not only pleases God, but shows others around us that we seek to honor Him in our dress choices. The outer robes of clothes we wear should match our royal robes of righteousness.

2. We must speak words from a vocabulary of holiness.

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Every word that goes forth from our mouths should be measured by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. God wants our words to be kind, true, pure, and edifying to those around us. Are the things we say positive and uplifting to others? Do we make an effort to display honesty when people ask us questions? Are the things we say full of virtue and praise, free from any sort of vile or unclean associations? Do we encourage others to pursue their spiritual walk with our words? The Queen of England always refers to herself as “we” to represent her entire royal family. In Genesis chapter 1, God refers to Himself as “us” to represent the Holy Trinity. Since we are a part of God’s family, the words we say represent Him, and everything He is. Therefore it is our responsibility to ensure that what we say is an accurate reflection of God and His character. The words we speak should be chosen with the utmost care and consideration for holiness.

3. We must embrace our royal identity, and never be ashamed of it.

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As God’s adopted children, we are very special, and nothing can ever take away our royal title. It is also important for us to remember, though, that being heirs and heiresses of the Kingdom of Heaven is a privilege, not a right. It is by God’s grace and mercy that we are saved and included in His holy inheritance. With that being said, we should take great joy in being called God’s children, and not shrink away from sharing our testimony with the world. Our royal Father has called us to spread the good news of us being found and rescued so we can give it to those who are lost and need rescuing. There might be others who despise, reject, or even outright oppress us, yet we should remember how Jesus, the King of Kings, suffered those very same things at the hands of men long before us. The crown of Christianity must be worn in full view for all the world to see.

 

Here are the divine words of our royal, Heavenly Father Himself to remind us of our regal heritage:

 

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 14: 15 ~ “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”

Romans 8:34 ~ “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

Hebrews 7:25 ~ “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Ephesians 5:8 ~ “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

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.”

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

1 Peter 3:3-4 ~ “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Revelation 19:8 ~ “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

Isaiah 61:10 ~ “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Philippians 4:8 ~ “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

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

Galatians 3:26 ~ “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

John 1:12-13 ~ “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

1 Peter 4:16 ~ “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1 Peter 1:14-16 ~ “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

1 John 2:28 ~ “And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at his coming.

2 Timothy 1:8 ~ “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;”

Matthew 10:32 ~ “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”

Romans 8:17 ~ “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.”

 

Our royal heritage is eternal, and nothing can ever change that fact.

It doesn’t matter how many times we fail God in our human weakness; we will always be His children once we have accepted His gift of salvation. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are no longer peasants covered with the tattered rags of sin – when God looks at us, He sees nobility draped with the luxurious satin robes of righteousness! Satan may try to accuse us before God, but his wicked efforts are in vain as long as Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father. Once we are officially adopted into God’s family, we receive a golden certificate of eternal life that we can never lose. If you ever doubt that you are God’s child, it is for one of two reasons: you have not yet been adopted in the first place, or you have been behaving in a way that is the direct opposite of God’s righteousness for so long that you can’t remember if you are His child or not.

There is nothing to worry about though, for both of these problems can be solved through the simple solution of prayer. If you wish to become God’s child by getting adopted into His family, all you need to do is confess that you are a sinner, ask Him to forgive you, and believe that Jesus died for your sin; then the Holy Spirit will come to live inside your heart for all eternity. If you have been far away from God for a long time, and have been living apart from His ways, all you need to do is ask Him to forgive you, and He will remind you that you are still His child. God cares greatly about you, and He wants you to understand that nothing you confess will make Him love you any less. It takes lots of practice to train ourselves to behave like the royal children of God, but He is always there to help us when we need it. Our royal, righteous, holy heritage is secured at salvation, and it is ours to enjoy for all eternity.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

The Essential Equinox

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

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

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

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

light-breaking-through-giphy

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

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

dying-leaves-giphy

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

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

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

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

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

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

autumngiphy

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

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

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

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

John 15:5 ~ “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We must embrace the essential equinox in our everyday lives.

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Acknowledging the Author

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The pen is not mightier than the Sword of the Lord!

Did you know that your life story has an Author?

Believe it or not, regardless of society telling us that we are the authors of our own fate or destiny, our lives were written into existence by an intelligent Being, Who loves us very much. Each and every one of us is a unique, individual character designed to fulfill a specific purpose on the stage of this world. While some of us may have more difficult backgrounds and settings to deal with than others, all of us are certain to face daunting challenges and conflict throughout the various chapters of our lives. During the darkest moments of our life experience, it may be extremely hard to keep reading until we reach the next chapter. However, we must never forget the One Who is constantly writing the story of our lives, nor forget the inherent goodness of His character.

God, the ultimate, Divine Author, has plans for every chapter we live.

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From the moment that we are conceived in our mother’s womb to the moment we take our last breath, God is busy writing a grand novel about our lives. Depending on whether or not we come to know Him by choosing to accept salvation, our lives can become either a triumphant masterpiece, or a pitiful tragedy. You see, the main thing that sets us apart from fictional literary characters is tense – past tense, that is. When human authors tell stories, they usually use the format of relating the different events as having already happened; while our lives are limited to the present. Only God has the privilege of knowing what will happen in the future; yet He still has given man the gift of free will, allowing us to shape the course of our future. While God will always be the One Who is ultimately in control, He has given man the responsibility to make his own decisions, which he will be held accountable for at the end of his life.

God desires to perform a wonderful work through each of our lives, which He will only carry out if we let Him. He literally sees everything from a higher perspective, in both a physical and spiritual sense. Possessing the power of omniscience, God knows exactly who needs us, what needs our abilities, when we are needed, why we are needed, and how we are needed. From our finite point of view, we can only see a limited picture of God’s purpose for us. This can be extremely frustrating at times, causing us to want to question God and His pure, just motives. However, if we knew exactly how everything is supposed to work out in our lives, then why would we need to trust God in the first place? God designed us to be completely dependent upon Him, whether we like it or not. When we rely on Him for guidance every day, it keeps us humble as we always should be. Also, if we knew what was going to happen in all of the chapters ahead of time, it would take the excitement out of our story, defeating its purpose with the biggest spoiler ever!

As the main characters of our stories, we are subject to development.

At the beginning of most stories, the main character usually starts out with personality traits or circumstances that may or may not change by the end of the final chapter. Just like many fictional literary characters, we tend to have a variety of qualities that God desires to change about us during our life’s journey. Since we are born with a sinful nature, and God is holy and perfect in every way, anything that God manages to change about us is guaranteed to be an improvement. Here are some classic examples to help emphasize this point: With Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” he went from being greedy and miserly to generous and compassionate. With Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit,” he started off as a timid little homebody and became a bold, brave burglar that traversed all of Middle Earth. With Mary Lennox in “The Secret Garden,” she was once a bitter, cynical little girl who didn’t care much for other people. Yet by the end of her story, she had become a sweet, loving little girl who had learned to finally trust other people.

Just as the characters from these classic stories had flaws and weaknesses that made them far from perfect, we likewise suffer from our own personal problems that we must strive to overcome. In case you haven’t already figured this out by now, we are totally helpless all on our own. When it comes to improving ourselves as human beings, we are utterly powerless to change any aspect of ourselves without God’s help. Once again, this is where we are designed to depend upon Him. In exchange for our robe of fleshly ways, God can give us a robe of righteousness through the transforming power of His Holy Spirit. If the characters mentioned in the stories above were already perfect, there wouldn’t be any need for them to go through the different experiences in their stories. In the same way, if we were already perfect like God, then we would be in Heaven with Him right now instead of living on this earth. We all need to go through our own types of character development during our earthly stories before we can acquire sinless perfection in Heaven.

For our characters to develop, we must be willing to go through dark chapters.

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In order for any story to be interesting to the reader, the main character must go through some sort of conflict during the majority of the plot and learn how to overcome it. Without a decent conflict, the story is dull, boring, and altogether irrelevant to its human audience, which is all too familiar with conflict in the real world. Depending on the complexity of the plot, this conflict can come from many different sources – a main antagonist, the protagonist’s preexisting circumstances, or even from within the protagonist himself. For a really dramatic story, the author will probably form a conflict by mixing together all three of these sources, to keep the reader’s interest. Even though the conflict in the story might be so overwhelming that the main character wants to give up, he has no choice but to keep going, if he is ever going to reach the resolution at the end.

As the main characters of our life stories, we must also keep going if we are going to reach the ultimate goal of God’s will for us. Although conflict in this world will never be completely resolved until the Lord returns, we can still witness resolution in our lives every day by choosing to focus on God’s goodness in the midst of trials. If we are following God, Who is light, then we will certainly be opposed by Satan and his forces of evil, who are darkness. Even though God does not like to see us suffer, He still allows it to occur in our lives to grow us in our spiritual maturity. If we try to resist the reality of suffering in our lives, we are only deceiving ourselves, and simply postponing the inevitable.  When Jesus Himself was on this earth, He suffered more than any of us could ever imagine. Are we greater than God’s only Son to think that we are entitled to make our way through life without any obstacles? Absolutely not! In order to see the final chapter in our story filled with light, we must first earn our happy ending by experiencing chapters filled with darkness.

 

Here are some verses to prove that God is busy developing the plot of our lives:

 

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

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

Psalm 27:14 ~ “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Psalm 37:23 ~ “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

Proverbs 3:5 ~ “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Proverbs 16:3 ~ “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 16:9 ~ “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.

Jeremiah 1:5 ~ “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

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

1 Corinthians 2:9 ~ “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

 

We must acknowledge our Author by submitting our will to His.

Within the pages of every great story, the main characters all have individual desires that drive them to perform the course of action they take throughout the book. Sometimes the desires of the protagonist become clouded by his overwhelming circumstances of adversity, causing him to lose hope and give up all of his willpower to achieve them. To make the story feel real and relatable to readers, a good author will often bring his main character to the brink of surrender through all of the plot twists and turns that he throws at him. Yet for a good story to truly resonate with a reader, the protagonist will always find a way to overcome his circumstances, no matter how many times he is knocked down. This inspires the reader to have strength and determination in his own life, regardless of his own personal struggles. The protagonist doesn’t know that he is merely playing a part in the author’s grand scheme of things; he simply accepts his role and dutifully fulfills it. We, on the other hand, are aware of our Divine Author, and also have a say in making our own decisions. In the midst of all the drama in our daily lives, God wants to hear us cry out to Him and seek His will above everything else. We do not have the authority to control the many different plot twists He gives us, but we are expected to cooperate in loving obedience with God by trusting the goodness of His character.

At times, it may seem hard to accept the difficult plot points that we are given in our unique stories. We may even be tempted to get angry with God and question what exactly He is doing with our lives. As humans, we don’t like being told to wait and put our desires on hold, nor do we like facing uncertainty in the midst of adverse circumstances. However, it is our responsibility to acknowledge God’s rightful place as the Author of our lives. The Bible, the greatest Book that has ever been written, assures us that we can trust God completely, because He loves us unconditionally in spite of our sometimes misguided decisions. No matter how many mistakes we might make, God is always ready and willing to forgive us, and turn those errors in judgment around to make for a more interesting story. If we can convince ourselves to give up our stubborn pride and selfishness, then we will be able to see just what amazing things God is capable of doing in our lives. To be a true servant of the Lord, we must relinquish our grip on the pen of our will, and give it to the One Author Who knows how to make a remarkable, miraculous story.

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

Infinite Intimacy

Infinite Intimacy
A loving relationship with God knows no limits, including the bounds of time.

Have you ever wanted to feel close to someone?

You know, that nice, warm feeling of affection you have when you’re holding the hand of someone you’re romantically attracted to? Or maybe perhaps you know that special person so well, that you can practically read their mind and tell exactly what they’re thinking. You two might be so close to each other because you have a common mindset with shared values, interests, and goals. Eventually you might grow so close to that special person that your happiness is magnified when they are with you, and slightly lessened when their presence is gone. Because of this mutual bond, you two most likely share empathy with each other, where you are joyful when they are happy, and sad when they’re feeling upset.

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This type of bond is known as intimacy.

Here is the official internet definition:

in·ti·ma·cy
ˈin(t)əməsē/
noun
noun: intimacy
  1. close familiarity or friendship; closeness

    There are different levels of intimacy,  of course; yet every person on earth craves intimacy in their lives in some form or another. Each individual possessing a heart and soul longs for those very things to be understood by another individual with the same things. People may spend their entire lives trying to find others who fully understand them, whether they’re searching for them through friendships or romantic relationships. However, one important truth will always remain –

    No matter how many people you may meet in your life, none of them will ever be able to completely understand you the way that God can.
     

    God designed each and every one of us to have a unique, intimate relationship with Him.

    In the Bible, God reveals that He made all of us with His own hands, creating us for a very special, specific purpose. While it is amazing enough to know that God knew us when we were conceived inside our mothers’ womb, it is even more amazing to discover that He knew us much longer before that. Within the pages of Scripture, God reveals that He was acquainted with our souls from the time He decided to create us in His mind. That’s right, God, the Master Artist and Author, was extremely familiar with His work before He even chose to manifest it. God had already planned out every single aspect of our being before He brought us into existence, carefully crafting each intricate detail about us to ensure that we are unique, irreplaceable individuals.

    Being designed this way meant that God saw every one of His creations as inherently special; not just manufactured robots, but feeling, thinking human beings. Because God made us with differing attributes, He knows we all have specific needs in order for each of us to function. Every spiritual, emotional, and mental quality we have was made to be a feature of us being God’s works of art. As we are God’s children, God deeply understands all of our needs and desires, and knows exactly how to fulfill them. Also, since God Himself is an infinite Being with a multitude of characteristics, He chose to create all of us with different personalities so that we can each identify with the many facets of His essence. Because we all have original, unrepeatable personalities, we are each able to personally connect with God on a unique, spiritual level that no one else can. What one person experiences with God in his life may be totally different from what someone else does in his.

    An intimate relationship with God will only be as strong as the effort you put in.

     

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    Because love and everything we know about it comes directly from God, it should be no surprise to us that a relationship with God is quite similar to the romantic relationships we share with people on earth. The more we communicate with God, the more we strengthen our bond with Him. The more we read His Word, the more we learn about Him and understand more of Who He is. The more we appreciate Him and the many things He does for us, the more He’ll amaze us by doing even greater, wonderful things. Although God is under no obligation to prove anything to us, He has proven His love for us over and over again countless times throughout history. When we’re direct and honest with Him about the things we want or need, He can exceed our expectations by giving us just those things we ask for, or even better than what we ask for at that. When we sincerely try to draw close to God, He will just as enthusiastically draw close to us.

    However, if we choose to neglect our relationship with God, we run the risk of offending Him and also experience a lesser quality of life. The less we communicate with God, the more distant He’ll feel from us. The less we read His Word, the less we know about Him and misunderstand His ways. The less we appreciate Him and everything He does for us, the less He’ll be inclined to show us His miraculous power. In spite of God going out of His way to prove His love for us, we’ll find ourselves doubting His unconditional love and acceptance when we start taking Him for granted. If we ask for things half-heartedly, God takes it as an insult that we don’t believe in or trust Him. When we display a wishy washy attitude about the things we ask for, God is not convinced that we really know what we want, causing us to wait longer for an answer until we realize the true strength of our desires. When we drift apart from God, we’re the ones moving away, while He remains fixed in the same spot He’s always been.

True intimacy with God includes private moments of affection between you and Him.

 If you are currently enjoying an intimate relationship with God, then you know from personal experience that there are special moments of emotional connection that you have with Him when no one else is around. When you witnessed happy times in your life, God may have revealed His joy for you by shining down His sunlight upon you as you bestowed your thanks to Him for blessing you. During the darkest hours of anguish in your life, God was there by your side, providing an invisible arm of comfort around you as He silently wiped your tears away. There were probably many times of anxiety and fear, when God helped to calm your nerves by quietly whispering to you during prayer. Whatever occasions you have seen or will see in your life, God has always been and will always be there for you no matter what, promising to fulfill all your needs. When you fully open yourself up to trusting in Him, you’ll discover that there are many moments of exclusive emotional bonding between you and God to be had in your relationship with Him.

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Throughout my life, I have shared many intimate moments with God such as the ones I’ve described above. However, there is one moment that I will never forget as long as I live, and that was the day when I received a hug directly from God. It was in the middle of May this year, as I was fervently pouring my heart out to God in prayer while I was alone in my house on my day off work. I don’t remember all the details of my prayer that day, but I distinctly remember that this happened while I was praising God for all the many good things that He is. I was sitting right beneath my bedroom window, as warm sunlight was streaming through the open blinds. Suddenly, I became enraptured as I felt invisible arms embracing my body with such gentle, loving warmth that I can never completely describe while on this earth. Within this moment, I felt entirely safe and secure in God’s overwhelming love for me. His tender, affectionate embrace was just the perfect length of time, and had just the right amount of care and caressing. I can honestly say without any doubt that the hug I received from God that day was better than any earthly embrace I’ve ever been given by people in my life.

 

Here are God’s Words proving that He longs to share infinite intimacy with you:

 

Jeremiah 1:5 ~ “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

 

Jeremiah 23:23-24 ~ “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

 

Psalm 16:8 ~ “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

 

Psalm 139:7-13 ~ “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. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”

 

Psalm 145:18 ~ “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.

 

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

 

Isaiah 43:2 ~ “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

 

Genesis 28:15 ~ “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

 

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.

 

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

 

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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

John 7:37 ~ “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

 

James 4:8a ~ “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

 

 

 

Intimacy with God is ours to enjoy forever and ever.

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No matter what stage you are currently in with your relationship with God, you can rest assured that it is a relationship that you can put your full trust in. God has promised in His Word that He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you; and as He CANNOT lie, He will NEVER break that promise. Once you accept God’s salvation in your heart, you are His and He is yours to have for all eternity. The best part is, God understands you perfectly, so you never have to pretend to be someone you aren’t to gain His acceptance or attention. When you talk to Him, you are free to expose your most fragile, vulnerable self, without fear of being judged or rejected. God loves every single part of you, including the parts that are flawed, weak, and broken. God knows so much about you, that He keeps track of how many hairs are upon your head at any given moment! Any secrets you have to share are safe with Him, and He stores your most private thoughts and feelings deep within His heart. God has so many wonderful things that He wishes to share with you too; all you have to do is show Him that you are clearly interested in developing your relationship with Him. Are you willing to experience the fantastic, unforgettable, never-ending journey that is knowing and loving God? I hope so. If you take the first step on that wonderful journey, I promise that He will not leave you disappointed.


 – Gloria D. Hopkins

 



 

 

 

 

Stepping Out of the Cell

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

Do you live your life behind bars?

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

However, there is only one way to escape.

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

Yet successful escape can only be accomplished through one condition:

People must possess the will to escape.

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

1. Personal Pride

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

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

2. Foreboding Fear

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

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

3. Satisfying Sorrow

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins

Five Reasons To Eat Your Words

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

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

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

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

  1. Words are verbal symbols of objects or actions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 10:5 ~ “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins

 

 

Canning the Cravings

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

Do you ever find yourself craving something?

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

However, one day I noticed a significant difference.

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

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

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

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

fulfillment.

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

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

The problem lies in misplaced priorities and misunderstanding.

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

The solution can be achieved through a method of replacement.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Canning our cravings will always be a work in progress.

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

– Gloria D. Hopkins