Being Absolutely Genuine.

Romans 12:9

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.”

Just this one verse from Romans is enough to help us through the human struggle of truly being genuine. As a sinful culture, we are naturally born selfish. To truly follow Christ and model His example is going against what our culture does, and in this case, to truly love others.

So much is fake these days–fake faces, fake attitudes, fake bodies, fake love. And it’s the latter that is truly detrimental to society. Without love, our world is full of hate and destruction. But because God is love, we must be grounded in Him to emit the real thing. We must keep our eyes fixed on what true love is, because the love of the world says that the deepest and most coveted love is a lust relationship between a man and woman; however, to those who follow Christ, the deepest love we know is a Savior who died a painful death for the whole world and rescued us from eternal condemnation.

We must deny what the world’s “love” is, because when we have Christ’s perfect love, we won’t have lust, we won’t have fear, and we won’t have guilt. Having God’s love helps us love others with a real and genuine affection.

Shining Brightly.

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

I love this quote spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr., during his last speech before his death. My English class was reading the speech last night for homework, and this was one line that especially stuck out at me.

I just try to think…when I’m on my back porch at home at night with all the street lights around me, I look up to the sky and see stars–although they are very faint. Sure, I can still appreciate the beauty of the heavens by seeing dimly lit stars; but when I go somewhere isolated like this past weekend at Winter Retreat at Camp Awana, WI, I don’t even have to look for the stars. They just jump out at me.

Applying this quote deeper into life…when we are always in comfortable situations, we won’t shine as brightly because we’ll be around other light. However, when we are in the uncomfortable situations of being around those who don’t have Christ in their lives, it’s like we shine brightly–because everything around us is dark. People don’t even have to look for God’s light; people automatically see it in our lives.

So I encourage you, even when you are in an uncomfortable situation with darkness all around, just remember that God can use the hardest circumstances to illuminate His light in us as bright as ever.

Don’t Belong to the World

Romans 12:1,2

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I’ve heard/read this passage too many times to count probably. I know that we aren’t supposed to live like the “world” does, filling our desires with lust, pride, and sin. I know that we’re supposed to surrender to God daily, laying our lives at His feet for Him to use at His will. I know that God wants me to worship Him with all that’s within me and to love Him unconditionally. Yes, I’ve heard the explanation of these verses thoroughly and clearly so as to not destroy or dement the meaning. However, it seems that I’ve tried to make the meaning perfectly put in my head that I forget to actually think about what these verses mean and fully apply them to my life.

Lately in my life I’ve become very discouraged by what I see around me. Everyday when I walk into school, I have felt more weighed down and tired–like I am carrying a weight on my back. I feel so beat down by heavy spirits in my school, and it’s sometimes so overwhelming. I just wish I could communicate more of Christ’s love to others, but it seems like so many times I fail sharing how great God is in my life and how great He can be in others’ lives. Fear has overcome me, and I have gone through every day consumed by some sort of vice that has gripped me back from the fullness of happiness and joy. I suppose these bad feelings have just come gradually–through many circumstances in my life like change and grief.

Anyways, I was reading Romans 12, and these first two verses stuck out to me. When I truly surrender my whole self to God and I am a living sacrifice, God can use my brokenness to help others know Him. When I back away from wanting the world’s and others’ approval, and I solely want God’s approval and love, I will truly find out what God wants for me in my life. What a wonderful promise!!

I want my mindset to be changed by God. I want to see my life as He purposes. In Romans 11:29, Paul writes, ” For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” How encouraging!! God knows the plan He has for us, and He can use our uncomfortability and even our weaknesses to put toward the call He has for us and the gifts He has provided us with. Only God knows…He may even use the hardest situations in our lives to show us what our gifts are.

No Greater Love.

This passage never ever gets old.

Romans 3:21-24

“21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

How I delight in the fact that God loves me no matter what I have done against Him. I was born a sinner, yet God had so much compassion that He sent His Son to die for me anyways.

Romans 5:7-9 says this so perfectly.

“7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”

Wow! What selfless love Christ has had for us. When I think about His sacrifice, I cannot even fathom paying Him back 1/1,000 of what He’s given me. And that’s what’s so amazing about God–He doesn’t expect us to pay Him back. He just wants us to love Him.

One More Thought…

So I finished John this past Thursday, and I happen to love the book of Romans. I figured it’d be a good follow-up. Well, it’s so cool that even after reading the book of Romans before, new perceptions have come to my mind even in the first two chapters. I love how wherever we are in life, the Bible is chock-full of stories and passages that can relate to us.

One such passage I read today is in Romans 2:29: “And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”

I suppose this verse relates to my life right now. Especially being in high school, it’s so easy to solely seek the approval of my peers and those around me. But a truly changed heart seeks God’s approval rather than man’s. I know that this is definitely something that I need to keep reminding myself, for in the end, God is all that is going to matter. Fads, fashions, trends, and relationships are temporary–but God’s truth and love for the world will never end.

So if not fitting in is the result of living in God’s love and truth, then I guess I won’t fit in!! Easier said than done, but it’s worth it!

After a Month of John…

So usually when I read the Bible, I stick with the letters to the church written by Paul and such. But after going through all those, I figured that it was time to read about Jesus’ life. Even though I’ve learned so much about Jesus during my childhood and in Sunday school, I still think it’s so great to be able to go back to the source and truly see the way God worked through Jesus when He was on earth.

Below are some verses I found really insightful and interesting:

John 1:10-13 “10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.”

John 3:19-21 “19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

John 4:13-14 “13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4:35-37 “But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true.”

It’s just been so cool gazing back into the life of Jesus and receving new thoughts about His mission on earth and all that He came here to do for us. He truly came here so that not one of us would perish. He wants to give us living water–abounding in our soul and spirit–and spreading to all those around us. Through Christ’s example, we can truly live a Spirit filled life. All we need to do is receive.