30 January 2014

Have you received your fresh start?

The reoccurring theme/idea that I chose for myself during 2014 is: a fresh start! This is perfect for the season in my life. Who doesn't enjoy a new beginning? Some believe you have to wait for a certain time or place in your life, or even a new year to have this new beginning (and that is an easy mindset to have), but that has never been farther from the truth. 
With Jesus, His "fresh starts" come every morning.

Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV
"Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind! and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"

Every morning. I'm so thankful that I can talk to Jesus daily about my upcoming opportunities, the desires of my heart, things I simply want and don't necessarily need, also, my sins, my angry thoughts, my bitter feelings, my hurts -- yeah, I DAILY need a fresh start. If I need the mercies and love of God like this then why keep it to myself? I want to share it with everyone around me! Because, whether they admit it or not, humans long for mercy, love and forgiveness: everything that comes with a fresh start.

Psalm 89:1 ESV
"I will sing of the steadfast love of The Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations."

Psalm 36:5 ESV
"Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds."

Instead of dwelling on the wormwood and the gall* in my life:

  • I choose to sing of his steadfast love!
  • I will be a messenger of His faithfulness.
  • I will hope in His unending mercies!

Don't go another second without talking to Jesus and embracing all He has to offer. 

Thank you, Lord, for a fresh start.

*Wormwood and the gall: bitterness of spirit; deep resentment.

21 January 2014

Rare Beauty

"Please do not ever sacrifice your femininity for the short-lived satisfaction of having a guy by your side. Most guys today are not yet worth the rare beauty of a set-apart young woman. Be patient, and pray daily. Soon, young men reminiscent of Jesus Christ will begin to appear on the horizon like the much-anticipated sunrise after a long, dark night. In God’s economy, the years of loneliness and pain given to serving and obeying Him are always gloriously worth it." {Eric Ludy}

For the past month I, along with my youth pastor's wife, have been fervently preparing for an event we hold for the young ladies in our youth group called, Beautiful You. There are so many things that young ladies need to know and be taught about life, love and Jesus. This is one way that we attempt to do just that. 

It's been heavy on my heart to get the point across that YOU are His. You were made in His image. He saw what He made in Genesis 1:27, 31 and saw that it was very good. He never regretted what He made about you but instead, He loved it all. You know why He loves it all? Because you are His creation, His prized possession, His jewel and His daughter. 

The quote above by Eric Ludy is the most genuine definition that all young woman need to write down, memorize and take everywhere with them. Because just like Ludy said, the satisfaction is short-lived but all the years given to serving and obeying Him are always worth it.

You are set-apart. You are treasured. You are beautiful. Because God said so.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them... And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good..."
Genesis 1:27, 31 KJV

17 January 2014

The Resemblance between Me and Eve

The start of 2014 has already been so gracious to me. I started this year out knowing I have been blessed. I have been made new and I have been given a fresh start. Simple as that. A fresh start to love more, forgive freely, speak gently and to share the Gospel relentlessly. I knew beginning this year I wanted to change a few things, including my perspective and attitude on situations I couldn't handle. This year I want to “let go and let God” more. I want to live in the peace that passes all understanding. I want to grow deeper in my relationship with God – because you can never ever have enough of Him. 

Over the past six months I’ve been reading the SheReadsTruth devotions and they hit it out of the park with their January devotion – The Fresh Start 2014 – and that is where my thoughts come from today. 

“Imagine Eve walking in the garden with the new beauty of nature and animals all around her. Gracious provisions. Unique perfection” (SheReadsTruth). This has been heavy on my heart. All that beauty around Eve, everything she could have ever wanted, ever needed was provided for her in the garden of Eden. But somehow, the serpent caught her eye. Somehow the thrills of this life got her attention in the midst of all her blessings and perfection. 

Genesis 3:4-5 "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." 
The devil twists words and makes Eve re-think what she already knows. When we give the devil even a moment of our attention he has a foothold on us. Don’t be deceived – 2 Corinthians 11:14 shows us that satan masquerades as the angel of light, deceiving us with his false beauty.

 “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” 

“In that moment, everything became dull to Eve. She is no longer content.. I want to be angry with Eve. I want to blame her, but I realize I stand as guilty as she.. I, too, have taken a bite of that same life-condemning fruit. I have been discontent” (SheReadsTruth).

That word “dull” really stuck out to me. I never saw the correlation between mine and Eve’s sin. I realized that in all that God has provided for me, in all His blessings and perfect love, I too have moments where things become dull to me and I am discontent when I see and hear the fancy thrills this world has to offer. Sometimes I question where I’m at and what I’m doing because I give the serpent a second of my attention. But, that’s where knowing the Word comes in handy, I can speak in Jesus Name and the enemy won’t have a chance to twist my thoughts, bring up my past and tell me how worthless I am. 

It’s easy to see the fault in what Eve did but, from our perspective now, it kind of came as a blessing. We may not live free from sin but now we can entirely be submissive to the hand of God, fall deeper into His love and be caught in the midst of His grace. We get to experience those things that Adam and Eve never knew before she ate the fruit. We would've never known the utter happiness of being on the receiving end of forgiveness without mistakes and failures. We would've never felt true love without feeling alone and unwanted. We would've never known pure joy without the trials. And we get all that (words in bold, of course) from our gracious Savior.

God knew exactly what the end would be. He did all of this, from beginning to end, out of love for us. He did it so that we could experience a relationship with Him that would never fail, never run out of love and never point out our faults. Instead it would fill us with happiness, give us peace, love us in the midst of our attitudes and pride. 

Just think, even though everything would've been perfect if Eve wouldn't have ate the life-condemning fruit, we wouldn't see and feel the beauty of what God could offer. 

We were not left with no way out. Here is our hope: 
1 John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 
John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” 
Romans 5:18-21 “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Even in the midst of unrighteousness and sin, grace was still more abundant. When walking with Jesus there is a point where I don’t want to just be content with where I’m at because I know that He has so much more planned for me. I want to always seek more of Him and go farther in my walk (in my garden) with Him. 

It’s a fresh start for me – and for you. What will you do with the new you? 

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."