Hey! It has been a super long time since I have written something on here, but there was purpose in that. Over the last year I have grown so much and chased Jesus faster than I ever have. And in that chase, I have learned so much about what I want to use my voice for. For those who have followed this blog since it began, clearly there has been a name change, and this is something that I am so excited about! ‘Passion’ is my favorite word. Even just the word itself excites me, lol. There was a time in my life that I did not know what I was passionate about, and I would stay up whole nights thinking about that word and asking God what my passion was supposed to be. And then it hit me… passion is my passion. Seeing people on fire for Jesus, seeing people pursue Him relentlessly, seeing lives changed forever, not just for moments. This is the real pursuit of Jesus - a walk marked not just by a small flame, but by a wildfire.
I read the story of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18 & 19 this week and it portrays this idea so well. It is one of those stories in the Bible that you read and think HAS to be made up because God does so many radical things. It starts explaining the young kingship of Hezekiah, who was only twenty-five when he began serving Judah as king. Kings that were actually following God and not worshipping idols during this time were few and far between; however, Hezekiah’s life was marked by a fiery passion to serve the one and only God. 1 Kings 18:3 says that all he did was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. That sentence right there could be a sermon. I read that and instantly began asking myself: if everything in my life was being observed by God, would he find it ALL pleasing?
In Hezekiah’s passionate pursuit of God he did things that nobody understood. He tore apart the altars of idols, ripped away sacred pillars, and even took down the ‘high places’. The high places were used as places to worship God, so the removal of this piece made no sense to the citizens of Judah or the surrounding leaders of Israel. However, Hezekiah knew that these places were being used to worship false gods and so without hesitation, he obeyed. This is what I want my life to be marked by: no hesitation when God says ‘go’, even if it does not make sense.
Further along down Hezekiah’s reign, Judah was being threatened by Assyria. They came against the fortified cities of Judah and conquered them. Hezekiah’s response to this was to contact the leaders of Assyria and reason with them, giving them money in exchange for peace. During these meetings, the Assyrian “Rabshakeh” (chief of staff) began to threaten Hezekiah with demeaning words. It was his goal to bring Hezekiah into such doubt that he would give up his fight for Judah.
“What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?” (2 Kings 18:19)
These were the words spoken to Hezekiah. And before he could even respond, the Rabshakeh kept going, saying that even God must be disappointed in him because he tore down the high places and disrespected the name of the Lord. He went so far as to send Hezekiah a note that said, “Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 19:10). For me, that would have been the end. Hezekiah was being beaten on all sides, and now was being told that even his God would not come through on his behalf.
Here is where I paused in my reading of this story. How familiar that sounded to me. How many times have you felt that you were listening to God and obeying and following His voice so clearly, only to feel defeated, alone, and like a disappointment in the end? Oftentimes we don’t even need a Rabshakeh to say these things to us, we tell ourselves that God must be disappointed, that God must have left, that God must not care anymore.
But in this moment of defeat, Hezekiah KNEW that he had been obedient, so instead of sitting in his defeat, he kneeled at the cross. He began praying fervently for his city, for his people, for his own heart to remain confident in a what looked like a losing battle. It says that once he received this letter, he went up to the Lord’s temple and “spread it out” before Him (2 Kings 19:14). He openly admitted that his strength was completely depleted, so his immediate response was to allow God to defend him, to fight for him, to restore his peace and his strength.
And here is where you see the God of Israel rise up in a way that seems fiction. The armies of Assyria were encircled around the city of Jerusalem, believing that they had a sure victory. But then, in a single night, “the Angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers” (2 Kings 19:35) and the Assyrians went home, leaving Jerusalem safe and secure.
“The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (2 Kings 19:31).
What a beautiful God we serve. The same God that wiped out an entire army in one night fights our everyday battles with us. The passionate pursuit of God that Hezekiah lived by was met by the passionate protection of the Lord. Passion met by passion. He does not leave us wanting, He meets us as we are seeking.
So, my question is - what are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
What are you trusting in that makes you so peaceful in a global pandemic? What are you trusting in that makes you so excited when life seems so stagnant and mundane?
The same God who asked for an arc before the rains came.
The same God who picked someone with a stutter to speak for Him.
The same God who picked a murderer to write 2/3 of the New Testament.
The same God who allowed His son to appear dead for three days before He rose again.
I totally agree, it makes no sense. Living passionately for Someone invisible seems crazy. But just like Hezekiah, our passion for Him is met by the most radical, passionate, relentless chase of our hearts. What could be greater than being loved by the Creator of the entire universe? What could be better than having the Lord of Heaven’s Armies passionately protect you from every side?
This is the life I desire. A life marked by wildfire.
Are you on fire?
Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful opportunity to share about true passion for You.
Wow, what a season it has been. 2018 changed my life in every single way. It is right when you tell yourself that Jesus could not possibly be able to do more, that He shows up and changes everything about your perspective, shows you a new side of His face, and wrecks your world in the best way. I reached that moment probably 100 times over the course of this year. I found myself in places that only God could have brought me, and I would limit His power by telling myself that I had already experienced every kind of miracle He could perform in my life. It was then that He would shake my world and change me forever. And without exaggeration, He has done this every day, constantly proving to me that He is never done and that I am completely and utterly clueless as to His power. I am walking into 2019 fully knowing that He is NEVER done, He is always around the corner waiting to change everything, and that nothing I could say or do could ever limit what He is capable of in my life on even the most mundane and boring days. What a God we serve. This is the best kind of life, where you have no idea what is coming next, but you have the promise that He is there in it with you! I am so ready for this revelation to hit me over and over again this year as well. (PS: this has nothing to do with what I actually want to talk about, but seriously, walk into 2019 knowing His power is matchless. It will change your life).
Moving on, I attended Passion Conference 2019 the last few days and if you have never experienced 12,000 people all worshipping together at the same time, it is different than anything else you will ever experience. During one of the last worship sets, a lyric hit me harder than it usually would have. I love moments where you hear or read something that you have seen or heard a million times, but for some reason it strikes you differently and you see it in a new light. During one of the songs, I read the lyric on the screen that said “Let every burning heart be holy ground”. I have sang this song for months, and I have never felt the need to look up what “holy ground” means, but for some reason I came home from this conference and that was the only thing on my mind. Let me tell you, it is so much more in-depth and beautiful than I had thought.
The term “holy ground” is mentioned twice in the Bible. The first time was when Moses approached the burning bush in the Old Testament, and the second time was when Stephen referred to Moses and the account of the burning bush in the New Testament. The burning bush story is one of those stories that you hear in Sunday school and never study for yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that most times, those are the most impactful and crazy stories in the whole Bible. This story is actually so in-depth that I have to go through it piece by piece to catch everything that really happened.
In Exodus 3:2-5, it says, “…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
The first important thing to realize here is that it was not the ground itself that was holy, it was the presence of God dwelling there that made it holy. Wherever the Lord is, that is Holy Ground, and if we are Christians, meaning that the presence of Jesus is in us, our hearts are holy ground. He dwells there (what a privilege)!!
A few things happened on this Holy Ground that led to the biggest miracles in the Bible.
The first thing that God tells Moses to do is to take his sandals off. Most scholars believe this is to represent one taking any type of sin away from the presence of God. It was to get rid of any part of yourself that was unclean before a spotless King. We will talk more about that later, but there is another meaning to this commandment that is so hard for me to apply to my own life. God told Moses to remove his shoes so that he could not go anywhere. The Hebrew meaning of “Holy Ground” (admat kodesh) means that this area was set aside for this specific encounter with Moses. God did not want Moses rushing off and taking care of his own agenda. God wanted Moses’ full attention. So many times I bring my agenda to God. We tell Him that we will spend time with Him for 20 minutes and then do everything else that I have planned. But what if He needs 30 minutes to speak to you? What if He needs more time than what we give Him? What if He is waiting to speak to us and we have such a task-oriented mind that we won’t give Him the time He needs to really continue in a personal relationship with Him. I find myself laughing at how ridiculous it is that we actually think the tasks we have to complete are more important than speaking to the Creator of the universe, the one who gives us the very air that we breathe. Why is that so easy to forget and shrug off? It is my personal goal to remember and take this seriously. Nothing is more important than this relationship. So, take your shoes off. Don’t go anywhere. Let Him have the encounter with you that He specifically set aside for you. That is what He requires on Holy Ground. A restful, willing, and patient spirit, ready to stay there in the presence of the Almighty for as long as He would allow us. This is just the beginning. When we take our shoes off and stand in His presence is when He changes everything (our desires, our perspective, & our very lives), as He did with Moses.
As Moses engaged in a conversation with God, (okay but seriously, how cool does that sound?) God told Moses to stick his hand in his cloak and as his hand was pulled out, it was covered in leprosy (a very contagious and unpleasant skin disease that resulted in entire communities shunning anyone who had it). When you stand on Holy Ground, when you allow the presence of Jesus into your heart and life, any hidden sin is brought to the light. A Holy God cannot allow you to do anything for Him if you are living in contagious, worldly, unclean sin. This is where it gets a little tough. This is the moment we wish we had our shoes back on so that we could run and keep parts of our lives hidden that He wants exposed. Moses kept his shoes off, so we have to keep ours off as well. We have to stay put. This is where He refines us, purifies us, and readies us for whatever He is sending us out to do. The biggest revelation you will ever have is when you realize that you CANNOT skip over this step if you want to live out the purpose He has for your life. This is the moment He shapes you more and more into the image of Jesus… and this “moment” is every day. There will always be something to expose, always something to refine. But keep your shoes off!! He has a divine appointment with you, and as long as He keeps purifying you, the more beautiful His plan is for you. Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Fleeting means quick, passing, and ultimately not worth the pain it results in. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be in the presence of God and His people worshipping and finding hope in our pain than to be running and hiding because of the shame of sin, isolated and alone. When Moses took off his shoes, remained the presence of the Almighty, and let Him expose his sin, God did some of the most radical and beautiful things ever recorded in the Bible through his life. When we take our shoes off, remain the the presence of the Almighty, and let Him expose the parts of our lives we keep hidden, he prepares us for the most wild adventure with Him. He takes our willingness and turns it into miracles and hearts won over for the kingdom. This is what He did through the burning bush story.
This was when God told Moses to go to the Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God sent him out on a suicide mission, yet promised to be with him. Fire represents God’s presence. A bush was before Moses, completely on fire but not being consumed. The burning bush represents God sustaining and protecting Moses, not letting him be consumed as he walked through impossible circumstances. Before God even gave Moses his task, Moses said the words “Here I am” (Exodus 3:4). In the original Hebrew, hineni, those words mean “I am already here, and I am willing to do whatever you wish, before you even ask”. This was the heart of Moses. He was still, exposed, and willing, and that is why God did what He did next.
One of the most famous parts of the Old Testament is Exodus 3:14. This is when God revealed Himself as the “I Am”. Because of Moses’ heart, God revealed Himself to Him in a way that had never been done. In fact, this very line of scripture is how Jesus in the New Testament revealed Himself as God. He called Himself the “I Am”. “I Am” in the original Hebrew means “He who lives”. During this time in history, all of the false gods that were worshipped were lifeless, unable to have a life-giving relationship with its people. God revealed Himself as the living and breathing author and creator of the universe! This one statement proved the reality of the one true God for the first time ever, and the only reason God allowed Moses to be the one to have this encounter was because he was WILLING and he knew that being on Holy Ground meant that he would have to endure the refining and purifying hardships so that he could go out and change the entire world with the love of God and the reality of a true relationship with the Creator.
Moses went on to perform miracle after miracle, freeing the Israelites from Egypt, parting the Red Sea, receiving the ten commandments, and leading Israel into the purposes that God had for them. God chose Moses because Moses knew that his heart was holy ground. He knew that being in the presence of God was better than being in the presence of anything else.
“Let every burning heart be holy ground” means that if we want God to reveal Himself to us in ways that will change our lives forever and if we want Him to send us out and perform miracles through our life, we have to let our heart be Holy Ground. We have to take our shoes off and let ourselves rest in His presence and grow in a daily relationship with Him. We have to let Him refine us (and becoming more and more like Jesus is a whole miracle in itself, so as painful and hard as it is, it is the most radical way God could ever love you). We have to say “Here I am, God” and mean it. It is then that He reveals Himself and sends you on the mission of a lifetime, where nothing will ever be the same, and your heart will change the lives of everyone around you.
The presence of Jesus is Holy Ground. Our hearts are Holy Ground. It is an intimidating call, a tremendous responsibility, but it changes everything in the best way. What more could we ask for than to walk hand in hand with our Creator and beat the Pharaoh, part the sea, and lead His own people into victory after victory after victory.
Allow Him to make you His Holy Ground. Nothing could amount to the worth of the experiences you will have with Him.
Hello again after so long! I took a long break from writing on here so I could refresh my ideas and be able to really focus on the events from this past summer. Before I say anything else, this summer radically changed my life. From mission trips, leading/attending camps, internships, and more, this summer has expanded my view of God's power in ways I never could have expected. No matter how many times you believe that God is finished, He never is. He can always outdo Himself, always out-prove His love for us, and always break down our expectations until all we see is Him. This summer has provided me with stories to tell for years, and I am positive I will share many right here on this platform. The best part about this: He still isn't done. This summer was only the beginning of a revelation of His great power and love; I for one, cannot wait to see Him move even more.
Have you ever noticed that when you deeply and earnestly pray for something, God will put you in circumstances where you will learn about what you prayed for? For example, many times I have found myself praying for patience, and within a day or two, I am surrounded with circumstances that require my patience. It is so frustrating, but when we ask for something, we will receive it (John 16:24). Those circumstances aren't necessarily always desirable, but they do teach us how to be patient, how to rely on Him, and how to look to Him in every and all circumstances. These past few weeks I have found myself praying to understand what the "things of the Spirit" are, and let me tell you, God heard and answered the prayer swiftly. I feel as though everyday of the last couple weeks has been full of circumstances that have shown me what the "things of the Spirit" are and how to fully and constantly "walk in the Spirit".
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:5-6).
One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Joseph. If you had any experience in Sunday school, Joseph was always a favorite because his was the story with the bright and colorful robe given to him by his father Jacob. From an outside perspective, this is a pretty attractive story. Joseph becomes the ruler of Egypt and saves the lives of thousands of Egyptians when a seven year famine struck. He had everything he could possibly want: land, food, a glorious title, and now he was a hero? This guy was the star of Egypt. But let's take a look at his whole story. The story of Jospeh is found in Genesis 37-50. Joseph did not become the head of Egypt until Genesis 41. What happened in the five chapters before that? What led up to this amazing honor? Most who are unfamiliar with his story would assume that he was born into royalty, or was previously wealthy, or even that he married into kingship. Unfortunately, Joseph's story is much darker. He was not even an Egyptian. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers after having told them that he would one day be a ruler over them. Joseph then found himself in the house of an Egyptian master, who threw Joseph into prison for a false claim. He spent years in prison, until God gave him the ability to interpret the dreams of two of the pharaoh's men. Joseph asked these men to tell the pharaoh of what he had done for them, but instead, Joseph was forgotten about, and spent two whole more years locked in a cell. Finally, the Pharaoh heard of Joseph's ability and asked his help in interpreting a dream. This dream held the destiny of Egypt. Quickly approaching were seven years of great plenty, and then seven years of severe famine. Joseph warned Pharaoh that he needed to elect a ruler that could save the lives of all of Egypt before it was too late. God gave Joseph favor and he rose to power and was the savior of Egypt by storing enough food during the years of plenty to make up for the years of famine to come. But here is the plot twist. The famine reached as far as Joseph's father and brothers. They came to him in search of food, as they were almost starving to death. His brothers did not recognize him, as it had been 13 years since they had seen him (he was sold into slavery at 17, and crowned ruler at 30). I know in this moment, if I had been Joseph, I would have walked back into my palace and closed the doors of my food pantry. These men had plotted to kill him, then settled to sell him into slavery, and then lied to their father, saying he was killed. Why should he open his resources and save the lives of the men who tried to take his? When I read this story, I was so ready to see how Joseph took revenge on his brothers. I was ready to see them get they they deserved. And then, I read Joseph's response to his starving brothers. In that moment I was reminded that I had prayed to understand the "things of the Spirit." Joseph clearly walked, thought, and dreamed "in the Spirit". In Genesis 45:4-8, Joseph says to his brothers, "...do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life... so it was not you who sent me here, but God...". Not only was Joseph not angry with them, he told them to not be angry with themselves for what they had done to him! He was so content following God's will, that he understood any method in which God used to fulfill His plan for good.
I pray that we can learn from Joseph. He sought after God with a willing and open heart, ready to take on whatever challenges God had in place for Him. He was so confident in God's promise of good to Him that even being sold into slavery did not cause him to waver and doubt God; it only allowed him to see the ways in which God can use what the enemy means for harm for His purposes and for our good. (Genesis 50:20).
If we really want to walk in the Spirit at all times, we need to be so confident in our God's promises over our lives that not even the most confusing, most unfair, and most painful circumstances would cause us to waver, question, or doubt Him.
To keep it simple: "things of the Spirit" should really say "thing of the Spirit". The one "thing" that should consume our thoughts in the midst of confusing and unfair circumstances is God's faithfulness to fulfill His will, no matter the method, because part of His promise says that it will always be for our good, as well as His glory.
If He can use slavery to save lives, I promise you that He can use your circumstance (unfair, uncomfortable, painful, and all) to radically change lives, and win hearts for His kingdom! There is a reason you are walking through this! If you are walking through a painful situation, rejoice, it means you are watching God use something the enemy meant for evil, for a beautiful outcome and for a perfectly designed purpose. What a privilege it is to see the God of the universe move right before our eyes, for us!
Be encouraged today, knowing that you are being fought for. The enemy would love to distract and discourage you. He would love to make you question God. But God is still faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Timothy 2:13), and he himself fights our battles for us (Deuteronomy 20:4)!
"Walking in the Spirit means being so fixed on the promise of God's will, that we are content with any method He may use to fulfill His plan for our lives. "
Hey :) We are about a month into 2018, and it already feels like there is way too much going on. There is already distractions from what we should be focused on, already doubts and worries, already fear and anxiety. This year, I did not necessarily make a resolution, but I have begun praying for very specific things, including: Jesus to complete my joy, for Him to become my sole priority and need, and for Him to give me grace to trust Him more. There is absolute power in prayer, and recently I have seen that more than ever. So, slowly He has moved in my life and started fulfilling these requests in small and big ways, continually giving me opportunities to lean into Him more and focus on Him.
In the midst of watching these prayers answered, I have become more in tune to what has previously distracted me, and most (if not, all) of it has to do with the way I view myself. We all struggle with certain things about ourselves, whether it be our appearance, our personality, our hobbies, etc, but never before have I realized how quickly these opinions we form about ourselves can change our view of God in such a negative and unnecessary way. We get so caught up with worrying about what we look like, what we wear, what we weigh, and who we hang out with that we stop seeing Jesus in the middle of our lives, like He should be. I have noticed this in myself countless times, even while I'm praying for Him to be my main focus. That is why I have chosen to write about this, because I learn so much through studying these topics and I benefit so much by sharing them.
I am going to start off by saying that with everything so busy all the time, it is extremely hard to remember the value we have in Christ. We can say that Jesus loves us all the time, but what is that helping if we don't really believe it? Or we choose not to believe it because we feel like no one could love us? Here's a question: have you ever looked at a flower and said it is ugly? Or a sunset, and said it wasn't worth looking at? Probably not, natures beauty is very hard to just ignore. We see these beautiful things around us, and we don't stop to realize that the reason they are so beautiful, and so desired, is because Jesus put them there. He holds all of His creation at such a high value. But here is my point: yes, those things are extremely valuable, and worthy of attention and love, but there is a verse that says "And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" (Matthew 6:30). I think we forget sometimes that the beauty we see in everyday life is nothing in comparison to how Jesus views us. We strive to please the eyes of others and forget that we have already been fully accepted by Christ. (Romans 15:7).
Along with this realization, I have wondered why we fall so far from the truth about who we are. Why do we begin to doubt ourselves? Why do we stop trusting that the way He views us is immeasurably more important than how the world views us? I believe it is because we are so focused on what we aren't, that we lose sight of who Jesus created us to be and the purpose He drew out for our lives. We need to stop saying that we aren't smart enough, attractive enough, skinny enough, funny enough. Who created this ultimate standard of "enough" that we keep comparing ourselves to? We need to realize that Jesus wouldn't have sacrificed Himself for someone who is't enough. He created us in His image, therefore: You. Are. Enough.
This goes far beyond just changing how we view ourselves. If we don't fix this, it changes how we view God. If we do not trust how Jesus views us, and how true His opinion is of us, we will begin to lose faith in Him altogether. If we are so focused on these irrelevant aspects of our lives, we will never be prepared to accept the plan He has for us. I know that I've missed His voice in my life many times just because I was distracted by thoughts that He never placed in my mind. I am finding this to be so important because hearing His voice is what will permanently drown out the distractions. We tend to be so hard on ourselves, and we forget that Jesus has already taken those hardships for us. He longs for us and desires us far more than we give Him credit for.
In the Bible, there are countless names He calls us, if we doubt them, aren't we doubting God's word? Aren't we doubting the very thing that gives us life, and allows us to hear God's voice in every circumstance? If we have faith that God gave Moses the power to split the Red Sea (Exodus 16:21) , that God can shut the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:21-22), that Jesus can walk on the water (Matthew 14:25-27), can't we have faith that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), that we are radically loved (Romans 5:8)?
In order to truly fulfill our purpose, which is to spread His name across the nations, we have to whole heartedly believe His word, and that includes knowing our identity in Christ. We have to have full faith that we are valued and worthy, in order to show others that they are valued and worthy of His love as well. As daughters and sons of the King, we aren't orphaned or abandoned or forgotten, we are His, and we are enough.
This year, I really want to focus on being the hands and feet of Christ, and to do that I have to receive more grace to trust what He says is true. I pray that so earnestly for you as well.
It has been on my heart to share this for a few months, and I am praying that I worded it how He would have me share it. Realizing my need to keep Him at the center of even my thoughts has matured me and shown me so much, and this is just the beginning of His plan.
I genuinely pray this brings you at least a smile :) You are so radically desired and loved.
Sophia Light :)
Exodus 3:14- "God said to Moses, 'I am Who I Am'..."
John 6:20- "But [Jesus] said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.'"
It is almost Christmas! With midterms/finals, vacations, and families coming into town, it is really hard to relax and enjoy it all. It feels like the year goes by so slow, and then the whole month of December rushes by. With everything going on, we tend to forget why this season is even important. Being a Christian, you know that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus, but after awhile, the same stories and words become just that, only words. I find myself wanting to know more, not just the events surrounding that night, but why these events took place, and who Jesus really is. His story didn't end 2000 years ago. His sacrifice is the reason we can have life, and as I've gotten older, I've strived to know exactly who He is, to know why we celebrate His birth, and to make Christmas mean more to me than it ever has.
As I've read and picked out the countless names that are given to Jesus at His birth and through His life, there is one that covers all of it. In Exodus, God tells Moses that "He Is". When I first heard that, I didn't understand. What "is" He? I have grown to love this verse, because God did not need to say anything else. He Is. He is our redeemer, creator, healer, guide, teacher, and everything that we could ever need. He did not need to list all that He is, because He is all of it. He Is.
Books later in the Bible, we see the New Testament, when life was brought into a dead world. Jesus. Several times Jesus alludes to God's "I Am" statement, saying, "It is I". These verses directly correlate, and personally, I think it is amazing to see God's words line up so perfectly to His son's, even hundreds of years later. So why does this relate to Christmas, and why is this so important? That is what I have been asking myself all month, because it really is such a hard thing to grasp. To state it simply, 2000 years ago, ordinary people, living poor, humble lives, realized that a God (who created the entire universe, gave them life, and is everything they could ever need) had come for them. Jesus did not come to only save the wealthy, or only the royal. He came to disprove religion, to show that HE IS the lover of the most ordinary people. That, in itself, is a reason to celebrate Christmas.
For me, knowing that Jesus lived a life just like ours, full of temptation, and torment, and heartbreak, without a single flaw, or sin, is my biggest reason to celebrate. Romans 3:23-24 says, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." All of us. Not a single person who has walked this Earth is clean, or worthy of the perfect life Jesus lived, yet He came. Yet He suffered. Yet He died. For what? You. I think sometimes we forget the true meaning behind Christmas. Yes, it is about His birth. But it is also about His redemption, and the hope that He gave to every person, that all of us, who have fallen short of His glory, may still have life because of Him. He IS the resurrection and life, the first and the last, and the One who not only came to redeem the world, but to save every person from themselves.
I have trouble realizing how big our God is. That even in the most simple things, He is present. Ever noticed that when someone asks your name, you say "I Am" before you say your name? I Am Sophia. Or when you are doing something, you say, "I Am doing...". God literally comes before everything. He comes before your name, your actions, your very words, because God is the "I Am".
If Jesus is the "I Am" in everything I do and say, then trees and lights and bells are meaningless to me. If Jesus' birth is the reason I live, then presents and Santa Claus are worthless (even though I still love all of this stuff). I have been striving to know the reason why Christmas is so valuable, what makes it so radiant and treasured. This night, 2000 years ago, is the reason that all of our wrongs turned into hope, and all of our heartbreak turned into redemption. Not just His birth, but His life. The life that showed us that we matter, even though we may fall short of how big our God is. I am starting to see that everything branches back to His love. And His love is why Christmas has meaning.
I hope everyone can find hope in this for Christmas. I know that I have.
Merry Christmas :)
Hebrews 11:8- "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going."
Hey! I honestly miss writing on here so much. Needless to say, it has been the most intense few months of my life, and I am waiting on God more every day with how to handle a lot of the situations I am presently dealing with. Through all of this though, I have learned so much. I have learned what it means to be patient, obedient, and trusting. I have learned what true fellowship looks like, and how to help others through similar circumstances. I have learned what the true meaning of selfless faith looks like.
Faith is one of those words that is way overused and misunderstood. I have talked about childlike faith before a couple of months ago; but recently I have grown so much in my true understanding of it. In Hebrews, there are literal guidelines that tell us exactly what faith consists of. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, the understanding that the universe was created by the Word of God, and the knowing that what is seen was not made of things visible.
The first time I read that, I truly thought I understood what it was saying; but God made me look a little deeper, not just by reading it, but by putting me in literal circumstances that required me to give Him my complete trust. As I continued reading in Hebrews, I came across this verse, along with another whole section of examples of godly faith. Abraham was asked to completely trust God and go out, having no knowledge of where he was being led to. I know that if it had been me, I would have asked a lot of questions. I would have wanted to know how safe I would be, and ultimately where my destination was. Yet, I have come to realize that questions play no part in faith. They actually destroy faith all together. Imagine a little girl standing on a table, prepared to jump into her father's arms. When he tells her to jump, she does not stop to ask if he will catch her, she just jumps and has total faith that he will save her from the ground. This is what Jesus asks us to do on a daily basis, and you would think that since He is our Creator, the one who loves us above anyone else, the one who knows our past, present, and future, He above all would be worthy of gaining every ounce of trust and faith for our wellbeing, yet somehow we still struggle to give it to Him.
I need to hear this just as much as everyone does. I am always asking questions. I constantly want to know the full picture. This is where the word "surrender" comes in. Biblically, "surrender" means to give up what you want, so that God can fully live through you. If you surrender your thoughts to Him, there will be no more questions. If you surrender your actions to Him, you will not have to worry about doing anything against His will for you. If you surrender yourself completely to Him, He will give you the strength and peace to get through the circumstances that require so much of your faith. This is obviously much easier said than done. We, as humans, will always question God. And the best part is, He understands, and works every day to show you how to lean on Him further. Having questions is okay, because it teaches you how to trust. We will never have all of the answers.
The only way I have learned to surrender is by waiting on God. Through waiting, I have seen Him answer prayers like never before, bring people I needed into my life, and strengthen me to help others come to Him. Slowly, I have given Him every aspect of my life, and only then have I seen my questions turn into hope, and my fear turn into love for the One who holds my life in His hands.
In Psalm 62:5, it says, "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him." I love that it says to wait in silence. That means there is no room for questions or doubts. There is only room for the hope He gives you. The more faith you give to Him, the farther He will ask you to leap. Life will continue to give you circumstances that seem impossible, yet in those moments of complete fear and doubt, He is teaching you how to have "conviction of things not seen". He is always there, and the easiest thing you can do is trust that His plan for you is so much greater than what you had planned for yourself.
The only reason Abraham was able to go out not knowing where He was going, was because he knew He had a big God who wrote his path down before he began walking. The only reason we are able to face our circumstances everyday, is because our God has already written our story, regardless of how many questions we asked, or how many doubts we had. Have faith that Jesus knows what He is doing. Wait on His plan for your life. I have seen Him do some incredible things through what seems like an unbearable tragedy in my own life, and He can do that for you as well.
Go out, seeing Him who is invisible.
Psalm 62:8- Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Hey, it's been a little longer than usual. I don't like how long it has been, but I also think it was necessary to take a short pause to regain strength and the ability to keep writing through the difficult circumstances that have overtaken my life for the past few weeks.
This post is about the above verse, but more so about the word following it, "selah". "Selah" is a word heavily used in the Old Testament, mostly in the Psalms. It means to "pause and calmly think of this". At first I really saw no significance to it. Why should one word make any difference in how we read our Bible? When I would read a passage that included this word, I would pause and make sure I understood the last verse, and then keep going. It never clicked with me until recently how important this word is to our everyday life, and how I personally need it to deal with devastating situations.
It shocks me daily how quickly life can change. It seems like things happen too fast, before you have a say in the outcome. Just a few weeks ago, I was praying and thanking God for the joyfulness in my life. The next day I received news that altered my life completely. On August 16th, about 4 and a half weeks ago, my mom passed away due to a massive heart attack. A complete surprise to my family and I, as we had lost my uncle to similar causes in February 2016. Sometimes life doesn't pan out how you expect; actually, it never really does. It is the most devastating news I have ever received, and no matter how much I pray to understand why my mom left this earth at the age of 42, it will never make sense to me. That terrifying night is when I had a selah moment. I could choose to be mad at God for disrupting my life and taking away my mom, or I could choose to trust His plan and wait on Him. Even as a strong Christian, this is a hard choice. Of course I know that God is good. I know that His plan will always be better than mine. I know that He loves me and that His ways are higher than mine; yet I want so badly to be angry with Him. Everyone has hit this moment before. There is no exception. But there's that word again. Selah. Pause. Calmly think about what He is doing. Selah. In John 13:7, Jesus says, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." We won't understand His plan in it's entirety until we are with Him in heaven. I won't understand God's reason for what has happened until I am with my mom in heaven. This is my pause moment, the place where I go back and tell God that I know His plan for me is good, that He loves me unconditionally, and that His ways are higher than mine. I could choose to be angry, and push Jesus far from my life; yet I choose to pull Him closer, so that one day He can show me how perfected His plan was for my life and how necessary it was for me to grow closer to Him during these tragedies.
These weeks that I have been away from this blog were my pause. I am waiting on Him; and I will be continually. I have learned more from this experience than I have from anything else in my life. There is no room for resentment, regret, fear, hate, impatience, or anger in our hearts if Jesus is our whole life. I am devastated and confused, yet joy overtakes my heart everyday. This is only the work of Jesus. Only Him alone.
Without Jesus, our life is full of confusion. With Jesus, the confusion is still present, but the joy He provides overcomes any stronghold of sadness, fear, or anger. In our moments of tragedy, selah. Pause and think about the plan for our lives that is yet to come. Pause and think about how necessary He is to guard our hearts when devastation comes. Pause and wait on Him, because we don't understand now, but later our eyes will be opened and we will see His perfect plan unfold before us. Trust that tears come in the night, but His joy comes in morning. Be still, selah, and know that He is God.
Colossians 4:18- "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you."
Hey :) This week has been crazy, to say the least. God continues to strengthen my patience daily, which is so necessary because of school starting. I read this verse a couple of days after I wrote my last blog, and I took this week to think about it and it's significance. It jumped out at me right when I read it.
The entire book of Colossians is a letter from Paul to Christians in the small city of Colossae. Most of the letter consists of him telling them how to strengthen their faith, and to continue to thank God for everything. To us, that may sound insignificant. We already know the importance of thanking God, but here's the twist, Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison for sharing Christ. Even while he was chained, he was praising God, and teaching others to do the same. Paul used his life, even in jail, to give complete glory to Jesus, and not only did multitudes get saved back then, but his testimony still speaks to millions today through the new testament.
When I first read this verse, I looked at earlier verses to hear more about Paul's imprisonment. Come to find out, he mentioned being in prison maybe once or twice. The rest of the letter is ALL about how amazing our God is. That is such a witness to me because compared to how big Jesus is, prison was so insignificant to him. No matter what hardship you are facing, compared to HIs love for you, it's nothing. Knowing that someone can face chains, yet still live free because of Jesus shows us that through keeping our eyes on Christ, we can get through any and every trial set before us.
Another point I made from this was found in verses 2:6-7, which say, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, WALK in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, ABOUNDING in thanksgiving." Paul is chained in a cell, yet he was still WALKING in Christ. Not only was he walking, he was ABOUNDING. The dictionary definition of abounding is "plentiful", or you have a lot. Paul had nothing, yet he was overflowing with thanks and love for Christ.
Paul signed off by saying, "Remember my chains". Why? He wanted people to see that even though he is chained, the power of Jesus cannot be contained and His love will continue to be spread throughout the nations. "Remember my chains". No physical torment can separate you from Jesus, no enemy, or army, or prison. "Remember my chains". Know that people you know are chained and stuck in their tribulations without Christ, but He can still reach them. "Remember my chains". We are never so lost that God can't find us. "Remember my chains".
Without Christ, we are held captive, but Jesus came to set the captives free.
In Him, we are free.
Romans 12:12- Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Hey, it's been a little over a week since I last posted, and with school coming quickly, that will probably be the rate from now on, but it does give me more time to think over messages and to read more passages that will help both you and me.
About 3-4 years ago, I read this verse and I wrote a little message with it. I remember thinking that this verse is the key to life and that it would help me in the future. I can't say this a lot, but I was totally right. The past few weeks have been an absolute trial for my patience. It seems like every decision I make has to be rearranged and figured out again. I don't know about you, but when it comes to getting things done, I'm so impatient. For example, at the end of last year, I chose all of my classes for this year and I picked classes that I really want to take. This past week I found out that the two classes that I want to take more than anything are held during the same period, so now I can only pick one, and that was a hard decision for me. I wanted to be able to pick up my schedule, have everything on it that I wanted, and to not have to deal with schedule changes and hard decisions, but it took me a couple of days to realize how impatient I was being, and that God has a purpose for why I had to ultimately pick different classes.
Of course, that's just a small example, but it was the most recent for me. The cool thing about this verse is that it applies to the little and the big things. The first thing it tells us to do is to "rejoice in hope", and I love that, because when you really think about what it's saying, it isn't telling you to be happy with the things you already have, but to be overjoyed at the HOPE that one day you will have all you need. Rejoice in the things hoped for, thank God for the things you know He will bless you with. Take the discouragements and fears and turn them into hopes for the future, ones that you can fully trust God with, and completely rejoice in. The most trying thing for me this week has been to turn my impatience into hope, but God is strong enough to do that for me, and He can for you as well.
The second thing this verse says to do is to "be patient in tribulation". This part seems to be relevant to anyone I talk to and anything I go through personally. We all have something that's going on in our lives that we wish we could change, but this verse isn't arguable. After we start to rejoice in the hopes not yet achieved, we have to be patient while we wait for God's promises in our lives, which is to do good according to His will and His purposes. I know that in the future I will know exactly what career I will have and what kind of family I will have, and so on, and while I rejoice in that hope, I have to be patient during the lack of clarity and the confusion, because right now the future seems terrifying. Rejoice in the hope that your tribulation will soon be over.
The last point in this verse is to "be constant in prayer". God never said Christianity would be easy, or popular, or in your comfort zone. Rejoicing in things you don't have seems kind of crazy, being "patient" during difficult times seems impossible, which is exactly why the ending of this verse is so important. While the confusion takes over, be constant in prayer. God knows the trials we are going through, and while we have hope in His plan, He doesn't need hope, because He already has it all in the palm of His hand, which is why being patient during this time is so important. It doesn't say to lift up a prayer when you think of it, or when you make the time for Him, it says to be CONSTANT, meaning that we absolutely cannot achieve these things without His protection and guidance continually.
I love that all of these paragraphs came from three simple statements from God. It's so easy to let Him do the writing for me, because I have no idea how to be patient like He wants me to be, but I'm learning as He's guiding me, and He's guiding all of us, so rejoice, because His love isn't just a hope, but a reality.