“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” 1 John 2:9-11
1 John contains some strong convictions about love. When we have any trace of hatred in our heart, we are still in darkness. Our hatred for a brother or sister keeps us blind and from loving God and others as we should. Notice verse 11: “they do not know where they are going.” Our hatred leads to blindness, which leads to losing direction! We are no longer following Christ when we harbor hatred. Loving our brothers and sisters completely is living in the light.
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart and any areas of darkness. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love–especially those whom are hard to love. Clearly, hatred is not compatible at all with following Christ. We must allow any hatred to be completely uprooted from our hearts in order to walk in the light.
Our Creator is continually molding us, using our experiences and allowing others that can draw out our best self, if we let them. At the end of each year, I like to take time and look back on the year. This year was a year of numerous changes in every aspect of my life. Reflecting back on 2017, I see how much I’ve been able to learn and mature. Without all the complexity, and if I had stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have been pushed to growth. Most of all, without these changes, I would not have developed a closer relationship with my Savior. Without further ado, here are the top 3 lessons I learned in 2017.
1. Faith truly is believing in the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There were certain decisions I made in faith, with wise consult, realizing God was leading me in a new direction. People thought I was crazy at times (even if they didn’t say it). In each situation, God came through. In fact, He came through in the nick of time in the last instance! Faith is not easy. I learned how uncomfortable it can be to live in the discomfort of now while not yet having the answer of how the situation would play out. But a life of faith brings us into a closer relationship with God. Walking by faith means sometimes taking the first step forward when you don’t know exactly where you’ll step next, or why you’re being asked to step that way! God is truly faithful.
2. Always surround yourself with positive people who truly want the best for you. When it comes down to it, the people you thought were in your corner…May not actually care about you as much as you thought. In difficult times, people will show their true character. Look at the character of those around you. Just as we are called to “test every spirit,” it’s important to examine the character of those influencing us. Negativity and criticism pull you down more than you can imagine. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the hard way. Going forward, I’m eager to spend time with the people who encourage me and build me up, and building new relationships of this sort. Positive relationships are life-giving and bring joy.
3. When I am weak, Christ is strong. I’m actually a little bit in awe when I look back on the year. A lot has happened in one year! Especially when it came to school, I sometimes wondered how I was going to finish strong.With Christ, we are overcomers. Leaning on Him, we can accomplish so much more than we ever thought possible! We can make it through situations that seem impossible. With Christ, I made it through difficult job changes, grueling semesters of school, and (by the end of the year) multiple moves. I’m going to keep leaning on Christ’s strength as life continues to change and require great persistence!
A very merry and joyful Christmas to all of my readers & your families!
May you know more truly the love Jesus has for you and know the deep peace that He brings! In whatever trials and joys are currently in our lives or coming soon, let’s lean on Him always. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to save us!
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”~Isaiah 9:6-7
Like other Jews, Mary (mother of Jesus) longed for the fulfillment of the prophecies promising a Savior to Israel. (Never could she have imagined, even in her wildest dreams, that she would be the one to bring Him into the world!) In my life, I’m (still) waiting for the fulfillment of so many of God’s promises to me.
As I go about Advent, I am going to look at Mary and the hope of her Son. No matter how painful the waiting (for all kinds of fulfillment), I want to be strong as Mary was. I want to trust His promises to me. I want to grasp onto His faithfulness, to trust, even when there is no hope within my line of sight.
I want to say “yes” as Mary did, and not to count the cost. Her cost for saying “yes” to conceiving the Savior could have meant death for her. I don’t know if the cost for me will ever mean physical death (as a martyr), but it does mean dying to myself and my own plans every day.
I want to say “yes” and not question why He asks a certain experience of me. Mary didn’t question why she specifically was being asked to carry out the magnificent task of carrying the Son of God within her womb and mothering Him. She simply said: “I am the Lord’s servant,may your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) I have many questions about why I am asked to carry certain things. Why am I entrusted with this or that? Yet, His plan is sovereign and wise. I want Mary’s courage to simply say “yes,” only looking forward and keeping my eyes on Him.
I can’t imagine the temptation to impatience there was for Mary during her pregnancy. Can you imagine being told by an angel that you would conceive in a supernatural way…And not only that, but that the child would be the Savior of all humanity! Mary protected Jesus in her womb for 9 months and waited all those months to behold her beautiful Savior face to face. She must have faced persecution for her out of wedlock pregnancy, most people not having a clue of Whom she carried. Yet she carried the evidence of what people believed was sin in her body, waiting and waiting to hold Him, and for the world to know Who this special Child was. In all of my waiting…To finish school for a more fulfilling job where I will no longer live paycheck to paycheck, in waiting to meet or know who my husband is, in waiting to find a more permanent living situation…Impatience. Yet most of all, longing for the day I meet my Redeemer face to face, and live in perfect joy forever with Him and all the saints.Waiting. There is always something to wait for. The waiting, the longing, the feelings of never being settled…Mary teaches me to wait. She is teaching me endless strength, and to have faith. She shows me the example of a woman who followed the Lord without fear, no matter where it led her.
So now I step into Advent, a season of the Church where my daily lived experience is made manifest. I’m thankful to have Mary to look to for the virtues I need the most at this time. Most of all, I’m grateful that she said “yes,” so that our Savior could come into the world!
“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” Luke 1:45
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
There is a saying in the Arabic language that is often said: “Inshallah” (God willing). I like how this saying is so often said, because it places recognition in God’s omnipotence and in the fact that humans only know so much. Sure, we can plan all we want. But ultimately, we don’t know. Our humanity gives us a very limited picture of our own lives and of the world. We don’t know about natural disasters or airline shutdowns that can derail travel plans. We don’t know that we’re going to fall so sick that we can’t get out of bed on the day we have an important presentation. We don’t know that we’re going to unexpectedly meet the person that changes our life and our entire life plans. Or, that we don’t meet the special person we always dreamed of. The list goes on.
I have often gotten caught up in my own plans, determined to follow through with them no matter what.How many of you are the same way?Yet we read the Scripture at the beginning of this post and see: it is all according to God’s will. We are not in control! It’s not about our plans or our timing. I was supposed to attend a historic event today. However, I have been struggling with sickness for the past week. I woke up fatigued. My cough is unpredictable and my voice is barely there. After praying about it, I had the sense that it was a “no.”The plans I had made with others months ago were not going to happen.I was to stay home and rest.
I can’t explain why this is the week I got so sick. However, I do know that this day of rest has been immensely healing to my body. It has also been a great time to reconnect with God. It’s just another lesson in learning to let go of my plans and dreams in order for whatever else my Jesus has in store. It’s all “God willing.”
(Note: I’m not against planning! We need to make plans, to a certain extent. However, our plans are often very different than THE plan the Creator accomplishes! We need not to be so set on our plans that we are closed off to His different plans.)
It’s November, the month that those of us living in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday reminds us to give thanks for our blessings. In my own life, I’ve been working to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” As my attitude has shifted, I have noticed a much higher level of contentment in my life! Life definitely isn’t “perfect”–but it is all a blessing!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Having hope isn’t always an easy task. It’s in the situations when we really need hope that it’s easiest to lose it! Hope is so necessary to live our best lives possible. Hope brings freedom. When we lose hope, we live in anxiety and fear. We lose our joy and our center. Hope lifts the shackles of worry off of us. Hope protects and preserves–when we lose hope, we lose faith in the thing we hoped for! If we are no longer hoping, we might miss it when what we hoped for comes along!
To the world, remaining in hope sometimes seems crazy. But, we serve an awesome God! He’s a way-maker, a miracle worker, a promise keeper…Jesus Christ came as a human being to earth, this painful, messy, confused place. Then He died and actually rose from the dead for you–for your eternal JOY! HOPE is what God offers!
In finding your dream job, or a job…Have hope! Maybe there are still some stepping stones before you get there, so that you can do the BEST job possible! Or, maybe God will reveal something even greater to you along the way!
As far as meeting a suitable spouse…Have hope! Being hopeless isn’t going to attract the person you are waiting on! Have HOPE in God’s promises and goodness…Even if the timing is not what you wanted or what the world thought was reasonable!
In any situation…Have hope! You never know how the situation will turn around! In my life, I remember a time when I had been job searching for months…I had interview after interview…But no job offers (except retail). One day, out of the blue, I had an email from a supervisor at an organization where I had volunteered a few years back. They were starting a new program–and my qualifications literally fit perfectly with what they were looking for! Basically, it was my dream job due to the different elements of it. I got the job almost automatically! Believe me, I never would have expected that to happen! But GOD.Faith and hope sustained me throughout all those closed doors!
Find hope! It will add increase and strength to your life, as well as to the lives of those around you! An attitude of hope is, well, hopeful! If you’re struggling with finding hope…Pray for it! Believe me, it will be granted, sometimes in ways you never expected! I love all my readers and I pray that each of you has an outpouring of hope as you read, in whatever situation you need hope!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.