My Testimony

Those who read my blogs know that I am a Christian. I don’t attend churches only of a certain denomination, so therefore I do not associate myself with a certain denomination.

My parents grew up going to Apostolic Lutheran churches. I was moved around a lot during my childhood, and my family attended a lot of different churches. I went to Apostolic Lutheran churches for some periods of my life. I went to Baptist churches. Evangelical Free churches. And churches that described themselves as non-denominational, Bible-believing churches. Today I attend a non-denominational-church, but I believe it has Baptist roots.

Regardless of what church I go to, I prefer to call myself simply a Christ-follower. ūüôā Jesus Christ is my Savior, I am free in Him, and I’m on a journey each day of understanding more what it means to love and serve Him and others. My life is a love story with Him. I am certainly not perfect, and people may not always see my efforts and the heart behind them. But I feel it in my soul, the way He gently woos me and teaches me.

So I’ve told you all that I am a Christian. Now I want to share a little of my testimony.

my testimony

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every Sunday. I had a good childhood, and remember my mom telling me often that Jesus loved me, and that she would love me always, no matter what.

Just as I trusted that she would always love me no matter what … even if I did something bad … I believed that God was, indeed, God and He loved me. I trusted that Jesus had died on a cross which took away my sins and because of that, I would live in heaven one day with Him.

I had a simple childlike belief. And no, I don’t remember a day when I prayed a prayer to become saved. But I do know that even back then as a little girl I was a saved child of God, because I believed.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:11-13

11¬†For the Scripture says,¬†‚ÄúWhoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.‚Ä̬†12¬†For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.¬†13¬†For¬†‚Äúwhoever calls on the name of the¬†Lord¬†shall be saved.‚ÄĚ

(Fun fact: I started reading through the Bible, from Genesis, when I was eight or nine-years-old. I finally finished it at fifteen!)

When I was still pretty young, my mom did a Bible study on the book of Proverbs and wisdom with us kids. During that study, I prayed that God would give me wisdom. I wasn’t exactly sure what that would mean – or even the big deal about wisdom – but I prayed for it because the Bible said to get wisdom, to seek knowledge! And King Solomon, as a young person, had prayed for wisdom.

Proverbs 4:5-9

5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.‚ÄĚ

1 Kings 3:9

9 Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.

As I grew older, that simple message of Jesus’ love for me got twisted into something like: God is displeased with you and you need to earn Jesus’ love.

Around twelve-years-old, I remember having some questions about the Christian faith and such. Because of this doubt, I became very afraid and cried myself to sleep many nights because I was afraid that the world would end before I worked through my doubts and I wouldn’t go to heaven.

I guess I had somewhere along the line lost hold of that truth of Jesus Christ’s love for me that I had simply believed as a child.

Romans 8:34

34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

I struggled for a few years. One day I confessed these doubts and fears to my mom, and she grabbed my hand and held it tightly while speaking truth to me.

I think a few different thing made this struggle so hard for me. I was homeschooled all my life and sheltered from a lot, but I still heard other worldviews. And I think because I’ve always been such a deep thinker and feeler, I went through that sort of journey of figuring out what you believe for yourself a lot younger than some people.

I was just entering my teenage years, and becoming very insecure at that point. I didn’t share a lot with other people, which kept me isolated inside my own little world of overwhelming fears and doubts. (When you don’t share some things with others, they can become magnified and instead of fighting and finding help, you retreat further into yourself and only deepen the struggle.) And I was a people-pleaser and it wounded me a lot when people got upset with me. I questioned if my presence was wanted in many places. I questioned if I was loved.

Now, I still knew my mom loved me. But we have different personalities and we kind of clashed during some of my teenage years. I wondered sometimes if she cared about things I was going through – though she did! I just didn’t know very well how to communicate with her (or probably anyone else, for that matter.)

So if I was questioning if I was loved and wanted by the people around me and closest to me, it’s not a huge wonder that I was questioning things about my faith. I think at the root of it all was a question: Am I lovable to God?

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Can I trust Him with my heart and my soul and my life and my everything … or am I going to have to figure something else out?

And what was that “something else” that I was going to have to figure out??

It was a process. Sometimes during church, I would feel like the preacher (once it was my uncle ūüôā ) was speaking directly to me. But I was too scared to hope that it was God pursuing me.

But He did pursue me.

One night, when I was fourteen or fifteen (probably), I was sitting on my bed reading my Bible. I don’t remember what I was reading, but I started to cry. I just knew in that moment that God was there and it was going to be okay.

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I got baptized at fifteen-years-old. I was still struggling at that point, but I knew the Bible talked about getting baptized and I wanted to be obedient to the Lord in that. Even though I was struggling, I knew what course I was going to pursue. I was going to follow God.

Joshua 24:16-18

16¬†So the people answered and said: ‚ÄúFar be it from us that we should forsake the¬†Lord¬†to serve other gods;¬†17¬†for the¬†Lord¬†our God¬†is¬†He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.¬†18¬†And the¬†Lord¬†drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the¬†Lord, for He¬†is¬†our God.‚ÄĚ

I think it was around that time that I started developing friendships with some great Christian people and got more involved in youth group, was a co-counselor at a youth camp, went on an inner-city mission trip, and eventually joined the young adult/singles Bible study that really, really impacted me.

The people in this Bible study were some of the few people that made me feel absolutely welcome. Like I was wanted there. Like I was part of them. Like I was accepted and even liked and cherished. They are beautiful people and truly touched the lives of my older brother and I.

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1 John 4:15-16

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

I was growing and learning and enjoying time with my friends. I read some books by Eric & Leslie Ludy and the like that really touched me.

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There were days I felt amazing passion, joy, and peace as I sought the Lord. I was serious about my walk with Him. I started a prayer journal and tried to read my Bible more often.

So even though there was still struggles, a deep desire had been born inside me. I want to know God more.

After graduating at seventeen and moving with my family to another state, my anxiety got pretty bad.

See, I had grown a lot in my faith, but I was still struggling with trusting God with absolutely everything. And I do believe, in my case, this is pretty deeply rooted in insecurity and not feeling wanted.

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So my life went. Faith blossomed, and faith waned. I struggled and I fought. I fretted and I feared.

But my deepest heart’s desire stayed the same through it all, I believe. I want Jesus.

And somewhere deep down I was started to truly believe. He wasn’t going to give up on me. He wasn’t going to let me wallow in this fear and anxiety and lack of trust for the rest of my days. He had begun a work in me and He is going to finish it. Because He cares.

Philippians 1:3-6

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

1 Peter 5:6-7

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

It was last year that I started praying out loud. Going on long prayer walks. Pouring out my heart to the Lord. Though sometimes I felt very aware of my small voice all alone in the big world, I also felt close to God during these prayer walks. I felt such peace. I felt fearlessness. I felt hope. I felt a true delight in Him awakening in me.

Psalm 63:3-4

3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
4 Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.

I started being more intentional about reading my Bible everyday. Starting my morning with a devotional and with my thoughts on the Lord.

The end of last year/beginning of this year I finally actually faced how truly insecure I was. I’ve mentioned this before in some posts. And I realized, I need to claim God’s love for me. I need to believe that I am His cherished daughter. I need to find my security in Him. I need to stop comparing my spiritual journey with other people’s. I need to fight dark lies with prayer, the Word, and Jesus Christ’s powerful name. I need to take hold of His promises and step into His love.

Enough trying so hard to serve Him while still wondering if I’m truly wanted and delighted in, and therefore withholding some of my trust.

Enough hiding from my fears – stuffing them deep inside and not addressing them.

Time to get honest.

Lord, I’m afraid. I don’t understand. Please help my unbelief.

Time to speak truth over myself.

You, Shantelle, are a beloved daughter of God. And nothing can snatch you from His hand. Don’t you see? You never earned His favor, He just wanted you and chose you and now you belong to Him forever because of Jesus’ blood.

He sees me. He won’t give up on me. He won’t let anything take me from His loving grip. And I will fight all the darkness and strive to keep my eyes on Him.

John 10:27-30

27¬†My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.¬†28¬†And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.¬†29¬†My Father, who has given¬†them¬†to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch¬†them¬†out of My Father‚Äôs hand.¬†30¬†I and¬†My¬†Father are one.‚ÄĚ

I’ve watched my faith grow amazingly. I’ve felt myself hunger for God’s Word. My passion for prayer and belief of its power has deepened. I feel the assurance of His love fill my lonely heart. I’ve watched myself change by His work in me – little by little. My desire to live my life for His glory and honor has only grown through the years!

And my eyes have been opened to the reality that I am not alone and my life can be a love story with Him. In a world that can be so uncertain and unstable and harsh, He is constant and no one can take Him from me.

Dear reader, I am not perfect, but my God is.

And if you are struggling, I want you to know that your life can be a love story with Him too! He has more than enough room for you to be His cherished daughter (or son) too! You can have a personal relationship with God and truly experience His genuine, forgiving, redeeming, beautiful, all-encompassing love.

Seek Him with all that you are!

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

God is faithful and holy and pure and love.

May He bless you and wrap you in His love.

‚̧ Lady Grace

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His Word is Truth

Good morning, fellow mortals!

How is life going for you? I’m glad you stopped by my blog and pray you are encouraged and challenged‚ÄĒespecially by this post.

I wanted to take some time to address a crucially important topic today.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

His Word

God’s Word.

Truth.

Who is the lord of your life?

As Christians, who do we follow?

What defines right and wrong for us?

What shapes our ideals and convictions more‚ÄĒthe culture or the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Dear friends, I’d like to present a question: Are you a fan of Jesus Christ? Or a follower of Jesus Christ?

1 John 2:5

5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

Fan or follower?

Let’s face a hard truth. You cannot be enraptured by the world, believing their “truths” and living their lies, and walking the way you feel is right … and still know God. Even if you’re a big fan of Jesus.

Christians are followers of Christ.

So, are you a Christian? Do you know what it means to follow someone? This doesn’t mean listening to the Christian radio, raising your hands in church, and wearing an “I love Jesus” T-shirt (though those aren’t bad things!) … it means imitating Jesus Christ. Walking in the ways He showed us.

Letting Him live through us.

Galatians 2:20

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

John 13:13-17

13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Ephesians 5:2

2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

John 14:21

21¬†He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.‚ÄĚ

How do you know how Jesus lived? You read His Word. Read your Bible. Immerse yourself in its truths.

Who do you think knows better? Your college professor or the Creator of the universe? Hollywood or the Author of love? The culture or the Maker? Media or the God of justice? That brilliant author you’re reading by or the Beginning and the End? You or the Lord of Lords?

1 Timothy 6:3-5

3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and your Savior, then you must believe that the Bible is absolute truth! You cannot take away or add to the Word of God without mocking, discrediting, disbelieving, or making God out to be a liar.

1 Timothy 6:20-21

20¬†O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane¬†and¬†idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge‚ÄĒ¬†21¬†by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

If we want to love God, we need to obey His Word! We need to be reading the Bible regularly and dwelling on its words. The Bible needs to be our road map. Our instruction manual. Our guide. Our absolute. Our truth.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

We can’t rely on our feelings, our media, or our family and friends to determine truth for us. We must go to God and His Word which He gave us!

2 Timothy 3:13-15

13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

There are people and resources in this world that can help us understand or recognize truth, but we must always have the Bible as our foundation and line everything up against what it says.

John 14:23

23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Listen. It is by grace that we are saved, through faith in Jesus Christ! Trusting that He is God’s Son and that His blood sacrifice paid our debt is what brings us into right standing with God and promises us eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Romans 10:9-13

9¬†that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.¬†10¬†For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.¬†11¬†For the Scripture says,¬†‚ÄúWhoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.‚Ä̬†12¬†For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.¬†13¬†For¬†‚Äúwhoever calls on the name of the¬†Lord¬†shall be saved.‚ÄĚ

But don’t cry out to God and then just go on with your old way of life. There is an Enemy prowling out there who seeks to kill and destroy. You need to know God and obey His Word. Because it is all too easy to get sucked into Satan’s lies.

1 Peter 5:8

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

John 10:10

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Examine your heart. Do you follow Jesus Christ? Do you believe His Word is truth?

If you do believe that the Bible is truth, do you spend more time immersing yourself in truth or in lies?

What do you spend more time listening to? Christian songs that have truth in their lyrics? Or secular music that feeds you lies, mocks God’s design, and glorifies sin and self?

What about what you read?

What you watch?

Philippians 4:7-9

the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8¬†Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things¬†are¬†noble, whatever things¬†are¬†just, whatever things¬†are¬†pure, whatever things¬†are¬†lovely, whatever things¬†are¬†of good report, if¬†there is¬†any virtue and if¬†there is¬†anything praiseworthy‚ÄĒmeditate on these things.¬†9¬†The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

What kind of people do you hang out with most?

1 Corinthians 15:33

33¬†Do not be deceived: ‚ÄúEvil company corrupts good habits.‚ÄĚ

What kind of talk do you engage in?

Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

You’re only making it harder on yourself when you love loving the world instead of drawing nearer to God by surrounding yourself with His words, His truth, His people, His beauty.

Not everything is beneficial. Do yourself a favor and throw off some weights that are hindering you from running the race effectively.

1 Corinthians 10:23

23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Hebrews 12:1-2

let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Going back to the main point … His Word is truth. If you believe in Him, you must believe this. And then you must fight for it. Put your faith in Him for He is worthy of your trust.

Isaiah 55:6-9

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor¬†are¬†your ways My ways,‚ÄĚ says the¬†Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Be serious about this. Be serious about your claims of Christianity, and faith, and truth. GOD IS LOVE, but HE IS ALSO HOLY. He is gracious, compassionate, and full of tender mercies. But, just the same, He will not be mocked.

Proverbs 1:20-23

20 Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
21 She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
23 Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

He is God. You are not.

This is a beautiful thing when you place your heart in the hands of the one true King and let Him lead you. ‚̧

Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
8 It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.

What does the Bible say about Fear?

Do you struggle with fear? Anxiety? I know I do. So what does the Word of God say about fear?

fear

Psalm 34:4

“I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

Joshua 1:9

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Matthew 6:24

“Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Psalm 23:4

“Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff – they comfort me.”

Romans 8:38-39

“For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rules, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Psalm 94:19

“When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.”

1 Peter 1:5

“You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Psalm 27:1

“The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom should I be afraid?”

1 Peter 5:6-7

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.”

Psalm 56:3-4

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.”

Psalm 103:17-18

“But from eternity to eternity, the LORD’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant.”

Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:13

“For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you: Do not fear, I will help you.”

Romans 8:15

“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ ”

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear …”

***

For the Sake of Love

I‚Äôve met many a Christian person who is quite ‚Äúreligious‚ÄĚ. They go to church every Sunday; perhaps on Friday as well. They pray at each meal. They give to the needy. They speak of God and the Bible with solemnity and reverence.

But something is missing. As I watch, these same individuals often treat people in their day-to-day lives badly. Sometimes, women are treated as less; possessions almost. In other instances, men are mocked. Children are viewed as burdens and nuisances. Unbelievers, as idiots. The authorities are scorned. Servers are ill-treated if they don’t give them what they want. People who’ve made some big mistakes or had a rough past are looked down upon. The girl in the scanty clothes, or even the Christian rap singer, condemned.

And these are Christian people acting like this to others. If I asked them,¬†‚ÄúDo you love God?‚ÄĚ, I‚Äôm sure they would respond,¬†‚ÄúOf course!‚ÄĚ

But there is another question. Do you obey His commands? It says in John 14:15:¬†‚ÄúIf you love Me, keep My commandments.‚ÄĚ

And that is more than going to church and praying before a meal. John 13:34-35 says:¬†‚ÄúA new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.¬†By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.‚ÄĚ

Galatians 5:14 solidifies it with these powerful words:¬†“For all the law is fulfilled in one word,¬†even¬†in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Romans 13:8-10

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

So if you are continually hurting those in your life (because of bitterness, insecurity, pride, fear, past wounds, selfishness, etc.), you are willfully living a lifestyle of disobeying God’s commands.
 
Do you love God? Do you even really know Him?

God is love.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” {1 John 4:8}
He is love, my friends. Do you think you can go about life being harsh, condemning, tearing down, bitter, grumbling, quick to lash out at others … yet somehow claim to follow the Author of love?

Don’t you see? All that religiousness, all those rules, “good deeds”, eloquent talks about God – they mean nothing without love.

1 Corinthians 13 says: 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I AM ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR CLANGING CYMBAL.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I AM NOTHING.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I GAIN NOTHING.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I have read this passage a hundred times. I even memorized it. But I think only recently did its meaning really sink in.

We are nothing without love.

Religion. Good work. Knowledge. Ability. Generosity. Fine words. They mean nothing without love.
You can be an upstanding citizen. A respected church member. An admired worker.
But if you are going through life always treating your spouse, your children, your parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, in-laws, your fellow man, poorly, you’ve utterly missed the point. All your “righteousness” means nothing.All those people you’re hurting, they are God’s creations. They’re God’s children. What right have you to claim to follow God and then abuse your fellow man?God is love.Can’t you see? It’s all about love! It’s all because of love. Love is the most important. God loved us, and that is how we are offered redemption. Everything we do should be because of love.

Discipline your children because you love them; you care about their lives and for their eternal souls.

Dress and behave modestly because you love your brothers in Christ; because you love your future husband enough to save all for him; because you know God loves you and you should love yourself enough to protect your body and purity.

Go and talk to a friend who has fallen into sin because you love them; you care about their relationship with God.

Do good things, strive for righteousness and godliness because you love God! Because He loved you first and you want to follow Him, to be like Him, to please Him.

I write this blog post because of love. Because I know people who are trying to make things work without much love, and I love them. I fear for them. I sorrow over them because I know they’re not who God made them to be, and surely their hearts are a bit sick.
I write this post because I love those who are being hurt by the unloving-ness of some people in their lives.
I write this post because I love God and His truth.

I write this post because my heart aches because of all the hurting in this world.

Darkness has crept into the Church. In a broken world where we are supposed to be shining a brilliant light, we are often only adding to the already intense pain.

What a wretched people are we!

But praise be to God! He can change a sinner from the inside out! He can heal a shattered heart. He can give us incredible strength to stand up and love selflessly. HE IS ABLE. Darkness has not won. Turn back to the Light!

Love is real. Love is powerful. Love is the greatest.

To those who have not yet chosen love, I will never stop praying for you. You might think you’re at the top, angry with the world, clinging to your pride, your fear, your bitterness and hurt; but I believe, I know, that God can change your heart.
To those with pain and scars from people like mentioned above, I will never stop praying for healing. You can be different. You can choose love. And relationships can be healed and restored by the power of our mighty God.
It’s time to let love win.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,¬†gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.¬†And those¬†who are¬†Christ‚Äôs have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.¬†If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”


(All pictures found on Pixabay.com)

**Originally published on Between the Pages of this Bookish Life April 23rd, 2016**

Heaven.

heaven

You know what? The unknown frightens me. Eternity frightens me. I can’t fully understand the concept of “heaven”, and so it scares me.

But it shouldn’t be that way.

I’m a child of God. I’m a daughter of the King of Kings. My soul is saved, thanks to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and it is marked as His.

Heaven is my home. Eternity is a promise to me.

I don’t know about you, but I hear dark lies whispering to my soul. Trying to steal the joy of my salvation. Trying to turn a beautiful promise into something that makes me fearful.

Remember how to fight the Enemy? We fight him with the Word of God! So I looked up these verses about heaven, to remind myself that my God cares for me. And He knows me. And His thoughts are way, way higher than mine.

Proverbs 14:32

32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
    but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

Isaiah 25:6-9

6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine‚ÄĒ
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8     he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
    we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
¬†¬†¬†¬†let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.‚ÄĚ

 

1 Corinthians 13:12

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

1 Corinthians 2:6-9

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ
¬†¬†¬†¬†the things God has prepared for those who love him‚ÄĒ

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Peter 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

2 Peter 3:8-9

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

John 14:2-4

2¬†In My Father‚Äôs house are many mansions;¬†if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.¬†3¬†And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4¬†And where I go you know, and the way you know.‚ÄĚ

Revelation 21:4-7

4¬†And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.‚ÄĚ

5¬†Then He who sat on the throne said, ‚ÄúBehold, I make all things new.‚ÄĚ And He said to me,¬†‚ÄúWrite, for these words are true and faithful.‚ÄĚ

6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Colossians 3:3-4

3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Revelation 7:17

17¬†for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.¬†And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.‚ÄĚ

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Revelation 22:1-5

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

Philippians 1:21-23

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Philippians 3:20-21

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.