Saturday, June 30, 2012

Renewal of the Spirit and of the Heart

                 The above drawing illustrates what the topic of this post is about. Renewal of the heart and welcoming of the Holy Spirit. Eggs often represent rebirth, as well as butterflies. That is why the butterfly is on the human heart: rebirth of the heart. And candles often represent the presence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the heart welcomes the Holy Spirit.              
                 Some people misconstrue the fact that God loves everyone to mean that everyone will go to Heaven and God will not let harm come to us. They think that believing in God and Jesus, along with a bedtime prayer and reading the bible, automatically earns them a place in Heaven. But in believing this, they’ve removed many parts of the Bible like James 1:22, which says that you must not only read the Word but live it out.  John 3:3-7 clearly states that in order to be saved, you must be born again and have a renewal of your heart.

“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom
of God unless he is born again.’ Nicodemus asked, ‘How can a man be born when
he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’
Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless
he is born of water and of the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives
birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying ‘You must be born again.”

-John 3:3-7

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

-2 Peter 3:9

                You must be baptized in the water (…,having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22) and baptized in the Spirit. I’m going to sidetrack for a moment so that I can discuss what baptism of the Spirit is with you. Many Christians have debated over what exactly baptism of the Spirit is. We need to know first that all Christians receive the Spirit upon their conversion and in this sense all Christians have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.  This means that they are saved and that they have all they need at that time to be able to live godly and holy lives.  1 Corinthians 12:13 says, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Some churches believe that the baptism of the Spirit is an experience different than initial salvation. They see it as a second experience that gives a person much greater spiritual power and boldness, and the ability to live a more victorious Christian life. We can conclude that when a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit he has power bestowed upon him.  This power is for the purpose of the preaching of the gospel (Acts 4:31), living a purer life, and having a deeper devotion to God.  Some groups teach that the baptism is accompanied by such signs as speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongue, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.).
                The Bible does not actually use the term "baptism of the Spirit" very often. John the Baptist predicted that Jesus would come and baptize with the Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). In Acts 1:5, Jesus recalled John's words, and told His followers that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from then. While these passages make it clear that the believers in Acts 2 experienced a baptism of the Spirit, we do not find a clear explanation of what that baptism means. The clearest explanation of the baptism appears in I Corinthians 12:13. Paul is dealing with a situation where the Corinthian church was splitting into factions over the issue of spiritual gifts. Overemphasis on certain spectacular gifts had led to the attitude that some people had the most desirable gifts, while others were deficient. In response, Paul exclaims, "We're all one! Don't divide up into cliques!" And to prove his point, he explains, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:13).
                We must have a renewal of our heart where we give up all unrighteous things of our past (Ezekiel 18:21-2, Romans 6:11-14, Hebrews 10:22-29). Ezekiel 18:21-24 says that if a wicked man turns from all his sinful ways he will surely be saved but if a righteous man commits sin he will die.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to
put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires,
to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to
put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

-Ephesians 4:22-24

“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the
Sovereign Lord, Rather am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

-Ezekiel 18:23

“Wash  your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

-James 4:8

                   If we turn back to God and give ourselves to His will and become His workers we will be blessed greatly and He will protect us. In this next verse He is talking about Israel but it can still be applied to our own lives, just like every other verse in the Scripture.

"...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and
pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will 
hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

-2 Chronicles 7:14


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Letting Go of Your Pride

                First, I’d like to take a moment and talk about spiritual pride. Many who claim a faith in Jesus and God walk around like they don’t make mistakes or sin. That’s false and we can’t walk around like we’re Jesus back on Earth. We’re not; we are born as sinners. Christ was the only one to be born into the world free of sin. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

“Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

-Psalm 51:5

                The bible says that to refrain from being spiritually proud we must confess our sins- confess them to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to God.

“He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever
confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

-Proverbs 28:13

                Now, I’m going to discuss pride in general. As humans, we often get caught up in the things that we do and pat ourselves on the back. We look to others constantly for praise. I know this is not all of us, but it is many of us. Sometimes we might not even realize it or we don’t realize it until after we’ve done it. But the Lord says that we should not be proud. Through pride we often forget where our source of accomplishment comes from: God. We often say, “Look what I did,” but instead we should say, “Look at what God helped me do.” You know what, we shouldn’t even have to say that. Instead, we should wait for others to see what we are doing or have done and if they give us praise we should say, “I thank God for giving me the ability to do this.”

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands
have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord
your God, for it is he who gives you the
ability to produce wealth.”

-Deuteronomy 8:17-18

                We must also do the works of the Lord without looking for praise from others. For example, in Matthew 6:1-4 it discusses the topic of giving to the needy. Normal people go running around and bragging about what they have done so that they could be praised and exalted. However, they gain no reward from God. We are supposed to bring glory and honor to His name alone.

“Then your Father, who has seen what is done
in secret, will reward you.”

-Matthew 6:4

                In Deuteronomy 8:10-14  it warns us that if we don’t remember God then when we have wealth and riches our “hearts will become proud” and we will forget the Lord our God. God does not like it when we are proud. If it weren’t for Him then we would not have the gifts and talents he ordained us with. Pride can destroy us; it can bring us to a true low point in our lives.

“This is why the Scripture says:
‘God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”

-James 4:6

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man
of lowly spirit gains honor.”

-Proverbs 29:23

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Homeless and Hungry

                We see them standing at street corners with cardboard signs, clothes that are torn and 3 sizes too big, and faces that haven’t been shaved in months. To introduce my next few topics I am choosing to point out the increase in unemployment and numbers of homeless people lining the streets. Why is our nation like this? We can't blame it ALL on the government. Sometimes it's because of those people themselves and what's in their hearts. Some homeless people are at that point because God wants to draw them closer to Him or use them to witness to others. How many people have you seen with signs that say God Bless You on the bottom! One woman, without even knowing my faith in Christ, said to me, “You just did what Jesus would do.” Others are brought there because of their failure to recognize God and repent of their sins. And then there are the homeless people who are actually people who were once well off, with faith in Christ, living a decent life with a family of their own. But instead, because of failure to recognize the Lord and thanking God for where they are, they are forced into a life of spending hours on their feet and rummaging through dumpsters looking for food. Their children don’t receive proper education or health care. Their pride is gone and they are made humble, just like Jesus made the Israelis when they were in the wilderness for forty years (Deuteronomy 8). They risk disease, dehydration, and starvation. 

              Have you ever truly looked into their eyes? There’s a look of defeat and pain, fear and sadness. And then when you approach them, there’s hope. There’s gratefulness. Some come to realize that God is putting us in their path to help them have a source of food and water (Matthew 6:24-34 states that he will provide us with all our food and clothes that we need if we have faith). That's what we need to do. Don't turn our backs to them but rather put ourselves in their shoes and do what we would want others to do for us. Sometimes it might be hard for us to give them money or buy them a meal, but remember, a giving person receives many blessings. However, I realize we cannot give everything we have if it means our survival. But remember, during the winter you can give a winter hat, a sweater, or a coat, maybe even a pair or shoes you don't wear much. During the summer you can give them water and even a bottle of sunscreen. Whatever is in your heart to give. But most importantly, give yourself unto the Lord so that you can be a light to these people. Give them a hope in the Lord.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

                Many Christians feel as though God is not using them. They don’t realize the works God wants to use them for. They are a vessel for God to shine through but they can’t yet realize this. They expect to be able to perform miracles but God has different spiritual gifts and talents for everyone and He will use them at different times. We aren’t supposed to be jealous of each other’s spiritual gifts but be glad that we are serving God as his children.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same
Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but the same
God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the
manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”

-1 Corinthians 12:4-7

                Each gift is just as important as the next. We all have Jesus as our Lord and Savior therefore we are a unit and we all have different purposes that complement each other.

“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I
do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that
reason cease to be part of the body.”

-1 Corinthians 12:15

                If certain parts of the body did not exist than how can it be called a body? In the same way, if certain people with certain gifts did not exist then how could the body function properly? It can’t. Some people have knowledge. Others have wisdom or the gift of prophesy. Some can heal or perform miracles. Some receive the gift of faith and to others, intercession. Some can speak in tongues and other can interpret tongues. However, they all share the same Spirit and God gives each gift according to what he determines. Some people have many gifts, others have just 1 or 2. But that doesn’t make them any more or less important.

“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are
indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable
we treat with special honor.”

-1 Corinthians 12:22-23

                The more we serve the Lord, the more God guides us in using these gifts and letting them be used for His works.

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in
your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

-2 Peter 1:8

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve
others, faithfully administering God’s grace in various forms.”

-1 Peter 4:10

                We must use these talents and gifts God gave us. We can’t be lazy or we will be judged accordingly. Proverbs 28:19 says, “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Not only will he be poor, but he will lack God’s blessings! We can see this in Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Talents. In this parable, a man went on a journey and entrusted his talents (a type of money) to each of his servants according to their abilities. To one man he granted five talents, to another two, and to the third one. The servants with five and two talents went to work and doubled what the master gave them while the third servant buried his one talent. To the men who increased the talents, the master praises them. To the one who buried the one talent he says, “You wicked, lazy servant!” It goes on to say that whoever has will be given more and to others who have even none will be taken from and cast into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This parable is discussing our use of God’s gifts he gives us and how we should use them. We need to work for him and draw people to Him. We need to pour our blessings onto others or we will be cast into Hell. If we work for Him he will increase our "talents" and gifts.

              Whatever gifts God has given us we cannot fail at. He won't let us. So don't be afraid and let Him move you!

Don’t know what your Spiritual gifts are? You can take a spiritual gifts test here:

             I didn't know what my spiritual gifts were either. I took the test and had several gifts that topped the list with the same amount of points. These gifts were hospitality, giving, pastoring, teaching, evangelism, knowledge, wisdom, faith, encouragement, exhortation, missionary,  healing, intercession, mercy, leadership, apostleship, writing, and craftsmanship (some say craftsmanship and writing are talents, not gifts). At first, I thought that it was absurd that I could possess all of these gifts. However, in these  last 2 months, after I 100% committed my life to God, I have notice all of these gifts showing through me all for the glory of God. At first, it started out with just one or two of the gifts showing but as I started to devote more time to God, more gifts started to shine. Don't let opportunities pass you by; experience what God has planned for you!

Are You Being a Bright Light?

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they 
may see your good deeds and praise your father in Heaven."

-Matthew 5:16

             Many people who are facing depression, a financial crisis, or other hardships just need to know that God is there for them and that there are people who care about them. If we sit back and watch without doing, they won't be able to see God's love and they won't recognize the call that God has for them. Many Christians just go with the flow and don't really act out God's love to other people or minister. They feel that just by going to church and receiving Christ as their savior is good enough. But it's not. I know I've brought this up in multiple posts but it's an issue that needs to brought up daily so that we don't forget. If the body of Christ spoke up more, there might still be prayer in school or abortion would be outlawed. More people would come to Him! Some "Christians" give off the wrong image as being too good to help others or just not caring enough. Sometimes people don't even know they are born again! They don't bear any fruit and they are not helping God like they are called to do. So get off your feet and let Jesus shine through you! Your body is a vessel for him to use!             

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive  yourselves. 
Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but
does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the
mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and 
immediately forgets what he looks like."

-James 1:22-24   

Monday, June 25, 2012

Are You Committed?

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the
one and love the other, or he will be devoted
to the one and despise the other.”

-Matthew 6:24

                In our relationship with God we need to be 100% committed to Him. We cannot say that we live for Him if we only go to him when we need something and then continually sin or forget about God when we are financially stable or feel that things are going good for us. We can’t maintain a strong relationship with the Lord if we don’t do his will for us. He won’t let his grace rain down on us if we turn our backs.We will be punished when the time for His judgment comes. We cannot wait and delay our confession of Christ until we are on our death bed so we can live rebelliously either because we do not know when we are going to die. We could die instantly in a car accident and never receive the opportunity again to be saved.
“But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless
and in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”

-Hebrews 6:8

                We need to be careful not to backslide into our old ways. God is a jealous god and will not let His kingdom be a divided one.  If we confess Jesus as our savior but then don’t live according to His law and His will then we are not useful to Him and we bear bad fruit. We bear bad fruit because we are not being righteous. When we bear bad fruit we are not drawing people to Christ; we are turning them away or not even letting them see who Jesus is. What is fruit in biblical terms? It is the manifestation of God’s works. And the only way to bear good fruit is through Him. You can say that you are a follower of Christ but that won’t save you; how do you live your life? Are you just a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)?

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain
 in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

-John 15:4

                How do we remain in Him? Through Christ’s words. We must take up our own cross so that our sinful life can be cut off and we can be made alive in the Spirit. In Luke, when it says that we are to lose our life to save it, it means that we are to give up our own free will to perform God’s will so that we may bring others to Him and have Jesus as our savior. Therefore, we do save our life but it’s not our earthly life we save. Instead, we are saving our everlasting life so we aren’t cast into the lake of fire. The things on this earth are not as important as the promise of new life that we will have in Heaven after the Son of Man returns to harvest his people during the Rapture.

“Then he said to them all, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his
 cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole
world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”

-Luke 9:23-25

“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

-Luke 14:27

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Answering the Call

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord
of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

-Matthew 9:37-38

                God has a special calling on each and every one of our lives. We are put in certain places at certain times. Once we are saved and surrender our lives to God, nothing can interfere with His word and His plans for us. What he wants us to do is to snatch others out of the fire and help lead them to the salvation found in Jesus. He wants us to make disciples out of all the nations. The harvest is the believers of Christ, the harvest field is the very earth that we walk, and the workers are those who answered the calling to serve the Lord and reach out to others to spread the Word.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

-Matthew 28:19-20

                When He tells us this, He doesn’t necessarily mean to go on missions trips. That’s not his calling for everyone. What He wants you to do is to witness to those in your workplace or at the store, in your community. We can even set examples in our friendships, marriages; pretty much any relationship. Some of us need to be on the home front! It doesn’t mean you have to actually preach about Him, but in your character set an example of righteousness so that those around you can desire what you have: Jesus. If you carry yourself the right way, someone might approach and ask about the joy you have and there’s a perfect opportunity to plant a seed! He intentionally puts certain people into our care, under our wing to help guide them on their walk with God. We need to be good role models and leaders but also remember that not everyone we witness to will be put under our guidance. Some might sow and some might water, but we all have different tasks (1 Corinthians 3:5-9, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Some people feel that they shouldn't be near non-believers but if we spend all our time cooped up with fellow believers then how are we going to help minister to those who haven’t received Christ or had God revealed to them? How are we going to do God’s will? How will we be shepherds to those that God has predestined to be part of “our flock”?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

-Matthew 9:12

                We do need to keep our guard up too though so that we don’t fall into temptations of those around us. As we minister to others and partake in discipleship, the enemy will try to attack us but we need to be strong and put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20).

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, therefore
be as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as doves.”

-Matthew 10:16

                Don’t be scared, God will protect you and guide you to where you need to be. He will help lead you out of temptation if you have a desire to do his works (1 Corinthians 10:13). Don’t intentionally place yourself into a dangerous situation that may lead to backsliding, but just allow God’s will to be done. The Lord protects those who serve him (Psalm 23, Psalm 27:1-3, Hebrews 13:5-6) and he directs their paths.

‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

-Acts 9:6

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you
may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

-1 Peter 2:9

                Those who answer to God’s apostolic calling and witness to others will receive a reward. But just a reminder, this is not the only requirement to receive the reward. You must also have faith, obey the law, confess your sins and accept Christ as your Savior. You must be a light unto the world by performing good deeds and having a proper character (Matthew 5:16). That reward is an eternal life in Heaven.

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness
of the heavens, and those who lead others
to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever.”

-Daniel 12:3

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving
as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as
God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager
to serve; not lording it over those
entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the
crown of glory that will never fade away.”

-1 Peter 5:2-4

Friday, June 22, 2012

Helping God's Children

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling
for food to eat-for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

-Psalm 127:2

                It’s amazing how God protects and provides for those who love him. Although someone might be homeless, if they love God He still provides for them as they need. Some people blame God for them becoming homeless but they don’t realize that God will protect them and it is possibly part of His will, so that they may have a testimony. Why blame God after every tear if you don’t thank Him after every smile? It’s like in Deuteronomy when God sent the Israelites into the wilderness. He put them through hardships but protected them. He kept the clothes on their back for forty years. He disciplined them so that they may never forget Him.

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you
with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach
you that man does not live on bread alone but on
every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

-Deuteronomy 8:3

                God sends His children into the lives of his followers who are in need. He guides us to help one another, allowing us to show His love and love one another so that we remain whole as the body of Christ. We also must remember that if we help someone in need, we are helping the Lord. We don’t know the situations that led them to where they are. If we give to one of His, we are giving to him. He blesses us for this. In Matthew 25:31-45 Christ says that the blessed gave him food when he was hungry, a drink when he was thirsty, clothed him when he needed clothes, gave him a place to stay when he was homeless and visited him while he was in prison. The righteous will not know how they did this. Then Christ says:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of
these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

-Matthew 25:40

                Those who did not help anyone were sent to the lake of fire. He wants us to have giving hearts so that we can help spread his grace, word, and love. We can remind others of the Lord just by our actions. We cannot know who exactly believes in the Lord but it will surprise you how many actually do and were just put in certain circumstances that led them to the lowly state that they are at.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with
confidence, so that we may receive
mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

-Hebrews 4:16

"A generous person will prosper;whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

-Proverbs 11:25

                Yesterday, a friend of my father, whom I call Uncle Max, shared an experience with me that he had in the morning. He went to McDonalds for breakfast and he saw a hitchhiker approaching. He looked tired and weary.  He only ordered a coffee so Uncle Max gave him ten dollars and said, “My friend, eat something solid and God bless you.” The man looked at him strange in the eyes and said, “Thank you, and you too.” Uncle Max went back to his truck and waited for him so he could give him a Bible tract he had printed out, but decided to go back inside and see him since he was taking a long time. When he got back inside the hitchhiker was seated at a table ready to eat a sandwich and in front of him was a Bible open to Deuteronomy. God used him to feed one of His children!

                Back in September, I had a similar experience. My college has a food stand out front during the warmer months so we can enjoy food outside. Normally, I don’t buy food from outside but this one day I decided to go ahead and see what they had out front. A homeless woman, looking tired and wearing clothes too large for her, approached the man who was selling the food. She asked if she could have free food because she was hungry. He refused 3 times and so she was about to leave. As she turned her back I said, “Hold on, I’ll get you some food. Choose whatever you want and I will pay for it.” Just as I was about to say, Jesus loves you, God bless, she looked at me with wide eyes and a smile broke across her face. She gave me a long, hard hug and said, “Thank you so much, you just did what Jesus would do!” At first she was afraid that she offended me by hugging me but I told her that it touched my heart that I could help her and that she was so appreciative. I was buying her the food so that I could witness to her about Christ but instead God used me to provide food for one of His children!

                So, the next time you see someone looking for a few bucks or something to eat, don’t judge them. Open your heart to them. They are one of God’s children and they might not have experienced compassion or mercy in such a long time. What they need at this low point in their lives is to know that someone cares and to know that God is there for them, ready to get them out of that situation. It’s God’s will that they are in your presence at that very moment and it’s his will that you happened to plan the day as it did. If you got stuck in traffic or left work early for lunch you wouldn’t have seen this person. If you decided to go somewhere else to eat or skip lunch altogether, you wouldn’t have seen this person.  It warms my heart every time I hear a story about someone helping one of God’s children and it touches me every time I get to help one of His. You can feel that joy too in doing God’s works if you just open your heart and give to Him. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Shaky Walk With God: My Testimony

“They overcame him by the blood
of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

-Revelation 12:11

                As Christians, we need to realize how powerful our testimony can be in planting seeds and leading others to the salvation they can have in Christ. Those not yet rescued want to know that someone can relate to what they’re going through in their life. They need to know that they aren't being judged and feel welcomed to have a relationship. Many people don’t realize that many Christians went through a lot before they received Christ as their savior. Lately many people have been telling me about the anointing I have on my life and that they love the passion for the Lord that I have. But I wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always outgoing and cheerful. I’m not a perfect person and I made my mistakes. I wasn’t always on the right path. So, I thought I’d share my testimony.

                I was raised in a Christian house. My parents were saved several years before I was born so naturally I went to church starting from a very young age. I always knew who God was and I believed that he existed. But I spent little time praying or studying the scripture and there were certain life events that led me astray. My walk with God was always on and off. I only went to him when I felt like it but yet he still kept waiting for me with open arms, waiting for me to come back. I always had a passion to serve Christ but I didn’t let it show because I was nervous. I kept forgetting that God would never leave me nor forsake me. No man could hurt me. It’s like that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

                I was always enrolled in a public school. Public school is hard for a child to experience, especially as a follower of Christ. There are so many other kids who don’t know who Christ is so the enemy uses them to attack the born again. Starting in the first grade I can remember always being teased and made fun of-either being called a Jesus freak or ugly and sometimes I was made fun of just for other kids to get a laugh and to try to gain more friends. I went through this until I graduated the twelfth grade. I always thought that I was useless but I realize that now I can use this as a powerful testimony for those teens and young adults facing the same issues I went through.

                Because of this torment, I always felt like I wanted to fit in and wanted the other kids to like me. I wasn’t thinking about how Jesus suffered and I wasn’t thinking about the gifts I would receive once this life was over and I was in Heaven. I was too blind to see that I'm beautiful just the way God made me. I was young and was focused on other things. All I knew was that I wanted the teasing to end. In the 8th grade, I got sucked into MySpace, which was not a good place. I had pictures of myself posted and even had hundreds of people who I didn’t even personally know as friends. I wasn’t thinking about the dangers, I just knew I was getting attention and people were telling me I was pretty. People always seem nicer on the Internet. My dad found out about it when I was in the 10th grade and quickly brought it to an end. I thank God that I actually grew up with a father who cared and always looked out for my best interest. He always helped me get back up when I was falling. 

                I went to the youth group at my church starting in the 7th grade but it was just like public schools. Girls wearing revealing clothes and faces caked with make-up and hair dyed; boys being complete goof balls; and no one paying attention to the message. We were all still lost although we always referred to ourselves as Christian. But, it states in numerous places in the New Testament that the youth will be rebellious during the end times. It also states that we can’t just profess our faith in Jesus, we need to carry ourselves like Him and do His will. I was the girl who sat in the back and didn’t talk to anyone because of fear of rejection that I received in high school. It stayed with me in other aspects of my life. At the age of 14 I was water baptized. I felt like a completely different person and could feel the Holy Spirit in me. But that didn’t last long. As a young female, Satan really wanted me, something that wasn’t his for the taking. I was up until 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning texting boys.  I eventually stopped going to the youth group at the end of the tenth grade. Because I was still being made fun of, I was still looking for ways to fit in.  I started wearing make-up and changed the way I dressed. I wasn’t unique anymore; I looked just like everyone else. This still didn’t work. I had people telling me every day that I was ugly and needed to kill myself so everyone else could be happy. I eventually pushed God to the side and never mentioned him. I rarely thought about him. I was on the road to destruction. I was crying almost every day because of the kids teasing me. I shouldn’t have been crying; I should have been rejoicing! Now that I’m older, I realize this.

              My senior year of high school I always said that the kids weren’t affecting me anymore. But deep down they were. I wasn't fully committed to Christ so I was traumatized. I started to sneak different shoes and clothes to school so I could try to fit in with all of the other girls. My mom and I didn’t have the best of relationships and it came to a point where I wasn’t doing anything with her.  I felt like I wasn’t useful to God and I felt that He wasn’t working in me. 

                A few months towards the end of the twelfth grade I went back to youth group at a different church. This church was different. I felt welcome. The kids seemed more respectful. But then I moved to Delaware. I started college at an all-girls art school in Philadelphia. There is rarely ever any mention of God there. It was only me and a few other girls who openly voiced that we were God fearing and we had received new life through Christ But I was still led into temptation. At my place of work, I was interacting with the wrong guys and it led me into trouble. I ran away from home for a day and through this, it led me back to Christ. I broke down and recommitted myself to Christ. I demanded that Satan leave my life. My family and I were on and off with church because we were trying to find the right church for us.. I would bring my bible to school and read it every morning. Girls would say, “Why are you reading that,” or “Why would you believe in God?” I ignored it and continued to do this. But once again, I was attacked by the enemy. I opened a Facebook account and was dragged down, threatening to commit suicide. This just caused a big mess. My college made me go to a psychiatrist so I could get analyzed so that they could know if I was a threat to myself or not. Once again, I was drawn back to Christ. 

                This didn’t last long though once again. However, although I was not focused on my own walk with Christ, I was still concerned with others’. I helped lead my boyfriend at the time to saying a prayer of salvation and  coming to Christ. There would sometimes be homeless people in front of my college looking to get free food from the vendor that sits outside. I would buy them meals with the little money that I had, just so I could witness to them about Christ and show his mercy, love and grace. I would say, “Jesus loves you,” or “God bless you.” One woman, once I said this gave me a big hug and it always touched my heart that I could plant a seed of Jesus in these people. Some of these people might have never received the compassion I was giving them and it was all for Christ. I was still creating Christian items for my online store through the gift that God gave me and wearing my Christian shirts.  I would still talk about God and give tracts to people. I've sponsored a young girl in the Philippines for the past 2 years and I always send a tract and Gospel of John in the packages I send to my customers.  But doing these good deeds alone wasn't enough to ensure my place in Heaven. I needed to put my trust back in God and help build my relationship with him. I needed to surrender everything for him to do His will.

                My boyfriend and I eventually broke up. I was crushed by losing someone I had fallen in love with. I put my all into everything I did for him. I always lifted him up. He even had an engagement ring picked out for me. But eventually, he started to ignore my calls and texts and he allowed another female friend to call me ugly and threaten to beat me up and call me a pest. Turns out that while him and I were in a relationship he really loved this other girl. He ignored me for a week straight and allowed his dad to tell me that we couldn't see each other anymore. I ended things with him and he didn't even fight for me. 2 weeks later I was talking to another guy. I knew my dad wouldn’t approve of him but I continued to do so just because of the temptation and to know that someone was interested in me. But my dad eventually found out once again and this led me to cutting him off.

                I became disrespectful to my dad and then I realized, “I want a stronger, more real relationship with God.” Not because of pleasing my dad but because of pleasing my Father in heaven. This drew me back to Christ 2 months ago. I started going back to my current church and I’m stronger than ever. I’m a happier person and my relationship with my parents is healing. I’ve realized that I’m beautiful just the way I am and if anyone says otherwise, I don’t listen to them. I can finally look in the mirror and feel beautiful without the make-up. I'm becoming actively involved with my church and getting involved with the different groups and ministries. God is using me for His works. My mom and I get along so much better now. I have better social skills and God is looking out for me; because of giving my time and labor to God, God rewards me not only with a place in Heaven but sales at my store are increasing. I’m able to surround myself with other people who believe in the same God as me and who serve him. I have people encouraging me instead of bringing me down. Not only am I a blessing to them but they are a blessing to me. I’m learning what it’s like to have people besides my family who care about me and who I can talk to and be myself around. I feel instantly comfortable and don't feel like I'm being judged and I don't have that fear of being an outcast. God has helped me completely remove those thoughts from my mind. I don’t focus on the loss of my boyfriend. Sure, it still hurts every now and then but God always puts peace in my heart. Now that I’m more mature I realize that I don’t need to please anyone on earth or seek out a boyfriend; God will place him in my life at his own time if it is his will. I'm not focused on a boyfriend; God makes everything beautiful in its own time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). I look at the loss of my boyfriend as a blessing because now I have more time for serving the Lord. He was just holding me back. I'm not going to church just to make friends. It's amazing what God can do! I've cut out all the negative people from my life so I can take some time to mature in the Spirit and grow in my relationship with Christ. What help is it helping others if I do not yet have a firm relationship with the Lord?

                 Some people ask me where I want to be in 5 years or 10 years. But this is my answer: I don't know; I can't make that call. God will reveal it to me when the time is right. I plan on living according to His will and I won't let anything get in the way. He'll direct me to where I need to be and if it's His will opportunities will arise for me or certain circumstances will arise that will cause me not to get what I want. This is because God needs me to be a certain place at a certain time so that I can reach out to people and bring them to Jesus. My life is in His hands and I am unafraid of what He has planned. I leave it all up to him, having faith in everything he does. 

                I know that my struggle may not be as great as someone else’s. Some have dealt with alcohol or gambling. Others have dealt with crimes that have put them in prison. But my journey and my struggle was still an emotional one. I was still a sinner, as we all are. And Jesus was my solution; God gave him to the world so that we may be saved. Society, without me realizing it, traumatized me and the only healer that could save me was Christ. Most people say that with what I went through for 12 years in school could only be healed by a psychiatrist. But that's not true. God was there and he's helped me now that I came back to him. My back is no longer turned away from him and I want to bring glory and honor to his name alone. I'm working as a servant for the Lord, as we are ordained to do.   I didn't know what my spiritual gifts were either and the power Christ could have through me. I took the test and had several gifts that topped the list with the same amount of points. These gifts were hospitality, giving, pastoring, teaching, evangelism, knowledge, wisdom, faith, encouragement, exhortation, missionary, healing, intercession, mercy, leadership, apostleship, writing, and craftsmanship (some say craftsmanship and writing are talents, not gifts). At first, I thought that it was absurd that I could possess all of these gifts. However, in these  last 2 months, after I 100% committed my life to God, I have notice all of these gifts showing through me all for the glory of God. At first, it started out with just one or two of the gifts showing but as I started to devote more time to God, more gifts started to shine. I am now laying hands on people and praying for them, seeing the healing power of Christ and the peace He can lay on people with broken hearts. He’s speaking through me so that I can share my knowledge of His word with others and teach them. I’m seeing the smiles I bring to people’s faces because of the light that shines in me. Don't let opportunities pass you by; experience what God has planned for you!

                With this testimony, I hope to reach people dealing with addictions and the teens and young adults who are dealing with peer pressure, depression, and the loss of loved ones. I want to help teach and guide teens in the way of the Lord. I want to share my testimony at churches to reach those who are secretly feel lonely, useless, and depressed so that they know they can open up to me and I can help then find the Christ that loves them; they can know I love them too. I want to draw people to Christ and let them know that there are people of God who have struggled with the same issues as any other person and there is an end to it once you come to God. 

               So, if you haven’t committed your life to God yet, just remember that I and many others understand what you are dealing with. God is calling out to you. There's a reason why you're reading this right now. God wants you to go to him and he wants to use you for his works. You're his child, and he wants you back home. None of us are perfect and most of us have stood where you are. Our lives were on the wrong track instead of the one that leads to Heaven. No person needs God more than another. We all need him the same; we’ve all just been put in different situations so that we may realize this. God has an abundant amount of faith to pour upon each and every person on this planet. We just need to accept him.     
“But small is the gate and narrow the
road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
-Matthew 7:14     
                To know God is not a religion, it’s a relationship. If you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her].” If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help:   
Father God in Heaven,
I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to you that I am
a sinner and I’m sorry for the life I’ve lived; I need your forgiveness.
I believe that your only Son Jesus Christ shed his precious blood on
the cross and died for my sins so I may have everlasting life in your
kingdom. Right now I confess Jesus as my Lord and savior. I believe
with my heart that you raised Jesus from the dead. From this moment
on I live for you. I want to know you in a real way. Transform me
Use me as you see fit. Thank you for your unlimited grace that saved
me from my sins. Amen.