In Order To Live, You Have To Die

In Order To Live, You Have To Die

The importance of dying to self in order to gain life in Jesus.
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I was so excited for what God had for me at college. I knew that He was going to use me in extraordinary ways and that He would give me the ability to led others to Him. For about two weeks, I was waiting patiently for the opportunity. I was ready to meet my new best friends who would lead me in the right direction and hold me accountable. I was ready to start singing in a local church and form relationships there. I was waiting.

Pretty soon, I discovered another side of college. I found my new best friends but instead of going to church with them, I was going out to bars with them. I was so eager for the weekend to come so I could live my new life of freedom. I got further off the track that I had worked so hard to build in 3 months than I knew was even possible. The shame and regret that was built up inside of me was overtaking my life. I had the opportunity to represent Jesus and gave it up for things that were unbelievably lesser.

I felt like the God that I once knew so well wanted nothing to do with me – and I didn’t blame him. It felt like the movies where a girl ditches her true friends to be popular. I imagined God standing outside watching while I was at parties and enjoying my new lifestyle. But the thing about the movies is that the true friends never leave.

As much as I try to fight it, God has called me higher. He has placed a longing in my heart for something much more than what this earth can offer me. He was with me while I was forging my own path and He is with me while I try to find my way back. The devil tried to use things of the earth to make me forget why I am here but His spirit was stronger.

In order to live, you have to die. You have to lose your life – your interests, your desires, your comfort – in order to receive life from the Father.

Dying to self. Denying yourself momentary happiness to find everlasting joy in Jesus. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and him with me.” He wants us. He desires us. He is constantly reaching out to know us deeper.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” Isaiah 40:8. We have been placed on the earth for one life with one purpose. He will equip us to do what He has created us to do. Our bodies are grass and flowers that will diminish upon His return. The best thing we can do with our lives is give them completely to Jesus.

As important as it is to do well in school or to work hard to get the promotion, never forget why you’re here. Whether you accept the call on your life from the beginning, or you have to get so far off track that you need Him to lead you back to His path, I promise that He won’t give up. His love is fierce and uncontained.

So take a minute in the midst of the busy season and reflect on how much room God has to work in your life. I used to get so frustrated when I wouldn’t see Him working but in order for him to come in, I have to take my own selfishness out of the equation. The verse doesn’t say, “Behold, I break into your house and eat with you.” It says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Let Him in.

In order to live, you have to die.

Cover Image Credit: Whitney Weldon

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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We're all Flowers in God's Garden Of Grace

A short and sweet reminder that God’s grace will get you through.
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A week ago, I stood in my grandma's garden with her as we uprooted vicious vines of smilax, weeded out miniature maple trees, and pruned back her star jasmine growing atop the gazebo. I forget exactly which plant she was examining when she spoke, nevertheless her words planted a seed in my mind.

“God gave them all different ways to survive, and still there are flowers," she said, fingering the small blossoms.

Working in the garden with my grandmother, I've seen her remark proved true numerous times. Plants are each created uniquely, and tiny details enable them to grow in tough circumstances. Smilax sports thorns that pierce leather gloves to protect itself, defying the attempts of well-intentioned gardeners (ahem, me) to remove it. As it continues to grow, the thorns dwindle into mere pricks and the vine adorns itself in glossy green leaves and curling tendrils. Likewise, the bushes of peonies in nearby fields die back every winter, retreating to their bulbs where they will send out feeder roots until the warmth of spring calls forth the first pink blossom.

In His grace, God gives plants small details that enable them to endure situations that might otherwise kill them. And when they survive—thrive, even—plants culminate their seasons of growth by showcasing beautiful blooms.

My point? You and I are created differently and will walk different paths in life, experiencing different struggles, and dealing with them in different ways.

For example, I am a perfectionist, and as such, I strive for the highest goal possible. Anything less than that standard seems like another strike against me, like a mark of failure. God, however, uses what I see as my failure to point to my need for Him—and His grace gives me the strength to move past mistakes and love Him more.

Esther, a young Jewish woman in exile in Babylon, was wedded to King Xerxes. Soon afterward, Mordecai unveiled a plot to murder her people, the Jews. Holding this tremendous weight on her shoulders, Esther turned to God in fasting and prayer. In the end, the Lord gave her the courage to approach the king and plead for him to save her people. God poured out His grace, softening Xerxes' heart so that the Jews would be spared. Despite our differences, God has created us to grow in Him and to survive in all seasons of life.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned" in order to equip us to serve Him.

And more than that, Jesus, “who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6, The Bible, ESV). So, like full-petalled peonies that bloom every Mother's Day despite hail and blight, God will bring us to completion—perfection—by His grace.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

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