Archive for John

Anger and Bitterness part 7- Words of Encouragement

“Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins.” Matthew 6:14

The bible says that we forgive others, even when they have really wronged us, God will forgive us when we have really wronged him. See how that works? Be treated how you want to be treated. If you put aside such anger and the harsh feelings, God will put aside his anger when it comes to the bad things you have done. It can help to make you right with God again.

“Patience is better than strength. Controlling your temper is better than capturing a city.” Proverbs 16:32

You want to know why patience is better than strength, much better than capturing a city? Because being patient is so difficult! This verse is saying that it is such a triumph to develop patience with people and with the Lord, because in reality, it’s hard to be patient. We all want things, we want God to listen to us and do the things we want him to do, at the time we want him to do it. But one really hard lesson I am learning is that God won’t work that way. He will put you in situations that make you wait for him to move; that make you completely trust him. I really feel that way in my life right now: like I can’t get anywhere or do anything or really live at all if God doesn’t act first. He is teaching me to be more patient. Sometimes, we get so angry at God when he doesn’t listen to us, but he is teaching us to be patient, teaching us that he does things when he is ready, and not necessarily when we feel ready.

“My friends, do not try to punish others when they wrong you, but wait for God to punish them with his anger. It is written: ‘I will punish those who do wrong; I will repay them,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

Guys, this is true. When people treat us badly and act horribly towards us, we don’t need to go out of our way to punish them. God sees the things that they do; he sees the things everyone does. We can’t hide anything from him, he knows all that is in our hearts. And he will judge those guilty as guilty. He knows who walks with him, who lives for him. The bible also says,

“They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. They are blessed who grieve, for God will comfort them. They are blessed who are humble, for the whole earth will be theirs. They are blessed who hunger and thirst after justice, for they will be satisfied. They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them. They are blessed whose thoughts are pure, for they will see God. They are blessed who work for peace, for they will be called God’s children. They are blessed who are persecuted for doing good, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be blessed. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven.” Matthew 5:2-12

God will reward those who work hard for him. If we trust in the Lord, when we grieve, God will ultimately comfort us. A lot of times, it’s not instant comfort, but if we keep trusting in him, he will bring us that comfort. When we are humble and put others before ourselves and look out for others, God will lift us up. He will make the proud last, and the humble first. God does opposite things like that. If we seek out justice, God will satisfy us. If we seek out evil, things will not go well for us. God knows when we have pure thoughts, like I said, he knows what is in our hearts. When we work for peace in the world, while holding on to our faith strongly, we truly are the children of God. God loves it when we work for the good of others. And in many different ways, he will let us know that he loves it. People will persecute us. People will say bad things about us.

But if we pursue God even when our worlds seem to be crumbling (which they often do), God will reward us, and we will be a blessing to others, rewarding others with the good that is in our hearts. I try my best to live like this every day; pursuing God, even when my world seems endlessly difficult. Jesus says we don’t need to worry because in this world, bad things will happen, but we should have faith because he has overcome the world. He has overcome all of our problems, before we even have them. He has overcome all of our struggles and worries, before we even begin to struggle or worry. He has overcome all of our sins, before we even begin to desire the sin in our hearts. Trust in God because he is bigger than you, and he can easily handle things that are impossible for us to handle.

Holding on to bitterness and anger prevents God from using us in his awesome and mighty plan. We come to a screeching halt in our relationship with God. We hold on to past things that have happened, and we stop loving and refuse to care for certain people, and then it’s like a ripple effect in our lives. It effects the things we do, how we view the world, what’s in our hearts, and ultimately, how we decide to live our lives. Be encouraged by knowing that Jesus has already overcome the world! He has overcome your world, my world, his world, her world, their worlds, every one’s. We just have to begin to trust that, and then he can reveal that to us!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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On Excellence part 8

At Chick-fil-A, doing what Jon Holmes tells us to do is our standard. With Christianity, Christ is our standard. At work, we can’t be perfect but we need to strive, strive, strive. Same is true with God. At work, we get a check for our hard work. With Christianity, we get infinite riches in heaven, get to live more fulfilling lives than others, lives filled with the love of an awesome Christ!

We must try hard not to get slack in our ways, and always remember what we have learned. It’s not an easy journey, being excellent for Christ, but I can promise it is worth it for the reward. Our reward is so much greater than the work we have to do. Jesus gives us everything so graciously and freely.

For the person who is thirsty and hungry for good food and desires good service, I recommend Chick-fil-A. People are friendly and genuine and it is a great family environment, and the food rocks!

For the person who is hungry for a better life, thirsty for something that will truly give them purpose, take away an empty void they feel; for the person who wants a relationship with the Lord of the universe and wants to be free from the fast pase lifestyle that never is really fulfilling, I recommend Jesus Christ:

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'” John 6:35

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” John 7:37-38

“He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.'” Revelation 21:6

While actual food makes our tummies happy for a little while, if we ‘eat and drink’ of Jesus, he will fulfill the emptiness in our hearts always. I know that there was always a roaming emptiness when I tried to live life by doing things the way society does things, by trying to live for me, focus on only the things I want, be in my own little world. When I made Christ my priority and I truly trusted him, the emptiness went away and was replaced with love and hope and a beautiful purpose. This is because I hungered for him, and he fulfilled my needs. He is the bread of life, he is living water.

On Excellence part 4

Another example of how much we deal with behind the scenes at work: One day, it got really busy at Chick-fil-A, and there were a lot of people in line. We kept taking orders, and had to also go get the trays of food and find all the people whose orders we took. This was after I had gotten out of school, and I am tired when I get out of school. I felt overwhelmed by the situation. I was doing good at taking orders and getting the food out.

But then one time, my manager came to me with this tray that she said was mine. She asked me who it belonged to, and I really had no idea. I told her that, and I went looking for the group of people. I had eventually found them, and then I returned to her. She called in a group of us girls and talked about how we need to take care of our customers.

She didn’t wanting us taking orders and not knowing who food belonged to. So she fussed at us a little, and we went back to work. But ever since that day, I’ve been thinking about it in terms of Christianity. At work, I was tired from school, we were busy, it was very hectic, and I was still expected to be excellent; still expected to take great care of customers.

I look at the work of Christ on the cross and see his beauty and his perfection, knowing all I can do is strive to be like him, even though I can never come even a little close to such perfection. As Christians, we get mocked sometimes, laughed at, called morons- I’ve been there. But we are called to humble ourselves, and hanging on to the love of Christ, still take care of people who call us names, who frustrate us or make our lives difficult.

We are called to ‘take care of our customers’, whether they be our family in Christ or those not yet a part of our family. He’s the boss, he calls the shots. I’m sure my boss at work would have told me the same thing my manager had said.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:18-20

Jesus was persecuted, and we will be persecuted also. But we get his love and blessings and a breathtaking relationship with him in return.

On Excellence part 3

Why is striving for and committing to excellence so important? Well, at work, it’s so we don’t get yelled at and that we keep our jobs! But seriously, even at work, the boss says that people can take the skills they learn there, like being a leader, and use them for whatever the workers do in life. This is so true! If I didn’t get a job at Chick-fil-A, I wouldn’t be able to compare this to how we need to go about achieving excellence for Christ. Thank you, Holmes!

But committing to excellence in Christ through everything we do is to show that we love the Lord with all our hearts. God the Father didn’t keep his one and only precious on from us. He offered up his very best and only that, not his 2nd best. He didn’t send down some mediocre angel, he sent his very joy, the center of his heart: his perfect son Jesus Christ. He loved us, and gave us his best for our sake, therefore we are called to make him priority, put him first and give him our best for his sake and the sake of others. We are called to love like he did, and that means going up and beyond for him.

“’A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” John 13:34-35

It’s true. Others will know we are his disciples when we love one another. They will see the love. I am hard on myself about singing because when I sing for him, I want it to be the best it can be. This may mean many hours of practice and rehearsal and growing through criticism. I deal with people I don’t like. I take crap from people I can’t stand because I adhere to this standard.

Sometimes the job at Chick-fil-A is really hard! Don’t get me wrong, we all get tired, all have problems. At work, sometimes it drives me crazy to go to school and then go to work right afterward, and then stay until we close. We have personal problems and sometimes don’t feel cheery or feel like smiling. One of my managers had a family member who had a stroke.

I was so amazed by her humility because even though this was true, she was still smiling, and she was talking to me and some other girls, saying it was not easy to do when you feel down like that, but it is still part of the job. She said if she can do it, so can we. It was so cool how she was putting the happiness of the customers above her happiness. She’s paid to do it, but that doesn’t make it easy.

This reminds me of a Christian parallel. As Christians, sometimes we find it hard to deal with people who are radically against our faith and they are hard to deal with. I know I deal with people like that! Like no matter what you say, they basically hate it. We get so frustrated! Yet and still, I remember my manager putting up with people despite her pain, and so I am learning to look deep inside myself and find strength and grace to put up with people, loving them, despite how they make me feel. At work, we get paid for it, and with Christ, we get his many blessings that blow us away. We get more joy than we could imagine.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’” Matthew 5:10-12

Jesus had grace when he was persecuted, and he still loved his persecutors. The people who ended up killing him, the Jews he had grown up with, Pilate, a bunch of people who blamed him for doing no wrong, who had tried to stone him and finally succeeded in killing him- he died for them! He died to rescue everyone who spit on him and rescue the ones who put nails in him. He died to rescue all of us who have done wrong on earth, which is… all of us. So Christ had mercy on me, and so I have mercy on others. I know that by being persistent and fighting to win people’s heart to the name of Christ, their hard hearts eventually will be softened a little.

I attempt to be graceful like that manager, and graceful like Christ. A worker pursuing excellence is someone who has their own problems behind the scenes, but you can’t tell because they are trying to stay in ‘work mode’. A disciple pursuing excellence is someone who may get fed up with others and with the hardships in following Jesus, but push on, even when difficult.

Happiness?

I normally don’t feel happiness. I mean, I have fun, I do interesting things, but I never feel a real state of happiness. It just feels like fun here and there, and then, I begin to sink in an ocean of sorrow.

I’ve always been this way. Before I accepted Christ into my life, it was waaaay worse, though. I couldn’t enjoy anything in life at that time. Waking up was horrible. Being at school was horrible and I felt lonely. Planning things was horrible, hanging out wasn’t much fun, and fun things weren’t really fun at all. It’s as if this greyness kept getting thicker and thicker around me, causing me not to be able to see or breathe. It got so dark and so thick that I just suffocated to death.

After accepting him, all the grey fog didn’t just magically disappear. Yes, I felt more freedom, more capable of doing things, more competent. I felt love, more peace, and I certainly enjoyed things more. But still, something lacked- I still never really felt happiness. In all of my years, I can only remember glimpses of it, but never really seeing it; I can recall grabbing bits and pieces of it, but never fully holding it. It just seemed to always slip from me.

I don’t know if it was boys breaking my heart too much, feeling too left out, school being too stressful, family being too crazy. I believed in Christ but still felt overwhelmed and depressed. But then recently, I started focusing on doing the things I loved.

I had loved Christ for awhile, but I started letting that love transform my actions and the things I do. Whether through music or writing or giving or speaking, I just kept living more and more for him, dreaming I could change the world and saying it and feeling that from the bottom of my heart.

I payed more attention to myself, to my needs. I needed to connect more with people and build more friendships, and I have started focusing on that. I reward myself for the hard work I do, and I am more in tune to my desires.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, came this small, dynamic sensation, stirring in the pit of my heart. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine it. Happiness. Through all the grey burst forth this feeling of immense joy and excitement. I kid you not! It sounds ridiculous, but that’s because it was ridiculous.

I was actually happy. It almost hurt because it was so strong and unbelievable. Like when the Grinch finally started being nice and stopped taking over Christmas, and his heart grew larger. It overwhelmed him, but it was a good thing!

Some people seem to walk around, happy all the time. But I was never one of those people. I just faked like I was to not seem like such a weirdo. I’m sure plenty of people fake it. But now, it’s not fake. It just grows and grows on the daily basis. I was terrified that it might just disappear, but it only grows stronger. I was worried it would go away when I got stressed out about school and work again, but it persisted even through that.

It’s so strange. But I firmly believe that my hope in Christ made this possible. Not instantaneous, it didn’t come as soon as I started trusting him, but possible. That’s all I needed. I was willing to put forth the effort and chase after it, he just made me believe it was possible, that I could actually have it. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

Having that faith, even when things seem impossible. What’s impossible for us is not impossible for him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He will see you through the hardest of times. He will make a way out of no way. In a world overcome by poverty and need and remorse, we could use more hope such as this. If more people would put their hearts into it by trusting him and putting forth the effort, he certainly can make it happen.

Jesus is your: Example! Con’t 3

“Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

No one has the right to say “you don’t know what that person did to me”, “you don’t know how bad they hurt me”, in the face of a blood stained cross. How can you say you can’t forgive someone, when Jesus was nailed, hands and feet, to a cross, praying for the people who were doing it? He forgave the horrible things that happened to him, and he forgave us for doing bad.

Who are we to say we are too good, acting like we are better than him, saying we can’t forgive? He forgave, he says to forgive others as well. He also says that if we forgive others, our father in heaven will forgive us for our sins.

“You are God’s children whom he loves, so try to be like him. Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

“If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example so that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15

Jesus is your: Example! Con’t 2

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.” John 13:34

Jesus is our example that we are supposed to follow. He loved people, so we should be able to find it in ourselves to do the same. People cursed him, tried to kill him, spit on him, mocked him, eventually did kill him… but he still loved them.

I can’t sit back and say I’ve been in that much pain, so I can’t say it’s too hard to love people. If anyone, he is the only one who really can say that, and even though that’s true, he decided not to. He loved them regardless of the pain they caused. He prayed for them while they hurt him. He could have stopped loving us, but he didn’t. And I am so glad he didn’t! This life would totally suck if he decided to stop loving us.

He said we should love others, like he loved us. I do it all the time. It can be annoying to love people you would rather not, but I do it anyway. People who have broken my heart, annoying people like my sister, I love my mom when it’s difficult… It is hard for me to at first, but I eventually manage it. It’s good to love others, even when they hurt you. Because if you continue to love them afterwards, it shows so much character, and you can help them to become better Christians, as you become a better Christian by embracing such humility. It’s not easy.

There are so many people I can’t stand, but I love them, anyway. Because if Jesus refused to stop loving me, and to give me so much mercy and grace and freedom, I can’t say that doesn’t matter. Saying I refuse to love people, even knowing what Christ has done for me, is saying that what he has done is not important enough. And I would never say that.

It is a command, one of the greatest ones. The other is love the Lord with all your heart and strength and soul. Find that love hidden somewhere inside your heart, and share it!

Jesus is your: Friend! Con’t 2

“This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14

We are his friends, and as friends, we want to make him the happiest as possible. Well, he commands us to love each other. To look out for each other, help each other, guide each other. He has been more than a friend to us, so we should do this for others, also. He showed us the greatest love by dying for us, so we need to love fully, with all our hearts, even when it’s difficult to.

Even when it means putting aside our pride, when we don’t like people, so that God can reach them and change them. Then, he can be glorified because of our humility. Love is the greatest gift ever! So love others as God has loved you. He humbled himself to serve others, and we are called to do the same.

Jesus is your: Friend! Con’t

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.” John 15:15-16

Yes, we do serve God. But he wants us to realize that we are so much more than that! We are his friends. We don’t just obey and have cold hearts toward God, and he doesn’t have a hard heart towards us. He allows us to have an intimate relationship with him, where we praise him and worship, and where we are his children and he is our father.

Where we love each other more, where things taste better and music is more lively and things are more exciting. We stop existing and really start living, with hearts fully devoted to Christ! He is not just some abstract religious concept. He is not merely an idea, but a new way of living.

He is not some small hobby, but a radical and awesome change in lifestyle. He is not some distant God who wants to have no say in our lives, who wants to sit back and watch us mess everything up. He is a loyal and amazing friend and father. He adds color to a grey life, gives purpose to this otherwise meager existence. He inspires hope, courage, strength, fellowship, ideas. He ignites love in our hearts.

As far as I am concerned, nobody ever really experiences life at all until they have spent a day with their hearts in Christ. He pushes us to change for the better, to help people more, to make less of ourselves so that he can become greater. He adds sparkle to our eyes and more enthusiasm in each step we take. Life will be challenging but still invigorating. Difficult but well worth the difficulty.

People act like Christianity is so corrupt- and though it’s true that corrupt Christians give us a bad name- I want to shout at people and let them know that this is what it is all about: lives truly being saved and changed by having faith in Jesus.

Which brings me to:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you will eat with me.” Revelation 3:20

If you feel God tugging on your heart, don’t be cold and unresponsive. Don’t pull away from him! He’s knocking on the door of your heart, begging to be let in and to have fellowship with you. Trust him. Let him lead you and guide you. He is truly looking out for your best interest.

Let go of trusting yourself, trusting your job to keep you happy, trusting people to always be there for you, trusting that everything will go well because we live in a good society. We all know that sometimes, we trust in these things and they fall short. Something goes bad at work, you lose someone close to you, the economy gets horrible and goes completely insane!

Trust in the one who will always be enough for you: Jesus! He never falls short. He forgives. He gives us strength when times get hard. He will make a way. He is not merely a leader but a friend. Let him in your heart. Have fellowship with him!!

Jesus is your: Love!

“But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

I looove this verse! This to me shows so, so, so much love. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. So he gave us everything- true hope, love, freedom, strength- by dying for us on the cross, while we were all still his enemies. He didn’t say, “well, y’all suck. You never listen to me, you are heartless and rude to each other. You are so selfish! I am perfect, I don’t have to do anything for you.”

No. He didn’t take one look at us, roll his eyes, and go back to heaven and have the easy way out. He loved us when it was difficult, when we were anything but easy to love. He died for us, longing to forgive us, despite our many flaws and shortcomings. Despite our nature to be greedy and selfish and only want what benefits us the most, regardless of if it crushes other people.

He never sinned, he deserved happiness and peace, not to suffer. But he didn’t take the easy way out. He chose death on a cross to peace and comfort, because that was the only way to rescue us from ourselves.

This is true love, loving one another, even when it is difficult. Being there for each other, through thick and thin. I felt some conviction when I understood this.

There are many periods in my life where I feel God isn’t there for me in the way I want him to be. I get lonely and desperate and that pain fuels my anger. Then I find myself beginning to push away from God. I think, “he doesn’t deserve me if he is going to make me suffer all alone.”

But I am so wrong! He loved us and gave his
entire heart to us, even when we forsook him for the pleasures of the world. He loved me when I was mean to people, when I lied, when I stole. He didn’t say “forget you, you’re horrible!!” He said:

“The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them.”
John 6:37

He loved me when I was difficult and did nothing but sin. He loves you whenever you do nothing but sin. So I was convicted because I knew I had no right to forsake him when he made my life difficult, because I certainly made his life difficult (and continually do!).

I complicated his world. But he was okay with that! He didn’t give up on me, he showed me love. So I am learning that I can’t give up on him, and I show him love.This is true for the people in our lives, too. Yes, they may cause us drama and stress and constantly complicate our lives. But we should still love them, because Christ loved us. We shouldn’t give up on each other.

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