Meet Simi | Confidence Without Compromise #31

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Simi, Oklahoma

Blogger, SimiJohn.tv

Meet Simi. A ministry leader, blogger, and speaker. In this week’s feature, Simi talks about seeking intentional time with God, being committed to a Christ-filled life, and receiving the desires of our hearts.

Continue reading “Meet Simi | Confidence Without Compromise #31”

Day 13: I enjoy spending time with you | Love Letters

Re·la·tion·ship: The condition or fact of being related; a connection, association, or involvement.

[Source]

Relationship requires investment.

When you want to build new relationships with people, you make time for them. Conversations over texts and calls. Time spent together. You ask questions, you share details about your life. Eventually, you’ve gotten to know them well and have developed a closeness with them.

The same thing goes when you want to deepen an existing relationship with people you already know. You make the time, you show up, you involve yourself in their lives. You connect. You associate yourself with them.

Our relationship with God takes on a similar process. When you decide to follow the Lord, you are able to build a relationship with Him that can grow and get even better over time. You involve yourself with Him. You connect with Him. You associate yourself with Him.

Like a friendship, you must invest in your relationship with God if you want to develop it. When you care about someone, you sacrifice for that individual. If you want God in your life, you sacrifice to make time for Him and to get to know Him.

Did you know that God rejoices in spending time with you? He absolutely loves it!

As a loving father cares for his child, God sees you as His child whom He loves deeply. He wants to have a real relationship with you.

The Bible talks of a God who takes delight in His people. Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) states, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Psalm 147:11 (ESV) says, “But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” Fear in this passage does not mean to be afraid; we’re not meant to simply be afraid of God. Rather, it means to have reverence for or to respect. In other words, God notices those who have reverence for Him–those who acknowledge Him for who He is–and He honors those people!

Genesis 1:27 mentions that God created humankind in His image. This means that we were created to have an association with Him. We are meant be in relationship with our Creator. We are made to bear His image, or represent Him well–to show who He is and the attributes of His love. The only way we can reflect this image is if we know what it looks like. And so, in order to know our true identity, we must know God, the One who knows who we’re made to be!

Our hearts yearn for something greater that cannot be found on this earth. And God yearns for you, too. James 4:8 says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. He is available, but He does not force. He is near, but He does not push Himself. He waits patiently. And when you come, He will come.

Do you ever feel neglected when a friend doesn’t show up for you? Or forgotten when someone doesn’t reach out to you? God gets it. He understands how you feel, and He has compassion towards you: “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him” (Psalms 103:13 NLT). He also notices when you don’t reach out to Him, too.

Revelation 3:20 mentions that God is calling out for you. When you answer, He will “eat with,” or fellowship with, you.

A relationship with God cannot be built through someone else. For example, just because your parents have a relationship with Him, doesn’t mean you have it, too. God is acquainted with them already, and He wants to get to know you. Consider this: if your friend is friends with someone else, it doesn’t make you friends with that same person (even if you know a little or a lot about them). You must take the initiative to get to know that person for yourself.

It’s never too late to build or rebuild a relationship with God. Study His Word–get to know what He says and who He is. How He sees you, what He wants you to know. Talk to Him, reach out to Him. Even if you can’t find words, you can sit in silence and ask for the comfort of His presence.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 ESV)

Love Letter 13

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 12
Read Day 14

 

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Day 12: I will forgive | Love Letters

For·give·ness: The act of forgiving or the state of being forgiven; willingness to forgive.

[Source]

What is considered unforgivable to you?

Think about someone who has hurt you. Someone you could never dream of speaking to–let alone see–ever again. Imagine forgiving that person, as if what had been done in the past never happened.

Quite difficult.

Now think about a time when you have hurt someone. Maybe you didn’t apologize, but to this day, you know what happened. It might be something that appears in your mind now and then. Some days you forget what happened, other days the memory of what you did hits you.

Even harder to think about.

Considering the first scenario, we can easily say, People can be heartless. I could never forgive them. Considering the second scenario, we remember, I can be heartless. How could anyone forgive me? Putting both together, we can conclude that sin is a part of human nature.

Looking closer at the wrong that we’ve done and that others have done to us, forgiveness can seem like the last thing anyone deserves.

A man in the Bible who was deemed unforgivable by society was Zacchaeus.

We’re introduced to him in Luke 19:2; he is a chief tax collector. Tax collectors made a lot of money at this time, so for Zacchaeus to be in a role of leadership, we know he is very wealthy. Tax collectors were typically wealthy for a reason–they were known to be greedy and deceitful. They often cheated people of their money so they could gain more, and as a result, they were intensely hated by others. Pretty much completely unforgivable.

Zacchaeus, a man ostracized by others, is found near a synagogue–the last place he should be according to society, as he is considered “spiritually unclean.” He knows that Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho today, and he wants to see Him:

“And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way” (Luke 19:3-4 NKJV).

Zacchaeus’ determination to see Jesus is fascinating. He not only comes to a place where he is unwelcome, he runs and climbs a tree to make sure he sees Him. Although Zacchaeus has all the money he needs–and probably loves his wealth over anything–he is still empty. Something is missing in his life, and he is searching for it.

God never pushes away those who come seeking for Him–no matter who they are. Jesus displays this characteristic of God by His response to Zacchaeus, a hated man in the world’s eyes: “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’” (v. 5).

Jesus sees Zacchaeus and asks him to come. He wants to fellowship with him at his own home. This is unheard of.

Zacchaeus’ life changes the moment he makes contact with Jesus. In verse 6, he comes down from the tree quickly and joyfully. He is filled with utter joy that he is invited by Christ Himself with such amazing love–a love he has never seen before.

However, this interaction is met by criticism. Luke 19:7 states, “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, ‘He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.’” The crowd thinks it’s wrong that Jesus is willing to accompany a sinner, but they don’t understand what true love is.

Nevertheless, Jesus doesn’t worry about what others think. Jesus offers forgiveness, and Zacchaeus takes it by making a decision to come down and fellowship with Him.

How do we know Zacchaeus is truly repentant? By his actions. In verse 8, he tells Jesus that he will give half his wealth to the poor and return anything he has taken from others, restoring it four times the amount he actually owes! Zacchaeus chooses to abandon his former life as a sinner, in love with money and his lifestyle, to love the God who loves him.

Jesus acknowledges Zacchaeus’ changed heart, saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 18:9-10 NKJV). He honors Zacchaeus, mentioning that he is displaying the same faith that Abraham showed in God. This was a huge recognition for someone who was seen as undeserving of any forgiveness. Jesus also confirms what He came to do: forgive.

Jesus came to save those who are lost–to save those who are unlovable, broken, undeserving, and have made mistakes. He came to forgive us.

God tells us, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32 NIV).

Zacchaeus’ story is one of many. The Bible is filled with people who have been forgiven by God, even though they were sinners:

  • King David – An adulterer and murderer, David is called a man after God’s own heart, because he sought God’s forgiveness and turned back to Him.
  • Peter – He denied Jesus three times as if he never knew Him before Jesus died on the cross. Jesus still died for Peter and forgave him when he came back to Him.
  • Paul – He was known as a persecutor of Christians, responsible for several deaths, yet he transformed because he chose God. Not only was Paul forgiven but he was used to establish the church and wrote over half of the New Testament.

Can you imagine that God offered his forgiveness to every single one of them? If God could save them, He can save you.

Just as Jesus called Zacchaeus to come down from the sycamore tree, He’s calling you to come down and come to Him–from wherever you currently stand. The “tree” you are currently staying in could be pain, pride, regret, addiction, prejudice, violence, selfishness, lack of forgiveness–whatever. The Lord saw Zacchaeus where he was–he couldn’t hide. And He sees you, too.

Zacchaeus not only came down from the tree and came to Jesus, he turned away from his sins. He abandoned his former life–where sin and shame lived–for a better one. This was true repentance. And there was joy there.

Are you ready to abandon the former things to let God in? Are you ready for real joy?

A relationship with God isn’t an elite club only open to the best, the brightest, and the most righteous. It’s open to everyone. I encourage you to take a hold of God’s forgiveness today. You are not out of His reach. You are not too far gone and unable to be restored. God’s love for you means He offers His forgiveness to you.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)

Love Letter 12

[*Please note: Today’s post is based on a sermon I recently heard at my church.]

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.

Read Day 11

Read Day 13

 

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“Give It Up” for 2015

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness. (Proverbs 26:11 NLT)


As winter break comes to a close, I’ve found myself worried when I think about spring semester.

For me and other college students, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by upcoming classes/workload, applying to internships, and other future-related things. On top of that, it’s easy to compare our successes with others, who seem to have it “better” than we do. These two habits are quite addicting but are such a destructive combination — they set a negative attitude that can last for hours of our day to weeks, months, and even years. We can chain ourselves in a prison through our thoughts alone without even realizing it.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Proverbs 26:11 (above) in my Bible reading, and it stuck in my mind.

There’s so much depth in comparing “foolishness” to “vomit.” Vomit is unpleasant and putrid. It’s something that was once in you, but has been purged. It’s no longer a part of you–in fact, it’s so vile that you shouldn’t even want a part of it. It makes no sense to even think about wanting it back.

Our “foolishness” (aka sin) is something vile and putrid as well. We should want no part in it. Unfortunately, because we are sinful in nature, we are drawn to these sinful “pleasures.” The funny thing is, they are actually harmful to us and have no value. They steal our relationship with Christ.

When I finished reading this verse, I asked myself: What is something in my life that I keep returning to even though it harms me?

The first thing that stuck out to me was fear. I have a habit of letting fear seep into my thoughts. I never even thought to consider fear as the same “foolishness” described in this verse, but I soon realized how necessary it was to do so.

God promises us countless times in His Word to trust Him, and that He will never leave us. I read online that the phrase “Fear not” is stated 365 times in the Bible! And yet, despite these promises, I continue to fear when stresses come my way. If God Himself wants me to know that I have no reason to be afraid, then it’s foolish–simply useless–for me to continue.

Of course, it’s hard not to fear when we don’t know the future–when we’re faced with obstacles that seem IMPOSSIBLE to overcome. Like any other harmful habit we indulge in, fear steals our hope and faith in Christ, and it blinds us to what He is doing and going to do in our lives.

Nevertheless, when we choose to walk away from our “vomit”–whether it is fear, temptation, etc.–we are choosing to embrace a beautiful, fulfilling life. God loves us, and He wants us to live our lives fully in peace in whatever state we are in (see Philippians 4:11.)

So, for 2015, I’m choosing to give up fear.

What are you planning to give up for the New Year?