Are You Seeking Approval from Others or God? | Video

With social media, seeking success, relationships, and “adulting” in general, it’s easy to feel the pressure to follow the crowd. But we don’t have to fall under the comparison trap–Let’s get back to the Word! You can refocus, overcome temptation, follow your calling and live a life of obedience as God intended.

In today’s new YouTube video, I discuss this challenging question: Are you seeking to please the world or God?

Click below to watch!

 

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Day 5: I have made a sacrifice for you | Love Letters

Sac·ri·fice: to make an offering of; to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost for the sake of obtaining something.

[Source]

True love means action.

It’s one thing for God to claim He is loving, but we can know His love is fact for ourselves, because He has demonstrated it to us. He has acted upon His love, and He continues to do so today.

But sin separates us from understanding God’s love.

It’s no secret that evil exists in the world today. By simply watching or reading the news, we become aware of tragedies, injustices, and horrific events every single day.

This is the state of mankind, which began when humans first rebelled against God. Romans 5:12 (ESV) states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—.”

That is, after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world. Since then, man has continued to fall into a path of sin–evil acts that have resulted in death and destruction. Initially when we think of sin, we probably think of obvious evils such as murder, stealing, and other unjust crimes that clearly lead to death and destruction.

However, sin also includes acts that may seem justifiable at times such as lying, jealousy, etc. These “little” sins have big consequences. It’s like a domino effect–one thing leads to another. Deceiving someone can cause extreme brokenness–many relationships suffer greatly because of that. Jealousy can lead people to do some pretty messed up things. I mean, think about Cain and Abel (the sons of Adam and Eve) in Genesis 4. It was Cain’s jealousy of his brother, Abel, that led him to murder him. And just like that, sin continued from one generation to another and literally led to death.

Sin is unfortunately a part of our human nature. I know I have sinned before. We all have. Just as Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, we often choose to do these things.

But I want to emphasize that we have a choice.

God did not create evil. He created us to have the freedom to make choices–Adam and Eve had a choice. We were not made to be robots. But once sin entered the world and evil acts could now exist, God had a plan to redeem His creation and provide justice for the effects of sin.

Again, sin separates us from God. Plain and simple–God is good, evil is bad. You can’t mix the two. Sin and the harm it causes has no place with God, and when mankind fell into sin, it broke our relationship with Him. We now had an affinity for things apart from God. We now wanted to do things our way, not His. Once again, sin has caused destruction and harm in the world. This is not God’s plan for you.

That’s why He sent Jesus Christ, His Son. We are all guilty of sin. Although Jesus did not sin, He took the blame for us, because He loved us. The wages, or the payment, of sin is death, and so Jesus had to die on the cross (Romans 6:23).

Hanging on a cross (crucifixion) was a form of execution for criminals at the time. Although Jesus is God, He is God in the flesh (aka as a man)–that means, He could feel everything we could feel, emotionally and physically. And so, as He hung on that cross, He felt every sting of pain, having His body beaten, His hands pierced, and His lungs gasping for air as He suffocated while hanging. But also as God, Jesus could rise again from the dead three days later, which would have otherwise been impossible. Fully man and fully God, Jesus could do what no man could do. Defeat the very thing that sin caused–death.

This is God’s true love for you: He sacrificed His own Son so that you could be saved from this very penalty of sin: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).

Now remember this: we have a choice. We can still choose to do things–good and bad. And so, evil still exists on earth–and there is a consequence for that. This is where God’s justice comes in. Sin, or evil, has to be punished. Hell is the punishment of sin, a place of eternal death, torment, and destruction, where we would be separated from God forever–again, because sin cannot exist where He is: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV).

But death is not God’s will for you. This is why He has prepared a place for us in heaven. Heaven is a place with no sin, where any suffering we experience on earth will no longer exist–it’s eternal life: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 ESV).

You do not get into heaven by simply doing good works. Jesus was the only One who gave His life to cover for you, and it’s through Him that you can secure your place in heaven. God clearly shows us how to do this in His Word: If you confess that you are a sinner and repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior who died and rose again for you, God will forgive your sins (Romans 10:9).

By accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can have security that you belong to God–the God who loves you and made this sacrifice for you–and you will not perish but instead, you will have eternal life. Through this decision you make, you have no condemnation, you are no longer held guilty for your sins, and you now have power in Him to overcome sin in your life. I encourage you with my entire heart to make this decision today.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Love Letter 5

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.
Read Day 4

Read Day 6

 

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The Happy Grad

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

(Psalm 1:3 KJV)


Grab a pen and paper. If you could have anything right now to make yourself happier, what would it be? List everything down that comes to mind.

What’s in your heart?

A few months ago before college graduation, I did this. It was the middle of spring semester, and it wasn’t the easiest senior spring. Some of my friends had one or two classes, and I had a full course load. Other friends had job offers since October, and I had no options in sight. I knew exactly what I needed to be happier: to graduate on the Dean’s List, a full-time offer for my dream job, etc. Basically, I would have LOVED a detailed road map of my future.

Graduation Cap_Edit

I didn’t get it, though. Instead I had to wait and take one day at a time. Ultimately, I wanted to be happy. I was totally content, but I wanted to know that when I walked across that stage in May, I would be taken care of.

Months later, I can tell you that God did give me the desires of my heart. I graduated summa cum laude, I got my dream opportunity. I can also tell you this doesn’t make me happy at the end of the day. The road to these things was unimaginable. But what makes me happy was that I chose to honor God when I didn’t understand.

Continue reading “The Happy Grad”

God Wants Us to Be Empty

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

(Luke 9:23 KJV)


We will do anything to avoid feeling empty. Nobody wants to go to bed at night feeling unfulfilled, no matter what good has happened during the day. We are afraid of emptiness. We make rash decisions to fill voids. We don’t want to acknowledge our brokenness, our mistakes. We’ll do anything to be happy. We’ll do anything to push away hurts. We’ll do anything to forget. Anything.

God works with brokenness and emptiness. These heavy burdens that we are carrying–He wants us to give them to Him. Think about that: God wants you to give your burdens to Him.

In fact, He wants us to give everything to Him.

Because of our fear of emptiness, we try to hold onto things that are not even good for us: Relationships, grudges, memories, anger, habits, false ideas, pride. God wants us to come empty. When we give these things to Him, then He can use us. If we are so full of these things we hold onto, we are leaving no room whatsoever for Him.

When we pursue the things that pull us away from God, we can’t be used by Him. He’d love to work through our lives and give us that breakthrough, the desires of our hearts, but it can’t happen if we continuously walk away from Him. I imagine there are things we have been convicted to let go of, but we are refusing to do so. And God is just waiting for us to make room in our lives to get to the next level.

Imagine giving all your cares to Him–all your desires, concerns–and saying, “Lord, I realize I cannot do this on my own. Do with these things whatever You’d like to, and I will follow You.”

Now that’s an attitude that God can work with. God can do wonders with willingness.  If we just lay EVERYTHING down, I imagine that He can create the most beautiful things with that.

This is how I see it:

We are canvases, and over time, we’ve gotten used and worn, and there’s years worth of paint that’s smeared all over us. When we allow God to take us, it’s not that we’re in some flawless condition (because we’re really not)–what’s happening is that we’re surrendering control and allowing Him to cleanse us. Surrendering to Christ is acknowledging that we are filthy–in need of cleansing–that we are sinners, and allowing Him to take care of the mess. The truth that we’ve been running away from is that we are needy, we are weak, we are not capable on our own. But God can chisel away the layers of muck that we have been drowning in so that we are clean, and from then, He can paint the most beautiful masterpiece of our lives for us.

That’s the beauty of it–God can use anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. He loves everyone. It’s the heart that matters.

It comes down to you:

Are you willing to let go? Are you willing to turn away? Are you willing to let God transform you?

Why are you holding on?

The main idea here is that we are not called to remain as we are. Yes, God loves us. But we cannot live our full purpose on this earth unless we make that first step to empty ourselves. There is shame and guilt in sin. Living in sin, there is fear. Living in sin, there is doubt. Many times we get ourselves into the worst situations. Other times, our situations are not even our fault–it’s just the nature of the world that we live in. The world has fallen, and because of that there is no sense of justice and fairness–there is so much bad that can happen that we have no control of. But remaining stagnant in our nature is where we go wrong.

Jesus instructs those who want to follow Him to deny themselves and to take up their crosses. What does this mean? Taking up your cross encompasses your whole life–it radically changes your entire life, your decisions, your perspective. Why? Taking up your cross means to live fully for Christ. This involves giving Him your burdens, but it also means something greater–that we dedicate our entire lives to Him–every aspect of our lives. Our innermost thoughts. Our actions. Denying ourselves is a daily rejection of our natural, sinful ways–a complete denial, or emptying, of self.

Again this goes back to the truth that we are filthy, in need of a Savior to cleanse us. That we have needs, and that Christ can fill them.

This is the emptiness that God calls us to have. It is not one that is hopeless. It is not one that leaves us awake at night, deep in fear. It is not one that is bound by the troubles of this world.

This is a shedding of our past selves–in which we invite God to come inside and give us life. It is one that gives us security–that if we have accepted Him as Lord and Savior and confessed our sins, we know that we have eternal life in Heaven.

As humans on this earth, we will be filled of something–we will either choose to be filled with God or we will choose not to be. We can make the choice to be filled with life abundantly or we can choose to live in our own understanding that leads to a path of confusion, hurt, and destruction.

We see the decaying state of the world we live in, but we don’t have to choose to be part of that decay. Please don’t let anything get in the way of this understanding. We have all fallen short, and there are consequences for that. But there is an answer. There is a hope. There is contentment–and it is in God.


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28 NIV)