Give it Up to God

Hello, everyone! Long time no see!

As we celebrate Our Savior’s everlasting sacrifice, it reminds me all the more of the suffering Jesus Christ went through so that we don’t have to pay for our sins. I thank the Lord for triumphing over death so that we have the wonderful gift of eternal life, and that we can finally communicate with him freely.

This morning, as I was praying, God spoke to me in a way that touched my heart. Lately, I have been really busy. As a student, I strive for academic excellence, which is great. But it means that I am always doing work and sometimes doing extra for better marks. I also have some vocal competitions I am preparing for and I am working on accomplishing other goals that I have set for myself. Now, these are all good things, but when they choke out our time with God, they become stumbling blocks. This is what happened to me. I was so busy with all of my other activities that God was no longer the priority in my life. At the end of each day, I would be so tired that I would just go to sleep without praying, and in the morning, I would spend barely ten minutes with God, rushing through it all just to start my day.

One thing I’ve noticed every time I do this is that I become incredibly stressed. Why? Because all of the things I want to do cannot be accomplished in my own strength. God is the one that gives us the grace to do things excellently. When we allow ourselves to become proud, we begin to think, “I can do this on my own.” That thought is a recipe for disaster because we are not the ones who have control over anything in life. God is the all-knowing one, therefore he knows the steps we should take for success. We must continually put Him first in order for us to receive the benefits.

Hebrews 3:7-15[ESV] says,

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

The part of this passage that struck me the most was verse 15, which says, “…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”. God had been speaking to me for a while, trying to tell me in subtle ways to draw near to him and spend time with him in prayer. But I wasn’t applying it to my life, and when the rubber hit the road, my own strength was inadequate to get the job done. God wants us to enter into his rest. But the only way to do so is to let go of life’s burdens and give them up to him. We must allow him to work in our lives. We cannot have happy, fulfilled lives on our own. God is the only one who can do this for us and bring us to a place of rest.

Hebrews 3:19 says, “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” May we not be people who cannot enter God’s rest because we refuse to believe in what he can do. Amen.

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Staying Spiritually Bright

This morning, someone was speaking to me about some things God had put in her heart, and she said something that really struck me. As Christians, it’s really important for us to be spiritually awake. This means that we need to be aware of the things God wants us to accomplish. We need to set out times for fellowship with him before anything else in the day. Why? Because when we do other things first, we let our minds become filled with the cares and pleasures of this world. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but they should not be our priority. When we are focused on worldly matters, we leave ourselves open to the devil and he will use these things to numb us and make our light dull. For example, something I tend to do in the morning is to check all of my social media. Now, social media isn’t a bad thing. But when I do it before or right after prayer, my mind becomes cluttered with things that are at a lower realm than what we should operate in as Christians. Using my phone shouldn’t become something I do out of habit or sheer boredom; it should be something I use in moderation.

The Bible says, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap” [Luke 21:34]. Even though our daily tasks and activities are important for our well-being, we shouldn’t stress over them. Instead, we should rely on God’s grace to help us accomplish everything that we need to do. When we focus on God, he is able to motivate us and make us more productive than we could ever be on our own.

As many of us go into the school year, let’s take time after school to pray and study God’s word, or read Christian literature, because these kinds of things keep our spirit up. School is very draining, and we are surrounded by people who think and work in the flesh, but it’s important to keep that fire burning and not allow schoolwork and other things become all we spend our time doing outside of classes. May God continue to strengthen us, and may we be mindful to fill ourselves up with spiritual things, so we can be a light to everyone around us.