Tag Archives: faith

Beatitudes: Mourning

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4

We always assume that when someone is in mourning it’s because they’ve lost a loved one. Or maybe they’ve suffered a heartbreak. We never think of mourning as being genuinely sorry for something that we’ve done wrong. Most of the time, we aren’t sorry. For the most part, people don’t care about others’ feelings. We hide behind “Good intentions” or my personal favorite, “No one’s perfect.” Sometimes we go as far as to say, “God will fix this for me.”

“I cheated on you.”
“I lied to you.”
“He took the money from your purse.”

It’s easy to confess our sins with statements made with no emotional connection behind them. However, it’s not easy to feel bad about doing it. Guilt is one of the worst feelings in this world. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12), Jesus isn’t talking about those who suffer a broken heart at the loss of a loved one, but those who suffer from guilt.

He says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” This says a lot about Jesus and His heart. Sin is terrible and leads us down a dark road. However, when we feel remorse for what we’ve done, Jesus considers us to be “Blessed.” In the last Beatitude, I talked about the word, Blessed, and how it’s used in a different way than what we’re used to.

To recap, we use that word to refer to something good, usually materialistic things. We’re “Blessed” with a new car or “Blessed” with money. I’m “Blessed” because I got a new job that’ll pay all of my bills. We’re also “Blessed” with children. These are just examples. However, God doesn’t just bless us with abundance, He blesses us with the trials in our lives. He finds us to be blessed when we humble ourselves before Him.

In this circumstance, He finds us our guilt as a blessing because it’s the first step to use becoming a better person. If we feel bad for the things we are doing, we won’t want to do them anymore. This means that we’ll be less likely to do them in the future and sin won’t control our lives anymore. God wants what’s best for us and that is a life without sin. Making the decision not to sin anymore starts us on our road to becoming a better person.

And He is there to comfort us. God wants us to heal from the bad things we’ve done. When we ask for forgiveness we’re wiped clean and what’s happened is in the past. It’s a comforting thought to know that God will always be there to catch us when we fall.

“(21) So I myself find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; (23) but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (25) Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.” – Romans 7:21-25

People need to go from “It’s too hard” to “It’s hard, but I can’t do this anymore.” Paul makes a great statement about the spiritual war that goes on in a Christian’s mind when it comes to sin. We live in the world, but we aren’t supposed to be of it. The world is a bad place full of sin and deception. In the world, everything is permissible. Sex before marriage, lies, cheating, jealousy, gluttony, and pride. It’s all about “Me.” In Jesus’ parable, Lamp on a Stand, He describes a Christian as the light of the world. The world is full of darkness and Christians are to be the light that shines through the darkness.

However, it’s hard to be a Christian. Sure it’s easy to believe in God, go to church, sing the songs, and read your bible. But actually fully relying on Him for everything you need and putting your life in His hands isn’t easy. We’re such prideful creatures, often not wanting to admit that we need help. Not wanting to follow His commandments because it’s more fun to sin than not to. From this, we think of ourselves as a slave of God. We begin to think of Him as a dictator and not a father. This way of thinking leaves us not wanting to follow the commandments which make us start to sin. Over and over we fall back into the same loop of Temptation, sin, guilt, and repentance.

Throughout this study, I realized how much I related to this Beatitude at this point in my life. When I was saved I’d feel remorse for everything I’d done, and over the course of time, I’d feel bad immediately after I’d done them. However, there came a point when I would feel bad and not do anything about it. I wouldn’t ask for forgiveness or try to do better. Then I stopped feeling bad completely.

When I finally decided to come back to God (Yes, it is a choice), I didn’t feel bad for my sins. I didn’t feel bad for not listening to Him or even denying He was there. I didn’t feel bad for praying for the wrong things and insulting His intelligence. It scared me to death! I wondered how I let my heart harden so much that I couldn’t feel remorse and be forgiven.

I don’t know how many other Christians have felt this way. In fact, I thought there was something wrong with me prior to this study. If you are going through something like this as well, or maybe you’re not, this is my piece of advice that God has shown me. Pray about it. Ask God to help you come back to His arms. He’ll open your heart to feel the remorse you need to feel to fully repent of your sins.

Our God is good and sometimes He asks us to do things that don’t match what society expects us to do. That’s the Beatitudes in a nutshell. The eight characteristics of a Christian are the opposite of how the world expects you to be. In the world, if you feel sorry for something bad you’ve done, that’s not right. It isn’t normal and you’re strange. But feeling sorry for something you’ve done makes you blessed in the eyes of God.

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Wise and Foolish Builders

(24) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (26) But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (27) The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27

The lives Jesus is describing in this parable sound a lot like people in today’s world. On one side, you have the Christian that hears the teachings of Jesus and applies them to his/her life. On the other side, you have a Christian that hears Jesus’s teachings and doesn’t apply them to his/her life. These two people can look the same. They’ll have a job, families, and even go to the same church.

The Storm

The real differences will come to light when life happens. For example, we know that life isn’t easy and doesn’t always go very good for us. The storm that Jesus is referring to isn’t necessarily weather. He is talking about the storm of life which we refer to as “The hard times.” Your house gets tested when a storm comes through your town. Does it stay standing or is it blown away? How badly does it flood? What is the damage caused by the storm?

The Builders

In order to get through the storm of life, we need a good and solid foundation. In this parable, we are the builders. That makes us in charge of whether we have that solid foundation. A good builder isn’t going to build in an area that will flood out, nor will he build with materials that’ll be blown away. The builder builds with the plan to keep these situations from happening.

The Foundation

The best place to build our house is on a rock. Rocks have a good, solid foundation. House stay steady when built on cement. What would happen to your house if you built it on sand or dirt instead of laying out the cement first? Your house would flood at the slightest rain and little critters would find their way inside. No one wants that. Jesus is saying that He is the only firm foundation to get you through life. Jesus is your rock.

Many people don’t build their faith. They think that “Once saved always saved” is real or they just don’t think anything bad will happen to them. These people would rather go with the flow of their friends or rely more on their social status. Whatever the case, they’re the ones that’ll be shortsighted. They’re the ones that can’t make it through the hard times. The question that you’ll hear from them the most is, “Why is this happening to me?”

When everything is okay our foundations don’t matter. We don’t pray or rely on God for anything. Why should we when we are happy, fruitful, and living abundantly? We don’t “Need” Him for anything when we have what we want. However, we’re tested when a crisis happens in our lives. We should always make sure that our foundations are strong and able to withstand anything life throws our way. Your foundation is only as strong as your faith.

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Lamp on a Stand

(14)“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Small acts of kindness, big acts of kindness, smiles here, compliments there, etc. Everything we do throughout our lives represents who we are (whether we’re believers or not). We all want to come off as our image of a good person. However, most people are selfish, self-centered, hypocrites. They want other people to view them how they want to be viewed even if they’re terrible people on the inside.

“(21) He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (22) For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” – Mark 4:21-22

In this parable, Jesus tells how people view those who act Christlike. When you are in Christ and do as He does, there’s a light that shines through you. Others will always wonder what it is about you that is different from them. What is your reason for why you are the way you are. When we live in Christ, we’re supposed to act like Him and tell others that He’s in us.

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” – Luke 8:16

A lot of the time, we hide our light. We stay quiet when we should have spoken up, going along with the crowd, denying the idea that there is anything special about us, letting sin overwhelm our light, not telling others the reason we are who we are, and ignoring the needs of others. In my job, it’s hard not to let my light dim. I deal with the public very personally and it isn’t always easy to be patient and understanding.

I have to consistently remind myself to not let the situation get the best of me. I’d rather others view me as Christlike than the alternative (Even though I’m terrible at it sometimes). Look at it this way. If you’re on your first date with someone, do you hide all of your great qualities from them? No. You show off your humor by making them laugh, you show your intelligence, communication skills, smile, etc. The point is for them to get to know why they should continue to see you and potentially pick you as a partner.

The date may never go to a second one, but they’ll always remember the girl/guy that made them go, “Wow.” That’s how I view being Christlike. That person may never see you again, but they’ll remember the person that made their day better, stopped them from making a terrible decision, helped them in a time of need, or some other situation.

Jesus wanted us to know that when we choose God, we now represent Him as our Father just as we represent the overcome of what our parents made us when we go out into public. We’re the voice of Christ through our actions and what He’s done for us. We’re the light of the world.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.” – Luke 11:33

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Beatitudes: Poor In Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

When we think of being “poor,” good things don’t come to our minds. I always think about not having a lot and always struggling to be able to survive in this world. The hard times, having to pinch every penny, and the buyer’s remorse every time you spend anything. Even when it’s something you absolutely need like food or personal hygiene products. Being “Poor” sucks.

However, there are good things that come out of being poor. I always think back to “The Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith and how the man in the movie struggled. Following a business adventure that would make his family a lot of money, but ended up being one of the worst investments of his life. His wife left him and his son. He had to live in homeless shelters and even turned against a good friend of his for sixteen dollars! Then a job opportunity came that he couldn’t refuse. He worked hard and did his best to charm the bosses until they offered him the job, and it changed his life. Now the man who the movie is about now lives a really good.

I think the best life lessons come from when you start at the bottom. It keeps you grounded as your success grows and reminds you of where you came from. Many people who struggled at one point in their life end up helping a lot of people through their own charities and fundraiser events. Most of the time it’s aimed towards people who find themselves in the exact situation they were in before.

Let’s look at some more good things that come out of being poor.

1. You are thankful for what you have – You may not have a lot or be able to give everything your family wants, but you have enough. There’s a level of happiness that is found in this situation because, honestly, you don’t need a lot of stuff. Stuff is stuff. At the end of the day, what does it really do for you?

2. Relying on God – Let’s face it. There are some people who have to decide which bills they’re going to pay that month. How terrible to think about! This gives us reasons to rely on God. He promises that He’ll give for us the things we need. I’ve come to notice that even when I feel that I’m not being provided for, I am. (Matthew 6:31-32)

3. You’re Humbled – Admitting you need help isn’t a weakness. In fact, it takes a seriously large amount of strength to turn away from your pride like that. When we come before God and ask for His help, or for ANYONE’S help, there’s something that happens within us. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather admit that I need help and get it than not to and struggle. When we humble ourselves, we understand that we have no control.

So what does that have to do with our spirits? Jesus wants us to take all the good lessons that we learn through being “Poor” and apply them to our spirits. While we’re probably not poor on the outside, He wants us to act poor on the inside. Be thankful for everything that we have whether it’s a lot or a little. Trust in Him no matter if we are in a good place or a bad place. Realize that we aren’t in control of our own lives and give the control to Him.

Since the beatitudes are the opposite of what the world expects us to be, what is the opposite of being poor in spirit? If we aren’t poor in spirit then we are proud. We aren’t thankful for what God provides, we don’t rely on God for what we need, and we never accept help or admit that we need it.

“(17) For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (18) I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. (19) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:17-19

The church of Laodicea was a lot like this. In Revelation 3:17-19, John sends a letter to tell them what Jesus wants them to know. They think they are rich and don’t need anything. You can think of their city as being like the United States. We don’t really need anything. Sure jobs, a less amount of homeless people and food stamps, etc. All those would be nice, but we have a lot more than a lot of other countries. In fact, I make more in a week than a lot of people live off in a year. Crazy, right?

These people were wealthy and comfortable. Let me put it into perspective. If you are happy at your job, with your home, your spouse, your children, and your material wealth, what do you need? Nothing, right? Wrong. No matter what situation you’re in, you always need God. All of these things that make you happy are temporary. What happens if you lose it all? Do you suddenly need God now? God doesn’t want you to only need Him when it’s convient to you. He wants you to need Him ALL THE TIME.

There are other forms of wealth than just material things. A lot of people in the church are under the impression that they are “spiritually wealthy.” Meaning that they have their salvation, wisdom and understanding, and the Holy Spirit. However, that is usually not the case. A lot of the time people lose sight of this beatitude in their hearts. We become what people call, “High and mighty.”

This is why Jesus calls us to be Poor in Spirit. If we’re supposed to live our lives for Him, that means serving Him and His people. You can’t serve and help others if you are too high and mighty. If you are so prideful in yourself and what you think your salvation is.

In 5:3, Jesus says that to be “Poor in Spirit,” is to be blessed. This goes the opposite direction of what we consider being “Blessed” is. When you hear some say they’re blessed, what comes to your mind? Usually that something grand happened to them or that they don’t have a single worry. They’re blessed because they came across a lot of money, got a new car, found a house, etc. But here Jesus says that if you are poor in your own state of mind, then you’re blessed.

What He’s really saying is that it’s better to humble yourself and be a light to others than to be prideful and be “Above” others. When you don’t humble yourself, you don’t care about others and their situations. You start to think that you can control your own life. Eventually, you leave the arms of Jesus.

So what does being Poor in spirit mean to you? Are you more prideful or humble? What in your life have caused you to humble yourself? When do you consider yourself blessed? Remember, there’s no right or wrong answers. We are all at different stages of our lives and our faith. Sometimes we continuously fall back into these stages. However, this is how God wants us to be. This is how His son was and still is to this day. The whole point of being a Christian isn’t just to love God and find salvation in His son. It’s also to follow His teachings and be like Him. Even though we could never live up to His standards.

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Beatitudes: Sermon on the Mount

“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.” – Matthew 5:1-2

Considered one of the most famous sermons of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount are found in Matthew 5. Even though Jesus performed miracles and taught everyone, He had special teachings that He gave His disciples. Jesus considered them His friends. They walked with Him, talked with Him, and became very personal with Him. His sermon in this chapter tells of what Jesus wants all of us to be. It’s what being “Christlike” is.

The “Beatitudes” is what we call these eight characteristics. Each one is the complete opposite of what the world expects us to be. In this section, I’ll be talking about each one in-depth. This is the list of them below.

1. Matthew 5:3 – Poor in Spirit
2. Matthew 5:4 – Mourning
3. Matthew 5:5 – Meekness
4. Matthew 5:6 – Righteousness
5. Matthew 5:7 – Mercy
6. Matthew 5:8 – Pure in Heart
7. Matthew 5:9 – Peacemaker
8. Matthew 5:10 – Persecuted

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New Cloth on an Old Coat/Wineskins

“(14) Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” (15) Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. (16) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. – Matthew 9:14-16

This parable of Jesus is also found in Mark 2:21 and Luke 5:36. In it He explains to His disciples why He has come to earth.

Before Jesus came to die on the cross, rules and legality regulated faith. It was all about traditions and “Who was more faithful by what they did to show their faith.” Hence, the Pharisees. In 9:14, The disciples ask Jesus why everyone else is fasting, yet His disciples aren’t. His answer references a wedding feast. While the friends of the bridegroom are with him, they aren’t sad. It’s a time of celebration and fun. No one mourns during a celebration. Jesus is telling His disciples that they’re in a time of a wedding celebration with Jesus as the bridegroom.

Then He goes on to help them understand why He is with them. He didn’t come to o away with the law or change it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus came to fulfill the law and add something new. That “New” thing is His teachings (Or the Gospels). Even though there are prophecies ating back to hundreds of years before Him, no one knew the real reason He’d come. They were all under the impression that He’d be a warrior that would lead them all into battle. They weren’t counting on Jesus being a spiritual warrior that is kind, considerate, gentle, and forgiving and telling them to love their enemy (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus goes on to give another example in the next verse. Also found in Mark 2:22 and Luke 5:37-38

“Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Matthew 9:17

In this next example, Jesus refers to His purpose on earth to the wineskins of their day. In His time, people stored wine in the skins of goats. People sewed these skins together and resembled what we would call waterskins or canteens. As new wine would age, the wineskin would expand. If someone put new wine into the wineskin, it’d bust. This is another great way of explaining why He came to us.

Jesus came to offer us forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Him. He came to teach us what living a Godly lifestyle is like and to give us hope. Before we have a life in His arms we are nothing more than an old coat or a wineskin with aging wine inside. But when we are born again into a new life, God doesn’t patch up our old coat with new habits or “Good stuff.” He doesn’t mix “Good intentions” and “Holy Will” with the sins of our past. He gives us a brand new coat and a brand new wineskin to pour all of His love into.

His message will always be new because of the acceptance that must take place in everyone that receives it. If you accept Him, there will always be something new to learn, a new way to live, and a new way to serve. Each and every day that you breathe.

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The Upside Down Cross: What Does It Mean?

“(18) Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (19) Jesus said this to show the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” – John 21:18-19

We’re taught that the upside down cross is a sign of evil. Since Jesus died for our sins on the cross, wearing it upside down meant that you didn’t have the faith. It also meant that you weren’t thankful for the sacrifice made to be washed in the blood of the lamb. The people who taught me this fact were wrong.

The idea of the upside down cross comes from the legend of Peter’s death. For those who aren’t aware of who Peter is, he was one of Jesus’s disciples. Peter’s remembered for his fantastic way of speaking and for his fantastic way of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (An example is in Matthew 16:21-23). Insert foot in mouth syndrome here. I’m sure we can all relate to him in that aspect. What you will hear about his death is that it’s an upside down crucifixion. Hence, the upside down cross.

Christian tradition tells us that he chose to be crucified upside down. The reason is that he didn’t feel worthy of dying the same way his savior had since he’d denied Jesus three times (Matthew 26:33-35). This is a very poetic way of dying as a martyr and from it I’ve found a lot of respect for Peter.

The problem is that scripture doesn’t tell us when, where, or how he died. Roman records tell of his death, as well as many letters and other writings of that time. However, I haven’t read these writings yet.

In this scripture (John 21:18-19), Jesus states that Peter dies with outstretched arms. It’s interpreted that he’d be crucified. He also says that someone else will dress him and lead him to a place he doesn’t want to go. This could have meant that the executors would tie him up and take him to his death. None of us want to die (even when dying for our faith).

According to The Story of the Twelve Apostles (A History Channel documentary), Peter’s told of his death once more by Jesus. The church warns Peter that he might be executed so he begins to leave Rome. As he’s leaving, Jesus tells Peter that He’s (Jesus) headed into Rome because He’ll be crucified again. People interpreted this as Peter being told of his own death. If we look back to John 21:18-19, Jesus reveals to Peter that he will die a martyr. If Peter’s time was coming and he was leaving Rome, it only makes sense that Jesus would come to Peter and tell him to turn back.

No matter what happened, Peter’s crucifixion happened upon his return to Rome. The documentary says that this is found in the writing, The Acts of Peter. You can find more information on that by clicking HERE.

Regardless of whether Peter’s death was an upside down crucifixion, the point of this symbol is still the same. There are people in this world who are not believers and sport the upside down cross as a way of denying God. Bands and singers put them in their music videos. Other famous people wear them around. It’s a way of showing how far from God they are, or to defile God in some way that suits their needs to be defiant. They’re misinformed of its meaning.

It means that you are not worthy of God. That you are below Him and His holiness. His mercy, forgiveness, and love. It doesn’t mean you are siding with evil. It means that you are just not worthy. It’s as simple as that. However, if you’ve been saved and follow Jesus I wouldn’t wear them around. While we aren’t on His level, He’s washed us in His blood.

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Was The Flood The First Rain?

I don’t know about you but I can’t imagine an earth where it doesn’t rain. Rain isn’t just beautiful (and sometimes destructive) its beneficial to this planet. It provides water, helps plants grow, and purifies the air. But according to the word of God, when did it start exactly? Let’s take a look at what scripture says.

“(5) Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, (6) but streams came up from the earth and watered the surface of the ground.” – Genesis 2:5-6

We know from this scripture that plant life needs two things to survive: Rain and someone to care for it. Because God hadn’t sent rain down and didn’t have anyone to tend to it, there wasn’t any plant life. God finished creating everything after the seventh day. Beautiful plants and trees decorated Eden.

Let’s talk about the garden for a moment. This was a beautiful and magical place full of peace and serenity. It’s where the very first life began and where it spiritually ended. We can assume that the mist watered the crops in Eden. Especially since Adam is there to tend to the plants. If we do think that the mist continued to water the plants, then we need to question when it stopped.

“(17)To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. (18) It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. (19) By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:17-19

Man would fight with the earth to produce the food we need to live. It’s safe to say that this could be when the rain began because it’d be a sign of faith. Adam would have needed to rely on God to give the water for their food to grow. Having the mist during our punishment wouldn’t make sense. It would be like God is saying, “You are on your own except for this mist that waters your plants for you.” I’m not God, but I think it would bring Him more glory if humans had to have faith that He would give.

“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” – Genesis 7:4

One of the reasons why this is a debate is because of the Silence. Scripture never mentions rain again until Chapter six when Noah’s story begins. Among the wicked, Noah was a righteous man of God. After God tells Noah His plan to destroy the earth with a mighty flood, Noah builds the ark for a hundred and twenty years.

“(11) In the six-hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. (12) And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

There are people who think that these “Floodgates” are symbolic to the first rain. This verse is the first time that Scripture ever mentions the skies opening and it raining. So The “Floodgates of Heaven” opening could mean a huge moment in biblical history where everyone looked up in alarm and saw something they’d never seen before. However, after the flood scripture states that the floodgates closed.

“Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.” – Genesis 8:2

If this had been the first rain where the floodgates opened, then wouldn’t that mean closing them would cause it to never rain again? I also have a theory that if this were the first rain then it would bring more glory to God. An intriguing thought is that God would wait until mankind’s destruction for it to rain.

It makes sense for scripture to mention it since the bible show’s God’s glory. Of all these evil doings there is a God who is merciful, forgiving, and never-changing. It makes sense to me that scripture would have said, “This was the first rain” or, “No one had seen rain before.”

The point is that there is no real answer. Scripture doesn’t tell us when the first rain occurred. All it says is there was a mist during creation and then it rained six chapters later. God could have made it this way so that we know there was a way of watering the earth before the flood because rain didn’t occur yet. He also might think that He doesn’t need to spell it out for us. My idea is that it isn’t important. Whether it occurred during creation, in Eden, before or after the flood, it doesn’t matter.

God created it. Who cares when it happened?

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Happiness Vs. Joy In The Lord

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…” – Galatians 5:22

Have you ever been through a struggle? How did you feel during the hard times? Were you happy? Probably not. In the past four years since being saved, I’ve had a lot of what you would call, “Hard times.” From struggles in relationships, family, work, writing, and my life in general.

During these times I wasn’t happy at all and that made me question God. If I’m a Christian and gave myself to the Lord, why am I not happy? Why doesn’t anything work in my favor? I’m consistently living for God, going to church, bible studies, and helping others in need. I’m kind, considerate of others, and I hold my tongue when I would rather rain my wrath down on those who upset me.

God spoke to me one day while I was ranting all my frustrations out on Him. He told me to make a list of everything that makes me happy no matter how dumb it may seem. I’ll never forget my answer.

Shoes, animals, comfortable beds, pillows, blankets, movies, music, food, flowers, my hair, getting my nails done, kittens, money (making and spending), writing, reading, shopping, the mall, my family, my friends, laughing, jokes, my phone, Facebook, comics, scarves, clothes, beanies, hair accessories…

The point is, there was a lot of stuff that made me happy. Then God asked me the most convicting question I’d ever had. “How many of those things have to do with me?” I read over my list and almost died because I was so appalled with myself. Absolutely none of these things had to do with my faith or God or serving Him at all!

But God wasn’t mad at me because when I had only been saved for about two years. Spiritually talking, I was a mere infant at that time. There comes a point when every Christian has to learn this lesson. Next God said to me, “If I gave you these things: shoes, clothes, pets, and money, you would be happy. But these are not things that you NEED. They are what you WANT.”

“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15

See, even when we try not to we look at God as if He is our Santa Claus. This concept is more than just thinking He’s a big guy in a red suit that gives us stuff. It’s believing that His sole purpose is to make us happy and that if we aren’t happy, then He is wrong. God isn’t here to make us “Happy.” Really, that idea limits God. God is eternal and His power is infinite where happiness is only temporary.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Money makes you happy until it runs out. Your boyfriend makes you happy until he does something wrong to you. Your pet makes you happy until they make a mess. Shopping makes you happy until what you bought isn’t new anymore. See the pattern?

The things that God does for you are far more valuable than what you do for yourself. God provides every need we have. He promises to clothe and feed us and always take care of us. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on the Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves o not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to be happy and have these things. It also doesn’t mean that He won’t give the means of getting them. During this past Christmas, I had a so-called. “Best Friend” steal a lot of money from me. It ruined my chances of buying anyone Christmas presents and I was heartbroken. However, at the last-minute, I prayed to God to make enough money to buy my nieces and nephew something for Christmas.

What I wanted to get them all came to the cost of $55. So I asked to make at least $60 to cover the tax. That day I made $77. This was more than enough, or so I thought. When I got to Wal-Mart, I couldn’t find what I had wanted to get them. By the time I checked out my total was just under $77. I always love using this example because it shows how God cares and does want us to be happy.

The problem is when we get lost in it. Worldly things bring happiness. Material possessions and other people are just two examples. It becomes a problem when those things that make us happy become idols. The new guy in your life becomes more important than God, money becomes more important than God, reading a book more than your bible, etc.

Even though God wants to give us opportunities to be happy, but what He really wants is for us to be joyful. People like to put joy and happiness in the same definition, but they are two different things. There isn’t happiness in times of hardship, but you can stay joyful because of God. Being joyful allows you to get through the hardship easier because you know God will take care of you.

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” – Isaiah 12:3

Joy is something that only God can give you. Your boyfriend can’t make you joyful and your material possessions can’t make you joyful. Food, money, and sex can’t make you joyful. All of these things are temporary, but because God is forever so is your joy.

“(10) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (11) I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing.” – 2 Corinthians 12:10-11

So I urge you to do what God had me do. Get some paper and a pen. Write down everything that makes you happy no matter what it is. Don’t worry, some of these things may have something to do with God’s purpose for you such as helping others or going to church. When you’re done, read it and check everything that applies to God. How many things on the list are Godly?

“(7) Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” – Galatians 6:7-8

Picture Via Nashville Christian Family Magazine

Society Vs. Woman

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

I remember I was ecstatic when my class came across ethnic groups run by a woman. History has been pretty matriarchal for the most part, and how they treated woman hasn’t been that great. Women were told how to dress, how to act, how to talk to a man, where they could be, and when they could be. In some cultures, a man had to go with them or they could face arrest. Esther married a king and faced death if she visited her husband without requesting to first. People looked down upon woman. They thought because we’re smaller, and not as physically strong, we aren’t capable of doing as much or more than men. They also assumed we didn’t have half the brain capacity than men did.

Then, women started to step up. They started teaching kids how to read, mothers how to care for their children and started movements to rid their communities of prostitution. Instead, they promoted how saving yourself for marriage is important. The woman of that time wanted to rid the world of anything that did not give woman their self-respect and dignity.

Eventually, women started to fight for the rights that they deserved: the right of the freedom to choose for themselves. Whether it was having a job, voting, or even what they wanted to wear, they could make the choice to do it without a man’s approval. They took their weaknesses and made them strengths, they proved their bravery and showed that they were just as intelligent as men.

Every day I go out into the world and the same question pops into my head: Where are these woman today? Where are the woman determined to fight for themselves and what they deserve? Where are the woman with class and self-respect? I am a waitress in the food industry. I go out to nice places and enjoy doing things like going to concerts/shows, karaoke, seeing movies, etc. I have served people at work and have seen people from all over with different jobs and reputations.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

I have seen women of all ages barely dressed in trying to get attention from the opposite sex and make those of the same-sex jealous. I’ve also seen those same women get mad when they get disrespected by the guys they are attracting. I get upset at the idea that woman think they have to dress that way to get attention. I get upset when they think they’ll attract a good guy dressed like that.

I’ve seen women jump each other and turn against their families and friends for the dumbest reasons. Those being: someone slept with someone they weren’t supposed to, they dressed wrong, the list goes on. I’ve seen women act nasty toward both men and other women for no reason. They speak rotten words to people instead of breathing life into them. I’ve seen woman stay in relationships with men who had no drive to get a job to help them out.

These men aren’t keeping food on the table and the bills paid. They won’t even attempt to make them happy. I’ve seen them struggle and go through a depression over circumstances that I know they have the strength to change, but won’t. They don’t want to or they’re conditioned to believe they are too weak from a bad relationship with a current or ex-boyfriend/husband, a parent/other family members, or a friend/group of friends.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:25-26

I’m so sick of hearing woman slut-shaming each other, and trying to screw up each other’s lives or the lives of men that broke their hearts. It only gives men a reason to do the same thing to a woman. I know none of us like it when our exes go around saying awful things about us (or any man or woman for that matter). It’s tiring to see women hate men and say awful things to them in the name of feminism. I just want to tell them to sit down because they don’t even know what it is.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29

And so my question still stands. Who are these woman today in 2016? Where is the love that encourages people? Where is the compassion that helps people and the words that give people hope? The strength, the class, and the dignity? When will woman reality check themselves and realize that they’re more than what they think they are? When will they learn that they have power in this world?

Those women did not fight for us to have freedom so that we could choose to dress skimpy, have sex with anyone we want at whatever age we want, and put ourselves in dangerous situations. They didn’t fight so that we would feel trapped or isolated. Those women didn’t fight so we would believe media’s lies and others who want to tear us down. They didn’t fight for us to lose our dignity and self-respect. They didn’t want nude photos or secret videos of us being intimate with someone to get on the internet because we let our guard down for one night. We were fought for so that we could put our feminine touch in this world and make a difference. No one is going to take us seriously if we keep settling and downgrading ourselves.

So next time you speak to someone, think about what you say. Next time you go out, think about what you wear if you should have that drink even though you’ve already exceeded your normal limit, if you should be out with those friends or not. Next time you get into a relationship, wonder if you should be with that person physically, emotionally, and mentally. Think about who you are and wonder if that’s the woman you are supposed to be. It’s time to start changing this world.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:30-31