Parables | Workers in the Vineyard

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Parables | Workers in the Vineyard

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” [Matthew 20:1-16]

Go ahead and read these verses. Jesus often taught in parables in order to teach a complicated idea in a simple way. In this parable, Jesus relates the Kingdom of God to a vineyard.

What Does It Say

In Jesus’s parable, a landowner hires people to work in his vineyard. He agreed on a price and hired a group of workers. Later in the day, he went out again and hired another group of workers. He keeps hiring workers throughout the day into the late afternoon, so that by the time the last group is hired, they only work one hour. At the end of the day, the landowner brought together the workers in order to pay them. When every worker received the same payment, those who were hired earlier in the day complained about getting paid the same as those hired later. The landlord became aggravated and reminded them that they had agreed on a fair wage.

So What?

Through this parable, Jesus reveals the grace of God. The morning workers received a fair wage, which means that the people who worked for an hour got a great deal. Their payment was unfair, but in their favor. The landowner gave a day’s wages for one hour of work. So how does this apply to God’s Kingdom? What is God’s gift to us? The answer is Salvation and a relationship with Him. John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You [God], the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” God offers Himself. He offers forgiveness of sin, and we don’t have to earn it. God gives this gift to all who believe. Even if you think you have done terrible things, God shows no favorites and gives this gift to all who choose to follow Him. No one is too far gone. God is a gracious God. No matter how long or how hard a believer works during their lifetime, the reward of eternal life will be the same given to all.

Take a few minutes to think about this grace, and thank Him for what He has done. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to respond.

-Avery

Pray

Father, thank You for Your grace. Show me what this means for my life. Give me the humility to receive this grace, and to share this Good News with others. Amen.


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Parables | The Persistent Widow

Parables | The Persistent Widow

“And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’” [Luke 18:1-8]

Does prayer work? Does it matter?

So, I hesitate to say that prayer “works.” I’ve made this reference in a blog before, but it’s not like our prayer life is a vending machine where we press a button after inserting some change and then get what we want. Prayer is about an intimate relationship with the Father. It’s about acknowledging who He says He is. It’s about accepting His love and knowing that He has good things for you. It’s about knowing that He invites us into prayer. Your prayers matter. So whatever you hope for, whether it’s for yourself, for your friends, for your church, your city, whatever!! I invite you to pray for it.

In this parable, it says that when the widow asked and asked and asked and asked, not even an unrighteous judge can deny someone asking something continually, then can you imagine what a good, loving Father long to bestow upon His children? So, when we ask for things, yes it matters. Because if you don’t ask, I think the chances of receiving are less. So what you ask and hope and pray for matters!

And please understand that God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the ways we expect or the ways we hope. But like I said, prayer is about acknowledging who God is. He is good. So, even if a prayer seems to be unanswered or isn’t answered in the way that we expected, we have to know that God’s goodness will prevail. His goodness defines us, not the circumstance.

Why does it work this way?

Honestly, I can’t give you a perfect answer to this. But I can give you my thoughts, and I can provide some Biblical backing. First of all, God wants a relationship with you. Think about this. So, God could be a Dad who gives you gifts when you ask, but then that would be it. That would be convenient, but it would lack purpose, guidance, deep love and relationship. On the other hand, God is like this. He wants to know your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your desires. He wants to know why you think these things, your heart beat behind it all. (And I know He’s God, so He already knows these things. But we also have to think about relationship.) When we spend time with God praying and talking with Him, it builds relationship with Him, which is incredible. So in prayer, we have the opportunity to build relationship with Him. And because He is so kind and good and a great listener, He of course wants good things for us. But He more than anything wants relationship. And prayer is incredible because it brings all of that into one place.

What can/should you pray for?

Listen y’all, when I say I pray for everything, I pray for everything. If I’m in a crowded parking lot, I pray for a miraculous parking spot. If I have a little headache or a sore throat, I pray for it to go away. If my friends have a little headache or sore throat, I pray for it to go away. I pray things over my life. I pray for my friends and my community often. I pray for a release of my calling. I pray for God to give me certain Spiritual giftings. I pray for certain, very specific opportunities to arise. I pray for Wesley, UGA, the city of Athens. Truly anything and everything. Because God tells us that we are allowed to ask Him for things constantly. He gives us that permission here in this parable and in tons of other places throughout the Bible. So, I just want to encourage you. Don’t pray for something once and then give up. Pray for things constantly and without ceasing. God finds the deep cries and the roots of our hearts irresistible. So don’t give up and keep praying. Because the relationship with God is worth it. And the fruits our prayers are powerful. They become the testimony that we stand on.

-Hannah



Parables | Lost and Found

Parables | Lost and Found

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” [Luke 15:1-7]

This parable is everyone’s starting point with God. Our relationship with our Creator doesn’t start with us presenting ourselves to Him as we attempt to convince Him of why we are worthy, but instead it starts with God seeking us out. The love of God is one which seeks out those who are not with Him. If you’re not with God then He is seeking you out. If you’re not with God that doesn’t sit well with Him. It’s never been God’s desire to be separated from the very people He created.

As you read the rest of Luke 15 the parables continue to reflect this reality. It starts with the Parable of the Lost Sheep, then Jesus tells the Parable of the Lost Coin and then He proceeds to tell the Parable of the Lost Son. With each parable Jesus is revealing the heart of God the Father. You are a lost sheep and God wants you back with His flock. You are a lost coin which God will look for endlessly because you’re a treasure to Him. You are a lost son or daughter whom God longs for and eagerly awaits your return. However you want to spin it, Jesus’ message is inescapable. You are living in one of two realities: You are lost or you are found. And God desperately wants for you to be found.

I think sometimes we kid ourselves into believing there’s some middle ground. We think that we can be found by God but we’re not really loved and accepted. This scripture totally wipes that out. When you’re found by Jesus He throws you over His shoulders and brings you home to celebrate with all of His friends. There is an EXPLOSIVE celebration every single time somebody is born again in Jesus Christ! You’re not the exception. If you’ve given your life to Jesus, God celebrated your return just as much as He’s celebrated any other person’s return. He doesn’t want the perfect person, He wants you. Jesus was telling this story to the rejects of Jewish society. They received the invitation to God’s love with thankful hearts while the Pharisees scoffed at His message and they completely missed out. If you’ve never given your life to Jesus, why would you refuse such an invitation? To be loved and known by God is what every human soul longs for. So if you’re not convinced that you’ve ever given all of your life to Jesus, then find someone and ask them to pray with you. Jesus is waiting to carry you home!

-Adam

Prayer

Jesus, I ask that every person reading this belong would believe that you are the God who seeks eternal relationship with His people. I pray that any beliefs of abandonment would be done away with for those who are in Christ Jesus. And for those who are not in you, I ask for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to fall on them and reveal to them the invitation to your Love.


Parables | The Unforgiving Servant

Parables | The Unforgiving Servant

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” [Matthew 18: 21-22]

The Story of the Unforgiving Servant

Back in Bible times, the rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them up to three times.  Peter thought he was being generous with increasing that number to seven, but Jesus had a different idea. I don’t think that Jesus even wants us to stop forgiving at 77 times.   I think He wanted to communicate that it is so crucial that we forgive those that have offended us as many times as it takes, regardless of whether or not they ask for the forgiveness.  

The parable in Matthew 18:21-35 tells the story of an unmerciful servant.  In this parable, Jesus explains how a master was willing to forgive a servant of his debt, because he knew that the servant was never going to be able to repay him.  The servant even asked his master to be patient with him, that he would eventually pay it back, but the master knew the reality. This is the sweet part of the story.

The unfortunate part of the story is that the servant who was forgiven by his master, found a fellow servant of his who owed him money.  Despite him just being forgiven by his master, he chose to throw his fellow servant in prison until he could pay off his debt (which in those days, was very difficult to do).  The master heard of this situation, and asked the unforgiving servant in verse 33, “shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” and he threw that servant in prison.  

Sincere Forgiveness

Jesus is being very clear here. It is not an option about whether or not we forgive the people that “owe us” or that have offended us. In the last verse of this chapter, Jesus said that our heavenly Father will treat us the same way that He treated that first servant if we don’t forgive others.  He actually says that we need to forgive from the heart.

From the heart.  As always, Jesus cares about the intentions of our heart.  He wants our forgiveness to be sincere. Now this doesn’t mean that once we forgive someone once, from the heart, that it will be any easier to forgive them again.  But, each and every time we forgive someone, we allow God to work in our hearts to change our attitude towards them. Forgiving someone does not make what they did was “okay,” nor does it mean that there won’t be any more pain.  Forgiving someone is more about you, not the other person.

When we forgive someone, we free our hearts of bitterness and resentment.  We allow more room for affection and kindness. We embrace the liberty of letting go, rather than being held in bondage by another person’s poor decision.  It’s a brilliant exchange. I’m currently watching Fixer Upper and thought, being able to forgive from the heart is kind of similar to a renovation.  To renovate is basically to restore to a good state. So think of forgiveness as a little fixer upper, a renovation, of the heart, if you will.  

We Are Undeserving, but our Father Forgives Anyway

God forgives us all the time.  With repentant hearts, we can easily access God’s forgiveness by simply asking Him to forgive us.  He doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t tell us to come back and ask when we’re more perfectly polished. He’s eager for us to approach Him with the confidence that He’s good and willing to forgive.  This is the gospel. It’s loving of us to forgive others when they’ve wronged us, because we are forgiven by our Father every time we need it. Are we any better than God?

-KB

Let’s Pray

Lord, thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for giving me the strength to forgive others when it’s difficult.  Thank you for being here throughout the whole process. Thank you for being so good to forgive me so that I can forgive others.  I want your love to take place in the center of my heart, so that I can live freely and love you and others well. Amen.



Christmas Break

Christmas Break

Over Christmas break, the blog will be in a slightly different place! There should be a tab at the top left of your screen that says “Christmas Break”. We’ll be posting there over the next few weeks! Don’t see the tab? Just go to freshleyblog.org/christmas, and you’ll be right where you need to be!

Finals | JOY

Finals | JOY

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” [John 15:11]

Finals week, I remember it too clearly as if it were yesterday. So much stress, not enough sleep, head is spinning a million different directions, late nights and early mornings in the library, with the constant feeling that you might be forgetting something. It’s not a fun experience, and can easily be one of the most dreadful things about college. But what if we took everything we knew about God, and applied it to our finals experience?

In this verse in John, Jesus is speaking about his love and the importance in remaining in his love. He says that when we do that we will have Christ’s joy in us and through that our joy will be complete. Did you catch that? God’s love is what makes us completely filled with joy. We live in a world filled with people that constantly strive and search to find something that will bring full satisfaction, when the truth is that this world only provides temporary happiness. To be truly happy and content, we have to look to Christ, and he will fill us with a deep joy.

So let’s talk a little more about this joy that Jesus is telling us is so important to have. I want you to think for a second about a time in your life where you have felt the most joy. Was it after spending time with your family? Worshiping? Getting into UGA? Graduating High School? Winning a sports game? Whatever it was, I want you to know that you can have that same amount of Joy any time you want whether you make all A’s on every single final, or experience a break up. The reason is because the type of joy that Christ offers to those who remain in his love is deeper than any circumstance-based joy.

The song “Joy” by Housefires explains it best, if you haven’t heard it listen to it ASAP. Notice these words from the song:

“You give me joy, down deep in my soul.

Never been so free, caught in your love for me.

Never been more secure knowing your heart Lord.”

You see, when we allow ourselves to look to God to give us joy, we experience freedom. Freedom from worry, freedom from being focused on ourselves and what others think about us because instead we are so caught up in God’s goodness. And by having that freedom, we are fill with true deep joy. A joy that is constant because God is constantly good.

So now that we know about the joy Christ offers us, let’s go back to finals. We have addressed that finals is a time of the year everyone dreads, but if what about our deep rooted joy we just talked about? I encourage you this finals season to ask God to help you to still have joy that is based on him and not your grades. As christians we should see finals week as an incredible opportunity to share Jesus by simply having joy. What if instead of being stressed we had joy? Wouldn’t that stand out to people? People would start to wonder what you had that they do not and would want whatever it is. Finals do not have to be a miserable, stressful season. Let’s bring joy to finals.

-Macie

Pray

Lord I ask that you would help me to find deep joy in YOU and not my circumstances. Help me to have joy instead of stress during finals, and give me the opportunity to shine for you where I can share with others the joy that you give us. Thank you for your goodness.


Finals | Opportunity

Finals | Opportunity

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—

he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.

He’ll never let good people

topple into ruin.” [Psalm 55:22]

Finals week can be a time full of striving, stress and fear about the future. It’s undeniably difficult, I’m not trying to say that it isn’t. It’s the culmination of an entire semester of study. It’s a time of anticipation while grades aren’t out yet. It’s full of test taking and paper writing, coffee and all-nighters. It’s not all bad, UGA does some fun things to help take the load off, like free massages in Tate or puppy therapy. Finals season is a lot of things, but more than anything I think it’s an opportunity.


As students, we have this built-in time to practice trusting God, like the psalm is talking about. If we are always invited into this image of casting our troubles on God’s shoulders, then this week is no different. I think it can be easy to take a break from God during the busiest times. It seems too stressful or as if there is too much other stuff to focus on. I think this psalm directs us towards the idea that the most stressful times actually become easier when we partner with God during them instead of asking him to sit in the backseat for a few days.

One thing that always used to enter my mind when I was writing my papers or studying for tests was the thought that my entire future was riding on those assignments. I believed that somehow my English paper would be pivotal in my ability to get into the grad school which would in turn lead me to the career of my choice. To some degree there is some truth in that, but in those moments I was only focused on my own ability to perform as an individual.

I think that is the important thing to remember during finals. Your identity is not determined by your ability to perform this week. Your identity is defined by who God says you are. If God has filled you with passions and callings and the skills that you need to fulfill them, then one week in your life is not going to derail God’s plan. He is so much bigger than that.

If you have three spare minutes, go watch this video!

https://vimeo.com/128292930

Something that stuck out to me in this poem is that the author reminds us that our major isn’t about us, it’s actually about God and the people that we are going to encounter and serve in our professional lives. Doesn’t that take the pressure off? I think the psalm and the poem are a reminder that our identity is actually based on who God says we are. Because we are his children, God is eager to come alongside us and lighten our load. He is eager to help us. He loves to help us!

-Sarah S.

Pray

God, thank you for being a God that works with me. Thank you for blessing me with this education, and for filling my heart with passions and desires for my future. Come alongside me and lead me as I walk through this season. Help me to become the person that you made me to be. Help me to encounter you this week, and to understand you in a new way. I love ya! Amen.


Finals | Identity

Finals | Identity

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” [John 1:12-13]

It is so easy to forget. I would have to think for at least 30 seconds to remember what I had for lunch yesterday, much less what has actually happened in my life. Something we are very quick to forget is  who we are--the power of who God has called and made us to be. When Jesus died for you, he did it so that you could be a part of His family. That’s HUGE!

You are a child of God--that’s who you are!

What does it mean that you are welcomed into the family of God? First, it means you have a perfect father. A Father who knows you fully, understands exactly where you are, what you are feeling, and what you are thinking. You have a Father who loves  you unconditionally and gives you good things in your life. You have a Father that can’t compare to your earthly father, no matter how good or bad.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:14-15

Because you are a child to that kind of Father, you have been given His power in your life!

One of the main ways you will see the power of God in your life is through him giving your courage. We live so much of our lives in fear, but we don’t actually have to do that. God has paid for us to live in freedom from fear. Maybe right now you have fear when it comes to finals. Maybe fear about what it looks like to go home for a month. Maybe you have fear when it comes to your future. Guess what? You don’t have to fear because of WHO YOU ARE. Because you are a child of God, you get to have peace and faith in the midst of circumstances that you would otherwise be filled with fear and anxiety. Don’t forget who you are. Don’t forget who God has made and called you to be. His son. His daughter. His child.

-Nick

To end you can pray this:

Dad, help me to remember that I am your child. That you love me fully and unconditionally. Give me courage and peace where I need it in my life. I want to live in the reality that you are my Father. Amen.


Finals | Work Hard

Finals | Work Hard

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” [1 John 3:21-22]

Dependency

I think that it's mind blowing that God likes to give good gifts to us. Here in 1 John, John brings up Jesus’ teaching that God gives “good gifts to those who ask Him” (from Matthew 7). This is true, but does that mean that we can just pray that we get the career we want? Or, more relevant to finals week, can we just pray for an A on a test and assume we will ace the exam without studying?


Healthy Balance

As with most things in life, I think there needs to be a healthy balance between trust and action. In John 21, Jesus appears to the disciples as they were fishing. They did not catch anything. Jesus told them, “cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” The disciples did as instructed and caught tons of fish! They wanted fish, but unless they were to cast their nets in obedience, they would not have caught anything. When it comes to taking a test (or anything else, really) you should do your best by studying and preparing. But also trust God that He has a plan for you. God calls us to be good stewards of what we have, so we should steward our time, energy, and ability well by doing our best in everything. In other words, be dependent upon God, but do what you gotta do. God honors our efforts and wants us to give this life our all. He created us and knows us. He does not expect us to do the impossible. That’s His job.

We are able to trust God with our future, but this does not mean we get a pass to be lazy. Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”. Also, 1 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” These verses clearly show that God does not want us to do nothing. We were made to work. So what does this mean for you and me? Let’s focus on committing to do our best in everything, and if you don’t get what you originally wanted, know that your identity is not found in what you were working for, but your identity is found in God. God loves you and has a plan for you, but let's give our lives to Him by doing our very best in everything!

-Avery

Pray

Father, thank You for being trustworthy. Help me to trust You more. Please show me ways I can combine trusting You and also doing my part. Thank You for loving me. Amen.


Finals | Enjoy it!

Finals | Enjoy it!

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,  for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” [Ecclesiastes 2:24-26]

On Freshley staff, we sometimes like do these things called “hot takes.” If you don’t know what a hot take is, it’s basically a thought that goes against a very popular opinion. Here are some hot takes that various staff members have come up with throughout theis year (please keep in mind that these do not represent all individuals on Freshley staff):

-Birthdays are overrated.

-You shouldn’t post on Instagram for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day if they are never going to see it.

-UGA Football is not that big of a deal.

Well, I’m here to present this fat hot take: finals don’t have to suck.

In this verse from Ecclesiastes we are told that “there is nothing better for a person than that [he or she] should … find enjoyment in [his or her] toil.” So, when I read this, I think that the work that we do should be something enjoyable. That’s actually God’s will for us which is incredible.

Now, please understand that I am not saying that every single moment of finals is going to be fun and enjoyable. However, I do think that the greater purpose should be an good one.

For example, I get that chemistry is actually really difficult for many people and that memorizing the formulas and concepts is not easy and probably not enjoyable. However, you can also think about it this way: If you’re taking chemistry so that you can one day be a pediatrician to take care of sick kids, hopefully there is a sense of enjoyment in the work because you know that the end result of studying will be worth it.

Also, it’s okay to just straight up enjoy the schoolwork that you’re doing. I think that sometimes we feel this pressure to be miserable during finals week because that’s what the culture of UGA tells us to do. But I’ll say it! I actually enjoyed a lot of my finals because I got to do stuff like what I do in my real job now. So, honestly, I thank God that I enjoyed it because it was pointing me to joy within my future.

The second part of the verse tells us that working just to work without any sense of enjoyment is actually just striving after the wind and not of God. So, how does this relate to finals? Well, if you are just straight up miserable, and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of light at the end of the tunnel (i.e. working through chemistry to one day be that pediatrician), then I think it’s time to look at why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you doing it just to make a lot of money? Are you doing it to please your mom or dad? Are you doing it just because your older sibling did and they seem happy doing it?


If you are just going through the motions of your finals and your classes, then I think it’s important not to just “strive for the wind.” I think God wants us to enjoy our work.

Now please understand what I am not saying: I am not saying that just because you are unhappy during this week of finals that you should question everything. You may just need a shift in perspective. I am not saying that you should change your major just because your mom or dad suggested it. I actually got a degree in something that my mom suggested, and I loved my major a lot!! I am not saying that knowing you will make you a lot of money one day is bad. If you make a lot of money in the future, that is an amazing opportunity to live with a generous heart that God calls us into. I am not saying that just because you don’t have a set reason that you’re taking the classes that you’re taking, that you should feel hopeless and without direction. At this time freshmen year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I was not in the degree I ended up graduating with, and I turned out fine.


However, this is what I am saying: School can be fun! Learning can be fun and is a privilege, and I genuinely hope that you enjoy what you’re doing. And if it seems hard right now, but you know that there is that light at the end of the tunnel, then that is amazing!!


Just know that you do not have to give into the pressure that finals have be to some miserable, sucky time. You’re allowed to enjoy your classes. You’re allowed to not have everything figured out yet and at the same time not feel immense amounts of pressure to get everything right. God tells us to enjoy our work and not strive for the wind. So let’s do that!!

-Hannah


Finals | Stressed Out

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Finals | Stressed Out

“One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.”

[Ecclesiastes 4:6]

How many of you feel like college is a giant pressure cooker? Like there are countless expectations that you’ll never be able to meet yet you find yourself constantly trying to meet them? I know that’s how I felt for much of college. And finals only intensified those feelings. When I look back on those moments, I’m reminded of a song I used to listen to. The following are some of the lyrics from the song “Stressed Out” by The Twenty-One Pilots. I encourage you to go listen while reading along.

I wish I found some better sounds no one’s ever heard

I wish I had a better voice that sang some better words

I wish I found some chords in an order that is new

I wish I didn't have to rhyme every time I sang

I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink

But now I’m insecure and I care what people think

My name's Blurryface and I care what you think

My name's Blurryface and I care what you think

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days

When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days

When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

We're stressed out

….

We used to play pretend, give each other different names

We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away

Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face

Saying, "Wake up, you need to make money"

Yeah

When I hear this song I’m often reminded of how quickly I lose childlike freedom and dependence only to replace it with fear, striving and self-reliance. The song writer describes in the beginning how he wishes he was different and admits that he cares too much about what “Blurryface” thinks. Blurryface. All those people who we think care about every little thing we do when in reality they don’t. Instead, we give them control of our lives by living for their expectations of us. That’s crazy. We willingly walk into a prison cell of insecurity and then give the key to people who aren’t even asking for it. Will make ourselves captive to people who aren’t even interested in being our captors!

Then all the writer of the song wants to do is go back to the good ole’ days as a kid. He wants to escape. He talks about people pressuring him to give up his childhood dreams for the sake of making money. Sound familiar? Do you feel like you’ve given up on doing the things that give you the life because you have to make good grades because you have to graduate at the top of your class because you have to get a job because you have to get dental insurance??

Did you know that wind is something that no human can catch? It’s no different when it comes to your future. The future that you think you must have isn’t something you can catch with your own two hands. You can’t catch it with no amount of hard work alone. That’s why the writer of Ecclesiastes 4:6 says, “One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.” The writer says he’d rather have an hour of rest than two hours of frantically cramming to study the night before a test. He’d rather have peace in his soul than information in his brain. I’m not saying don’t study. And I’m definitely not saying don’t work hard, but maybe we need to prioritize rest rather than prioritizing working to catch perfection that we’ll never be able to catch.

So go and do those childlike things that give you rest during this finals week. Watch Christmas movie, jam out to some music, go out to eat. Grab your friends and go be outside. Literally do anything that will take you away from your studies. One of my favorite things to do to rest, and I know this might sound crazy, is to sit and be still for a little bit. Set your phone aside, take your earbuds out and just sit with Jesus. Ask Him to bring rest to your soul. Ask Him to remind you what He says about you and what He promises about your life. In case you need a reminder, He doesn’t promise an easy life, but He promises to take care of you and give you what you need (Matthew 6). So I challenge you to substitute 2 hours of frustrated frantic studying for 1 hour of rest because those 2 hours of striving aren’t going to help you catch the wind.

-Adam



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Finals | Don't be anxious

Finals | Don't be anxious

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:5-7

Why Do We Worry

Google’s definition: to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

A lot of the time, worry is the result of trying to control things we can’t control.  Worry comes from hypothetical maybes, what ifs, current hardships. To worry is to dwell in those thoughts.  To worry is to let those thoughts settle and take a place in our minds.

Finals cause worry - worry that your grades won’t cut it, that your studying won’t pay off, that your professors are against you, the list goes on.  Our culture gives this time during finals its own name: finals season. I honestly don’t think the week of and the weeks leading up to finals deserves to have its own label.  Somehow it’s become expected to settle for a couple weeks of anxiety simply because it’s “finals season.” But finals do not deserve all of our attention.

God deserves all of our attention.  

The peace that replaces worry doesn’t make sense.  But that’s why it’s God’s job.  It’s not up to us to muster up any peace that we can find within ourselves.  It’s up to us to depend entirely on Him to supply that peace.

A Transcending Peace  

“Do not be anxious about anything.”  Okay, God, easier said than done.

Feeling at peace despite difficult circumstances really isn’t normal.  It’s not easy. It’s not reasonable. It literally transcends all understanding.  A lot of what God does is beyond our comprehension.  

In these verses, Paul reminds us that the Lord is near.  God cares about your finals. He really does. But He cares A LOT more about you.  God is more concerned about your drawing near to Him when you get worried about finals, than He is about your performance on those finals.  He wants you to turn to Him the moment you experience anxiety. His presence will be what makes your worries fade.

Followers of Christ are set apart.  We are incredibly blessed to be able to turn to a God who can remove our fears and lavish us in His love.  A part of being set apart is reacting differently to these last couple weeks of school.

Finals don’t have to determine your level of joy.  

They don’t have to have that kind of authority.  God cannot wait to respond to your prayers. EVEN the prayers about your finals.  He just loves when you draw near.

“By prayer and petition, present your requests to God,” then peace will come in.  It won’t make sense to the world. It won’t make sense to some of your closest friends.  But it will be impactful. People will notice your attitude towards finals. Let’s pray that it’s contagious.

-KB  

Pray

Hey God.  Thanks for your peace.  Help me to turn to you when I get worried.   Come be my peace as I study for, take these finals, and work on my projects.  You are better and more worthy of my attention than anything else. Love you. Amen.


Finals | Work with Excellence

Finals | Work with Excellence

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” [Proverbs 22:29]

With finals starting, most of us feel a lot of pressure and stress. It can seem like so much hinges on a final test, paper, or project. With this in mind, our staff wanted to write some wisdom we’ve gained on how to do finals week well. So, over the next few days, we hope to encourage you and remind you of God’s perspective in the craziness of finals week.

We can get trapped believing two common extremes regarding school--none of it matters, or, it defines you. The truth lies in the middle ground. School does not define you, but your work really does matter. It doesn’t measure your worth or value, but it is an important part of your life that requires your effort. Therefore, pursue excellence in whatever you do.

When it comes to school and work, Colossians 3:23 is a great verse to remember: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord..” As I’ve grown, I’ve learned a few simple pieces of wisdom regarding school.

Put the work in

In every aspect of life, you have the opportunity to put the work in or cut corners. If you cut corners, from a distance it might look good, but you’ll find the consequences in the details and in your character. Professors will notice the lack of effort; employers/clients will recognize the way excellence is being compromised for laziness. Do what you can to put in the work

You can literally only do your best

Read it again. If you’re doing your best, you’re doing excellently.

Care about what you’re doing

You will work excellently on the things that you care about. If you really like a class, you’ll find it easier to work diligently in comparison to a class that you dislike. So if it’s not natural to care about what you’re doing, try to find a way to care. Ultimately, go back to Colossians 3:23--it says “whatever you do” do it for the Lord. That’s a surefire way to start caring about something.


Pursue excellence not perfection

Here’s the truth: you’re not perfect. If you hold yourself to an unattainable standard, you will be frustrated and burdened in whatever you do. God does not call you to produce a perfect product every time. But he does call you to excellence. Start asking the question “what does it look like for me to do this excellently?”


So, in this finals season especially, I encourage you to create for yourself a standard of excellence. Let go of anything that hinders you--pressure, apathy, perfection, and choose to do as well as you can. You got this :)

-Tim


Staff Pick | 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Staff Pick | 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity! Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. [2 Corinthians 9:6-8]

Generosity is such an important part of God’s heart and His kingdom. In this passage, Paul writes to the Corinthians about the importance of being a cheerful giver. As we give things away, God is always faithful to give and replenish us much more than what we have given. This isn’t always easy to believe as it is very counter cultural. Our culture tells us to get all we can and hold on to it tightly. The Bible tells us to give and give and give and to do cheerfully. The passion translation even calls it “hilarious” meaning that it’s laughable that a person could actually give this much.

The obvious way that we as Christians can be generous is with our money. Our finances can be one of the hardest parts of our life to trust God with. I get it. It’s scary. We know that God cares about our hearts and our relationships, it may be hard to think that he cares about our financial lives. But the truth is He does. He is provider. He knows exactly what we need, and He knows how to take care of us. Once we let this truth sink deep down, it is so much easier to be generous because we trust that God will always replenish what we choose to give a way.

Another big way God calls us to be generous is with our time. What does it look like to be generous with our time? That’s a good question. I think it can look different for everyone, and it can even look different day-to-day for each of us. It could be choosing to help a friend move or pack up their car when you would really rather watch Netflix. It could be when you choose to sit and listen to a friend you know it having a hard time rather than just send a quick text and immediately moving on with your day. The truth is that being generous with your time doesn’t have to look a certain way, but I think that God gives us opportunities every single day where we can give our times to others. We just have to choose to say yes.

The last way we can be generous is by giving ourselves. This is probably the least obvious way to be generous, but I have learned that when we actually choose to show up for the people around us and be who God created us to be, it can really be a gift. What are the good things God has put inside of you? What are the gifts He has given you? Those are the things you have to give to the people around you. Be generous with them. As we do all of these things, I really believe that God will bless us tenfold. It is important to remember that generosity is a heart posture, and it can take some time to get there. I would encourage you to start small. Take a step toward generosity today, then take a bigger one tomorrow. Slowly but surely you will find yourself as a picture of the cheerful giver that Paul was describing.

-Natalie

Let’s Pray

God, I thank You that You are so generous, and You always know what I need. I ask that You would show me how and guide me into generosity today whether it be money, time or simply the gift of my presence. Amen.

Staff Pick | Ephesians 5:15-17

Staff Pick | Ephesians 5:15-17

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” [Ephesians 5:15-17]

“Make the most of every opportunity.” Sounds pretty simple and cliche, right? It is a term that we hear so often that it can sometimes lose its significance. But I want you to pause and put yourself in Paul’s shoes. Paul wrote the book of Ephesians (including this verse) when he was under house arrest in Rome for being a Christian. And how does he spend his time imprisoned? Writing letters encouraging other believers in their faith. That is an example of what it looks like to make the most of EVERY opportunity.

I don’t know what season or circumstance you are facing, and I’m not saying that if something hard is going on, you have to just drop it and act like everything is fine. What I am saying is that we only have a short time here on Earth, so we need to truly make the most of this time we do have. Life is a precious gift from God and as followers of Christ we are called to spend our life glorifying God in everything we do, and sharing Him with others. I want to share with you a few ideas of how to live a life of making the most of every opportunity.

Choose wisdom

In this verse in Ephesians, before telling us to make the most of every opportunity, Paul instructs us to live as “wise and not unwise… because the days are evil”. It is important as Christians that we live in wisdom. Proverbs 3:13-14 says “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” I encourage you to ask God for more wisdom in your everyday life. By having wisdom, you are able to make Godly decisions, and realize what is important.

Make your desires align with God’s

Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” When we fix our desires on the things that align with God’s desires, we are told that we will have life and peace. By wanting things of God for our life we are able to take our focus off ourselves and instead see life from God’s perspective, and we will realize just how precious life is regardless of our circumstance.

Give Thanks

In Philippians 4:6 we are told, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” This is a call to live a life of thankfulness. When we set our focus on what we are thankful for instead of what we don’t have, there is a shift that happens where we are able to appreciate life more. The key to this verse is that we are called to give all requests to God. So the moment a fear or anxious thought enters your mind, give it to God and allow him to give you peace as you trust in Him.

Now What?

These are a few of the many ways that we can make the most of every opportunity. It is easy to live life getting caught up in the routine of things, but I encourage you to take each day and see it as a gift. Look at the way Paul spent his life. He didn’t let his circumstances get in the way of him living for Christ. So what is stopping you?

-Macie

Pray

Lord, help me never get stuck in a routine way of life. I ask that You would give me the ability to make the most of this season of life I am in right now and to use it for Your glory. I pray that I could see everyday of life as a gift from You. I love You, Lord. Amen.

Staff Pick | Acts 19

Staff Pick | Acts 19

11-12 God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.

13-15 Some itinerant (travelling) Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s “game.” They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!” The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man when the evil spirit talked back: “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?” Then the possessed man went berserk and jumped on the exorcists.

17 It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus.

[Acts 19:11-15, 17 The Message]


This story is wild. The entire book of Acts details the stories of early Christians who were filled with the Holy Spirit and acted as missionaries, doing miracles in the name of Jesus. The story above revolves around the miracles that Paul was doing. He had gained a strong reputation for performing miracles in the name of Jesus. Magicians, pagans, and others saw his works and attempted to replicate them. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense, right? I don’t think the Jewish exorcists in the story were crazy by any means, because they recognized that Paul was doing miracles, so they simply attempted to do the same. They were attempting to boil miracles down into a formula. They were missing something really important though. The Sons of Sceva were praying in the name of Jesus without believing in the power of that name. Those men didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, so the demons did not recognize their authority.

So, why is this cool? Why is this applicable to us? I’ll tell you! It is incredible that the demon possessed man knew exactly who Paul was and exactly who Jesus was. This tells us that they answer to the authority of Jesus and Paul. Guess what! The same Holy Spirit that filled Paul and the other prominent figures in Acts fills you up! That means that when you’re faced with the voices of loneliness, depression, and things that are scary, that you can respond to those things with the authority of Jesus.

How would you respond?

A wise friend of mine wondered what we might say if we had been confronted by the demon possessed man. How would we respond if we were asked “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?”. So it matters what we think of ourselves? It matters what we believe about our identity? Absolutely. When we know where we stand, we can be brave and confident when we face hardships. My friend reminded herself and her peers that we could respond like this:

“My name is ____________, and I am a daughter/son of the Living God, who is seated in Heavenly places. Who are you?”

I think sometimes it is really easy to forget that we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. It is wild to think that the demons knew to stay away from Paul and Jesus. They recognize children of God. I think it is probably really satisfying for the enemy to see us believing that we don’t carry authority or power. It is advantageous for him when we think that we are weak and he is strong. But man, I think it’s cool that if we were faced with the man in this story, that he would stop and listen to us if we responded that we, alongside Paul, were disciples of Jesus.

But I am reminded constantly that the loudest voice in the room is God’s, and that it isn’t selfish or silly to declare that truth over myself. So, we can learn from that story in Acts 19. We learn that the things that might be scary or annoying don’t get to have the final word. We learn that even the demons that boldly walked around in Biblical times knew that they had to submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit.

-Shelly S.

Pray

God, fill me up with Your spirit. Give me boldness and courage to declare Your truth over myself. Remind me of my identity as Your child. I am who You say I am, and I can trust the Holy Spirit living inside of me. Lead me into deeper intimacy with You. I love You. Amen.

Staff Pick | John 10:10

Staff Pick | John 10:10

In this series, we have asked the members of Freshley staff to choose a verse close to their heart and write on what they believe God is saying through it.


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. [John 10:10]

What does it mean to “have life and have it abundantly”?

One thing that I am really passionate about is not settling, especially when it comes to God. Because I believe that when Jesus said that when He came to give us an abundant life, He meant it. So, what does that actually mean?

I think that sometimes we can get stuck into habitual thinking and assume that our current way of living is God’s best for us when they may not be true. Here are some examples that I have either experienced or seen others experience:

  • If you battle anxiety or depression (to any degree, big or small), it can be easy to assume that you’ll have to deal with those for the rest of your life.

  • If you don’t have the community that you want, you might find yourself thinking that God doesn’t have more for you.

  • If you or a family member has a chronic illness or disease, the world is going to tell you that that is something you will literally have for the rest of your life.

  • If you grew up in an abusive home, it might be easy to assume that you will have personality or boundary issues in any relationship that you have.

These are just a few examples, but I think you get the point. And now, I want to encourage you in two things:

  1. You do not have to view these circumstances as permanent.

  2. Even in the midst of these circumstances, you can still have a full and abundant life.

You don’t have to view your circumstances as permanent

There’s a chance right now that you are thinking, “I don’t really understand how I don’t view a chronic or terminal illness as permanent.” Or whatever your circumstances, I understand if you don’t see a way out, if you don’t see goodness as an option.

But y’all, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I wholeheartedly believe that anything is possible. In the Bible, Jesus healed person after person after person of diseases and disabilities. He literally raised Lazarus from the dead!! And now you may say to me, “But Hannah, that was Jesus, and I’m not Jesus, so how is that possible?” And to you asking that question, I say, “But the Holy Spirit.” In John 14:12, Jesus Himself literally tells us that through the Spirit, we would do things greater than He did while He was here. So, believe for healing! Believe for freedom! Pray for things that seem literally impossible. Pray for things that literally are impossible without God. And this is for anything: healing, brokenness, hurts. The Bible tells us time and time again, “Ask and you shall receive.” So, why not ask?

Now, I understand that there is a caveat to all of this. There’s a good chance that there is something in your life that you’ve prayed for that you haven’t seen answered in the way you hoped. So what do we do with that?

Our circumstances do not define the abundance of our life

So, what do we do when we don’t see our prayers answered? What do we do in the midst of the waiting? Those are very valid questions. And please understand that I will not have all of the answers for you in this post. But I do want to offer you to things: joy and hope.

Joy: In the midst of any circumstance, you are allowed joy. Now, there will be sad moments. There will be seasons harder than others. And God says He’s near to the brokenhearted, so He doesn’t say that everything will be happy always. But we can have joy in our knowledge of who He is. We can choose and ask for joy because I believe that is something promised to every person who chooses God. When you choose God, you choose joy.

Hope: In the waiting, in the hurt, in the in-between, there is hope. Our God is good. Our God is all-powerful. Our God is faithful and loves us beyond measure. And in that, we have hope. We have an allowance to never give up on what is less than God’s best. We have an authority to pray for the impossible because with God, we have a hope for the best. And let me be clear: the hope is not in the circumstance. It is always in His goodness and His love and His character.

What now?

I know I just dropped a lot on you, so let me boil it down to a few main takeaways.

  • You can ask and pray for really big things from God. He wants good things for us, so pray for those things for yourself and others.

  • Don’t settle and stop hoping/asking God for something if you believe He has more for you.

  • However, even if our circumstances don’t match what we pray for, we can realize that we still have hope and joy because God’s goodness is not based in our circumstance. It’s based on how He loves us in the midst of it.

  • So, no matter our circumstances, the abundance of life can be seen in God because He still gives us joy and hope and a lot of other amazing things. So ask big. Hope big.

Wow, I love y’all, and God loves y’all, and He wants so much for you. So believe that for yourself today, okay? Because you’re worth it, and you aren’t disqualified from His goodness.

-Hannah

Pray

God, wow, I thank You that You give us power through the Holy Spirit. God, I pray that You will give me discernment in where I am settling for less than what You have for me. And more than anything I just ask for more of You. More of Your hope. More of Your joy. Guide me as my Abba Father. I love You, God. In the power of Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Staff Pick | Revelation 4:9-11

Staff Pick | Revelation 4:9-11

In this series, we have asked the members of Freshley staff to choose a verse close to their heart and write on what they believe God is saying through it.


“And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever and will cast their crowns before the throne saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’” [Revelation 4:9-11]

I’LL SAY IT

Has prayer ever been dull to you? If you’re like me, sometimes when I get alone to pray, I get distracted and find it awfully difficult to focus in prayer for more than five minutes. Then I keep asking myself why I’m doing that, and then I get a mixture of annoyance and a little guilt because prayer is supposed to be a way I can get to know God. In this blog, I want to propose a perspective shift.

DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO?

The perspective change I want to offer comes in the form of a question: Do you know who you are talking to? When we pray, we are talking to God. The same God who created everything, the same God who parted the Red Sea, and the same God who rose Jesus from the dead. Actually think about this. We get to talk to this God. Not only do we get to talk to Him, He WANTS us to talk to Him. This is crazy! This is such an awesome privilege and opportunity!

When I am faced with distraction during prayer, I turn to a certain passage in scripture. Revelation 4 describes the throne room in Heaven. It’s absolutely wild. John writes that “out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder.” I want to challenge you to set apart some time, read this chapter, and then pray while realizing that you have access to this powerful God depicted in Revelation 4.

The words in these verses show us the magnitude of the glory of God. They remind us of the true praise that God is worthy of. And it’s crazy because this same God worthy of the utmost glory wants to spend time with us. That’s the God who we get to pray to.

Actually recognizing who you are talking to when you pray creates not only focus, but even more of a desire to pray. If you want another passage of scripture to get your mind right before prayer, check out Exodus 34! I want to encourage you that your prayer life is one of the most important parts of your life. Here, battles are fought and won. Here, we get to receive freedom. Here, we get to know God.

-Avery


PRAY

Father, thank You for who You are. Thank You for allowing and wanting me to spend time with You. Bring me to know You deeply. Teach me who You are, I surrender to You. Amen.



Staff Pick | Galatians 5:1

Staff Pick | Galatians 5:1

In this series, we have asked the members of Freshley staff to choose a verse close to their heart and write on what they believe God is saying through it.


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. [Galatians 5:1]

There tend to be two pitfalls when it comes to living a life of “freedom.” Most people tend to be on one side where a true, genuine, real relationship with God is too difficult, so they choose to follow a set of do’s and don’ts to make them feel connected with God. Then on the other side, there are people who think freedom in Christ means that you now get to live however you want to live, free of any consequence because you get to go to heaven. At some point or another, most likely all of us have been on one side or another. But what does true freedom actually look like?


What does it actually mean that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free?”

The second part of this verse tells us to stand firm. Wait. So we actually have to DO something in order to maintain our freedom? Exactly. But then that is followed up with “do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery.” Seems kind of contradictory right? If you keep reading this chapter, Paul begins to talk about what it means to walk by the Spirit. The point he is trying to make is that while it is difficult, and often the opposite of what our flesh wants to do, DOING life with God is the thing that is going to bring us the most freedom. Not following a list of rules, or even doing whatever sounds fun and enjoyable will bring you the most freedom, but doing what God tells you to will bring you the most freedom.

All of that sounds good, but what does it practically look like to do what God tells you to do?

John 16:13 shows us that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to guide us. Don’t be intimidated by the words “Holy Spirit”. It's just God. It’s God’s power that is going to help you live in freedom. When you spend time getting to know God whether in scripture, in worship, through prayer, or whatever other ways you can think of, your mind will begin to change. Not only will your mind begin to change, but the way you live will begin to change. God will put a thought in your mind that will stick with you until you act upon it. He will convict you when you aren’t living in true freedom. True freedom is found in knowing God, and because of the way you know God, doing the things that He tells you to do.

To end, ask yourself this question: am I living in true freedom? To some extent, all of us have areas of our life where we aren’t living in true freedom. Ask Jesus to help you walk in more freedom, and find more joy and satisfaction in Him than ever before.

-Nick

pray

God, I thank You that You are a God of freedom!! Thank You for the ways that You love me so wholly. Lord, I repent for choosing bondage where You have complete freedom and joy for me. I ask that You will show me where You have freedom for me. How can I partner with You to get there? I give it all to You, God. I love You!!! In Your name I pray, amen.

Staff Pick | Revelation 22:20

Staff Pick | Revelation 22:20

In this series, we have asked the members of Freshley staff to choose a verse close to their heart and write on what they believe God is saying through it.


“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” [Revelation 22:20]

This is the next to last verse in the Bible. Out of the millions of words that are in the Bible, God chose to speak these at the very end of the most important book in the world: “Surely I am coming soon.”

How often do you live like this? How often do you live according to the reality that one day very soon you will bow before the throne of your Creator? The reality is that these words were given to the Apostle John to record nearly 2,000 years ago, yet Jesus has not returned. And that often leads us into a lifestyle of complacency because we are so far removed from the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. But Jesus said He was coming soon!

We must remember the words of His good friend Peter: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8).” The only way to faithfully walk with the Lord is to surrender our understanding of time. For the Lord, His coming soon is a promise that we are meant to live by. Every day is meant to be lived as though it is the day of our Lord’s return. Look at the end of v. 20. John cries out in prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!” John so eagerly desired for the Lord’s return that He couldn’t help but agree with Jesus’ promise.

When we really encounter God’s goodness and love, it should usher in a gratitude for His grace and Spirit freely given to us. And it should stir in us a holy passion for the return of Jesus. Not a “get me out of this world” mentality, but a “Jesus you have always been everything, you will always be everything, and I desperately await the moment that I get to meet my Savior face to face” mentality. It’s when you’re so consumed with God’s love that your Spirit within you shouts, “Yes!! COME, Lord Jesus!” If it’s right now, if it’s three decades from now, or if it’s thousands of years from now, it doesn’t matter. I just want you, Jesus. We will never know the time until it comes, but we should so eagerly expect His return every day so that when it comes we rejoice upon its arrival.

Revelation 22:10 says, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” The promise of Jesus’ return has yet to be consummated. God knows the time is near, and we must choose to believe the same. Our distance from the time of the New Testament will tempt us to not live for eternity, but you must “hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” (Revelation 3:11). Hold fast to your faith in Jesus today so that you may enjoy Him forever.

-Adam

Prayer

Jesus, I eagerly await and expect your return. Teach me what matters for eternity and what does not. I want to receive Your love in a way that convinces me of Your return. Come, Lord Jesus!