Reflecting on My Favorite Quotes {Faith}

Around this time last year, I started a post series where I summarize some key concepts I’ve learned from quotes I’ve saved that follow truths that align with God’s will. I’ve wrote two posts in that series, and I really want to finish it. I share my struggles with anxiety here, as well as the lessons I’ve learned to deal with it. And I also shared my favorite quotes about fulfilling your dreams here and how I live by those.

I also have some quotes that specifically go along with faith I want to summarize. I’ll try to keep this post short because obviously I’m constantly talking about faith and what I learn on this blog. But a lot of these quotes offer good reminders of the Christian faith we all need to hear. So hopefully some of these can inspire you, too!

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1. Nothing is ever irredeemable.

I love quotes that talk about how God works through brokenness in people and how those people can become some of the strongest when they allow God to take over. I know that has been true for so many people in my family, and I hope it’s true for me, too. I don’t always feel unbreakable every day. In fact, most days I do struggle with some thing or other. But God is always so faithful; there is never a pain I’ve had in my life where I haven’t seen how He’s used it. There are definitely times when I’ve gotten close to thinking I’d never see it. For example, in the first post of this series where I share my struggles with anxiety, I felt like the biggest failure. I thought I was regressing as a Christian and losing all my faith, and I had no idea how that was ever supposed to propel me forward in life.

But now? I can totally see how God used it. Because of my experience with anxiety, not only am I able to understand others better, but I also have a better perspective on life because I know what it’s like to go through life both with and without anxiety and how God can help me through it. That helps me in the future when I get anxious, that helps me assure other people, and it helps me write more authentically. So please know that whatever situation you’re in, God really will make it better when you trust Him with it. I’ve seen some super ugly, heartbreaking situations, and I’ve seen God do miracles through them in the sense of how He works in people’s hearts. And that’s the true meaning of life, is not even gaining external things, but when people’s lives change. If you want any hope for making the world better, it all starts and ends with God. There is no more beautiful thing than watching people’s lives be transformed for Him. I think that’s one way God uses pain, is because you can see how He alone steps in to these terrible situations and revives them. Sometimes you don’t see it right away. I know I’m guilty of looking for showy signs from God that He is working, but honestly, you have to look at those little things He’s doing.

It’s like physical growth in people. When you’re around them constantly, you never notice those changes in height or whatever it may be. But then sometimes it hits you, like oh my gosh, you’ve gotten so tall. And I’ve noticed the same in life. With so many situations in life, one day you just see it. It hits you, like wow, look at what God has done through this, and I didn’t even see it. So just trust Him. It’s so hard in the middle of heartbreak to see what He’s doing, which I talk further about in this post, but you’re not going to see it then. He’ll show it to you in His timing, when you trust Him. So just rest in Him. He promises He will take care of you! I read Exodus 14:14 in my Bible study last night—look that verse up, it’s a beautiful reminder of this.

2. Believe in what God promises you.

His love is always there for you, that never stops. I know sometimes I am guilty of doubting His love when I struggle repeatedly with the same thing because I feel He’s tired of me messing up with that. There is a beautiful quote, though, that talks about how God would rather have us coming to Him when we mess up and believing He still loves us rather than distancing from Him until we make ourselves “better.” Also, I know that doesn’t work, running away from Him like that. Going to God when you fail is precisely how you end up getting “better” because the more aware you are of His love for you, the more you respond in love naturally, and the less place sin has in your life. He is always patient with you. I am so thankful for that. I talk all about His love more in depth here.

Believe that He will do good things for you when you are living for Him! He has good plans for you! Sometimes I get this false idea that because I love God, He’s going to do things to somehow test me or whatever, and these are all bad things I imagine, like never being successful at things He’s laid on my heart or fulfilling my dreams. But that’s when Jeremiah 29:11 is so crucial. His plans are good, not bad! He does care about your desires and dreams! As I talked about in my post reflecting on quotes over that here, they were given to you BY HIM if you are in Him.

The whole point of having faith is you believe that even when you don’t feel it. When you place your trust in God like that, never think that goes unnoticed by Him. Do whatever you have to do to submit your worries to Him and believe His promises. One night, I made a list on my phone of things I would tell myself everyday, whenever I felt upset. These were just simple statements ranging from beauty to dreams to faith in Him. You can’t just hope to trust Him, you have to be intentional in believing what He says. That is also why studying the Bible and what exactly it is He promises is so important, which I talk about here.

One of my favorite quotes says that if we fully comprehended how much God loves us, we would never fear anything. That is so true. So meditate on His promises daily. In eighth grade, when I was so down and upset all the time, one of the things that helped me the most was immersing myself in God’s love. Reading about how He loves me, asking Him to remind me how He loves me, etc. You cannot feel upset when you think about how God loves you. There is an amazing book on this by David Jeremiah I totally recommend, and I talk about it here.

3. Talk to God all the time, just by sharing one thought at a time.

I don’t know how much I’ve addressed prayer on this blog, but one quote I have by C.H. Spurgeon says, “Short prayers are long enough.” The whole point is that no prayer is ever a “bad” prayer. Lots of people, myself included, get the idea that prayer has to be like ten minutes long at a time, or it has to be about “meaningful” things, etc. Whatever the misconceptions may be, the only way you can “mess up” prayer is by doing just that, filtering things from God because you think it’s not worthy of telling Him. Well, He knows it anyway, and He wants you to tell Him. Be completely real with Him. I know I used to hide things from Him. Now I’m the opposite, I say things I probably should never tell Him, like when I’m so mad at someone I could hurt them or I actually swear. Well, again, it’s not like He doesn’t know I’m thinking those things! And He can save you from actually hurting someone if you go to Him in prayer first. ;) Haha, seriously, I’m not kidding, people: He really can handle whatever it is on your heart.

How do you learn to pray all the time? Seriously, just take it one thought at a time, even if it is something so simple like what you’re doing. Make it like a conversation. You probably talk to yourself in your head anyways, so why not tell God what you’re thinking? That’s how you develop that relationship. Before you know it, you’re praying all the time, all day long, exactly how we’re commanded to do. Just because it’s a command doesn’t mean it has to be dreaded. Prayer is such a gift, to be able to have that relationship with God. So treat it like any other healthy, special relationship you’d have with someone who loves you and then some. Because God loves you more than even that person, and a relationship with Him is literally what we are made for.

My favorite quote to end with

There is a quote I love that can be seen so much throughout the Bible as you look at the people who are close to God, that says the people who fall and get back up are a lot stronger than the people who never fall—or don’t seem to, anyway. Don’t feel like a failure if you’re in a hard situation. Just keep doing these three things: remembering nothing is irredeemable and submitting your life to God, remembering what He promises you and resting in His love, and talking to Him constantly about whatever goes through your mind. I tried to pick some of the “main” points or messages I think people need to hear or be reminded of the most. Again, I know I talk about a lot of these things, so I hope this wasn’t overly redundant, but I know I need reminders constantly of these things. I pray they can encourage you, too!

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How to Love People and Show Mercy

So this post has been a really long time coming, since I first wrote down some thoughts on how to show mercy to people clear back on November 28, 2016. So two years later I'm finally getting around to writing this post... ;)

This is definitely an urgent message, though, that of how to love people, especially when that doesn't come naturally to you or isn't one of your spiritual gifts. What I mean by that is we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Some people are actually really good at being patient, but obviously you know that's one of my weaknesses. The same is true with showing unconditional love and forgiveness. Some people are better at it than others. That doesn't mean they do it perfectly, but for some, it just may be one of those things they've either been blessed with or have worked hard to grow at. For example, I think my grandma has this gift of loving and forgiving people. Does that mean she does it perfectly all the time? No, she'll even admit to that. But I still really admire her desire to see the best in people and her recognition of all people as people God longs to save.

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No matter how good you are with forgiveness and unconditional love, this post, I'm hoping, will still be able to speak to you. Before I go into what I've learned about how to do it, I'll tell you how good I tend to be with doing these two things, from an honest perspective and not just what I hope I do, haha. I'll also tell you why forgiving and loving people IS NOT OPTIONAL and why it is so crucial.

Forgiving and loving people is not optional for a Christian.

In one of my Bible studies, I remember I read something very convicting. It was a chapter about loving the unlovable—literally what it was called in the book I was reading—and the author was listing Bible verses that show how loving others is the most important command for a Christian, second only to loving God. So... I basically sighed in my head because my attitudes on people lately have been far from loving, so I knew I had to change. But lots of time, of course, loving people is one of those things easier said than done. But that's why I'm writing this!

Anyways, here are the verses she had that prove loving people isn't a choice:

Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”‘
— Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

There's also this verse about forgiveness:

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
— Matthew 6:15 NIV

So it's definitely not optional. And I would bet that most people wish that wasn't the case. I think nowadays we live in a very apathetic, bitter society where loving unconditionally and extending grace are not the norms. Look at the media and how grown adults behave towards each other. Look at the crime rates. Look at the overall brokenness. You know the reason most people are broken? I would be willing to bet it's a lack of love. Not always. But I would bet that's the main reason why people are so depressed in this society. And even though we have people that may say they love us, I think nowadays with the shifting and creation of new media, we don't even know what authentic love is anymore. But we as Christians are defined by the way we love other people (John 13:35).

How good am I with forgiving/loving unconditionally?

So I promised I'd share where I think I fall on the spectrum of forgiving and loving people. I feel like it depends on the day. ;) Some days I feel more compassionate than others, but I will say that I have the tendency to be overly judgmental. In a society where people want to think anything goes, I feel like I’ve almost had to be, because there are behaviors that should not be tolerated. With that being said, God has opened up my eyes to see that behind those behaviors are people who need Him just as much as I do, and He loves them just as much as me. Because of that, I feel like I’ve been able to be more empathetic, but it can definitely be a challenge giving people grace in the real world.

The secret, I’ve found, that has changed the game for me is not to look at people’s behavior but to their heart. When you look at someone’s behavior and how bad it may be, that is not going to help you at all when it comes to loving them. I think some people naively believe that if we love people, we can just sweep their behavior under the rug, but I disagree. Bad behavior doesn’t need to be excused even when you’re loving someone because what’s sin is still sin. I think this is where I struggled, is because I felt like to love someone, you had to be okay with everything they did in life. But that’s far from true. True love extends to the people who have done some of the worst things, and true love will not say it is okay. And I wanted to emphasize this, about how bad it is that someone acts a certain way, but then I realized something else about love.

What I’ve learned is that yes, you can condemn someone’s bad behavior, but then what are you going to do? Where is it going to get you? We still have to get along with people. You can scream at people and condemn them all you want, but it won’t change someone’s heart. The only thing that can do that is love, God’s love. And we are commanded to display that love through the way we live (John 13:35).

So back to looking at people’s hearts. I’ve found it helps if you think deeper than their behavior. If they behave badly, WHY? Is it possible that there are underlying hurts they’re running from, hence causing them to act that way? Behind every person who behaves darkly lies some inner pain. That’s NOT to say this just makes their behavior okay. But pain is easier to empathize with, and it can show you more of an understanding behind why someone behaves poorly, and you can also see your own inner darkness, which gives you the potential to be the same way. That helps you to better relate to that person and display God’s redeeming love all the more. Think of them with needs and desires just like you that have probably gotten perverted along the way. Because we all have those. And that really is one of the main causes for any sin, is a perversion of some desire.

How did I learn this? The main thing for me was being able to see firsthand that my salvation is truly a gift from God, and that without His grace alone to do that, I could have been just as “bad” as someone else. Take prison ministry, for instance. Not a lot of people would be too keen on going into that because most people don’t have a lot of mercy for criminals. And while their behavior is absolutely not acceptable, we forget that they are still people God loves and created. We have the same potential to do bad things, and besides, knowing God shows you that everyone does bad things, regardless of the severity, and are still in need of His salvation (Romans 3:23). If I just see a crime story on the news with some random person, it’s easy to just dismiss them and condemn them. But one time there was a more local story, and the person who did it was a lot younger and not a typical “type” of person you would imagine to do what they had done. When I did some research on that, it really opened up my eyes to see how any person, even someone like me, can be successful in society and yet turn to the dark side, so to speak, when bad attitudes, pain, and selfishness go unchecked.

And that opened my eyes, because maybe, without God’s grace alone in helping me become better through my pain, I could’ve been just like them. Turning to bitterness, letting my pain rule me and cloud my judgment and do the same horrible things. EVERYONE has sin, and therefore everyone has the potential to do bad things like that.

It is only by the grace of God I'm not out there, dead in my sin, like some of those hardcore atheists or criminals—whatever it may be. Because we are all perfectly capable of that. And when you learn that tremendous gift you've been given, it really humbles you. It is only out of God's grace I'm saved. I could just as easily been an atheist, a criminal, whatever. Now that I've recognized that, I truly remember I'm not better than anyone. And it makes me desperate for the people who are dead in sin. We have to quit hating them and go reach out to them. God may just use the spark you send, the seed you plant, to save their life. And if you were in their position, wouldn't you want that?! It goes back to what I talked about in this post: how do you want people to remember you?

It is terribly frustrating when people don’t do what they know they should. But it’s also a gift to know what you’re supposed to be doing in the first place. And when you do know that, we cannot be shy in talking about it or exclusive in who we share it with. That is Jesus. He has put in us our sense of what is good and what is not—He defines goodness, after all, and He is love (1 John 4:8).

There is a Bible verse that says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV). I have to be honest, when I was younger and read this, I did not like the idea of love being the most important. I wasn’t as mature about it as I am now—I cared much more about hope, for instance. Focusing on God to save me from all the other dumb people, is probably what I thought ;) And the same goes for faithfulness. I wanted to just focus on myself and my behavior and how good I could be. But thankfully God opened up my eyes. There’s more to life than living for yourself and your own faith. If you want to change the world, it has to be done through love. That’s the only way to do it. Because true love—God’s love—does not condone bad behavior, but it also does not disregard the hearts that struggle with it. And glory to Him for that. When I learned this, it’s filled me with that much more urgency, to be gentle and kind, because that is what people respond to. Being arrogant or trying to be right or more intelligent about a concept does not change a person’s heart. But true love does. It has the discernment to know when to be gentle and understanding, and when to be gentle and truthful.

I also feel like I need to define true love as God intends for us to have, and I really believe it is reflected most truly by cultivating the fruits of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). I’ve been striving to have all of those character traits—patience is one I am still working on desperately—but that is what I want people to think of when they think of me. I remember all of a sudden how one time in middle school at some assembly emphasizing kindness or something with character, I believe we did some activity where we had to write three traits about somebody we were assigned, and it could be good or bad—yikes. I remember for one of mine, someone wrote “gentle,” and that stood out to me because I didn’t understand what that meant and I was almost embarrassed by it.

Society thinks being gentle is a bad thing, but it’s not at all. It’s a beautiful thing, especially because not a lot of people have it. Being gentle doesn’t make you a pushover—having no boundaries or values does that. As you know about me, I am still very confident about my values and will not change them for anything, BUT being gentle means that even in spite of that, you can still be kind and loving while at the same time sticking up for what you believe in. This is what people are searching for most, I think, are people who are real about what matters in life and set in their values but are not mean about it. They have Jesus’ peace about life, and the sin that is so prevalent in the world does not steal their joy or love. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a female, either. Why do you think women are so attracted to guys when they see them doing sweet things like interacting with little kids? Because Jesus Himself was the most gentle person and yet also the most truthful person about what is good and true in life. It doesn’t make you any less masculine or feminine to be gentle—just all the more like Jesus for showing His love to people. (Seriously, I just watched a video of a hockey player I like doing something sweet for a little boy, and it melted my heart. #iwanttomarryhim)

I can also tell you so many stories about how I’ve done this at school and how I’ve seen it work like nothing else. This true love does not make you any less worthy as a person or take away your worth (like people think when they imagine it making you a pushover), instead, actually, it makes people have all the more respect for you. Like I said, I could tell you stories about how this has been true for me. Most of all, showing love to others pleases God, and that is what is most important.

If this is something you struggle with, don’t feel guilty. I’ve struggled with it as well—every person does. But as long as you have the desire to obey God and ask Him for help in this area, He promises to help you (James 1:5). He will give you the wisdom needed to do this.

It’s definitely not always easy to love people, and sometimes it feels overwhelming, but the key, really, is to know and love God because with that comes His wisdom and His love that He puts in your heart, and people can tell when this is present in a person. His love is what changes people’s hearts and can spark any change in the world.

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God's Amazing Love for You

I wrote a letter to YOU the other day. It was very important because it's something the God of the universe wants you to know. It talks about how Jesus died for all of your sins. Why did he do that? Because God loves you so much. Oh, how He loves you. Today, I want to write you another letter. And this is for YOU. If you think you don't deserve God's love, you are right. You don't. And I talked about that in the previous letter. But if you think it's too late for you to receive that love or that that love will never apply to you, you're wrong. Read my first letter to you because that's where it all starts.

How can you know God loves you? He says so. How deep does it go? Deeper than you can comprehend. This is a letter just for you, from me to you, BUT this is not what I'm saying. This is all what God wants you to hear about His amazing love for you.

To whoever is reading this...

Right now, God wants you to know this:

His love for you, right in this moment, is so great.

God loves YOU. He has since the beginning, and He always will. He already demonstrated this love for you by offering you forgiveness, so read about that first. He did that because He loves you, and today I want to remind you of that.

You need to know that nothing you could ever do in this life will separate you from His love. The Bible says so.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39 NIV

That is absolutely amazing, that verse. Let that sink in. Meditate on each word. And it doesn't stop there. God cares about you so much--every dream, desire, struggle, fear, etc. you have--He cares.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
— 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

When we think of true love and relationships, we're always thinking about the other person sacrificing something for the other because that is how deep their love is. Well let me tell YOU, God did do that for you. He will save your life. He will sing over you. And He is with you now.

‘The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’
— Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

I don't know for sure what your life has been like or how your parents treat you. I pray your parents treat you with the love God shows for His children, but even if they don't, God's love will not fail you. He is the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48).

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
— Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV

I mentioned this yesterday, and I'll tell you this again: God died for you. Our sin causes separation from a holy, perfect God. But even though we were sinners . . . God loves you enough to die for you anyway so that you can be reconciled to Him.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
— Romans 5:8 NIV

Jesus paid the price for your sins. He saved you. And this love from God . . . it endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
— Psalm 107:1 NIV

God's love for YOU is so much higher. It is so great. You can't even comprehend it. Do you ever try to think about heaven and how great it will be, and you just can't do it? I can't. I just know it will be amazing. The movie I loved and watched with my grandma, The Perfect Stranger, made an interesting comment that I could resonate with. It said that as humans living in a fallen world, we can't even comprehend how amazing heaven will be. And I think this can apply to God's love too. In a world where rejection, loneliness, and hatred exist, it's hard to actually comprehend God's love. But just know this: it surpasses what anyone could ever give you. It is amazing.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
— Psalm 108:4 NIV

Whatever bad you may have done, the Lord still loves you. That is a promise.

For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
— Lamentations 3:31-32 NIV

You don't listen to God. I know you haven't because I haven't either. There have been times I deliberately did what I wanted to do instead of what I KNEW God wanted me to do. I've failed to remember how God has provided for me before, and instead I let worry consume me. I can be very rebellious, and I know you are too. We all are. But God promises this anyway:

They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,
— Nehemiah 9:17 NIV

Whoever says God is cruel is wrong. He is just (2 Thessalonians 1:6), but He is so merciful. He loves you so much because He IS love (1 John 4:8). And we know this, ultimately, because...

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
— 1 John 4:9-10 NIV

We didn't love God, He loved us. He loves you even if you haven't been loving towards Him. We can live through Jesus. That is what 1 John 4:9 says. See, this is why I hate cheesy romance movies because they have no idea what true love is. True love is 1 John 4:9 and 10. And that love is extended to YOU. Right now.

And if that alone was amazing, God has been pursuing you with His amazing love even still. Even now.

‘I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

This is the greatest love of all. Here it is again:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
— John 15:13 NIV

And that love is being extended to you. Right now.

This is what God, in His love, does for you

  • He will guide you, satisfy your needs, and strengthen you (Isaiah 58:11).
  • He will call you, take hold of your hand, and keep you (Isaiah 42:6).
  • He will be with yoube your Godstrengthen you, help you, and uphold you (Isaiah 41:10).
  • He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  • He will bless you with peace (Psalm 29:11).

And friend, that's just a very small list that I could elaborate on, and I encourage you to study your Bible and do just that. Because I don't know about you, but those are beautiful truths, and I want my mind filled with THAT. And this love can be yours! What are you waiting for?!

I pray that you would accept that love from God, store it in your heart, and run to Him. He is waiting for you. Wherever you are at, whatever you have done, God still loves you. His love for you is that great--just meditate on the above verses. His love is so great for you that He has a plan for you, too (Jeremiah 29:11). And I can't wait to start talking to you about that. But right now, please go to Him. Accept His love. Live in it daily. Let it be the center of your life. Once you know this, no one can bring you down.

Your sister in Christ, Ashlee Mae