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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Waiting

Still Waiting

Is waiting hard for you? I know it's hard for me. Before my husband and I got married, we both shared the same vision/desire (we still do) to serve God as full-time missionaries wherever God wanted us. Before the wedding, we got accepted by a Christian mission organization to be English teachers (and "undercover missionaries") in China. We planned to leave after our honeymoon. However, it was not meant to be. My husband collapsed during our honeymoon (I'll save the whole story for another time) and became stricken with panic attacks, anxiety, and depression for a long time. He could not leave the house and could not work. We prayed our hearts out and God heard our cries. Slowly, God has healed him (not completely yet...he's still struggling with anxiety and depression) and has sustained us. Years after years (we've been married for over 23 years) and obstacles after obstacles, we are still waiting for God to open the door for us to be full-time missionaries if it's indeed God's will for us. While waiting, God has graciously given us opportunities to serve Him wherever He has placed us. We've been involved in a ministry outreach to the international students (mostly Chinese) who attend our local university (two different cities we've lived in each have a university with lots of international students). It's like having a foreign mission field in our own backyard :). 

Waiting: Good and Necessary

Are you waiting for the right man or woman (if you're single and want to be married someday)? Are you waiting for the right job? Are you waiting to hear results from some tests? Patience must be one of the hardest virtues to embrace. It's human nature to dislike waiting. And the fact that immediate gratification is encouraged in our society is not helping, either. However, according to God's Word, waiting is a necessary thing and a good thing! Trusting God includes not only trusting His will but also trusting His timing.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6

"The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!" Isaiah 30:18

Joseph waited 13 years.
David waited 15 years.
Abraham waited 25 years.
Moses waited 40 years.
Jesus waited 30 years.
If God is making you wait, you're in good company :).


May we all learn to wait on the Lord & wait for His answers patiently and be completely at peace while waiting and may He help us not to make mistakes of taking matters in our own hands and disobeying because we cannot wait (like Sarah, King Saul, etc.)! "The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours." (~John Piper) Let us wait patiently and submissively on Him who cannot fail. Our God is infinite in love, grace, mercy, and wisdom. He knows what's best for us and for His glory. 

Active Waiting

What do we do when we desperately need God's clear direction but God seems silent? We keep trusting God's heart even when we cannot trace His hand. Remember...waiting time is not wasted time. Rather, it's time for learning, growing, and preparing. Waiting time is meant to draw our hearts to deeper joy, satisfaction, contentment, confident trust, and rest in our Heavenly Father. While you wait, continue to pray and praise with thanksgiving. While you wait, continue to faithfully trust and obey God. While you wait, continue to wholeheartedly serve God and live for Him. Whatever you are waiting for today, I hope and pray that your hearts will be encouraged and your eyes will be fixed upon Jesus. Ultimately, we all wait for His return to bring us home to Himself. What a glorious joy that awaits us!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sleepless in the Desert of Judah

If Psalm 63 gets made into a movie, the title might be "Sleepless in the Desert of Judah" (okay...not as catchy as "Sleepless in Seattle" :)). "On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night. Because You are my Help, I sing in the shadow of Your wings. I cling to You; Your right hand upholds me." (Psalm 63:6-8)

I'm pretty sure all of us have had some sleepless nights (some more so than others). Is your mind working overtime, jumping from one worry to another or thinking of all the things that you have to do the next day? David turned his sleepless night into a worshipful time with God. He lay awake thinking of God and meditated on Who God is and what God has done. David remembered and acknowledged that God had helped him and protected him. He chose to cling to God and rest in God's loving & mighty hand which had kept him safe and secure. "I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory." (verse 2) David's confidence was in God because he had experienced God's presence and had seen God's power and glory. To David, God's unfailing love is better than life itself (verses 3 & 4, "Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your Name I will lift up my hands.") Therefore, he continued to praise God and sing praises to Him even in the midst of great distress. "But the king will rejoice in God." (verse 11a)

To ponder: 
  • When in distress, what's your default mode of reaction/response? Panic or pray?
  • Where are your hope, rest, and confidence? In God or in people or in things? 
  • Do you truly believe that God's love is better than life and live accordingly?
  • Whom or what do you cling to? 
  • What do you do during sleepless nights? Dwelling on worries/anxieties? Instead, we should pray and give God all our concerns/burdens. He is our Burden Bearer and Rest Giver.
A cure for sleepless nights is to turn our thoughts to God. Next time you cannot sleep, try turning your sleepless night into a quiet time of reflection, prayer, and worship. Use that time to review how God has guided, provided, protected, and blessed you. Instead of counting sheep, count your blessings and remind yourselves of God's faithfulness. Thoughts of God will calm your soul and lead you into true rest.  

Rest in God and sleep well, my friends :)!




nikkisnacs

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unworthy F.A.T. Servants

Attitude of God's Servants

"Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'" Luke 17:9-10

If we have obeyed God, we have only done our duty. If we have served God, we should regard it as a privilege and an honor. Obedience and service are our duty and our expression of love, gratitude, & devotion to our Lord. God doesn't need any of us but He graciously chooses to use us to do His kingdom work...to be His hands and feet in this world...to be Christ's ambassadors. Isn't it amazing that we get to work for Him and witness His work in & through us and others? We have a front row seat watching His glory and power at work. What an awesome and mighty God we serve! To me, it's a joy to serve God and others. "We are unworthy servants."--Humility is the key here; there's no room for spiritual pride! "
Serve one another humbly in love." (Galatians 5:13b) Effective servants of God are those who are F.A.T. (Faithful, Available, Teachable) :). We are called to love and serve like Jesus. "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43-45) Status does not define Christ's disciples; servanthood does!

Does God bless obedience? Yes, He does; however, we should never do things just because we want something in return or expect blessings from Him. Do you feel that you deserve extra credit for serving God? We should examine our attitude and our motive. God owes us nothing; we owe God everything! Our motive for serving should be love for God and love for people. True service is agape love in action. "What can I do for you?" Keep serving God and others faithfully & cheerfully... someday you will get to hear these sweet words from the Lord, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"


Gifts Given for Serving

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms...If anyone serves, they should do with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:10, 11b)

We are called to be faithful stewards of God's grace by using whatever gift we have received to serve others. Everyone has been given some gifts. Find yours and use them to serve God & others. We should invest our time, talents, and treasures where they will make an eternal difference. We are saved to serve! The believers' gifts are not to be laid up for selves but laid out in service. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Try this test and see if you agree: http://www.sdrock.com/giftstest/ .  In all things...Soli Deo Gloria!


Keep On Serving the Lord

Serving is not easy. There will be problems, challenges, conflicts, discouragement, and disappointment. "Go labor on; Spend and be spent, my joy to do the Father's will; It is the way the Master went; should not the servant tread it still?" (~H. Bonar) When adversity hits, don't quit. Even if no one appreciates, applauds, or acknowledges you, don't stop serving. Do it all for the Audience of One and for God's glory alone. "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." (Hebrews 6:10) "My dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58) Let nothing move, shake, or deter you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord! Continue to work enthusiastically for our Master even when we don't see results and/or we face opposition/persecution. Nothing we do in the Lord for the Lord is ever in vain. "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people." (Ephesians 6:7) God will bring life and produce fruit to our messy attempts and meek efforts. If you're on God's side, you're on the winning team. When you feel inadequate to serve, focus on Jesus and ask Him to help you. "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." (~Unknown) As Christians, we have the power of the Holy Spirit and the promise of Jesus that "with men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) Serving is to be done in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

"In the deed that no man knows
Where no praiseful trumpet blows,
Where he may not reap who sows,
There, Lord, let my heart serve You.

~Unknown

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." ~Albert Schweitzer
 "Serving costs. Being present with people means both rejoicing and suffering with them. But this is where life is to be found, and those who live lives of service ultimately and overwhelmingly say that they find a fullness of life, a joy that can be found nowhere else, and a sense that indeed, it is better to give than to receive." ~Richard Dahlstrom
Holly Barrett

Monday, October 27, 2014

Burden Bearer

Burden Bearer

Are you feeling exhausted and drained from carrying your burdens? Do you find it difficult to deal with new challenges? Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Feeling discouraged, frustrated, and/or weary? Friends, I would like to encourage you to look to God for strength and to remember that you are never meant to carry your burdens alone. Self-reliance is a snare. God wants you to come to Him and leave your burdens with Him. The Lord is our Daily Burden-Bearer! Isn't that beyond awesome? The Lord, God Almighty, the Creator of the universe, daily (not occasionally or weekly or monthly or annually, but DAILY) bears my and your burdens. Let that sink in our mind and heart and soul. Is there any burden too great for our Lord? NO! Praise God for His unending love and care for us! He is our Refuge and Strength. Trust Him with all your concerns. "If we can trust God for our eternal salvation, how can we not trust Him to provide for the "little" things of life?" (~M.E.Howard) "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken." (Psalm 55:22) And we (brothers and sisters in Christ) are to help carry each other's burdens: "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) The law of Christ is the law of Love! Please don't hesitate to let me know how I can help you and/or pray for you.

Rest Giver

Jesus loves you, invites you to spend time with Him, and longs to give you rest (peace that is out of this world). "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." ~Jesus (John 14:27) We can always bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Just cry out to Jesus! He listens; He cares. Take your problems (every worry/every concern/every burden) to Him and leave them there. Let go. Don't pick them back up. Don't carry around weights of your burdens; they will keep you from being useful. Let go and walk in freedom, in faith, and in obedience. Trust in God's loving sovereignty. Trust God's answers (God's will and God's ways) and God's timing. I pray. I trust. I rest.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: The Greatest Words Ever Spoken

My Review:
Everything Jesus says in the Bible (more than 1,900 statements) is compiled into this book. A proper nickname for the book could easily be the Red Letter Book. If you ever wonder what Jesus says about a certain topic, this is the book for you. The book consists of 9 chapters which cover 9 main categories: What Christ Tells Us About Himself, What Christ Tells Us About His Father in Heaven, What Christ Tells Us About the Third Person of the Trinity, Life After Death, Heaven & Hell, Forgiveness, and Other Crucial Eternal Matters, What Jesus Said to Those Who Believe in Him, What Jesus Said About Our Nature, Our Struggles, and Our Future, What Jesus Said About God's Tireless Efforts to Save Humanity, What Jesus Told Us About Starting and Deepening a Relationship with God, and What Jesus Said About Succeeding with Others. Under these categories, you will find different subjects such as angels, rewards, evangelism, purity, spiritual priorities, accountability before God, false doctrine, anger, stumbling blocks, and lots more. Each chapter starts with a short introduction that aims to grab non-believers' attention. At the end of the book, you will find Scripture Index (arranged by the books of the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation) and Subject Index (more than 200 topics arranged in alphabetical order).

The greatest words ever spoken came from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you desire to know God more and have a deeper relationship with Him, spend time pondering on these words of Jesus. I'm thankful that the author organizes/categorizes them by topic for us. This book is an excellent resource as a reference book, a devotion book, or a group study book. Our family has been using it in our family's devotion time and I have been using it for my personal Bible study. The book is easy to use and so helpful & impactful. I love it; it's like having a spiritual feast on hand. Christ's words provide the foundation for all my values, beliefs, and doctrines. What started out as the author's personal project becomes a blessing to us all. God's Word has transforming power. Yes, you can find these words of Jesus in the Bible but in this book, they are put together for each topic. You'll be amazed when you read them this way; it will give you a comprehensive understanding of God's heart about each issue. Check this book out and discover answers, promises, comfort, encouragement, and God's thoughts! "Because the wisdom offered on each topic comes solely from the undiluted statements of Christ, their breadth, depth, and power are enlightening, faith building, and life changing." (p. 8) I totally agree!

"The Words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life."
~Jesus (John 6:63b)

~I received a free copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Happy Are the Forgiven!

The sermon this weekend at our church is on Romans 4. I'd like to share what stood out to me.

Happy Are the Forgiven!

"To the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed (happy) are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed (happy) is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.'" (Romans 4:5-8)

We are justified (declared not guilty) by faith. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, not by works. Our faith is credited as righteousness just like Abraham's. "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Romans 4:3b) When we the ungodly (who deserve eternal damnation in Hell) cast ourselves upon God's mercy, He justifies us, forgives us, and gives us Christ's righteousness. David was saying the same thing in Psalm 32:1-2 (which was quoted above in Romans 4:7-8). He recognized the blessedness of God's complete, perfect forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross in our place for our sins. Because of His atonement, our sin, shame, stain, and scars have been removed forever. How blessed we are! Forgiven and free! One is truly happy whose transgressions are erased entirely. Now when God looks at us, He sees Christ's righteousness and sees us as though we had never sinned. If that doesn't make you happy, I don't know what does. Not only God cancels all our debts, but He also deposits righteousness into our account! Blessings upon blessings! It makes me happy beyond words. "When I think how cold, dull and heartless I have been; how often I have wandered, how often trifled upon the brink of temptation...I am amazed at the greatness of His mercy in preserving me! I am a living commentary, that there is forgiveness with Him--and that He is able to save to the uttermost!" (~John Newton)

Boasting Buster

The whole chapter pretty much talks about justification by faith. "The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring...to those who have the faith of Abraham." (Romans 4:16) Did you know that the Gospel was announced in Genesis? Righteousness comes by faith (Romans 4:13b). If righteousness could be obtained through work, it would call attention to us and promote boasting (Romans 4:2). On the contrary, faith calls attention to the grace of God, the One trusted. "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1 Corinthians 4:7) Grace is God's gift (undeserved favor). Salvation is God's gift. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Righteousness and justification are God's gifts. "Under law God required righteousness from man. Under grace, He gives righteousness to man. The righteousness of God is that righteousness which God's righteousness requires Him to require." (~William Cunningham) Even faith itself is a gift from God. We have nothing to boast about whatsoever. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. Humble yourselves unto the wondrous saving work of God in Christ! Do not respond to God's offer of salvation with works and self-reliance. If you try to work through the law as a way to get right with God, you nullify grace & turn justification into a wage (rather than a free gift), and it leads to self-exaltation. The proper response to the Gospel is to receive by faith. "God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." (Romans 4:24)
"Our standing before God is not in ourselves; it's in Christ!
He is . . .

  our Salvation,
  our Righteousness, 
  our Hope,
  our Holiness, and
  our Acceptance with God! 
We are completely righteous in Him!
We are completely holy in Him!
We are completely forgiven in Him!
We are completely accepted in Him! 
We are completely, everlastingly, perfectly sinless in Him!" (~Frank Hall)

Saving Faith

"Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living Person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. This definition emphasizes that saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save me." (~Wayne Grudem) It is a strong conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain salvation, eternal life, and entrance into Heaven and an utter dependence upon Him, His finished work at the cross for our redemption, and His resurrection for our justification (acquittance from the guilt and punishment of all our sins). There is no other way! In order to have the blessed joy of salvation and forgiveness, we must repent. If you have not surrendered your life to Christ yet, please don't delay. Please accept His free gift of salvation today by faith and feel the burden and weight of sin lifted off and start living free. Happy are the forgiven! Pardoned people are happy/blessed people. 



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Be Cheerful

Yes, my corn muffin came out of the oven smiling like that! I just had to take a photo of it :). If you ask people who know me to describe me, I'm quite sure that one of the adjectives they will use is cheerful. I smile a lot! I laugh and giggle a lot! And yes, Pollyanna is one of my favorite movies :).

Cheerful Heart and Cheerful Face

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful." (Proverbs 15:13a)
"The cheerful heart has a continual feast." (Proverbs 15:15b)
"A cheerful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22a)

"Be cheerful. Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important." (~Unknown) A cheerful face/look comes from a cheerful heart. Cheerfulness is an attitude of the heart. When our heart is cheerful, life is a continual feast of joy and satisfaction. A cheerful (happy) heart makes the face cheerful and a cheerful face brings joy to the heart, making the heart cheerful. Do you see the beneficial, joyous cycle? When you are cheerful, your smile, laughter, and/or sunny disposition can bring healing and hope to someone's weary soul or sorrowful heart, lift his/her spirits up, and brighten his/her days. Don't you just love children's laughter? It's better than any medicine. 

SMILE

Don't underestimate the power of a smile :)! A smile makes you feel welcome. A smile gives you a sense of approval and acceptance. "What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity." (~Unknown) 
"A smile is cheer to you and me
The cost is nothing--it's given free

It comforts the weary--gladdens the sad
Consoles those in trouble--good or bad
To rich and poor--beggar or thief
It's free to all of any belief
A natural gesture of young and old
Cheers on the faint--disarms the bold
Unlike most blessings for which we pray
It's one thing we keep when we give it away."
(~Unknown)

CHOOSE

I don't always feel cheerful. Because of my chronic health problem, I often live with intense pain. People usually have no idea. I don't let pain stop me from being cheerful. If you want to have a cheerful heart, you have to make choices, in spite of circumstances. I'll share with you what I choose :).

Choose Jesus

I choose to surrender my life to Jesus and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior. I know who I am and whose I am. Joy is found in knowing Jesus and abiding in Him. O the joy of being saved and secure in Christ! Joy is found in walking with Him even through the valley of the shadow of death. Joy is found in living for God, relying on Him, our Source of joy, and doing His will. "Joy is not happiness so much as gladness; it is the ecstasy of eternity in a soul that has made peace with God and is ready to do His will." (~Unknown) I choose to focus on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith. "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11) I choose to trust and obey Him. "If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15: 10-11)

Oh the sheer joy of it!
Walking with Thee,
Out on the hilltop,
Down by the sea,
Life is so wonderful,
Life is so free. 
(~Ralph Spaulding Cushman)

Choose Joy

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)  "Rejoice always!" (1 Thessalonians 5:16) Commit to walk in joy no matter what is going on around us. Rejoice in the Lord no matter what. I find joy in praising and worshiping God. Celebrate Him and enjoy His presence. "The joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b) Rejoice at God's Greatest Gift, Jesus Christ. Rejoice at His redeeming grace. Rejoice that you are forgiven and free. Rejoice that someday Christ will return.

Choose Contentment

"Happy is the person who has learned the secret of being content with whatever life brings him, and has learned to rejoice in the simple and beautiful things around him." (~Billy Graham)
"But Godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6) Would you like to know the "secret" to being content? I believe we can truly be content only when we realize that we are complete in Christ. No one else and nothing else will ever make us complete.

Choose Gratitude

Joy is found in our gratitude to the Lord. A heart that always sees God's goodness and praises Him cannot help but being cheerful. A thankful heart is a cheerful heart.

Choose Generosity

Give your time, talents, and treasures generously. God loves a cheerful giver. It's such a joy to give, to serve, and to be a blessing to others. Generosity that reflects God's love, grace, and kindness is an antidote to covetousness and a way of laying up treasure in Heaven.

Choose Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits." (~Hannah More) Your heart cannot be cheerful if it is filled with anger, hatred, and bitterness. "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying our heart." (~Unknown)

Choose Eternal Perspectives

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18) This world is not our home. When we set our hearts and minds on things above, we are filled with hope, peace, and joy.

Choose God's Word

"Finally, brothers, 
 whatever is true, 
 whatever is noble, 
 whatever is right, 
 whatever is pure, 
 whatever is lovely, 
 whatever is admirable--
 if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think about such things!" (~Philippians 4:8)
What you choose to dwell on will affect your attitude. God's Word gives us comfort, guidance, and hope. God's Word is my delight! "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." (Psalm 19:8) Fill your mind with God's truths (memorize Bible verses).

Remember that we cannot always choose what happens to us or around us, but we can choose our attitude towards each situation and how to respond/react. "I can alter my life by altering my attitude of mind." (~Unknown) "It has been said that the habit of always seeing the bright side in life, is worth a large income to a man. It makes life a great deal easier." (~J.R. Miller) Cheerfulness is seeing and reflecting the bright, sunny side in life. Cheerfulness is not only good for you but also good for others...good for the world. And it draws people to Christ.

QUIT

If you want to have a cheerful heart, you also have to quit some bad habits. Quit complaining. Quit comparing. Quit criticizing. Quit worrying. Quit thinking only about yourselves.

Be C.H.E.E.R.F.U.L. 

Be Content and carefree in Christ
      Happy, helpful, and hopeful
      Enthusiastic
      Encouraging
      Radiant (shining brightly the light and love of Jesus)
      Friendly and frolicsome
      Uplifting
      Loving and lively

Smile! God loves you perfectly with an everlasting love.
Smile! God is always with you. You're never alone.
Smile! God is for you. Who can be against you?
Smile! God's got your back. He is in control and He is all-powerful.
Smile! God is always good and wants the best for you.



This post is linked up with Fellowship Fridays @Christian Mommy Blogger, Faith-filled Friday @Missional Women, Faith Along the Way, Still Saturday @sandraheskaking,  Spiritual SundaysEssential Thing Devotions, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His GripPlaydates with God at The Wellspring, The Weekend Brew @My Freshly Brewed LifeInspire Me Monday @Create With Joy, Sincerely, Paula, 3-D Lessons for Life, #GiveMeGrace, and Tell Me a True Story.
Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop
Equipping Godly Women
countingmyblessings

Friday, October 24, 2014

Speak Up

- "Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews." (Esther 10:3 NIV)--Mordecai became second in command to King Xerxes (Ahasuerus in Hebrew) and was highly respected, honored, and esteemed by his many fellow Jews. There's a great reason. Mordecai worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews. He really cared about them. He was a blessing to his people. Mordecai was placed above his people in position (the prime minister of Persia) but he did not become arrogant and conceited as to not associate with those who are below him. He was not ashamed of his people; he was still known as Mordecai the Jew. He did not work for the good of himself, power, or wealth. He used his position of authority, privilege, and influence to improve the welfare of the Jews and to speak up for those who are not in the position to speak for themselves. "Speaking peace to them" refers to promoting their peace and safety. He did not neglect them. Rather, he made sure they lived in peace as long as he had the power to take care of them. He was kind, thoughtful, and loyal towards them. We need caring, honorable leaders like Mordecai, who will truly work for the people.
- "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:8-9) No matter what position you are in, do all you can to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Be the voice for the voiceless. Defend the defenseless. Be advocates for the unborn, the orphans, the widows, the homeless, the human-trafficking victims, the poor and needy, etc. May we boldly stand up and speak up for what's right in God's eyes! We are to use our time, talents, treasures, and energy to serve God's purposes and make the world a better place. As we finish our Esther study today, I want to end with what Mordecai said to Esther in chapter 4 verse 14, "Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" Let's take a look at the blessings, the gifts, the abilities, the skills, the passions, and the sphere of influence we have been given and then resolve to use them for God's purposes and for His glory!

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.~Edmund Burke

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Book Review and Giveaway: Jesus Daily by Aaron Tabor, MD


About the Author:
Aaron Tabor, MD, started the Jesus Daily Facebook page in 2009. He is the President of Gene Facelift, a gene therapy biotechnology company developing anti-aging and wound healing drugs. Dr. Tabor is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
My Review
I collect devotionals and I'm glad to have added Jesus Daily to my collection. This unique devotional is based on the major themes found on Jesus Daily Facebook page. This book consists of 365 interactive devotions that encourage us readers to daily reflect on our relationship with Jesus and to share about Jesus through social media avenues. Some of the themes include Jesus is the answer, Jesus changed my life, Jesus heals, I need Jesus, etc. Each devotion starts with a Bible verse and ends with "Connect" (a daily interaction suggestion). The "Connect" section challenges us readers to do something online (and offline) to share our faith & our love, to encourage others, and to connect with others. Some examples are: "Send an e-card to someone who might need encouragement as they experience a trial or hardship," "Post a picture on Instagram or Pinterest that illustrates humility," and "Find a song, video clip, or interview that illustrates godly courage in action and post a link at JesusDaily.com."  It has been a pleasure reading this uplifting devotional. Each devotion is short, concise, and insightful. If you're already online a lot, you will appreciate all the great ideas given in this book on how to actively make God known. Check it out and enjoy celebrating Jesus daily!
"It takes a remarkably strong person to speak and to act with gentleness. You must know who you are and Whose you are in order to let go of having to prove yourself, exercise power over others, or demand the attention of entitlement." (from yesterday's devotion)

"Our heart muscles, both literally and figuratively, require regular exercise as well. When we're not praying, giving, serving, and loving on a daily basis, it becomes harder and harder to feel connected to God, to relate to other people, and to feel the purposeful joy that comes from serving." (from today's devotion)

GIVEAWAYYou can win a Jesus Daily t-shirt and a copy of Jesus Daily devotional. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/7 (at midnight Pacific time).

To enter: Please "Like" the Jesus Daily Facebook page and let me know here that you've done it in a comment. If you're not on Facebook, please share what your favorite devotional is or what one of your favorite Bible verses is. Please make sure that you also leave your email address so that I may contact you if you're chosen (randomly) as a winner.
For extra entries (please leave a separate comment for each one that you do):
- Follow this blog via GFC or NetworkedBlogs
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~I received a free copy of this book via Hachette Book Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Tongue Will Tell

- Psalm 71 is summarized as "A psalm of old age. Retrospect of a life of trust, beset by troubles and enemies all the way, with his joy in God undimmed." (from Halley's Bible Handbook) I really like that! With joy in God undimmed! Verses 22-24 (NIV), "I will praise You with the harp for Your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to You with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You--I whom You have delivered. My tongue will tell of Your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion." show a promise to praise in confident anticipation of God's deliverance. The Psalmist (most likely David) was certain that God would bring all to pass; he spoke as if it were already accomplished. He knew that those who wanted to harm him would be put to shame & confusion...they would be defeated. It demonstrates his strong faith in God that his prayer is sure to be answered in events yet to come. He's very confident in God's saving help in behalf of His people according to His covenant promises. We can learn much from David. He prayed a lot and he praised God a lot. He prayed and praised with fierce faith in God and devoted dependence on God. I want to pray and praise like that. 
- May we declare God's righteous deeds (which include His justice, truth, mercy, power, goodness, faithfulness, etc.) all day long...every chance we get! May we faithfully tell of our Redeemer's righteousness, deliverance, and victory! We already know we have victory in Christ Jesus (not just an anticipation like David). Our lives are a testimony of what God has done for us, in us, and through us. Remembering God's blessings helps us see His faithfulness & inexhaustible grace, trust Him with confidence, and tell others about Him and all He has done for us. Leave a testimony for succeeding generations. How often do you talk with your children about God and the Bible? "Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 11:19) My tongue (my blog, too :)) will continue to tell/testify of Who God is and what He has done. I want my life to be a continuous praise song and a bright thank-You card that the world hears and sees. I hope and pray that my attitudes, words, and actions will always draw people to my Lord and Savior. I will never stop proclaiming Christ and what He did on the cross. "I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." (Acts 20:24) Let's live to tell what Jesus died to do!
"My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long...My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds, of Your saving acts all day long--though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim Your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim Your righteous deeds, Yours alone!" (Psalm 71:8,15-16)
"My tongue will proclaim Your righteousness, Your praises all day long." (Psalm 35:28)
"As for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my Refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds." (Psalm 73:28)
"May my lips overflow with praise, for You teach me Your decrees. May my tongue sing of Your Word, for all Your commands are righteous." (Psalm 119:171-172)
-  "Celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar ... Observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor." (Esther 9: 20–22) (Since I'm studying Esther, this is relevant :).)
Purim is a holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies. It is to remember God's protection over them from annihilation at the hand of Haman. The Jews celebrate Purim by dressing in costumes (often based on characters from the Book of Esther), enjoying festive meals, exchanging gift baskets, and giving gifts to the poor. In synagogues around the world, the entire scroll of Esther is publicly read twice during Purim, once at night and once during the day after. (Information gleaned from the Bibles for Israel Ministry) A holiday or a tradition is one of the ways through which we tell of God's righteous acts from one generation to another. "These days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews--nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants." (Esther 9:28)

How and how often do you tell others about God?





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Shall We Pray for our Enemies?

- David depended on God to deal with his enemies. God is our Help and our Hope in all circumstances. Some people may accuse us of things that are untrue and some may seek to hurt/harm us. We don't have to worry or fear; we just need to trust God and rest in Him. We belong to the Almighty God! Those people will be put to shame, destroyed, and covered with scorn and disgrace. We can see from David's prayer here that he's desperate for God's help and protection. He wanted God to cause his enemies' wicked plots to fail. "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14)
- When Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-45a, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven", I don't think He had this prayer of David in mind :). However, David's prayer reminds me that God also listens and understands our desperate, frustrated, confused, helpless, not-so-nice prayers. It also makes me wonder how we should pray for our enemies. I personally don't have any enemies but I do pray for "enemies" who are hurting people around the world such as the ISIS and other terrorists. I usually pray that God will stop their madness, that they will turn away from their wicked ways & wrong beliefs, and that they will surrender their lives to Christ. How do you pray for your enemies?

nikkisnacs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love the Lord; Hate Evil

- God hates evil. God hates sin. Those who love the Lord are to do the same. The more we love God, the more we love what God loves and hate what God hates. We should abhor evil/sin to utter disgust, shun it, avoid it, renounce it, and have nothing to do with it. We should stay away from any sinful/evil thoughts, intentions, conversations, and actions. "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9b) "Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil (abstain from all appearance of evil)." (1 Thessalonians 5:21b-22) "Hate evil; love good." (Amos 5:15a) Hate all sins, not just some sins. Hate sin not just in others but also sin in ourselves first. Do not make excuses for sin. Love truth; hate lies. Love justice; hate injustice. Love righteousness and holiness; hate wickedness. Love humility and meekness; hate pride and arrogance. "To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech." (Proverbs 8:13)
- Do not play around with anything evil (including witchcraft/sorcery/magic arts)Some Christians think it is not wrong to celebrate Halloween (which tends to glorify death, fear, witches, ghosts, and spiritual darkness) and dress their kids up as witches or wizards. In my opinion, if the Lord is so strongly against magic arts/witchcraft/sorcery, why would we think we can play around with it? Why would we act like we know better than God? He loves us and wants to protect us from harm. You may think a little magic here and there is harmless, but anything that is against God is sin. Of course, Satan wants us to think magic (I'm not talking about illusionists' tricks here) is harmless; he is the master of lies and deception. He likes to fill our minds and hearts with things that draw us away from God. You can read a great article regarding Halloween at http://www.equip.org/hank_speaks_outs/halloween .
- "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20-21) Do not sugarcoat sin. Abortion is murder. Homosexual relationship is an abomination to the Lord. It's neither love nor compassion when we ignore sin or call sin "choice" or soften/minimize the seriousness of sin because those who live in sin will continue to be lost and dead in their sin and see no need for repentance or for a Savior. Do not sacrifice God's truths on the altar of "grace". Let us never abuse grace. May we never become desensitized to evil or comfortable walking in darkness! Stand up for what is right in God's eyes. Obey God's Word, not what the culture says and accepts. Be Biblically correct, instead of politically or culturally correct. Speak the truth in love with grace, gentleness, and respect!
- God guards/protects the lives of His godly/faithful people and delivers/rescues them from the power of the wicked. God's got our back! God preserves the souls of His saints. He preserves us and delivers us from being destroyed by our enemies, Satan, sin, and the world; we're kept safe to His Heavenly kingdom and glory. "Love the Lord, all His faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to Him." (Psalm 31:23a) "He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones." (Proverbs 2:8)

Holly Barrett
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