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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 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! 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)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Be Faithful

- A faithful person will be richly blessed. Being faithful implies patience, perseverance, honesty, integrity, dependability, loyalty, trustworthiness, and promise-keeping. Such a faithful person will please God and be valued by people. Those who are faithful to God and others are happy and blessed; they live at peace with God and people. "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." (Proverbs 3:3) 
- Faithfulness is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Being faithful reflects God's character. He is forever faithful. We must be completely devoted to follow Jesus faithfully. Seek to please God, not men. Be faithful in living and sharing the Gospel. Be faithful in obeying God and His Word. Be faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12b). The faithful will receive all the spiritual blessings in Christ. "For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones." (Psalm 37:28a) "He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones." (Proverbs 2:8) "They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with Him will be His called, chosen, and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:14) The parable of the talents in Matthew clearly shows that the master was pleased with faithful servants. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21) These are the words we want to hear our Lord say to us. "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) Be faithful in all things...big and small...spectacular and mundane. Be faithful to the end, come what may. "Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life...This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep His commands and remain faithful to Jesus." (Revelation 2:10b, 14:12) 
- "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10) 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. And there's always a gift of grace. Do you minister to others with the grace God has given you? Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Try this test and see if you agree: http://www.sdrock.com/giftstest/ :).
- Whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished. This is a warning for those who are anxious and eager to get rich....who may stop at nothing to gain wealth, including being unfaithful and unjust (such as cheating, cutting corners, stealing, taking unfair advantage of others, plotting evil schemes, doing illegal activities, etc). They will be punished. "Do not wear yourself out to get rich." (Proverbs 23:4a) It's a waste of time and energy. Beware of gambling addiction. Covetousness will bring corruption, destruction, and miseries. Moreover, those who eager to get rich can easily become victims of scams and/or foolish investments due to lack of prudence and good judgment.
Major Danger Alert: "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Paul admonished us against striving to be rich lest the love of money and the eagerness to get rich (and richer and richer...) become our idolatry, get us into all sorts of troubles, lead us away from our faith, and stab ourselves with sorrows. "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" ~Jesus (Matthew 16:26a)  I love what Paul said next, "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses...To put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:11-12, 17b-19)  Instead of trying to get rich, we should be eager to do good (be rich in good deeds), to be kind & generous, and to share with those in need. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

By Grace Through Faith

The sermon this weekend at our church is on Romans 3. I'd like to share what stood out to me.

There Is No One Righteous; All Fall Short

"Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin." (Romans 3:9b) "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one...The way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-12, 17-18) "No one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:20) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) No one is righteous; no one can earn right standing with God. All of us were born sinners by nature and we do sin by choice (disobey God, rebel against God, and fall short of God's standards). We all are born with selfishness/self-centeredness (no one has to teach us that). Even if you think you've kept all the 10 commandments perfectly (I really doubt it), can you say that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbors as yourselves perfectly all the time? We all fail at the two greatest commandments. There is sin of commission (doing what God says not to do) and there is sin of omission (not doing what God says to do). We all sin in our thoughts, words, and/or actions. Because of this, we all deserve eternal damnation in Hell. The law's purpose is to make us understand (become conscious/aware) that we are helpless sinners and we must come to God for mercy. Sin separates us from our holy God; it disqualifies us from being right with God. Thanks to God's amazing love and grace, He provided the Way for us to be reconciled to Him, to be cleansed of our sins, and to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. There is no greater news than this! God's good news is available to all.

GOOD NEWS: We Are Justified by Grace Through Faith

"All are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood--to be received by faith...For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." (Romans 3:24-25, 28) "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:22a)

The one and only Way is Jesus Christ! By God's grace, all who put their faith (confident trust) in Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption at the cross are justified (declared not guilty) and are granted the status of being considered righteous before God. Through Christ's shed blood for us, we've been justified & redeemed (set free from slavery to sin) and received the complete forgiveness of sin (past, present, and future) from God. Jesus removes from us the punishment of sin that we deserve and the power of sin that enslaves us. When God forgives our sins, our record of wrongs is completely wiped out. In addition, Christ's righteousness has been imputed upon us. Now when He looks at us, He sees Christ's righteousness and sees us as though we had never sinned.  Because of Christ, we have been declared holy, without blemish, not guilty, and free from accusation and condemnation. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2) 

God Is Both Just and Merciful

Since God is just, He cannot leave sin unpunished. In His mercy, God took upon Himself the punishment of our sin, in the Person of Christ (the Sinless Sacrificial Lamb). Christ is our sacrifice of atonement/our propitiation. He died on the cross in our place. God declares Christ's death to be the only necessary/satisfactory sacrifice for our sin's penalty. 

Gracious Gifts of God!   

We have been saved through faith in Christ alone by grace alone. Salvation is a gracious gift of God, not the result of our merit, effort, or ability. None of us can be good enough/do enough good deeds to earn salvation. Justification is a gift. It's all because God loves us and God is gracious, kind, merciful, and compassionate towards ussinners. We cannot go to Heaven by observing the law. The more we realize how wretched we are, the more we understand, appreciate, and embrace God’s grace. Grace is unmerited favor or undeserved kindness. By God's grace, we've been saved from God's wrath, power of sin, and punishment of sin which is spiritual death/eternal damnation in Hell. God gives us forgiveness, redemption, Christ's righteousness, inheritance, and eternal life not because we are good, but because He is good. All of these are gracious gifts of God and all can be yours when you receive them by faith.

What Are Sinners to Do?

- Be honest and be humble. We must acknowledge that we're sinners and in need of a Savior. Do not ever minimize the seriousness of sin. We all were born with sin-sick souls. The spiritual disease of sin-sickness leads to spiritual death (eternal separation from God). Jesus said in Matthew 9:12-13b, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick...For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." "The cause of all trouble, the root of all sorrow, the dread of every man lies in this one small word--sin. It has crippled the nature of man...It has caused man to be caught in the devil's trap." (~Billy Graham) Be honest: Not until we acknowledge our sin can we see the necessity for repentance and redemption! Be humble: Not until we realize our helplessness is there desire for and appreciation of a Savior! 
- Repent and believe. Unless you repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you're still lost and dead in your sin. Do you want freedom from the penalty of sin? Believe that Christ died for you and rose from the dead; He defeated death so that you can truly live. But you must respond by confessing your sins, surrendering your life to Him, devoting your life to live for Him with an undivided heart, and depending utterly on Him. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18) Your eternal destiny is a matter of the utmost importance. Do not delay. We're never promised tomorrow (or the next second for that matter).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Lord My Rock

One of my favorite Names of God is Yahweh Tsuri, The Lord My Rock. He is the Rock of my soul! "He is the Rock; His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." (Deuteronomy 32:4) The word Rock symbolizes strength, power, shelter, protection, defense, faithfulness, uprightness, stability, dependability, security, safety, justice, and solid foundation. We can always count on God and rely on Him. While the politics is polluted, the economy is erratic, the culture is corrupted, the terrorism is terrifying, and the death rate from Ebola is rising, Christ is our Redeemer, Rock, and Refuge. He is unchanging and unfailing. "They (the Israelites) all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-4) Where do you build your lives? I've chosen to build my life on "the Solid Rock" (Jesus Christ) and rest on His unchanging grace.

Are you feeling like you have no strength left in you? Are you worn out physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually?

"I love You, Lord, my Strength (my Defender). The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer (my Protector); my God is my Rock , in Whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold...As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord's Word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure...The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!" (Psalm 18:1-2, 30-32, 46)

Are you worried and anxious? Are you struggling with fear?

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock Eternal." (Isaiah 26:3-4)
"Do not tremble, do not be afraid...You are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." (Isaiah 44:8)

Are you depressed/dismayed?

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:1-2)
"Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been my Refuge, a Strong Tower against the foe." (Psalm 61:1-3)

God is our mighty Rock and Fortress even when the world is falling apart. He is our Shelter and Refuge from the storms of life. Find rest in Him; our hope is in Him. Trust in Him at all times; He is in control even when all around you seem to be out of control. Pour out your hearts to Him in earnest prayer; He listens and He cares. Hold on to the Rock Eternal and you won't be shaken. "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Fortress, I will never be shaken." (Psalm 62:1-2) Let's show the world what it means to belong to an unshakable God and an unshakable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28)!

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, and Tell Me a True Story.
Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop
Equipping Godly Women

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pit Diggers and Stone Rollers, Watch Out!

- "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them." (Proverbs 26:27 NIV)--Usually evil destroys itself. When people set a trap/dig a pit for others or roll a boulder down on others, they unknowingly prepare mischief/ruin to themselves. "Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads." (Psalm 7:15-16) Often violent people become victims of violence. The wicked unintentionally get caught in their own trap and get crushed by their own boulder. "Evildoers are snared by their own sin." (Proverbs 29:6a)
- What goes around, comes around! You reap what you sow! "Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken." (Proverbs 22:8) "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7) When people mistreat us, try to trap us or crush us, conspire against us, we should never seek revenge. We are to love our enemies. God is our Defender and Avenger. By the righteous judgment of God, He often turns their crafty devices on their own lives (ex: Haman was impaled on the pole he had set up for Mordecai). "Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap." (Proverbs 28:10a) "The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden." (Psalm 9:15)
"Let us not plot against others, lest we injure ourselves. When we supplant the reputation of others, let us consider that we injure ourselves, it is against ourselves that we plot. For perchance with men we do him harm, if we have power, but ourselves in the sight of God, by provoking Him against us. Let us not, then, injure ourselves. For as we injure ourselves when we injure our neighbours, so by benefiting them we benefit ourselves" (~St. Chrysostom)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

God's Purposes Prevail

- The Lord works out everything for its purpose (according to His plan) Everything. All things are made by Him and for Him. "For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen." (Romans 11:36) 
- Even the destruction of the wicked is according to His will (He is God of Justice). "For Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you and that My Name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'" (Romans 9:17) "The wicked are as much in the hands of God to be punished by Him as the good are in His hands to receive undeserved kindness." (~James Maclean)
- Everything in God's design has its own purpose and reason. Everything (including the day of trouble/disaster for the wicked) serves His purposes. If the wicked don't repent, they will fall under the wrath of God. Everything demonstrates God's goodness, power, wisdom, justice,...for His glory. The will and the works of God will prevail. The plans and the purposes of God will prevail. God is sovereign over all. God governs the world. The free choices of people do not surprise God and do not thwart God's plan. I love the story of Joseph. Genesis 50:20 sums it up, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Knowing that God is in total control of my life humbles me and comforts me. Why should I fear? Why should I worry? God's got my back. I just need to trust Him and obey Him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Lord Loves Justice

- "For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish." (Psalm 37:28 NIV) -- The Lord loves justice and those who act justly. "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) God loves what is good, right & just and He only does what is good, right, and just. "For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face." (Psalm 11:7) 
- The Lord never forsakes His faithful children (sinners turned into saints) no matter what. This demonstrates God's unfailing, unchanging love for us. We (those who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) are preserved forever in Christ from the power and punishment of sin. By the grace and power of God, we are safe and secure eternally. There will be perpetual blessings for the just & the faithful and there will be perpetual misery for the wicked. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed and their children who follow their wicked ways will be cut off (like withered branches and be cast into everlasting fire). 
- I consider Psalm 37 "Envy Buster" :). David was puzzled by the prevalence of wickedness and said in the first verse of Psalm 37, "Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong." We may look at the people who hate and reject God live prosperously/successfully (in the world's eyes) or those who do evil things seem to get away with their crimes and we wonder why. Be assured that nothing escapes the watchful eyes of God. His judgments on the wicked may not be immediately carried out but we know their final destiny. How shall we live in the midst of wicked people? Trust God; do good; don't worry (Psalm 37:7). God always takes care of those who are devoted to Him and faithful to Him.
- Many people fail to understand God's nature as both a loving Father (God is Love) and a Lover of justice. God of Love (1 John 4:8) is the same God as God of Justice (Isaiah 30:18). "The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love." (Psalm 33:5) "The Lord is known by His acts of justice." (Psalm 9:16a) This video by Francis Chan addresses two lies that lots of people believe. Please don't believe these lies; your eternal destiny is at stake! God's truth is powerful. If God were unjust, would you think He's loving? And if He were not just, He would not be God!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wherever You Go

- "Have I not commanded you?" A rhetorical question. This verse is God's third time commanding Joshua (Israelites' new leader after Moses' death) to be strong and courageous.
- Here we see God not only gives Joshua a command but also gives him a beautiful promise. God's Command: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. God's Promise: God will be with you wherever you go. The promise of God's constant presence is such a sweet assurance. God's presence makes all the difference in the world! It gives us comfort and confidence.
- "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." (Ephesians 6:10) Be strong mentally and spiritually. Put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:11-17). Be courageous. To be brave-hearted, not faint-hearted. The key to courage is knowing who God is...who the Source of true courage is! Remember...when things are out of control, God is always in control. When we're in tight places and it seems there's no way out, God will make a way for us. When we're flummoxed and flabbergasted, God is forever faithful. What we deem impossible, it's a piece of cake for God.
- Do not be afraid. In life, we face many problems, challenges, and difficulties but we need not fear any. God is greater than any giants. God has never forsaken/abandoned those who seek Him and He never will. God is always present with us even when we don't feel His presence. We are never alone. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) Whenever God's Word says, "Do not be afraid", it often includes the promise of God's presence ("...For I am with you"). Such a caring & comforting promise! Do not be afraid; God's got this! To overcome fear, we must fully trust God and rest in His unfailing love for us.
- Do not be dismayed/discouragedAre you discouraged by the world's events or by circumstances in your own life? Take heart and be of courage! "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31b) Rely on God's grace, power, and strength. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. When God is pleased to work through us, nothing will be able to stop us. Don't give up; God is there to help you and guide you. He who sends you will strengthen you. He who calls you will equip you.
- Prayer: Father, please give me courage and boldness and take away any fear or discouragement so that I may obey You, serve You, and live for You with no compromise. Please fill me with the Holy Spirit and empower me to do all that You have called me to do. Please show me how to lead the precious children You have given me. I need Your wisdom, strength, and grace. Help me to love, lead, and serve like Jesus! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Worry about Nothing; Pray about Everything

- Paul was writing this letter to the church in Philippi from a prison. He certainly had a reason to be anxious but he discovered a secret that takes anxiety away and replaces with peace and joy. Essentially, Paul was saying...worry about nothing; pray about everything :).
- Prayer with gratitude is the antidote to anxiety. Before we make any requests, we should thank God for Who He is and for what He has already done for us. Thank Him for His presence, protection, and provision. Thank Him for His faithfulness, wisdom, and grace. As we come to our Abba Father in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, we grow in our faith and in our relationship with Him. Prayer may not change our situations but it changes us.
- "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) We can always bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Take your problems (every worry/every concern/every burden) to Jesus and leave them there. Let go. Don't pick them back up. Don't carry around weights of anxiety; they will keep you from being useful. Let go and walk in freedom, in faith, and in obedience. Instead of fretting or worrying, pray. 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.
- Anxiety is fear of the unknown. If we think long enough, we'll find something to be anxious about because so many things are unknown to us. We must remember that what is unknown to us is completely known to our Heavenly Father. God can be trusted in every anxious situation. He knows what we need even before we ask Him. Don't waste your energy on worries and stress. Don't let anxiety steal your joy. We don't know what the future has in store, but we do know we can trust God's heart and God's Word. We become anxious when our focus is on the circumstances and/or the unknown, instead of the All-knowing, All-loving, All-powerful God. "To care is a virtue, but to foster cares is sin." (Muller)
- Prayer: Father, thank You for being in control and for caring about me! Thank You for always loving me and listening to me! Whenever I have any anxious thoughts, please replace them with complete trust and calm confidence in You and with peace that only You can give. I want to let go of all my burdens and rest in You. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.
"I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient." (~Hudson Taylor)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kindness and Patience

The sermon this weekend at our church is on Romans 2. I'd like to share what stood out to me.
"Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4
How we feel about and how we treat God's kindness, forbearance, and patience affect how we treat other people. Do we truly realize that God's kindness is intended to lead us to repentance? If we do, we will also show kindness to other people because we want to lead them to repentance. Are you quick to judge others or are you quick to show kindness, patience, and understanding? There's a proper time to judge/discern but we must be careful not to have a judgmental attitude/a critical spirit, eager to point out all the sins, mistakes, & failures in other people's lives (while being oblivious to our own). Do you look down on others because they sin differently than you? We all are sinners and can only be saved by God's grace. Salvation is God's free gift available to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Repentance is a requirement for salvation. God desires that all will come to repentance. We should, too! One of the most effective ways for us to reach out to unbelievers and open up an opportunity for sharing the Gospel with them is to show them kindness and patience. There's a saying: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." It's true!

Kindness Is C.O.O.L.

Caring about others' feelings and considering others' needs and wants above our own
Offering help, support, sympathy, understanding, prayers, encouragement, and friendship
Obeying the Lord's commands: "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Do to others what you would have them do to you"
Loving others in words and actions. Love is patient, love is kind.

"Hatred and anger are powerless when met with kindness." Unknown
"Speak your kind words soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." Unknown
"I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now." Unknown
"One kind act will teach more love of God than a thousand sermons." Unknown

Kindness: Be Merciful

Why is it that we desire mercy for us but demand judgment on others? We, Christ's ambassadors, are to be gracious and merciful toward others. God has been faithfully gracious and merciful to us all. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful!" (Luke 6:36) "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." (Matthew 5:7) Do your words and actions draw people to Jesus or away from Jesus? If you are unkind and impatient, do you think others would be interested in knowing your Savior or listening to what you have to share about God or the Bible?

Kindness: No Condemnation

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3:17) "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2) If God does not condemn us or them, who are we to go around and condemn others? Let any one of us who is without sin be the first to throw a stone (see John 8:2-11)!

Immense Patience

"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:16) O the riches of God's inexhaustible grace, goodness, mercy, kindness, forbearance, and patience! How grateful I am that God is ever so patient with me even now when I still stumble and fall here and there :)! I want to be patient with others who are imperfect just like me. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) That's God's heart! May our hearts be after God's own heart! May we share Christ's love with everyone, speak the truth in love with gentleness, respect, and humility, be kind and compassionate, be gracious and merciful, be patient and forbearing to all!

Book Review: The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins

The Jesus Code is a unique devotional book that covers 52 Scripture questions every believer should answer (one devotional for every week of the year). I think the title of the book is a little misleading. I thought that all 52 questions would be from Jesus but I found out that's not the case. In fact, there are more questions from the Old Testament (27) than from the New Testament (25). Since Jesus asks lots of questions in the Gospels (over 150 questions), the author calls his book, "The Jesus Code," explaining that it is okay for us believers to ask questions. Actually, it is healthy and good for us to grow in wisdom and faith by asking questions. Each devotional starts with a question from the Bible. Then the author helps readers discover answers by sharing Biblical insights and applications. Each devotional ends with Q & A section which sums up the main message. Some of the questions include If the Lord Is with Us, Why Then Has All This Happened to Us?, What Are You Doing Here?, Is It Right for You to Be Angry?, Lord, What Do You Want Me to Do?, and What Is your Life? At the end of the book, the author asks one more question, "What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22) and invites readers to personally answer the question by putting their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Each devotional is short and easy to digest. The book talks about various important topics such as temptations, discouragement, integrity, decision-making, spiritual depression, importance of common sense, attributes of God, resentment, worry, repentance, and more. It's great for reflecting and for digging deeper into the Bible. I enjoyed reading this book and I like the author's writing style. I collect devotionals and I'm happy to add this one to my collection :). I'm thankful that our Heavenly Father always welcomes our questions and desires to have a deeper relationship with us. The Jesus Code is a beautiful antique-looking book with brown leather covers. It would be an ideal gift for new believers and anyone who appreciates devotionals. I love the fact that all royalties from this book go to support retired ministers and their wives (or widows) through Mission: Dignity.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Broken Cisterns

Is God Alone Enough for You?

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the Spring of Living Water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." (Jeremiah 2:13) "Lord, You are the Hope of Israel; all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the Spring of Living Water." (Jeremiah 17:13)

God is called the Spring of Living Water. God is the only One who can satisfy our longings, heal our wounds, and make our lives fulfilled. We must be careful not to turn from God and dig our own cisterns. Our "broken cisterns" may be: human love (boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse), wealth, popularity, career, recognition, accomplishment, others' approval/ appreciation/admiration, or even ministries. I'm not saying that those are necessarily bad things. But are we looking for those things to fulfill and satisfy us? Those things will not last and sooner or later, they will fail us or disappoint us, leaving us feeling empty. Besides, they could become our idols if we place them above God...if we relentlessly pursue them, instead of God. People, places, and things are never meant to give us life's fulfillment. Christ alone is the Author of a fulfilling life! Only He can make us whole, complete, and fully satisfied. Don't settle for broken cisterns that cannot hold water...that can never fill you up. 

Drink This Living Water and Thirst No More

"Everyone who drinks this water (from the well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." ~Jesus (John 4:13-14)

Water from the well or from anywhere else has to be consumed again and again yet we will still be thirsty again and again. But the water Jesus gives will so completely satisfy us that we shall never thirst. Such is the refreshment of eternal life! 
We can draw a parallel to the repeated sacrifices required in the old covenant compared with the one-for-all sacrifice of the Lamb of God that fully satisfies God's wrath... that paid the penalty for our sins in full. By saying that He would bring living water that could forever quench a person's spiritual thirst, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. Only the Messiah could satisfy the soul's desire. We are complete in Christ alone.
"The great mistake made by most of the Lord's people is in hoping to discover in themselves that which is to be found in Christ alone." ~A.W. Pink

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Gospel Announced in Genesis

- This is a promise God made to Abram (Abraham). God chose Abraham and his family (which later became known as Israel) through which God brings the beautiful blessing of salvation to all mankind. Jesus Christ the Messiah descended from Abraham's line. "And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When God raised up His Servant (Jesus), He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:25-26)
- God includes the Gentiles when He promises Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." This is a spiritual blessing. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile,...for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:28-29) We Christians are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:26) and this makes us spiritual descendants of Abraham and co-heirs of the promised blessings. "Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." (Galatians 3:7-9)
- God will bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us. Enemies of God's children had better watch out. We don't have to worry or seek revenge when others treat us unjustly or with contempt. God is a loving, caring, and protective Father. He's got our back! We are very dear to His heart. Our part is to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, that we may be children of our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:44-45a) "His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him (Haman), 'Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him--you will surely come to ruin!" (Esther 6:13b) The lesson here is: Don't mess with God's people/children :)!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Humility vs. Humiliation

- "Do not exalt yourself in the king's presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, 'Come up here,' than for him to humiliate you before his nobles." (Proverbs 25:6-7 NIV) These verses admonish us to avoid self-exaltation and presumption. It is better to be humble and be honored by others than to be humiliated. Those who exalt themselves and expect/claim places of honor for themselves will most likely be met with humiliation and disappointment. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace." (Proverbs 11:2a) Haman was a classic example. 
- These verses reminded me of what Jesus says in Luke 14:8-11, "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, "Give this person your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
- Motives matter! God looks at the heart. If your reason for taking the lowest place is: desiring/hoping to be moved up by the host to a better place, it is false humility and it's not what Jesus was talking about. Pretending to be humble is wrong; it's still pride which is sin and it's also deceit which is another sin. True humility is honoring others above selves (Romans 12:10) and putting others above selves (Philippians 2:3). In love and humility, we see others as worthy of preferential treatment and we want the best for them. True humility is about self-denial. "Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights." (~John R. Wooden)
Do not exalt yourselves in the presence of King Jesus, either. "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)
"Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor." (Proverbs 15:33) 
"Humility is the only certain defense against humiliation." (~Unknown)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Use God's Gifts with Humility

- In introducing the various gifts in the Body of Christ (see Romans 12:4-8), Paul exhorted his readers not to be haughty/not to think too highly of themselves. All gifts (including faith) and abilities are from God. We are to use these gifts to serve God (by serving others) with humility and for God's glory. These gifts are not for us to show off or to compare or compete with other people's gifts or to elevate ourselves with. It's important to heed Paul's advice because spiritual giftedness can lead to spiritual haughtiness.
- Neither overvaluing ourselves nor undervaluing ourselves is healthy. Knowing who we are in Christ and Whom we belong to gives us the right perspective. With sober judgment (without exaggeration), we find our value, worth, and identity in Christ. We're sinners saved by God's grace and are made into saints by Christ's righteousness. We become royal children of God by adoption and make up one body in Christ, who is the Head. One part of the body is neither better nor more important than other parts. We don't all have the same function/role. We need one another. Everyone in the Body of Christ must be humble and teachable.
- By God's grace given to Paul, he was chosen to be an apostle. Paul mentioned about God's grace again three verses later, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." (Romans 12:6a) It's only by God's grace; we have no basis/reason to have a superior mindset whatsoever. The proper attitude should be gratitude and humility expressed in J.O.Y. (Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last). "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5)
"From self denial in the spiritual worship of God flows self surrender to the will of God, and from self surrender flows selfless service in the work of God." ~John MacArthur
"Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all." ~William Temple 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pride Precedes Plummeting

"The Greek word translated pride is tuphoo. Its literal meaning is "to envelop in smoke," but metaphorically, it indicates "conceit," "lifted up," and "high-mindedness." The word pictures a person using smoke as a screen to conceal the image he does not want the public to see." ~John W. Ritenbaugh 
- God hates pride. I think we do, too, when we see it in other people. However, we are often blind/oblivious to our own pride/arrogance/self-importance. Egotism is ugly and dangerous. A haughty, prideful spirit causes us to stumble and fall. It is also destructive to relationships. No one enjoys being around a person who is self-centered and conceited. 
Pride comes from inflated views of selves. The cure for poor I-sight (the term I heard from Max Lucado) is dying to self daily and seeing ourselves as God sees us. Once George Mueller (the great prayer warrior of the late 1800s) was asked what his secret was, he replied, "There was a day when I died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.Pride comes from putting selves above God and others. We should humbly acknowledge God in all our ways with thanksgiving. Realize that all we have and all we are is from God and by His grace alone. Have Christlike attitude; put Philippians 2:3-5 into practice.
- "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." ~Jesus (Matthew 23:12) We see the downfall of pride again and again in the Bible and in life. Pride is what caused Lucifer to be thrown out of Heaven. Look at Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar, and Haman. "When the king asked him, 'What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?', Haman thought to himself, 'Who is there that the king rather honor than me?'" (Esther 6:6) Wow...seriously, this is one extremely arrogant dude! He was humbled shortly after that daydreaming. Following the king's command, "Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on the horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'" (Esther 6:11) Can you imagine how humiliated Haman must have felt? He was the one who came up with the idea and he was so sure that he's the one the king wanted to honor. It's a classic case of "a haughty spirit before a fall".
- Pride is often a root sin of other sins. Pride can sneak in many different ways. Pride in good looks, in riches, in position, in popularity, in intelligence, etc. There is also spiritual pride. Like the Pharisees. Proud of being more "spiritual"/more spiritually knowledgeable or more "righteous" than others. We must be careful not to fall into that superiority mindset. We all are wretched sinners and can only be saved by God's grace. I personally can use more humility :). Questions I have to ask myself sometimes: Am I being too prideful to admit that I am wrong? Too prideful to say sorry? Too prideful to ask for forgiveness? Too prideful to change?
- "This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24) Let him/her who boasts boast in the Lord!
I made up an acronym. Pride S.T.I.N.K.S.

Says, "Look at me and what I've accomplished"
Thinks too highly of self
Insists on being right
Needs recognition, admiration, & promotion
Keeps self on the throne
Sets self up for fall and destruction

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