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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Right Words at the Right Time


- Right words spoken the right way at the right time are invaluable, precious, lovely, exquisite, and immensely admired & appreciated... like apples of gold in settings of silver. Timely advice is priceless. Proper/appropriate speech suitable for circumstances is wonderfully pleasant and well-received. Words of counsel and words of comfort are crucial. Words of prayers are coveted. Words of wisdom are sought. Words of kindness are refreshing. Even words of rebuke are necessary. "A person finds joy in giving an apt reply--and how good is a timely word!" (Proverbs 15:23)
- Effective communication is a beautiful art. We can use our words to show others our love and care for them, to encourage and edify them, to cheer up, heal or soothe weary/hurting ones, to lead the lost to Christ, etc. Sometimes God uses us to speak words or share His Word at the moment they need to be said because someone needs to hear. Other times God touches our hearts deeply through words that others say.
- Esther waited for the right moment to make "the request". Timing is important. Have you ever tried to have a deep discussion about some important issues with your husband right when he just gets home from a long day of work? He may not be ready and willing to hear all that you have to say. Wait for the right time :)!
- Prayer: Father, please forgive me when my words are not kind, gracious, appropriate, considerate, or respectful. Please give me the right words at just the right time so that they can meet the needs of others and build others up. Please help my conversation be always full of grace. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14) In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Success

- No, God will not give you whatever you want :)! He will give you the desire of your heart when your heart's desire lines up with His desire, will, and purpose. He will fulfill all your plans when they are according to His plans.
- It's good and wise for us to plan and set goals. But we must prayerfully ask God for His wisdom, guidance, and direction. And we must be willing to surrender all to Him, including our own desires, ambitions, and plans and be willing to accept the outcome according to His will, not ours. This verse in my NIV Bible reads, "May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." How do you define "success"? Outside of God's will, "success" is indeed failure. "To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge, to find the will of God is the greatest discovery, to do the will of God is the greatest achievement." (~Unknown) That's success to me!
- "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) "He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him." (Psalm 145:19a) The more we know God, the more we know His heart and will. The more we spend time with God (in prayer and in His Word), the better we know Him and He will give us His desires and mold us to be women/wives/mothers after his own heart.
- Prayer: Father, please forgive me for all my selfish desires and plans. Please take away my selfishness and help me to always follow after Your own heart. I want to love what You love and hate what You hate. I only want to do Your will...nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Please reveal Your will for my life to me and help me obey it. Please guide my every step and every decision. Thank You for Your Word which is a light on my path and for Your Holy Spirit Who is my faithful Counselor. Please purify my heart & fill it with Your desires and purify my mind & fill it with Your thoughts. May Your passion become my passion and Your vision become my vision! In Jesus's name I pray. Amen.
 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Overrated by Eugene Cho


About the Author:
Eugene is the founder and visionary of One Day’s Wagesa grassroots movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty. He is the founder and senior pastor of Quest Church, an urban, multicultural, and multigenerational church in Seattle, Washington. Eugene and his wife, Minhee, have three children.

My Review:
What is overrated? You may wonder :). The author explains, "While I want to applaud (really!), the desire and sincerity of people wanting to change the world, I fear that if we're not careful, we might become...the most overrated generation. I fear that we might be more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world...I think our wealth of resources and opportunities lends itself to this theory that we may be part of the most overrated generation in human history--because we have access to so much data, info, resources, modes of communication...but we end up doing so little." (p. 29, p. 30) Good intention and desire do not change the world; action does. Do you walk the talk? If you are passionate about social justice, what are you doing about it? And why should you care about it in the first place? Overrated is, in fact, a book of confession, compassion, and conviction. The author shares his own journey and struggles with transparency and humor. Painfully honest and refreshingly inspiring.

The author challenges us readers to dig deep into what we truly care about in order to be well informed and well equipped and then to effectively serve well. Justice, mercy, and humility...are what God wants His children to embrace. I'm thankful for the author's boldness to speak up the hard truth that Christ's followers must hear (read). And I like the fact that he lives what he preaches...not perfectly but intentionally. The message in this book is a call for us to examine our hearts/passions and live the Gospel authentically. When you live what you believe, the world will notice. Motives matter! God looks at the heart! Know why you do what you do. Is it done out of love for God and for others or out of self-love/selfish ambition? Is it for God's glory or for self-promotion and people's applause? Do you do it because it's fashionable and trendy or because it's the right thing to do/it pleases and honors God? There's cost to discipleship/cost to following Jesus...cost to living a life of radical obedience, but "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot)  I really enjoyed reading this eye-opening, thought-provoking, heart-probing book and I highly recommend it! By the way, this book made me think of these two songs: God of Justice by Tim Hughes and The Motions by Matthew West.

"This is why for us, as Christians, the person of God, the deity of God, God's justice, and God's goodness are such powerful things. God's justice is His plan of redemption for a broken world. God's justice is renewing the world to where He would have intended it to be." (p. 37)
"God invites and commands His people to not just be aware of injustice but to pursue justice. Not just to pursue justice but to live justly...We do justice because justice is rooted in the character of God and thus must reflect in the character of His followers." (p. 38, p. 39)
"We need to pursue justice not just because the world is broken, but because we're broken, too. Pursuing justice helps us put our own lives in order. Perhaps this is what God intended--that in doing His work serving others, we discover more of His character and are changed ourselves." (p. 52)
"Contentment does not come from our upward mobility. Our contentment comes from a life of gratitude and generosity. Our contentment comes in living in the truth that Jesus emptied Himself and invites us to live in countercultural obedience to Him." (p. 66)
"As Christians, we should be about the work of God, the work of shalom, restoration, and redemption--in all the simplicity and profundity that this work requires." (p. 97)
"Don't be held captive to either praise or criticism. Know who you are, what you're about, and most important, Who you serve." (p. 150)
"God calls us to be generous, because in giving others, we are blessed. Our generosity blesses others, certainly, but it also rescues us from the idolatry of greed in our own lives." (p. 184)

Official Websitehttp://areyouoverrated.com

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this book. Open only to residents in the US and Canada.
Deadline: 10/14 at midnight (Pacific time) 
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address. Please share what your favorite Christian charity organization you like to support is.

~"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Divine Deliverance

- Those who fear (revere) the Lord need not fear anyone or anything because He provides divine protection and deliverance. The angel of the Lord may refer to an angel, or a host of angels, or Jesus (in His pre-incarnation state). The angel of the Lord securely surrounds, guards, defends, and rescues the faithful. I'm sure God has kept us from harm's way countless times which we are unaware of. God is at work behind the scenes all the time. God also sends His angels to watch over and minister to His children.
- God is for us; who can be against us? When you go through a difficult time, take comfort in His promises. "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:13a, 14) "As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore." (Psalm 125:2) "Sovereign Lord, my strong Deliverer, You shield my head in the day of battle." (Psalm 140:7) God is our Refuge, Shield, Fortress, Protector, and Deliverer.
- Prayer: Father, thank You for surrounding, protecting, and delivering me! Please help me trust in You completely, look past my circumstances to You, my all-powerful Deliverer, and rest in the palm of Your hand. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book Review: Before Amen by Max Lucado


Do you consider yourselves prayer wimps or prayer warriors :)? Max Lucado, a recovering prayer wimp (his own admission) shares how we can overcome our struggle with prayer and delight in a heartfelt conversation with our Father, instead. Prayer does not have to be complicated. God loves us His children and wants to have a relationship with us. We can experience a deep, personal, intimate connection with our Heavenly Daddy. A simple prayer will do. The author proposes a pocket prayer: "Father, You are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank You. In Jesus' name, amen." It's not meant to be a formula but rather a guideline. Prayer is not about words but rather the attitude of the heart and the condition of the soul that linger at Jesus' feet, enjoying His presence. Prayer is pouring our heart out to God, our Father, in love, in faith, in humble submission, and in gratitude. God wants us to come to Him with a broken & contrite heart; He will adjust our will and desires to line up with His. I've always enjoyed Max Lucado's writings. This book did not disappoint me. In this book, I find many insightful words worthy of quoting. I highly recommend this easy, enjoyable, & encouraging read!

"We speak. He listens. He speaks. We listen. This is prayer in its purest form. God changes His people through such moments." (p. 11)
"Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray. Heaven knows, life has enough burdens without the burden of praying correctly. If prayer depends on how I pray, I'm sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, and if the One who hears the prayer is my Daddy, then I have hope." (p. 26)
"Resist the urge to reclaim the problem once you've given it up." (p. 54)
"If Jesus heals you instantly, praise Him. If you are still waiting for healing, trust Him. Your suffering is your sermon." (p. 68)
"His ultimate will is inflexible, but the implementation of His will is not. He does not change in His character and purpose, but He does alter His strategy because of the appeals of His children. We do not change His intention, but we can influence His actions." (p. 94)


~I received an advance reader's copy of this book free via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. You can read more reviews of this book here.

Be sure to enter the Before Amen iPad Mini giveaway. AND if you pre-order a copy of Before Amen by 9/29, you'll receive a FREE ebook copy of Max’s best-selling Second Chances: More Stories of Grace.
beforeamen-400-click
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • Before Amen by Max Lucado
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 29th. Winner will be announced September 30th on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 30th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to their blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Friday, September 26, 2014

God's Loving Eye Is Upon You

- On Monday, we talked about how God is pleased when we come before Him with a broken/humbled spirit, a contrite/repentant heart. Psalm 32 is a psalm of penitence. When we humbly repent, acknowledge that we need Him, and seek His guidance, God will instruct, teach, and counsel us. Esther realized that she could not accomplish this tremendous task by her own strength. She desperately needed God's strength, wisdom, and guidance. Thus, she asked all the Jews who were in Susa and her attendants to fast for her and she herself fasted for 3 days.
- In my NIV Bible, it says, "I will counsel you with My loving eye on you." I really like that! God is lovingly looking at us and watching over us. With lovingkindness, God teaches and guides us by His Word and by His Holy Spirit (John 14:26). It's truly comforting to know that the loving eye of my never-sleeping Father is upon me day and night...in joy and in sorrow...in life and in death.
- God will instruct and teach us in the way we should go. Not the way we want to go or the way others expect us to go but the way we should go according to God's will and purposes. God loves us and knows what's best for us. Left to ourselves, we would choose the easy way, the fast way, the smooth way, the popular way but it may not be the right way. We need a Guide who is perfect and infinite in wisdom, power, love, grace, mercy, and patience. "For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our Guide even to the end." (Psalm 48:14) "This is what the Lord says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.'" (Isaiah 48:17-18)
- Prayer: "Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long...Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name...Teach me, Lord, the way of Your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep Your law and obey it with all my heart...Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground...Teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You." (Psalm 25:4-5, 86:11, 119:33-34, 143:10, Exodus 33:13)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

For Such a Time as This

- Even though the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, this verse clearly shows that Mordecai was confident in God's sovereign power, faithfulness, and providence. He believed that God would deliver His people according to His will and promise. Nothing could hinder that. He believed that Esther came to be a queen by God's appointment to accomplish God's purpose at that time. Esther had to make a choice: to keep silent and do nothing (which would result in death for her and her family) or to risk her life and try to save her people. Mordecai discouraged her from the former and encouraged her to do the latter.
- God does not need you and me but He graciously invites us to participate in His kingdom work. What a privilege and honor it is! We get a front row seat to His glorious power and works. God's purposes will be carried out whether He uses me or someone else. However, I don't want to miss any opportunities. I want to always be faithful, available, and obedient. You and I who are alive at this time have also been called to be His instruments in saving people's lives. We have been here (have come to the kingdom...God's kingdom) for such a time as this to faithfully share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world for His glory and to be faithful to whatever God has called us to do. Many people know what is the right thing to do but they lack courage to do the right thing at the right time. There is cost to discipleship/cost to following Jesus...cost to living a life of radical obedience, but "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." (Jim Elliot)
- God created you on purpose for a purpose. You are not here by chance, but by God's choosing. He made you the person you are (there's only one you in the whole world) and gave you special gifts and passions. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose in this world. Speak up (don't keep silent) and do something about what God has put on your heart.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Love and Faithfulness

- A king who rules/governs his country/his people with steadfast love (mercy) and faithfulness (truth) will be secure on his throne for a long time because his subjects will love him and remain loyal to him. People want loving, kind, merciful, truthful, faithful, promise-keeping leaders. The kings or leaders who are cruel, harsh, and dishonest drive their followers into hatred, despair, disloyalty, and rebellion.
- The best example of leadership is Jesus Christ. Lead like Jesus who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14b)! "Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me." (Psalm 40:11)
- No matter what position we're in, love and faithfulness should characterize our lives. "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) 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

God Who Comforts

- Our God is the Father of compassion (mercies) and the God of all comfort! God comforts us His children in all our trials and affliction. All. Every time. Unfailing comfort! When a child is hurt or afraid or sad, a mother naturally comforts, consoles, soothes, and helps her child. "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." ~God (Isaiah 66:13a) Our compassionate Father is always ready to hold us in His everlasting arms and comfort us. His purpose is that we may be able to comfort others who are in any affliction with the comfort we ourselves have received from Him. Freely you have received; freely you must give.
- We are never promised a trouble-free life. In fact, Jesus states the opposite in John 16:33. However, we are promised that God is always with us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. We are never alone no matter what trials we are going through. As sure as God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them.” (~Charles Spurgeon) God's presence gives us comfort. God may not remove our pain and sufferings but He will carry us through them. The Holy Spirit/the Comforter dwells in us, giving us the grace and strength to endure. In addition, "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Romans 8:26) That's very comforting to me! God is our Refuge, Strong Tower, Shield, Strength, Fortress, very present Help in times of trouble, etc. Knowing Who God is and knowing that He loves me and is always with me & for me gives me continual comfort. 
- God's Word and promises give us comfort. "Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones." (Isaiah 49:13) "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life...I remember, Lord, Your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them...May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant." (Psalm 119:50, 52, 76) God's Word is sweet and refreshing to the soul, encouraging us and giving us hope.
- God wants us to comfort others. As children of God, we never suffer in vain. Because of our past experiences/trials, we are uniquely in the position to show empathy to those who go through similar trials and to minister to them with compassion and with insight. "Don't count yourself out of ministry because of the mistakes or your past. The same merciful embrace God gave you in your day of distress could become the hug you share with others in their day." (~David McGee) Our trials allow us to reach out to other hurting people because we have been "there". We are able to identify with their pain and struggles. "I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary." (~Charles Spurgeon) Affliction make us able to see/understand the hurts of others and the amazing love & grace of God. When we are open and transparent with others regarding our trials/struggles and the comfort we have received, God can use us to touch their lives and comfort them.
- We are told to comfort one another in the way that we have been comforted. God comforts us in many different ways and we can comfort others in many different ways. I believe the two most important ones are being present/being there for them, praying for them and with them (as God is present with us and the Holy Spirit is interceding for us) and sharing with them God's Word/promises. Sometimes we don't know what to say or what to do for them but just being there (available) for them means a lot to them. Be a good listener; it shows that you care. God's Word is powerful; share the Bible verses that have helped you when you doubt, struggle, are sorrowful, are discouraged, are afraid, etc. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Broken and Contrite Heart

- God is pleased when we come before Him with a broken/humbled spirit, a contrite/repentant heart. A heart that mourns over sin...that is filled with deep sorrow/anguish for sinning... that desperately begs God for mercy.
- God will not despise. Instead, "He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea." (Psalm 102:17) "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3) "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18) "For this is what the high and exalted One says--He who lives forever, whose name is holy: 'I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'" (Isaiah 57:15) "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My Word." (Isaiah 66:2b)
- When we sin (either sin of commission or sin of omission) whether in thoughts, words, or deeds, we should feel remorse, overwhelmed with sorrow and desire to change. My heart is broken, crushed, wounded, grieved, and burdened whenever I think I've hurt or disappointed my Heavenly Father until I weep in repentance and rest in His forgiveness and grace. Because of Christ's redemption through His blood, we have received the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of God's grace. For that I am forever grateful!
- "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret." (2 Corinthians 7:10) True repentance means turning away from sin/wrong path or direction 180 degrees towards God.
- Prayer: Father, please break my heart before You to be tender & humble, to be quick & sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and to be readily penitent. I am nothing without You. I cannot live without Your grace. I never want to hurt You or disappoint You. I hate sin with every fiber of my being. I really do. I only want to obey, honor, and please You. Please forgive me for all I should have thought but did not think, for all I should have said but did not say, and for all I should have done but did not do. Please also forgive me for all I should not have thought but did think, for all I should not have said but did say, and for all I should not have done but did do. Your mercy is so great. Thank You for Your forgiveness! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pride Precedes Plummeting

- 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, Haman,... Titanic, too.
- 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!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for any pride and arrogance that creep in my heart and mind. Please help me to have a humble, teachable heart always and keep me from being prideful. May I live to give glory and honor to You alone! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Be Very Careful How You Live!

- We must be very careful/prudent about how we live/how we spend our time on this earth. We should live wisely, depending on God's wisdom to guide us and walking in faith and obedience. "Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8b-10)
- "Unwise" or "foolish" used in the Bible refers to moral rather than intellectual deficiencies. The fool don't lack mental powers but they misuse them. They don't have the fear of God and they ignore God's truths/ principles/wisdom.
- "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." ~Jesus (Matthew 7:24) The difference between a wise man and a foolish man is obedience! 
- We must be very careful and intentional about being light and salt in this world of darkness. People need the Lord! Let's make the most of every opportunity to share Christ's love and His message of redemption with others! Let's live wisely with integrity and do all we can to point people to Jesus! "Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you." (~Anonymous) Our lives as Christ's followers should make nonbelievers question their disbelief in God.
- "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life!' (Psalm 39:4) 
"A life once spent, is irrevocable!...The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever!...How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days which are past, but the future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night, let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone--indelibly marked!" ~Adoniram Judson
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" (Psalm 90:12) 

- Realizing that life is short helps us use the little time we have here on earth more intentionally and for eternal good. We have one life to live. How are you living your life? You and I are not getting any younger. Will you have any regrets on your death bed? When it's all been said and done, can we say that we did our best to live for God? "Have you ever seen the little plaque that reads, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last?" Well, that's not (all) what the poet wrote. The poet wrote this: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I'll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee." Do you think all Christians die happy? Not on your life! Some of them die as miserable as sinners. Why? Because they've misused their time and wasted their lives. Many of you have laid dying on a hospital bed and prayed, "Lord, if You would only spare me, I'll do this, that, or the other." Well, have you done it?" ~Leonard Ravenhill 
- Each day is a gift from the Lord. I want to live my days according to His Word and His will, spending my time on earth wisely and for His glory. I want to live each day in the light of eternity, keeping an eternal perspective with me always. "Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs." (~Jonathan Edwards) Just being alive each day is not the same as "living." What are our days filled with? What do we want to see happen in our lives before we die? What would we like people to remember us for? What steps could we take today toward that purpose?  Whatever you do, don't waste your life.
To ponder: "If we could live every day as though it may be the very last one before the final judgment, what a difference it would make here on earth." ~Billy Graham
- Prayer: Father, I desire to live my life for You! I can never thank You enough for Your grace & mercy and Your love for me. I delight in You, in Your Word, in pleasing & honoring You, and in telling others about You. My life is a gift from You and it's Yours; please use it for Your glory and according to Your will. Please help me to always walk in Your wisdom and do what's right in Your eyes. May Your passion be my passion and Your vision be my vision. By Your grace, my life shall not be wasted. In Jesus's name I pray. Amen. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Love and Respect

- A husband is instructed to love his wife as he loves himself. A husband and his wife become one flesh. He is to love her with agape love. He is to love her sacrificially, selflessly, and unconditionally. He is to love her as Christ loves His Church.
- A wife must respect her husband. Reverence consists of love and esteem, honor and admiration. A wife is to speak respectfully to and about her husband (including when he is not present). A wife is to listen attentively to her husband when he talks. A wife is to respect her husband's opinions, decisions, and actions. Even when she disagrees, she must treat him with respect. No sarcasm. No belittling. No condescending tones. No contempt. No eye-rolling. When a husband keeps hearing critical comments from his wife, he feels disrespected. We wives can have a powerful influence on our husbands and marriage by simply choosing words that encourage and edify, words that build our husbands up, not tearing them down. Our husbands need us to be their greatest supporters/cheerleaders. 
- A husband feels loved when he is respected. A wife feels respected when she is loved. Because of God, a husband and wife are able to achieve oneness. Oneness in everything. Follow God's design/formula for marital success. When a husband and wife put God first in their lives & in their marriage and practice His teachings in their home, there will be unity, mutual love and respect and God will be honored and glorified. A husband is to love his wife whether she deserves it or not; a wife is to respect her husband whether he deserves it or not. When a husband and wife aim to please God in all they say and do, God is pleased and the marriage is benefited. Both husbands and wives need God's agape love and strength to be able to love as Christ loves and to respect and submit out of love. Marriage should be a reflection of Christ's love for His people.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to tame my tongue and speak only words that make my husband feel appreciated, admired, respected, and loved. Please convict my heart, change my attitude and remind me to pray for my husband whenever I feel tempted to criticize, complain, and/or argue. Please help me to pause and pray when I am bothered/frustrated by my husband's words, attitudes, or actions. Teach us, Lord, to lovingly, humbly, respectfully, & calmly discuss things when we disagree. Thank You for joining us together and keeping us together! May You always be the Center of our marriage and be glorified in our marriage. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

"What does it mean to submit? It is to give oneself up to somebody.
What does it mean to love? It is to give oneself up for somebody, as Christ 'gave Himself up' for the Church. Thus 'submission' and 'love' are two aspects of the very same thing, namely of that selfless self-giving which is the foundation of an enduring and growing marriage.
" ~John Stott

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Wisdom of the Prudent

- The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways. The wise/the prudent reflect carefully before they act. They don't follow impulse. They deliberately follow God's truth in their daily living. They pray for guidance. They seek God's will. The true wisdom is to understand our ways according to God's Word...in relation to God, to others, and to ourselves. A prudent person shows his/her wisdom by considering consequences of his/her actions and choosing the conduct which is right and best. "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise." (Ephesians 5:15) Make wise choices in life. The prudent discern their paths, examine the risks involved, and find the means to accomplish what they need to do. The Oxford English Dictionary defines "prudence" as “The ability to recognize and follow the most suitable or sensible course of action. . . . In early use: the wisdom to see what is virtuous.
- The folly of fools is that they think they can deceive God and others to their own advantage. Fools may try all kinds of deceitful ways for their own gain. Fools may try to cover up their wicked ways. This is indeed folly. Who can ever deceive God who is all-knowing? This is folly because deception eventually will be discovered and bring about bad results to themselves. In the end, they really deceive themselves into their own detriment. Fools live foolishly; their folly comes from their deceived mind. The deceit of the devil is this: he makes fools think they are on the right track when they are not! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stay Calm

- I don't remember where I heard this from so I don't know how accurate it is. I've heard that when King Xerses commanded the eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at, he meant it exactly that: wearing just her royal crown and nothing else (naked). If this was true, it's very understandable why Queen Vashti refused to come :).
- Fools are quick-tempered. They get angry/annoyed easily and are quick to express their anger/annoyance. They are easily provoked and immediately & visibly show it by their words, facial expressions, and/or actions. They react rashly without thinking first. They disgrace themselves by giving way to their madness. They display self-importance, pride and arrogance.
- On the contrary, the wise stay calm when insulted. They overlook offenses. The wise (prudent) exhibit patience and self-control. They put up with the contempt and they don't seek revenge. Instead, they respond in love, grace, humility, and gentleness. By doing so, they are less likely to get into trouble and more likely to gain respect from others. The fool react without thinking; the wise think before reacting. The wise will think first and avoid the shame of anger causing them to react foolishly. The fool are controlled by their anger; the wise control their anger. "Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end." (Proverbs 29:11) "A quick-tempered person does foolish things." (Proverbs 14:17a) "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly." (Proverbs 14:29)
- There are many irritations in life. We can choose to be angry & annoyed like a fool or we can choose to let it go and forgive like a wise person. "Love is patient, love is kind...It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:4a, 5) May we do everything in love! "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19) "Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
"Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather,...he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over." (~A.W. Tozer) Stay calm when people insult you. We won't be so easily offended when we realize who we are in Christ and our goal is to glorify Him, not self.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Worship God Only!

- In his third attempt of testing /tempting Jesus in the wilderness, Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world with their splendor if Jesus would bow down and worship him. What a blasphemy! What a display of extreme arrogance! Bowing before Satan is to acknowledge the devil's lordship. Satan showed his true desire to replace God/his open hostility to God. He's not content to be worshiped by people; he dared to seek adoration from the Son of God. Jesus immediately rejected his proposal with these words, "Away from Me, Satan! For it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" (verse 10) 
- Satan was determined to thwart Jesus's mission/to distract Jesus from fulfilling God's plan to save the world. He still tries to distract God's children from following God's plan and purpose for their lives...from worshiping and serving God.
- "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?" (Matthew 16:26-27) Preserve your soul from the wiles of the Enemy. Worship, serve, and obey God only no matter what with no compromise! Recognize that any deal from Satan is a bad deal. Know God's Word and apply it. Hide God's Word in your heart so that you might not sin against God and will be able to reject any lies from Satan. One of Satan's tricks is: tempting us with what the world has to offer. Another one of his schemes is: steering us toward self-centeredness, self-sufficiency, self-importance, self-love, and self-satisfaction.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Invest in Eternity

- We Christians are citizens of Heaven. Jesus tells us to store up our treasures in Heaven, not on earth. We cannot take earthly treasures with us when we leave this earth. They are temporary, perishable, and precarious. It is indeed a folly and vanity to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth. Hoard not!
- One of the commentaries says, "A common error of Phariseeism and Judaism in general was the undue emphasis upon material wealth as evidence of God's approval." Do not fall into the same erroneous thinking and do not follow the "Prosperity Gospel" false preachers. In reality, many wicked people are rich while many righteous people are poor. Just look at Jesus and His own disciples :)!
- "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."--You can tell a lot about someone by looking at how he/she spends his/her money (time and talents, too). What do you value above all? Our true treasure is found in Christ and His free gift of salvation & eternal life. When we keep an eternal perspective and treasure Christ above all else, the things of the world will become insignificant and meaningless. Our hearts will follow and our actions will show what we truly treasure. "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!" (verse 33 in the same chapter) Let's live in the light of eternity! This world is not our home. Don't waste your life chasing after the temporary things of this world! Live for God and give Him your undivided loyalty! Don't let the world and its pursuits come between your soul and Him. Focus on reaching out to the lost and making an eternal impact while you're here on earth. Live intentionally in such a way that most glorifies God. Don't get caught up in the material race for more things. May we use God-given resources for His glory and for His kingdom! Invest in eternity! All the decisions (big and small) that we make speak volumes about where our heart is.
- We must guard our hearts against greed, against accumulating things/hoarding wealth, and against finding gratification in our possessions. "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." ~Jesus (Luke 12:15) Please heed God's warning about the rich fool. "This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21) "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me." ~Jesus (Mark 10:21) Jesus wants us to stay away from covetousness and worldly-mindedness. Do our satisfaction, security, and comfort rest in what we have? When all our physical needs and wants are met by stuff, it's easy to become self-reliant and move away from God-reliance. God must be the Center and Priority in our lives. Only what's done for Christ will last! The only treasures we can bring to Heaven are the lives of those who come to know Christ as a result of our witnessing, serving, and giving (to the needy/to kingdom's work/to reach people with the Gospel). "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in Heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:33-34) We are blessed to be a blessing to others. "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 6:18-19) Generosity that reflects God's love, grace, and kindness is an antidote to covetousness and a way of laying up treasure in Heaven.
- We are called to set your hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things (see Colossians 3:1-2). We are to direct our affection and thoughts to things above (heavenly things/eternal things)...things that matter eternally. Examine where our affection, attention, anxiety, ambition, and passion lie. Are they mostly set upon earthly pursuits/vain riches for selves?


Prayer: Father, please forgive us when we value the wrong things in life or get too attached to temporary things of the world or become discontent and tempted to want more. Please teach us to know what's eternally important and priceless in Your eyes and help us to focus on storing up our treasures in Heaven. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.
   

Monday, August 25, 2014

DVD Review and Giveaway: A Long Way Off



A Long Way Off is a retelling of the Prodigal Son in a modern day setting. Jake Abraham (played by Jason Burkey) is tired of working for his family's business, Abraham Farms, in a rural area. He longs for a  more exciting life in the big city. He asks his father for his share of inheritance to which his father (played by John Diehl) agrees. In the city, he meets a friendly, caring, beautiful barista, Summer (played by Zoe Myers). At the same time, he is attracted to the seductive Laura (played by Johanna Jowett) who has a mobster boyfriend named Frank (played by Robert Davi). For a while, Jake enjoys his new life of monetary success (from stock investment), luxury, and pleasures. Drinking and partying. The sights and sounds of city life consume Jake. Eventually, the foolish lifestyle and failed stock knock him down flat and he finds himself running in fear for his life (because of the bad deal he made with Frank) and searching in desperation for food. Ending up in a pig pen, Jake finally comes to his senses and heads home. He has lost everything but never his dad who never gives up on him and patiently keeps waiting for his return. His dad is overjoyed when Jake comes home and wants to celebrate. Jake's older brother, Seth (played by Dave Blamy) cannot understand why and is quite ticked off by it (jealousy/envy/resentment). The father explains to him something similar to what is written in Luke 15:31-32, "My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

I enjoyed the DVD. Great cast! This is a wonderful, powerful story of unconditional love/undeserved love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, choices and consequences, and temptations. The story of the Prodigal Son reflects our Heavenly Father's unfailing love and inexhaustible grace! God never stops loving us and always longingly waits for us to have an intimate relationship with Him. No one is beyond God's grace no matter what they may have done. I hope you will check out this film and ponder over God's amazing love for you!

GIVEAWAYYou can win a copy of this DVD!
Deadline: 9/7 at midnight (Pacific time) 
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address. Do you know any prodigal son/daughter in your life?

~I received a free copy of this DVD via Edify Media, Inc. in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Trust and Obey!

I have been participating in the #fmfpartysnailmail. I've been sending and receiving cards with words of encouragement. It is a blessing! The world definitely needs more encouragers! I also send "Encouragement" emails to my LJ (Love in Jesus/Loving Jesus) servant leaders team at least once a month. I'm going to share here what I wrote in my latest "Encouragement" email. Hope it will encourage your hearts, too :)!

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
"For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." (Proverbs 3:26)
"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." ~God (Jeremiah 31:25)
"Trust God to do what you can't. Obey God and do what you can." (~Max Lucado)

No fire/heat or drought in life can destroy those who are rooted in the Living Water! Let your faith repel fear and worries. Trust God in the storm; trust God despite silence. He is always there and He does always care! When we have God-confidence, we don't need self-confidence. On what/whom are you basing your confidence and/or depending? Keep trusting God and relying on Him completely. Keep obeying and marching forward with God-confidence!

May you be refreshed and satisfied in Him alone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Without Love, I Am Nothing!

- I think this is one of the most beautiful, profound, and thought-provoking passages in the Bible. It's a call to examine ourselves. Paul points out a way of life superior to a life spent in the seeking and displaying of spiritual gifts. He shows them the way of love! The Corinthians were distracted with contentions and envious of one another's gifts. They apparently lacked love. Their conduct was driven by selfishness and pride, not love.
- Love is supreme. Love is paramount. Love is necessary. Love is the Body of Christ's most distinguished trademark (it should be). Without love, all the various spiritual gifts are of no value. The gifts of speaking tongues (or languages, including those of angels), of prophesying, of having all knowledge, of faith that moves mountains, of utmost generosity, even martyrdom, are all meaningless unless we have agape (selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love). Our words and actions must be motivated by love.
"Sadly, we often fall into the trap of wanting to be right rather than wanting to love well." (Jim Daly) I admit I sometimes fall into that trap. I am passionate for God's truths. However, I need to check my heart's motive/condition when I share about God, the Gospel, and the Bible whether it's done with love, grace, humility, gentleness, and respect, or with pride, arrogance, anger, frustration, and contempt. If we win every argument/debate but have not love, we are nothing... we win nothing! No matter how eloquently we speak or write, without love our words are worthless. Speak the truth in love! (Ephesians 4:15a) Even if we have unlimited knowledge and understanding about everything (using hyperbole :)) and superb faith (mountain-moving kind as mentioned in Matthew 17:20) but if we don't exercise our knowledge and faith in love, we're nothing. Even the greatest philanthropic acts and such sacrifice as martyrdom accomplish nothing without love. Love is summum bonum ("the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system") Our lives must be characterized by genuine love for God and for others at home, at work, at church,...everywhere. We can try hard to keep all God's commands and still miss the spirit of the Bible and displease the Lord if we're doing it all without love. Without love, our spiritual gifts, theological knowledge & Biblical understanding, and good works mean nothing in God's eyes. Without agape love, whatever we speak, whatever we have, whatever we know, whatever we do, whatever we suffer, is absolutely ineffectual. Do everything in love! (1 Corinthians 16:14) 
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we’re forever grateful for Your extravagant love for us! Please fill our hearts with Your love and make it overflow from us to touch the lives of those we meet and draw them to You. Please help us to live a life of love out loud everyday and everywhere. In Jesus’s Name, I pray. Amen!

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