A Must-See Video for Every Christian

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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Greatest Commandment

- Jesus says that the most important commandment of all commandments is: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind! Jesus wants us to love Him with our whole being...to love Him above all else even our own life. He wants us to be in such an attitude of love that we cannot eat or work or play without thinking about Him, always keeping Him first in our heart and at the forefront of our mind. God desires to be loved by His children with total abandon. The whole Christianity boils down to one primary thing: Amo Dei =Love God! We must love God completely with all the affections, the will, and the thoughts/the understanding...with all we have and all we are at all times under all circumstances. Again, this is agape love, the committed, devoted love which makes a decision to sacrifice all for the One we love. Obviously, no one is capable of loving God perfectly all the time. This unattainable standard of all-encompassing love for God merely shows our polluted heart and the desperate need for God's pure graceThe more I know God, the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I want to know Him more.
- Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commands." Our obedience to God demonstrates our love for God. Our love for God is expressed through our love for others. To love God is the priority of life. It should rule our hearts & thoughts and guide our decisions and actions.
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for loving me first! Thank You for Who You are and for all You have done for me! I love You! Please purify my heart, soul, & mind and help me love You more and more with every part of me. Please make my life a living expression of Your love to the world for Your glory. Please give me Your eyes to see where and how I may be a blessing to others each day. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

"The true measure of loving God is to love Him without measure." ~Bernard

Friday, July 18, 2014

Faith and Love

- God's command here consists of two parts: to believe in in the Name of Jesus Christ and to love one another (our brothers and sisters in Christ). To believe in the Name of Jesus Christ means to believe all the truths which His Name implies...to believe all that Christ is. He is the Messiah...the Savior...the Son of God...the Lord... Emmanuel (God with us)... To sum up this command in 2 words: Faith & Love. Faith and love go hand in hand. We cannot truly love one another as Christ loves us without faith in Christ, nor can we truly believe in Him without love. Faith without works (obedience out of love/love in action) is dead. "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2b) "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6b) "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love." (1 Corinthians 16:13-14) Faith and love!
- The Holy Spirit bears witness that Christ lives in us. A fruit of our union with Christ is love and obedience. Our dwelling/abiding in Christ and Christ in us enable us to bear fruit and keep His commandments. "I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain (abide) in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

Friday's Fave Five #100

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story)

My Fave Five this week:

1. I love chocolate covered coffee beans, Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars, Cheesecake gelato, and Triple Chocolate gelato. I can snack on these all day long :).

2. We got a new comfy couch (Chocolate Brown Italian Leather Sofa). We had the old one for 11 years and it was falling apart.

3. We attended a 3D advance screening of Planes: Fire & Rescue on Monday. You can read my review here.

4. You might laugh but it's true that I had lived without a cell phone until now :). For safety/ emergency, my husband wanted me to have a cell phone so he got me one with unlimited calls and unlimited text messages. What am I going to do with it? I don't like talking on the phone. I guess I'll just go texting-crazy :). 

5. Free Kindle edition of Life to the Max (A Max Lucado Digital Sampler) at the time of this posting.

Bonus: I'm currently hosting 2 DVD giveaways on my other blog: When Calls the Heart "The Dance" and The Perfect Summer.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Self-Sacrificing Love

- Jesus commands us to love others as He loves us. The ultimate love in action is Christ's sacrificial death on the cross for all sinners. We are to love each other as we have been loved by Jesus.
 Self-sacrificing love is the greatest kind of love! The proof of self-sacrificing love is the willingness to die/lay down our lives/put selves aside for others. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." (1 John 3:16) It means more than simply dying physically for them because one could only do so once :) and we don't always have the opportunity to do so, either. Jesus wants us to love each other continually. It means that we are to die to our selfishness, pride, prejudice and/or give up our comfort, conveniences, and excuses in order to reach out to others with sacrificial love. It means we go out of our way to meet our friends' needs. Are you willing to open your hearts and homes to others? Do you make others feel welcome and loved? What kind of friends are you? I want to be a loving, faithful, supportive, Christlike friend to all.
- Such a standard of love can be accomplished only as Christ's own love is flowing through our lives! We are to love each other with the love of the Lord.
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, may Your love overwhelm us and flow through us continually. Please empower us to love others like Jesus... unconditionally, selflessly, and sacrificially. Please help us to die to self repeatedly and daily. May everything we do be motivated by love and done in love! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Love One Another

- Jesus commands His disciples/His followers to love one another as He has loved them. He doesn't tell us to love one another only when we feel like it or only love those who are lovable and agreeable. When we love one another like Jesus, it means we also love people who are rude, disrespectful, self-centered, disagreeable, argumentative,.... It means we love everyone, regardless of their imperfections. "We cannot choose whom we will love if we claim to be Christians." (~Anomymous) Earlier in this same chapter, Jesus demonstrates His amazing love by washing the disciples' feet (including Judas' feet). This is humble, visible love in action. Christ calls us to be foot washers/servants of all. As Jesus has loved and served us, so we must love and serve one another! He wants us to follow His example and love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ unconditionally by serving them selflessly and humbly and meeting their needs sacrificially (even laying down our lives for them).
- How will the world recognize Jesus' disciples? By their love for one another! Agape love among Christ's followers is a testimony to the world and draws others to Christ. On the contrary, when the world see Christians bicker, fight, backstab, hurt, blame, accuse one another, it allows them to play the hypocrite card as an excuse for rejecting Jesus. It turns them off to Christianity. "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:11-12) "We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord!...All praise to the Father, from Whom all things come, and all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son, and all praise to the Spirit, Who makes us one. And they'll know we are Christians by our love. Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love." (~Peter Scholtes) Christ's disciples are identified by their genuine love for one another!
- Our love for one another is modeled and motivated by Christ's love for us. His love towards us is patient, kind, compassionate, gentle, and committed. Is our love for one another like that? Love means praying for one another, forbearing & forgiving one another, bearing one another's burdens, encouraging & edifying one another/building one another up, admonishing one another, being at peace with one another, honoring one another above ourselves, rejoicing and mourning with one another, caring for one another, comforting one another, accepting one another, being truthful with one another, being there for one another, serving one another, etc. "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." (Galatians 5:13) 
- PrayerDear Heavenly Father, please help us to love and serve one another with humility like Jesus does. Please open our eyes to see the needs of others and how we can meet those needs. Please help us to faithfully follow Christ's footsteps. May our words and actions reflect Your agape love. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: The Chronological Study Bible NIV

I had always wanted to have a chronological Bible; therefore, I was quite excited when I got an opportunity to review this particular Bible. The Chronological Study Bible (NIV) presents the text of the Bible arranged in chronological order as the events actually took place. It includes Daily Life Notes (with various topics such as Marriage & Family, Politics & Government, Science & Technology, Trade & Economics, Plants & Animals, Health & Medicine, Arts & Literature, and more), Background Notes, transition commentaries, historical overviews, Time Panels, Time Charts, Time Capsules, and color maps that help readers understand life, culture, history, events, and locations in Bible times. I love the colorful illustrations and photos of places, people, and artifacts. This Bible is divided into 9 epochs. Each one starts with an introduction. At the end of the Bible, you'll find an index of Cultural and Historical Topics, glossary, concordance, an index of Scriptural passages, and daily reading plans. This beautiful Bible is an excellent resource for anyone who loves to study the Bible, enjoys history, and wants to explore God's Word in chronological order. Bonuses: This Bible is guaranteed for life (you can register online for your lifetime guarantee) and it provides the link to a free Bible Study Tools download. The only thing that I don't like about this Bible is that it uses the gender-neutral approach which is politically correct but not Biblically correct. I'm really disappointed about that!

~I received a free copy of this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 

Love Deeply

- It's not enough to have faith. It's not enough to pray and read God's Word. What are the two greatest commandments? Love God and love others. We, Christ's followers/God's beloved children, must abound in love. When we truly experience God's irresistible love for us, our love for others will be active. 
- Above all (indicating utmost importance), we are to maintain constant, fervent love for one another. "In 1 Peter 4, the apostle uses an interesting word to describe the love we are to have for one another. He says we are to have a "fervent" love. In the Greek, this word means "stretched out" and carries with it a picture of a runner straining for the finish line. It's a vivid image of a love that never quits. This love is a marathon type of love, not a sprint. What does this "stretched out" love look like? Peter answers this question with the next quote, "Love will cover a multitude of sins." In other words, a fervent, stretched-out love is a love that forgives no matter the cost. Like a marathon runner continues despite the burning in his lungs and the cramps in his muscles because he desires to achieve the goal, so we should endure the pain of rejection and the harsh words of those around us with a love in our hearts and a forgiving spirit. How can we love like this? We can love this way because Christ first loved us. He loved us even when we were sinners. He loved us, even when we rebelled against Him. He loved us with stretched out arms on the cross. Let's love each other in the same way." (~David McGee) "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22)
- Love each other deeply/intensely for love covers over a multitude of sins. "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs." (Proverbs 10:12) Once again, this is agape love. This love is full of grace and mercy, kindness and compassion. Love keeps no record of wrongs (love always forgives, holds no grudges, and doesn't take revenge). Love is not easily angered (even when others sin against you); love overlooks offenses. Love doesn't dishonor others (by gossiping or exposing their sins and/or failures). Noah once became too drunk and lay naked in his tent (Genesis 9:21-23). Ham (one of his sons) dishonored his dad by telling his two brothers about his dad's condition. But Shem and Japheth (Noah's other two sons) showed their dad honor/respect by walking in backwards (so that they wouldn't see him naked) and covering his naked body with a garment. That's love in action.

Monday, July 14, 2014

God Loved Us First and He Loves Us Best

- Before we knew God and before we were even born, He already loved us first. Even when we were spiritually dead in transgressions, polluted by Satan & worldliness, and enslaved to our sinful nature, God chose to love us and send His Son, Jesus Christ, to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (verse 10). He pursues us with His relentless love. He loves us so deeply and extravagantly, not because of who we are or what we do but because of Who He is. He loves because He is Love. "In Himself, God is Love; through Him, love is manifested, and by Him, love is defined." (~Burk Parsons)
- True love (agape love which is unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial) comes from God. Because we are so loved by God first, we're free to love God and others. God's love for us liberates us to live a life of love. Christ's love fills our hearts and overflows out of our lives. Our love for our brothers and sisters who are visible proves our love for God who is invisible. It's easy to claim that we love God but do we demonstrate our love for Him by obeying His command about loving one another? "If you love Me, keep My commands." ~Jesus (John 14:15) Do you walk the talk? Words don't mean anything if they are not backed up by actions. You're a liar if you hate your brothers or sisters in Christ while saying that you love God. How is your relationship with other believers? "A test of your love for God is to examine your love for others." (~Henry Blackaby)
- Love for God and love for fellow believers are inseparable. However, it's not about how much we love God; it's about how much God loves us. We receive His love and then share it with others. When Christ is in us and we're in Christ, love is evident in our conversation, actions, reactions, attitudes, lives. Love is not a feeling; it's a decision/a choice to meet others' needs...to put others above self. Love is our calling! The banner that flies over God's kingdom is the banner of love. Let's live loved and live to love well!
"Because of their dependence upon Christ's love they dared much, and because of their love for Christ they did much, and it is the same now. The children of God are ruled in their inmost powers by love. The love of Christ constrains them; they rejoice that divine love is set upon them, they feel it shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to them, and then by force of gratitude they love the Savior with a pure and fervent heart." (~Charles Spurgeon)
- Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love, grace, and mercy that You've given me freely and abundantly. Please help me to always show love, grace, and mercy to others. Please love through me and empower me to say and do everything in love. Please use my life to touch others with Your love and draw them to You, the Source of love. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

You Are Invited!

- God sent Jesus to invite people on earth to eternal life. Those who accept His invitation are blessed/happy and are waiting for the day Jesus returns and calls them to a Heavenly banquet ("the Wedding Supper of the Lamb")!
- "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." (Isaiah 62:5b) Jesus is the Bridegroom. The Church (made up of those who put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior) is the Bride. We've been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. In Heaven, we get to celebrate the greatest party of all time! O the joy of having fellowship/perfect union with our Lord throughout eternity! It's the marriage made in Heaven; the Church is united in glory to Jesus Christ. This is the culmination of our salvation. A beautiful picture of marriage and wedding supper is used to describe the intimate relationship God wants to have with us. Let us be ready and prepared as a pure & radiant bride waiting eagerly for our Bridegroom! "I promised you to one Husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him." (2 Corinthians 11:2b) May Christ find us faithful and wholeheartedly devoted to Him alone!
- Isn't it interesting that the ministry of Jesus began with His first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee when He turned water into wine? Jesus will return to receive His beloved bride and enjoy the marriage supper and live together happily ever after for eternity. I love weddings :)!

Friday's Fave Five #99

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story)

My Fave Five this week:
1. We had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend. My mother-in-law came on Friday and stayed overnight. We played Trivial Pursuit & Super Scrabble, enjoyed a grilled feast, and watched spectacular fireworks from our yard (we live on a hill that overlooks a panoramic view of cities and mountains).

2. I like these quotes.

3. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21) 
God's answers are always wiser than our prayers and way better than what we can imagine! I've seen this truth played out over and over again. Just this month alone, my heart has been bursting with joy! God knows why Thank You, Lord! You are beyond awesome!

4. Free kindle edition of Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life by Suzanne Woods Fisher (at the time of this posting).

5. My husband bought a portable air conditioner for our family room...just in time for our expected prolonged heat wave

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Forgive as the Lord Forgave You

- We are to bear with each other/to tolerate/to patiently endure one another's weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, imperfections, and offenses. Extend God's grace and mercy to others.
- And we are to forgive one another like Jesus. Unconditionally. To forgive others is to imitate Christ. Choose to forgive, instead of complaining, blaming, and quarreling.
- When we have a hard time forgiving others, we need to remind ourselves how much God has forgiven us. We must forgive those who offend/wrong/hurt us as the Lord forgave us. Each of us has sinned many more times against God than others have against us. "Whenever I see myself before God and realize something of what my blessed Lord has done for me at Calvary, I am ready to forgive anybody anything. I cannot withhold it. I do not even want to withhold it." (~Martin Lloyd Jones)
- Freely give grace and forgiveness because you've been freely given grace and forgiveness. "Freely you have received; freely give." ~Jesus (Matthew 10:8b)

"Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness." (~Corrie ten Boom)

Sufficient Grace

- Paul asks the Lord three times to take his "thorn in the flesh" away. Jesus does not take it away but offers His grace to bear it, instead. Christ's grace is sufficient for any affliction, trial, or hardship. His grace sustains and strengthens us. God knows what we need when we need it. Our weaknesses provide opportunities for the display of divine power. Paul boasts gladly about his weaknesses in order to show Christ's power resting on him. Paul is finally content to live with his "thorn" because he finds rest in Christ's power and grace.
- God may not always remove our problems, sufferings, sorrows or change our circumstances but He will always give us His grace to endure. Psalm 46:10a says, "Be still ('raphah' in Hebrew means 'be weak, let go'), and know that I am God." God wants us to let go and be weak...thus lean on Him and completely depend on Him. Any hardship in life is an opportunity to showcase God's grace and glorify Him.
- God's power/strength is made perfect in our weakness. It stands out best/shines brightest when we are weak and humbly acknowledge that we need God's help. Do you feel weak or weary? Perfect! You're in the perfect condition to receive God's grace and power. "It was the very experience of weakness which allowed Paul to discover God's strength." (~Alistair Begg) When we think we are strong and can handle everything ourselves, we are indeed weak because we trust and rely on selves, instead of God. When we realize we're weak, we become strong because we rely on Christ's strength. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) Be humble and admit your limitations and weaknesses before God. You will experience the benefits and blessings of God's amazing, sufficient grace.

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