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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Be Cheerful

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

Cheerful Heart and Cheerful Face

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

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

SMILE

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

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

CHOOSE

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

Choose Jesus

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

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

Choose Joy

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

Choose Contentment

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

Choose Gratitude

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

Choose Generosity

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

Choose Forgiveness

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

Choose Eternal Perspectives

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

Choose God's Word

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

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

QUIT

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

Be C.H.E.E.R.F.U.L. 

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

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



Friday, October 24, 2014

Speak Up

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Tongue Will Tell

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

How and how often do you tell others about God?





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Shall We Pray for our Enemies?

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

nikkisnacs

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Love the Lord; Hate Evil

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

Holly Barrett

Monday, October 20, 2014

Be Faithful

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





Sunday, October 19, 2014

By Grace Through Faith

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

There Is No One Righteous; All Fall Short

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

GOOD NEWS: We Are Justified by Grace Through Faith

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

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

God Is Both Just and Merciful

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

Gracious Gifts of God!   

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

What Are Sinners to Do?

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




Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Lord My Rock

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

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

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

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

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

Are you depressed/dismayed?

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

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

 
This post is linked up with Fellowship Fridays @Christian Mommy Blogger, Faith-filled Friday @Missional Women, Faith Along the Way, Still Saturday @sandraheskaking,  Spiritual SundaysEssential Thing Devotions, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His GripPlaydates with God at The Wellspring, The Weekend Brew @My Freshly Brewed LifeInspire Me Monday @Create With Joy, Sincerely, Paula, 3-D Lessons for Life, and Tell Me a True Story.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pit Diggers and Stone Rollers, Watch Out!

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


Thursday, October 16, 2014

God's Purposes Prevail

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


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Lord Loves Justice

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



nikkisnacs

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wherever You Go

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

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