Sunday, March 17, 2013

Parallel Lives--Paramount Lessons

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

I see a beautiful parallel in the lives of Joseph and Patrick.
Both went from being beloved sons to being slaves in a foreign land.
Both had dreams from God.
Both endured a long period of suffering (Joseph--13 years; Patrick--6 years).
Both were still in their youth when they had to face trials (Joseph--17; Patrick--16).
Both trusted God for Who He is even when they didn't understand what God was doing.
Both chose to obey God even in the midst of difficulties.
Both rested/found comfort and strength in God's presence, power, and provision.
Both forgave their offenders and did not have any bitterness against them.
Both showed God's love and compassion towards people, including their enemies.
Both hearts were healed in such a way that they were able to live in the present without being ruled by the pain of their past.
Both were faithful servants of God.
Both neither gave up nor complained.
Both completely surrendered their lives to God and God gave them success.
Both bore much fruit for God's glory in the lands of their affliction.
Both were used mightily by God to save lives (Joseph--physically; Patrick--spiritually).

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

"Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father's God, Who helps you, because of the Almighty, Who blesses you." Genesis 49:22-25a
There's so much we can learn from these two great men of God. Trust and obey; there's no other way! Their lives clearly demonstrated that affliction is never an excuse to not trust and obey God. Age isn't, either. Don't ever give up; God never gives up on you! matter what you're going through, God is with you and for you! God sees the whole picture of our lives while we only see what's going on here and now. Keep being faithful and walking by faith...come what may!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7) These verses pretty much sum up their lives. May it be true in our lives as well!

This post is linked up with Faith-filled Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, "Hear It, Use It", and Inspire Me Monday @Create With Joy.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's Fave Five #80

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 took an advantage of a beautiful sunny day last Saturday. Playing basketball, biking, jogging/walking, enjoying fresh air, taking in vitamin D, spending time with God outdoors...

2. Peach Mango Habanero Sauce is our current favorite sauce. And Balsamic BellaVitano Cheese is a big hit this week. Yummy goodness :)! 

3. We watched Stephen's Test of Faith (made by The Voice of the Martyrs). I love it and highly recommend this inspiring DVD!

4. My 14 yo son has such a great sense of humor. His creative writing assignments and poems always make me laugh out loud. Another joy of homeschooling :)!

5. Yesterday, I found cute (and soft) pajamas that I really like at Walmart for $7 (clearance price). I don't think I had ever bought myself brand new pajamas in America before (I usually shop for clothes at Goodwill or yard/garage sales) :).

Bonus: I'm having 2 great giveaways right now: VeggieTales: The Little House that Stood DVD (ends 3/17) and JJ Heller's CD, Loved (ends 3/30).


Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge

"If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." 2 Timothy 2:21

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:15-16

"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives." 2 Peter 3:11

You can see from the Scriptures above that God calls us/commands us to be holy. Holiness is obviously very important. However, some Christians may view it as an unattainable thing. Others may think it requires too much work and effort.
According to the Webster dictionary:
  1. Holy
    set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from profane or common use; holy vessels; a holy priesthood
  2. Holy
    spiritually whole or sound; of unimpaired innocence and virtue; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God
This book aims to help readers realize that holiness/genuine goodness can become a reality for all Christ's followers. In fact, once you understand how God not only wants you to be holy but also makes you whole and holy, you will be utterly relieved :)! Holiness is available to us in Christ Jesus!
"But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time." 2 Timothy 1:8b-9

"It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30 

God is always in the business of saving, restoring, healing, transforming, and sanctifying. I don't know about you but being reminded of that brings me great relief :). The author points out that wholeness and holiness go hand in hand. They affect each other. Holiness is a matter of the heart. Motives matter!  Also, we do have to make a choice! Choose holiness. The author encourages readers to not accept defeat before they even start fighting (the good fight). Sanctification is a process. At the same time, we must repent & renounce our sins, ask God to heal our brokenness, and ask Him to free us from spiritual strongholds/ bondage.

The book is divided into 2 main parts: Part 1--The Surprise of Holiness and Part 2--The Way to Holiness. You will find out what holiness really means according to Jesus. The book covers the costs and benefits of holiness in our lives and steps toward wholeness and holiness. The author provides lots of prayers to help guide readers. He also includes the "Daily Prayer" at the end of the book. The Utter Relief of Holiness is a no-nonsense book for spiritual growth written with honesty, humor, and occasional sarcasm. I only wish the author didn't use so many verses from The Message. This modern translation is quite loosely paraphrased. If you are serious about living for God, you'll desire to live in obedience which definitely encompasses holiness. "'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." 2 Corinthians 6:17a, 7:1b

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"There are moral differences; some matters are far weightier than others....Blurring moral differences tries to make all things (sins) equal. They are not." (p.77)

"The only road to holiness is to know that we have died with Christ to sin; that the deepest, truest part of us doesn't want it. What a relief." (p.109)

"The Big Lie of sin is that it is inevitable...And as soon as you make that agreement--this is inevitable--you are going to fall prey to it. But it is not inevitable...Now we have an option, because of all Christ has done for us, and because God is at work within us." (p.120)

"Holiness will cost you. It will certainly cost you the expense of laziness; there's no more coasting through life. You have to be aware now of where your heart is going on any given day, what you're allowing in and where your heart is wandering off to...You have to be vigilant to guard your heart." (p.152)

"The life God uses is a life surrendered to Him. The surrender is what matters; this is what allows the powerful life of Jesus to invade ours fully. Seek a genuine holiness and you will discover the joys of knowing that your life is making a profound difference in this world--and in the one to come." (p.159)

"These are our marching orders in our pursuit of holiness: we will make loving God and loving others our motives and we shall find the beauty of Jesus' holiness." (p.171)

"The hope of Christianity is that we get to live the life of Jesus...Jesus can heal what has gone wrong inside each and every one of us. He does this by giving us his goodness; he imparts it to us. We get to live his life--that is, live each day by the power of his life within us." (p.179)    

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

Sunday, March 3, 2013

All to You, Jesus!

I wrote a poem today to the Lord. He is indeed my All in All!

All to You, Jesus, I gladly and gratefully surrender
All I say and do are meant for Your glory and honor
All I am and all I have are Yours, O Lord
All I desire is to be in the presence and will of my God
All I count as rubbish and loss compared to
All I receive from knowing You and being found in You
All I forsake to follow You, my Shepherd
All I want is to live for You, serve You, and obey Your Word
All the way my Savior graciously leads me
All my sins You've forgiven and set me free
All things come to me through Your wise and loving hands
All for my good and Your purpose even when I don't understand
All my praises I give to You, my Redeemer
All I hope for is a life spent with You forever
All blessings are Your gifts from above
All I ever need is You and Your everlasting love
All my burdens and pains You daily bear
All my troubles I bring to You in prayer
All is well with my soul, heart, and mind
All that matters is trusting and abiding in You, the True Vine

Copyright @2013 Urailak Liljequist

This post is linked up with Faith-filled Friday @Beholding Glory, Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty @The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates with God at The Wellspring, "Hear It, Use It", The Weekend Brew @My Freshly Brewed Life, and Inspire Me Monday @Create With Joy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday's Fave Five #79

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 lots of fun playing ping-pong using our dinner table. We're easily entertained :)!

2. Josiah (my 14 year old son) made 87 out of 100 free-throws! Isn't that a better free-throw percentage than most NBA players :)? Blazers should sign him up!

3. I like the following quotes from the book, Beyond the Rapids: "As we grew older, we began to see that God didn't help everyone in the same way. Some were saved by miracles; others endured, trusting God for the next day, the next step, the next breath. During the famine and the terror, some were saved from arrest, or found food when they needed it--while others did not. Yet, even those dying of starvation or tortured in a prison camp, received a peace that couldn't be explained in human terms. For those who had faith, God gave the comfort of knowing that even if they didn't survive the current crisis, they would have eternity with Him in heaven. They understood that all things come to them through God's hands, so that they could know Him and His love for them in a much deeper way, to help them become more like Christ, and so that many would see His glory. If their suffering brought others to God, they rejoiced that God used them." and "More puzzling was that American Christians didn't seem to live much differently than their unbelieving neighbors...How could people with such freedom to serve God not take seriously their responsibilities to live as holy people?" (an observation made by a Ukrainian Christian couple when they first came to America). Great question, isn't it?!!!

4. Free Kindle edition on Amazon (at the time of this posting): Courageous by Randy Alcorn and Beautiful Battlefields by Bo Stern (I'm currently reading this book and will post my review next Saturday).

You can read my review of Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved and enter to win a a copy of this awesome book (Don't let the title put you off; it's really a must-read!) at . Ends 3/9

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