Monday, June 30, 2014

The Reality Is Found in Christ

- The ceremonial laws, holy days, and feasts of the Old Testament are referred to as shadows because they symbolically depicted the coming of Christ. The reality is found in Christ who fulfilled the Law. "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship." (Hebrews 10:1) These observances were being imposed by the false teachers and threatened to draw the people from Christ back into the shadow of the former age. To impose such laws/rules/regulations on others as tests of spiritual maturity is in fact a definite sign of Christian immaturity and error.
- "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) Do not let anyone put the burden of keeping these observances on you. "But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces (principles)? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you." (Galatians 4:9-11) "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Romans 14:17)

Sun and Shield

- The Lord is "the Sun of Righteousness". "For you who revere My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves." (Malachi 4:2) Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the glorious Source of the light of life. The light of His presence dispels darkness and helps us see the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Christ exposes sin for what it is and shines the light of His forgiveness upon us. The Lord, as a sun, enlightens our mind, warms our heart, and refreshes our soul. He leads/guides/directs us.
- The Lord is our Shield/our Protector. He is our Defense who deflects the enemy's attacks and protects us in our spiritual warfare. The attacks might be temptation, lies, doubts, depression, discouragement, fear, or failure, etc. Whatever Satan or the world may throw at us, we can always rely on God to be our Shield. When the Lord Almighty is our Shield, we need not fear anything or anyone. "You, Lord, are a Shield around me, my Glory, the One who lifts my head high." (Psalm 3:3) "The Lord is my Strength and my Shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me." (Psalm 28:7a) "We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield." (Psalm 33:20)
- The Lord gives us grace/favor and glory/honor. Not only are we saved by grace alone, but also we live/survive each day by His grace. “But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) When we face trials in life, God’s grace always sustains us and strengthens us. His grace is sufficient for you and me in any situation. When we fail, God's grace is there to forgive us and remind us that He loves us no matter what.The Lord also gives us eternal glory and honor as His adopted children.
- The Lord withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. From those who walk by faith in obedience to Him, He will not withhold anything that is good for them ("good" according to His will, wisdom, plans, and purposes, not ours). If we don't get what we ask for, it must not be a good thing for us in God's sight. "God's withholdings are as great a blessing to us as His bestowings!" (~J.R. Miller) God's answers are always wiser than our prayers.
- Blessed are those who trust/who put their confidence in the Lord Almighty! Eternally happy! Just look at the previous verse, God Himself is our Provider and Protector. He gives us grace and glory. We can trust God to give us everything that is good for us. Every spiritual blessing is available to us. We're truly blessed. All we need to do is trust and obey.

Friday, June 27, 2014

He Nailed It

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:13-15
- Even when we were spiritually dead and rebellious in our sins, polluted by Satan & worldliness, and enslaved to our sinful nature (fleshly desires), God chose to love us and make us alive with Christ. God forgave us all our sins and canceled the penalty of sin by nailing it to the cross. Because of Christ's death in our place, we're forgiven and free...justified/not guilty. What the law demands (punishment for sin) was fully paid by Jesus on the cross. He paid the debt we could never pay! "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)
- No powers or authorities can come against Jesus. He conquered death and Satan. Ironically, Satan thought he defeated Jesus by crucifying Him but in reality, it was God's plan for redemption and triumphant Christ defeated His enemies through His death and resurrection. The powers holding mankind captive were defeated; therefore, in Christ, we have victory over sin and death. "By His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held  in slavery by their fear of death." (Hebrews 2:14b-15)

Friday's Fave Five #98

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

My Fave Five this week:

1. Congratulations to my daughter! 4.0 GPA for her first year at OSU (while doing AFROTC, interning at the TV station on campus, and volunteering as part of Arnold Air Society), got a part-time job for next school year as the Beaver News Director, and now serving on a one-month mission trip with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Seattle (which includes a Department of Corrections internship and outreach to the homeless, inner city youth, and prisoners). Please keep her and the whole summer project crew in your prayers. Thanks!

2. Fantastic feast + Bocce blast + lots of laughter = What a wonderful way to start summer off with :)! We spent our first day of summer at my father-in-law's house having so much fun. The weather was "perfect", too.

3. I made a power-packed slushy. Mangoes, mandarin oranges, cherries, apple juice, and crushed ice. Very refreshing!

4. Have you seen this cool video of 5 cute Korean kids playing guitar: ?

5. We signed up a family membership at YMCA. I tried a Zumba class for the first time. It was fun :).

Bonus: You can enter to win a copy of Veil of Tears DVD at . It's an eye-opening documentary film about the oppression that women in India have been facing. Ends 6/28 (tomorrow at midnight Pacific time)!

Approach with Confidence

- Jesus Christ is our High Priest who can empathize with us. He understands. In His humanity, Christ was familiar with our needs, temptations, and problems. Satan tempted Him in the wilderness but He didn't succumb to the temptation; He did not sin. He overcame each temptation with God's Word. We don't have to sin when facing temptations, either. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) "The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible." (~D. L. Moody)
- When Jesus breathed His last breath, the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (a place reserved by God for Himself) was torn in two from top to bottom. Jesus's death for our sins opened up the way for us to approach our holy God. God granted us (those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) a direct access to Him. Before Christ's death on the cross, "only the high priest entered the inner room (the Holy of Holies), and that only once a year (on the Day of Atonement), and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance." (Hebrews 9:7) Before Christ's death on the cross, most people were only allowed partial access to God through the priests. I'm so thankful that God made a way for us to have fellowship with Him. Because of Christ's death and resurrection, we've been given access to our Heavenly Father through prayer (no priests needed). May we never take the privilege of prayer for granted! The curtain is gone; we can now enter boldly into the presence of God with our petitions. Because Christ is our High Priest (and Intercessor), we can approach God with total confidence. He is able and He is faithful to meet our every need. Want help? Pray.
- "Prayer should be...constant, fervent, believing, hopeful, and incessant. God loves it, Satan hates it, and every true Christian values it. True prayer is always necessary, profitable and acceptable to God." (~James Smith) Prayer is my sweet spot of rest and comfort where I can leave all my burdens and troubles and receive a loving welcome and attention from my Heavenly Father. The purpose of prayer is not to have God answer according to our will and desires, but to have our hearts and mind line up with His will and desires. Feel anxious, hurt, discouraged, misunderstood, etc.? Jesus says, "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) He loves you and longs to give you all the grace, mercy, and strength that you need to walk victoriously through any situation.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I'm so thankful that I can come to You anytime, anywhere and tell you about anything. I'm so glad that You never get tired of listening to my prayers and that You're always available. Please continue to transform my heart and mind to be like Christ's. Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace and mercy! Thank You for being my Refuge, Strength, and Ever-present Hep in time of need! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Circumcised by Christ

"In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead." Colossians 2:11-12

- For the Israelites, circumcision was a sign that the person stood in covenant relationship with God. For Christians, Christ's death and resurrection is the true circumcision and water baptism is the parallel sign of the covenant relationship. By the death of Christ, He gave us forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God and by His resurrection, He gave us eternal life and victory over sin and spiritual death.
- In Christ, we receive spiritual circumcision, instead of physical circumcision. We become a new creation and walk in newness of life; our flesh/sinful nature is put off and we put on Christ, instead. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Romans 13:14) Baptism (demonstrating our union with our Savior's death and resurrection) represents the death and burial of our old sinful lives and the resurrection to new life in Christ. "We were therefore buried with Him (Christ) through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life...Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." (Romans 6:4, 11-12)
 "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3:27)
"The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live." (Deuteronomy 30:6)
"A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person's praise is not from other people, but from God." (Romans 2:28-29)
"For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3)

This Is Love

It's not our love for God but it's God's love for us that sent Jesus to be the Way to take away our sins. Out of love, God gave His one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice (propitiation) for our sin. This is true love (agape). Agape love is unconditional, sacrificial, and selfless. God's love never depends on the receiver of the love. God loves the guilty, the rebellious, the wicked, the ungrateful, the unloving. He offered His Son to rescue us regardless of our decision to accept or reject Jesus, His gracious Gift. He did not wait for us to love Him first before showing His love to us. God loved you to death (literally) before you did anything deserving of love. Christ's death on the cross was the ultimate expression of God's love for mankind. The most glorious display of His lovingkindness!
- Since God loved us so much to the extent of giving His only Son to die in our place, we ought to love one another. Our love for one another is modeled and motivated by God's love for us. John uses the Greek verb opheilo ("to owe, ought to, be obligated to") three times in this letter (verses 2:6; 3:16; and 4:11) Do we faithfully fulfill our obligation? "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." ~Jesus (John 13:34-35) "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)

No one has ever seen God. The only way God Who is Love can be "seen" is by His children's loving one another. God's love is made complete (accomplishes its full purpose) when we love like Jesus. People cannot see God, but they can see that He is real and active in our lives when we love one another. People cannot see God, but they can see His power working within us when we love one another with agape love. "No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, Who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known." (John 1:18) When we love one another, we demonstrate that Christ lives in us. Christ's love enables us to initiate sacrificial, unconditional, selfless love for others before they do anything for us and without expecting anything in return. Let's live out loud the love of our Lord!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me before I even knew You! Thank You for Christ's sacrifice for my sins! My heart is overwhelmed with Your unfailing & unconditional love for me. Please love through me love others with Your agape love. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the Head over ever power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10
- "In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form"--This refutes the Gnostic teaching that matter is evil since the Deity Himself has been manifest in bodily form of Jesus. The "fullness" refers to the totality of God's nature and attributes.
- In Christ, we have been brought to fullness. Union with Christ is sufficient because Christ is the Head over every power and authority. Christians are complete in Christ alone. No one else and nothing else will ever make us complete. In 2006, I wrote the following poem, "Complete in Christ".

Complete in Christ

Philosophy, psychology
Idolatry, ceremony
They do not set us free.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Legalism, mysticism, asceticism
Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism
Don't be fooled and trapped in man-made religions.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Spiritual formulas, worldly principles
Self-help books, staged miracles
These won't save us. Don't be gullible.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Elaborate church buildings, expensive programs
Certain prayer patterns...we have to discern
Don't be captivated. Don't be intimidated.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Popularity, plastic surgery
Model looks, designer clothes
Don't be envious. We don't need those.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Drugs, cults, New Age, evolution
Power, portfolios, prosperity
Don't be led astray. Don't love money.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Luxurious homes, acres & acres of land
Private planes, latest high-tech gadgets, fancy cars
We don't need anything extra.
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Degrees, recognition, career
Costly hobbies, social status, approval of peers
Think of heaven, not just now and here
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

Human regulations, immediate gratification
Sensual indulgence, collection of things
They give us no peace. True joy..they don't bring
We are complete in Christ...Christ alone.

~ Copyright 2006 Urailak Liljequist

Amazing Grace

- 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. We cannot earn God's salvation or love. We cannot go to Heaven by observing the law. By His grace, God offers us the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. No words can adequately describe the depth and magnitude of God’s amazing grace. The more we realize how wretched we are, the more we understand, appreciate, and embrace God’s grace. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus...For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law." (Romans 3:23-24, 28)
- 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, righteousness, inheritance, and eternal life not because we are good, but because He is good. That's pure grace. “To the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:6-8)
- We're not saved by works but we're saved for good works (verse 10). Works are the fruit of salvation, not the cause of it. No one can boast, brag, or take credit for his/her salvation. No spiritual pride is allowed. Even our faith is a gift from God. God wants His saved/redeemed children to live fruitful lives in obedience to His Word and His will, reflecting His love & His light to others and glorifying Him in whatever they do. Good works are simply an overflowing of our faith in God and our love & gratitude to God. What we believe should affect the way we live. Grace transforms lives. Obedience/fruit/work is the tangible evidence of saving faith and transformed life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

See to It

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8
- The elemental spiritual forces of this world refers to false, worldly, religious, elementary teachings. Paul warned people against the Colossian heresy which taught that to be saved, one needed faith in Christ plus secret knowledge plus man-made regulations such as circumcision, eating & drinking, and observing religious festivals. Any philosophy or teaching that exalts man, instead of Christ...that doesn't believe in the all-sufficiency of Christ is false/deceptive.
- Follow hard after Christ. Study God's Word so that we know God more and become so familiar with the truth that we can immediately detect any lies/any false teachings. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)
- Be aware of the problem of basing our beliefs on hollow & deceptive philosophy, human tradition, and basic worldly principles. They are all worthless and vain (no matter how good they sound) if they are not of Christ, through Christ, and unto Christ. Be careful not to allow any traditions and rituals to replace a vibrant, intimate relationship with Christ. "The Lord says: 'These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'" (Isaiah 29:13) When you have troubles or problems, where do you turn to first? Christ and His Word or self-help book? Christ is the Embodiment of all wisdom. Intellectualism can be appealing and addictive. Most people want to be thought of as intelligent so they keep searching for new knowledge and insights. There's nothing wrong with learning and knowing but it's wrong when you start to be in love with your mind or with learning, instead of the Lord.
- "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" (Romans 12:2a) "Never be satisfied with the world's standard of Christianity!" (~J.C. Ryle)

Because of God's Great Love, Mercy, and Grace

- Even when we were spiritually dead in transgressions, polluted by Satan & worldliness, and enslaved to our sinful nature (fleshly desires), God chose to love us and make us alive with Christ. God is indeed rich in mercy and abounding in love. He loves us so deeply and extravagantly, not because of who we are or what we do but because of Who He is. God loves us with His perfect love. "This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
- The Bible says that we deserve death, punishment, and God’s wrath. However, because of God’s abundant mercy, we do not get what we deserve. By grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone, God sovereignly bestows the gift of eternal life on us sinners (salvation) and declares us righteous (justification). We don't deserve it but God loves us and rescues us anyway. "Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression...? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." (Micah 7:18) "When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy." (Titus 3:4-5a)
- Life before Christ is lifeless, meaningless, and hopeless. Life without Christ is a death sentence. Only God can bring life out of death and hope out of despair. We are made alive in Christ's resurrection. "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life....The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus...For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:4, 10-11, 14) Now we are dead to sin and alive with Christ/in Christ by the power of God.
 - Those who have received God's mercy are to reach out to those who need His mercy. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36) May we extend the same grace and mercy we receive from God to others and may we love others with the love of the Lord!
- Receive God's grace & mercy, embrace His love for you, let go of those feelings that pull you down (guilt, shame, rejection, inadequacy, etc.), and live free! "Life is what we are alive to. It is not length but breadth.... Be alive to...goodness, kindness, purity, love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God, and eternal hope." (Maltbie D. Babcock)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Live in Christ with Thankfulness

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

- In Christ alone, through Christ alone, because of Christ alone, and by Christ alone, we've been saved and allowed to enter the Kingdom of God. And that's the way we should continue to live our lives. The secret to Christian living is Christ. The secret to spiritual growth is Christ.
- Christ lives in us and we live in Christ. O the beauty of believers' intimate, spiritual union with Christ! Just as you received Christ Jesus by faith with gratitude, continue to walk in Him by faith with overflowing thankfulness. "This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:5-6) Do our lives reflect Christ? Our words, attitudes, and actions should flow out of our relationship with Christ. We need a continual abiding in Christ to be able to bear much fruit for God. "I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Cling to Christ. Constantly walk in His steps. To Know Him more and to make Him known! Live intentionally in Christ and for Christ everywhere we go. Be His witnesses in the world.
- Rooted in Christ--Our identity is in Christ. It's so important to know Who Christ is and who we are in Christ. In Christ, we're saved, alive, born again, blessed, forgiven, free, loved, righteous, and holy. We are children of God and co-heirs with Christ. Just as plants draw nourishment through the roots, so we draw our nourishment, power, and strength from Christ, Who is the Source of Life. In Him we have unlimited supply of everything we ever need. We can rest in our blessed assurance of salvation. Our fruitful spiritual life hinges upon living in active dependence upon Christ. When we're rooted and grounded in Christ, we'll be able to withstand any storms of life. Unmoved and unshaken.
- Built up in Christ--Maturity in Christ. Sanctification is a process. Are we growing in Christlikeness? "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18a) "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." ~Jesus (Matthew 7:24-25)
- Strengthened in the faith--"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace." (Hebrews 13:9a) "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." (Ephesians 3:16-17a) "Strengthen me according to Your Word." (Psalm 119:28b) "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13) Stand firm in the truths God has taught you in His Word. It will strengthen your faith muscle.
- Overflowing with thankfulness--When we truly realize the measureless depth and extent of God's love, grace, and mercy for us, we can't help but be abounding with thanksgiving. Christ is the Greatest Gift of all! God's presence is the Best Present! God gives us Himself; I'm forever grateful! Christ alone is my Lord, Savior, Life, Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, and Christ alone I will proclaim, praise, & exalt!

Christ Died for Us

- "The right time" refers to the appointed time in God's redemption plan. At just the right time, Christ undid what Adam did.
- We were powerless/helpless to save ourselves. We all need a Savior to rescue us.
- Christ died for the ungodly. "Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick....For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Matthew 9:12, 13b) He died for all the sin-sick souls. Some people wrongly believe that they have to clean up their acts first before they can surrender their lives to Christ. They have it backwards. We must surrender our lives to Christ first and the Holy Spirit will sanctify us.
- This is how God demonstrates His own love for us: Christ died for us while we were still sinners. God went to extreme measures to reveal His love for us. While we were still living (but dead) in sin and rebellion, God of all creation stepped out of Heaven and gave His life for ours. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve so that we may gain forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life with Him. Christ's love is grounded in God's pure grace and does not depend on any inherent worthiness found in us, but on His own desire to give it. A perfect Savior died for wicked sinners. Inconceivable! He died instead of us. He died on behalf of us. He died so that we may live.
- This is indeed amazing love! Unconditional love. Sacrificial love. Selfless love. Redeeming love. Measureless love. Eternal love. If you ever want to know how much you've been loved, just look to the cross of Christ. What Christ did on the cross was the ultimate proof of God's utmost love for us. God loves us in spite of our sins, failures, mistakes, etc. God doesn’t love us because we are lovable but because God is Love (that's who He is) and He is always loving. When you feel unloved, try meditating on the above verses. Remember how God shows His great love for you and consider how generous He has been with you. I hope you all will be able to comprehend "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge." (Ephesians 3:18b, 19a). You're so very loved by GOD, the Creator of the universe....enough for Him to die for!

"When you love the unloving, you get a glimpse of what God does for you." ~ Max Lucado

Friday, June 20, 2014

Don't be Deceived!

"I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:4-5
- Paul warned the Colossians because he didn't want them to be deceived by enticing words/persuasive reasoning. Gnosticism is a heresy that emphasizes philosophy and knowledge. Paul was stating his purpose for his preceding message.
- Paul was not present with the Colossians physically but he was present with them in spirit because believers are one in the in the Spirit.
- Paul appealed to the Colossians to return to the Christ-centered Gospel. He was filled with joy to see their disciplined lives and their steadfast faith in Christ.

New Every Morning

- Jeremiah was depressed but then he shifted his focus. Verse 21 says, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope." He remembered and turned his thoughts to the character and promises of God, instead of his problems. We will do well to learn from him :). These verses bring great hope, assurance, comfort, and encouragement to weary souls.

- Praise God for His unfailing, measureless, fresh-every-morning love and compassions (mercies)! Because of these, we are not consumed no matter what fiery trials we have to go through. God is faithful to be with us, to love us, to show us His grace, mercy, & compassion day in and day out.

- God has been faithful and will continue to be faithful. He always keeps His promises. I'd like to encourage you all to write down ways in which God has been faithful in your life. It is very important to remember God's faithfulness...lest we forget. It encourages us, helps us keep on keeping on, reminds us that God cares about the details of our lives, strengthens our faith, and challenges us to cling to Him no matter what.

- Who doesn't like a fresh start :)? Don't allow yesterday's mistakes ruin today's joy! We live in the presence of a loving, forgiving, compassionate, merciful, faithful God! "Remind yourself every day you get up and everywhere you go, 'I am in the presence of God.'" (Alistair Begg) God meets our daily needs daily. We get to experience a fresh dose of God's love, grace, and mercy every brand new day. When you feel distressed or depressed and/or feel like giving up, please remember, recount, and rest in God's faithfulness. He never gives up on you! Live loved!

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies." (Psalm 36:5)
"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in Heaven itself." (Psalm 89:1-2)
"For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him....From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear Him." (Psalm 103:13, 17a)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Namely Christ

"I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colosssians 2:1-3
 - Paul was refuting a heresy (Gnosticism) that emphasized knowledge/"higher thought" as the means of salvation and on the strict observance of certain Jewish requirements almost to the point of ascetism. Paul once again tried to point people back to the deity and all-sufficiency of Christ. He is the Embodiment of God's wisdom and knowledge. "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6)
- Paul's goal for the Colossians, the Laodiceans, and others is that they might be comforted, strengthened, encouraged, united by love and truth (complete understanding of Christ). "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, Who created all things....In Him (Christ) and through faith in Him (Christ) we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (Ephesians 3:7-9, 12)

Chosen, Royal, Priestly, Holy, and Peculiar

- We are a chosen people. "For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." (Ephesians 1:4) We are God's choice. "'You are My witnesses,' declares the Lord, 'and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He...I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to My people, My chosen, the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise.'" (Isaiah 43:10a, 20b, 21)
- We are a royal priesthood. "As you come to Him, the Living Stone--rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4-5) Because Christ's sacrifice gives us direct access to the throne of God, we Christ's followers become royal priests. Each one of us is to function as a royal priest whose purpose is to serve God, our King.  Aside from living a holy life in a close relationship with God, our main duty is to bring others closer to Him. As royal priests, we are also to be clothed in a special way :). "Put on the armor of light...Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13:12b, 14) "As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience...And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:12, 14) "He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10b)
- We are a holy nation. "'You will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'" (Exodus 19:6a) The Hebrew word for holy is kadosh which means set apart or sanctified for dedicated service. God sets apart His children to serve Him in wholehearted devotion. We're called to be stand be peculiar for Christ.
- We are God's special possession. We are the people belonging to God. "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession." (Deuteronomy 7:6)
- We are saved to proclaim the praises/excellencies of Him Who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. "Giving joyful thanks to the Father, Who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:12) "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)  "I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders." (Psalm 9:1) We, the redeemed, are no longer under the dominion of darkness (evil) but under the rule of Jesus Christ. We are now children of light living in the kingdom of light. In the Bible, light represents truth, holiness (purity), love, and life. We've been rescued to reflect our Redeemer, the Light of the World!
- Because of our relationship with Christ, we've been chosen by God, appointed as royal priests, considered holy, treasured as God's special possession, and called to live in His marvelous light, declaring the praises of Him. None of the titles and status above come from our achievement. Our worth and value come solely from what Christ has done for us, not from anything we do.
- Do you see yourself as God sees you? YOU are loved by God, chosen by God, treasured by God, royal, priestly, and holy in God's eyes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Christ Working Powerfully in Me

"He is the One we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:28-29
It should be the goal for every Christian ministry to proclaim Christ, to admonish & teach everyone with all wisdom in order to help them become fully mature in Christ. We must always labor/serve God faithfully and strenuously not with our own strength but with Christ's power and strength working in us. Christ gives us all the energy we need.

"My dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." (Philippians 2:12-13)

No Condemnation

- The Law brings condemnation because it points out and condemns sin. Because of our sin, we deserve punishment and Hell. But because of Christ, we've been set free from condemnation/punishment. We are now in Christ under grace, no longer under law. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:17-18)
- "Thanks be to God, Who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:25) Since the deliverance comes through Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation for us who are in Him. There is no punishment for us because Jesus took our judgment/ punishment for us on the cross. The Law was fully satisfied in the sacrifice that Christ made of Himself for sins. The mission of redemption was accomplished. We shall never have to stand before the judgment of God for our sins. We've been declared not guilty for eternity. In Christ, we not only have all our sins forgiven, but also have a new birth/new life (walking in steps with the Spirit, not according to the flesh).
- Jesus died to forgive all our sins and wrongdoings (past, present, future...every single one). "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36) When we don't forgive ourselves and keep holding on to guilt & condemnation, it's like saying that Christ's blood wasn't enough to cleanse our sin. No sin is greater than the depths of God's grace and love. Guilt and regrets are not from God; they weigh us down and hold us back. Don't beat yourself up. If you've confessed and repented, God has forgiven you. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7) The next time Satan tries to remind you of your sin/your past mistakes, just remind him of his future (see yesterday's verse) and of Christ's blood that washes all your sins away & makes you white as snow (deemed righteous) before God. Rejoice each day in God's gift of forgiveness and righteousness! Wrap yourself in God's unending, unconditional love for you; live freely, unashamedly, confidently & courageously!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mystery Solved

"The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the Hope of Glory." Colossians 1:26-27

What is the mystery? The mystery is Christ in us, the Hope of Glory. This mystery was hidden until Christ came to earth. God's secret plan was to have His Son, Jesus Christ, live in the hearts of all who believe in Him, including the Gentiles. Even the Gentiles (this is part of the mystery because it had not been previously revealed that the Gentiles would be admitted to the Church on equal terms with Israel). "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 3:6)

The mystery is our union with Christ, through Whom God gives salvation and righteousness. Christ Himself is our Wisdom, our Life, our Hope of Glory. "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)

"Now to Him Who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith--to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen." (Romans 16:25-27)

"He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment--to bring unity to all things in Heaven and on earth under Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-10)

"Beyond all question, the mystery from which true Godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:16)

The Accuser Is Going Down!

Heaven is rejoicing at the overthrow of Satan, our Accuser. The emphasis here is on the salvation, the power & the kingdom of God, and the authority of Christ. Praise God for the final outcome! The victory belongs to the Lord. The ending gives us hope.

By Jesus's death on the cross (by the blood of the Lamb), our sin is atoned for; we're completely forgiven. Not only that, Christ's righteousness is also imputed to us (those who trust in the finished work of Christ at the cross). The Accuser has nothing to accuse against us any more. Jesus set us free from all accusations. "It is finished!" (John 19:30a) "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

It is so important for us to go to God's Word for truth and not rely on what feelings or others tell us. We must learn to distinguish between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of Satan. There's a difference between guilt and conviction. God uses conviction to draw us back to Him in repentance. Satan, on the other hand, uses guilt to drive a wedge between us and draw us away from God. The devil loves to whisper lies to God's children trying to convince them that they're unworthy, unloved, and inadequate.

Be encouraged. Satan is no match for our God. Remember that your worth and identity are in Christ alone.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Life Work by Randy Harris

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

                      Randy Harris

and the book:

Life Work: Confessions of an Everyday Disciple

Leafwood Publishers (2014)

***Special thanks to Ryan Self of Leafwood Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

RANDY HARRIS is a popular speaker at conferences, churches, and college campuses across the United States and around the world. He is a professor of theology and ethics at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, and has received numerous awards for his classroom work. He holds degrees from Harding School of Theology and Syracuse University, and is the author of God Work: Confessions of a Stand-up Theologian (2009), Soul Work: Confessions of a Part-Time Monk (2011), and other books. He is a single Christian who grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas.

What does minimal human ethics look like? Can Christians really be followers of Jesus in the way they live today? In his own unique style, Randy Harris wrestles with these and other ethical issues facing Christians and all humanity.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 157 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0-89112-459-7

My Review:

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? This book is about ethics and Christian conduct. I found ethical dilemmas in the beginning chapters quite intriguing. The author covers different ethical theories and presents 7 principles of a minimally decent ethic. In addition, he offers what he thinks Christian ethics should embrace. He encourages believers to live a surrendered, cruciformed life. The book includes certain attitudes and practices that help us become more mature followers of Jesus Christ. The author also shares what he has learned from some dead (such as St. Francis, St. John of the Cross, Soren Kierkegaard, St. Benedict) and living Christians (such as those in the new monasticism)

The book is divided into 4 sections: On Ethics, On Cruciformity, Fellow Travelers, and Shalom. What's pluralistic deontology? He explains that, too. The author believes that the world operates by fear and power. In contrast, Christians should be living out the self-sacrificing story of the cross and should be practicing peace. He thinks silence and solitude are sorely missing among Christians. Our spiritual maturity is measured by how in tune with God we are. Life Work is a thought-provoking read. Let's make our lives count for God's glory and for God's kingdom!

"We need a strong dose of respect for autonomy and what goes with it--the acceptance of responsibility." (p. 48)

"Distraction is the single greatest threat to our spiritual lives...A great leap toward Christian maturity is becoming less distracted." (p. 83)

"What I want to do is to get so in tune with God, be so attentive to God, be so non-distracted and in sync with God, that when I act, I always act out of the Spirit of God within me." (p. 86)

"This prayer is an attempt to see the world through God's eyes, to think His thoughts after him, to love what He loves, and hates what He hates." (p. 106)

~ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ACU Press/Leafwood Publishers in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rejoice in Suffering

"Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the Church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the Word of God in its fullness." Colossians 1:24-25
- Paul was not only willing to suffer for the Church but also rejoicing in that privilege :).
- Our union with Christ includes our union with Christ's sufferings. We, His followers, share Christ's sufferings because we have been redeemed. "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him." (Philippians 1:29)
- Paul certainly knew suffering. By preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, Paul experienced all sorts of affliction...beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment, and other persecutions. Christ suffered on the cross to atone for sin, and Paul filled up Christ's afflictions by experiencing the added sufferings that came with carrying the Good News of Christ's atonement to a lost world. Suffering is unavoidable in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. But this suffering can be endured joyfully because we know that the Gospel transforms lives and brings people into God's kingdom. That's definitely a great reason to rejoice!
- The Word of God is brought to its intended purpose only when it is proclaimed. Paul became a servant of Christ...a servant of the Church. Paul's commission is to proclaim the Word of God in its fullness to those in Colosse and elsewhere.

"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:5-7

"But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me." Philippians 2:17-18

"Since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God...Rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you...If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name... So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." 1 Peter 4:1-2, 13-14, 16, 19

"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus." Revelation 1:9

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." Romans 8:17

Be Self-controlled and Alert!

- Satan, God's and our Enemy, is real and is actively and aggressively seeking to destroy all that God loves, especially us, His beloved children. Satan is never satisfied with the prey he has already gotten; he always prowls around looking for more. He is ravenously hungry for us. He is roaring insults, accusations, and lies at us to intimidate us, to get us to doubt God and/or stay away from God, to make us feel unloved, unworthy, and unfruitful for the kingdom of God.
- Spiritual warfare is real but we don't have to be afraid of it. Our God is stronger than our adversary. He gives us power through Jesus Christ to overcome all attacks from the devil. First, we must stay alert, be watchful/vigilant, and be self-controlled. Don't let down your guard. Beware of the real danger. Watch out for Satan and his tricks & temptations. His schemes are cleverly hidden and disguised. He loves to make sin look sweet and God's principles burdensome. Stay alert to recognize his tactics; be aware of his schemes. Know your Enemy but more importantly, know God (and His Word) so that we will know how to respond, defend ourselves, and defeat our Enemy. Don't let him outwit us. We're told to resist him. Stand firm and strong in the faith, in God's truths, in the Holy Spirit's power and we'll have courage to say no to all ungodliness and be able to overcome evil. Put on the full armor of God daily (Ephesians 6:10-18). "Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
- Perhaps Peter remembered his own difficulty in staying alert during our Lord's prayer in Gethsemane. Jesus said to His disciples whom He found sleeping, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) When we are weak (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually), suffering, feeling lonely, feeling sorry for ourselves, focusing on our troubles/circumstances, isolating ourselves from fellowship with other believers, ignoring spending time with God in prayer & in His Word, we tend to forget to watch for danger and we are more vulnerable to Satan's attacks. Keep your eyes on Christ always. Satan tries to keep us from living freely and fruitfully for Christ. If you're feeling weary today, run to Jesus and let His love empower you to face every fear, worry, and discouragement that Satan throws at you. Don't listen to him...don't believe his lies. Unseen spiritual battles must be fought in Christ's name and by the power of His blood. "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) The devil is to be resisted through divine grace and power. Remember that we're more than conquerors through Christ. A surrendered life (to Christ) is a victorious life. As we humble ourselves and rest at Jesus's feet, He promises to give us everything we need to live a victorious, godly life. Pride is an open door inviting Satan to have a field day. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
- "Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You." (Psalm 143:9)
There are definitely spiritual enemies. Thankfully, our lives are in the hands of Almighty God who loves us and cares about us. He is our Refuge, Rock, Fortress, Shield, and Strength. God's grace and strength sustain us and help us be victorious over our enemies. God gives us His Word and His wisdom. Be wise in how you spend your time, treasures, and talents. Be wise and careful in what you allow to enter in your lives, your home, your family. Satan often uses ungodly "friends", books, movies, TV shows, songs, games, media, internet, false teachers, worldly pleasures, etc. to poison people's hearts, mind, and soul. Be self-controlled; control selves! Keep your distance from anything remotely connected with Satan and his power such as occult.
- Some interesting quotes to ponder:
"The devil is willing for a person to profess Christianity as long as he does not practice Christianity." ~Unknown
"He who delays his repentance pawns his soul with the devil." ~Unknown
"God put the Church in the world. Satan seeks to put the world in the Church." ~Unknown
"One of the devil's snares is to occupy us with the past and future so as to take away our peace for the present." ~Unknown
"If Satan can't make us bad, he'll make us busy." John West

Friday, June 13, 2014

Perseverance in Faith and Hope in the Gospel

"If you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under Heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant." Colossians 1:23
These are responses God expects from us: perseverance in faith and steadfast hope in the gospel. Perseverance is the fruit proven by the testing of our faith, which leads to spiritual maturity. "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:19-20) 

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us." (Romans 5:1-5)

"Hope in the Lord is not a wish but an absolute assurance that man can be snatched from the fire of destruction and be saved into new life--changed by the mercy of Jesus Christ and declared righteous before His throne of grace." (~Billy Graham) Let us remain faithful and hopeful...come what may!

Paul became a servant of the Gospel. Me, too :)! "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts 20:24)

The New Covenant

- Here God tells us that the New Covenant will supersede the Old Covenant. Through Christ, God establishes a blood covenant/a marriage covenant with us that lasts forever. Through Christ, the Old Covenant is fulfilled and its purpose is accomplished. "In fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which He is Mediator is superior to the old one, since the New Covenant is established on better promises." (Hebrews 8:6)
- God will put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts, not on tablets of stones as He did the Ten Commandments. By His Holy Spirit, He gives us the desire to love and obey Him. He empowers us to obey and live holy lives. His Word governs our thoughts, words, and actions. God intends that His Word will transform us from the inside out. Head knowledge alone (without transformation) results in pride and legalism. "You are a letter from Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Corinthians 3:3)
- Christ made it possible for us to have a personal, eternal relationship with know God experientially. Through Christ's shed blood for us, we've been justified and received the complete forgiveness of sin (past, present, and future) from God. "For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy...And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary." (Hebrews 10:14, 18)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

From Alienated Enemies to Holy Children and Friends of God

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation." Colossians 1:21-22
- Because of sin/evil behavior, we were enemies of God; we were alienated from God. We were hostile to His standards/holiness.
- Christ, Who is fully God and fully man, died physically in our place to pay for the penalty of our sin. His death on the cross redeemed us and reconciled us to God.
- Justification through faith in Christ alone. Through Christ's shed blood for us, we've been justified and received the complete forgiveness of sin (past, present, and future) from God. In addition, Christ's righteousness has been imputed upon us, His children. All God sees when He looks at us is Christ's righteousness. Because of Christ, we have been declared holy, without blemish, not guilty, and free from accusation and condemnation. "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:22) "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)

True God and Eternal Life

- The Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). God wants us to know with certainty that we are eternally secure in Christ, that Jesus is the true God and that He Himself is our Eternal Life. It is extremely important to know and believe in the true God/true Jesus Christ of the Bible. Many false teachers preach a different Jesus (minimizing or denying His deity).
- The Scriptures teach that we can know with absolute confidence that we have eternal life. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. What a glorious union! This confidence/assurance is not based on our feelings but is founded upon the promises of our Faithful God in His Word. It depends not on the amount or strength of our faith but on the object of our faith--Jesus Christ. "I know Whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day." (2 Timothy 1:12b)
- It is so fitting for John to put verse 21 right after this verse, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." Since we are the children of the True God, why should we ever be going after idols/false gods? We must guard ourselves from idols (substitutes for true God; anything that occupies the place due to God). Are our devotion and trust placed in Christ alone?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

God's Fullness in Christ

"For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him (Christ) to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:19-20
- God's fullness is in Christ. Jesus is totally God with all God's powers and attributes. "In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:3) "Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness!" (John 1:16) "In the person, character and work of Christ--is included all that man can need and all that God can give!" (~Cornelius Tyree, "The Glorious Sufficiency of Christ" 1879)
- Christ's death (and His shed blood) on the cross provided a way for us to make peace with God and be reconciled to Him. "For He Himself (Christ) is our Peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to created in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." (Ephesians 2:14-18) "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!" (Romans 5:1, 9-10)

A Heart to Know God

- A heart to know God is a gift from God! This verse shows the gracious and merciful nature of God. He is God of second chances; He is God of restoration!
- He will give His people a heart that is tender, responsive, loving, obedient...a heart completely devoted to Him and longing to serve Him fully and faithfully.
"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new Spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws. They will be My people, and I will be their God." (Ezekiel 11:19-20) "I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws." (Ezekiel 36:26-27) What's our part? Seek Him and surrender our lives to Him! "Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13)
- He desires us to seek Him, know Him, follow Him with an undivided heart, and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He, the Creator of the Universe, wants us sinners to have an intimate relationship with Him. Truly beyond comprehension!

DVD Review and Giveaway: Veil of Tears

Veil of Tears is a documentary film that tells the story of women in India who are terribly oppressed and yet not without hope. It is narrated by Natalie Grant, a Grammy-nominated recording artist. Her trip to India in 2004 changed her and inspired her music & charitable pursuits. The film was shot in various regions of India. Can you imagine living in a country where you are persecuted/victimized/abused just because you're a woman? In India (and some other Asian countries), women are considered inferior to men and they get no respect. The caste system makes it worse. The dalits (aka the untouchables) are treated as sub-humans. India is a country of contrasts between the very rich and the very poor. Millions of people live in slums. Did you know that every year in India, more than 7,000 women are doused with kerosene and burned to death by their husbands? The wife’s crime: an insufficient dowry. In poverty-stricken areas, husbands usually spend their time gambling and drinking, ignoring their families. Wives have to do hard labor and often are forced to be prostitutes by their own husbands. Wives are also blamed for their husbands' deaths. Widows are abandoned. Daughters are unwanted. There are 11 million abortions a year in India.

This film is not for the faint of heart! You will be appalled at unimaginable sufferings, heart-breaking plight of some women, and the ugly horror of injustice. Despite the dark oppression, there are those who are reaching out and bringing hope to these women. Gospel for Asia (GFA) sends out native women missionaries to minister to these women with the love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ Who alone can give them eternal hope. They also provide health care, education, training, and counseling. My family and I have been long-time supporters of Gospel for Asia and we'd like to encourage you all to watch Veil of Tears (running time: 90 minutes) and check GFA out.

GIVEAWAY: You can win a copy of this DVD!
Deadline: 6/28 at midnight (Pacific time)
To Enter: Leave a comment here with your email address.

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Preeminence of Christ

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the Head of the body, the Church; He is the Beginning and the Firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy." Colossians1:17-18

- Christ is before all things. Preexistence before time. He has always existed from eternity past to eternity beyond.
- In Christ all things hold together. He has sustained everything. Christ is the Ruler of God's creation (Revelation 3:14b). "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word." (Hebrews 1:3a)
- Christ is the Head of the body, the Church. "God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:22)
- Christ is the Beginning. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End." ~Jesus (Revelation 21:6a)
- Christ is the Firstborn from among the dead. Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a resurrected body. "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
- In everything, Christ has the supremacy. Is Christ first and preeminent in your life?

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Deity and Supremacy of Jesus Christ

"The Son is the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him." Colossians 1:15-16

- Jesus is God; He is the physical, visible image of God (Who is invisible). He reveals God in human form. He's fully God and fully man. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth...No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, Who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known." (John 1:14, 18)
- Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. It doesn't mean that He was created. It means that He is Heir to the created universe. He has all the priority and authority of the Firstborn in God's kingdom. It shows the supremacy/preeminence and sovereignty of God's Son. Jesus Christ is Lord of all and Lord over all creation. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me." ~Jesus (Matthew 28:18)
- All things (in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, all powers, authorities, thrones, and rulers in the unseen spiritual world) have been created by Him, through Him, and for Him. "Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3) Although Jesus took upon Himself full humanity and lived as a man on earth, He never ceased to be the eternal God Who has always existed, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the Source of eternal life.

"In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word." (Hebrews 1:2-3a)

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