His Sweet Love Was Calling Me!

I shook my head with faint laughter, wondering why I couldn’t see myself worthy of His calling. Why would He choose me to travel with Him on a miraculous but narrow road – one with no detour signs at all, but with hidden treasures along the way. Did He see something in my heart that qualified me to take this journey with Him?

Perhaps He heard my cry for help and saw my knees barely holding me up with the heavy weight of life on my shoulders. As I searched for answers in His book, I was directed to passages describing His GRACE and LOVE. It was always His plan to make me His own. His plan fit perfectly into my weakness. I believe the gospel is too great to be easily grasped. It is simple enough to be understood, yet complex enough to be pondered for a lifetime.

His book, the bible holds the answers to my questions but sometimes I get answers, whether trivial and silly or vital, through dreams and visions. At times, it might not be the answer that I would like to hear or see, but it’s an answer nonetheless. In one of my visions, I saw myself at the age of six or seven-years-old, skipping right beside the Lord in a field. The field appeared to go on forever. The path that we were traveling was very narrow.

I had lots of questions, just like any other curious kid. Some of my questions were, “Lord, why do you have holes on the palms of your hands?” and “Where are we going?” IMG_9246 I believed He was answering me but I couldn’t hear Him very well. Perhaps He was speaking very softly or maybe I was talking too much (I have had the gift of gab since childhood). Or possibly, He was teaching me to be quick to listen and slow to speak – another good lesson for me to learn and practice. Every time I wandered from the way we were traveling, He would gently guide me back to the path. He wasn’t in hurry; He walked leisurely, seemingly having all the time of His everlasting infinity, but I kept running and trying to catch up with Him. I dreamt this vivid vision many times and each time, I asked Him the same question over and over, “Where are we going Lord?” But I couldn’t quite hear His reply. Eventually, I heard the answer. He was saying, “I’m going to the cross. Just follow Me”. I thought to myself, “The cross!? But I can’t yet see the cross.”

I wondered why Jesus showed me His wounds in the visions. Prior to having this dream, I had questioned why Jesus still had the wounds from his crucifixion after resurrection. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the risen Lord to show himself in a resurrected, perfect body, showing his complete victory over sin and death of the world? As I read more and pondered on it, the reasoning became clear.

Jesus showed his wounds to His disciples after the resurrection (and to me through visions) as a mark of His love. He is the risen Lord who conquered death, and He is also the risen Savior who entered the depths of human pain and sin. Those marks prove to us that His work is finished, and they also show us what it cost him to pay for our past and future sins. The risen Christ has scars; the resurrection did not erase them. The scars of Good Friday are on display Easter Sunday. The holes on His hands, the piercing of His feet, and the wounds in His side are the marks of His LOVE for us. Indeed, His scars covered our scars!

If we acknowledge and believe in Him and what He endured in order to bind our wounds and make us right with God, we will experience Him as the healer of our deepest scars. He knows how much we have suffered and understands what we’re going through in the present moment. We all have scars that we carry from childhood into adulthood. Some scars are visible while others are hidden and sometimes remain hidden to prevent embarrassment and further pain. There are countless inner wounds: the grief that never quite heals, the wrongs that can never be made right, memories that cannot be erased, words of hatred or betrayal that still seem to be ringing in our ears. These wounds have direct connections to our hearts and cause tears in our eyes and a knot in our stomach. We will all deal with deep wounds at some point. We can’t get through life without bruises – it’s part of life.

There was another matter that puzzled me – why would the Lord lead me to the Cross in my visions? Though I knew about the events that took place on Calvary, I believed God was wanting me to dive in deeper and immerse my heart and soul in His word. It’s hard to comprehend how one could die in place of another. But Jesus died for you, for me, and for everyone. He wants us not to forget it. Our Lord’s death on the cross was no accident. It was God’s plan before time began (Acts 2:23). It was foretold to the world through the prophets. The suffering servant In (Isaiah 53), the pierced hands and feet in (Psalm 22), no broken bones in (Psalm 34), his being given gall and vinegar in (Psalm 69), and his being beaten and spat upon in (Isaiah 50) all point to Calvary, the place where He paid the ultimate price for our past and future sins. God had a perfect plan to reach us through the blood of His Son, Christ Jesus; He is the Lamb of God. The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament served as a kind of placeholder while people waited for the true Messiah to come, when the true sacrifice would be offered. After all, the blood of animals cannot cleanse our sins (Hebrews 10:4). So the Old Testament animal sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the death of Christ on the cross.

Here is the bible story which describes Jesus’ wounds. Jesus appeared to His disciples right after His resurrection. (John 20: 18-23)
“Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that He had said these things to her. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Then Jesus appeared to Thomas, a follower who doubted Jesus’ resurrection (his rising from death after three days) just as some of us doubt. Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Then again, John tells us in verse (20:20) that Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side. “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord”. Why would the disciples be glad to see the wounds? When Jesus showed them His wounds, they witnessed the result of God’s promise. The pain they all had experienced on those last three days – the horrifying hours of watching Him die, the loneliness, hopelessness, and the emptiness they felt was over! They were overjoyed. All their fears and their hours of anguish were represented in those wounds. Now it was time for them to rejoice over their freedom.

We must understand that believing in Jesus requires us to be ready to enter a small gate and journey with Him through a narrow path. But why is the gateway of heaven small and the pathway of righteousness so narrow? Couldn’t God have made it easier for everyone? Doesn’t He want to save all his people? Of course He does. In (Matthew 7:13-14) He says clearly, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Wow! You may say, “What about God’s goodness. Just a few find it?” But He knows His children. He doesn’t put us on a scale to measure our acceptability and allow only a few to enter His presence. God left the gate open through Jesus and told us, “As we ask it will be given to us; seek and we will find; knock and the door will open.” (Matthew 7:7)

God has promised us not only the forgiveness our sins through Jesus’ victory, but also promises to walk through the small gate and narrow path of life with us. Moreover, as He teaches us how we can heal from our wounds, He lovingly strengthens us as we journey with Him on the awesome road of life.

So here is the question for you my dear friend. Are you ready to take this miraculous adventure with Him? It is filled with amazing and astonishing moments!

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Are You Ready For Your Battle?

The battle is real. The spiritual warfare that we’re facing everyday is taking place right in our hearts. What should we do? How do we defend and protect our minds and guard our thoughts before they ever reach our hearts? I personally am experiencing these challenges on a regular basis. How about you? When your heart tells you one thing and your mind says another, the worldly temptation is right at your door. Where do we even start? Sometimes, we may try to look the other way, pretending we don’t see it or hear it, but that isn’t a solution, is it?

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It takes quite an effort to recognize where the battle is coming from and begin to deal with the confusion, doubts, fears, and the lust of our hearts. Some of us don’t have a clue as to why we’re under spiritual warfare. From time to time, we all get distracted by the dazzle of this world. Sometimes it tries its hardest to deceive us. It usually happens when we take our eyes off of the light of God. In a moment, things can turn dark and we unwittingly give a foothold to the desires of our flesh. If however, we are spiritually mature, we know who is instigating these desires. Yes, it is Satan, the father of lies, who constantly tries to whisper false thoughts into our minds. His agenda is to kill, destroy, and put to shame anything that is dear to God. Once we know who we are and to whom we belong to, we recognize who is for us and who is messing with our minds and thoughts. Of course God is always for us, as it is written; “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Through one of my studies the Lord reminded me, “You will face the opposition and your faith will be tested many times throughout your life.” My reply was this, “What must I do to succeed in the testing of my soul?” I needed the certainty of God’s presence in order to get through the heavy weight of life. How can I have that kind of certainty? My search through God’s word was telling me that the only way I can have the hope of His presence through life’s severe storms is to devote time to God, asking Him to shed His Light on the rough path that I will travel. He will surely do so, as He has promised. Then I will emerge victorious with a heart filled with gratitude.

God’s light brightly shines in the darkest valleys, as well as on the mountain tops of life. He knows all our struggles and frustration. For that reason He graciously teaches us how to dress for our battles. Unfortunately, some people stubbornly reject His teaching. But He repeatedly, with mercy and grace shows the way out, for He never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

I have learned from one study (I can’t recall which one) the following:
“Transformation of our fallen heart into a pure and well-ordered heart is to practice Jesus’s teaching and follow his steps.” As it written: (Proverbs 4:23)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
And the next verse warns us, “Awake, Awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O Warrior of the LORD.” (Isaiah 51: 9)

The good news is that immediately upon receiving our salvation through Christ Jesus, we become a child of God. We have access to the weapons needed to fight our spiritual battle – and one of the most important weapons is the word of God as revealed in the Bible. When we don’t know how to fight our enemies, God wants us to dress ourselves head to toe with His word. That means memorizing verses and reciting them every time we face temptation, fear, illness, danger, or any other trial in our daily lives.

The phrase “Full armor of God” comes from (Ephesians 6:13-17): “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The first element of our armor is the belt of “Truth”. In (John 14: 6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

For me, I knew my struggle to find the “Truth” was over and done – I found the Truth in the verse above (John 14:6) and I believe it with all my heart. My challenges however, are not over. The question is, “How can I conquer them? How can I free myself from the shackles of this fallen world?” As I read the word of God and started to get to know who God is and who I am, I realized that as long as I am on this earth, I will always be facing adversity, temptation, fear, and difficulty. Before I came to this realization, I would take a shortcut to get around those harsh demands in life. I didn’t know the One who provided the strong weapons for me to fight my battle. Furthermore, I didn’t know that He is the one who would give me the ability to stand strong in the days to come. I came to realize that if I rely on my own strength and my own abilities in the difficult days ahead, I will fall. But if I keep focusing on the One who gives me power, strength, and stability, I will not be shaken when trials and severe testing come. On the contrary I will be blessed with peace, hope, wisdom, and courage. Now I must view my battles as exercises which are designed to built my trust-muscles.

Paul encourages us to “fasten the belt of truth around your waist” in (Ephesians 6:7). Truth is the foundation our faith – it’s what grounds us. The truth of God’s Word is the only way by which we can recognize the voice of God and refuse to hear Satan’s lies.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”(Psalm25:4)

If we are dressed with the six pieces of the armor of God – the “Belt of Truth”, the “Breastplate of Righteousness”, the “Shield of Faith”, the “Helmet of Salvation” , the”Shoes of the Gospel”, and the “Sword of the Spirit”, no one and no other power can stand against us. We will triumph in whatever circumstance we go through.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Each temptation was met with the words “It is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)

God assures us that with the full armor we can confidently walk free of the shackles of this world. He has removed the dirty rags of our sinful living, and put on us the robe of righteousness, giving us the ability to step into the lives we were called to live. As Beth Moore once said, “Satan can’t win and we can’t lose” if we’re fully dressed for our battle with the WORD that is alive.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you on fire.” (Isaiah 43:2)

I kept moving forward, striving to develop maturity in my spiritual walk, so that I could successfully fight my enemies with the powerful tools of God. I began studying the bible on a regular basis to get to know God and his promises. God not only led me to the way of Truth, He also encircled me with a group of godly women. I am immensely grateful for their presence in my life. They stand by me in times of distress and hold me up with their prayers.

As Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17

I have learned a vast amount from each and everyone of them. I don’t think any of us can grow without each other as we are all uniquely gifted.

We have a responsibility to protect our minds and hearts. I must not spend time with people that cause me to compromise; rather, I choose to connect with people that will cause me to rise higher. On the other hand, there is a reason for everything. I am in someone else’s life and they are in mine by design. God has a plan!

Now I live my life in a way that make others ask “WHY?” And “HOW?” They may disagree with me and at times, their disagreement has caused me to get closer to the Lord, for I am certain that He is my refuge, fortress and my rock. I feel His presence with me always. How about you, my friend? Do you live your life in a way that makes others wish to live a life that’s fully armored by God?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Are You Ready For Your Battle?

 

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The battle is real. The spiritual warfare that we’re facing everyday is taking place right in our hearts. What should we do? How do we defend and protect our minds and guard our thoughts before they ever reach our hearts? I personally am experiencing these challenges on a regular basis. How about you? When your heart tells you one thing and your mind says another, the worldly temptation is right at your door. Where do we even start? Sometimes, we may try to look the other way, pretending we don’t see it or hear it, but that isn’t a solution, is it?

It takes quite an effort to recognize where the battle is coming from and begin to deal with the confusion, doubts, fears, and the lust of our hearts. Some of us don’t have a clue as to why we’re under spiritual warfare. From time to time, we all get distracted by the dazzle of this world. Sometimes it tries its hardest to deceive us. It usually happens when we take our eyes off of the light of God. In a moment, things can turn dark and we unwittingly give a foothold to the desires of our flesh. If however, we are spiritually mature, we know who is instigating these desires. Yes, it is Satan, the father of lies, who constantly tries to whisper false thoughts into our minds. His agenda is to kill, destroy, and put to shame anything that is dear to God. Once we know who we are and to whom we belong to, we recognize who is for us and who is messing with our minds and thoughts. Of course God is always for us, as it is written; “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Through one of my studies the Lord reminded me, “You will face the opposition and your faith will be tested many times throughout your life.” My reply was this, “What must I do to succeed in the testing of my soul?” I needed the certainty of God’s presence in order to get through the heavy weight of life. How can I have that kind of certainty? My search through God’s word was telling me that the only way I can have the hope of His presence through life’s severe storms is to devote time to God, asking Him to shed His Light on the rough path that I will travel. He will surely do so, as He has promised. Then I will emerge victorious with a heart filled with gratitude.

God’s light brightly shines in the darkest valleys, as well as on the mountain tops of life. He knows all our struggles and frustration. For that reason He graciously teaches us how to dress for our battles. Unfortunately, some people stubbornly reject His teaching. But He repeatedly, with mercy and grace shows the way out, for He never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

I have learned from one study (I can’t recall which one) the following:
“Transformation of our fallen heart into a pure and well-ordered heart is to practice Jesus’s teaching and follow his steps.” As it written: (Proverbs 4:23)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
And the next verse warns us, “Awake, Awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O Warrior of the LORD.” (Isaiah 51: 9)

The good news is that immediately upon receiving our salvation through Christ Jesus, we become a child of God. We have access to the weapons needed to fight our spiritual battle – and one of the most important weapons is the word of God as revealed in the Bible. When we don’t know how to fight our enemies, God wants us to dress ourselves head to toe with His word. That means memorizing verses and reciting them every time we face temptation, fear, illness, danger, or any other trial in our daily lives.

The phrase “Full armor of God” comes from (Ephesians 6:13-17): “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The first element of our armor is the belt of “Truth”. In (John 14: 6) Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

For me, I knew my struggle to find the “Truth” was over and done – I found the Truth in the verse above (John 14:6) and I believe it with all my heart. My challenges however, are not over. The question is, “How can I conquer them? How can I free myself from the shackles of this fallen world?” As I read the word of God and started to get to know who God is and who I am, I realized that as long as I am on this earth, I will always be facing adversity, temptation, fear, and difficulty. Before I came to this realization, I would take a shortcut to get around those harsh demands in life. I didn’t know the One who provided the strong weapons for me to fight my battle. Furthermore, I didn’t know that He is the one who would give me the ability to stand strong in the days to come. I came to realize that if I rely on my own strength and my own abilities in the difficult days ahead, I will fall. But if I keep focusing on the One who gives me power, strength, and stability, I will not be shaken when trials and severe testing come. On the contrary I will be blessed with peace, hope, wisdom, and courage. Now I must view my battles as exercises which are designed to built my trust-muscles.

Paul encourages us to “fasten the belt of truth around your waist” in (Ephesians 6:7). Truth is the foundation our faith – it’s what grounds us. The truth of God’s Word is the only way by which we can recognize the voice of God and refuse to hear Satan’s lies.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”(Psalm25:4)

If we are dressed with the six pieces of the armor of God – the “Belt of Truth”, the “Breastplate of Righteousness”, the “Shield of Faith”, the “Helmet of Salvation” , the”Shoes of the Gospel”, and the “Sword of the Spirit”, no one and no other power can stand against us. We will triumph in whatever circumstance we go through.

Jesus is our ultimate example of resisting temptation in spiritual warfare. Observe how Jesus handled direct attacks from Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Each temptation was met with the words “It is written.” The Word of the living God is the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the devil. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)

God assures us that with the full armor we can confidently walk free of the shackles of this world. He has removed the dirty rags of our sinful living, and put on us the robe of righteousness, giving us the ability to step into the lives we were called to live. As Beth Moore once said, “Satan can’t win and we can’t lose” if we’re fully dressed for our battle with the WORD that is alive.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you on fire.” (Isaiah 43:2)

I kept moving forward, striving to develop maturity in my spiritual walk, so that I could successfully fight my enemies with the powerful tools of God. I began studying the bible on a regular basis to get to know God and his promises. God not only led me to the way of Truth, He also encircled me with a group of godly women. I am immensely grateful for their presence in my life. They stand by me in times of distress and hold me up with their prayers.

“As Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17

I have learned a vast amount from each and everyone of them. I don’t think any of us can grow without each other as we are all uniquely gifted.

We have a responsibility to protect our minds and hearts. I must not spend time with people that cause me to compromise; rather, I choose to connect with people that will cause me to rise higher. On the other hand, there is a reason for everything. I am in someone else’s life and they are in mine by design. God has a plan!

Now I live my life in a way that make others ask “WHY?” And “HOW?” They may disagree with me and at times, their disagreement has caused me to get closer to the Lord, for I am certain that He is my refuge, fortress and my rock. I feel His presence with me always. How about you, my friend? Do you live your life in a way that makes others wish to live a life that’s fully armored by God?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Love Your Enemies!

Who is your enemy? What do they want from you? How can you love them? Have you ever genuinely prayed for them? And why would you want to pray for them? Where do you get the kind of empathy that flows from such a merciful heart? I’m not just talking about our enemies in the WAR ZONE – where the two countries are fighting with each other, but am also talking about the battlefields that we encounter on a daily basis with those around us. Life throws all kinds of challenges at us, but when it comes to dealing with people who are rude and who dislike you for no reason, it makes you wonder what to do with them. They could be a family member, a friend, or perhaps a neighbor. You may have tried many times to get close to them but they seem like they don’t care.

If you’ve noticed, in today’s world compassion is rare. If you show any kindness and humanity to some people, they may interpret it in the wrong way – either they think that you’re flirting with them or that you want something from them. These kinds of people are hard to love. They don’t leave any room for you to love them. At times they may look at you as though you are an enemy. Sometimes even they repay your good deeds with evil. Why? Don’t they know the heart is the home of love – where God’s spirit dwells?

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The heart refers to the soul of a human being, that which controls the will and emotions. God created the human heart to mirror His own heart. Our hearts were designed to love Him and love others as much as He loves us. He gave us the power of free will to choose to love and serve Him by loving and respecting His creation. How awesome is that?! Unfortunately, we have abused the gift of free will. Some stubbornly refuse to follow God. They may even fool themselves into believing that they live a life that is pleasing to God, but sadly they don’t. That is why God compared the heart that refuses to obey His commands to a heart of stone. Such a heart can be hostile to those around them and it doesn’t resemble God’s heart (a heart of love) at all, but rather a heart of anger and hatred.

What God has commanded us in (Mark 12:30-31) is this;
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

In addition to explaining to his followers who is our neighbor and who is our enemy, Jesus continued telling them that they should be true to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors. A Pharisee (religious leader) came to test Jesus and asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told him and the crowd the Parable of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:29 ).  In reply Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus taught His followers that they must demonstrate love to all kinds of people—no matter their faith, nationality, or personality—enemies included. If we love our enemies and “pray for those who persecute us,” we then truly reveal that Jesus is the Lord of our life.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a great illustration of who is our neighbor, but what do we do with those people in our lives who are simply rude and difficult to deal with? They might seem to have their act together and it might also appear as if they have it all – money, a successful career, luxury cars, lavish homes, and other expensive items. They may travel the globe, but when they are with you, you are immediately aware that LOVE is nowhere to be found in their hearts. They are wrapped up in a materialistic lifestyle and worship/love only themselves. With extreme selfishness as their guide, they treat others unkindly or have no respect and compassion for the elderly. They often distance themselves from others, because they think themselves greater than everyone else. Unfortunately, they’re unaware that their outward appearance doesn’t match their inner self. No matter how hard you try to show them love, nothing seems to move their cold heart. It always has to be about them. What do we do? There has to be a way to point them to the light.
Again, If we search to see what God has told us about the treatment of those who are rude and disrespectful to us (enemies), we find that nowhere in the Bible does God say to “hate your enemy”. However, religious leaders have sometimes misapplied some of the Old Testament messages. For centuries in some cultures, people have never heard of the phrase “love your enemies” and they continue to practice hatred. In their upbringing, the way to deal with their enemies is to either to ignore or avoid those who try to harm them (change paths), or, more commonly, repay evil with evil. And in some cases, even good is repaid with evil.

Here is what God says in (1 Peter 3:9):
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Jesus adds to that by raising the bar to higher level in (Matthew 5:43-48): “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”. The Lord Jesus is saying, “To love those who love you is easy, but if you love those who are hard to love, it will bring you to a higher place.” It makes perfect sense. I want to have a blessed life. Don’t you?
But how do we do that? How should we pray for those neighbors, family members, or friends who are rude, unkind, or even harmful? Such a task is not easy. But as we bow down in the presence of God with humble hearts, He will give us strength and direction, He reminds us with these guidelines. 1- We must pray for the removal of their heart of stone, asking God to replace it with a heart of flesh. 2 – Pray for their redemption – that they would surrender themselves to the Lord. 3 – Pray for the restoration of their soul and lives.
As He says in (Ezekiel 36:26)
“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.”

Final thoughts – Since God is the one who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, don’t you think this is the kind of love He wants us to show everyone? It takes a conscious effort. Loving our enemies means acting in their best interest; we can pray for them and we can think of ways to help them. God wants us to show integrity and leadership. He may call us to stand firm for what is right and at times, may have us draw a boundary, saying, “Enough is enough”, as He doesn’t want us to become our enemies’ doormats. These boundaries should, however, always be guided by prayer and applied with love.
So you must remember, it’s easy to show love to those who love you back, but the true test of faith is to love those who are hard to love. Though they may continue to close the door on you, one day your kind and loving example might be what God uses to soften their heart. So take the initiative in loving them and meeting their needs.
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE LOVED BY THE MOST HIGH AND YOU ARE A PRECIOUS CHILD OF HIS!

 

 

Walking On a Narrow Path!

How do you get through a narrow path and dark places of your life? Do you stay there feeling self-pity and overwhelmed with fear? Or do you keep moving forward with hope? You must go through darkness sometimes in life to know that you’re in need of light. And that light leads you through those narrow paths eventually to specious ground.

It is the small gate and narrow pathway that leads to life, and only a few find it.  (Matthew 7: 14)

The road that I was traveling narrowed until I felt as if the walls were closing in on me, just as I saw myself struggling the same way in my vision. Seems like I was walking along the edge of the mountain, balancing on a very thin, threadlike trail. Some people walked ahead of me and some behind. Some excited at the thrill that this passage was offering, others struggling to pass through on the narrow path. Sometimes living on life’s edge seems very exciting. But it can be costly and harmful to us and to those around us. Just as playing with fire will eventually burn us, living life too close the the edge will likely cause us to fall. A scar on the soul is far worse than on the face.

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”Can man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?”( Proverbs 6:27)

While I was determined to get out of the narrow passage and away from the ledge (the toxic environment in my daily life) and climb the path ahead, God was lovingly teaching me important lessons: how to trust Him, how to keep focused on the steps in front of me, and how He never lets go of my hand.

The smile never fades from my face, even in tearful moments, because the Lord lifts me up at every step. Even through the darkest times, His light is always shining on those who put their trust in Him.

Obviously, we all have trials in our lives. Pain and problems are part of life, and they’re opportunities to show our trust in God. Some of His greatest gifts come wrapped in trials. As we unwrap them, we begin to see God’s abundant blessings, even in difficult moments. If we are patient and pray continually, our perseverance will bring us joy.

Sometimes difficult moments dimmed my vision, like a blanket of fog settling over the road and I could barely see anything ahead. The fog represented regrets of the past and fears of an uncertain future. I needed to pay more attention to God and feel His presence with each step. As I began talking to God, praising Him and thanking Him for His faithfulness, the fog became a protection, calling me back to the present moment, causing me to slow down and not get ahead of God. This verse is a powerful prayer.

(Psalm 43:3)
“O Lord, send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your Holy hill and to Your Holy dwelling.”

He will hear us and guard our hearts and minds with His truth and Love. God is so gracious – He gently takes us from place to place, and from glory to glory to show us that His love endures forever. He corrects and disciplines us, just as a father does with his child.

Just as I began to think that everything was going to be okay, I turned a corner and something stirred within me. Feelings of guilt and regret surfaced. Oh no, Lord! Why? Can I please just have a break?! I wanted to give up on myself, I was tired of not getting it right. In this time of confusion, I had to shield myself with His word. At this point I began memorizing these two verses. They gave me strength to persevere in facing life’s challenges. These verses became my lifeline and support. I say it again, the Lord is my lifeline and support.

(Psalm 23:2-4)
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
(Psalm 139: 23-24)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Test me and know my anxious thoughts!
And see if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The word of God became my strength. Without it I was in a deep and dark place, so lost that I couldn’t recognize the true Light through the dark clouds of fear and isolation. Why doesn’t God just take the darkness away and make us right with Him? That would be very easy but we would never learn anything from it. Hardship will bear good fruit.

(James 1:4) says; “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

You and I both know this with confident by now that even in the darkness God’s light guides and leads us through a narrow path. Always and forever……

Praying for you dear one.   May you always have the desire to walk in the light of God.  May God give you the courage to let go of worries, regrets, and choose to live and walk in the light.  In the name of Jesus, who is the light of the world. AMEN!

Strong People Forgive, Weak People Seek Revenge!

Who do you want to be – the one who is quick to forgive and slow to anger? Or the one who holds a grudge and lives with stress and without peace? Forgiveness is never easy. Indeed, forgiving the one who caused us pain can feel more painful than the wound we received. It is natural to get angry, holding offense against people who wrong us. Likewise, there are some people who are unable to forgive themselves. Because they choose not to let go of their former immoral actions, they can’t get over their past. I like how the theologian Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was YOU.” Whether we are forgiving ourselves or others, forgiveness will set us free. How can we do it? Let’s take a look at what God revealed to me in the area of forgiveness.

It is typical of human nature that we even get angry with God at times. We think He should be there for us when we face unfortunate circumstances. We may think, “Why is God allowing this suffering to besiege me?” Then, acting as a rebellious child, we convince ourselves that we have a reason to hold a grudge against Him. Similarly, we treat others in our lives with the same unforgiving spirit.

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Some people may think that forgiveness is a form of weakness, saying, “Why let an undeserving person win the battle?” On the contrary, forgiveness is an act of strength – a state of maturity in grace. It is obedience to God’s will. If God has forgiven us, who are we not to forgive others? Having said that, we cannot forgive by our own effort. We may try and try for many years, finally realizing that we are unable to just “get over it”.

There is a gift attached to forgiveness. This God-given gift is Peace – the peace that no one and nothing on earth can give us. If we ask the Lord with a childlike heart, He will bless us with His gift of peace, which surpasses all of our understanding. Once you taste this unfathomable harmony, you will understand the peace of God. With His help, you are able to pardon someone not because she/he deserves it, but because God commands it. We let the person go, thereby releasing ourselves from the bondage of restless feelings. Similarly, when you forgive yourself, you are released from the prison that you have built for yourself with your own hands.

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

We all struggle from time to time with discouragement and outrage. If you read my previous post about “Hatred and Betrayal”, you’ll remember my unpleasant experience of conflict with an individual. After that painful encounter, I had a hard time getting over my distress and hurt. In fact, I carried the pain of it with me for a couple of months. I’m just as broken as everyone else, making mistakes daily. I hate contentiousness and the uncomfortable feelings it produces. I try my hardest to look for answers to life’s hard questions in God’s Word and in His signs. Of course I prayed about this matter day and night, asking God to forgive me and give me the power to forgive the other person. If you look up the meaning of forgiveness in the Bible, it’s described as a “release” or a “dismissal” of someone or something. Then it explains how God has forgiven us through the death of Jesus on the cross, providing the blessing of abundant and eternal life to whoever believes in His teaching, death and resurrection.

I continued to seek God’s word to learn to forgive. This is what I discovered from Jesus’ teachings concerning forgiveness.

(Matthew 18:21-23) “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”

Because of the pain and raw emotion that I felt during my time of unforgiveness, my desperation for peace of mind grew deeper. I noticed that a particular bible verse (Matthew 18:21-23) seemed to be popping up everywhere – in church sermons, Bible study, on Christian radio, and during my devotional time. The Lord was urging me to forgive those who had hurt me. But my initial response to Him was, “No, Lord! I am tired of forgiving them repeatedly. How many times do you expect me to forgive someone who hurts me?” I was carrying the heavy weight of unforgiveness on my shoulders constantly. Finally the Lord showed me a bold sign. One afternoon I was at the grocery store. When I got to the cashier, the lady at the register handed me my receipt, saying, “Today is your lucky day! You should go and buy a lottery ticket”. I said, “How so?” She said, “Look at the total on your receipt.” I couldn’t believe it! The total was $77.77.

I immediately grasped the significance as God reminded me of the verse which had been so noticeable in recent days, the one telling me “Forgive everyone not seven times, but rather seventy-seven times.”

Beyond any doubt, the Lord graciously hit me with the bold numbers. He was telling me, “Let go and let Me take care everything.” So, by His grace and mercy, I completely let go and let God….

My struggle faded away after that day. From my perspective, my relationship with those involved in the confrontation immediately improved, all because I got out of the “wrestling ring”. I don’t know how they felt, but as for me, I truly felt the peace of God deep within. I kept returning to His word, and when I read what the Lord commands us in (Leviticus 19:18), I was even more comforted (especially with the ending words).
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM THE LORD.”

God reminds us that He is the Lord, not us. If we don’t forgive and let go of our malice, we are acting as God and judging others. WOE UNTO US! We are setting ourselves up for a hard fall.

Unfortunately, some cultures delight in revenge rather than forgiveness. They might seem like some of the nicest people on the planet, yet when it comes to forgiving and letting bygones be bygones, they refuse. They respond with evil for someone’s mistake or immaturity, saying, “I will do this or that to put ‘so and so’ to shame”. Is that the way a mature person handles someone’s wrongdoing? It is natural to feel angry and anger is not a sin. But what we do with our anger may lead to sin. If you think carefully, you will see that revenge brings out the worst in you and lowers you to the same level as your offender.

I don’t get it. How can revenge ever hope to resolve the pain that was caused consciously or unconsciously by someone? Again God says in (Colossians 3:13) “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

This is how I now see forgiveness vs. unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a poison that will eat us from the inside. It harms our physical, mental, emotional, and relational self. On the other hand, forgiveness brings health, unity, and harmony to our homes and our communities. Now more than ever, we need forgiveness in the world. Not only will it build a strong self, it will also grow a yielding and harmonious community.

After all, forgiveness is an expression of love, mercy, and grace, helping us to move forward. It is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what she/he has done to you. It means resisting the desire to pursue revenge, and instead seeking to make things right.

Here is the most important question for you – Have you experienced God’s forgiveness in your own life? If you haven’t, or if you are on defense, ask Jesus to come into your heart and life. Surrender yourself to Him. Then pray for the person who hurt you, that they will realize their own need for God’s forgiveness and give their life to Christ. Then, not only you will witness God’s power, but also the world around you will begin to change.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins,” (Mark 11:25)

If you agree to the verse above, say, “Amen!”

Hatred and Betrayal!

It is so true! I have heard it said that God is the kind of teacher who gives the test first, and then follows up with the lesson. When I read and watched the movie about the life of Joseph, I was moved to tears by his story of hardship and injustice. At times, we may find ourselves facing similar affliction and hatred, because of our beliefs and faith. Joseph told his brothers, “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 an important figure in the Bible’s book of Genesis. His life story is a heartbreaking story, but one with a victorious ending (God’s story always has a good ending). God showed His mighty power through Joseph’s life. Joseph faced much turmoil starting at a very young age. First his brothers planned to kill him, then they sold him into slavery. How could his own flesh and blood betray him? Sadly, jealousy can blind people to the point that they deny their own family.

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Joseph was hired as a slave in Egypt, in the palace of Pharaoh. Time passed and as a result of his hard work, his master Potʹi·phar’ gave him a higher position, putting him in charge of the palace. Joseph grew up to be a very good-looking man, and Potʹi·phar’s wife wanted him to lie down with her. But Joseph knew it would be wrong, and refused her advances. Potʹi·phar’s wife became very angry. When her husband returned home, she lied to him, saying, “That bad Joseph tried to lie down with me!” Potʹi·phar believed his wife, and became very angry with Joseph, having him thrown into prison for seven years. As Joseph endured life in the dungeon, he continued to believe in God and remained hopeful. He gave the other prisoners hope, telling them that their predicament was one of life’s tests and that they must turn to God in faith and trust His promises for their deliverance.

“According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9:29)

Without faith, the core of our hope will crumble. Because of Joseph’s steadfast faith, he had the enduring hope that God would always be with him, even in the midst of adversity, and that He would bring him deliverance. His abiding faith caused him to have compassion toward His family, especially his brothers. In spite of what they did to him, he never hated them. How could he? He was always aware of God’s presence with him at every moment of his life. He was certain that God was dwelling in the depth of his heart, leaving no room for hatred. Therefore, God rewarded him with a prosperous life and a great legacy (his name and the story of his faith is included in one of the most popular book of the history – the Bible).

Similarly, Jesus knew betrayal firsthand. The most deceitful, mendacious, and despicable betrayal of all time was perpetrated by one faithless man, Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities for thirty pieces of silver. Judas was one of the twelve followers of Jesus and had been taught by Him. Judas had a closer relationship to Jesus than some of the other people in Jesus’ inner-circle. But when he was deceived by Satan, Judas arranged a signal with the Jewish authorities – the person whom Judas kissed that night was to be arrested and taken away. That is how Jesus was betrayed with a kiss on the cheek.

In those days a kiss on the cheek was a common greeting, as it is in some cultures today – a sign of deep respect, brotherly love, and honor. Jesus already knew who would turn him in that night. It all took place just as He had predicted. Jesus didn’t get angry or bitter, He even called Judas His friend. Judas’s action illustrated (Proverbs 27:6), “ Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

What really stunned the other followers, was how Judas used such a devoted expression of love and respect (a kiss) to betray Jesus. The betrayal itself was prophesied hundreds of years before its fulfillment (Psalm 41:9)
“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me”.

I remember distinctly, how the Lord spoke to me through the verse above early one morning. I will never forget it. When our kids were younger, I use to go to the gym at 5:30AM before I dropped them off at school and went to work. One morning, as I got ready for the gym, I went to get my bag from the hallway closet. As I reached down to get it, I heard the Lord saying in my heart, “Read Psalm 41”. Then I heard myself saying, “Psalm 41”. Since I was still halfway asleep, I repeated it for a second time, “PSALM 41!?”

At that point I was awake and it dawned on me that the Lord must want me to read this particular Psalm. It may or may not have been a chapter that I had read before, I didn’t remember. I put my bag down and quickly opened the Bible to Psalm 41. I was astonished at what I read! I felt that God was warning me to be on the lookout as I read verses referring to someone lifting up his/her heel and rising up against me. At this point, I was a few years into my journey with God. I didn’t know what to do, except to pray. Later on, I learned that God tests us first and then teaches us a lesson. After all, He is that kind of teacher.  Also, I was taught that life is not about who is real to your face.  It is about who is real behind your back.

Exactly a month later, an unpleasant encounter happened just as the Lord had warned. Never had I faced such a verbally warlike situation. I was not spiritually mature enough to handle it, and it was the most painful moment of my life. The words exchanged between me and the other person not only hurt me, but hurt everyone who was there. Although I apologized for the words that I had said in anger, I faced animosity and hatred for awhile. Through all that happened, I never stopped loving them or praying for them. I remembered my Savior’s first command – to love one another and pray for each other. I believe God is with us through thick and thin in life whether we feel His presence or not. He sees all and hears all. The verse below encouraged me to hold on to God’s everlasting hope and be persistent in prayer. I saw the result of being patient in affliction through God’s promising word. It took awhile, but God made everything beautiful again in His time. I’m so grateful and praise His precious name.

The Lord says in Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

This is such an important concept to God that peace with Him and peace with others are entwined. We cannot know peace with God unless we are at peace with one another, and we cannot truly experience peace with others unless we are at peace with God. The lesson for me to learn was not only how to handle conflict, but also how to forgive others who hurt me (I will write more on forgiveness in a future post).

It’s vital to keep in the forefront of our minds that “God is always with us”. It is written 365 times in the Bible! Since God’s word so clearly states that He is with us, how can we hate someone while in the presence of God? That is impossible! There is no place for enmity and betrayal in the company of Almighty God. If we consider ourselves a godly person, then we can not look at someone else with a heart filled with treachery and malice. After all, how can abomination, dishonesty and malicious thoughts fit into a godly person’s character?

The Lord says, “Leave your sacrifice there at the door of the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God ” (Matthew 5:24)

What would it take for us to understand this one thing that the God of universe clearly tells us, “Don’t bow before Me, till you patch up things and get rid of the hatred, doubts, and jealousy? Make a way for Me that I may bless your life”. Ultimately Our sacrifices mean nothing to God, until we cleanse our hearts and resolve our conflicts with others. Although we may want to strike out at the betrayer, God’s word says that instead, we must take our case to Him and wait patiently. He then teaches us how to keep our eyes on Him and make room for love and compassion in our hearts in relation to others, in spite of our differences.
Again in 1 Peter 3:9, He says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Your betrayal or mine may not be as horrific as Jesus’ or Joseph’s betrayal, but it is still betrayal and when it happens, we are overwhelmed and crushed by it. The powerful key in overcoming the bitterness of any betrayal and animosity is our God-given gift to forgive. It can only be done through His power and strength, which allows us to forgive and move on. As soon as we choose to forgive someone, not only do we give that person a gift, we also give ourselves a gift – the gift of freedom from pain and resentment.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

I repeat the verse above to myself whenever I face difficult circumstances. I know with confidence that whatever God’s will is for me, He will either give me the strength to do what He has called me to do or He will change my circumstances.

If you will say this verse in the name of Jesus Christ in time of difficulties with firm faith, you will victoriously overcome any fear, anger, pain, or hurt, and you will be able to forgive your betrayer.

How Do You Discover Your Worth (Value)?

What sets us apart from others in life? Why is it that some people take so long to find the real purpose of their lives? How can the meaning of life be found? We pursue the answers to these questions starting at a very young age and continue our quest through adulthood, until we are old. Our self-worth is too often based on what others think of us. We crave validation for who we are and long to be appreciated and adored. Many of us pursue excellence in sports, business success, possessions, good looks, music, entertainment, sex, relationships, wealth, good deeds (doing good to others). We perfect skills and other talents that we have developed over the years, yet we still feel empty inside. Why is there such a void? And what can we do to fill it? You may have everything – education, a good job, money, a comfortable lifestyle, and even a loving family surrounding you, but you’re still looking for that one elusive quality which will complete you.

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Growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to try different activities in order to find out what interested me or what I was  good at. The lifestyle that we had prevented my pursuit of sports, various studies or any other extra-curricular activities. I looked to my parents and other grownups to find my value and direction in life. When it was time for me to go to college, I ended up studying something that I didn’t like. This field of study was important to my parents and other influential people in my life, but not to me. I was forced to complete the four years of college, and yes, I did receive that darned degree! A few years later I went back to school, studied what I really liked and was pleased to discover that I’m actually good at it.

Even though I was finally doing what I loved, I was still not satisfied – there was a void inside, an emptiness within me that nothing could fill. Then God showed up in my life (you can read how this happened in two of my early posts under the titles: 1 – “My Dreams And Visions Become Reality” and 2 – “A Moment Of Epiphany”) and my perspective shifted from who I was to who He is.

While I was looking at life from the Lord’s viewpoint, I came across a pastor who was teaching online from Grace Gospel church. He shared the following: “We all have asked ourselves this question at one time or another, ‘What is the purpose and meaning of life?’ The good news is – Who you are is not for you to decide, it’s for you to discover.” I love how he summarized the meaning of our purpose and how it is connected to self-worth. Simple and right to the point.

To find what God has purposed for me, I planted myself in God’s word. The most powerful revelation was when I recognized my identity only in God, based on who he is, not on who I am. King Solomon (Prophet Sulayman), who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, was a very wealthy man. He had wisdom beyond any man’s wisdom in his time or our time, and he was surrounded by beautiful women. He had palaces, the best food and wine, anything you can imagine. Yet he said the following in chapter 1: “Life under the sun”—Life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void?

He is realized that God created us for something beyond what we can experience in here-and-now. Solomon went on and said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What this man of great wisdom is telling us is that everything we have in here-and-now will never give us what God has already planned for us. Again comes the question – Why do we continue to seek to guide our own lives, with the resultant emptiness, when instead we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives? Doing so will result in our living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding contentment and satisfaction. This is true because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us.

Those who live in the worry, anxiety, depression, and doubt born of their unbelief, find themselves exhausted after circling the world in an attempt to find their value and the one thing which would complete them. They are looking for deliverance and contentment. Unfortunately they come back empty handed because of their lack of knowledge of who they are in God and their identity in Christ. Their lack of faith results in defeat. Ignorance can lead to failure. But with God’s timing and mercy, it’s never too late.

Sometimes, the world yells at us, “You can never measure up!” That is because others see your worth through their own limited knowledge. But God’s knowledge is limitless. He whispers, “You are always enough.” He sees us as complete and worthy. Our God is a mighty God, who has never made anything or anyone worthless. The work of his hands is flawless. You are precious to Him. That is why he sent Jesus to take your place on the cross. You are loved by the Creator of the world and he made you with his own hands. The work of his hands (you) is valuable and worthy of His praise. Our true self-worth is in Jesus Christ.

(John 3:16)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, proving once for all time just how valuable we really are to God. Our identity rests in Him alone. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ Jesus. No weapon can form against you and me to tell us otherwise.

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

His word tells us that God created us for a purpose. Our purpose in life is to be a blessing to others. I have learned the reason we are here on earth is to learn how to love God and His creation. Since God blesses us with His love, we cannot keep the blessing only to ourselves. We must share it with others. At the same time, we must stop allowing others to define us. Rick Warren once said, “Living by your value is a life with integrity – and you will be rewarded.”

I now know that I am not defined by the opinions of others, my feelings or my circumstances. Only God identifies me as His own. Once I learned of my position in Christ, the strongholds (worthless things) in my life came crumbling down. I refuse to compromise my values or bend the rules that are given to me by God. I will do my best to act in love. As it is, I am a work in progress. The process maybe slow, but I am surely moving in the right direction.

Real meaning in life is not found only by accepting Jesus as Savior (as amazing that is) but also by listening to his teaching and following Him as His disciple. Jesus replied to His disciples in Luke 10:27,  ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
As soon as we begin to obey His first command, everything else begins to fall into place. We are finally able to find the precious jewel (our value) right at home without circling the world. It may be discovered through a stranger, friend, neighbor, home church, or a loved one. No need to go too far. Just look for it with an open mind and heart as you go about your daily life.

From my own experience, I have a friendly suggestion: The next time you wonder about your identity, value, and worth, please don’t hesitate to open the Bible. Whether you are an unbeliever, a new Christian or a seasoned follower in the faith, the truth is found in the word of God. Soak in His word, spend some time with Him, and walk with Him in obedience to His commands. As you apply God’s word to your life, change starts to take place in you and in the lives of others around you. You begin to live in a place where you are a daily witness of God’s goodness and deliverance.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE VALUABLE AND WORTHY OF HIS SACRIFICE!

How Do You Discover Your Worth (Value)?

What sets us apart from others in life? Why is it that some people take so long to find the real purpose of their lives? How can the meaning of life be found? We pursue the answers to these questions starting at a very young age and continue our quest through adulthood, until we are old. Our self-worth is too often based on what others think of us. We crave validation for who we are and long to be appreciated and adored. Many of us pursue excellence in sports, business success, possessions, good looks, music, entertainment, sex, relationships, wealth, good deeds (doing good to others). We perfect skills and other talents that we have developed over the years, yet we still feel empty inside. Why is there such a void? And what can we do to fill it? You may have everything – education, a good job, money, a comfortable lifestyle, and even a loving family surrounding you, but you’re still looking for that one elusive quality which will complete you.

IMG_7362

Growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to try different activities in order to find out what interested me or what I was was good at. The lifestyle that we had prevented my pursuit of sports, various studies or any other extra-curricular activities. I looked to my parents and other grownups to find my value and direction in life. When it was time for me to go to college, I ended up studying something that I didn’t like. This field of study was important to my parents and other influential people in my life, but not to me. I was forced to complete the four years of college, and yes, I did receive that darned degree! A few years later I went back to school, studied what I really liked and was pleased to discover that I’m actually good at it.

Even though I was finally doing what I loved, I was still not satisfied – there was a void inside, an emptiness within me that nothing could fill. Then God showed up in my life (you can read how this happened in two of my early posts under the titles: 1 – “My Dreams And Visions Become Reality” and 2 – “A Moment Of Epiphany”) and my perspective shifted from who I was to who He is.

While I was looking at life from the Lord’s viewpoint, I came across a pastor who was teaching online from Grace Gospel church. He shared the following: “We all have asked ourselves this question at one time or another, ‘What is the purpose and meaning of life?’ The good news is – Who you are is not for you to decide, it’s for you to discover.” I love how he summarized the meaning of our purpose and how it is connected to self-worth. Simple and right to the point.

To find what God has purposed for me, I planted myself in God’s word. The most powerful revelation was when I recognized my identity only in God, based on who he is, not on who I am. King Solomon (Prophet Sulayman), who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, was a very wealthy man. He had wisdom beyond any man’s wisdom in his time or our time, and he was surrounded by beautiful women. He had palaces, the best food and wine, anything you can imagine. Yet he said the following in chapter 1: “Life under the sun”—Life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void?

He is realized that God created us for something beyond what we can experience in here-and-now. Solomon went on and said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What this man of great wisdom is telling us is that everything we have in here-and-now will never give us what God has already planned for us. Again comes the question – Why do we continue to seek to guide our own lives, with the resultant emptiness, when instead we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives? Doing so will result in our living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding contentment and satisfaction. This is true because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us.

Those who live in the worry, anxiety, depression, and doubt born of their unbelief, find themselves exhausted after circling the world in an attempt to find their value and the one thing which would complete them. They are looking for deliverance and contentment. Unfortunately they come back empty handed because of their lack of knowledge of who they are in God and their identity in Christ. Their lack of faith results in defeat. Ignorance can lead to failure. But with God’s timing and mercy, it’s never too late.

Sometimes, the world yells at us, “You can never measure up!” That is because others see your worth through their own limited knowledge. But God’s knowledge is limitless. He whispers, “You are always enough.” He sees us as complete and worthy. Our God is a mighty God, who has never made anything or anyone worthless. The work of his hands is flawless. You are precious to Him. That is why he sent Jesus to take your place on the cross. You are loved by the Creator of the world and he made you with his own hands. The work of his hands (you) is valuable and worthy of His praise. Our true self-worth is in Jesus Christ.

(John 3:16)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, proving once for all time just how valuable we really are to God. Our identity rests in Him alone. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ Jesus. No weapon can form against you and me to tell us otherwise.

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

His word tells us that God created us for a purpose. Our purpose in life is to be a blessing to others. I have learned the reason we are here on earth is to learn how to love God and His creation. Since God blesses us with His love, we cannot keep the blessing only to ourselves. We must share it with others. At the same time, we must stop allowing others to define us. Rick Warren once said, “Living by your value is a life with integrity – and you will be rewarded.”

I now know that I am not defined by the opinions of others, my feelings or my circumstances. Only God identifies me as His own. Once I learned of my position in Christ, the strongholds (worthless things) in my life came crumbling down. I refuse to compromise my values or bend the rules that are given to me by God. I will do my best to act in love. As it is, I am a work in progress. The process maybe slow, but I am surely moving in the right direction.

Real meaning in life is not found only by accepting Jesus as Savior (as amazing that is) but also by listening to his teaching and following Him as His disciple. Jesus replied to His disciples in Luke 10:27,  ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
As soon as we begin to obey His first command, everything else begins to fall into place. We are finally able to find the precious jewel (our value) right at home without circling the world. It may be discovered through a stranger, friend, neighbor, home church, or a loved one. No need to go too far. Just look for it with an open mind and heart as you go about your daily life.

From my own experience, I have a friendly suggestion: The next time you wonder about your identity, value, and worth, please don’t hesitate to open the Bible. Whether you are an unbeliever, a new Christian or a seasoned follower in the faith, the truth is found in the word of God. Soak in His word, spend some time with Him, and walk with Him in obedience to His commands. As you apply God’s word to your life, change starts to take place in you and in the lives of others around you. You begin to live in a place where you are a daily witness of God’s goodness and deliverance.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE VALUABLE AND WORTHY OF HIS SACRIFICE!

Who Leads Our Steps?

I believe that God is the one who directs our steps. Some might say, “That is not always true.” Which is fine, we all have different opinions. Often these differences show up in close relationships such as marriage. Many married couples don’t have the same beliefs or think in the same way. On this topic, I clearly remember an incident which occurred in my own life a few years ago.

My husband and I were out for a weekend lunch near the beach. We were sitting in the sunshine, having a nice conversation over lunch. He was telling me how happy he was with his work. It was at a time in his life when it seemed like everything was falling into proper place for him. His hard work was finally paying off and he was extremely pleased with how life was providing the right connections with the right people at the right time. I told him that I was glad to hear it and that I was proud of his accomplishments. Then I continued by saying, “See Honey, God is navigating your life. He is directing you to the right people and guiding these connections on your life’s path.”

Surprisingly, he disagreed with me, saying, “God doesn’t direct us. He gives us free will, so we can choose and direct ourselves.” He said, “I have God’s peace because I believe in Him.” I said, “Yes! God gives us free will, but since we believe in Him, He is the one who directs our path. If God doesn’t direct us, we are lost. Those who don’t believe in God’s truth don’t experience His peace and wisdom, which is given to us through Jesus. We are unable to do anything without His lead.” We disagreed on the subject, so we both became quiet for a few moments.

I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t see eye to eye on this matter. We walked side by side at the beach, then we headed for home. It didn’t take long for God to speak to us.

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As we approached the freeway, I noticed that for some reason, my husband was getting anxious. As we entered the freeway ramp, he suddenly accelerated. When the two lanes merged into one, I realized he was trying to pass a big SUV. He nearly collided with the SUV on the side of the car where I was sitting. It could have been a disaster! I screamed, “What are you doing?!” The guy in the SUV was looking at us in shock and anger. I was shaking. I yelled at him a bit and then stopped. I was surprised to feel a strong peace coming over me, calming me down. I felt as if someone was telling me there was a reason for what had just happened. My husband kept saying, “I am so sorry, I’m so sorry!!! I don’t know what came over me.” He didn’t understand why he would drive so recklessly, risking a serious accident. A few minutes later I realized what happened and why it happened. When we got home I shared these verses from the bible with him.

(Isaiah 48:17) “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”

God showed my husband that He is the one who directs his steps. Without His lead we are out of control. God drew back from my husband for a moment just to show him that without the leading of Holy Spirit, his life was out of control. The Lord is full of mercy; He corrects His children. We were very grateful to him for opening our eyes. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”
(Psalm 37:23)

As this verse clearly tells us, God leads the steps of those who believe in Him. God corrects us so that we will grow stronger in our faith, trust Him more and not rely on our own understanding. God does his part and we must do our part.
(Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

When we surrender our lives to God, it becomes His job to take full and complete care of our lives. Even the trivial things matter to Him. His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) is called the “Helper” in the Bible. His job is to help us in every step we take. Our job is to live a life in obedience to God – a life of integrity with love in our hearts.

In Psalm 32:8, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

We can go ahead lay out our plans, but must look to God to direct our steps. In other words, we ask for His will to be done in our decisions. Then we will be at the place where God wants us to be.

But what about those who do evil? Those whose words and actions are lead by the prince of evil, Satan. We must keep our distance from them and continuously pray for their salvation. “May the Lord our God get hold of them before they cause further harm. May they turn their eyes to Jesus and kneel before the cross. May His love rule in everyone’s hearts, that He may bring order and peace in the world. Amen!”

When we open the Bible, we see what we need to embrace, and also what we need to avoid to lead a fulfilling life. Everything, good or bad, is in the Bible. I’m so grateful that God graciously teaches us His will and provides us with His power. Glory to His authority and praise His precious name forevermore.