A Childlike Faith!

What does it mean to have a “childlike” faith? Webster’s dictionary describes “childlike” as “becoming a child; meek; submissive; dutiful.”

Let’s visit (Matthew 18:3), and see what the Bible says. The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5) 

This verse tells us that God wants us to come before Him like a child, because children are innocent and trust with a pure, uncorrupted heart.

Jesus used the example of a child to help his disciple get the point. We are not to be “childish”, but rather “childlike”, with humble and sincere hearts. At the time, the disciples had become so preoccupied with their organization of Jesus’ earthly kingdom that they had lost sight of his divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they sought positions of advantage in the kingdom of heaven. 

It is easy to lose our internal purpose or perspective and compete for promotions or status in the work place, in our community, and even compete with friends and family. But God seeks a “childlike” submission, a meek spirit, and a pure heart … a childlike faith. 

It’s difficult to identify ourselves as “children” — as weak and dependent people with no status or influence.  But that is not what is meant by having a childlike faith. Instead we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, and embrace our identity as children of God.  Faith is simply a humble quality, which resembles child-likeness.

As we study this subject, and examine our own spirits, we must be willing to be the least of all, and we should ask ourselves, “am I being childlike or childish?”

The Bible says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).

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Live True to Your Truth!

From a very young age we all strive to have a meaningful life. A life of meaning is not necessarily a dazzling life (being rich, popular, highly educated or perfect….).  So here is the question: where and how can we start living our truths? If meaning is not found in worldly possessions, how can a happy and contented life be achieved? 

For many of us there is a struggle of how to create a purposeful and satisfied life. We seek answers everywhere, and jump from one thing to another… What is the secret of having a fulfilling life?  I have learned some principles from the leaders and the studies that I’ve taken, and though I am still learning, I’ve discovered that one of the steps to a meaningful and contented life is to learn how to BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. If you can do this, everything else will fall into place.

Kilroy J. Oldster quoted below. 

“The greatest challenge in life is to be our own person and accept that being different is a blessing and not a curse. A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values. A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited.”

— Kilroy J. Oldster

 God’s word says much about being true to one’s purpose (Matthew 5:5-10), 

“Blessed are the meek (Humble) for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God….”

This verse tells us that the humble, the righteous, the merciful, the pure at heart, and the peacemakers are the ones who know what a contented life is and they have purposed to live such a life.

Living true to your truth is simply about taking the MASK off, being REAL, being HUMBLE, being able to share your TRUE self and touch the lives of others. It is only by accepting ourselves as who we are, and by pursuing truth, love, beauty, and the adoration of God who is the creator of all, that we will be able to live out our unique meaningful life.

Moreover, the verse above leads us to be honest with others about who we are, what we need, and how we treat others. Do not forget that “BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF” is the start of a purposeful and satisfying life.

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Keep the Gates of Mercy [Forgiveness] Open!

How do you go about showing mercy to those who hurt you? How can you be so quick to forgive and move on? Do you need to distance yourself from them, or do you overlook their shortcomings? When you make the decision to live your life in peace, that’s when you learn to let go of the things that are not serving you well. Then you can start making room for others’ mistakes.

However, this is all easier said than done. I don’t know about you, but I’ve asked God for wisdom in this matter. The word of God doesn’t say that we should write them out of our lives, yet He advises us not to allow “crazy makers” to take away our joy. It is okay to not serve as their doormat. By drawing a boundary, we can express our feelings, thereby allowing them to examine their own heart and hopefully, acknowledge the needs of others through their own love lens.

Furthermore, God’s word tells us to pray for those who persecute us. It is so amazing to know what Jesus said even as He was hanging on the cross. In His agony, Jesus’ concern was for the forgiveness of those who counted themselves among His enemies. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23: 34). He asked God the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers who had mocked Him, spit on Him, beat Him, whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to the cross. (Mark 15:29–30).

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In this verse “Father, forgive them”, I see how forgiveness ties in with love. But some think that, in spite of their love, if they forgive someone, it shows that they are weak. On the contrary, they are not weak – they are the strongest of all! By practicing forgiveness in their daily walk, they overcome any conflicts which come their way, giving them peace at night. After all, as Jesus’s followers, we are all the answer to his prayer, “Father, forgive them”. If God has forgiven us, who are we to not forgive others?
I must say this from my own experience: I have discovered through my own difficult circumstances that the sooner I forgive, the quicker I feel at peace. I am then able to have love and compassion toward the person who had hurt me. I hope that when I hurt someone (not intentionally but we all fall short at times), they would be quick to forgive me.

Final thoughts, let’s not forget, the courage to keep the gates of mercy (Forgiveness) open and overlook your own pain comes from the Lord who gives generously to those who seek His strength. So for this reason, ask the Lord in faith without ceasing. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

To Walk, or Not to Walk — That is the Question….

Anyone can recognize a beautiful life (based on their own preferences and lifestyle), but few understand the way to live a life of true beautyIt’s the little things and small steps in life that can take us to higher places in life. We must understand — if we change the way we look at things, then the things that we look at will change. 

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Remember, you’re standing on the shoulders of those who have paved the path before you. Now it’s your turn to set an example for those who may not be seen or recognized but have been given an opportunity to walk towards a beautiful life.  Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Be grateful for what you have, rather than what you don’t have….

The journey requires hardship and patience, but the result of traveling it will be beautiful. You may make excuses saying, “I’m not capable or adequate.” A better way is to be the best version of yourself. Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful at heart. Believe that anything is possible when you have a positive attitude and the right people supporting you. 

When you’re facing a situation or an emotional challenge, envision God saying this to you“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“In view of all this, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; ….”(2 Peter 1:5-6)

If you wonder to walk, or not to walk toward a beautiful life, the first step is to ask God to increase your trust and faith.  He is willing and able to do this and can change your broken heart to one filled with beauty and joy. Ask for a deeper revelation of his love and watch how powerfully he moves.

TRAVELING TO THE UNKNOWNS!

“I said to the man who stood at the gate, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” He replied, “Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”

~ Minnie Louise Haskins

Our life journey involves movement, action, stops and start, detours, delays and trips into the unknown. Every step we take in life demands determination and courage to move forward. It’s easier said than done, along the way may lay many challenges that will require faith, and our faith will be tested.

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Here’s the imperative question — what faith? Faith in ourselves? Faith in others (putting our hopes and trust that their faith will get us through)?  No one can or will walk the path that has been chosen for us, but only ourselves. We must believe in our unique journey and fully yoke with the Lord for strength, patience, and peace.

Who can understand the unknown path we’re traveling (or will travel) better than God? He is the one who can safely deliver us through the unknowns. Partnering with God requires much trust, patience, and faith in Christ Jesus. His hand points to the LIGHT — to the eternal God.  His hand gets us safely to the finish line, as He did for Abraham, the father of nations.

God called Abraham to leave his comfortable life in Ur at the age of seventy-five and begin a long, slow journey — a journey that required unshakable faith in God.

The Lord had said to Abraham,  “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”(Genesis 12: 1-3)

Says the Lord, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“I will go before you and make the crooked places straight.”(Isaiah 45:2)

We can learn from Abraham’s trusting heart, and give our Lord the benefit of believing by faith that his hand is leading us on the unique journey that He has crafted for us. The path on which He places us is beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.

The Land of Bliss!

It might’ve been a dream, 

but to me, 

it was a reality to be visited only in dreams

I looked to the distance and gazed

My curious heart desired a trip to the land of bliss

 

I asked the Sailor,

“What is it like to dance and sing under the rays of ocean-light”

He looked at me with a smirk on his sunburned face,

seeing the insanity in my notion

 

His perplexed look gave way to curiosity

He replied,

“I don’t know, never done it myself

Let’s find out as one”

 

I prepared for the show

In my truest dream — the show was orchestrated under the heavenly realm

 

The wind took us out to an unknown distance

Then the Sailor Man disappeared as a mist

I found myself as a lonely pilgrim,

traveling to a place where my heart eagerly waited

to sing the song of songs, 

and dance with the rhythm of the ocean

 

Arriving where the stars kissed the ocean,

I looked up and said,

“You have turned my mourning into dancing and singing, O my forever audience”

 

I sang and danced with the rhythm of the ocean in the land of bliss day and night

 

The twinkling of stars

and the moonlight at night,

the warmth of the sunlight at day, and the roar of the ocean were the signs of encore to my blissful heart

— Parveen Michalow 

Dark and Murky Valley!

Have you ever met anyone who can say that they haven’t been through an uncertain valley in their life’s walk? At some point in life everyone will go through trials that manifest themselves as dark valleys, These valleys could be one long journey or one might go through many valleys before seeing rays of light.

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We may ask, “Why must we face these gloomy paths in our lives? Did we do something to cause them? Could they be a result of sin, or brought on by some unfortunate circumstance?”  Or maybe we are an uninformed traveler, crossing a dark valley, while looking back and wondering what led us to such a place. Some of these valleys may look endurable, while others can be so dark that you can’t see the light at the end of the path. You’re wishing you never stepped into it….

How do you know if you’re about to enter one of these valleys and can you avoid entering it? More importantly, how do you get through your darkest valley? Whether God places you on a particular journey, or you willfully choose the path, those dingy, gloomy, and obscure valleys in our lives are actually there to teach us how to live humbly according to God’s will and to build our character. They teach us to not rely on our strength and understanding but to rely on God. He is our guide, shelter, and our protector. Every step we take on the treacherous, unknown and unclear path of life can be a trail for his glory, if we will be “still” and “wait patiently” for Him. If we are walking with Him on a daily basis, he will take us to a better place  — a place where we will eventually appreciate the view from the mountaintop.

In Psalm 23, David cried out to God as he was going through his dark valley. He didn’t talk about God, rather he talked to God.  “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”(Psalm 23: 4). This verse points us to God’s promises.

If you find yourself journeying alone through a dark and scary valley along an unknown path, be still and seek comfort in God’s presence by whispering his name and listening in your deepest silence, knowing that you can always find peace and safety in your relationship with him. Even if the valley that you’re traveling on becomes gloomier and your sight is diminished, remember these verses below. They will give you hope that God’s love is sufficient for you. Whether you’re on the top of a hillside or down in a dingy and murky valley, He is closer than you think.

(Psalm 46:1) “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

(2 Thessalonians 3: 3) “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

(Psalm 37:5) “Commit your way to the Lord. (Romans 8:18) “The pain that you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

(Deuteronomy 31: 6) “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” AMEN!

Do You Need a Breakthrough Prayer?

Sometimes we find ourselves praying for something earnestly and devotedly, asking God repeatedly to heal an illness or bless our finances, relationships, home, job, etc. But we don’t see any changes. Why not? It seems like our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.

At times we wonder if God even hears our prayers. Then our prayers may begin to change, becoming less about asking and more about complaining and grumbling.  Anger, frustration and bitterness begin to build, leading us to turn our backs on God. At this point, a state of absolute hopelessness sets in and we’re desperately in need of a breakthrough prayer.

How and what does it take to have a breakthrough?  The key is to change how to pray.  My pastor and other leaders, bible studies and personal experience all point me to verse (Mark 11: 24) where Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, BELIEVE  that you have RECEIVED it, and it will be yours.”

According to the verse above, we must believe and lay claim to our prayer requests, as if we have already received our answer. That is called #FAITH.  Ultimately, anything we ask of God in complete faith through his son Jesus will be given to us according to HIS WILL.

You may say, ”Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” The answer may be simply because it didn’t fit into God’s plan for your life. We may never know why God doesn’t answer or He may reveal His plan later on……

Remember, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane right before his death (he would soon be crucified to pay for the sins of every person). His human flash didn’t want to go through that horrific death. But he humbly asked,

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) 

He asked for God’s will to be done. God’s purpose for His son’s death on the cross had enormous impact on the lives of all humanity.

Based on God’s WILL, no matter whatever we go through, He will still be with us. If our small or large requests do not fit into His perfect plan for our life, He will graciously change our hearts and will gently lead us to His plan.

Rick Warren said in one of his sermons, “Thanking God before He gives you something – that’s called FAITH.  Thanking God after He gives you something – that’s called GRATITUDE.”

The most important key to having a breakthrough prayer (besides thanking God before and after He answers our prayer), is to pray as Jesus did in verse (Matthew 26:39) — let your WILL be done, O Lord, not my will. Amen!

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To Whom Do You Cling?

When you run out of resources and find yourself in desperate circumstances, to whom do you cling? 

Some of us have a tendency not to ask for help. Either pride holds us back (we think we can do it all), or we don’t know where to turn….

I remember times in my life when I thought I could handle a situation by myself. I tried to solve the problem but ended up frustrated and disappointed. This mindset “I can do it alone” strategy was a sign of my spiritual immaturity. 

When we don’t grasp the hands of God in times of difficulty, it’s easy to forget who is the source of our blessings. Inevitably, we find ourselves completely lost. 

The temptation to forget God is always present — even when we are having the time of our lives.  When life is comfortable and pleasant, do we stop and thank or even think of that one person who has us on his/her mind at all times?

Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”

Whether in times of bliss or depression, God invites us to cling to the Lord Jesus and daily place ourselves at the foot the Cross, experiencing the death and life of Jesus. As Peter Scazzero says in his book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, “The invitation is to go to the cross daily alone, while we’re suffering with our losses (job, marriage, home, health or loss of a loved one).” 

The invitation also stands in times of gladness, to thank Jesus for providing the forgiveness of sin for all those who believe in him. He paid the penalty for the sins that we committed in our ignorance, and even the ones which were deliberate. When we willingly receive what was done for us on the cross, the cross becomes our resting place and that is when we are born again. Our new life becomes the answer to Jesus’ prayer on the Cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)

As we immerse ourselves in God’s love and cling to his promises, the result will be not loss, but rather gain — a fulfilled life, the life that God intended for us.

While “holding fast” to the cross, we will be able to experience God’s power resting upon us. Our part is to go forth and tell the story of the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. 

 (Psalm 63:8) “My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

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Her Mysterious Heart!

There are many great women who have changed and influenced the world around them with their hard work. But when it comes to understanding a particular woman’s heart, her immeasurable love and strength is unfathomable. God has designed her heart mysteriously.

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Everyone has a different definition of a woman’s heart – Hallmark cards, books, and movies come close to describing the nature of her heart but somehow miss the mark. This woman is called Mother. What is a Mother’s heart? Who can understand her tender heart? Not even the father of her children can understand her. Another mother might come close to understanding but she has not found anyone who cares enough to see her true self – where love resides, and shows itself through her actions or her smile. The only one who can really understand her at the deepest level is the designer of her heart, God himself. God has given her the joy of smiles and laughter as well as tears to shed whenever she needs to cry. He is the one who counts every teardrop. She prays without ceasing and relies on His promises, because He is the source of all her blessings. Never underestimate the power of her prayers.

Any woman who keeps her covenant with the Holy God will grow in righteousness, and God will develop within her a pure heart. We all know the story of Mother Mary in the Bible – the mother of Jesus, who was characterized by God as “Highly favored” (Luke 1:28) The angel appeared to Mary and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Indeed Mary was a righteous woman and blessed by God as the one chosen to be the mother of Jesus. But Mary was still an ordinary human used by God in an extraordinary way. She recognized that she needed Jesus Christ as her Savior, just like everyone else. People praised her because she was given the blessing of giving birth to the Messiah. But how different is Mary’s heart from ours as a mother? There is no difference. She was in tremendous distress when Roman soldiers tortured her son by nailing Him to a cross. She was standing there as it happened. I cannot imagine the agony she went through watching Him, who had no sin, lay down his life for the sin of the world. What grieved her heart the most was to see the suffering of her innocent son. He was found guilty of loving us. As He was hanging on the cross, He asked His disciples to comfort her.

Mary sets the example for us. Some believe that Mary can hear our prayers and she prays on our behalf. But Jesus is our only advocate in Heaven. Mary directed her worship, praise and adoration to God through Christ Jesus alone. Mary said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is His name (Luke 1:46-49).
Since we are celebrating the Heart of a mother this week, let us pray for all mothers – whether you are a mother or not, and whether your mother is with you or not, ”May the Lord our God bless you [her] with the love of your [her] children, patience, wisdom, faith, and may He be gracious to you this Mother’s Day and everyday of your life and use you for His purposes in an extraordinary way. In Jesus precious name, Amen!”