The verse below is a call to be discerning rather than judgmental.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” [Matthew 7:3].
Jesus’ statement is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. We should elevate our words and examine our lives before we judge others.
According to verse John 8:6-8, the Pharisees in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus brought a woman charged with adultery before him. Then they reminded Jesus that adultery was punishable by stoning under Mosaic law and challenged him to judge the woman so that they might then accuse him of disobeying the law. Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” The people crowded around him were so touched by their own consciences they left one by one, from the oldest to the youngest, without saying another word. When Jesus found himself alone with the woman, he asked her who were her accusers. She replied, “No man, lord.” Jesus then said, “Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.”
Jesus set a perfect example for us. There is no doubt that this woman was guilty and the law required that she be stoned, but the Law also required that the guilty man be stoned as well [Deuteronomy 22:22].
Jesus, who is full of grace and truth, tells the woman to stop committing adultery, and He forgives her.
From this passage [John 8:7] we learn that we must not judge others unless we first thoroughly search our own hearts and minds to make certain that we are pure in every aspect of our lives. We ought to be careful and trust God to be the final Judge, as it says in [Matthew 7:1], “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
A question kept prodding my innermost being, “Why are you downcast, O my soul?”
The spirit was heavy within my soul for several days. I didn’t understand the cause of this uncertainty or why my soul felt disturbed for days. I kept searching for answers with the feeling I was being prepared for something. But what was it that I was being prepared for? I did not know life would soon change for my family and me. But I had a feeling of impending events, a rush to get ready for what was to happen.
On that Friday morning during my quiet time with God, as I continued reading His word and meditating, I was urged by the Holy Spirit to pray as hard as I could. Again, the question was: pray for what? Other than my usual prayers: thanking and praising God, prayers for protection and the well-being of everyone, and for His blessings over our lives, what else could there be to pray for?
Before long, I was to be led into the light.
I was walking along the beach when suddenly waves of emotion awakened my somber spirit and elevated my soul to higher places. It was as if the cool ocean breeze had a secret to tell me.
Never had I felt something like it before! I was astonished and amazed, as a vision of someone dancing in Heaven was revealed to me. Along with the dancing, there were shouts of praise. It felt as if I was alone at the long stretch of open beach, witnessing the glory of heaven.
The emotions were so real that I felt I heard the sound of heaven as it touched the earth; the sands beneath my feet, and the rays of the light on a beautiful clear day, and the twinkle of the sunlight over the waves, and every cell of my flesh was harmonizing the song of praise with the choirs of heavenly angels.
Was I oblivious to the fact that the divine forces were sending me a message; providing me a glimpse of eternity? The gift of the vision filled me with an overwhelming sense of glee. Was my acceptance of the gift of that blissful day nothing more than my enjoyment of the beauty of God’s creations?
In my limited understanding, I accepted the magical walk on the beach with joy as a bestowing of God’s favor. I hadn’t an inkling of what had happened in those very moments beyond my immediate surroundings. Tragically, in the blink of an eye, everything changed. I would soon find out that this “someone” heaven was rejoicing over was one of my beloved ones. A young man, dearly close to many hearts, including mine, had just passed away. No wonder there was a celebration in Heaven, he had just entered the gate of Paradise. He was the one who was dancing in Heaven. Yes, heaven gained one more angel whose life was cut down at the peak of vitality. Assuredly, it was not a celebratory day for us. How could this have happened? We were in a place of deep mourning.
Death brings great pain; no words could ease what we felt for the loss of our young one, who was so precious and loved. His faith was larger than life, speaking volumes about the absolute love of God. His death doesn’t make any sense, but his bold message of love and kindness left an enormous impression on those of us who love him. I intend to keep his wishes and dreams vigorously alive. If he was worth loving, his hopes and dreams are worth passing on.
Now I see how our faithful, sovereign God was preparing me ahead of time for the incomprehensible death of a precious person in our lives. The gift of this preparation was not only for me, so I could hold on to the truth of knowing that he was happy, dancing in Heaven. The vision has allowed me to convey the message of this dear young man’s new reality in the heavenly realm to the rest of the family.
RIP our beloved!
Hope you’re filled with love and peace
Hope you’re dancing in Heaven without ceasing
Send us a sign that you’re at peace and more alive
I want you to know, your love story will always and forever abide in our stories. And your candle is always burning as a reminder of your sweet memory.
Questions to ponder soberly: what are the changes that you need to make? What area of your life needs to change in order for you to be at peace with yourself and others?
You may have heard it said, “You can’t change what is going on around you, until you start changing what’s going on within you.” It’s a nice sentiment, but the question is, how do you change yourself? This question may give birth to many more questions.
For starters, if you are finding it too hard to change yourself, then what chance do you think you have in trying to change others?
Or perhaps you wish someone would suddenly appear in your life and change everything for the better. Do you think that’s the right mindset and solution? In some rare instances, changes instigated by others may improve your situation but for the most part, you’re the one, the only one who can change your life! It starts by changing your own mindset. An anonymous Hasidic rabbi,who quoted on his deathbed this: “When I was young, I set up to change the world. When I grew a little older, I realized that this was too ambitious, so I set out to change my state. This too, I realized as I grew older, was too ambitious, so I set out to change my town. When I realized I could not even do this, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I know that I should have started by changing myself. If I had started with myself, maybe then I would have succeeded in changing my family, the town, or even the state and who knows, maybe even the world! “
Life is constantly changing, and so are people. Yesterday you may have had clever thoughts to change the world, but today you are wise if you change yourself — it happens when you start following God’s instruction. After all, He has the final say on all that matters.
Paul the apostle of Christ says,
“That is how God wants us to change ourselves, by not conforming to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing our minds.” (Romans 12:2)
Draw near to God and humbly ask for a new heart. Ask him to make your desires align with his. This is the first step toward meaningful change and to receiving answers to your prayers.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6).
Without faith, hope, and trust, there is no promise for the future. You may have witnessed the faith of someone in your life that absolutely has moved you and made you ponder about your own faith?
The Bible is full of amazing examples of faith. One of them is the Canaanite woman from that vicinity, who is another perfect example of someone with a beautiful faith. She knew with confidence that only Jesus could help her, came and knelt before Jesus crying out, “Lord, help me!” she said. “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. [Matthew 15:25-28 | NIV]
What did Jesus mean “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” concerning the woman’s request?
In that era “Dog” was a term the Jews commonly applied to Gentiles [non-Jewish nation] because the Jews considered these pagan people no more likely than dogs to receive God‘s blessing.
When Jesus said these words, he was in Gentile territory on a mission to Gentile people.
The Commentary says, Jesus was not degrading the woman by using the term “dog”, he was reflecting the Jews’ attitude so as to contrast it with his own. The woman did not argue instead, using Jesus’ choice of words, she agreed to be considered a dog as long as she could receive God’s blessing for her daughter. Ironically, many Jews would lose God’s blessing and salvation because they rejected Jesus, and many Gentiles would find salvation because they recognized and accepted him.
Jesus was simply telling the woman that Jews were to have the first opportunity to accept him as the Messiah because God wanted them to present the message of salvation to the rest of the world. Jesus was not rejecting the Canaanite woman. He may have wanted to test her faith, or he may have wanted to use the situation as another opportunity to teach that faith is available to all people.
We must let the beauty of our faith be the evidence of God’s message to all people. Moreover, let us kneel down before the Lord with the assurance that the test of our faith produces perseverance and healing.
James 1:3 “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Flashback to December, 2019: I had no idea that I would see the color of sorrow, or taste its bitterness in the early days of 2020; I was not prepared to live in such a surreal time as this…
Life is a mixture of different colors—at times the hues are brilliant and breathtaking, at other times all is drenched in darkness, and numbness and emptiness overwhelm.
Grieving over a loss of a loved one is greatly painful. Yet even in times of grief, hope sees stars, and love can hear the rustle of a hummingbird’s wings, as it looks for signs from the loved one’s spirit.
Loss for some might mean a loss of time, money, a marriage, or the loss or the many dreams planned for this year. Rest assured that dreams will be realized, though they may take another form than what was expected.
I’m encouraged by this verse in the Bible, [Psalm 30: 5]
“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
A famous quote voices pain and loss like this, “In the absence of light, darkness prevails.” Yes, it does. But eventually the murkiness moves on and the light peeks through the doleful clouds, making life even more beautiful. We can appreciate the return of colorful moments, when the memory of our loss provides a reminder of the preciousness of life and it’s many blessings. The laughter of your loved ones, the smile of a stranger, the smell of the flowers, or the warmth of the sunshine brings you hope and joy.
With all that we have been through already this year, I’m beyond grateful for the voice of TRUTH that whispers in the depth of my soul. I take comfort in the knowledge that we shall meet again. We will rejoice behind these four walls and behind the Veil in this season.
I have learned so many lessons, since my head has been bowed down in pain.
Prayerfully I say, “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” [Micah 7:7]
How could anyone cast stones at her, condemning her without knowing her story? Judging her, as if they never faced pain and challenges in their own life. Yet, through her painful smiles, she eagerly waited to know the purpose of her life and hoped one day to be lifted up from the ashes of this world, so she could save her children from the same dusty road of life.
Her story may not be unique; many can relate to her pain. Before this woman was honored with the crown of motherhood, the ride of life took her through layers and layers of adversity and distraction. At times, she felt as though she was walking through the remains of a fire—a fire caused by misguided early life-choices. The haze from the embers made her wonder if she herself was a particle of ashy dust.
Although a tug-of-war ensued within her, she had come to realize that she must gather the courage to stop bowing to the wishes of others and stop listening to the lies. Instead she began to let the Spirit of righteousness clear away the ashes of her painful journey. While she was hoping for a power to lift her out of the land of pain, heaven was calling her. She knew in her heart that God was telling her, “Get up, it’s time to move and rise.”
As the smoke around her was dimming her sight, she became aware of the hope of the Invisible world [Heaven]. The Word of God says, whoever will draw near to God, He will draw near to them. Trusting His Word, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, she started moving toward God. As she did, He began to reveal His mystery to her.
She was being transformed from the inside out. She was no longer walking in the valley of ashes. She was now walking under the shadow of the Lord’s beauty. It was there she found her worth. The Lord taught her how to shield her babies with tender prayers. Although her children would at times be enticed by the rules or trends of this world, her determination to teach her children to live a God-centered life never wavered.
As a mother myself, speaking to any dear children who may be reading my words, I ask you – Do not underestimate the power of your mother’s prayers or the strength of her love. And please do not make her cry, for you do not know the storms she has endured in her life. But know this: Her love always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Her love never fails her children.
How do we receive mercy in time of desperation? From Whom do we seek it? We’re all at some point in our lives broken by someone or something, and in need of mercy. This thought leads to more questions: If mercy is the expression of God’s love, how should our love be expressed? Are we a merciful person?
To answer these questions, we need to look at our lives closely and see how merciful God is toward us. God’s mercy is fresh every morning and his mercy alone can defeat evil. His favor is continuously shown through grace over and over… God’s love confirms that mercy and grace are both closely related to each other, yet there is a difference between the two. Grace is: the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God bestowed upon humanity. Mercy has to do with His kindness and compassion. In verse [Psalm 9:13-14] David cries out to God, pleading for mercy to show kindness and withhold the judgment he deserves.
There are times in life when we face incidents that suddenly shake us to the core of our being. We don’t know what to do, and don’t know how to receive/give mercy. Whether we’re walking closely with God or not, in time of desperation we still find ourselves saying, “O God have mercy on me!” In these times, we are asking God for forgiveness, to pardon us in our transgressions.
I cannot comprehend how someone can act in a way that is so horribly wrong and still be allowed to seek the mercy of God? How can He forgive those who commit unthinkable crimes [rape, murder, theft, abuse]? Does one who causes great pain deserve to be pardoned?
What about those daily battles and conflicts in our lives? Are you a merciful person? For instance, what if someone has hurt you; it could have been for many reasons—perhaps things weren’t going right in their lives, they were frustrated, and unable to control their life circumstances. I don’t understand why some people attack others instead of fixing their own problems but it happens. Are we able to forgive someone who has wronged us, as we grieve the loss they have inflicted? As a believer, all we can do is to hand them over to God and the law.
It is hard for us to admit that we cannot solve a problem or overcome an obstacle, but it is often in our moment of helplessness when God can best deliver. He delights in a broken heart that humbly seeks His advocacy.
After David begged God for mercy, he continued to remind God in [Psalm 25] not to forget his mercy. This reminder is not for God’s sake [God will never forget or abandon his children], but our sake. “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, …” Amen!
Someday everything will make perfect sense and all the pieces will fall into place. But until then, whatever is happening in our lives is not happening to us, but for us. There is a purpose and a reason for everything under the sun [under God’s power]. Knowing that there is a reason for everything happening in your life is one thing, but finding the purpose of your life is another…
Our pastor, Rick Warren said in one of his sermons, “The two most important days of your life are; the day that you were born, and the other day is: when you know the purpose of your life; why you were born.” He continued saying, “God created us for His pleasure and for His purpose. Until we understand that, nothing will make sense.”
To find out what is the purpose our life and “Why are we here” is to look at the instructions that are within our reach, shown in God’s Word, the Bible. He has given clear guidance to us on how to live a purposeful life. We cannot accomplish this by our own strength, because of our daily shortcomings [sins]. Before God created us, He knew sin would enter the world. He knew the great sacrifice necessary to restore us to Himself; by His actions we can conclude that we are worth it. “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.” [John 3:16]
We’re in need of a Savior—Jesus, who came in human flesh and died in our place for a reason. He took our sins, willingly gave His body as a sacrifice on the cross, and rose again. He is a living Savior, who pleads on our behalf daily for our salvation. Through Him all things are done. The first purpose for our lives is; to love God back with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and to love others as ourselves. [Luke 10; 27]
If we carefully read Jesus’s prayer prior to His crucifixion, we will see that He has highlighted the purpose of our lives in His prayer. Referring to believers, He prayed, Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” [John 17:22-26].
As it is clearly stated (in Romans 6), Jesus’ death caused our sins to become powerless over us. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as the lamb of God (who was perfect, without any blemishes), we would still be in our sins, unforgiven and unsaved. The cross erases our old life. So the cross is not just a symbol, it is the mark of our salvation. God’s purpose for our life becomes our purpose for our life, which enables us to experience true and lasting joy—the abundant life that He desires for us.
The story of Christ did not end with his death. His resurrection is equally vital to the message of the gospel. He rose from death just as He told His disciples He would [in Matthew 16:21]. If He is not risen from the dead, then we would still reside in darkness with no hope. Jesus is our everlasting HOPE.