Her Invisible Tears!

You may look at her and think, as Billy Joel said in his song, “She can kill with her smile, she can wound with her eyes.” But do you really know who lives behind the smile? Can you tell what has she been through by looking at her? If you peer into her stormy eyes, you may see a tiny bit of sunlight inside her – the pretty sparkle of innocence. Her angelic and stormy eyes are like a book telling you a story. She may reside in pain of her own making or perhaps her pain is caused by the blind, deluded, and sinful world. Whatever the reason, the pain that she feels is the result of deep wounds which cause her to see things much too clearly as her thoughts wander off the edge of the world. The bruises on her body or her tears may be visible to the people around her, but the wounds in her heart and the scars on her mind are invisible to most. You may think she’s happy but look again – don’t let her painted-on smile fool you. Can you see the scars that are hidden just below the surface? No! Years upon years of practice have made her a master of disguise. Her dreams are not just a fairy tale, they are her reality. No one knows the sadness in her eyes, her lullabies or her goodbyes.

D24FFE15-37B2-4CD1-A438-DB171F7F4943

The only place where she finds comfort is in the dark corners where she cries. She feels as if nobody notices when she is gone, and no one even misses her. She knows the teardrops that run down her chin tell the story of her pain to the heavens above. After all, tears are a kind of prayer. They travel to God, when words fail. Her sacred tears are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They are the story of unspeakable love that no one could offer her, except the One whose Spirit is always with her and carries her. In spite of her brokenness, she knows she is blessed, because the God of heaven tells her so. She knows that the lover of her soul keeps track of all her sorrows, wipes away every tear from her eyes, and collects them all in His bottle. God records each one in His book (Psalm 56:8) and He tells her that she is worth far more than rubies. He reminds her to use His word as a sword to fight her battles, instead of her tears.
Do not judge her. She may not tell you her story, but stop for a moment and try to hear her silent cry and listen to what she says with her eyes. Beneath her pain, you will notice the beauty of her loving heart shining brighter than the sparkle in her eyes. Undoubtedly, your heart will weep with her. You’ll want to protect her and others just like her. Sometimes she wonders if there is anyone who can see the kindness in her heart and smile at her like Jesus would. Will you be the one who can gauge the sadness in her gaze and will try to speak the language of her kind heart?
If you see a woman (young or old) who needs your help, whether you’re a man or woman, would you be willing to step out of the shadows and protect her, respect her, and honor her? Be careful and gentle with her because, “Heaven knows her story, for the Lord’s eyes are on her, and His ears are attentive to her cry.”(Psalm 34:15)

Advertisements

Immerse Yourself in His Light!

Light is the radiance or illumination from a particular source. In the Bible, light symbolizes righteousness. If light is a metaphor for living an upright life, then darkness signifies an evil and destructive life. God Himself is light. He is absolutely Holy and there is no hint of injustice in Him. Those who walk in darkness live and act against God. There is no truth in their life’s walk. Therefore, God holds no heavenly fellowship or intimacy with these unholy souls.
People who live near God and walk in His brilliant light are partakers of His divine energy, and they experience glimpses of His power and His love in their daily walk. They illuminate His light to the world around them. God’s nature is pure and perfect and it should be represented as such to the dark world. Jesus said in (Matthew 5:16), “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good work”. And (Psalm 76:4) says, “You are radiant with light”.
If one says, “I believe in God and have a fellowship with Him”, yet leads a destructive life, they lie and do not live out the truth. And they shouldn’t be claiming that they’re B43BB231-3D8A-4340-B486-2087BFB2F81Ereflecting God’s light. A relationship is stronger, and more effective and powerful when it’s built on a deep level of intimacy. Similarly, the manifestation of God’s brilliant light appears in your life when you start to believe and understand what God has done for you through Jesus. Because of His love for you, you begin to put your trust in Him. He will graciously answer even selfish prayers at times, just to show that He hears you and is with you. He has the power to do anything according to His will. God created us to be in a deep relationship with Him. And we can rely on him in all circumstances, knowing that He will be with us every step of the way. Even when we are not sure what to do, we can wait for Him to open the way before us. This calls for putting our trust in the One who sees our next steps. The Lord has promised us that His light will go with us wherever we go and His presence will give us wisdom and rest for our soul.
God is light, and so is Jesus, because He was born of God’s Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”. (John 8:12)
Unfortunately, sometimes we cling to our old ways for dear life, instead of embracing the reality who we belong to, the God of all creation. When we are determined to get our own way and insist on our agenda, we actually block God out of our consciousness. Rather than single-mindedly following some selfish goal, we must make a quick turn to God and ask Him to shine His light on our mission, so we can see clearly from His perspective. Cling to God, not to His favors. All it takes is a quick prayer, a simple conversation with our Creator. It must be done with faith (an open mind and heart). As you began to immerse yourself in His light and glory, asking for His will to be done in your life, the creator of Heaven and earth will gladly comply.

He wants you to be a lamp on a hilltop that shines His light over your city. Imagine what an honorable life it would be to reflect His light.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”(Matthew 5:14)

His Peace Surrounds You, When Your Thoughts Wage War!

dedicate this article to my beloved brother, who passed away three years ago today.

 

When we think of peace, we think of freedom from disturbance, a state of tranquility, restfulness, quietness, calmness of mind, or serenity. If we say, “Everyone wants peace” – is that a true statement? Not necessarily… Surprisingly, peace is sometimes elusive, because people may use the word “peace” for their own selfish motives. Humans have the capability to desire both peace and war, as well as the spectrum of conditions which lie between the two. War doesn’t always happen on the border between two countries. The battle can be in one’s mind (self-war), our homes, our workplace, communities, our country, and elsewhere. When a war appears in your life, whether it begins gradually or suddenly, how do you handle it and rebuke its fire? It may involve political, marital, financial, or medical issues but it’s intention is to destroy lives.

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan

He couldn’t have said it better. The true antidote to any war is love and acceptance. C346C08C-B710-43C1-B8B4-ABE7595BA76EThese are the things that will ultimately bring us peace. Unfortunately, some people don’t view it that way. But here is the question. How can we find this cure? Where can we get it? How do we offer it to others or apply it to our circumstances? First of all, how we define peace depends on the situation. Peace is agreement and harmony among people; it’s a relational empathy which points everyone to love one another, to be patient with each other, and to work together in order to reach their goals. It moves us away from hatred and betrayal. Most people desire peace, as living without it is frightening, painful, depressing, and frustrating.

With all that in mind, how can you find peace when you’re in the midst of a storm? How do you function when hope seems to be gone? It could be the loss of a job, or a place to live, the loss of love and harmony between people or countries. Or especially the loss of a loved one. Nothing can be more devastating than the death someone close to you. It can be the most catastrophic, tragic, and difficult time in one’s life.

I’m sure you have experienced some kind of war or peace in your life that completely caught you by surprise. You may want to know if I have. Oh, yes, I have! Living in the war and finding peace, or living in peace and then facing a war – I have seen it all. So my story may be similar to yours.

I have lost some of my loved ones in the war against a horrible disease – cancer. One of them was my beloved brother. I was heartbroken to lose one of my siblings. Though we lived far from each other, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to visit my brother during his treatment. I was able to encourage him to have hope and trust God during his painful journey. I told him my testimony – the story of how I found the truth of God’s love. I told him about God’s intangible and everlasting love, and how His love saved my life.

I shared with my brother that God desires no harm and His intention for us is to have a life filled with peace and purpose. But since we live on planet earth and have the gift of free will, we create wars for ourselves by the choices we make on a daily basis. If we choose to live a life near God, we must be ready as there will never be a dull moment. It will be filled with different emotions; at times joy and excitement and at others, sadness and strife. The difference is that if you have a relationship with God, you will feel his peace even in the midst of storms.

Will we feel warm and fuzzy all the time toward God and everyone else? No! We live on earth, not in heaven. We all have walked through the valley of darkness from time to time. Living close to Him means that you are at peace within yourself. When you are comfortable with yourself, you’re at ease with everyone else. When there is drama or devastating circumstances surrounding you, you will still be at peace if your eyes stay fixed on God . This kind of peace endures because your relationship with God is based on love, not on your feelings. Living close to Him is unpredictable. You never know what God has for you in the next hour. He is in control of all that is.

My brother listened and then he said,“Sis, you are very lucky to be touched and chosen by God”. Months later it was time for us to say our last words to him. His fragile body couldn’t endure the pain any longer. I prayed (Psalm 23) to him out loud right before he passed away. As I ended my prayer, I told him that the Lord was waiting for Him. Then I saw tears rolling down from his nearly lifeless eyes. I knew he heard every word of my prayer. The wall of my own tears didn’t allow me to say a final goodbye. It was the most painful moment of my life. How do you say goodbye to your loved one for the last time? I was gasping for air, and in that instant, I heard the Lord say in my heart, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Truly, with all that I had and with all that I knew, I was confident God was near and everything was under his control.

Psalm 138:3 says “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

If I didn’t have faith in God at that time, I would have been absolutely crushed by the great pain. Instead, found myself accepting his death and trusting God. It was indescribable how I felt; I cannot put it into words. Of course I shed many quiet tears. But I wasn’t angry, blaming God or anyone else. During that mournful time, I felt something powerful within me that I had never experienced before. I couldn’t fathom how I could be feeling such a profound sense of peace, a kind of peace I could not explain. Peace in such a time of personal loss was shocking to me. I was in a state of awe! Certainly, it was the result of many prayers and the Lord’s unfailing love. The Lord’s peace and power rule the hearts of those who fear and trust Him. The peace of God’s presence coexisted with my deep sorrow. Through faith and acceptance of God’s will, it was possible to cope with great pain.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Two weeks after my brother’s passing, I had a dream about him. I saw him young, handsome and in good health. I was crying with joy as he said to me, “Why are you crying? Everything is fine now.” It was such a relief to know that he was no longer in pain. He is happy and his spirit is at peace. I know with assurance where my brother is now. Life may end here, but if we have salvation through God, we can be certain of our destination after we leave this round green planet. Without a doubt, it is wonderful and helpful to have a group of prayer warriors surrounding you. As they lift you up in prayer, God hears them and sees right through every heart.
The LORD says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears and I will heal you….. (2 King 20:5)

Ultimately, the greatest gift of all is the Lord’s peace. This gift cost him greatly as He purchased it with His blood. We can receive this unfathomable gift by trusting Him in the midst of our storms. Keep looking up and seek His power and peace through the trials in life. After all, He is the prince of peace! Keep focusing on His unfailing love and hold on to His hand in childlike trust. As you trust, He will bless you with peace.
My prayer for you is this – May the Prince of Peace be with you in all your ways and may His peace rule your heart, mind, and soul.
Amen!

His Peace Surrounds You, When Your Thoughts Wage War!

I dedicate this article to my beloved brother, who passed away three years ago today.

When we think of peace, we think of freedom from disturbance, a state of tranquility, restfulness, quietness, calmness of mind, or serenity. If we say, “Everyone wants peace” – is that a true statement? Not necessarily… Surprisingly, peace is sometimes elusive, because people may use the word “peace” for their own selfish motives. Humans have the capability to desire both peace and war, as well as the spectrum of conditions which lie between the two. War doesn’t always happen on the border between two countries. The battle can be in one’s mind (self-war), our homes, our workplace, communities, our country, and elsewhere. When a war appears in your life, whether it begins gradually or suddenly, how do you handle it and rebuke its fire? It may involve political, marital, financial, or medical issues but it’s intention is to destroy lives.

“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” Ronald Reagan

97656E3B-CB04-479C-A63C-E3EB8D55F85EHe couldn’t have said it better. The true antidote to any war is love and acceptance. These are the things that will ultimately bring us peace. Unfortunately, some people don’t view it that way. But here is the question. How can we find this cure? Where can we get it? How do we offer it to others or apply it to our circumstances? First of all, how we define peace depends on the situation. Peace is agreement and harmony among people; it’s a relational empathy which points everyone to love one another, to be patient with each other, and to work together in order to reach their goals. It moves us away from hatred and betrayal. Most people desire peace, as living without it is frightening, painful, depressing, and frustrating.

With all that in mind, how can you find peace when you’re in the midst of a storm? How do you function when hope seems to be gone? It could be the loss of a job, or a place to live, the loss of love and harmony between people or countries. Or especially the loss of a loved one. Nothing can be more devastating than the death someone close to you. It can be the most catastrophic, tragic, and difficult time in one’s life.

I’m sure you have experienced some kind of war or peace in your life that completely caught you by surprise. You may want to know if I have. Oh, yes, I have! Living in the war and finding peace, or living in peace and then facing a war – I have seen it all. So my story may be similar to yours.

I have lost some of my loved ones in the war against a horrible disease – cancer. One of them was my beloved brother. I was heartbroken to lose one of my siblings. Though we lived far from each other, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to visit my brother during his treatment. I was able to encourage him to have hope and trust God during his painful journey. I told him my testimony – the story of how I found the truth of God’s love. I told him about God’s intangible and everlasting love, and how His love saved my life.

I shared with my brother that God desires no harm and His intention for us is to have a life filled with peace and purpose. But since we live on planet earth and have the gift of free will, we create wars for ourselves by the choices we make on a daily basis. If we choose to live a life near God, we must be ready as there will never be a dull moment. It will be filled with different emotions; at times joy and excitement and at others, sadness and strife. The difference is that if you have a relationship with God, you will feel his peace even in the midst of storms.

Will we feel warm and fuzzy all the time toward God and everyone else? No! We live on earth, not in heaven. We all have walked through the valley of darkness from time to time. Living close to Him means that you are at peace within yourself. When you are comfortable with yourself, you’re at ease with everyone else. When there is drama or devastating circumstances surrounding you, you will still be at peace if your eyes stay fixed on God . This kind of peace endures because your relationship with God is based on love, not on your feelings. Living close to Him is unpredictable. You never know what God has for you in the next hour. He is in control of all that is.

My brother listened and then he said,“Sis, you are very lucky to be touched and chosen by God”. Months later it was time for us to say our last words to him. His fragile body couldn’t endure the pain any longer. I prayed (Psalm 23) to him out loud right before he passed away. As I ended my prayer, I told him that the Lord was waiting for Him. Then I saw tears rolling down from his nearly lifeless eyes. I knew he heard every word of my prayer. The wall of my own tears didn’t allow me to say a final goodbye. It was the most painful moment of my life. How do you say goodbye to your loved one for the last time? I was gasping for air, and in that instant, I heard the Lord say in my heart, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Truly, with all that I had and with all that I knew, I was confident God was near and everything was under his control.

Psalm 138:3 says “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

If I didn’t have faith in God at that time, I would have been absolutely crushed by the great pain. Instead, found myself accepting his death and trusting God. It was indescribable how I felt; I cannot put it into words. Of course I shed many quiet tears. But I wasn’t angry, blaming God or anyone else. During that mournful time, I felt something powerful within me that I had never experienced before. I couldn’t fathom how I could be feeling such a profound sense of peace, a kind of peace I could not explain. Peace in such a time of personal loss was shocking to me. I was in a state of awe! Certainly, it was the result of many prayers and the Lord’s unfailing love. The Lord’s peace and power rule the hearts of those who fear and trust Him. The peace of God’s presence coexisted with my deep sorrow. Through faith and acceptance of God’s will, it was possible to cope with great pain.

Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Two weeks after my brother’s passing, I had a dream about him. I saw him young, handsome and in good health. I was crying with joy as he said to me, “Why are you crying? Everything is fine now.” It was such a relief to know that he was no longer in pain. He is happy and his spirit is at peace. I know with assurance where my brother is now. Life may end here, but if we have salvation through God, we can be certain of our destination after we leave this round green planet. Without a doubt, it is wonderful and helpful to have a group of prayer warriors surrounding you. As they lift you up in prayer, God hears them and sees right through every heart.
The LORD says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears and I will heal you….. (2 King 20:5)

Ultimately, the greatest gift of all is the Lord’s peace. This gift cost him greatly as He purchased it with His blood. We can receive this unfathomable gift by trusting Him in the midst of our storms. Keep looking up and seek His power and peace through the trials in life. After all, He is the prince of peace! Keep focusing on His unfailing love and hold on to His hand in childlike trust. As you trust, He will bless you with peace.
My prayer for you is this – May the Prince of Peace be with you in all your ways and may His peace rule your heart, mind, and soul.
Amen!

 

 

Is Life Like a Game of Chess?

 Life is a board game and time is your opponent. I don’t know about you, but I have never played the game of Chess, nor have I ever had a desire to learn. But when I was young I would watch some friends of the family play the game from time to time. I noticed they played with intense concentration, blocking out all distractions and carefully considering each move. It must be hard to develop the habit of reflecting before each move. Millions of people in the world play this game. Chess was originally invented in India, around the 6th century AD. Its purpose was to help improve the lives of people with mental problems. Over the centuries, people have played the game for pleasure and for the challenge. Chess is a two-player game. The game has a total of 16 pieces for each player to play – the King, Queen, Bishop, Rook, and so on. Each piece has its own power. Every time a player makes a move, either a positive or negative outcome occurs. The pieces keep moving forward and the player must make an intellectual decision as to where he should move next. In Chess or in any game, the object is to win. We play the game of life in a similar fashion. We make decisions every day based on how we want to move forward.   

How do you play this match? Some people navigate their way carefully through the journey of life. They have won or are winning the game, or at least that’s how it looks from the outside. They make their decisions based on the principles they choose. From my personal experience, I’d say the game is not as easy as it seems. Don’t you agree? In our lives, we are connected by many relationships, which we rely on for survival. Whether it’s family, friends, work, home, finances, etc., each of us makes decisions based on what we want from life. 

Since we are all at times driven to have the desires of our flesh, we may find ourselves trying to have our cake and eat it too. Some people make their move on the game board of life by manipulating people or situations to get what they want, instead of basing their decision on moral principles. If you don’t make your move diligently, life may make its own move and “knock off a piece” of your empire. I have been there, and have had to tell myself, “That was disappointing, but so what? It’s a part of life.” We can’t do it with our own strength. We need help, the kind of help that can give us the power to dust ourselves off from a fall and play the game again with better plans. It may take a few times. Sometimes you must move backward to take better steps forward. That’s called life. I must say, I’m glad for those who have learned from their falls. They go forward saying, “The game is on!” I love how beautifully David the prophet says in Psalm 119: 71, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your law.” He recognized that his affliction brought him closer to God. Hopefully we also can learn from our failures and live the life that was intended for us, without the heavy winds of life knocking us down. 

 The next verse emphasizes it. “Fight for the right things, in the right way, and the right motive.” 1 Chronicles 11:10

 There are many kinds of believers and religions in the world. Some believe in God (He exists and created the universe), then there are others that believe God is who He says He is, does what He says he will do, and is clear about what He wants us to do. 

 There are also people who are atheists (they believe in self-knowledge and for them, God does not exist). Each of us looks at life from our own unique perspective and many of us are driven to “win the game” on our own strength. But God has intended for us a different way.

 “Fear not, for I am with you; don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

 You might say, “Those people don’t believe in God, but it seems like they have everything. They certainly look happy.” It looks good, doesn’t it? But are they happy within themselves? Do they have the peace you have? They’re always moving from one thing to another. Nothing can satisfy them for long, because the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. Nothing can quench their thirst for more. They may look rich on the outside, but are penniless in their heart and soul. Do you think they have won the game of life? I don’t think so. None of us will finish victoriously, unless we align ourselves with God through His one and only son, Christ Jesus. Through faith His strength becomes ours, as He reaches out to keep us from falling. “Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’. ” (Matthew 6: 28-30)  Life is not always about winning. Sometimes it’s about learning and growing. 

 If we pay careful attention to God’s word, we will see that He never promised to move the pieces of the game of life for us, but He has promised that He will be with us and with His help, the obstacles blocking our forward growth will be removed. We must keep the verse below in mind, as this is how God wants us to live our lives. If we do, we will undoubtedly win the game of life in the end.   

  “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Life Beyond the Screen!

We don’t understand God’s sovereignty and we desperately seek for answers so as to understand why God allows bad things happen to good people. Or conversely, why do good things happen to bad people? We have many unanswered questions. Of all the challenges that we face in our daily lives, the most difficult one to understand is the suffering of innocent people. Why does God allow His creation to suffer? With His loving hands, He created and gave purpose and gifts to every living thing. Humans are the only thing in creation given the gift of free will. To choose God (to trust Him and have eternal hope) means we can have a victorious life, and the source of our victory will be our perseverance. To choose to live without him is the path of darkness which ends in death. Everyone has their struggles and we don’t have any idea as to what goes on in someone’s life beyond the public image they portray.

Everyone was shocked and disturbed upon hearing about the death of Robin Williams. Such a gifted man! There are many talented celebrities and we all have one or two favorites. Robin Williams was one of my favorite actor/comedians and I was saddened when he suddenly left this world. In the wake of his death by suicide, his friends and fans tried to fathom how someone who brought so much happiness to the world could be in such a dark place, living a life of despair. As I read about him, the man behind the screen, tears began to flow and my heart broke. He was not only incredibly hilarious, he was also a kindhearted and loving guy who put the happiness of others first. He came from a family with money, and he felt so blessed that he wanted to give something back to the world. But unfortunately, no one knew how deeply he mourned within himself. 

Robin is quoted as saying, ” Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”
We don’t know much about his medical condition and what went through his mind in those mournful last moments, but his final action tells us that he had lost all hope. Without hope life loses its meaning. 
Like Robin, a lot of us live a life “on screen” and “off screen” – on the outside we look as if everything is okay and yet, behind the smiles there are dark secrets, silent tears, and heavy storms without hope. Furthermore, some people are entangled in the deep pit of addiction (drugs, food, sex, pornography, etc.) and are in the complete denial, which typical of a person who is addicted. They wear a mask of secrets. They assume that if they stay hidden, the storm will be easier to bear and no one will know what they’re up to, rather than dealing with the shame and embarrassment of the truth. The wind storm and the dark clouds won’t fade away, instead they get heavier and thicker, until they eventually knock them down. 
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Where should they go? Where can they find shelter? Who would want to take them in? Some people may shut the door in their face. Even close friends and family may reject them. They might be in a state of confusion and desperation, not knowing how to cope or how to crawl out of the hole that they dug for themselves. You may try to give them a shoulder to cry on and talk to them countless times, trying to help them see the light. Finally, you realize that you’re not helping them. In fact, you’re enabling them. You would like to tell them, “Stop it! Enough is enough. You’re hurting yourself and everyone around you.” But it is easier said than done. We all face difficulties in our lives. God wants us to face the storm, not ignore it. He never said that it would be easy, but He promises to be with us. If we endure the suffering and let perseverance do its work, we will make it to the other side. 
If we believe through faith that God is with us even as we go through the fire, we can confidently know that we will emerge from it, and not only will we not smell like smoke, we will come out on the other side with buckets of water in our hands (God’s many blessings). How does that sound? It surely gives us hope.
 By embracing hardship, perseverance can bring us to a spacious place. God’s word says:

“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 ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)

The best place to find hope is in the shelter of God’s loving arms. He loves us so much that He gave us the free gift of choice. He boldly tells us that if we choose the road of destruction, we will eventually find death. If we choose Him, we will find life – a life free from turmoil, free from living in secret, and free from hiding in dark places. He wants us to take off the mask of secrecy and come boldly to the throne of God. 
David said in (Psalm 32:7)”You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” 

Yes, this verse should be our prayer as well. At times, we’re in so much pain that we can’t see through the darkness. How can God possibly hear our prayers? But as soon as we put our hope in God and with trust Him, claiming the victory that is ours, we will witness how His light can peek through the darkest moments to enlighten our hearts and our lives. Walking through the dark valleys requires time and patience. It takes an enormous amount of effort to wait on God. 
I must say, waiting for God may not be easy, but it is not joyless either, because His presence goes with us wherever we go. We will always face temptation and hardship, but when we seek God’s shelter and focus on His promises, waiting for Him becomes the source of our joy rather than a drudgery.

 

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!

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?

IMG_9087

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?

 

IMG_9087

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.