His Sweet Love Was Calling Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Are You Ready For Your Battle?

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

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.