How do You Overcome the Giants in Your Life?

At times we all face challenges in life. Perhaps you are going through one right now. Everyone deals with life’s troubles differently. These difficulties are the GIANTS in our lives. They come in different sizes and shapes and though they may not be visible for everyone to see, they are enormous issues in our lives – health issues, illness or disease, infertility, divorce, drug, food and sex addictions, financial problems, marital struggles, misbehaving kids, etc.

With all that we battle through everyday, it matters how we learn to handle the giants in our lives.  How do you fight your giants? Do you give up or ignore them, or do you face them with faith and persistence, knowing that the victory will be yours? Sometimes we don’t feel God’s presence with us and we think He has abandoned us as we walk through our battlefield. Perhaps we are the ones who, by going our own way and not paying attention, are not allowing ourselves to hear him or feel His presence. We are so busy with the jingle of the visible world and think we can control and change things in our lives using our own power. We are spiritually blindfolded as our GIANTS try to defeat us, and not aware that God is always moving on our behalf.  He is saying, “O, My beloved daughter/son, you cannot change things by relying on your own power. You have tried this many times before, but it never works. You continue aimlessly in a vicious cycle.”  

But what if you move in faith like David in the story of “David versus Goliath”?  If you do, you can know for sure that you will be victorious in the end. For those who haven’t read the story of David and Goliath in the Bible, you can find it in [1 Samuel:17].

When I studied the life of David the prophet (Prophet Dawud), I learned how to deal with my own daily battles. Through reading and meditating on God’s word, I became aware of the light around me and was encouraged to pray unceasingly. The light of God’s presence was shining so brightly on my life that I could clearly see the futility of my old desires and wishes. As we know, some old habits die hard, and mine were still showing up at times, becoming stumbling blocks on my path. As the time went by, I realized these habits were the Goliath (giant) in my life. How could I fight this strong giant on my path?  The answer is, like David did, to move forward in faith! Then God will graciously surround us with His mighty power. That is what He did in my life, by surrounding me with mature believers to help me to draw closer to him.

I learned from spiritual leaders and strong believers that I need to do four things to  defeat the stumbling blocks of life:

1- Come humbly before God, admit that I am weak, and pray passionately and earnestly from my heart.  

2 – Ask God to fill my mind with His word. Read it over and over that it may protect me and become part of me.

3- Accept support from the other believers.

4- Hold on to God’s promises. As it says in (Isaiah 40:10), “Those who hope in the Lord will fly like Eagles …” And [Romans 8:31] “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So David triumphed over a giant with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the mighty Goliath and killed him.

Don’t you think you could be like David the shepherd boy, who was a man of faith? You mayw be up against a giant (divorce, severe illness, financial devastation, loss of a loved one, loss of job, etc..) and feeling as if you have no protection. But the way to emerge victoriously from the battlefield is to focus not on how big your giant is, but to focus on how big your God is. Be confident, knowing that if God delivered David from the hands his enemy, He will also deliver you successfully through the battle and will hand you the reward that He has promised you according to your faith.

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

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A New Day, A New Dawn, And A New You!

29E3A9D9-F162-4755-96BA-E0845A60013FAt the beginning of each year, people might ask you, “What are your plans for this year?” or “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” 

You may or may not tell them your plans. Perhaps you’re not sure when, where and how your plans will come together, or even what those plans will be.  It’s important to set goals for your future, and you can reach them best by planning diligently and working vigorously. 

 What do you do if your plans don’t turn out the way you had hoped? For instance, what if your prayers for healing go unanswered, or a dream you have still seems out of reach, or you are waiting for a new job, or for marriage, or you are hurt by a broken relationship that hasn’t been mended. What do you do? Do you allow yesterday’s stumbles and falls in life to cause you to keep your head down, immersed in your disappointment, or do you get up and dust yourself off and start over? 

What if you were to ask a child one of these questions in simple terms? What do you think would be his/her answer?  

 I honestly think children are living messages. They can heal a soul, just by being themselves.  They can speak simply but profoundly, with a clarity that can make you smile and think twice.

 One day I was watching the Ellen show. She was interviewing a three-year-old child, an extremely talented gymnast named Emma. Ellen asked her, “Do you ever get scared of falling?”  Ellen then asked, “Do you ever get disappointed and give up?”  Emma answered in a sweet and precious voice and without any hesitation. “NO! I don’t, because I get right back up and try again.” Wow! Perfect answer. It was unbelievable to me that she could be so young and know so much.

 You may have noticed that whenever children are doing something they truly enjoy, they say, “Do it again”. It might be a game, a place to go, etc. They don’t mind repeating something a hundred times. It’s the same with God. He is pure and holy. When He sees us fall, He says, “Get up and do it again”. The great thing about walking with God every day in this life is that the door of opportunity is always open for a fresh start. Over and over, He gives us a new day, a new dawn, a new life, and He daily renews us.  

 If we look, we can see the work of His loving hands all around us and we can be a witness as His miracles unfold. Let’s take a moment to thank God for all He has done for us and to ask for forgiveness in the areas where we have missed the mark.

 “For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” [Psalm 25:11]

 Let’s embrace the new decade with open minds and trusting hearts. Let’s make sure the things we are chasing after in the years to come align with God’s plan for our lives. Let’s encourage each other in all areas of our lives. We may have fallen in the past, but we can get up as Emma did, and move forward.     

 

The Story of Christmas Took On New Meaning!

What would it take to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, and how can one begin to understand the vastness of His love? 

I didn’t always know the depth of God’s love, or understand that he has created all of us to live in deep relationship with him. I didn’t yet realize I could rely on him in all circumstances as my loving Father, knowing he would be with me every step of the way. Instead, I knew and appreciated his creations on a surface level, rather than understanding the profundity of his love for all of creation, including me. 

I remember how far I was from grasping the importance of the “truth” back then, I just couldn’t see it. I knew that I had no righteousness of my own to approach God’s throne, but didn’t yet understand that he had, in his infinite love, already prepared a way to communicate with me.

Mercifully, the truth was revealed to me through a long journey of faith. I started living in the light and found a way to draw closer to God’s presence. I began seeing glimpses of his power and his love for me by reading his Word. The stories of Christmas and Easter came alive and took on new meaning for me. A Savior was sent to fill the gap between God and us [his children]—an advocate to plead for our case. 

God, our Heavenly Father sent His Word in flesh—Christ Jesus, so through him we can personally get to know him. The verse, [John 3:16], “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” is a pivotal verse in the Bible. It unlocks the hidden depth of God’s love for humanity, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Knowing that God loves us no matter what we have done, encourages us to put our trust in him. In the the next passage, Jesus tells Thomas, one of his disciples, exactly what it takes to approach God’s throne. [John 14: 5-7] Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

The Lord’s words confirm the path of salvation, which leads to the forgiveness of our sins, a peaceful life on earth, and the assurance of eternal life.

I don’t know what road you’re on, but I can tell you this: the path that I’m on highlights all my needs, and makes it clear that no one can fulfill them but God. My weaknesses are evidence of my need for a Savior. The choice is ours, to spend eternity with God or apart from him. I chose Jesus as my Savior and he is the reason I celebrate Christmas—it’s His birthday. The world must know this: Christmas without Christ is a fake celebration, an illusion. 

MERRY  CHRISTMAS!🎄

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Guard Your Heart!

How do we manage “guarding our heart” without “pushing people away”?

I always struggle with it; I try to be kind to everyone around me, but some people mistake my kindness for weakness, or a willingness to accept whatever behavior they might choose to display….

We all crave love and respect. I am speaking of love in general, not necessarily romantic love. I think there is much love that people want to give but it’s harder and harder these days to show love, to celebrate pure and genuine love.  Some people mistake kindness for flirtation, or some may hold back, thinking that others must want something from them. How sad! But the point is: how do we walk the fine line between loving unconditionally and guarding our own personhood? 

Fortunately, God has given us the answer in the Bible. [Proverbs 4:23-27] clearly warns us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

To be kind to everyone, you must realize that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. The Bible tells us over and over to be kind to one another and help each other, and repeatedly emphasizes that there shouldn’t be any limits to our compassion. Sometimes people are so beaten down by life’s trials and failures that they need someone who is willing to be a long-term friend to help them. It can be challenging to help someone who at first seems unwilling to take any steps towards a solution. He or she may seem like a hopeless case. But a long, patient friendship with such a person can also be very rewarding.  It pleases God to see this wonderful characteristic of perseverance in our lives. 

However, in this area of giving and helping, the Bible also teaches that we must have wise discernment. We must “guard our hearts” by not saying or doing things that we may regret. God gives us certain standards and we must draw a line when it comes to giving our time to others or, even more than that, our hearts. 

Our emotions and feelings can overwhelm us at times. But wisdom evaluates our “Why, How, and Where”. The book of Proverbs and Psalms of David in the Bible are filled with knowledge of good judgment, insight, and common sense.

Psalm 111:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. 

Proverbs 1:7

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. 

The Word of God not only tell us to follow the precepts of the Lord, but also tells us to make this a matter of prayer, asking the Lord to show us what He wants us to do. He will give us wisdom to recognize genuine needs and discern between protecting our hearts and giving into distraction. 

Regardless of how others view our kindness — Theodore Isaac Rubin, M.D says, “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.”

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Rely on God’s Promises for Your Needs!

Contentment  is not a place where you arrive after a long and arduous journey, and  thankfulness is not found by striving and struggling. The sin in our lives has made contentment elusive and difficult to achieve. In life, many situations are attached to temporary satisfaction. This fleeting happiness arrives without any substance and lasting fulfilment. There is one, and only one way to live a life of sustained satisfaction: contentment is a gift from the hand of God to us. It comes when our relationship with God is right — and our heart is filled with gratitude and thankfulness.  

Are you content in any circumstance? Paul the apostle of Christ, knew how to be content, whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. His secret was to draw close to Christ’s power for strength. This is what he said in [Philippians 4:12-13], 

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” [Timothy 6:6-7]

Paul encourages us, whether we have great needs or are mildly discontented with our life.  In either case, we learn to rely on God’s promises and Christ’s power to help us to be content. God knows what is best for us and will supply our needs.

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Do You Need a Breakthrough Prayer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Does it Mean to Love the Darkness?

It is easy to love the light, but how can you come to love the darkness? We know that darkness is the absence of light and it comes only when everything else has gone.  Darkness is moments of loss, emptiness, struggle, adversity, pain, loneliness, and nothingness.

Mother Teresa once shared how she came to realize the reality of darkness. She wrote:

“When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing. I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul…. In spite of all — this darkness and emptiness is not as painful as the longing for God…” 

We can definitely agree with her — nothing can be as painful as the longing for God.  But what did she find in those murky hours of her ministry that would finally cause her to love the total absence of light?

Eventually she wrote: “I have come to love the darkness. For I believe that it is a part, a very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.”

The verses below describes how Mother Teresa shared the agony of Christ Jesus throughout her ministry helping the poorest of the poor. 

1 Peter 3:18 | NIV

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.  

1 Peter 2:24 | NIV

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  

Most days I study God’s word in the morning and then meditate on them for a time, loving Him, talking to Him, and even singing worship songs with heartfelt adoration. But sometimes, when pain comes and darkness tries to dim the light in my soul [the secret-self], then there is no movement and I find myself getting down and quiet. Yet deep down somewhere in my soul the longing for God keeps breaking through the darkness, reminding me what God has done for me. I am reminded of all His blessings in my life and am assured that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion.  Those painful moments through the dark tunnel are part of the process which gets me to the light found in repentance, and the love inherent in salvation.

When you find yourself “in the days of pain”, feeling that your spirit is floating down into that dark and motionless tunnel, you may want to consider it as a blessing. For your stillness may lead to repentance; which will strengthen your mind, body, and soul.    

In [Isaiah 30:15] this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. 

The bottom line is: our pain is part of the plan whether we like it or not. As we stop resenting our circumstances and quietly wait for God’s answers, we will come to realize that, as much as we think of “darkness” as moments of emptiness, loneliness, and nothingness… Yet it’s everything.
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Roadblocks – the Dark Night of the Soul!

We all at some point in life will confront roadblocks — or, as the ancients called it, “the dark night of the soul.”

We encounter a roadblock when a crisis turns our world upside down.  These roadblocks may be one-time events, or they may show up numerous times in our life’s walk. They may be the result of bad habits rooted deeply in early life, or foisted upon us by unfortunate circumstances. We try to trim and touch up the surface temporarily, but never address the root of our issues. Unknowingly, we fall back into the same habits. Each time our return gets harder and more painful. 

But if we unclench our fists, and with an open heart offer ourselves to God, allowing Him to dig up these deeply buried roots, He will re-establish our roots in Himself.  

When you’re ready to surrender “the dark night of your soul” [the roadblocks] to God and trust Him to do the impossible, you will see and know you are standing on sacred ground.  

God has promised us over and over in His word through Christ Jesus who is the advocate of God — he tells us in [Matthew 7:7-8]

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you…”

I’m still learning to unclench my fists. Through Jesus Christ I surrender everything to God daily. 

What about you?  What things and habits are rooted in you that God may want to dig out, so that you can be free from the boundaries that are the cause of “your dark night of the soul?”

So, should we be thankful for the detours and roadblocks? Yes, they protect us from the paths and places that are not meat to be for us. And they’re there to teach us lessons.

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Who is Your Cornerstone and Solid Ground?

We’re all in search of solid ground, a promise or a support that will help us to stay secure. If you have discovered a source of stability in your life, that’s wonderful. But have you ever thought of what actual foundation you are using as you start building your life on the solid ground that you think you’ve found? What is holding up your foundation? Building a strong and safe life is like building a stone house. In every stone building, one stone is the most critical. For a stone building to stand, the rock which holds the weight of the entire structure must be reliable.  This stone is called the cornerstone. 

Personally, I couldn’t find a safe place before I discovered my identity and purpose in life through my faith in Christ Jesus. Formerly, I trusted in people who I thought might be my rock. I believed they wouldn’t let me down. Unfortunately, that time of life took me through layers and layers of disappointment and at times, shook the ground beneath me. We are all human and are prone to disappoint each other. Human relationships will always be an important part of life, but the chains of family and friendship inevitably break down at some point. Yet God is faithful and close to the broken-hearted. [Psalms 34:18-20]

As for me, those experiences taught me to be vigilant in whom and in what I place my trust. It’s a work in process – though I may feel a daily tug-of-war within me regarding where to build my life’s foundation, I have come to realize that I must muster the courage to stop bowing to the wishes of others. I must instead let the Holy Spirit of God be my solid ground.  Jesus is my cornerstone.

The Holy Spirit has taught me many lessons. One of them is to keep on praying for those who have let me down. And I must pray for myself as well, to become more Christ like rather than responding in kind. The Lord’s word encourages me daily: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” [1 Peter 3:9]

I’m hopeful because [Isaiah 28:16] echos the Lord God’s word: “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: “Whoever believes will not be in panic.”

WITH WHOM DO YOU TRUST YOUR LIFE? WHO IS YOUR CORNERSTONE? 

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Why do we Pollute our Freedom?

We are the only creature in all of creation that have been blessed by God with free will and we’re called to respect this freedom. From the very beginning of time, we have unfortunately squandered and misused our freedom.  If we look at the patterns of our behavior, comparing what God wants for us as a loving Father with how we’ve been responding, we will see how frequently we push the envelope by desecrating our freedom.

The question is: Why did God give us the free will? Wouldn’t it have been easier to create mankind genetically good? We would have lived happily ever after! 

Thankfully, God didn’t create us to live as robotic beings. Living without personal agency is meaningless, one must have freedom to choose. God wants to have fellowship with those who by choice truly love Him. He has given us the ability to choose to be better and have the potential to know what true love is. He has also given us the intellect to believe in facts, not myths; courage, not fear; peace, not chaos; order, not confusion; love, not hatred; forgiveness, not blame. Above all, He has bestowed us with the ability to worship the creator, not the creation. 

But sadly, we have been inherently selfish. From a very young age we say, “ME, ME, ME”, and, “I, I, I”.  We always make everything about us. I am not judging our natural tendency to put ourselves first. I admit that just like Eve (the first woman on earth), I am attracted to beautiful things and desire to have them. I’m as guilty as everyone else. With the knowledge that I’m a child of God, I have a hope to grow in the truth and am learning to stop saying “ME, ME, ME”, and, “I, I, I”.  It’s a work in process. 

Furthermore, what about our children? We repeatedly remind them (no matter their ages) what’s good and bad; what’s safe and unsafe; what’s true and untrue. We continuously we tell them about the consequences of their choices. They may listen or not, but as they reach adulthood, they make their decisions based on what they think they know. At times, our silent words may be the loudest voice, saying, “Hey, don’t dishonor your freedom. Make the right choices!”  As Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus reminds us in [Galatians 5:13],

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” 

We must be careful however not to quickly judge the choices of others. Your own choices of behavior or how you raise your children is a matter between you and God. Who are we to judge you? From your children’s early days, you have taught them the true meaning of a moral life. You are not to be blamed for how your grownup children live their lives. They may be enticed by the rules or trends of this world for a little while, but if their foundations are rooted strong on solid ground, they will come back to their roots. The most loving thing to do is to be there when they need you and welcome them back with open arms, just as God always welcomes us back with open arms.  And He has promised us in verse [Matthew 28:20], “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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