God’s Word Came into the World in Flesh; Died and Rose Again for a Reason!

Someday everything will make perfect sense and all the pieces will fall into place. But until then, whatever is happening in our lives is not happening to us, but for us. There is a purpose and a reason for everything under the sun [under God’s power]. Knowing that there is a reason for everything happening in your life is one thing, but finding the purpose of your life is another…

Our pastor, Rick Warren said in one of his sermons, “The two most important days of your life are; the day that you were born, and the other day is: when you know the purpose of your life; why you were born.” He continued saying, “God created us for His pleasure and for His purpose. Until we understand that, nothing will make sense.”

To find out what is the purpose our life and “Why are we here” is to look at the instructions that are within our reach, shown in God’s Word, the Bible. He has given clear guidance to us on how to live a purposeful life. We cannot accomplish this by our own strength, because of our daily shortcomings [sins]. Before God created us, He knew sin would enter the world. He knew the great sacrifice necessary to restore us to Himself; by His actions we can conclude that we are worth it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]

We’re in need of a Savior—Jesus, who came in human flesh and died in our place for a reason. He took our sins, willingly gave His body as a sacrifice on the cross, and rose again. He is a living Savior, who pleads on our behalf daily for our salvation. Through Him all things are done. The first purpose for our lives is; to love God back with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and to love others as ourselves. [Luke 10; 27]

If we carefully read Jesus’s prayer prior to His crucifixion, we will see that He has highlighted the purpose of our lives in His prayer. Referring to believers, He prayed, Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” [John 17:22-26].

As it is clearly stated (in Romans 6), Jesus’ death caused our sins to become powerless over us. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as the lamb of God (who was perfect, without any blemishes), we would still be in our sins, unforgiven and unsaved. The cross erases our old life. So the cross is not just a symbol, it is the mark of our salvation. God’s purpose for our life becomes our purpose for our life, which enables us to experience true and lasting joy—the abundant life that He desires for us.

The story of Christ did not end with his death.  His resurrection is equally vital to the message of the gospel. He rose from death just as He told His disciples He would [in Matthew 16:21].  If He is not risen from the dead, then we would still reside in darkness with no hope. Jesus is our everlasting HOPE.

      HAPPY EASTER! Stay safe!

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A Definite Path!

Help me, help me

Don’t leave me here 

Don’t let me kiss the lips of death

Revive me

My eyes are clouded 

By the mist of piercing tears

Come quickly 

Before my sigh (ahhhh)

burns the sky

And my tears dry out

Don’t let this bruised soul 

Lose strength as I 

Balance on wobbly legs

Come at once 

You and I must reach tomorrow 

We must get to the living water

My heart desires 

The streams of Your definite path 

But my eyes are locked in 

Like a prisoner’s

We must leave

To get to the river

The river which runs to ocean currents 

And leads to Your living water

For it’s the only thing can quench my parched heart

Help me, help me

It’s time to leave

For I know

Leaving leads to an arrival 

I must refresh myself

The fools must know 

Reaching to the definite path 

Isn’t an aimless act 

This is called LOVE

Let the roar of my love

Burns the ears of folly

Let the rumors of 

My love do its work

And let our arrival be 

A lesson to quench

Someone else’s thirst

— Parveen H. Michalow 4A064FCA-409D-4CAA-A8A1-3468116214F9

Optimism vs. Hopelessness!

Have you ever heard well-intended advice such as the following?

“Stop being so negative, _______ won’t happen.” Or, “Be hopeful and optimistic — don’t worry so much…”

Realistically, we all worry at some point in our daily life. No one is wired to always think “happy thoughts”. Life has many ups and downs and it is not always a smooth ride. Ultimately, it comes down to how pragmatically we handle the rules of life.

What are your thoughts about the following example of one woman’s belief regarding idealism and hopelessness?  Many who know her might say, “She is a worrier, but her character has traits of optimism.”  But, if you ask her about the degree her positivity [how far can she go on holding a positive attitude], her answer lives in the rhythm of reality. She says,

“I can’t pretend that everything always will be like the reflection of the sun’s rays in the drops of rain [rainbows and sunshine].” She continues, “I’ve been around the block a few times and I can’t promise you constant hopefulness in the face of difficult circumstances. Certainly, too much optimism can be harmful, so it is important to stay realistic. Finding the middle ground is essential.”

Putting aside her circumstances, this woman has cultivated a balanced attitude as she surveys her future.  She has found solid ground where she doesn’t have to pretend there is always sunshine, instead she stays true to herself and embraces the patches of dark clouds—disappointment and hopelessness….  In the scheme of things, that’s what life is.  It’s through those moments that her thoughts capture the essence of her beliefs and she goes on saying:

“I wish I could promise you that I would always be optimistic. 

I wish I could promise you that I would be always be hopeful; 

that I won’t face hard challenges, or physical pains. I wish I could….

But I cannot, for I know pain and disappointment are part of life. 

Yet, I can promise you this: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the 

strength of my heart and my portion forever. [Psalm 73: 26] “

She continues: “I wish I could promise you that people won’t reject my love—the love that is connected to the truth of God’s love. Sadly, they will blindly deny it. As the Bible projects, ‘Having eyes, do they not see? And having ears, do they not hear? And do they not remember?’ [Mark 8: 18] Could it be that their love and desires are based on shifting conditions—like the ocean waves, tossing and turning, always changing? Yes! Yet, I’m definitely and absolutely sure of God’s promise that He will never leave me or forsake me.”

She is loudly affirming God’s sovereignty and faithfulness, which is the evidence of God’s presence in her life. Knowing the truth of heaven and seeing the painful reality of life on earth, she is encouraged to pray without ceasing for the salvation of others.

Come to think of it, her desire to live a righteous life and her abiding love for her people resemble the Prophet Jeremiah’s passion for the people of his time. He was known as the “weeping prophet” for his deep love and concern for his people. The heartbreak and hopelessness this mystery woman has for the people who she loves, is like the sorrow of Jeremiah. Their rejection of God, through the redemption of Jesus, breaks her heart.

In spite of the pains in her flesh, the hopeless moments, and the disappointments, her optimism is strongly anchored in Heavenly places, as Prophet Jeremiah and Prophet David remind us in the following verses: [Lamentation 3: 24] “ The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him. [Psalm 33: 18] “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love…’

The word of God strongly encourages us to stay hopeful, steadfast, and to trust in the Lord for the outcome in whatever the day may bring us…

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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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