Love Your Enemies!

Who is your enemy? What do they want from you? How can you love them? Have you ever genuinely prayed for them? And why would you want to pray for them? Where do you get the kind of empathy that flows from such a merciful heart? I’m not just talking about our enemies in the WAR ZONE – where the two countries are fighting with each other, but am also talking about the battlefields that we encounter on a daily basis with those around us. Life throws all kinds of challenges at us, but when it comes to dealing with people who are rude and who dislike you for no reason, it makes you wonder what to do with them. They could be a family member, a friend, or perhaps a neighbor. You may have tried many times to get close to them but they seem like they don’t care.

If you’ve noticed, in today’s world compassion is rare. If you show any kindness and humanity to some people, they may interpret it in the wrong way – either they think that you’re flirting with them or that you want something from them. These kinds of people are hard to love. They don’t leave any room for you to love them. At times they may look at you as though you are an enemy. Sometimes even they repay your good deeds with evil. Why? Don’t they know the heart is the home of love – where God’s spirit dwells?

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The heart refers to the soul of a human being, that which controls the will and emotions. God created the human heart to mirror His own heart. Our hearts were designed to love Him and love others as much as He loves us. He gave us the power of free will to choose to love and serve Him by loving and respecting His creation. How awesome is that?! Unfortunately, we have abused the gift of free will. Some stubbornly refuse to follow God. They may even fool themselves into believing that they live a life that is pleasing to God, but sadly they don’t. That is why God compared the heart that refuses to obey His commands to a heart of stone. Such a heart can be hostile to those around them and it doesn’t resemble God’s heart (a heart of love) at all, but rather a heart of anger and hatred.

What God has commanded us in (Mark 12:30-31) is this;
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

In addition to explaining to his followers who is our neighbor and who is our enemy, Jesus continued telling them that they should be true to the real meaning of God’s law by loving their enemies as well as their neighbors. A Pharisee (religious leader) came to test Jesus and asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then told him and the crowd the Parable of the Good Samaritan ( Luke 10:29 ).  In reply Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Jesus taught His followers that they must demonstrate love to all kinds of people—no matter their faith, nationality, or personality—enemies included. If we love our enemies and “pray for those who persecute us,” we then truly reveal that Jesus is the Lord of our life.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a great illustration of who is our neighbor, but what do we do with those people in our lives who are simply rude and difficult to deal with? They might seem to have their act together and it might also appear as if they have it all – money, a successful career, luxury cars, lavish homes, and other expensive items. They may travel the globe, but when they are with you, you are immediately aware that LOVE is nowhere to be found in their hearts. They are wrapped up in a materialistic lifestyle and worship/love only themselves. With extreme selfishness as their guide, they treat others unkindly or have no respect and compassion for the elderly. They often distance themselves from others, because they think themselves greater than everyone else. Unfortunately, they’re unaware that their outward appearance doesn’t match their inner self. No matter how hard you try to show them love, nothing seems to move their cold heart. It always has to be about them. What do we do? There has to be a way to point them to the light.
Again, If we search to see what God has told us about the treatment of those who are rude and disrespectful to us (enemies), we find that nowhere in the Bible does God say to “hate your enemy”. However, religious leaders have sometimes misapplied some of the Old Testament messages. For centuries in some cultures, people have never heard of the phrase “love your enemies” and they continue to practice hatred. In their upbringing, the way to deal with their enemies is to either to ignore or avoid those who try to harm them (change paths), or, more commonly, repay evil with evil. And in some cases, even good is repaid with evil.

Here is what God says in (1 Peter 3:9):
“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.”
Jesus adds to that by raising the bar to higher level in (Matthew 5:43-48): “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”. The Lord Jesus is saying, “To love those who love you is easy, but if you love those who are hard to love, it will bring you to a higher place.” It makes perfect sense. I want to have a blessed life. Don’t you?
But how do we do that? How should we pray for those neighbors, family members, or friends who are rude, unkind, or even harmful? Such a task is not easy. But as we bow down in the presence of God with humble hearts, He will give us strength and direction, He reminds us with these guidelines. 1- We must pray for the removal of their heart of stone, asking God to replace it with a heart of flesh. 2 – Pray for their redemption – that they would surrender themselves to the Lord. 3 – Pray for the restoration of their soul and lives.
As He says in (Ezekiel 36:26)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Final thoughts – Since God is the one who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, don’t you think this is the kind of love He wants us to show everyone? It takes a conscious effort. Loving our enemies means acting in their best interest; we can pray for them and we can think of ways to help them. God wants us to show integrity and leadership. He may call us to stand firm for what is right and at times, may have us draw a boundary, saying, “Enough is enough”, as He doesn’t want us to become our enemies’ doormats. These boundaries should, however, always be guided by prayer and applied with love.
So you must remember, it’s easy to show love to those who love you back, but the true test of faith is to love those who are hard to love. Though they may continue to close the door on you, one day your kind and loving example might be what God uses to soften their heart. So take the initiative in loving them and meeting their needs.
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE LOVED BY THE MOST HIGH AND YOU ARE A PRECIOUS CHILD OF HIS!

 

 

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Walking On a Narrow Path!

How do you get through a narrow path and dark places of your life? Do you stay there feeling self-pity and overwhelmed with fear? Or do you keep moving forward with hope? You must go through darkness sometimes in life to know that you’re in need of light. And that light leads you through those narrow paths eventually to specious ground.

It is the small gate and narrow pathway that leads to life, and only a few find it.  (Matthew 7: 14)

The road that I was traveling narrowed until I felt as if the walls were closing in on me, just as I saw myself struggling the same way in my vision. Seems like I was walking along the edge of the mountain, balancing on a very thin, threadlike trail. Some people walked ahead of me and some behind. Some excited at the thrill that this passage was offering, others struggling to pass through on the narrow path. Sometimes living on life’s edge seems very exciting. But it can be costly and harmful to us and to those around us. Just as playing with fire will eventually burn us, living life too close the the edge will likely cause us to fall. A scar on the soul is far worse than on the face.

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”Can man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?”( Proverbs 6:27)

While I was determined to get out of the narrow passage and away from the ledge (the toxic environment in my daily life) and climb the path ahead, God was lovingly teaching me important lessons: how to trust Him, how to keep focused on the steps in front of me, and how He never lets go of my hand.

The smile never fades from my face, even in tearful moments, because the Lord lifts me up at every step. Even through the darkest times, His light is always shining on those who put their trust in Him.

Obviously, we all have trials in our lives. Pain and problems are part of life, and they’re opportunities to show our trust in God. Some of His greatest gifts come wrapped in trials. As we unwrap them, we begin to see God’s abundant blessings, even in difficult moments. If we are patient and pray continually, our perseverance will bring us joy.

Sometimes difficult moments dimmed my vision, like a blanket of fog settling over the road and I could barely see anything ahead. The fog represented regrets of the past and fears of an uncertain future. I needed to pay more attention to God and feel His presence with each step. As I began talking to God, praising Him and thanking Him for His faithfulness, the fog became a protection, calling me back to the present moment, causing me to slow down and not get ahead of God. This verse is a powerful prayer.

(Psalm 43:3)
“O Lord, send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your Holy hill and to Your Holy dwelling.”

He will hear us and guard our hearts and minds with His truth and Love. God is so gracious – He gently takes us from place to place, and from glory to glory to show us that His love endures forever. He corrects and disciplines us, just as a father does with his child.

Just as I began to think that everything was going to be okay, I turned a corner and something stirred within me. Feelings of guilt and regret surfaced. Oh no, Lord! Why? Can I please just have a break?! I wanted to give up on myself, I was tired of not getting it right. In this time of confusion, I had to shield myself with His word. At this point I began memorizing these two verses. They gave me strength to persevere in facing life’s challenges. These verses became my lifeline and support. I say it again, the Lord is my lifeline and support.

(Psalm 23:2-4)
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
(Psalm 139: 23-24)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Test me and know my anxious thoughts!
And see if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The word of God became my strength. Without it I was in a deep and dark place, so lost that I couldn’t recognize the true Light through the dark clouds of fear and isolation. Why doesn’t God just take the darkness away and make us right with Him? That would be very easy but we would never learn anything from it. Hardship will bear good fruit.

(James 1:4) says; “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

You and I both know this with confident by now that even in the darkness God’s light guides and leads us through a narrow path. Always and forever……

Praying for you dear one.   May you always have the desire to walk in the light of God.  May God give you the courage to let go of worries, regrets, and choose to live and walk in the light.  In the name of Jesus, who is the light of the world. AMEN!

Strong People Forgive, Weak People Seek Revenge!

Who do you want to be – the one who is quick to forgive and slow to anger? Or the one who holds a grudge and lives with stress and without peace? Forgiveness is never easy. Indeed, forgiving the one who caused us pain can feel more painful than the wound we received. It is natural to get angry, holding offense against people who wrong us. Likewise, there are some people who are unable to forgive themselves. Because they choose not to let go of their former immoral actions, they can’t get over their past. I like how the theologian Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was YOU.” Whether we are forgiving ourselves or others, forgiveness will set us free. How can we do it? Let’s take a look at what God revealed to me in the area of forgiveness.

It is typical of human nature that we even get angry with God at times. We think He should be there for us when we face unfortunate circumstances. We may think, “Why is God allowing this suffering to besiege me?” Then, acting as a rebellious child, we convince ourselves that we have a reason to hold a grudge against Him. Similarly, we treat others in our lives with the same unforgiving spirit.

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Some people may think that forgiveness is a form of weakness, saying, “Why let an undeserving person win the battle?” On the contrary, forgiveness is an act of strength – a state of maturity in grace. It is obedience to God’s will. If God has forgiven us, who are we not to forgive others? Having said that, we cannot forgive by our own effort. We may try and try for many years, finally realizing that we are unable to just “get over it”.

There is a gift attached to forgiveness. This God-given gift is Peace – the peace that no one and nothing on earth can give us. If we ask the Lord with a childlike heart, He will bless us with His gift of peace, which surpasses all of our understanding. Once you taste this unfathomable harmony, you will understand the peace of God. With His help, you are able to pardon someone not because she/he deserves it, but because God commands it. We let the person go, thereby releasing ourselves from the bondage of restless feelings. Similarly, when you forgive yourself, you are released from the prison that you have built for yourself with your own hands.

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11)

We all struggle from time to time with discouragement and outrage. If you read my previous post about “Hatred and Betrayal”, you’ll remember my unpleasant experience of conflict with an individual. After that painful encounter, I had a hard time getting over my distress and hurt. In fact, I carried the pain of it with me for a couple of months. I’m just as broken as everyone else, making mistakes daily. I hate contentiousness and the uncomfortable feelings it produces. I try my hardest to look for answers to life’s hard questions in God’s Word and in His signs. Of course I prayed about this matter day and night, asking God to forgive me and give me the power to forgive the other person. If you look up the meaning of forgiveness in the Bible, it’s described as a “release” or a “dismissal” of someone or something. Then it explains how God has forgiven us through the death of Jesus on the cross, providing the blessing of abundant and eternal life to whoever believes in His teaching, death and resurrection.

I continued to seek God’s word to learn to forgive. This is what I discovered from Jesus’ teachings concerning forgiveness.

(Matthew 18:21-23) “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”

Because of the pain and raw emotion that I felt during my time of unforgiveness, my desperation for peace of mind grew deeper. I noticed that a particular bible verse (Matthew 18:21-23) seemed to be popping up everywhere – in church sermons, Bible study, on Christian radio, and during my devotional time. The Lord was urging me to forgive those who had hurt me. But my initial response to Him was, “No, Lord! I am tired of forgiving them repeatedly. How many times do you expect me to forgive someone who hurts me?” I was carrying the heavy weight of unforgiveness on my shoulders constantly. Finally the Lord showed me a bold sign. One afternoon I was at the grocery store. When I got to the cashier, the lady at the register handed me my receipt, saying, “Today is your lucky day! You should go and buy a lottery ticket”. I said, “How so?” She said, “Look at the total on your receipt.” I couldn’t believe it! The total was $77.77.

I immediately grasped the significance as God reminded me of the verse which had been so noticeable in recent days, the one telling me “Forgive everyone not seven times, but rather seventy-seven times.”

Beyond any doubt, the Lord graciously hit me with the bold numbers. He was telling me, “Let go and let Me take care everything.” So, by His grace and mercy, I completely let go and let God….

My struggle faded away after that day. From my perspective, my relationship with those involved in the confrontation immediately improved, all because I got out of the “wrestling ring”. I don’t know how they felt, but as for me, I truly felt the peace of God deep within. I kept returning to His word, and when I read what the Lord commands us in (Leviticus 19:18), I was even more comforted (especially with the ending words).
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM THE LORD.”

God reminds us that He is the Lord, not us. If we don’t forgive and let go of our malice, we are acting as God and judging others. WOE UNTO US! We are setting ourselves up for a hard fall.

Unfortunately, some cultures delight in revenge rather than forgiveness. They might seem like some of the nicest people on the planet, yet when it comes to forgiving and letting bygones be bygones, they refuse. They respond with evil for someone’s mistake or immaturity, saying, “I will do this or that to put ‘so and so’ to shame”. Is that the way a mature person handles someone’s wrongdoing? It is natural to feel angry and anger is not a sin. But what we do with our anger may lead to sin. If you think carefully, you will see that revenge brings out the worst in you and lowers you to the same level as your offender.

I don’t get it. How can revenge ever hope to resolve the pain that was caused consciously or unconsciously by someone? Again God says in (Colossians 3:13) “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

This is how I now see forgiveness vs. unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is a poison that will eat us from the inside. It harms our physical, mental, emotional, and relational self. On the other hand, forgiveness brings health, unity, and harmony to our homes and our communities. Now more than ever, we need forgiveness in the world. Not only will it build a strong self, it will also grow a yielding and harmonious community.

After all, forgiveness is an expression of love, mercy, and grace, helping us to move forward. It is a decision to not hold something against another person, despite what she/he has done to you. It means resisting the desire to pursue revenge, and instead seeking to make things right.

Here is the most important question for you – Have you experienced God’s forgiveness in your own life? If you haven’t, or if you are on defense, ask Jesus to come into your heart and life. Surrender yourself to Him. Then pray for the person who hurt you, that they will realize their own need for God’s forgiveness and give their life to Christ. Then, not only you will witness God’s power, but also the world around you will begin to change.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins,” (Mark 11:25)

If you agree to the verse above, say, “Amen!”

Hatred and Betrayal!

It is so true! I have heard it said that God is the kind of teacher who gives the test first, and then follows up with the lesson. When I read and watched the movie about the life of Joseph, I was moved to tears by his story of hardship and injustice. At times, we may find ourselves facing similar affliction and hatred, because of our beliefs and faith. Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

Joseph is an important figure in the Bible’s book of Genesis. His life story is a heartbreaking story, but one with a victorious ending (God’s story always has a good ending). God showed His mighty power through Joseph’s life. Joseph faced much turmoil starting at a very young age. First his brothers planned to kill him, then they sold him into slavery. How could his own flesh and blood betray him? Sadly, jealousy can blind people to the point that they deny their own family.

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Joseph was hired as a slave in Egypt, in the palace of Pharaoh. Time passed and as a result of his hard work, his master Potʹi·phar’ gave him a higher position, putting him in charge of the palace. Joseph grew up to be a very good-looking man, and Potʹi·phar’s wife wanted him to lie down with her. But Joseph knew it would be wrong, and refused her advances. Potʹi·phar’s wife became very angry. When her husband returned home, she lied to him, saying, “That bad Joseph tried to lie down with me!” Potʹi·phar believed his wife, and became very angry with Joseph, having him thrown into prison for seven years. As Joseph endured life in the dungeon, he continued to believe in God and remained hopeful. He gave the other prisoners hope, telling them that their predicament was one of life’s tests and that they must turn to God in faith and trust His promises for their deliverance.

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

Without faith, the core of our hope will crumble. Because of Joseph’s steadfast faith, he had the enduring hope that God would always be with him, even in the midst of adversity, and that He would bring him deliverance. His abiding faith caused him to have compassion toward His family, especially his brothers. In spite of what they did to him, he never hated them. How could he? He was always aware of God’s presence with him at every moment of his life. He was certain that God was dwelling in the depth of his heart, leaving no room for hatred. Therefore, God rewarded him with a prosperous life and a great legacy (his name and the story of his faith is included in one of the most popular book of the history – the Bible).

Similarly, Jesus knew betrayal firsthand. The most deceitful, mendacious, and despicable betrayal of all time was perpetrated by one faithless man, Judas, who betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities for thirty pieces of silver. Judas was one of the twelve followers of Jesus and had been taught by Him. Judas had a closer relationship to Jesus than some of the other people in Jesus’ inner-circle. But when he was deceived by Satan, Judas arranged a signal with the Jewish authorities – the person whom Judas kissed that night was to be arrested and taken away. That is how Jesus was betrayed with a kiss on the cheek.

In those days a kiss on the cheek was a common greeting, as it is in some cultures today – a sign of deep respect, brotherly love, and honor. Jesus already knew who would turn him in that night. It all took place just as He had predicted. Jesus didn’t get angry or bitter, He even called Judas His friend. Judas’s action illustrated (Proverbs 27:6), “ Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

What really stunned the other followers, was how Judas used such a devoted expression of love and respect (a kiss) to betray Jesus. The betrayal itself was prophesied hundreds of years before its fulfillment (Psalm 41:9)
“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me”.

I remember distinctly, how the Lord spoke to me through the verse above early one morning. I will never forget it. When our kids were younger, I use to go to the gym at 5:30AM before I dropped them off at school and went to work. One morning, as I got ready for the gym, I went to get my bag from the hallway closet. As I reached down to get it, I heard the Lord saying in my heart, “Read Psalm 41”. Then I heard myself saying, “Psalm 41”. Since I was still halfway asleep, I repeated it for a second time, “PSALM 41!?”

At that point I was awake and it dawned on me that the Lord must want me to read this particular Psalm. It may or may not have been a chapter that I had read before, I didn’t remember. I put my bag down and quickly opened the Bible to Psalm 41. I was astonished at what I read! I felt that God was warning me to be on the lookout as I read verses referring to someone lifting up his/her heel and rising up against me. At this point, I was a few years into my journey with God. I didn’t know what to do, except to pray. Later on, I learned that God tests us first and then teaches us a lesson. After all, He is that kind of teacher.  Also, I was taught that life is not about who is real to your face.  It is about who is real behind your back.

Exactly a month later, an unpleasant encounter happened just as the Lord had warned. Never had I faced such a verbally warlike situation. I was not spiritually mature enough to handle it, and it was the most painful moment of my life. The words exchanged between me and the other person not only hurt me, but hurt everyone who was there. Although I apologized for the words that I had said in anger, I faced animosity and hatred for awhile. Through all that happened, I never stopped loving them or praying for them. I remembered my Savior’s first command – to love one another and pray for each other. I believe God is with us through thick and thin in life whether we feel His presence or not. He sees all and hears all. The verse below encouraged me to hold on to God’s everlasting hope and be persistent in prayer. I saw the result of being patient in affliction through God’s promising word. It took awhile, but God made everything beautiful again in His time. I’m so grateful and praise His precious name.

The Lord says in Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

This is such an important concept to God that peace with Him and peace with others are entwined. We cannot know peace with God unless we are at peace with one another, and we cannot truly experience peace with others unless we are at peace with God. The lesson for me to learn was not only how to handle conflict, but also how to forgive others who hurt me (I will write more on forgiveness in a future post).

It’s vital to keep in the forefront of our minds that “God is always with us”. It is written 365 times in the Bible! Since God’s word so clearly states that He is with us, how can we hate someone while in the presence of God? That is impossible! There is no place for enmity and betrayal in the company of Almighty God. If we consider ourselves a godly person, then we can not look at someone else with a heart filled with treachery and malice. After all, how can abomination, dishonesty and malicious thoughts fit into a godly person’s character?

The Lord says, “Leave your sacrifice there at the door of the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God ” (Matthew 5:24)

What would it take for us to understand this one thing that the God of universe clearly tells us, “Don’t bow before Me, till you patch up things and get rid of the hatred, doubts, and jealousy? Make a way for Me that I may bless your life”. Ultimately Our sacrifices mean nothing to God, until we cleanse our hearts and resolve our conflicts with others. Although we may want to strike out at the betrayer, God’s word says that instead, we must take our case to Him and wait patiently. He then teaches us how to keep our eyes on Him and make room for love and compassion in our hearts in relation to others, in spite of our differences.
Again in 1 Peter 3:9, He says, “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.”

Your betrayal or mine may not be as horrific as Jesus’ or Joseph’s betrayal, but it is still betrayal and when it happens, we are overwhelmed and crushed by it. The powerful key in overcoming the bitterness of any betrayal and animosity is our God-given gift to forgive. It can only be done through His power and strength, which allows us to forgive and move on. As soon as we choose to forgive someone, not only do we give that person a gift, we also give ourselves a gift – the gift of freedom from pain and resentment.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

I repeat the verse above to myself whenever I face difficult circumstances. I know with confidence that whatever God’s will is for me, He will either give me the strength to do what He has called me to do or He will change my circumstances.

If you will say this verse in the name of Jesus Christ in time of difficulties with firm faith, you will victoriously overcome any fear, anger, pain, or hurt, and you will be able to forgive your betrayer.

How Do You Discover Your Worth (Value)?

What sets us apart from others in life? Why is it that some people take so long to find the real purpose of their lives? How can the meaning of life be found? We pursue the answers to these questions starting at a very young age and continue our quest through adulthood, until we are old. Our self-worth is too often based on what others think of us. We crave validation for who we are and long to be appreciated and adored. Many of us pursue excellence in sports, business success, possessions, good looks, music, entertainment, sex, relationships, wealth, good deeds (doing good to others). We perfect skills and other talents that we have developed over the years, yet we still feel empty inside. Why is there such a void? And what can we do to fill it? You may have everything – education, a good job, money, a comfortable lifestyle, and even a loving family surrounding you, but you’re still looking for that one elusive quality which will complete you.

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Growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to try different activities in order to find out what interested me or what I was  good at. The lifestyle that we had prevented my pursuit of sports, various studies or any other extra-curricular activities. I looked to my parents and other grownups to find my value and direction in life. When it was time for me to go to college, I ended up studying something that I didn’t like. This field of study was important to my parents and other influential people in my life, but not to me. I was forced to complete the four years of college, and yes, I did receive that darned degree! A few years later I went back to school, studied what I really liked and was pleased to discover that I’m actually good at it.

Even though I was finally doing what I loved, I was still not satisfied – there was a void inside, an emptiness within me that nothing could fill. Then God showed up in my life (you can read how this happened in two of my early posts under the titles: 1 – “My Dreams And Visions Become Reality” and 2 – “A Moment Of Epiphany”) and my perspective shifted from who I was to who He is.

While I was looking at life from the Lord’s viewpoint, I came across a pastor who was teaching online from Grace Gospel church. He shared the following: “We all have asked ourselves this question at one time or another, ‘What is the purpose and meaning of life?’ The good news is – Who you are is not for you to decide, it’s for you to discover.” I love how he summarized the meaning of our purpose and how it is connected to self-worth. Simple and right to the point.

To find what God has purposed for me, I planted myself in God’s word. The most powerful revelation was when I recognized my identity only in God, based on who he is, not on who I am. King Solomon (Prophet Sulayman), who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, was a very wealthy man. He had wisdom beyond any man’s wisdom in his time or our time, and he was surrounded by beautiful women. He had palaces, the best food and wine, anything you can imagine. Yet he said the following in chapter 1: “Life under the sun”—Life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void?

He is realized that God created us for something beyond what we can experience in here-and-now. Solomon went on and said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What this man of great wisdom is telling us is that everything we have in here-and-now will never give us what God has already planned for us. Again comes the question – Why do we continue to seek to guide our own lives, with the resultant emptiness, when instead we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives? Doing so will result in our living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding contentment and satisfaction. This is true because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us.

Those who live in the worry, anxiety, depression, and doubt born of their unbelief, find themselves exhausted after circling the world in an attempt to find their value and the one thing which would complete them. They are looking for deliverance and contentment. Unfortunately they come back empty handed because of their lack of knowledge of who they are in God and their identity in Christ. Their lack of faith results in defeat. Ignorance can lead to failure. But with God’s timing and mercy, it’s never too late.

Sometimes, the world yells at us, “You can never measure up!” That is because others see your worth through their own limited knowledge. But God’s knowledge is limitless. He whispers, “You are always enough.” He sees us as complete and worthy. Our God is a mighty God, who has never made anything or anyone worthless. The work of his hands is flawless. You are precious to Him. That is why he sent Jesus to take your place on the cross. You are loved by the Creator of the world and he made you with his own hands. The work of his hands (you) is valuable and worthy of His praise. Our true self-worth is in Jesus Christ.

(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.

He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, proving once for all time just how valuable we really are to God. Our identity rests in Him alone. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ Jesus. No weapon can form against you and me to tell us otherwise.

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

His word tells us that God created us for a purpose. Our purpose in life is to be a blessing to others. I have learned the reason we are here on earth is to learn how to love God and His creation. Since God blesses us with His love, we cannot keep the blessing only to ourselves. We must share it with others. At the same time, we must stop allowing others to define us. Rick Warren once said, “Living by your value is a life with integrity – and you will be rewarded.”

I now know that I am not defined by the opinions of others, my feelings or my circumstances. Only God identifies me as His own. Once I learned of my position in Christ, the strongholds (worthless things) in my life came crumbling down. I refuse to compromise my values or bend the rules that are given to me by God. I will do my best to act in love. As it is, I am a work in progress. The process maybe slow, but I am surely moving in the right direction.

Real meaning in life is not found only by accepting Jesus as Savior (as amazing that is) but also by listening to his teaching and following Him as His disciple. Jesus replied to His disciples in Luke 10:27,  ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
As soon as we begin to obey His first command, everything else begins to fall into place. We are finally able to find the precious jewel (our value) right at home without circling the world. It may be discovered through a stranger, friend, neighbor, home church, or a loved one. No need to go too far. Just look for it with an open mind and heart as you go about your daily life.

From my own experience, I have a friendly suggestion: The next time you wonder about your identity, value, and worth, please don’t hesitate to open the Bible. Whether you are an unbeliever, a new Christian or a seasoned follower in the faith, the truth is found in the word of God. Soak in His word, spend some time with Him, and walk with Him in obedience to His commands. As you apply God’s word to your life, change starts to take place in you and in the lives of others around you. You begin to live in a place where you are a daily witness of God’s goodness and deliverance.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE VALUABLE AND WORTHY OF HIS SACRIFICE!

How Do You Discover Your Worth (Value)?

What sets us apart from others in life? Why is it that some people take so long to find the real purpose of their lives? How can the meaning of life be found? We pursue the answers to these questions starting at a very young age and continue our quest through adulthood, until we are old. Our self-worth is too often based on what others think of us. We crave validation for who we are and long to be appreciated and adored. Many of us pursue excellence in sports, business success, possessions, good looks, music, entertainment, sex, relationships, wealth, good deeds (doing good to others). We perfect skills and other talents that we have developed over the years, yet we still feel empty inside. Why is there such a void? And what can we do to fill it? You may have everything – education, a good job, money, a comfortable lifestyle, and even a loving family surrounding you, but you’re still looking for that one elusive quality which will complete you.

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Growing up I didn’t have the opportunity to try different activities in order to find out what interested me or what I was was good at. The lifestyle that we had prevented my pursuit of sports, various studies or any other extra-curricular activities. I looked to my parents and other grownups to find my value and direction in life. When it was time for me to go to college, I ended up studying something that I didn’t like. This field of study was important to my parents and other influential people in my life, but not to me. I was forced to complete the four years of college, and yes, I did receive that darned degree! A few years later I went back to school, studied what I really liked and was pleased to discover that I’m actually good at it.

Even though I was finally doing what I loved, I was still not satisfied – there was a void inside, an emptiness within me that nothing could fill. Then God showed up in my life (you can read how this happened in two of my early posts under the titles: 1 – “My Dreams And Visions Become Reality” and 2 – “A Moment Of Epiphany”) and my perspective shifted from who I was to who He is.

While I was looking at life from the Lord’s viewpoint, I came across a pastor who was teaching online from Grace Gospel church. He shared the following: “We all have asked ourselves this question at one time or another, ‘What is the purpose and meaning of life?’ The good news is – Who you are is not for you to decide, it’s for you to discover.” I love how he summarized the meaning of our purpose and how it is connected to self-worth. Simple and right to the point.

To find what God has purposed for me, I planted myself in God’s word. The most powerful revelation was when I recognized my identity only in God, based on who he is, not on who I am. King Solomon (Prophet Sulayman), who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, was a very wealthy man. He had wisdom beyond any man’s wisdom in his time or our time, and he was surrounded by beautiful women. He had palaces, the best food and wine, anything you can imagine. Yet he said the following in chapter 1: “Life under the sun”—Life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void?

He is realized that God created us for something beyond what we can experience in here-and-now. Solomon went on and said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What this man of great wisdom is telling us is that everything we have in here-and-now will never give us what God has already planned for us. Again comes the question – Why do we continue to seek to guide our own lives, with the resultant emptiness, when instead we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives? Doing so will result in our living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding contentment and satisfaction. This is true because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us.

Those who live in the worry, anxiety, depression, and doubt born of their unbelief, find themselves exhausted after circling the world in an attempt to find their value and the one thing which would complete them. They are looking for deliverance and contentment. Unfortunately they come back empty handed because of their lack of knowledge of who they are in God and their identity in Christ. Their lack of faith results in defeat. Ignorance can lead to failure. But with God’s timing and mercy, it’s never too late.

Sometimes, the world yells at us, “You can never measure up!” That is because others see your worth through their own limited knowledge. But God’s knowledge is limitless. He whispers, “You are always enough.” He sees us as complete and worthy. Our God is a mighty God, who has never made anything or anyone worthless. The work of his hands is flawless. You are precious to Him. That is why he sent Jesus to take your place on the cross. You are loved by the Creator of the world and he made you with his own hands. The work of his hands (you) is valuable and worthy of His praise. Our true self-worth is in Jesus Christ.

(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.

He gave His own life up for us by dying on a cross, proving once for all time just how valuable we really are to God. Our identity rests in Him alone. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ Jesus. No weapon can form against you and me to tell us otherwise.

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

His word tells us that God created us for a purpose. Our purpose in life is to be a blessing to others. I have learned the reason we are here on earth is to learn how to love God and His creation. Since God blesses us with His love, we cannot keep the blessing only to ourselves. We must share it with others. At the same time, we must stop allowing others to define us. Rick Warren once said, “Living by your value is a life with integrity – and you will be rewarded.”

I now know that I am not defined by the opinions of others, my feelings or my circumstances. Only God identifies me as His own. Once I learned of my position in Christ, the strongholds (worthless things) in my life came crumbling down. I refuse to compromise my values or bend the rules that are given to me by God. I will do my best to act in love. As it is, I am a work in progress. The process maybe slow, but I am surely moving in the right direction.

Real meaning in life is not found only by accepting Jesus as Savior (as amazing that is) but also by listening to his teaching and following Him as His disciple. Jesus replied to His disciples in Luke 10:27,  ”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
As soon as we begin to obey His first command, everything else begins to fall into place. We are finally able to find the precious jewel (our value) right at home without circling the world. It may be discovered through a stranger, friend, neighbor, home church, or a loved one. No need to go too far. Just look for it with an open mind and heart as you go about your daily life.

From my own experience, I have a friendly suggestion: The next time you wonder about your identity, value, and worth, please don’t hesitate to open the Bible. Whether you are an unbeliever, a new Christian or a seasoned follower in the faith, the truth is found in the word of God. Soak in His word, spend some time with Him, and walk with Him in obedience to His commands. As you apply God’s word to your life, change starts to take place in you and in the lives of others around you. You begin to live in a place where you are a daily witness of God’s goodness and deliverance.

ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE VALUABLE AND WORTHY OF HIS SACRIFICE!

Who Leads Our Steps?

I believe that God is the one who directs our steps. Some might say, “That is not always true.” Which is fine, we all have different opinions. Often these differences show up in close relationships such as marriage. Many married couples don’t have the same beliefs or think in the same way. On this topic, I clearly remember an incident which occurred in my own life a few years ago.

My husband and I were out for a weekend lunch near the beach. We were sitting in the sunshine, having a nice conversation over lunch. He was telling me how happy he was with his work. It was at a time in his life when it seemed like everything was falling into proper place for him. His hard work was finally paying off and he was extremely pleased with how life was providing the right connections with the right people at the right time. I told him that I was glad to hear it and that I was proud of his accomplishments. Then I continued by saying, “See Honey, God is navigating your life. He is directing you to the right people and guiding these connections on your life’s path.”

Surprisingly, he disagreed with me, saying, “God doesn’t direct us. He gives us free will, so we can choose and direct ourselves.” He said, “I have God’s peace because I believe in Him.” I said, “Yes! God gives us free will, but since we believe in Him, He is the one who directs our path. If God doesn’t direct us, we are lost. Those who don’t believe in God’s truth don’t experience His peace and wisdom, which is given to us through Jesus. We are unable to do anything without His lead.” We disagreed on the subject, so we both became quiet for a few moments.

I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t see eye to eye on this matter. We walked side by side at the beach, then we headed for home. It didn’t take long for God to speak to us.

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As we approached the freeway, I noticed that for some reason, my husband was getting anxious. As we entered the freeway ramp, he suddenly accelerated. When the two lanes merged into one, I realized he was trying to pass a big SUV. He nearly collided with the SUV on the side of the car where I was sitting. It could have been a disaster! I screamed, “What are you doing?!” The guy in the SUV was looking at us in shock and anger. I was shaking. I yelled at him a bit and then stopped. I was surprised to feel a strong peace coming over me, calming me down. I felt as if someone was telling me there was a reason for what had just happened. My husband kept saying, “I am so sorry, I’m so sorry!!! I don’t know what came over me.” He didn’t understand why he would drive so recklessly, risking a serious accident. A few minutes later I realized what happened and why it happened. When we got home I shared these verses from the bible with him.

(Isaiah 48:17) “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.”

God showed my husband that He is the one who directs his steps. Without His lead we are out of control. God drew back from my husband for a moment just to show him that without the leading of Holy Spirit, his life was out of control. The Lord is full of mercy; He corrects His children. We were very grateful to him for opening our eyes. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…”
(Psalm 37:23)

As this verse clearly tells us, God leads the steps of those who believe in Him. God corrects us so that we will grow stronger in our faith, trust Him more and not rely on our own understanding. God does his part and we must do our part.
(Proverbs 3:5-6) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

When we surrender our lives to God, it becomes His job to take full and complete care of our lives. Even the trivial things matter to Him. His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) is called the “Helper” in the Bible. His job is to help us in every step we take. Our job is to live a life in obedience to God – a life of integrity with love in our hearts.

In Psalm 32:8, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

We can go ahead lay out our plans, but must look to God to direct our steps. In other words, we ask for His will to be done in our decisions. Then we will be at the place where God wants us to be.

But what about those who do evil? Those whose words and actions are lead by the prince of evil, Satan. We must keep our distance from them and continuously pray for their salvation. “May the Lord our God get hold of them before they cause further harm. May they turn their eyes to Jesus and kneel before the cross. May His love rule in everyone’s hearts, that He may bring order and peace in the world. Amen!”

When we open the Bible, we see what we need to embrace, and also what we need to avoid to lead a fulfilling life. Everything, good or bad, is in the Bible. I’m so grateful that God graciously teaches us His will and provides us with His power. Glory to His authority and praise His precious name forevermore.

 

Haughtiness vs. Humility!

The Webster definition of pride is “ego”, a feeling that you’re more important or better than other people. But there are two different kinds of pride. The first is the pride that we feel when we are pleased with ourselves or someone else. Pride in a “job well done” is a healthy kind of pride. But there is another kind, a “haughty pride” that God absolutely detests. It is a snobbish self-admiration which will make us trip up and hurt ourselves and others around us. There is nothing wrong with having pride, but there is something wrong when pride keeps us from having the beautiful life that God has for us. So why do some of us still indulge in pride? Those who don’t have a fear of God do not have humble hearts. Their hearts are instead consumed with self-love, self-thoughts, and and a blind, anti-God mindset. God’s word repeatedly says: No sin is as offensive to God’s authority, His law, and His rule as the sin of pride. Since God is love, following His law means pursuing the exact opposite of pride. He wants us to chip away at prideful attitudes because of love. In Corinthians 13:4 says: “Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.”

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God (Love) and pride don’t mix. In other words, they’re like water and oil. Although some say they have a fear of God or they claim to be Godly, they are so wrapped up with self-vanity that they cannot see the truth. If we believe that our lifestyle, children, religion, beliefs, and our faith are better than the life of someone else, we are setting ourselves up for a hard fall. We don’t realize how very dangerous pride can be to our souls and it’s deadly to our relationship with God and others. Pride is our enemy and it keeps many of us from great opportunities. Haughtiness can break a person to pieces. I learned a great lesson about pride in one of my studies in the book of Daniel. It made me say “Whoa, I cannot afford to carry such a sin in my heart.”

The words pride, arrogant, and haughty are mentioned over 200 times in the Bible. God hates these attitudes and behaviors. He rejects them and when our attitudes reflect them, our prayers will bounce off the ceiling. One of the stories that caught my attention was in Daniel chapters 3-4. Here we see King Nebuchadnezzar, who had built an enormous and successful kingdom in Babylon. He was quite proud of his prosperity. He was patting himself on the back for his achievements and his fame as a mighty ruler. He was full of pride and self-righteousness. Unfortunately he didn’t acknowledge that all he had was from God. A year earlier (in Daniel chapter 2), the Lord God warned the king through a dream that his ego would eventually cost him tremendously. The King was troubled by the dream and couldn’t sleep. He asked many magicians, enchanters, and astrologers to tell him the meaning of the dream. He was not only egotistical but also a very cruel person. If one of these advisors couldn’t tell him the meaning of his dream, he would cut them to pieces. But if they could tell him the true meaning of the dream, he was willing to reward them with great gifts. Long story short – the advisors couldn’t interpret the dream and he ordered their execution.

Someone told the king that the prophet Daniel could solve the mystery. But Daniel asked the king for more time as he had to pray about it before interpreting the dream. After his devotional prayers, Daniel provided the dream’s meaning. The dream meant that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom would be taken away from him and he would be lost by himself in the wilderness for seven years.

(Daniel 4: 29- 32)
As the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” Even as the word were on his lips, a voice came from heaven,” This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and you will eat like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

And just as the Lord God had predicted, that is what exactly happened to the king Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible implies that he lost his power and lived like a wild animal with his hair growing long and his nails like the claws of a bird, and he even lost the ability to think reasonably. Ironically, he was the one whose life was cut to pieces. His self-sufficiency destroyed him. God loves His children. He warns us over and over to humble ourselves.

1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

(Luke 1:52)
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.”

Someone who humbly accepts who they are, and does not pretend to live someone else’s life, is naturally confident, happy, and attractive. A truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given her/him, but does not brag about them as if they’re by her/his own doing. Humility is a state of mind in which one always think about the needs of others instead of their own. Humble people never think of themselves as better than others, for they know God’s law.

We must be vigilant and faithfully immerse ourselves daily in God’s word. The Bible says; there are six things that God hates, seven that are detestable to Him. One of them is pride. It separate us from God’s presence and His favor.

(Proverbs 6:16-19)
Haughty eyes (looking down at others, belittling them),
a lying tongue (not true to themselves and others),
hands that shed innocent blood (hurting others),
a heart that devises wicked schemes (a heart full of evil plans),
feet that are quick to rush into evil (running to evil instead of running to God),
a false witness who pours out lies (not knowing God’s truths, but spreading the untruths to others), and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” Proverbs 29:23

These words should shake us to the core of our being, for God has warned us throughout the Bible about the consequences of haughty pride and arrogance.
If you find that you cannot move forward in your life, whether it is a relationship or marital problem, financial difficulties, health issues, or a crisis of faith, if it seems like you are stuck in one place, and your prayers are not reaching to the doors of Heaven, then you must ask yourself this question: “Is my pride getting in the way of my happiness and success?”

Submission To God’s Calling!

Do you know what your calling is in life? Are you sure you are living the life God has intended for you? We all ask ourselves these questions from time to time. We want to know the grand purpose that God has for us. Some people have found their purpose in life and others are still in search of it. Knowing your calling is one thing, but being obedient to fulfill it is another.

I was in search of my life’s purpose for quite awhile. Once it was revealed to me, I then earnestly wanted to know my calling. I had to know my God first and foremost, before I could identify my calling. The Lord has taught me so much, with more to come as His work is not yet done. He has taught me to ask the Holy Spirit to increase my awareness of resentful feelings. He wants me to practice boldly bringing those feelings into the Light of his presence, so that He can free me from them. The antidote to rebellious tendencies is submission to His authority. It is however, easier said than done.

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Some of us have wasted many hours and days of our lives by repeating the same behavior and habits, which provoke us to act like a disobedient child. We spin aimlessly in a vicious circle, saying, “How come God is not helping me?” and “What is He waiting for?” In fact, He is waiting for us to turn to Him. He doesn’t hold anything back from us. He is a good, good God! He intends no harm to us. He is the ruler of earth and heaven. Without his sovereignty the world be a terrifying place. Unfortunately, in some parts of the world right now, God is nowhere to be found. When people call themselves God, they do whatever they wish and God leaves them to their own devices, though He is waiting patiently for them to turn to him.

Whenever we face hardships (sickness, financial difficulties, marital problems, loss of loved ones, etc.) the first thing we or others might think is, “Perhaps it’s a punishment from God.” We blame God for everything and fail to see how patient God is with us. Yes, God has allowed difficulties to occur, sometimes for our sanctification, to cleanse and redirect us. But personally, I don’t see any of these issues as a punishment from God, do you? These unfortunate circumstances are not sin. Jesus makes this clear in scripture.

(John 9:1-3)
As Jesus went along, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,”said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Sadly, we may become angry, defensive, bitter, or resentful as a result of our hardships. From my experience, (which might not be too different from your own) though I practice to be more submissive to His calling, at times I’m still not happy when something interrupts my plans. Whenever God’s sovereignty “trespasses” on my little domain of control, I’m inclined to react negatively. My reaction might be, “No! why do I have to change my plan? My way seems good for everyone, including me, so how come God doesn’t approve?” I want to go forward with my plan, and resent the change of direction, instead of considering that the reason particular circumstances may keep occurring is because God wants me to learn something from it and grow up.

God graciously reminds me, when my day doesn’t go as planned, to be on lookout for what He may be doing. Accepting His way, not mine, as the better course for my life. Rebelliousness and resentment are weak emotions which have no place in the Christian life. This verse is a reminder of following His way, not my way.

( Isaiah 55:9 )
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

How foolish of me to forget all I have in my life – my family, money, possession and my health are all from God. Instead of feeling entitled to all that He has blessed me, I must respond with gratitude, asking God for direction and being prepared to let go of anything He takes from my hand. But I will never let go of the Lord’s sovereign hand and will strive daily to be humble and compliant to His will. I have memorized the verse below. It helps me to release anxiety, stress, feelings of resentment or any unpleasant thoughts into God’s hand. Confidently I say this – His word will help you in any circumstance in which you find yourself.

Psalm ( 139:23-24 )
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Amen!

Let’s take a look at Jesus’ life (who was without any sin). His calling was to die on the cross for the sin of the world and to rise again, that we may have eternal life through Him. Imagine what would have happened if He didn’t submit to His calling. The world would be a hopeless and terrible place. Would you be willing to brutally suffer and die, taking the punishment of another as your calling in life? No one would do that, but Jesus did. Because He was obedient to the Father God and His life’s purpose. As He said on the cross in (Luke 22:42)
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
He asked for God’s will to be done, not His. He did it all out love for us.

Here is a question to ask yourself. What is holding you back from your calling?

A Woman’s Heart!

God has designed this particular woman’s heart mysteriously. Although everyone has a different definition of her heart – Hallmark, books, and movies come close to describing the nature of her heart but somehow miss the mark. This woman is called Mother. What is a Mother’s heart and how can one require? Who can understand her tangible heart? Only another mother. Not even the father of her children can understand. She has not found anyone who cares enough to see her heart through her eyes – where love resides, through her actions or through her smile. On the other hand, the only one who can really understand her on a deeper level is the designer of her heart, God Himself. God has given her the joy of smiles and laughter as well as tears to shed whenever she needs to shed them. And He is the one who counts and puts every drop of her tears in His jar of love. That is why she relies on His promises, because He is the source of all her blessings. As it says in His word below:

(Psalm 147:5)
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”

phonto

Genesis 21:19)
“When Hagar was abandoned by Abraham and sent away to fend for herself all alone in the wilderness with Ishmael, she cried out to God. God “opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave [her son] drink”

No matter how strong a mother’s spiritual walk, no matter how steadfast her absolute trust in the Lord is, she is concerned for the well being of her husband and her children. At times, when she sees her child is hurting, she wishes she could trade places with her or him (whether they are young or adult). When she rushes her baby to the ER in the middle of night, everything within her wishes that the hospital staff and the doctors would hurry up, fix her child and tell her that everything will be okay. While the medical staff do all they can, she is crying inside. But she doesn’t let her young one see her tears. She thinks she can handle and accept any physical pain of her own, but she can not bear the thought of harm coming to her beloved children. All she wants is the best for them. Though her day is brimming with many tasks, she has her children on her mind. Her vulnerability shows her humanity. Though she herself may be broken, she still has the unfathomable strength to comfort her loved ones. She prays not just three or four times a day, but bows down before God whenever she gets the chance. She is a walking prayer. Her unending strength comes from her relationship with God, which makes everything bearable. God’s word says:
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13)

I love how prophet Solomon, son of David (prophet Sulaiman son of Dawud) who wrote the book of Wisdom “Proverbs” in the Bible, describes her, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’” … Proverbs (31: 25-30).

Any woman who keeps her covenant with the Holy God, will grow in righteousness, and God will develop within her a pure heart. We all know the story of Mother Mary in the Bible – the mother of Jesus, who was characterized by God as “Highly favored” (Luke 1:28) The angel appeared to Mary and said,” Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Indeed Mary was a righteous woman and blessed by God as the one chosen to be the mother of Jesus. But Mary was still an ordinary human used by God in an extraordinary way. She recognized that she needed Jesus Christ as her Savior, just like everyone else. People praised her because she was given the blessing of giving birth to the Messiah. But how different is Mary’s heart from ours as a mother? There is no difference. She was in tremendous distress when Roman soldiers tortured her son by nailing Him to a cross. She was standing there as it happened. I cannot imagine the agony she went through watching Him, who had no sin, lay down his life for the sin of the world. What grieved her heart the most was to see the suffering of her innocent son. He was found guilty of loving us.

Even though Jesus had already predicted his own death and told her of God’s will for His life (betrayal, death on the cross, and resurrection), seeing His mother at His feet in such bitter anguish caused Him even more more suffering. As He was hanging on the cross, He asked His disciples to comfort His mother.

(John 19:25-30) But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture)….

Mary sets the example for us. Some believe that Mary can hear our prayers and she prays on our behalf. But Jesus is our only advocate in Heaven. Mary directed her worship, praise and adoration to God through Christ Jesus alone. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49).

When I am in pain, I call to God for help and healing. My own mom is no longer with us, and at times I would love to talk to her and tell her how much I need her tender touch, love, and comforting words. I wish she could be with me to wrap me up in her loving arms and make every pain go away. How unfortunate it is that some of us take our mother’s love for granted. We think she will never leave us, but eventually there comes a day when she will no longer be with us, though her love lives on, leaving it’s mark in the hearts of her loved ones.

There are many great women who have changed and influenced the world around them with their hard work and, more importantly, their immeasurable trust in the Lord. God has in return lovingly entrusted them with the assignment of motherhood.

As a mother who believes in God through Christ Jesus, I must try my hardest to let go and let God meet my children’s needs in whatever circumstances they may find themselves. I must stop worrying as my children don’t belong to me, they are a gift from God. We mothers, nurtured and taught our young the way to live, to pray and to walk uprightly before God. Then we encouraged them to fly with the wings that they have grown into, those which God has blessed them with. Even with all my vulnerabilities, I know that I have instant access to a powerful tool, as Mary did. I pray and worship God alone; I steal away every moment I can, praying unceasingly – at the sink, preparing a meal for my family, folding laundry, or working outside. I keep gazing at Heaven for direction and guidance to be the mother, the wife, and the person that God has created me to be.

Since we are celebrating the Heart of a mother this week, let us pray for all mothers – whether you are a mother or not, and whether your mother is with you or not, ” May the Lord our God bless you (her) with the love of your (her) children, patience, wisdom, faith, and may He be gracious to you this Mother’s Day and everyday of your life and use you for His purposes in an extraordinary way. In Jesus precious name, Amen!”