|Posted on January 26, 2017 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
|Posted on July 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM||comments (1)|
Sometimes, a spiritual attack isn't hearing a demonic voice speaking to you, sometimes it's hearing your own voice telling you that you are of little worth or value.
Sometimes a spiritual attack is focusing on the 'would, could or should be's; alternate realities based on conditions that cannot be met instead of on the reality that God has placed you in.
Sometimes a spiritual attack is not pain, emotional distress or terror that threatens to take you out of the fight but a lack of will to fight.
At least, that's my experience. That's been my entire day.
It started with missing my time with God for the day, my QT or quiet time as I call it, yesterday. And then self-loathing and self-condemnation took me each by the hand and walked me through my day; all that I did and all that I didn't do. They brought me on a journey to shame.
I knew better than this to have wasted my day in such a way. I even knew that this was an attack and began to feel shame at the fact that it was working.
Ashamed of shame.
It's scary to be in that place of knowing that God wants you, loves you and has redeemed you and still feeling as if you unwanted, unloved and unforgiven.
It's scary to be at war with yourself over what you know to be true and what you feel to be true.
And it is absolutely terrifying to be stuck in this tornado of shame upon shame upon shame, knowing that Grace upon Grace upon Grace has been poured out upon you and has freed you from that place; yet you stay there because you were weak enough to get stuck in this shame to begin with. You knew better.
You know better and yet you are worse.
That's all I continued to hear.
You know better and yet you are worse.
It's in this place that every Bible verse becomes those words. Every attempt of Christian encouragement becomes those words. Favourite Christian songs become those words.
You know better and yet you are worse.
And like the first people to encounter shame, Adam and Eve in Eden, you hide when God comes. Except when He calls out this time, you don't say a word.
You hide even more in idle activities, you enter into this place of distraction because you want to forget where you are and how you got there.
You try to get comfortable in the tornado.
You know that all you need to do is let your soul cry out to its Creator, Lover and Sustainer: Here I am.
But you let your soul be silenced because: You know better and yet you are worse.
You deserve this.
You don't deserve the love, peace and grace that He has for you.
This, this awful and painfully empty place, this is what you deserve.
And you accept this. You begin to want to convince yourself that it's not so bad. You can make shame work.
This is literally where I was and where I was prepared to stay.
But God doesn't give up so easily.
When He has bought you with a price and has sealed you as His own, He does not let you go.
For when He has foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified you (Romans 8:29-30); He has literally claimed you as His from before the beginning of time into the rest of eternity.
Satan is not allowed to claim you.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." - John 10:27-30 ESV
When I began to acquiesce to this place, something changed. Instead of this emptiness inside of me, I felt this pain. I found myself unable to distract my thoughts anymore and there seemed to be a million voices screaming. I couldn't bear it anymore. I had to get out.
See, God doesn't let us get comfortable with slavery. He showed that when He told the Israelites through Moses and Aaron that He was going to free them and then allowed them to be treated even more badly by Pharaoh.
Read about it in Exodus 5, I just included a snippet of Moses speaking to God.
Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” - Exodus 5:22-23 NIV
God was ready to free them, but they had gotten into a comfortable routine within their enslavement. He had to make it unbearable for them to leave.
He made my current state unbearable so that I wouldn't make the tornado my resting place.
And then sorrow hit me. But this is still a part of the plan.
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter." - 2 Corinthians 7:10-11
This godly sorrow lead me to the opposite of apathy. It made me finally cry out.
As my soul cries out, it echoes David's words:
"Praise the Lord , my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord , my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:1-14 NIV
I praise the Lord, as I remember who He is and His thoughts towards me. As I remember that I am but dust, and yet He still desires to use me for His glory. I remember and re-live these truths yet again:
"For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:29-35, 37-39 NLT
Until next time loves,
|Posted on July 14, 2016 at 12:55 AM||comments (0)|
Check out the (rough) audio of this poem here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfQExHjxijY
Tear stains on my glasses
Smile for the masses
Everyone expects it.
The classic, "I'm okay" with a happy emoticon
For if you say you're not, you've sinned,
You've committed a grave wrong
Yet, I've read my Bible cover to cover
And those are verses I have yet to discover
Actually, you'd be scandalized at what I've uncovered
My Bible says that there is a time for everything under the sun
My Bible says Jesus flipped tables at unrighteousness, at wrongs
My Bible says Paul got frustrated with sin in his life
My Bible says that Jesus wept when someone He loved died
Lamentation literally means the passionate expression of grief or sorrow;
And if you don't know about Psalms, then there's a Gideon bible you can borrow
For Anger, hurt, injustice, and cries are laid out
Not covered up by a fake smile, or given a clichéd handout
I don't know where Christians got this theology of perfection
Cause that seems to me to be a Pharisee's tradition
Becoming a deceitful invention: pretension.
That is not the gospel,
You know the good news that my sinful soul is saved from hell
Not because of who I am
But because of the Lion and the Lamb
The king in all majesty and authority,
becoming the sacrifice for my depravity
That I would be reconciled to Him for eternity
This relationship is one of intimacy and vulnerability.
In His presence
Venting without restraint (is okay)
Crying out in pain (is okay)
Admitting that living is hard (is okay)
It's in those moments that joy
Becomes more than just an emotion
But the state of my soul in any situation
When hope is no longer
A flimsy whimsical thing in the air
But something that anchors me
When falling into despair
This is when valleys are as valued as mountaintops
For they show everything He's brought us through and from
You catch your breath in awe at the view
And remember that you only made it because He breathed life into you
We have the privilege of entering into the throne room of the Most High,
We are graced to do the impossible
And dwell in both extremes
To Weep and worship
To Praise in the pain
To Bring sorrow to the Saviour
To Be raw and revere Him for all of His ways
We are given the right to do so
It's a right that we will readily claim
For Abundant life never meant easy
And spiritual warfare is not a game
Endurance implies exertion
But we are not debilitated or paralyzed by tribulation
We are revived in His presence and spurred into action
We will be wounded, we will bleed, we will scar
But even if our eyes are welled up with tears,
We will [continue to] fix our eyes on the unseen
Even if we don't understand where we are
We will be authentic about what we're going through
The imperfect are the ones who sit redeemed in the pews
The broken are the ones that He chooses to use
Hurting, angry, lonely one: Yes, you.
|Posted on July 14, 2016 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
Check out the (rough) audio of this poem here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEZswZpSH7A
My smiling lips and yet sad eyes are only the tip of the iceberg for this person that you see
Beneath my everything that makes me me
Is my inherited insecurity
Melanin has rendered my skin darker
And has subjected me to the darkness of humanity
The depths of how devastating misinterpreting differences can be
My people were kings, they were proud, they were strong, they were warriors
And they were classified as savages deserving of slavery
Seeds ripped from the soil that had reaped prosperity, [vibrancy and history]
And planted in stolen land among weeds
Ravaged my parasites that took the life that they breathed
Because watching my people wither was akin to a need
We became cargo, we became slaves,
Denied the right to even be identified as alive, we became property, dehumanized to our graves
I am every person on that slave ship, every person on that field, every person who has been whipped, flogged, beaten and killed
Because if I had been there, it would've been me; that would've been the destiny I would've fulfilled
This first inherited insecurity is embedded in the fact that I'm Caribbean Canadian, or is it African Canadian, or African American, or is it only just African ; and now I know why no matter what countries we find ourselves in, we call ourselves Black, because having more melanin in our skin has revealed all the light that humanity universally lacks.
Now you still have time to go away, turn and never look back because this iceberg goes much deeper than just the fact that I'm Black
I'm a black female, yes this is different, yes this is distinct, yes we are more marginalised than you would ever think
Lesser than the black man, lesser than the white woman, struggling to figure out how we fit into the mold being human
Are we the mammy, or the Jezebel, too masculine or just invisible, I believe we have been defined as e: all of the above
Denied the right to raise our own but being forced to raise our future masters by whom we would be owned ;
Raped and brutalized, but never justified because the curves of our body clearly meant that we were oversexualized ;
Forced to fight, so not demure; forced to struggle, so not patient; forced to be both parents because our men internalized the lies the white man had suggested;
Forced to take the background in the movements that the world celebrated, yet we wonder why in the media we're rarely represented?
Did you know that we are the least sought out of all demographics for anything romantic? That amongst all the people groups and gender combinations, we are the least attractive? [We do not need the statistics to reveal this fact to us, it is already known, embedded in what Freud called the unconscious.]
And so these two inherited insecurities dictate the course of my existence; how I see myself, how I am seen and my much needed resilience
And so I try to say this truth in love but I will not apologize: saying all lives matter is actually devaluing mine, saying that you didn't ask to be white doesn't change the fact that I'm Black, and saying racism doesn't exist anymore doesn't make it suddenly poof and disappear; gone in the wind with no remnants in the air
Ignoring the weeds only allows them to grow
And you only continue their spread by pulling out the tops by your caring ignorance, making a wish out of your tolerance and giving it a big blow of air with no substance There is a root that needs to be dealt with.
But pulling out weeds takes a lot more than new legislation and political correctness
It takes getting down on your knees in humility, getting your hands dirty in the mess that has been created, and pulling out the stereotypes at their very roots with all of your strength and with a commitment that says no matter how long it takes, this task will be accomplished
Who is actually willing to do that? My people of a different race, are you willing to get in the mess that your ancestors helped create and that by turning a blind eye, you have helped perpetuate?
My fellow Black people, are you willing too? This state is comfortable for you. We have become too used to being used. There are stereotypes we've adopted as traits of our race. We've adapted to the environment of the weeds and have called this success. My goodness, our society has a flawed view of progress.
Who is truly willing to do all of that? Who? And this is why I struggle with standing at the altar with a white man and saying I do, and believing that he would say it too.
It's more than just culture; it's the whole iceberg of my identity, it is the roots of my inherited insecurities.
And, yet Someone already did all of that for me. I am a part of the most epic love story in all of history.
Science tells me that we are "x" percent different and "X" percent the same, but that's because we all have origins in the one who introduces Himself with I AM as His name.
We inherited the identity of being made in the Imago Dei, but evil corrupted our inheritance to an insecurity of no longer being in relationship with the one who defines infinity
And we are unable to pull ourselves out of this weeded mess on our own because we planted ourselves in this imperfect soil that was not meant to be our home
We chose our slavery to an evil that corrupts, and by the time we realised the condition of our chosen soil, we realised we were stuck
This soiled soil perverted who we were meant to be and established the weeds of racism, sexism, and every other ism that plagues humanity
Our Creator witnessed this and would've been righteously justified, to let us bear the consequences of our choice of Him being denied
And yet the Creator became our Gardener and got down to His knees, in humility He chose to pull out our self-perpetuated weeds
And then He changed the soil by the perfection that He shed, that new life would replace the death we lived instead
When we encounter the iceberg of our identities, we crash like the titanic; it wasn't a situation that we were prepared for, not something that we can manage
And then there's death and despair and unbearable tragedy because we are unable to handle our inherited insecurity,
Look in the mirror, be honest with yourself about your inherited needs; we bleed the same colour because we share the same weeds
I shared with you the insecurities that underlie my eyes, my smile, my hair; but recognize that there is an inherited insecurity that we, humanity, all share
This insecurity is only abolished in security in the love, sacrifice and grace that has fully set us free; this is the power to change our souls and our society.
What I'm saying must offend, but I know it is the life, the way and the truth
You ask me how? It changed me, and I know it can change you.
|Posted on July 14, 2016 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
I had initially resolved to not post anything from me personally about what has transpired in this past week and a half. Mostly because there are many who have already said what's on my heart with a lot more eloquence than you'd read here.
But, today - really yesterday, but it still feels like today -Facebook showed me a memory from 3 years ago. And it hit home.
I was brought back instantly to that moment. I remember sitting on the couch beside my infuriated older sister and we heard the final verdict. I remember her scrolling through twitter, seeing all the allies she had and convincing herself that she was not the only one upset about this.
I remember feeling as if I'd gone through a mental and emotional ice bucket challenge (anyone remember those days when that was a thing?). It was then that I really began to see how little black lives were valued, how demonized and de-humanized we truly were. Or rather, are.
I need a moment. This hurts.
I can't help but think that if I had been raised in the United States, I would feel so afraid for my father's, my brother's, my uncles' lives anytime they'd leave the house. For we share the same skin colour, and the same wounds in our history.
It's when I see on my newsfeed that yet another one has died, that I have three inclinations.
1) ignore it, pretend that it didn't happen and has no effect on my life because facing the ugly truth hurts and the apathy-denial combo helps evade the pain.
2) seek vengeance; my anger and bitterness can blossom into a terrible hatred and a need for "them" to hurt the way we have hurt; because maybe then they will finally understand.
3) break down; descend into depths of sorrow and despair, where I feel like there is no more hope for us; not just us as Black people, but us as in humanity.
This is humanity's problem. When the killing of Black lives because of the colour of their skin is a societal norm, there is an issue that needs to be dealt with. There needs to be change.
And it's in this place, this wrangled mess of emotional brokenness that I am urged to not act upon any of the aforementioned inclinations; but am instead brought to prayer by the Holy Spirit.
In God, there is action.
In God, there is justice.
In God, there is hope.
In God, there is true change. And goodness, is that change not ardently necessary?
It goes more than structural changes to ensure objectivity in the police force. It goes more than justice wrought in a guilty verdict. These things are important and they are indeed necessary, but true change will be had in the transformation of the heart of man.
True change is found in the gospel.
Is anyone right now going to deny that some thing's wrong with humanity? That we are broken? That we are capable of such evil acts because of an inherent evil within? We were not created to be this way.
We were created to be in an intimate relationship with God and glorify Him forever. We were created with dignity in the image of God, the Imago Dei.
And we screwed that up when we sinned, when we disobeyed, when we decided to be our own "god". And look at humanity now, look at us. Look at the poverty, despair, violence and hatred that has come from us. Racism, sexism and other systems of oppression against marginalised group emerge out of our sinful state, out of our lack of recognizing the significance of the Imago Dei.
And yet, God decided that - by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - He would redeem humanity and reconcile us to Himself so that we could restored into relationship with Him. It is then that we see true change.
The brokenness in our world comes from the sinful state of man's heart, and that is only changed by the power of the Holy Spirit when we come into true relationship with God.
This goes so much deeper than trigger-happy police, subtle prejudice, or white privilege. While all those, are legitimate and active, they are simply the fruit of sin. When we have a different tree, there will be different fruit.
I am not saying all of this to simply put a Christian band-aid on these tragedies. It's okay to be upset and angry and hurt, it's okay to not be happy about what's going on in the world. This is a wound and it hurts. And the cure where it will be finally healed is in Jesus.
I want to encourage you to run into the presence of God for it is by the Holy Spirit we have peace and healing. I want to encourage you to see what you can do to become a part of the change: to pray, to be willing to get uncomfortable in dialogue and deed, and to see the beauty of the gospel in this situation.
And what is this beauty? The fact that my sin of pride is no worse than another's jealousy, prejudice or act of racially-motivated murder. And that the Almighty and perfect God still pursues us and desire relationship with us knowing that.
The following links are two poems that I wrote and recorded that weren't composed specifically for what's happened with the recent shootings, but relate notwithstanding.
- Being a black female and everything that implies.
To Weep and to Worship
- Being an emotional wreck in God's presence.
Until next time,
|Posted on March 3, 2016 at 4:50 AM||comments (1)|
#ThatAwkwardMoment when you said in your last post that you would be consistent and posting sometime later in the week and that didn't happen at all. This just goes to show that I was being honest when I said before that I struggle with consitency, and I was not relying on the Holy Spirit. And I publicly apologise for that. Excuses are not allowed.
So, unlike many people, I actually use Facebook regularly and not just because Facebook is the medium that my university uses the most for club things. I had to argue, plead and bargain my way onto Facebook in middle school and I have been getting all the worth I can out of that.
This is why the “On this day” app on Facebook was such a blessing to me. There has rarely been a day where I haven’t had at least a handful of memories to look back on. It’s a walk down #NostalgiaLane. Sometimes, I shake my head at something that younger Sana’ said and vow to never share it for its sheer silliness. Sometimes, I’ve said something really deep or rooted in my faith that still applies to me to now years later and I, then, decide to share it.
On March 2, I checked the app and was heartbreakingly surprised to see one of my old statuses from 4 years ago. On March 2nd, 2012 I posted a status saying that: “I hate my eyes.” (I was going to screenshot the post and attach it here but it looks like Facebook won’t let me see it again until March 2, 2017.)
As soon as I saw that, I remembered that day and what had brought to declaring one of my greatest insecurities at the time on social media for all to see.
I remember being so excited that day because finally, after 8 years of glasses, I’d finally have contacts and be “beautiful” again.
I remember planning the outfit I would wear to school the next week for my big debut, the new and improved Sana’.
I remember crying in the optometrist’s office because my eyes refused to accept the contacts and all my dreams of being beautiful fell away in that instant.
But it goes, so so so much deeper than that day.
When I look even through my profile pictures at that time in my life, they are all edited. Not simply with text on the picture or just a quick fix because my camera was bad quality (and still is, lol). But edited to lighten my skin colour, soften what I thought were imperfections on my face; to do everything to fit the standard of what I truly thought beauty was.
I remember that Sana’ in all her brilliance and (feigned) gaiety; she was incredibly insecure.
I can still identify with that girl from four years ago because she’s the voice that the Enemy uses to convince me that I’m worthless, useless and purposeless today.
Insecurity is a sin issue. It a classic tactic that the enemy uses to belittle God’s Word, devalue His plan and entrap the Saints in a state of immobility.
Insecurity is an identity issue.
Insecurity comes down to what you believe about God and about yourself in light of that. It is only eradicated by knowing your identity according to how God made you, how Christ redeems you and how the Holy Spirit sanctifies you.
God has been teaching me a lot about my identity in this last little while, a lot. It’s been raw and hard and expository; and it has brought me to a new level vulnerability and intimacy with my Creator, Saviour and Advocate.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share it.
Everything that occurs in our lives is for the glory of God – even the hard, vulnerable, raw, painful stuff. Especially those.
I’ll paraphrase something that a ministry I love said a few years ago: When we are broken jars of clay, we allow His light and love to be shown even more clearly through us to those on the outside.
So, here I am a broken jar of clay, and I pray that over these next few posts as I share what He has been teaching me about identity, that you would see His light, love and glory all the more.
À bientôt <3
|Posted on October 12, 2015 at 10:35 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, eh? It's actually been just over a year since I’ve done anything here. That is one of my shortcomings, I’ll admit. Are you ready for this confession?
I am absolutely horrible at consistency.
It’s the reason why I stopped going to the gym after reading week and became one of those annoying seasonal gym-goers, you know who I’m talking about: when the gym is ridiculously full of people in their brand-new workout clothes who hog the machines that you would normally use.
It’s the reason why, although I love writing, I cannot keep a daily diary going for more than a week. Legit, I have countless journals that have only the first few pages full of diary entries and then the rest are blank. I remember that every time my mom and I would go to the local Dollarama or Everything for a Dollar Store (yeah, that was in the old days before they became Dollarama Plus and Everything for a Dollar Store and more), I would literally beg for a new journal and promise myself that this time I would actually do it – and I never did.
And why, pray tell, do I struggle with this so? Because life gets busy, short-term priorities emerge and consistency becomes hard. And when the going gets tough, Sana’ gets going as far away from the tough as possible.
Truly, my Christian walk is the only truly consistent thing about my life: and my theory is that that’s because it’s not dependent upon me. God gives me everything I need to do run this race and run it well. My only requirement is to be willing to make God my number one priority; to make eternity my number one priority. He does all the rest.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 tells us that our “work [is] produced by faith, our labour prompted by love and our endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”. That faith, love and hope does not come from within me, it comes from God.
I think that there’s a serious misconception about the Christian life. Many Christians know that they cannot be saved of their own merit or works. There are several parts of the Bible that explicitly state this Galatians, Ephesians, and Romans (look them up, eh?) to name a few.
However, unfortunately, I feel that once saved, people believe that their works matter to remain saved; with the mindset that we could lose our salvation if we are not good enough. I wholeheartedly admit that I fall into this very often. It is hard for me to believe that all I need to do is live in His grace by faith and I have assurance in Him, but that’s the truth.
All that God calls us to do is remain in Him and He is the one that will bear the fruit in our lives. We allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and then we bear the fruits of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the spiritual warfare that is the context within which we live our Christian faith. But do you realize that He does not say that we are the ones actually fighting in this battle? All we are required to do is wear the full armour and stand. God has already done all the rest. When Jesus was on the cross and said: “It is Finished”, that was it.
The battle was already done. The war was already won.
We have to remember that God is the author of time and thus outside of time. I like to think about it as a 90-minute movie that I know by heart. The characters in the movie are going through the motions and they do not know what’s coming but I know the beginning, middle and the end already. That’s why I can say that “they are the cutest couple ever” at the very beginning of the movie before the two people have already met. Are you following me. Now, extrapolate that example to the entire universe and all of eternity.
Yeah, that’s the God that I am in a relationship with. He’s beyond any adjective that we could think of, regardless of how many times we comb a thesaurus or how many languages we know. He is the: I AM, drop the mic.
Anyways, that was a tangent. The point is, we do not have to live out our faith by our own might, power or strength. We allow Christ to live in and through us and He handles it. We just need to bring ourselves to His throne as a living sacrifice and submit to His will moment by moment, letting our lives be an outpouring of His Spirit within us, knowing that when we fall (not IF but WHEN), His grace is sufficient and His love never fails.
So, with all that being said, what is the point of this post? Well, I shall tell you.
I’m back and by the Holy Spirit, this site will be active and full of His truth again. I vow to no longer depend on myself to keep this going but to rely on Him completely and watch His faithfulness take over. I am super excited for this, guys, and I hope that you will enjoy the ride along with me.
Now, before I sign off, I figured that I should give you an update on what’s being on these past few months.
1. I went on a mission’s trip and it was amazing. God showed me parts of Himself that I’m still in the process of understanding.
2. I am on the Servant Team (leadership team) of the Christian group on campus that I joined last year: Power to Change. That been challenging but incredible enriching. I’ve fallen in love with ministry.
3. I got a job on campus, calling alumni and updating them on everything happening on our campus; Queen’s is the only university, folks.
4. I’ve preached two messages now and it’s been incredible to be used by the Holy Spirit in that way. I’m hoping to be able to do more.
And these 4 things I’ve listed do not even begin to tell all that God has been doing. He has been working in some incredible ways showing me His faithfulness and love at every corner and it’s wonderful.
Really and truly, this past little while can be summed with the fact that God has been growing me in Him. I am very similar to the girl I was last year and yet immeasurably different. On the outside I am still the feathers-wearing, outgoing, funny (hopefully) and nurturing young lady I was before, but on the inside? Goodness. My Spirit-woman is so much stronger, purer and more assured than ever before; and that is not because of me at all, it’s because of God in me. I’m just graced to bear His glory.
Sorry, I couldn’t sign off without a challenge. I want you to think about who you were a year ago, who you are now and think about the type of person that you want to be. What’s ahead for you? What would happen if you lived a daily life of submission to God and alignment to His will?
Our Christian faith is lived out by remaining in Him and standing firm. Those are not passive, eh? God will not force us to remain or force us to stand firm. In our free will, we actively choose to do these things. Remaining in Him and standing firm requires sacrifice and obedience. It is not easy, it is not painless and it is not natural.
It is difficult to say no to the world that we live in and the evil desires that live in us.
It is painful to be pruned and refined; pruning refers to things that hinder our relationship with God being cut out of our lives and refining is the process of trials and hardships being used to make us more pure and stable.
It is not our natural inclination to live our lives as followers of Christ, but it is our supernatural decision.
The past year of my life have been some of the hardest and most painful months of my life; but I am so much closer to God because of it – and that’s why it’s been one of the best years of my life.
I want to leave you with that and I’ll be posting here sometime later this week. <3
#GloryBearer #VesselLifestyle #ConsistentbecauseofChrist #EmbracingTheNewSeason
|Posted on October 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
... Doesn't mean we should.
So, last night a few floor-mates and I were spending some time together in one of their rooms. We were just talking with each other about random things, learning the little things about each other and listening to old blues music. It was a lot of fun and during this time we were all snacking on something. I was eating away at my Tostitos while they were eating Oreos (I don’t like them, yes I know that’s uncommon) and I was literally on my way to finishing the huge back of chips within another 10 minutes or so.
The gluttony was about to be so real, guys.
And so, being me, I start think aloud (basically talking to myself) and force myself to have one last handful and then I promptly folded the bag and moved it away from me (this is where you applaud me for my exemplary self-control). And then the guy whose room we were in was like, “Why don’t you eat more? You’re skinny! A few chips are not going to change that.”
And he wasn’t incorrect, I’ve had a fantastic metabolism since I was a little girl and I thank God for it but did that mean that I should just go ahead and finish the bag? Or that anytime I eat I should go crazy because it won’t affect my weight?
The answer to those questions is NO. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.
And as I was thinking of that those words and what they meant, I realised how they related to our relationship with God. We are given an infinite amount of choices to make in a day, and our choices reflect upon God. How we choose to speak, behave, dress and more all get connected back to Him; either positively or negatively.
What we choose to do shows the world who we really belong to; who we’re really slaves to.
For example, if someone is gossiping or speaking negatively about another. Do we laugh and join? Do we just stand there and smile while nodding our heads? Or, do we try to say something positive about the person instead? Because just because we can do the first one or the second one, doesn’t mean that we should.
Is it a good idea for an unmarried female Christian to be in bed with a guy her age and under the covers with him in his residence room?
But, they’re not doing anything at all. They aren’t even touching each other. She was just too lazy to get up.
Even though there are a bunch of other people in the room keeping them accountable and everyone in the room knows that nothing sexual is happening – or will ever happen – between the two?
Why is it not a good idea? Why should that not have been done? It doesn’t reflect upon God well when she’s told them that she’s a Christian. Willingly placing herself in an environment meant for physical intimacy is not wise when she’s representing Christ.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Let’s look at an example of someone who could and did: Moses.
Yes, Moses. The one who God used to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt. The man that God worked through to part the red sea; that Moses. Let’s fast forward to when the Israelites were out of Egypt, in the wilderness and being grumpy.
Numbers 20:2-12 NLT
2 There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the Lord’s presence with our brothers! 4 Why have you brought the congregation of the Lord’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? 5 Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!”
6 Moses and Aaron turned away from the people and went to the entrance of the Tabernacle, [b] where they fell face down on the ground. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord said to Moses, 8 “You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the whole community and their livestock.”
9 So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. 10 Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.
12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”
AHA! Did y’all catch that? He wasn’t obedient. God said to speak to the rock and Moses hit it.
Just because Moses could do get water by hitting the rock didn’t mean that he was supposed to do so – but he did.
And did you see what happened because of that? Moses didn’t make it to the Promise Land; he gets a vision of it before he dies, but he never goes there himself.
Now, let’s look at someone who, but didn’t: Daniel. Yes, Daniel and the Lion’s den Daniel though that’s not the story that I really want to bring to attention right now (though it does apply). I’m thinking of what happened before that.
Daniel 1:3-17 NLT
3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. 4 “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon. [c]” 5 The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.
6 Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:
Daniel was called Belteshazzar.
Hananiah was called Shadrach.
Mishael was called Meshach.
Azariah was called Abednego.
8 But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. 9 Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. 10 But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.”
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 12 “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. 13 “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” 14 The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. 16 So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others.
17 God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams.
Alrighty, I know that that was a bit of a read but there’s so much meat in this – even though Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah only had vegetables and water.
Daniel was given a situation and he could do one of two things; he could accept the food that the King as offering or he could be bold and request something else. He could’ve chosen to eat the King’s food, guys. He could’ve enjoyed the equivalent to our favourite order from McDonalds, Five Guys, the Works, etc. for 10 days straight. But he chose not to. He decided that he wasn’t going to defile himself. He wasn’t going to make himself impure.
He not only understood the fact that just because he could, he shouldn’t; he went beyond that and saw the ramifications of what would happen if he did.
And he was blessed for that. God honoured Daniel (and his three friends) and made them healthier than all the other men. God gave them more knowledge and understanding than the others. And specifically gifted Daniel with dream and vision interpretation.
Let’s go back to that Christian university student. What’s the biggest difference between her and Daniel? Daniel was wise, she acted foolishly in the moment.
When I was around 13 years old, my youth pastor defined wisdom (I’m paraphrasing a bit) as this: the proper/correct application of knowledge. Knowledge is a wealth of information but wisdom is how you apply that knowledge to everyday life and use it to make good choices. Here are some verses that give a great picture of the importance of wisdom:
Proverbs 4:3-9 The Message (MSG)
3-9 When I was a boy at my father’s knee, the pride and joy of my mother,
He would sit me down and drill me: “Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!
Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!
Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.
She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”
Proverbs 3:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,
Psalm 37:30 New International Version (NIV)
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.
Wisdom is necessary in our Christian, it helps us to take the information that we have and make the choices that will honour God. But how do we obtain wisdom?
James 1:5 New Living Translation (NLT)
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
It’s as simple as asking, our Father will give it to us.
Through the Holy Spirit, we are given advice all throughout the day pertaining to the wise choices that we should be making. It’s on us, however, to listen heed the advice.
That young Christian woman? She asked for the advice, she received it but she didn’t adhere to what the Holy Spirit said. This girl? She’s me, literally just last night. And I rationalised it all in my head and I know that I didn’t do anything out-rightly wrong but the conviction ate away at my soul afterwards and the regret was almost palpable. And the repentance has been real, God and I had a long conversation about my actions and I put this out there for y’all to read for the sake of accountability. I messed up, I was given a Holy Spirit out and didn’t take it. And I am once again enamored by the reality and beauty that is His love and grace.
And that’s why I say this so fervently: It’s imperative that we remember that “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should”. Paul even says this in that beautiful book that we just went through; 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 10:23 New Living Translation (NLT)
23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
And James goes even farther to say this:
James 4:17 New Living Translation (NLT)
17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
So, let’s pray for each other that we wouldn’t fall into sin. In saying this, I’m not just referring to what is stated in the 10 commandments or the list of “things not to do” in Colossians 3 and Galatians 5.
I wish to include all the “just because we can” choices we make that are also sin.
Repeat after me: Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
Let’s live that out.
|Posted on October 4, 2014 at 10:55 AM||comments (0)|
Alrighty, can you believe that this going to be the last post pertaining to 1 Corinthians? I feel like time has just completely flown by. We went through humility and coming to God, living as a legitimate Christian, being a part of the Church family and the apathy that can creep into our lives when we’re not paying attention. I want to close off with reaching out to people, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Today, I want to talk about the best way that we can fight back in this war.
We’ve already acknowledged one of the many ways that Satan attacks the Church and the souls around the world, but we are not helpless. We have the full armour of God available to us and He has equipped us with ways to be active in this war. Now, we don’t go running around with light swords slaying demons, however in our day-to-day lives our actions have spiritual lasting effects. This is why we’re called to bear fruits of the Spirit and why we’ve been blessed with spiritual gifts.
Bob Deffinbaugh gives a fantastic definition of a spiritual gift: “A spiritual gift is the God-given capacity of every Christian to carry out his function in the body of Christ.”
If you are a Christian and think that you don’t have a spiritual gift (or two or three), then I’m telling you right now that you do – you just don’t know what they are yet. I’ve heard spiritual gifts described this way; they are talents that are used to glorify God and build up the church. They can be used anywhere and everywhere to bring glory and honour to God and they are unique to each person. Everyone who comes to Christ is gifted in ways that will: serve to lift God higher, make an impact in the spiritual realm and fight in this spiritual war.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.
Romans 12:6-8 NLT
6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
There it is, plain out there for all to see. These gifts exist, they have purpose and they are to be used. But there are so many Christians who do not know what their gifts are and, therefore, are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Or, there’s jealousy over someone else’s gifts and a feeling of discontentment with one’s gift. When that begins to arise in us, we have to remind ourselves of these truths:
1 Corinthians 12:18 NLT
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
Ephesians 4:26 NLT
16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
The gifts we are given and where we are placed in the body of Christ are chosen by God for a reason. He puts us where He wants because He sees how it will all come together. If we were all given the same gifts, there would be a significant lack and the body wouldn’t be functioning properly. These verses show us that we need to trust God with the gifts and use them instead of grumbling about them.
Then Paul continues to say what matters even more than these gifts, what is really the best thing in our arsenal.
1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT
If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
We could be given all the spiritual gifts listed, but without love? There’s no point. The purpose of these gifts is to glorify God and edify the Church. How can that be done without love? Love is the foundation of Christianity, so how could we think of using the gifts given to as Christians without love? It just doesn’t make sense.
In every part of our lives, we need to be living out the love that saved us. It’s what makes up the two commandments (Love God with everything we are and love people) and it is powerful. Love is the greatest game plan of all time.
1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Quick recap time:
We all have spiritual gifts that serve a purpose and we walk out these spiritual gifts with love; adhering to the two commandments given to us.
Now, we have to make sure that we don’t use our gifts selfishly. You have probably noticed that I’ve said “edify the Church” or “build up the Church” a few already in this post – that’s because it’s very important. We don’t use our gifts to serve ourselves or make ourselves look like amazing/superstar/VIP Christians. Our gifts are meant to help the Church grow and thrive. The Corinthians all wanted to exemplify the “showy” gifts, like speaking in tongues. They were thinking selfishly instead of thinking of the body as a whole – and Paul addresses.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4 NLT
But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.
1 Corinthians 14:12 NLT
And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.
Let’s live out these verses, using our gifts selflessly with the purpose of strengthening the Church and helping both believers and non-believers.
That sounds beautiful, eh? It gives a picture of people walking around all in white, with flowers everywhere, and birds chirping. Every Christians gracefully glides around the peaceful meadow using their gifts as they encounter different people. And every time a gift is used for His glory and for the Church, a ray of light shines on the individual, a butterfly suddenly appears and the person smiles knowing that they are living out their calling.
I could barely type that out with a straight face.
Now don’t get me wrong, serving the Lord is beautiful. There is an unbelievable peace that envelops the believer and a warmth in the soul that accompanies us walking in His will. But it is not a peaceful meadow with flowers and birds; it is a battlefield.
If you’ve the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; I want you to picture the scene where they went into battle. They were dressed in gorgeous and practical armour, they were all in a tight formation each knowing their place and their role, and they advanced together in a way that looked like a dance.
The scene is beautiful.
I want to focus on a key character in the Chronicles of Narnia series now: Susan. She is gifted in archery, we are gifted whatever spiritual gift God gives us. Susan understands her role and performs it gladly because it plays into the overall game plan and that’s what we do as Christians once we realise and walk in our gifts. Susan is using her gift to further the cause of the Narnians and we use ours to glorify God and the Church. Are y’all seeing the parallel that I’m drawing here?
And here’s the last thing that we have in common, Susan faced crazy opposition and we will too. As Christians, we will be persecuted. Paul talks about it many times and Jesus Himself told us that we would face trouble in this world – it’ll happen. But we are called to still stand firm in Him and fight even in the midst of it all – like Susan did.
Fast-forward a bit and you see each of them fighting their enemy. One second she’s shooting arrows left and right and then the next, she’s stabbing an enemy with one of her arrows. The scene is still beautiful but it shows something new, it shows a fraction of the reality of being on a battlefield facing opposition wherever you turn. That’s the life that we live as Christians.
1 Corinthians 15:31 NLT
For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you.
1 Corinthians 16:9 NLT
There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.
There are ways to handle persecution though; ways for us to stand firm in Him.
1. Go to God.
So many times, whenever something bad happens to us we run away from God. That’s the worst thing that we could. He is our strength, He is our shield and most important: He is our Father. We run to Him and we have comfort, peace and everything we need to continue on in the storm. We must go straight to Him, even if it’s to vent. Even if it’s just to cry. Even if all we can say is: “Lord, I don’t understand.” We must go straight to Him because He’ll take care of us.
2. Remember what Christ experienced.
Christ knew every form of pain that man can experience: physical and emotional. This is significant for two reasons: 1. This is how He understands exactly how we feel whenever persecution comes. 2. He only experienced this because He loved us. When we remember how His incredible love for us lead to His pain, we are given to strength to endure our pain to glorify Him.
3. Focus on eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:42-43 NLT
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.
1 Corinthians 15:51 NLT
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!
1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
When we focus on the fact that we will be with God forever in Heaven, that we will be transformed, that we will be raised to life, glory and strength and that death holds no power over us anymore … doesn’t the situation seem smaller? When we can pause and think about what His word says will happen in the future, what we’re going through right now in the present pales in comparison.
There's a lot more that can be said about spiritual gifts, love and spiritual warfare because they are layered and intense topics. I'm only beginning to come to terms with the tip of the iceberg of it all. So, all I’ve tried to do is present this basic battle strategy, the starting point from which we begin to actually live for Him and take upon all that being a Christians really means.
Here are a few verses that I think end this post perfectly:
1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
|Posted on September 30, 2014 at 11:30 PM||comments (2)|
I’ve said it in a few blogposts and it has been clearly stated in Ephesians 6:10-12; we’re in a spiritual war. A lot of people hear that or read those words and don’t take it literally. It’s believed to be metaphorical or a symbol of some sort.
That’s not the case, folks. The war is real and it’s on.
And our enemy? He’s not playing around.
Fear, anxiety, depression, suicide, murder, rape, gossip, lies, sexual immorality and more are running rampant in our society today. You only have to watch, listen or read the news to see the truth in what I just said; it always seems to be more bad news than good news. Am I the only who noticed that?
Like I said, our enemy is taking his job seriously. He knows that he’s already lost the war, but he’s content the drag as many people as he can down to hell with him.
And what is the Church doing about that?
Really, what are we doing? Are we praying? Are we seeking the lost? Are we loving people? Are we spreading the gospel to everyone we can?
What are we doing?
Because, honestly, I sometimes feel like the global church is slacking. A lot of people feel that Christians are hypocritical, judgemental and stiff people. And let’s be real, with the evidence they’ve been given … we can’t really blame them for believing that.
There are the scandals of famous pastors, the outrageous cults that claim Christianity, the hate crimes committed by “Christians” and the people they encounter in their day-to-day life who say that they go to church and follow Jesus, but don’t live like it.
Like I said, the enemy has been working and I think it’s time that the Church starts to fight as well. We, as Christians, need to live the way God has called us to live: helping the oppressed, feeding the poor, visiting the lonely; loving each other and loving those around us.
We need to be living in humility so that He can be fully working in and through our lives to draw more people to Him. We need to be willing to be used to reach people and add to the family. We have the best news to be sharing with the world; news that will save lives from all binding chains, news that will restore people to who they were created to be.
But a lot of us don’t do that. I’ll even say it here, I’m not always willing. There are times when I haven’t represented God in the very best way possible. There are times when I try to run my own life, follow my own plans and act in my own will. I will say it here and now (and many more times in the days to come): I am not perfect – and I know it.
And I thank God for His unending grace and love and mercy that are always extended towards me when I fall. I live in the knowledge that I only have the privilege of being His daughter because His son, Jesus, took all my punishment upon Himself. All of us who have been saved and are in a relationship with Him know what it feels like to live in this truth. We know the joy and the peace that accompanies us every second of every day in our souls.
Romans 15:13 NIV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But non-Christians? They don’t know what that feels like.
They live in the guilt that was already taken care of on the cross. They are slaves to what they’ve already been freed from; sin.
Romans 8:1-2 NLT
8 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power[a] of the life-giving Spirit has freed you[b] from the power of sin that leads to death.
They not knowing about this is because we’ve neglected to tell them about what has been done for them. And I think that’s because of a state that a lot of the members of the Church have been in for generations; a state of apathy.
Dictionary.com defines apathy as: the absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.
I think that a lot of the time we become so used to the gospel and caught up in living our day to day lives we become apathetic; we stop caring about sharing the Good News, we stop being in awe of God and His glory, the miracles we read about in the Bible seem ordinary to us because we’ve heard them so much and the sacrifice of the Cross? It begins to lose its significance to us.
And this didn’t only begin with us, our parents, or our grandparents … it was already beginning in the early church. In chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses apathy in relation to communion.
Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you.
The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me. After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe. (1 Corinthians 11: 23-28 MSG)
Paul does not mince words – especially when you read it in the Message Version.
We need to approach Him in awe, we need to have reverence; we need to be the opposite of apathetic. One of the best things about Christianity is the relationship that we have with our Lord and Saviour. We can talk to Him at any time of the day and know that He hears us. We can be confident in the fact that He will never leave us or forsake us. We can walk in the in the knowledge that His love for us is unchanging and unending.
Romans 8:38-39 NLT
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We have a beautiful intimacy with God, but we must be very careful to not let this intimacy become a lack of awe towards Him. We must not “let familiarity breed contempt”.
Apathy can ruin our relationship with God. If I told my closest friends that I was in a relationship without passion, emotion, or excitement; they’d probably say that I wasn’t in a real relationship or that my relationship must be awful. And they’d be right.
Our relationship with God should be full of those things. It is a passionate life that we have in Jesus, one of His Holy Ghost Fire living in us. Every day we’re in this relationship with Him, we have love, peace, joy and hope. Does this sound void of emotion to you or bursting to the brink with it? And goodness, look in the book of Acts. Were the lives of the early Christians boring? Was the life of Jesus boring and missing excitement? I would think not.
So why would we settle for an apathetic relationship with God when a relationship with Him is the polar opposite of that? We shouldn’t.
John 10:10 NKJV
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
We’re supposed to be living life abundantly, life to the full. We cannot do that in a state of apathy. We cannot grow in a state of apathy; it breeds stagnation. It says that it’s okay to be exactly where you are because changing would require caring and taking action; and apathy just isn’t about that life.
Apathy has no place in the most important relationship of our lives – no place at all. But when we allow it to creep it’s way into our souls, it makes a little home there and eventually kicks some things out to make more room.
Some of those things that it kicks out are: love, servitude, and evangelism.
How can we truly love people the way God wants us to when we’re not fully living in His love to begin with? How can we serve people and humble ourselves if we don’t have the capacity to care? How can we tell people about the gospel when we have no passion or joy or excitement in it?
We can’t. I’ll say it again: We cannot do any of those things; love, serve, or spread the Word when apathy has taken root in our lives. Apathy goes hand in hand with selfishness, eh? It chooses not to care about anything else but what we need to get done; our wants and desires. Apathy focuses on self instead of on other people – and the gospel is completely contrary to that. How can we claim to be Christians – literally meaning Christ-like – when Christ exemplified those three qualities and has called us to live the same?
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection,[e] and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.[f] 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13 NLT)
Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24 NLT)
I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33 NLT)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
We cannot genuinely live out these verses in a state of apathy.
Are we seeing the reality of how dangerous this thing is? Because if we are, we can start talking about fighting it.
I think there are a few ways that we can practically fight apathy in our relationship with God.
1. We can ask Him to renew the passion and fervor within us. He will never withhold any good thing from us; He gives good gifts. More passion and more growth in our relationship with Him will always constitute as a good thing.
James 1:17 NLT
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.[a] He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.[b]
2. We can be intentional about “getting away” with Him. I mean just getting intimate with God and surrounding ourselves in His love, removing ourselves from distractions and just focusing on Him. I think that when we focus on His glory and the amazingness of His grace; it is seriously difficult to be apathetic.
Matthew 6:6 MSG
6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
*in context, this verse is talking about prayer but I feel that it also ties into developing intimacy with Him*
3. We can sow into the lives of others. We need to look to God and ask Him to help us see the world as He sees it, see the broken the way He sees them, and see the lost the way He sees them. When we do that, when we get a little peek into His perspective; we cannot be apathetic.
And please keep in mind, I seriously struggle with apathy. Does anyone remember the Boston Marathon Bombing? I remember hearing about it and brushing it aside as just another immoral thing to occur in the corrupted world we live in. I seriously didn’t care, guys. That’s awful. I don’t know if I would’ve even realised how apathetic I’d become if I hadn’t heard about it in detail at a Youth Service. When I saw the pictures, when I truly became aware of the horror; I was shocked and heartbroken.
And so ashamed that I hadn’t care about it before. What type of person did that make me? What type of Christian did that make me? I was so challenged in that moment and have been consistently challenged since then to look at my life and see where I need God to move in me so that I can actually live for Him.
And I welcome all of us to do that, where do you find yourself the most apathetic? Does it break your heart to hear of orphans, of sex trafficking, of child hunger, of murder, of rape? Or are you so accustomed to hearing about those things that they don’t even resonate anymore? Those are just a few examples, but I really encourage you to ask God to reveal where you have let apathy take root – and ask Him to help you get that out.
Today, I had to go to a presentation on WHMIS as a requirement for earning my credit in Chemistry. The speaker said something that I had to type down immediately; something that applied to so much more than WHMIS. He said:
“Always be on your guard, never become complacent.”
The enemy of our souls wants us to be a complacent and apathetic state in which we will be able to accomplish nothing for the kingdom of God, are we going to give him what he wants?
|Posted on September 27, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
Hey all, this is not a part of the regular 1 Corinthians thing that I’m doing (and that should be up sometime today, if not then look for it on Sunday when I come back from a retreat I’m going to in Montreal). This is going into a whole new category because this is something new that He has done that just needs to be shared with everyone – and I have a feeling that it will only be the beginning.
So, what happened? Why the deviation? And who is this “Melanie” in the title of the post?
As my psychology professor said this morning: “Hold your horses”. I’m getting there! You guys need to receive a bit of background information first or the significance of what He did will not be properly understood.
Let’s begin with this irrefutable fact: I, Sana’ Keren Cynthia Noelle Richards, am not a morning person. I never have been. I remember as a little girl, not wanting to get up from bed to go to school – not because I didn’t like it; I love(d) learning – but because the sun was still sleeping so I should be as well. I remember being in third or fourth grade and going to bed between 10 pm and 1 am at night. I was put to bed at an earlier time, but I’d stay up reading or playing with my Gameboy or playing with my Tamagotchi (90s kids know what I’m talking about and sorry to my parents for the deception).
This was all to say that I’ve always been a night owl. I study better at night, I tend to write most of my poems/songs at night, I do little projects (like redesigning my swimsuit by adding more material) in the night hours. I even prefer cleaning at night, just ask my mother. She’d wake up to the bathroom being spotless courtesy of yours truly.
It is for all those reasons that I’ve always scorned the idea of waking up early in the morning to pray or read my Bible.
God made me like this, I’d reason, He knows I’m not a morning person. So, I’d spend time with Him in prayer or read His Word at midnight – when I could either be super alert or super exhausted – and sometimes I would even slack on that and then try to squeeze Him in sometime in the afternoon in between school, tutoring kids and my volunteering.
Suffice it to say, my prayer life and Word life have not been what they should over the years. More so my prayer time than anything else. I could always read His Word on the bus or at school or in the library and it would feel natural to me. But praying in those places? I don’t think so. My prayer life has been a struggle for a long time between my flesh and His Holy Spirit living in me. If in my posts, I ever sound like I have it all together or have always been perfect or some other lie that would negate His grace please dispose of those immediately. Everything remotely good about me stems from the roots of His love, grace and peace. Not by my own doing.
So, going back to the point of this post, I was recently challenged by the book: Set Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy (it’s excellent, every young woman of God needs to read that book and for my brothers, check out the books by her husband, Eric Ludy) lent to me by a sister in Christ that God has blessed me with on campus. The book challenged me in so many ways, guys, but the main one was in prayer. We’ve already gone over the struggle of that. She said to choose a time in the day and stick with it. Make an appointment with God and keep it every day regardless of how you’re feeling.
I am a university student (shoutout to all my Gaels out there) and my schedule is all over the place. Lectures, seminars, tutorials, time assigned to my readings or pre-class work and time to get in three meals a day all come together to give me a ridiculously busy week. The only time that I could consistently spend time with Him every day would be before 8 o’clock. In the morning.
When I realised this, a part of me cried out: NO! I’m not a morning person. I can’t do this, Lord.
And it was a defining moment for me: do I move into a deeper stage of my relationship with Him by taking this step or do I just continue on with how I was living, being in a relationship with Him but not being committed to Him?
I chose to be committed and picked the time 6:19 because it’s my birthday on a clock; June (6) 19th (19). And every day for almost two weeks now (it will be two weeks on this coming Tuesday) I’ve been doing this. Getting up and being quiet so that I don’t wake up my roommate, putting on sweats and walking down to the lake for worship and prayer (I go to the lake because it has captivated me since day one and it is a less than 5 minute walk from my residence). The first half an hour is usually just me singing in an awful and loud morning voice to Him (most people awake at this time are joggers and have music in so I don’t worry about volume) and then the second half is me praying to Him (I have a list on my IPod with things to pray for so that I won’t forget anything important). Then I head back in to my residence and spending time in the Word with Him and I finish all of this approximately by 8-8:30 so that I can begin my full-time job as a student.
Y’all, it’s been amazing. It’s – dare I say it – better than sleeping in. I could have gotten 2 hours of sleep or 8 hours of sleep (HA) the night before and I am still rejuvenated when I’m with Him.
I really must say that there’s no better way to start the day or spend your time than with Him.
And that’s not to sound spiritual or superior, I just have not felt His peace and joy in such abundance before committing to Him like this. But, I’m not going to lie, there have been mornings when I would lie on my very comfortable dorm bed and think to God : Lord, I’m really tired. I don’t really want to get up right now. And He’ll urge me to get up and I will and then we have such a great time together that I see how silly it would have been to miss out on that – until the next morning or the morning after that when suddenly I’m too tired and don’t want to get up again.
This morning was one of those mornings. I had been up until 3 a.m. doing my introduction to psychology work and when my alarm woke me at just after 6, I was very tempted to just sleep in. I was so ready, but it’s like … He was sitting on the edge of my bed, patting my knee and gently nudging me to get out of bed because we were going to spend some time together. So, I got up and we did.
And now we get to the purpose of this post, what happened this morning.
I witnessed a gorgeous sunrise and was woken up completely as if I had gotten 3 times the amount of sleep I’d really received. And as I’m worshipping, I’m just going all out. You know what I mean, hands up in the air, eyes closed. I’m just gone. I did struggle about whether that would look too weird to people passing by, but then I realised they have no clue who I am and I cannot allow worry about what a random jogger might think of me stop me from being completely unashamed in worshipping my God.
So, confident in my decision, I go back to worshipping. And during my less than stellar rendition of Rooftops by Jesus Culture, I happen to open my eyes and see a woman jogging by. She smiles at me and I start to wonder if I know her from somewhere but my memory doesn’t produce anything and she just continues on so I decide to let the experience go and get back to focusing on Him. It’s great, of course because it’s with Him, and as the song is dwindling down I open my eyes to see that same woman coming back and coming towards me to where I’m sitting on my rock.
This, if you haven’t already been able to guess, is Melanie.
She’s from Vancouver, she tells me.
She’s a believer, she tells me.
She heard me singing worship songs and wants to join me in one, she tells me.
I’m just completely stunned as this is taking place. I’m still stunned and I don’t think that I will ever not be completely in awe of how God worked in my life through Melanie on September 26, 2014.
So (after we introduce ourselves), we sing Oceans together. Oceans is by Hillsongs United and is one of my favourite songs of all time, it is my university life song. Suffice it to say: look up the song if you haven’t already heard it.
Back to the point, we sing Oceans together and we’re just worshipping and it doesn’t matter how we sound or how we look, it’s about the fact that God has connected two of His daughters at this point and time to bring Him glory and that’s wonderful. After the song is done, Melanie asks me if she can pray for me.
Like, I’m really going to say no. Come on now.
That was amazing in itself. I aspire to pray the way she does, not to imitate her or use her language or anything but to pray so completely submitted to the Spirit. There were times when Melanie would pause and I just knew that she was listening to the Holy Spirit tell her what to pray for because then she’d pray about something personal going on within me that she would have no way of knowing otherwise. It was incredible.
I’m going to mention one of the things she said in prayer, only because it actually relates to this post. She said (to paraphrase): “Thank you, Lord, that Sana’ is so diligent in spending time in the morning with you in prayer.”
Y’all, what did I say before? I’m not a morning person.
What had happened just that morning? I wasn’t going to get up.
And here was a clear message from my Father saying “Good job, daughter. I’m proud of you.” Like getting ice cream or a cinnamon bun from my earthly father when I would come home with good grades on my report card; but a million times better.
It was a spiritual cinnabon.
The whole morning was a Miracle Moment.
And I could’ve easily missed it. There are so many “ifs” that could’ve taken place for me not to have such a phenomenal experience with my Heavenly Father this morning. And I was this close guys, this close to cuddling back with Terra (my teddy bear since infancy) and going back to sleep.
If I hadn’t been obedient to Him, this post wouldn’t even be happening – and that’s the truth. I received such a grace-filled gift and blessing from Him this morning because I was obedient.
It makes me think, how many blessings or gifts have we forfeited because we haven’t been obedient? How many missed “Melanie Moments” have we accumulated because we did what we wanted, because we listened to our flesh, because we wanted to satisfy our desires?
And how many “Melanie Moments” does He have in store for us? It’s literally mind-blowing and humbling to think that He would not only just save us and adopt us into His family, but that He would also bless us like this. It’s just so Him.
So, I encourage you to be obedient to Him. Be committed to Him. Live your life outpoured for Him.
Amazing things take place. Supernatural events occur.
Comment if you’ve ever had a “Miracle/Melanie Moment” and reach out to me whenever they come. With your permission, I can post them up here for people to see that God didn’t just work in amazing, miraculous, supernatural ways in Bible times.
He works like that every day and He has tons of “Miracle/Melanie Moments” in store for each of us.
*** and just in case you're wondering, we did exchange info and intend to keep in touch. #GodIsGood #FamilyOfChrist
|Posted on September 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Ohana means Family
When reading the past few chapters of 1 Corinthians, there have been so many different topics introduced. There is so much meat here in this book, it's amazing. There are verses that sermon series could be written for, much less one little blog post by yours truly.
So, I'm going to go with something general that I feel like includes what was spoken of in a few of the chapters from the last couple days and then try to get specific.
Let's talk about Family.
I don't mean the family that you live with or were naturally born into. I'm talking about the family that you were supernaturally born into when you became a Christian.
See, the difference between Christianity and any other faith system is relationship; a familial relationship between us and God.
If we rewind back to Eden, we see that Adam and Eve did have a relationship with Him but then they ruined it by choosing to sin. When sin came in, it separated us from God. Fast forward to Jesus coming into the picture, living a perfect life, dying for us, then coming back to life thus defeating sin and death. With sin's power gone, we can finally get back to what we were made to be in the first place. Sin can no longer get in the way of us having a relationship with God - unless we let it. That's the clincher: free will. God will never force us into relationship with Him, He wants each of us to choose.
And unfortunately, some choose sin over God; eternal death over eternal life. Gosh, that hurts my heart. But, there are millions of people all around the globe who have chosen Him; who have admitted their sin, believed in Him + what He did and have asked Him into their hearts and their lives. Hallelujah! People are getting saved every day and that's amazing because that means that more and more people are joining the family.
When we come to Him, we die to sin and are raised in life with Christ, we are born again and then immediately adopted into the family of Christ.
Romans 6:8-11 NLT
8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:4-5 NLT
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
We become a part of something much greater than anything we can imagine; the body of the Church with Christ as the head. We are one, we are a unit, we are a legitimate family. Not a family that divides itself when things get rough. Not a family where members abuse each other verbally, physically and emotionally. Not a family akin to what we have in the world today.
We are a family that loves each other and can actually genuinely do so because the Author of Love keeps us together. We are a family bound together by the blood spilled for our salvation.
As members of this family, we have three main responsibilities:
1) love God 2) love each other and 3) love those outside the family
Today, I want to break down what that second responsibility means; what does loving each other look like?
1. Praying for each other.
As Christians, prayer is an essential part of our lives. It's one of the ways that we communicate with God and thus grow in our personal relationship with Him. However, prayer is not just limited to being all about us - we should be thinking about others when praying as well.
Ephesians 6:18 NLT
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[a]
Is there anything that we know a brother or sister is struggling with? Pray for them. Have they not been to church in a while? Pray for them. Did they just randomly pop into your mind? Pray for them. We should take as many opportunities as possible to pray for the other members of our family. Why? What is so important about that?
Two words: spiritual warfare.
Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
The enemy of our souls is raging war against our family. Are we going to behave like cowards and hide away until all the fighting is done? No, because we know who wins at the end. We can walk in confidence on the battlefield knowing what the outcome is going to be. This is how we fight in faith. And we fight in faith through prayer.
James 5:16 NLT
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Prayer is one of the ways that we can stand firm against the enemy and help the people on our side stand firm as well. It is power and always comes through. I don't think this can be stressed enough. PRAY! There’s a very popular line: "Pray (pray) to get you through the day". Let us pray to get someone else through their day as well.
2. Encouraging each other.
Genesis 1:3 NLT
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
God spoke light into existence. Let that sink in. From the very beginning of time we were shown the importance of words. In James, there is a section of scripture dedicated to the use of our tongue. Here’s a snippet of that:
James 3:7-8 NLT
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.
In Proverbs, written by Solomon (the wisest man to have ever lived), there are several verses that speak about how we use our words. Here are a couple:
Proverbs 15:1 NLT
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 18:21 NLT
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Are we getting the fact that the words that we say are über important? There is a lot of power in our words; power to do harm or power to do good. As Christians, we need to follow our Father's example and speak life wherever we go. We need to be people who build each other up with our words; who are kind and loving with them.
It makes me so sad when I hear things like: "the church is full of gossips" or "you can't trust church people (because they will spread your business everywhere)". It makes me angry when I see Christians being rude to each other. I don't mean teasing each other sarcastically or joking with one another, mind you. I mean Christians brothers and sisters tearing each other because of drama or etcetera. It makes me wonder how we can truly be a family when there seems to be a lot of negative words said to people or about people.
This is not encouraging each other in The Lord, this is not being a family. This is dividing the church and driving people out of it. That shouldn't be happening, guys. Yes, our flesh's instinct is to do all the above and worse, but that does not mean that we aren't able to be better than that. We can be through God living in us. His strength is in us therefore we are able to fight and His love is in us helping us to love people with our words through encouragement. This is what we're supposed to do guys, so let's be intentional about it.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Hebrews 10:25 NLT
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Proverbs 15:23 NLT
Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!
3. Sharpening each other.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
What does that mean? Well, when I read that verse I think of my father sharpening his knives. He would strike them against each other and cause a bunch of noise when doing so. The sound used to really get on my nerves, eh? I remember one day asking him why he had to do it (because I'd just wanted him to stop) and he told me that it makes the knives more effective. By striking them against each other again and again, they were sharpened and were able to cut things more cleanly and quickly. Resigned to the fact that he indeed have a good reason for the irritating noise, I nodded my head at his answer and then went to watch TV.
That's what we need to be doing with our brothers and sisters. We need to help each other grow and be more effective in each other's faith. This is done by intentionally coming together to share with each other and learn from one another. This is achieved by spending time with Christian friends in and outside the church building and through discipleship/mentorship. When we make quality time with other believers to focus on Him, amazing things happen. We grow, we learn and we become a close and tight-knit family.
Now the coming together of my dad's knives? It sounded mighty painful. Honestly, if knives could speak I feel like they'd be screaming in pain during their sharpening time. Sometimes, it's like that for us. We might be challenged to go deeper for Him and sacrifice something in our lives. Sometimes, we might learn something about ourselves that we don't like. Sometimes, we might have to confront our brother or sister with something that they're doing that isn't glorifying to God. Sharpening each other can be painful, hard, and uncomfortable but it is necessary in order for us to help each other grow and be more effective in our faith.
Now, we must remember that this doesn't mean that we only have Christian friends and we only spend time with Christians. That wouldn't be doing Responsibility #3: loving people outside the family. And without #3 we run the risk of just being "Social Christians". I recently learned this term, it refers to Christians who only spend time together because they want relationship with each other. This isn't entirely right because we must not forget that our family is to be ever-growing! How can it grow if we don't interact with others and thus tell them about Him? Aha. It can’t.
So we must be intentional about cultivating relationship with fellow believers without neglecting the non-believers that God has placed in our lives.
4. Not causing one another to stumble.
1 Corinthians 8:9 NLT
9 But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.
In other words, not leading another believer into sin. When we do that, we cannot call ourselves a family because we are only hurting each other. There are so many ways that this can be done unintentionally but we have to be careful, guys. There are a few practical things I want to put out there for how we behave on a day-to-day basis.
Sisters: Let's not make it any harder on our brothers to stay pure. Yes, they have a responsibility to keep their sights on Christ in us and not us ourselves, but we can either help them in this or hurt them by the way we choose to dress. I'm not saying there's a formula for how to dress modestly and nicely as a Christian girl and I'm not going to push my style on anyone because we all have different styles. It's a part of how unique we all are. I'm just going to share what I try to do: let the Holy Spirit lead you.
It may sound weird asking God to tell you what to wear but you can try on clothes and know inside that this is accentuating something a little too much and choose to wear something else. When you go to stores and pick up clothes, imagine yourself in them (or try them on) and see whether this is something that would honour God. One way I know when something is approved is a peace I get inside. When I probably shouldn't wear something I feel uncomfortable or fidgety or am constantly adjusting it. Just, let Him lead you.
Brothers: We sisters can read into something a million times more than it really is. Now, it is our responsibility to guard ourselves and just relax but you guys can help us in that. Actually, you need to help us in that. As men, you are called to be protectors and that also means helping us protect our hearts. How? By being chivalrous and kind and Christ-like but not flirty. Treat us like friends, like treasured sisters and then there should (hopefully) be no issues.
I know, this sounds like a bit much but as Paul said:
1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT
35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
There is another way that we can make a fellow believer stumble:
1 Corinthians 8:12 NLT
12 And when you sin against other believers[a] by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ.
We should never hear about peer pressure in the church. No ifs, ands or buts. I don't even think I need to say anything on this. Legit, it's that simple. The bottom line is, we cannot lead another into sin and then call that person family. We cannot hurt each other and say we love them. When we do that, we sin against Him and that's serious.
Alrighty, so those are just four big ways that I think we can truly be a family to each other. Are we perfect? No. Will we mess up? Yes. Should those facts stop us? Not all :).
He who is able to move mountains lives in us and when we trust Him and ask Him to help us live the way we should, He lives through us.
As said before, the Christian life is a race but we need to remember that we're not racing against each other. There's no competition to see who is going to get to the finish line the fastest. It's a race we run beside each other all with the same goal of being with Him once we get to the finish line. We should want everyone to reach there and help with that in any way we can.
It was said in the movie Lilo and Stitch and it is relevant and significant to the body of Christ: Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.
|Posted on September 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM||comments (2)|
So, I'm going through the book of 1 Corinthians for the next just about two weeks and every Tuesday and Friday I will post about what I've taken from His word. I'm not a theologian, I'm not a pastor (though I am a pastor's kid) and I don't believe I know everything there is to know. I only share with the hope that whatever He reveals to me or puts on my heart can impact YOU positively.
So here we have it; Day 1 : Humility.
Coming to God begins with knowing where we stand; our status.
We are foolish and we are sinners.
I know what you're thinking: who are you calling foolish?
My answer is YOU.
Yes, you. A+ student, above 80% GPA, artistic/musical prodigy, university student, PhD; whatever standard you've met and exceeded is nothing.
1 Corinthians 1:25 NLT
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
OUCH. Okay, so maybe I'm not the greatest of the greatest, but I'm not a bad person.
Well do I have news for you...
There is nothing good about us, regardless of what society says about all of us being innately good. Despite the fact that you volunteer with kids, give money to the homeless, serve at shelters, tutor people, open the door for strangers or even if you always make sure to say "bless you" when someone sneezes; You Are Not Good.
Did I step on any toes? If I did, then I'm sorry but you're not alone because I had to come to this realisation as well. My toes also have bruises from being told how foolish and awful I am. And I'm what would be classified as a nerd (with a GPA leaving high school of 94%) and I now attend one of the best universities in Canada, Queen's. Also, I would be called a goody-two-shoes (maybe even a goody-four-shoes) by most of the people who grew up with because I've (apparently) always been nice. But the fact is, No one ever truly deserves that label. Most time we're just trying to get our feet to fit into those shoes - and that doesn't work.
I've said this is all to acknowledge to not build myself up but to show that I, too, have had bring myself down and that I know it's hard to hear.
But what would you rather (here's some multiple choice)?
A. To be satisfied with living a lie OR B. Be challenged by confronting the truth.
If it's A, then I'm sorry that you don't want to swallow the truth even though it goes down better than freshly made hot chocolate (or coffee, or tea; whichever is your preference).
If it's B, then congratulations because I know someone who is the Way, the Truth and the Life; His name is Jesus and He's dying to meet you.
Well, amendment, He already did die to meet you.
Oh, another amendment, He already knows you.
(I'm just going to keep adding on here):
He already knows that you're not good.
He already knows all the wrong you've done
And He already knows all the wrong that you're going to do.
Yeah, I know.
It's mind-boggling, it's scary and you feel all exposed and vulnerable and naked.
I've been there. And sometimes, I return there.
In the moment that we grasp the state of how sinful we are, we understand that we are not worthy of being loved.
But here's a fact that still rocks my world: He still loves us anyway.
Romans 5:8 New Living Translation (NLT)
8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Let that sink in. Let it soak into your soul. Let it permeate your heart. And as your mind begins to wrap itself around that idea; you'll wonder how? Why?
How? Because He made you. He chose you. He called you. He knows who He wants you to be.
Ephesians 1:4-5 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
Why? Because He chooses to.
His love is not one that we observe on earth. Love here is conditional, it is based on compatibility, attractiveness etc. But God? He loves us not because of anything we can do for Him and not because of our looks or personality. We don't have to stress about being perfect and always put together because no matter what, His love will always be unconditional.
So, a lot of info has been thrown at you:
1. You are bad.
2. Someone loves you anyway and desires a relationship with you; His name is God.
So now. Here we are. We know about Him and if you're awed by His love for you then you might be thinking of entering into a relationship with Him. How do we do that?
Well, remember our badness? Our SIN? It prevents us from having a relationship with Him. Yeah, maybe I should've mentioned that before I got all your hopes up. Whoops.
... *cue awkward silence here*
But, wait. Who did God send to remedy that problem? His son: Jesus.
He lived a perfect life that no one else could lead. He then died because of sin. Wait, how does that make sense? I just said that He lived a sinless life yet He died because of sin.
He didn't die because of His sin. He died because of ours. Everyone's. All the lies, anger, hatred, idolatry, gossip, murders, rapes, sexual immorality, jealousy, envy; ALL OF IT. He took it all upon Himself and died for our sake. For humanity's sake.
And this is where many expect the story to end. Fade out to black, roll the credits, time to get up from the comfortable position you've been in and stretch.
But then, wait.
Three days later, He's back. He's risen from the dead. He has now conquered sin and death and so all who are held captive by sin can be freed.
We are free. Free to finally be in a relationship with God.
Yes, this is good news. Literally, it's called the gospel that translates to the good news.
* Sidenote: For some good may not seem like an adequate description (phenomenal, amazing, incredible - and those are true), but remember that everything without God is bad and the word good will carry A LOT more weight.*
And now that we are finally able to enter into relationship with God, how do we go about that?
Just by asking. It's not complicated.
1. Acknowledge your sin.
2. Acknowledge His goodness.
3. Acknowledge the cross.
4. State your belief in all the aforementioned.
5. Repent for your sin.
* Sidenote: This doesn't just mean strongly apologise by the way. To repent means to turn away ... From your sin, from your old life and finally begin walking in the right direction*
6. Ask Him to come into your heart and change your life.
And He will.
This doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be true.
But remember. It all starts with the H word (No, that is not Hell): Humility.
We have to know where we started from to truly realise the gravity of where He's taken us to and where He will be taking us.
Lest we forget and suddenly begin that our salvation was of our own doing. That by our infallible ability and intelligence we have been saved.
Even typing that made me feel blasphemous.
Here are a few verses to help us keep this perspective.
1 Corinthians 1:2 NLT (emphasis mine)
I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
See the gorgeous bolding I did? It was for a reason.
This verse says He - not we.
He did all these things, not us (!!!) and that's something that not only keeps us humble but also enables us to clearly see His love for us. When we try to take credit for our salvation, we cheat ourselves out of the greatest grand gesture of all time that has been done for us.
So, let's not do that. Let's be humble and if we must boast:
Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” (1 Corinthians 1:31 NLT)
There it is, so plainly laid out for us.
And hey, (bonus) when we boast about The Lord; we end up sharing the gospel.
And that means more people can come to be in this relationship with Him.
|Posted on July 1, 2014 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
Hey everyone !
So, in our culture, there is a lot of emphasis on finding your "soulmate". But, I've come to realise that the creator of my soul is my soulmate. Think about it, Ephesians 1:4-5 says:
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
He loved us before Genesis; He chose our souls even before we were even a thought.
It blows me away everytime I meditate on that truth and led me to write this poem. Hope you all like it
My soul is overwhelmed by Your love for me
It sings with words that cannot be understood
It praises in a way that cannot be contained
It cries one word
Again and again and again
It was drowning in darkness
No shadows existed for
There was no light to create them
The term black hole derived from the
State that was my soul
See, my soul was without form and void,
Darkness covered the surface
And went deeper and deeper
than anyone could've imagined
But He spoke
His breath carried Light
And it permeated the darkness
His light shone through
He said to me,
Thou art beautiful.
You only believed you were ugly because you couldn't see clearly
But look at your reflection in my eyes when I look at you.
And in Him, I was beautiful.
Your worth and value were buried under the darkness that you had accepted from life
I banished that darkness
I've carried the burden that you are carrying unnecessarily
I've set you free
And I saw that I was valuable to Him and made worthy because of Him.
My life changed.
Where darkness roamed free
Where my thoughts were in slavery
My dreams submitted to him underneath me
It was free
Oh, the thoughts of worship that were finally released
Oh, the peace
For darkness was chaos and chaos used to reign
But there was no match for the might in His Light.
Oh, that battlefield
Where the amount of wars in my world is much larger than three
Where every day is a battle between the Holy Spirit and my humanity
Where guarding may falter
Where tears find their source
Where the validity of my smile is determined
This is where the battle is
My heart wrestles with God,
It fights and struggles and doesn't give up
Because sin nature pumps it's blood
And sin is a lover that refuses to cease and desist
Which is why it's imperative that we resist,
that we stay focused lest we be deceived
So I wrestle
For from the struggle comes surrender
And from surrender comes submission.
And it gets to that point where my heart can say,
Lord take this cup
But Even If
Even if I don't get my way
Even if it's harder
Even if I must fight myself
Even if I must painfully rip away the clinging hands of sin
Your will be done
And then my soul,
The beginning of the transformation
Where darkness was exiled
Where Light now calls home
My soul belongs to The Lord, my God
It is marked with Christ's signature:
It is finished written in His blood
Darkness said grave
God said grace
Darkness says hate
My soul says mate
Your love is unbelievable
It blows me away
You gave your life for my soul
You are my Soulmate
|Posted on April 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
It's Good Friday, the day we choose to really reflect upon and remember Jesus' death on the Cross for our sins. Here's a poem that I wrote earlier this week that I felt should be shared today; It Is Finished.
The cross hanging from my neck is heavier than anyone will ever know.
When I wear it,
It's not my status as a Christian that I'm attempting to show.
How could I ever show-off my salvation?
Like it's something I earned?
Like I'm special?
Like I just happened to win the lottery because I'm lucky?
For none of that is true,
Wearing the cross for that purpose?
It would be accessorising my outfits with a lie.
A lie built off pride and greed and the need to be seen as someone worth seeing.
But I'm not.
I'm not worth the beauty in a smile,
The warmth in a hug,
The measure of my worth is an eternity of pain.
Of drought with no rain.
Work and toil with no gain.
A never-ending cycle of being slain.
With light running from the darkness around me that reigns.
And yet, here I am.
Wearing a smile.
Promised an eternity of life in a kingdom of light.
The cross hanging from my neck is heavier than anyone will ever know.
For it bears the weight of every sin that I owe;
A debt made of sins from yesterday, today and tomorrow.
It reminds me that this debt?
I would've had to pay.
Is what I should've been carrying.
Was mine and done wilfully.
Free will to sin is slavery masked as freedom.
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
A demon wearing an angel's halo to hide it's horns.
It is finished.
I was free.
New concept for me.
In joy I wept,
When I realised the grace that had been bestowed on me.
Calvary was my day of doom.
Justice said that eternal damnation was my birthright.
And Jesus said:
It is finished.
His death took mine.
His humiliation removed my shame.
His pain brought my healing.
For every time He was whipped, My tears were wiped away.
In such a way,
That I was then declared pure.
The cross I wear?
Is bloodier than it appears.
It's been drenched in innocent blood and guilty tears.
That the villain should live?
That the murderer be set free?
That the intentional sinner be intentionally forgiven?
That's what happened to me.
How dare my bridge from death to life,
The object that bore the ultimate sacrifice,
Be seen as an accessory?
The cross is not pretty and it's not cute.
And if it is only seen as something to complete an outfit,
Then the whole world needs to go on mute.
Turn off all distractions.
Quiet your mind.
Silence the fleshly desires of your heart and listen.
To the voice of your creator, speaking light into the darkness at the beginning of time.
To that exhaling of breath that brought our ancestors to life.
Listen to God's voice
Where Are You?
Knowing full well,
That they were not in that place of harmony with Him anymore.
And then listen to each anguished cry, each broken heart, each last breath before death, each family torn apart.
Listen to what sin has done.
Listen to what came of Adam and Eve's rebellion.
The countless cycle of murder, looting, rape, deception, betrayal.
Over and over again.
To the constant judgement and grace being bestowed.
Again and again.
And then hear,
His last three words
Before He died.
It is finished.
Our spiral of destruction ?
Our eternal sentence of suffering?
Our slavery to sin?
It is finished.
That is what the Cross means.
It is finished.
For anyone born into this world.
It is finished.
For when you see the story of humanity
And the miserable ending it deserved
And realise that that ending was finished on the Cross
Marked instead with a beginning of a life with God
You run to your Creator's arms
And His love promises to never let you go.
And He calls you His child
He's now your Father.
Jesus, His Son,
The Holy Spirit,
You return to the family of the Trinity
Their love extending towards infinity
And beyond ...
What can be dreamed or wished or imagined.
On the cross,
It is finished.
Three days later,
And our souls will never be the same.
Look into your pain,
Into your strife,
Into your broken heart,
Into your wrecked family,
Into your illness,
Into the utter turmoil of your life.
And hear His words again today:
It Is Finished
|Posted on April 10, 2014 at 10:20 PM||comments (0)|
This Friday, the passage of scripture that we've been given to write on is 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
2 When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.[b] 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5 I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. (NLT)
There's one word that comes to mind each time I've read these 5 verses in different versions:
Paul didn't try to be impressive or sound clever, instead he showed his weakness and he was plain. He was humble about spreading the gospel. He decided to shift the focus from him to Christ.
I love the way that the Message Version and the Contemporary English Version put it in verse 2:
In fact, while I was with you, I made up my mind to speak only about Jesus Christ, who had been nailed to a cross. (CEV)
I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.
Paul's humility wasn't natural, it wasn't instinct - it was a choice. Because instinct says:
I want to look smart.
I want to be important.
I want others to look up to me.
Instinct is all about I, it is filled to the brim with Pride.
Paul gave us an example of how we should treat sharing the gospel with others; that we should forget everything but Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross.
Because the gospel is not about us. Our salvation had nothing to do with us and everything to do with God.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)
The moment that we begin to boast in ourselves or put our faith in the boasting of our fellow man, we have a problem.
Isaiah 10:15 NLT puts it like this ...
But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
It makes me want to ask my own rhetorical question:
Can a Christian boast in anyone other than Christ?
But the thing is, it's easy enough to do. It's easy to be proud, it's instinct to try to present yourself in the best light possible. That's the sinful nature that we were born into.
12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 NLT)
That's the sinful nature that we struggle with.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (Romans 7:18-19 NLT)
That's the sinful nature that we have been freed from in Christ.
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,[a] you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. (Romans 8:12 NLT)
And that's the sinful nature that we have to kill every time it appears.
13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, [b] you will live.
And even that, we cannot do on our own! It is with His power; His spirit in us that we can ever hope to kill that part of us that rebels against God. Becoming a Christian and living as one cannot be done by our power - and I am so grateful for that.
Because we make mistakes and would always manage to mess up our salvation.
But Jesus? His perfection is such that our imperfections are covered. Wiped away. Each time.
That's why we can't lift up ourselves. We are not worthy enough, holy enough, special enough, or good enough.
And it is when we live showing how truly "not enough" we are, we show how He is more than enough.
As John 3:30 (NLT) says:
He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
So, like Paul, let's make up our minds to do this. Let's deliberately choose to humble ourselves and elevate Him; "To know nothing among [others] except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
|Posted on April 9, 2014 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
Hey all <3
This is a poem that I wrote - according to my IPod - 604 days ago, though it feels like just yesterday because a lot of the emotions still ring true. I guess that's because we are never truly done confessing to Him. We will always have things to bring to Him.
Proceed with Caution: this poem is not filled with pretty emotions, but it's honest. I was debating whether to post it or not, when the Holy Spirit nudged me and used someone in my life to encourage me to bare my soul. Doing so will always be worth it if you or someone in your life can relate to it.
So, here is my ugliness wrapped in His beauty. It's #ConfessionTime
Confession; when I woke up I was joyful and now I'm feeling dead.
Confession; I know that this is not what He has for me but the devil's on a mission.
Why do I feel like he's winning?
My soul is slowly receding into this place where I no longer see the vision of what God has for me.
Confession; a part of me is scared that I'll just stay in the place for who knows how long.
Confession; that same part is shamed for getting to this state when He clearly told me to be strong.
My soul is in a war;
Casualties keep growing,
Flesh against spirit
And I can't tell who is winning.
A part of me just wants to stay like this.
Pop in a stupid movie; have a few hours of bliss then...
Fake my happiness until it returns.
It'd be the easiest thing; not like it hasn't been done before.
But, I can't.
I'm feeling His conviction,
Feeling the rebuke,
Hear Him saying that this isn't me
That this is just a fluke.
A little slip on my run,
A little pain on my ride,
But that doesn't mean that I should stop,
Stop trying to try.
Stop doing my best to run this race through
Stop being being a light for others to be drawn to.
For the trials are simply a test of our faith
I need to hold fast regardless of all my mistakes.
Regardless of a heart broken
Of a dream shattered
For a scam is in my life and now I feel tattered.
Lied to and used.
Short term joy
Long term blues.
Why try to understand?
It being supernatural already tells me where I stand;
Trusting, believing and hoping for His favour.
Striving and persevering; not losing my flavour
Confession; I feel like I'm wasting time willingly
I could be doing more but I'm being limited by me
Confession; the shame is covering me
Especially when I know the example that I set to those around me and yet,
I'm not keeping it up continuously.
Lord, I'm so sorry.
Here's my confession please forgive me
Lord, I just want to be the one that You've made me to be
I just want to fulfil Your purpose for me
I'm sorry for letting the clock go by
I'm sorry for not properly living my life
For not effectively guarding my heart,
A repeated mistake, please let me have another fresh start?
Please, I don't want to ever abuse Your grace
I don't ever want to feel disgrace from You.
I don't want to disappoint You but to
Make You happy
So that when I go up You'll be a proud daddy;
You're my Father;
Yes I'm, acting bold but inside I am hurting
Pain; and yet that builds muscle
The better to be stronger and do more to bring down the devil
This sorrow was needed
For it drove me to confession
Humbling myself to receive Your redemption
Placing myself at Your feet;
And then feeling your compassion.
Slowly warming up my heart
The Holy Spirit now is winning;
Flesh; you need to back down
I'm not being taken from my family
I'm the daughter of the King and you do not get my crown
Confession; I was holding back my tears
Built upon a foundation of fears
But I'm happy that I broke down
It means that the foundation can be attacked now
I find myself wrapped in Your love, filled with Your peace and radiating with Your joy.
And I hope for the future,
That as I continue to battle
I won't be easy for the devil to employ
Always knowing that
Back to my knees I may return.
And there it is. Here's a verse for y'all to meditate on;
Psalm 32:5 (NLT)
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude
|Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:00 AM||comments (1)|
This Friday, we've been given Joshua 1:8-9 to write on.
Shall we dig in?
I love the way that the Message Version puts verse 8:
And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed.
According to this verse, we should always have God's Word on the brain. We should be pondering and meditating on it 24/7.
Now, let's get this clear. When the Bible speaks about meditation, it is not referring to: sitting on a floor, crossing your legs, closing your eyes, clearing your brain and chanting "Umm".
Meditation on the Word means focusing on it, digging into it, thinking about it constantly and letting it become a part of your thoughts and actions.
We are to meditate, not deviate.
We don't try to correct the Word or twist it around to suit our needs. We do not change the Word of God, we allow the Word to change us.
Every day, many even more than once a day, we should not only be praying but reading His Word and getting to know it so well. It should become a routine - but not mundane.
Routine - regular, unvarying, habitual; this should be a regular part of our life that does not vary. This is something that we take seriously and are vigilant about.
Mundane - common; ordinary; banal.
The Word of God should never be mundane to us.
That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.
7-9 The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. (Psalm 19:6-9 MSG)
Hebrews 4:12 describes the Word like this:
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (NLT)
This is what the Word is, and yet it is easy to make reading the Bible so routine that we lose our respect for it. We don't feel that awe anymore when we read His word. It may soon become common or ordinary - and that is dangerous.
When we become apathetic to His Word, we can become apathetic to His grace, to His love for us and to the Gospel.
God is supernatural, His every being defies the "ordinary" or the "norm", so let's not put Him or His word in those boxes. If you feel that sometimes, you may be doing this (I've been there, it happens) ...
Pray for His fire to be kindled within you.
Pray for more passion for His word.
Pray for Him to teach you new things.
He's our father and loves to help us!
And now that we're meditating on His word, we must obey it. James says it best in these verses:
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:22-25 NLT)
And then we have verse 9 (picture courtesy of She Reads Truth):
I find it so interesting that the Lord gives this command to Joshua the first time in Verse 6 after saying that He will always be with him:
5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. 6 “Be strong and courageous... (Joshua 1:5-6a NLT)
The second time after declaring the purpose that He has for Joshua:
... For you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous... (Joshua 1:6b-7 NLT)
And then now, the third time, in Verse 9 after telling Joshua to dig deep into His Word.
Each command from the Lord to be strong and courageous was preceded by His presence, His promise and His Word.
Because it is only in God and His Word that we can find strength and courage.
Psalm 71:7 - My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.
Isaiah 40:29 - He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Philippians 4:13 - For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
We have nothing, no strength or courage until we connect to our source: Him. And when know how to wield our source: His Word.
17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
I remember when I was 9 years old, we were learning about Medieval Times and we made wooden swords. We sawed the pieces needed, put them together and sanded the rough edges down to perfect smoothness. And then we trained with them. We practiced every day with our swords learning attacks and defensive maneuvers. We even did push ups with our swords (oh the days when I could do so many at once!). Our swords became familiar to us, like extensions of our arms. And in this process, we grew stronger with our swords. We could walk into a duel without fear because we were confident with what we trained with.
I believe that this is why we are told to know the Word so well in verse 8. In leaning on His word and His truth (on Him), we can be strong and exhibit courage (the ability to walk into a difficult situation without fear).
Unlike the Israelites, we are not planning on entering enemy territory to take the land that God has promised us.
We are way worse off.
We are living in enemy territory every day. And we will be here until we can go home to Heaven. (oh! I can't wait!)
We are constantly in spiritual warfare ... we need to know our sword.
God + His Word = Everything that we need (love, joy, peace, strength, and courage) so let's #StartMeditating.
|Posted on March 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM||comments (4)|
This Friday, the passage of scripture that we've been given to write on is Jonah chapters 3 and 4. If y'all don't mind, I'll be focussing on Chapter 4. Let me bring you up to speed with what's been going since Jonah's was vomited up. He went to Nineveh and delivered the message that he was given - that Nineveh would be destroyed because of the people's wicked ways. When the Ninevites heard this, they went into full repentance mode in the hope that God might not destroy them. When God saw that they had turned away from their wicked ways, He changed His mind and didn't carry out His threat.
And now we arrive at chapter 4 with Jonah angry at God.
And for what reason? Because of the grace that He'd displayed to the Ninevites in the last chapter.
Yes. You read that correctly. Jonah who had intentionally run away from God and had received God's grace was angry that that same grace had been bestowed on someone else.
Every time I read this chapter, I'm appalled all over again. The funny thing is, as a child hearing the story of Jonah, I never heard this part. The story always ended with the Ninevites being saved and choosing to live according to God's will.
Not with this Jonah who was acting like a Pharisee.
When I read this chapter, it made me think of when the Pharisees were angry with Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. Instead of being happy at the miraculous and good thing that had happened, they focused on the rule that had been broken.
And that's how Jonah was acting; instead of feeling joy at the miraculous display of God's grace, he chose to be angry because - in his mind - the Ninevites didn't deserve it.
1-2 Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” (Jonah 4:1-3 MSG)
Does this make you (want to) shake your head? Do you feel annoyed at how petulant Jonah's behaving? Here he is listing off God's amazing qualities as if they're the problem; saying that he didn't want to go to Nineveh because he knew that God might choose to save these people. And he hadn't wanted them to be saved.
How sad is that? He didn't want people to come to God.
How sad is it that we are still doing this today?
Yes, I just said that. Let's look at ourselves in spiritual mirrors because then we'll see that we are no better than Jonah.
Because it is so easy to shake our heads at the awful behaviour of people in the world and not pray for them.
Because it is so easy to look at someone and think: 'How could God save You? How could Jesus die for you?'
Because it is so easy to judge people upon sight and write them off as gone, un-save-able, un-help-able.
Because, for some reason, it is so easy to forget where God saved us from, how He bestowed His grace on us.
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:22-23 NLT emphasis mine)
Can we remember that?
Because the world sees a lot of us, Christians, like Jonah or the Pharisees.
As dictionary.com puts it - like "sanctimonious, self-righteous, hypocritical" people.
So, can we prove that wrong?
Let's not look at ourselves as anything but someone who wasn't worth saying.
People who are products of grace and who wish that everyone and anyone would experience it.
In an opera house, there are seats for VIPs, seats that are above everyone else.
We are not that. We are not above anyone else. We are on the same level, just having passed from darkness into light. Therefore, we do not look down at anyone. We look right at them and beckon them over to the light.
Because if God ever asks us the same question He asked Jonah: ... “What do you have to be angry about?” (Jonah 4:3 MSG)
It would be horrible for us to answer that we are angry at ...
What brings salvation to all people. - Titus 2:11
What we were called by before we were even born. - Galatians 1:15
His free and undeserved gift. - Romans 11:5-6
(put simply) Grace.
Rather, you [we] must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18a NLT)
When I read/hear the word "grow", I think of flowers.
Flowers grow and flourish in the sunlight. Flowers point to their source. They are seriously looking up to what is giving them what they need to grow.
Let's be like them and grow in the Son's light. Let's point to Him in everything we do. Let us grow so much in His grace that it's all people see when they look at us.
Unlike Jonah, we will not angry at grace - we will grow in it.
Looking forward to #GrowingInGrace with you all.