These Trials Are Precious

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

(Philippians 1:6 NKJV)


I believe that there’s purpose in pain.

In God’s Word, we’re reminded that there will be tremendous difficulties on this earth. In John 16, Jesus warns us that this world will bring great trouble. But there is a reason that He tells us to be of great cheer.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).

As believers, if we’re to take up our cross and follow Christ’s example, we will be dying to something. The cross was an instrument used to put Jesus to death. However, Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t a moment of defeat. He rose again in victory, conquering death. As we die to ourselves–that is, our old, sinful ways–we, too, are rising from death, becoming the people He called us to be.

Oftentimes, the trials meant to destroy us are the instruments God uses to perfect us.

Continue reading “These Trials Are Precious”

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Day 5: I have made a sacrifice for you | Love Letters

Sac·ri·fice: to make an offering of; to destroy, surrender, or suffer to be lost for the sake of obtaining something.

[Source]

True love means action.

It’s one thing for God to claim He is loving, but we can know His love is fact for ourselves, because He has demonstrated it to us. He has acted upon His love, and He continues to do so today.

But sin separates us from understanding God’s love.

It’s no secret that evil exists in the world today. By simply watching or reading the news, we become aware of tragedies, injustices, and horrific events every single day.

This is the state of mankind, which began when humans first rebelled against God. Romans 5:12 (ESV) states, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—.”

That is, after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world. Since then, man has continued to fall into a path of sin–evil acts that have resulted in death and destruction. Initially when we think of sin, we probably think of obvious evils such as murder, stealing, and other unjust crimes that clearly lead to death and destruction.

However, sin also includes acts that may seem justifiable at times such as lying, jealousy, etc. These “little” sins have big consequences. It’s like a domino effect–one thing leads to another. Deceiving someone can cause extreme brokenness–many relationships suffer greatly because of that. Jealousy can lead people to do some pretty messed up things. I mean, think about Cain and Abel (the sons of Adam and Eve) in Genesis 4. It was Cain’s jealousy of his brother, Abel, that led him to murder him. And just like that, sin continued from one generation to another and literally led to death.

Sin is unfortunately a part of our human nature. I know I have sinned before. We all have. Just as Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, we often choose to do these things.

But I want to emphasize that we have a choice.

God did not create evil. He created us to have the freedom to make choices–Adam and Eve had a choice. We were not made to be robots. But once sin entered the world and evil acts could now exist, God had a plan to redeem His creation and provide justice for the effects of sin.

Again, sin separates us from God. Plain and simple–God is good, evil is bad. You can’t mix the two. Sin and the harm it causes has no place with God, and when mankind fell into sin, it broke our relationship with Him. We now had an affinity for things apart from God. We now wanted to do things our way, not His. Once again, sin has caused destruction and harm in the world. This is not God’s plan for you.

That’s why He sent Jesus Christ, His Son. We are all guilty of sin. Although Jesus did not sin, He took the blame for us, because He loved us. The wages, or the payment, of sin is death, and so Jesus had to die on the cross (Romans 6:23).

Hanging on a cross (crucifixion) was a form of execution for criminals at the time. Although Jesus is God, He is God in the flesh (aka as a man)–that means, He could feel everything we could feel, emotionally and physically. And so, as He hung on that cross, He felt every sting of pain, having His body beaten, His hands pierced, and His lungs gasping for air as He suffocated while hanging. But also as God, Jesus could rise again from the dead three days later, which would have otherwise been impossible. Fully man and fully God, Jesus could do what no man could do. Defeat the very thing that sin caused–death.

This is God’s true love for you: He sacrificed His own Son so that you could be saved from this very penalty of sin: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21 NIV).

Now remember this: we have a choice. We can still choose to do things–good and bad. And so, evil still exists on earth–and there is a consequence for that. This is where God’s justice comes in. Sin, or evil, has to be punished. Hell is the punishment of sin, a place of eternal death, torment, and destruction, where we would be separated from God forever–again, because sin cannot exist where He is: “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV).

But death is not God’s will for you. This is why He has prepared a place for us in heaven. Heaven is a place with no sin, where any suffering we experience on earth will no longer exist–it’s eternal life: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4 ESV).

You do not get into heaven by simply doing good works. Jesus was the only One who gave His life to cover for you, and it’s through Him that you can secure your place in heaven. God clearly shows us how to do this in His Word: If you confess that you are a sinner and repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior who died and rose again for you, God will forgive your sins (Romans 10:9).

By accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can have security that you belong to God–the God who loves you and made this sacrifice for you–and you will not perish but instead, you will have eternal life. Through this decision you make, you have no condemnation, you are no longer held guilty for your sins, and you now have power in Him to overcome sin in your life. I encourage you with my entire heart to make this decision today.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Love Letter 5

14 days of learning God’s love. Learn about the Love Letters here.
Read Day 4

Read Day 6

 

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God Has the Final Say

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

(1 Samuel 1:27 KJV)


“To be a success, you must surround yourself with successful people.” I’m sure you’ve heard of some version of that saying before. You shouldn’t use other people just to gain a leg-up, but I have to say, this quote definitely has truth. While people don’t necessarily dictate your future, the people in your life shape your habits and how you see the world, which influences your decisions. So, the wrong people can shape your mindset and hinder your growth.

Sometimes, you can only see as far as others around you can.

open bible

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah. She is affected by others who provoke her because cannot bear any children (v. 2). Hannah is a woman who is blessed and has a loving husband, but she suffers plenty. Her enemies disturb her peace on purpose to make her worry.

“And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat” (v. 4-7).

Though Hannah has such favor with Elkanah, her sorrow is completely understandable. Imagine enduring such hatred by others, shamed for the one thing you can’t have but your heart longs for. Hannah’s deep pain is one that nobody else could comprehend–not even her husband. “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (v. 8)

I imagine Hannah seeing other women being blessed with children and wondering what is wrong with her. She probably feels misunderstood, out of place, and forgotten by God. Ever feel that way?

Here’s the thing: Hannah doesn’t stay silent in her pain.

Continue reading “God Has the Final Say”

Worship Wednesdays #15 | Fill Me Up

The profile // about the artist 

United Pursuit - EP
EP (2011)

United Pursuit

  • Christian worship band
  • From Knoxville, Tennessee

[Previous #WW Posts Here: 1]

The pull // why i like it

If a song has an acoustic vibe, there’s a 90% chance I’ll like it. Sneak in additional instrumentals, and I’ll love it. Overall, United Pursuit is a dynamic, powerful worship band, so this song’s a clear winner in my book.

The message // what it means

God’s love is endless. It’s a love that surpasses everything, a love we can never stop learning. Things in this world only provide temporary satisfaction, but His love is one that meets us where we are and satisfies what we’re looking for.

Love of God overflow
Permeate all my soul
Fill me up God

The call // best to listen when

You need to rest in who God is. Don’t wait until you’ve exhausted other options. Oftentimes, hearing His voice begins with us opening our mouths in worship and restating who He is. Seek Him first, and watch what He does.

Beyond the Flesh: Thoughts on Forgiveness

Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

(Romans 12:16-18 NKJV)


How would you evaluate your interactions with others? shaking-hands_black-and-white

Sin often gets between our relationships, because Satan wants us to live contrary to the way God has called us to live. He wants us to be angry, unforgiving, jealous, and judgmental. Many of these emotions emerge as part of our sinful nature, especially when we face difficult situations, but these reactions are traps that cause destruction, brokenness, and distraction.

Even if we don’t react outwardly in negative ways, our inner heart is still visible to God:

“I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10 KJV).

…And somehow, what’s inside will come out in public. Numbers 32:23 says, “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out” (NKJV).

Of course, God doesn’t leave us hopelessly stuck in our weaknesses–He provides a solution. I love looking at the Fruit of the Spirit, because it sets standards for our character that we should follow:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV).

The Lord wants us to grow and be transformed–to do away with the wrong things we might say or think (see Colossians 3:8). Practicing the Fruit of the Spirit can transform who we are and how we treat others.

It’s important to see the reality behind our human struggles. Ephesians makes it clear that these fleshly battles are spiritual ones underneath:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

There is an invisible battle around us in which the enemy is trying to tear people apart, stealing lives that have potential to glorify God. However, we can choose forgiveness and a Christ-like mindset. When we reject our sinful ways, we are fighting the enemy, opening eyes to Christ, and winning lives for the Kingdom–and it’s all possible through Him.

When we respond in fear of people or focus on the wrongs they’ve done, we can be wasting precious time. Dwelling in the past is a time-waster, a joy-killer. There’s a reason that God values relationships, families, and friendships. There’s great power in just two or three people coming together for Christ (see Matthew 18:20). The more godly connections, the more He shines.

Satan tries to manipulate relationships, because he knows he is no match for the body of Christ. I believe he tries to distract us from our mission and purpose on this earth with these earthly battles. Losing sleep over people is not part of God’s plan. Separation and pain caused by grudges, bitterness and anger are not part of God’s plan. Fallouts and unnecessary disagreements are not part of God’s plan.

The devil is your enemy, not people. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (KJV).

Although situations can come into our lives without our control, without being our fault, we must remember that God restores. He has the power to replace what has been taken unjustly, and He has the power to provide better things from what has gone away. Don’t allow the enemy to lock you in the past, but also don’t allow him to control your actions in the future.

We have authority in Christ! Guard your heart, and respond with maturity and Christ in mind when it comes to personal conflicts. God has something greater for us to do than be distracted by Satan’s schemes.


Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)

Worship Wednesdays #5 | Oceans

The profile // about the artist

Zion_(Official_Album_Cover)_by_Hillsong_United.png
Zion (2013)

Hillsong UNITED

  • Contemporary Christian worship band (originated from Hillsong Church)
  • From Sydney, Australia

The pull // why i like it

Where to even start. “Oceans” is such a beautiful song, and I don’t even remember when I first heard it. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did. It’s such a beautiful love song about our Savior and His presence. “Where feet may fail,” He is able.

The message // what it means

How great is God’s grace, His love, His guidance, His sovereignty. I love that this song speaks of total surrender to our Savior, acknowledging His faithfulness. God only asks for our willingness, then He can lead us wherever He may call us. This type of willingness–this “I am Yours” mindset–allows Him to work on our hearts, deepening our faith. He will never fail us.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me”

The call // best to listen if

In this case, there’s no “if.” You probably know Hillsong. You probably know this song. If not, you’re missing out. Either way, you should check it out.

Don’t Ignore the Signs

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12 NIV)


One of the most amazing things that happens when we build a relationship with God is that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. The Spirit dwells within us and gives us guidance in every area of our lives. Maybe you’ve been praying about a job opportunity for months, and you’ve finally come across an offer–but something about the opportunity might cause you to shift your priorities in a way that distracts you from your walk with God. Maybe you’re in a romantic relationship that strips away at your relationship with Him. Or maybe you’re hanging out with people who lead you to compromise areas of your faith. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are many situations in which it’s quite easy to see when something or someone is not right for us. Then we hold onto that thing or person, and there’s pain that follows from rejection or the consequences from the negative choices we’ve made.

1 Corinthians 2:12 says that by the Spirit we can understand–recognize–the good things that come from God. But what about the things that are not of Him? How do we prevent ourselves from stumbling into them and falling into a trap?

Flee.

Maybe you see the signs.

You know exactly what you’re about to get yourself into if you continue down a certain path. We are made new as Christians–don’t accept the old baggage and mistakes from the past. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The Bible teaches that the best way to rid of temptation is to flee from it, and I couldn’t agree more. If you keep someone around who is continuously hurting you, chances are, you will still get hurt by this person. The best way to detach yourself emotionally and psychologically from something is to first physically distance yourself from it.

Pray.

Maybe you’re feeling quite torn.

Guess what? God isn’t going to leave you alone to fend for yourself. Satan knows our weaknesses, and he knows exactly how to infiltrate our minds or use situations to keep us in a situation–especially emotionally. Confused about what you should do about a relationship you’re in…or that job that seems appealing? Seek God earnestly–purposefully and diligently set out time to quiet yourself before Him.

Taking action while in a state of confusion can be our biggest downfall. Being still may not be our first instinct because we live in a very fast-paced world. We want answers now. We want clarity–which isn’t a bad thing to want–but what if we have to wait? Our emotions–fear, excitement, infatuation–can sometimes be the loudest voices in our minds and drive us to make rash choices. But who is to say that we must accept this for ourselves? It’s astonishing how many verses call us to wait on God.


Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10 KJV)

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (Psalms 37:7  KJV)

The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. (Exodus 14:14 KJV)

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation [is] from him. (Psalms 62:5  KJV)

Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. (Job 6:24  KJV)


Accept rest. Understand that God does not give us confusion. He already knows how confused we are! He provides clarity through the mess.

When in doubt…

Aim for the decision that will glorify God. Sometimes, when you ask yourself…”Will this honor God?” or “Will this bring me closer to God?” you get the clarity you’re looking for. When you prioritize that relationship with Him, you are better able to distinguish what is right for you and what is not.

Think of it this way: people often say that when you know who you are and what you want, you are able to avoid the things that do not serve you. So, when your identity–who you are and what you want–is rooted in Christ, you are able to avoid the things that do not serve you.

Ultimately know that there can be great danger behind people and circumstances.

Be open to God’s will, His voice–because He may surprise you.  Proverbs 12:15 says that a fool’s ways seems right to him. Proverbs 3:7 tells us not to be wise in our own eyes. God places commands in His Word for a reason–because unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite of these commands (i.e. the unwise things). We want to trust our instincts, but we have such a limited view of the world and our circumstances that it will always be wiser to put our trust in the Lord, who holds the future and knows the hearts of men.

The worst mindset we can develop in our circumstances is one that is based on conditions: If this does not work out, then I will never trust God again. If this happens, I will never forgive that person. If this falls through, then I will be miserable. Absolutely not! Reject those thoughts. Don’t allow the enemy to trap you in a dry season by making these negative promises to yourself.

Understand that anything can occur in life. Sometimes, you do the right thing, and the right thing happens. Sometimes you do the wrong thing, and the right thing happens. Sometimes you do the wrong thing, and the wrong thing happens. And the hardest one of fall: Sometimes you do the right thing, and what we might perceive as the “wrong” thing STILL happens. If you base your mood on the results or responses you get in your life, you have already lost. People and circumstances are unpredictable.

The Word calls us to delight ourselves in the Lord. He blesses those that mourn. He blesses the meek. He blesses the righteous. One of the best ways we can delight in Him is to recognize situations that won’t honor our relationship with Him and avoid them. God doesn’t call us to reject these things to make us “miss out” on things or be “miserable”–He calls us to do these things, because He knows us so well that He knows exactly what will harm us.

When the Holy Spirit places caution on your heart, don’t ignore the signs.