Friday, January 10, 2014

With Thanksgiving

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God - Philippians 4:6, NKJV

Thanksgiving is an integral part of prayer. Gratitude and appreciation for all that God is, all that He has done, and all that He has given us ought to be the attitude of our heart when we come before Him. So that when we make our requests it is from the understanding that God is good, what He has already given us is good, and He will continue to give us good things. Even in the anxious times, we have much to be thankful for. 

A practical application of this principle I have found in my own life is that when I don't want to do something like read my Bible or pray or do my chores or homework or call someone I know I ought to... I am actually forgetting and failing to be thankful for that good thing God has given. I see it not as a gift from a loving Father but as a burden. I want to challenge and encourage all of us to be thankful to God for everything He gives us!

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. - 1 John 5:3, NKJV

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love: A Perception

Here are two articles: The first is in honor of Down Syndrome awareness month. It is the story of 6 amazing Down Syndrome people who are changing the world's perceptions of Down Syndrome. The second is about a very poor village where there was a slum built on a landfill. The people discovered a violin in the trash and were inspired to build instruments out of trash. Music has changed the lives of these people.

These stories are touching and inspiring, but for me they raise some unsettling questions about our natural perceptions of people. These people are being noticed because they are stand-outs. They are being commended and lauded for their abilities or their beauty or their gifts. But what about those people who aren't amazing? What about those people who aren't beautiful? What about those poor people who can't make instruments out of trash? What if these Down Syndrome people didn't amaze or inspire anyone? What would I do? Probably overlook them… 

It is not how amazing a person is or how beautiful a person is that imparts their worth. Their Creator gave them their worth. They were made in the image of God. Even the most ugly and unloveable among us. We do not have the right to abort a child… No matter who that child is or becomes. We have an obligation to look after the poor and the weak and the forgotten. Even if they can give us nothing in return. Even if they are not lovely. Whatever or whoever they are, we are called to love them.

All of the law and the prophets, Jesus said, is summed up in this: Love God and love people. That is the single most difficult thing in the universe to honestly and genuinely do!! I know it is for me. I am naturally very selfish. I tend to ask what people can do for me. If they can't do anything for me, I tend to overlook them.

Which brings me to my last article. This really challenged me and I hope and pray it challenges you, too. A disabled child--even a severely disabled child such as one with anencephaly--is still a child. And carrying a child to term--even a child who is sure to die shortly after birth--is an act of hospitality and love towards a very weak and dependent neighbor.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Glad in God: How Jesus is Reason enough to be eternally happy

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. - Philippians 4:4, KJV
We read this verse.  We sing the song... Rejoice! Rejoice! Again I say Rejoice! ...  But it is more often true than not that we read it and sing it with the conviction that we are not rejoicing in the Lord rather than with the assurance that we are.

What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord?

The Greek word for rejoice is "chairo".  It means to rejoice exceedingly, to be joyful or glad, or to be well or thrive.

To rejoice in the Lord means to have joy and gladness and wellness in God.  To find our satisfaction not in the things of this world--even the good things--but in God Himself.  Our external circumstances may change, but God never changes; therefore, if our joy is in Him, then our joy shall be unshakeable, for it is in the One who cannot be shaken.

I must confess that for awhile now I have not been rejoicing in the Lord.  I have been rejoicing in other things--particularly myself; when I wasn't doing well, I had no joy, because my joy was in me and I am a changeable, unfaithful sinner.  I doomed myself to joylessness when I made myself and not God the object of my joy; I can never be the source of that full, unshakeable joy that can only be found in God; if I could, I would be God, and I am not.  So to make myself the source of my joy was a subtle form of idolatry--worshiping another god.  The first commandment is that we shall have no other gods--only the One True God.  Making anything other than God the source of your joy--as only He is meant to be that source--is to have another god.

I hope you will ask me: Well what about now?  Do you have joy in God?

Ah!  By His sweet mercy and grace, yes I do!

How did you come by this joy?

By contemplating the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You mean the fact that Jesus Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago and bore the penalty for my sins?

Yes, that; and everything that means for you and me, who are in Christ and "accepted in the Beloved"!

Please explain, sister; I want that joy, too.

Gladly!  Last night my college pastor asked us a simple question: Does God love everyone unconditionally?  It was a difficult question to answer.  We know that God loves everyone because Scripture testifies to that fact.  John 3:16 says that "God so loved the world..."  It seems pretty clear that means everyone.  But how does He love the world?  "...that He gave His Only Son..."  Through Jesus! There is a condition: That you forsake your sins and come to Christ; then God will gladly receive you.  It's because of Jesus that God can love us!  Apart from Christ, we can only receive the fierce wrath, the holy hatred of God.

Christian!  Does that not make Jesus Christ very dear and precious to you?  It is because of Him that God can love you!  It is because of Him that God can accept you and treat you like His child!  It's all because of Christ!  Realizing that gave me great joy!!  And I pray it gives you great joy, too!

Oh contemplate all that Christ is to us and for us, and be happy in God, dear sisters!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Raising the Bar: Being pure in an impure world

This past Sunday night I heard a very encouraging sermon about re-thinking sexuality based on what the Bible says about it and not what our culture (even the contemporary Christian culture) says about it. God has very high standards, and He expects His people, called by His name, to uphold those standards and live by those standards.  Not in our own strength, but in His own strength.

Since hearing that sermon, however, I have been horrified to discover not only the impurity around me, but the depth of impurity of my own heart.  What's probably more horrifying than discovering the impurity around me and in me, though, is that I'm not always as horrified at it as I ought to be.  It's as if I've grown to accept it--I'll never be pure; the world will never be pure; why fight it?  That's truly horrifying!

Christ died so that He might present His Church--His Bride--holy and without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-27).  He died to sanctify us!  And the Bible also says that we are to live pure and blameless in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15).  We aren't only looking forward to our eventual glorification, but we are to be holy lights amidst the darkness of this present world!  If we just lie down and die, the light of the Gospel in this world is snuffed out!!

So, what do we do when we've raised the bar on purity to be what the Bible says and not what people say?  When we're presented with our own depravity as well as the wickedness of the world around us? Do we throw up our hands and say it's hopeless?  No!  Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1)!

Let the darkness within and the darkness without, then, drive you to your knees in prayer, struggling against sin!  Let it break your heart!  Be penitent over your own sin, pleading with God for deliverance, and then go to Him on behalf of others.  Ask Him for mercy and grace--that He might change the world, and make you a holy vessel so that He might use you to do so (2 Timothy 2:21).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing with Loneliness

This post is about dealing with loneliness, dear single friend, because let's just face reality; some days you'll feel lonely; you're human.  What can you do in that hour?  What does God expect you to do?

Well, God expects you to call on Him in prayer.  Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me, He says. (Psalm 50:15)

Now, that doesn't mean He necessarily has a mate lined up for you just around the corner.  But it does mean that He will deliver you out of your trouble.

Here are some ways God uses our loneliness for our good and His glory:

  1. It Brings Us to Our Knees.  It humbles us.  Loneliness makes us run to the Lord in prayer, crying out to Him for deliverance.
  2. It Makes Us Sympathetic.  Loneliness is pain, and pain to a Christian has many sanctifying effects.  It can make us sympathetic to others who are experiencing the same pain so we can minister the love of God to them.
  3. It Lets Us Share in Christ's Sufferings.  Jesus was lonely.  Most of His friends and followers forsook Him and fled.  Even God the Father had to forsake Him, because Christ became sin on our behalf.  Jesus experienced a loneliness that you will never have to experience, dear Christian.  And He experienced it on your behalf.  Thank Him and praise Him for that.
  4. It Reminds Us of the Pains of Hell.  Loneliness, just like any pain, should remind us of the plight of the lost.  Their eternal destiny.  And it should make us weep that they are Hell-bound.  It should make us go to our knees in prayer for them and give us renewed resolve to share the ever-blessed Gospel with them.
Loneliness can be a boon to your soul.  Let it have its perfect work and conform you to the image of Christ.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Context of John 3:16

This is something I posted on my Facebook profile recently. Just something I've been thinking about. I pray it's a blessing.
I was thinking about the context of John 3:16. Jesus is telling Nicodemus of how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (see Numbers 21) and comparing Himself to that bronze serpent, which if the people looked upon they were healed. 
Why did the people need healing? Because they had sinned against God and God had sent serpents among them to bite them and to slay them. The people were under God's judgement, but as an expression of mercy God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and caused that anyone who looked upon that serpent would be healed.

What did it mean for an Israelite, bitten by a serpent, to look upon that bronze serpent? It meant acknowledging that he or she had sinned against God and that he or she needed the mercy of God in order to be healed. It meant BELIEVING that looking upon that serpent would be efficacious in their healing.

In the same way, JESUS was lifted up because we have sinned and are under the judgement of God. We are all bitten by the serpent. We are all slowly perishing. But one look at Jesus, believing that He is efficacious to take away the poison and save us from death, and we too will be healed. We too shall be saved.

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Much love to you all!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to Have a Very Happy Valentines Day! =)

Happy (Saint) Valentine's Day!

Original image by Sadie Daniels
I don't ascribe to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church about the canonization of saints or the observance of feast days, but for what it's worth, I'll wish my fellow sisters- and brothers-in-Christ a Happy Valentines Day.

Without knowing the history behind St Valentine's Day, we all pretty much know what it's become. It's become a day to celebrate "love" ... that special someone in your life.

For those of us who are single, it can present a trial and a difficulty. How can I be happy on Valentine's Day?! Especially when all my friends and family have dates and I am once again...alone...?

Don't despair, dear friend! =) We have One Who sympathizes with our weaknesses... remember? Let's go to Him in prayer...every day, but especially today.

My challenge to all you single Christians out there is to PRAY today!

Here are some things I'd like you to take to God in prayer:

  1. Your singleness. Ask the Lord for joy and contentment in His will for you.
  2. Your future spouse. Not asking the Lord for a husband or wife, but praying for that person...that they'd be content, that they'd be patient, that they'd have joy in Christ, and that they'd be busy about and zealous for the Lord's work.
  3. For other single believers. Pray that they would have joy in Christ and delight to do His will.
  4. For those you have had relationships with in the past that did not work out. Pray against and confess any and all bitterness and resentment. Pray for that person. For their growth in the faith and that they would know and love God. Pray for their future spouse.
  5. For the lost. Those who do not know the love of God as you do.
  6. Last, but absolutely not least...exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Say, "Lord, even as I pray for my future spouse, even so, Lord, Your will be done." Confess your love for Him. Spend time thanking Him for all He has done for you; for His love for you. Thank the Father for the Son and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank Him that you are adopted as a son of God. Thank Him that you know that same Love that brought salvation to the world and that you will spend all eternity with Him!