Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Who Am I?

Who I Am?
Image by tonyhall via Flickr

We live in a world where identity crisis is rampant. When I was growing up, I remember hearing older kids, teenagers, talk about finding themselves. As I got older, it was understandable what they meant by finding yourself because who I became wasn’t exactly who I thought I was and I was glad.

I witnessed some people lose their way and heard some say that it was because they couldn’t handle who they were or that they hadn’t yet found out who they wanted to be. It’s still common to hear my mother say that men take longer to find themselves than it does women.

I learned in psychology classes that the emotional growth of a woman is stunted when she gives birth to a child too early in life, since she hasn’t fully matured yet. I had a friend in the military who was an anorexia survivor and continued to struggle with the disease. She advised me that those that suffered with anorexia and bulimia were suffering from an identity crisis. A friend of mine has a ministry in Florida and their goal is to minister to homosexuals and lesbians who are trying to find their way and have questions about their identities.

The Book of John tells us that we are both the children of God and a Friend to Jesus. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did accept Him and believe in Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” And in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father.”

The Book of Romans tells us we are justified, freed, secure and assured. Romans 5:1 states, “Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Romans 8:1-2, it says, “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” And in Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called because that was His plan.”

In I Corinthians, it says we are united, we belong and that we are a member of Christ’s body. In I Corinthians 6:17, “But the one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.” And in I Corinthians 6:19-20, “You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies.” And, in I Corinthians 12:27, “Today you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of that body.”

In Ephesians, we learn that we were chosen. In 1:3-5, “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. That is, in Christ, he chose us before the world was made so that we would be His holy people, people without blame before Him. Because of His love, God had already decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased Him.”

In the Book of Colossians, we learn that we are forgiven and complete. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “God has freed us from the power of darkness and He brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son. The Son died for our sins and in Him we have forgiveness.” And, in Colossians 2:9-10, “All of God lives in Christ fully even when Christ was on earth and you have a full and true life in Christ who is ruler over all rulers and powers.”

In the Book of Hebrews, we learn that we have direct access. Chapter 4, verse 16 states, “Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

Finally, in Philippians, we learn that we are citizens of heaven! Philippians 3:20, “But our homeland is in Heaven and we are waiting for our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ to come from heaven.”So, is it an identity crisis or identity direction? Is it about knowing who we are, or is it not knowing who He is?

5 Myths about Spiritual Growth

Faith

The Parable of the Talents in the Bible (Matthew 25:14-30) demonstrates that the Lord wants us to use everything He has given us for the benefit of His kingdom and the one who buried his talents, instead of growing them, lost all that he had. The Master called him wicked and lazy. I know that’s the last things I want my Lord to think about me.

I want to grow in the Lord, in spiritual growth, more than anything. I think I have grown tremendously when I look back on my life as a whole, but sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged when I have a set-back, moments of doubt or feel like I’m in a rut. These are some misconceptions about what true faith looks like and the real truth that negates them. I hope they are beneficial to you in your journey:

1) If you are a Christian, you should never do anything wrong

Just because we are Christians, doesn’t mean we are perfect. Living in this world, we are not always going to act or feel holy. Therefore, when we don’t feel holy, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t growing in the Lord. We will have failure, but we always have hope in Jesus. That is where our faith comes in. We have to remember to steer one another away from feeling-based Christianity and remind one another of God‘s Word. II Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” It doesn’t matter how we feel, if we are His, we are being transformed.

2) If you are really saved you would be different 

My niece is 11 years old, we can’t buy clothes fast enough for her. She doesn’t look any different to me daily, but it seems she’s in a new size shoe every month and she’s definitely taller  than she was a month ago. We can grow without seeing it. We grow in increments, not in drastic changes. We have to remember the promises in God’s Word like Ephesians 2:4-9, where Paul tells us the grace that saved us is the same grace that is
growing us.

3) If I am really a Christian, then my life would be easier

Trial and temptation is a big clue of God’s work in our lives to draw us closer to Him. He disciplines and refines those He loves. Difficulty is overcome by God’s grace as He does not leave us alone to grow spiritually. We grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We press into Jesus, through each trial, by holding on to His truth and being an example of His love to each other, reminding one another of His sufficiency in every circumstance. We have to rely on His promises, not on our feelings. The New Testament is full of examples of Christians that suffer for their faith. C.S. Lewis worded the reason so well: “Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

4) If I was really saved, then I would be more like Bob

No two lives are the same. We all have different hangups, disappointments, mental illnesses, tragedies, achievements, skill sets, economic backgrounds, family situations, personalities, etc. Depending on our make-up and the season of our life, our growth may be moving at a different speed. It could be fast or slow at different times in our own lives. Some of us have started our journey with Jesus from bad places, where we believed most of the enemy’s lies. Our circumstances can make it more difficult to grow. Fortunately, our God can meet us right where we are. Genesis 28 tells the story of Jacob’s first encounter with God. Jacob was in a terrible place in life. God presented Himself in a dream, meeting him right where he was. God, and His angels, came to Jacob, instead of condemning Jacob for all he’d done. He will do the same for us.

5) If I’m a Christian I have to bug people and talk about Jesus

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8. This was the experience of the Psalmist. He found protection in the Lord, he knew how good the Lord was to him, he pleads with us to try the Lord out. Don’t you just love to get other people to experience the joy you’ve had? When I’m discouraged in my growth and impatient for some newfound feeling of being on the mountain top, I remember where I was and how far God has brought me. And nothing beats the feeling of being able to tell someone else about all that He has done for me. It’s a wake up call, it’s a reminder to myself of His awesome grace. It doesn’t mean that we harass people, it just means that there’s nothing wrong with telling someone how wonderful God has been to you.

Reflect on where you used to be, thank God He’s brought you so far, rest in Him and trust Him to fulfill His promise that He will finish His work in you. God bless you!

Seeking: One Rose Garden

Aarhus rose garden

Image via Wikipedia

I had a limited record collection when I was a kid. After memorizing all the lyrics to the soundtracks of Grease and Saturday Night Fever and a Shawn Cassidy album, I would sometimes listen to my parents’ LPs. One of them was an album by Lynn Anderson. One of the songs was ‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden‘. At my young age, I didn’t yet have a good concept of this figure of speech, and couldn’t quite figure out why it was such a big deal that this guy wanted a rose garden so bad. I’ve since figured it out. I want a rose garden, and I want it bad.

Every person on earth carries his or her own set of issues. When we hurt, no one we know can turn off our fears and our pain. Not even our best friends can truly understand our inner struggles. Is there any help at all for us?  The answer is a definite yes!

God didn’t promise us a painless life, but he did promise “a way of  escape.” He promised to help us bear the pain and strength to get us back on our feet when we don’t think we can make it.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above
that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Our heavenly Father watches over us with a eye that never wavers. Every thing we do, everything that someone does to us, it’s all on His camera. He identifies and feels the pain and hurt that we feel. He saves all our tears. He is always there.

We don’t have a rose garden, but we have something much better, we have an eternal Guardian. He will never leave us nor forsake us whether we are in a garden or on a rocky, barren path.

Today, instead of wishing for what we cannot or do not have, let’s be grateful for what we do have. The opportunity for peace that surpasseth our understanding.

Enjoy this glorious day, it is a gift!

I’m Trying Really Hard to Hate My Life

Merriam–Webster’s 11 th edition of the Collegi...

Image via Wikipedia

What does your worship schedule look like? If you are anything like me, no matter how ambitious you may start out to be, it will usually end up like this:

Sunday: early morning service, maybe some devotional reading in the afternoon

Monday-Saturday: read the Bible when I get time, try to finish praying before falling asleep

Webster’s dictionary defines worship as honoring a divine being or regarding with great respect, honor, or devotion. If we have compartmentalized our worship of God to one day a week, or worse, a couple of times per year, then what are we worshiping? When Jesus talked to the woman at the well, He said that God seeks true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth because God is spirit and truth. The truth is that only God is worthy enough to receive our worship and praise. God created us for relationship with Him, so we have to ask ourselves where we are spending our time and what priorities we are placing before Him.

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Jesus also said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

It’s hard to believe that Jesus Christ would tell us to hate not only our own lives, but also our families, isn’t it? Because in the book of I John of God’s word it says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer…” (1 John 3:15). Life is a gift from God. We cannot hate people, because that is not true to the scriptures. So, I believe this means that we must learn to hate the way we live our lives and what we are spending our time preoccupied with, whether it  be our homes, our families, making or spending money, etc.

If we are happy with the way our lives are, and make no effort to change, we cannot grow. We must hate where we are before we can ever desire to get where we need to be. Of course, we cannot forsake our obligations to family and friends, but we can become so bound by our duties that we do not grow.

We must all ask God for help with what we have allowed ourselves to become. Lord, I hate my tendency to get so caught up in my job, that I’ve become irritable with my family. I hate that I find myself worrying about finances instead of being more emotionally available to You. I hate that I don’t set enough time aside in the evening for prayer and time with You. Please help me re-prioritize my life that You are always number one. I cannot do this without Your help. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. In Your precious Son’s name, amen!

The Not-So-Secret Garden

Mark is one of my most favorite books of the Bible. This is the book that describes Jesus in action, he’s a healer and a miracle worker. Even though Mark is the primary resource for Jesus’ ministry, that isn’t the reason I love it so much. It’s partly due to the secrets.

The biggest theme is the Messianic secret, Jesus’ admonishing his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. Jesus not only silenced those that he healed of demon possession against revealing who he was, but he also spoke in parables to conceal his messages. Beyond that, the disciples seemed totally air-headed in understanding the implication of Jesus’ miracles. After walking  on water, calming a storm, and feeding five thousand people, Jesus says to them in 8:21, “Do you not yet understand?”  Then Jesus heals a man who was born blind (8:22-26), and as soon as he does that, Peter recognizes that he is the Christ (8:29).  So, Mark shows us that they had to have their ‘spiritual’ eyes opened.  To understand and believe in Jesus, we have to have our spiritual eyes opened.

Throughout the last half of Mark, Jesus predicted his imminent death. He not only knew that he was going to die, but he also knew that it was necessary. In 8:31, Jesus says, “the Son of Man must suffer many things” and be killed. This doesn’t sound like it was optional. But, in the Garden, Jesus asks, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me” (14:36). Thankfully, for us, he also added, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

I have finally come to the reason this book is my favorite. So often, I’ve thought about Jesus’ laying down of his life. And, trust me, I realize the gravity of this gesture. But, one day, my spiritual eyes were opened. Even though he knew it was necessary for him to die, Jesus still asked for another way out. I can’t believe there is any Scripture that more powerfully demonstrates the humanity of our Saviour.

Maybe I’m weird, but this makes me feel so much closer to Jesus. He was like me, except without all the sin. He knows exactly what I’m talking about when I beg him for mercy in so many areas of my life. He knows exactly what it means to struggle with God’s will for our lives. He’s familiar with the difficult, the painful, the overwhelming and the impossible! He gets us like no one else ever can.

This book is where it’s at. This is where to go when you need confidence to ask for his help. You don’t have to be guilty or ashamed. He already knows right where you are, and he can help us say, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (14:36).

What parts of the Lord’s Word have revealed life lessons for you? Please share them with me.

Feed My Sheep

He could’ve been an angel,
But He chose to be a Son.
Birthed to be a Sacrifice,
But in spite of death, He wasn’t done.

He could’ve waited in the tomb
When Mary came that morn,
But He was busy working
even after the veil was torn.

He encouraged His disciples
With the Resurrection News.
He had come to tell them,
that He had paid their dues.

He fed them and He warned them
to not go back to sleep.
He asked them, “Do you love me?”
And then said, “Feed my sheep.”

The First Christmas Message

One of the oldest occupations, shepherding, began about 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Their duty was to keep their flock together and protect it from would-be threats. The shepherds were usually babies of their family and if they were paid, the pay was small. Many may have seen this as a thankless job, and in many ways it was no picnic, leading a nomadic life and sometimes very dangerous, warding off sheep attackers!

Have you ever wondered what might have been going through the minds of the shepherds that night over 2,000 years ago when the angels declared the birth of a King??! If they were anything like me, they may have been counting down the hours/days when either 5:00 p.m. or the weekend would be there! Maybe they were missing family members or a girlfriend…were any of them thinking about the gift of the heavens above them just before the incredible message?

I can only imagine how scared they must have been at first, and how awesome those angels must have looked and sounded when the news was delivered, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him; You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feed box. Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.”

Would you have believed it?? There’s a reason why there was more than one shepherd in that field that night! If there had been only one, there’s no way that he would have told anyone what he had just seen, he would have been too afraid he would have been committed! How magnificent God’s plan was, so that things worked out perfectly so the shepherds would know how to find the baby Jesus, the Savior of the world!

The world didn’t esteem shepherds too highly, but God sure held this group in high esteem, sending them these glorious messengers! Many heroes from the Bible were shepherds: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and Amos. Jesus also instructed Peter that to show his love for Him, he should feed His sheep. 

With our tendency of  putting ourselves into harm’s way and our inability to guide and take care of ourselves, is it any wonder that Jesus described himself as the Good Shepherd?

As you are working in service to the Lord, please remember that even though the world may not esteem you, and that even though your work may never be recognized here on this earth, the angels in heaven see you. You are not forgotten, you are just like those that were chosen many years ago to hear about the Good News of Jesus! 

Merry Christmas everyone, God bless you!

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