Monthly Archives: August 2016

Even If Your Mother Forgets, God Will Never Forget You

breastfeeding“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

I am not a parent, and my relationships with my parents are at best, distant, and at worst, abusive. Still, if you have ever been in love, imagine that feeling and multiply that by infinity, and that is God’s love for you.

Trying to understand God’s love when you have never received it in its appropriate form from your parents is an excruciating ordeal. I’m not saying that dysfunctional parents are incapable of love; however, because they are broken themselves, they do not have the tools to love their children appropriately.

If things worked out between you and your first love, I am happy for you. If they did not, remember only your own feelings for the other person. They were always on your mind, day and night, and spending the rest of your life with them would have been a dream! Complete acceptance for who you are — the good, the bad and the ugly — makes you feel utterly desired and safe. Mutual acceptance and vulnerability breed trust, and trust creates a safe space wherein you can make mistakes and be forgiven because you KNOW you are loved.

With God, you can be open with Him anytime, anywhere. The best thing is that He won’t judge you for what you’ve done because that’s what Jesus died for. The challenge for many is that He’s invisible; you can’t tell what He’s thinking or feeling, but you have the Bible, which is full of God’s promises and saturated with declarations of His love for you.

If you open your heart when you read the scriptures, you will see that it is SAFE to trust in God. He’s got your back and He always promises to NOT disappoint.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” ~ Isaiah 49:23

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”  ~ Isaiah 43:4

My point is this: if you are like me, someone who is out of touch emotionally for the most part, you can still reach deep inside your heart somewhere and remember a time when you loved someone, like truly loved someone. Then you can begin to understand the depth and height of God’s love for you:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ Romans 8:38-39

When relationships don’t work out, it’s because of someone’s (or both parties’) unhealed wounds. But God is PERFECT, and His love for you is unending, unlike human love, even a mother’s love.

#Godsloveisperfect #NothingLikeGodsLove #Christ #NoCondemnation #unfailinglove #safelove #love #relationships #broken #soul #heart #musingz4life #acceptance #trust

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Godliness Protects against Stress

wolfNo one has a stress-free life, but having a godly character can be a great buffer against the storms of life.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

~ Matthew 7:24-25

Godly Training vs. Physical Training

“For physical training is of some value but godliness has value for ALL things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

~ 1 Tim 4:8

Does this mean that unbelievers don’t have character?  Not at all.  There are many individuals who are refined by great parents or role models who have coached them to success.  They were brought up and molded into capable individuals with much potential to handle high levels of stress; however, while the scriptures acknowledge the value of physical training, it points out that godliness has value for all things, for this life and the life to come. (For the purpose of this article, I am referring to “physical training” as any type of training that does not involve religion.)

What Can We Learn from the 3 Little Pigs?

Once upon a time there were three little pigs. One pig built a house of straw while the second pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly and then sang and danced all day because they were lazy. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks.

Many of our problems are produced by the fruit of our character.  If we’re lazy, we do things quickly, often overlooking important details, forgetting deadlines, putting off things until the last minute, letting someone else do it for us, etc.  We like to take shortcuts, but we end up reaping the consequences of our choices because we were not careful in the first place.

“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”
~ Proverbs 19:3

If we are diligent, we will take the time to build our house carefully, and we will be patient with the process.

Our house is our life, and we build our house with the choices we make.  Not every choice will be easy (after all, I’m talking about making the right kind of choices that will please God and go against our sinful nature); in the end, if we make it our aim to please God in all that we do, our house will remain standing if it’s built with bricks of righteousness on the foundation of obedience.

Suffering Produces Character

Sometimes I feel like at my age, it’s kind of late to start building character now.  If your life is falling apart and you’re not sure how to put it back together, consider your suffering as an opportunity to produce character in you:

Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

~ Romans 5:1-5

Don’t focus on the problems.  Focus on God who pours His love into your heart.  Don’t suffer in vain.  Make your suffering work for you by responding the right way – putting scriptures into practice.

#character #suffering #hope #patience #perseverance #godliness #godlytraining #stress #musingz4life

As Iron Sharpens Iron

pr 27 17“You just want to be safe.  But life is scary, and it gets interesting when it’s scary because then it requires trusting in God.”  These words came from a wise woman who is like a mother figure to me.  I love conversations with older, wiser people who have been there, done that, and they have experienced life without God and know how blessed it is to live life with and for God.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17

When it comes to sharpening one another spiritually, I think we need to talk about that more often at church.  We talk about grace, forgiveness and salvation a lot, which is great, but what about after you become a Christian and have made Jesus Lord of your life?  If you’re like me, having come from a disadvantaged situation, it’s likely that you may not have had ideal parental role models who continually coach and guide you even after you have “grown up.”  Teaching should not stop after we “come of age,” but we should continually seek wisdom from older, wiser individuals whom we respect spiritually, personally and professionally.

Teaching is not just reserved for the young, either.  Even older men and women need to be taught, as Paul wrote to Titus:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Titus 2:1-15

Scriptures are the ultimate authority, of course, but if there are spiritually mature people in your church who could guide you, why not ask for a mentor?  Everyone has blind spots; we need to grow as people!  Spiritual maturity is biblical:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:11-16

What is the purpose of maturity?   Is it just so you can be a better person and that’s it?  According to the scriptures, Christ gave leadership to his people, the church, so that these leaders may equip Christians for works of service.  In other words, the role of leadership is to equip you for works of service, so that you may become mature.

Leadership does not have to be a title.  If you can find someone in your church that you respect, that person can be a leader in your life to help equip you, whether that means calling you out on your character so you can repent and grow, or calling you out of your comfort zone.  Maturity is not all about you, anyway.  It’s all about becoming a better worker for the Lord so we can serve and meet one another’s needs in the body of Christ.

#grow #repent #serve #Christ #BodyofChrist #maturity #growth #ServeOneAnother #musingz4life #discipling #mentor #mentoring #coach #coaching

Are You Forgetting Something?

unrequitedSo each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. – Psalm 78:7

The Israelites’ “forgetfulness” is the motif of Psalm 78 revolving around God’s unrequited love for His people, his “special possession.”  Despite all the wonders He’s done, despite the miracles, despite the good times and bad, the Israelites kept forgetting something – the heart of God.

Fault of the Israelites

The Israelites’ obedience and disobedience centered on one theme: their relationship with God.  Collectively speaking, they had a toxic relationship with God in which they were the ones abusing the relationship.  Sinning against God is not about violating the do’s and don’ts of the commandments; it’s about the impact of sin on one’s relationship with God.  Note the following characteristics of the Israelites:

  • Refusal to trust (Psalm 78:32-33)
  • Disobedient (Psalm 78:10)
  • Demanding (Psalm 78:18)
  • Tested God in their hearts (Psalm 78:18)
  • Refusal to give their hearts to God (Psalm 78:8)
  • Turned something positive into negative (Psalm 78:19-20)
  • Unbelieving (Psalm 78:22)

Yet in spite of all this, Psalm 78 ends with this verse:

 He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skilled hands. – Psalm 78:72

God appointed David to be the shepherd of the Israelites, who are described as God’s “special possession” (Psalm 78:62) and “God’s own people” (Psalm 78:71).

In my opinion, one of the greatest characteristics of a Christian is someone who demonstrates God’s undying love for you.  This means that no matter what you confess, no matter what background you come from, you can come face-to-face with this individual, knowing that he or she is walking with God so closely that they will lead you with a gentle staff and redirect you to Christ, the Overseer and Lover of your soul.  For it is Christ’s love that compels us and drives us forward and closer to God.

#Christ #ChristsLoveCompels #UnfailingLove #love #shepherd #GoodShepherd #musingz4life #mercy #remember #Godsmiracles #wonders #trust #trustGod

 

The Seed of Envy

admireFor competitive people, nothing drives them more to success than someone else’s success.  Maybe there are a few that only compare their success to their own past successes, but that’s rare.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”  Ecclesiastes 4:4

For some “non-competitive” people, someone else’s success can awaken something in you that you never knew was there before, and this gives birth to envy.

Classic Case of Envy in the Bible

Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

 “Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”

 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. — 1 Samuel 18:5-9

If you look closely at this passage, you will see that David’s own competence elevated him to high ranks within Saul’s army.  It wasn’t until the crowds compared David’s successes to Saul’s that Saul began to keep a jealous eye on David.

We may not care whether or not we get recognition from our boss, but there’s always somebody in our life – be it a significant other, a romantic prospect, a hard-to-please parent, the crowds – that we want recognition from.  We just want to hear someone appreciate our accomplishments, our beauty, athletic prowess or some other gift/talent we possess.  We want to live in nice houses or drive nice cars so that somebody will see that we “made it” in life.  So when someone comes into the picture and steals the spotlight, a new spirit of competitiveness rears its ugly head.

Will You Declare War or Keep the Peace?

You can’t control someone else’s success unless you declare war on their territory and begin a manipulation game.  The key to peace is self-control, and without God’s help, that is very hard to do.  Even if you don’t act out on your jealousy and envy, feeling those emotions every day takes a toll on your mental health.

A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds back. – Proverbs 29:11

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.  – Titus 2:11-12

Have you ever felt jealousy so intensely that it blinds you to your own talents and abilities?  God has given everyone a specific set of talents, but when we look at other people with a jealous eye and begin to lose our temper over envy, we are not living in the grace that brought us salvation.

When we start to feel ugliness rear its head, we can only control ourselves and pray that God will remove these things from our heart so we can continue living peacefully with others.

May we live in peace and enjoy the fruits of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

#peace #selfcontrol #Spirit #fruitsoftheSpirit #envy #jealousy #competitiveness #musingz4life

That One Thing: Loving Your Enemies

difficultI think most people have a problem with at least one or two scriptures that they wrestle with, even if they are Christians.  Jesus’s own disciples turned their backs on Him when they couldn’t handle His teachings:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?”  John 6:60

Jesus was a revolutionary of His time and He still is today.  I’m sure you know someone in your large network of acquaintances who cannot fathom the idea of the existence of hell or the concept of the narrow gate that leads to heaven.  Different scriptures hit certain nerves for various people because it’s the one area we are not willing to “give up.”

In the case of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-25, the young man was fired up because he had been following the commandments since childhood.  However, there was one thing he lacked, and when Jesus responded, He responded with love:

 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said.  “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Maybe for you, being generous and giving up your material possessions for the less fortunate is not a struggle for you.  But there’s always that “one thing” that probably tests your heart and challenges your obedience to God.  Is it the problem of evil in the world?  Is Christianity too narrow for you?

For me, it’s the command to love my enemies.  That is one of the top scriptures that challenge me to the core.  I normally don’t have much of a problem cutting difficult people out of my life (not sure if that’s a sign of unforgiveness or just self-preservation from toxic people).  There is one individual in particular that I just cannot stand.  It’s sad to say, but because she’s a family member, there is no way around it.  Ignoring or disowning her would be so un-Jesus-like!  Regarding her as “my enemy” is sad indeed, but that is how I feel.  Still, God calls us to obedience and if I call myself a Christian, I have to keep praying about it, keep fighting for my faith to draw closer to God, and not give up.  Everyone deserves to be loved, and Jesus especially loved the outcasts of society – women, lepers, the lame, the blind, the sick, the poor, the “sinners” and so on.

This challenges me to the core, but I know that as long as I have breath in my nostrils, I get another chance to repent and work on the condition of my heart.  I would not want to face Jesus and hear Him say, “One thing you lack….”

#forgive #ImitateJesus #love #norecordofwrongs #lovedifficultpeople #patience #endurance #musingz4life

Love Sums It Up

loveDon’t you love it when Jesus keeps it simple? In case you have a hard time keeping track of the Ten Commandments or other do’s and don’ts, all you gotta do is love.

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

If we all got along and loved each other as God intended, then no one would get hurt. Of course, this world is not perfect and someone will inevitably hurt you. That’s why it’s important to have our “love” priorities straight:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:37-40

Loving God first and foremost will enable you to love those who are difficult and “undeserving” of love. God will give you the power to love your enemies in the face of injustice. You will make your decisions based on what Jesus would do instead of what you would do. Hence the acronym, WWJD, which stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” You know what YOU would do but does that mean it’s right?  Loving God will empower you to make godly decisions instead of emotional decisions.

“Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Love Always Wins!

#love #God #neighbor #lovealwayswins #musingz4life