Category Archives: Faith

Moving Mountains with Your Words

mountains“Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” Mark 12:24

When the Sadducees were trying to test Jesus with all kinds of questions, their interrogation showed that they clearly did not know the scriptures, and yet they were the religious leaders of their day.  Yikes!  Jesus, the Son of God, received the most persecution from the elite, well-educated religious scholars of that time period but they did not recognize His identity.  Do you know the Word well enough to not miss the mark if Jesus decided to come back today?

Know the Word.

Knowledge has different levels.  Filling your head with book knowledge is different from knowing a friend.  You can “know” the Word and recite scriptures to anyone who asks for a verse, but do you intimately “know” the Word as in having a deep relationship with Christ through obedience and faith?  If you have obedience but lack faith, I dare say that you still don’t “know” the Word because part of walking with God is walking by faith.  Faith is receiving the scriptures in your innermost being and actually believing in the truth of the Gospel.

Experience the power of God.

“That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

If you are looking for a bag of magic tricks, there is nothing grandiose or excessively ostentatious about following God.  In this passage here, you can see that transformation is a process.

  1. Someone teaches you the Word of God.
  2. You hear it and put your faith in the truth of the scriptures.
  3. You put off your old self.
  4. Your attitude is made new.
  5. You put on the new self.

Notice that a change of attitude precedes “putting on the new self,” which is visible to everyone else.  You have to change internally before you can project that externally.  Nobody knows your attitude except you and God alone.

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”  Romans 10:17

The Word changes you, but you have to meditate on it day and night.  How long will it take for your attitude to change?  In other words, how long does it take to form a habit?  Contrary to the popular belief that it takes 21 days, researchers now say it takes 66 days to form a new habit.  We have to consistently read the Word, allow our faith to grow, align our thoughts with the scriptures and discard any negative thoughts that are not congruent with God’s truth.

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” – Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Say the Word Out Loud.

In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, leading neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg and Professor Mark R. Waldman of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles wrote, “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”  Their research shows that positive words build resilience in other regions of the brain and have a ripple effect in the rest of the body.

When you come across scriptures like Psalm 34:19 or Proverbs 24:16, say them out loud.  There are plenty of golden nuggets in the bible that you can discover for yourself.  Recite every promise of God so you can hear yourself saying it, and if you feel uncomfortable at first, it’s okay because it takes at least 66 days for a habit to become part of your character.  Practice makes perfect.  The biggest mountain we have to move is ourselves.  Once you can move that, you can move any other mountain that stands in your way.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

#powerofwords #musingz4life #faith #believe #receive #sayitoutloud

Broken Promises, Undying Faithfulness

broken promIf you married someone who was unfaithful to you, would you remain faithful?  The concept of making a vow and actually keeping it seems to have gone out of style these days as divorce rates skyrocket.  The role models we see in media and in our own lives have skewed our perception of loyalty, but I am willing to put my life on the line and bet that loyalty is still the #1 trait we want in our closest friends, our family and especially our significant other.

Underlying the concept of loyalty is the expectation we have of those closest to us.  From the beginning, when our parents made a promise that they would do XYZ, we as children expected them to carry through.  If they didn’t, of course we were terribly disappointed, but if they habitually made promises that they did not carry through, we grow up believing that it’s okay to say what we don’t mean without much regard to the weight of our words.  It’s okay to tell someone what they want to hear and later break your promise because, after all, words don’t mean anything.  When it comes to a life commitment to someone you love, in the back of your mind you might be wondering if this is going to work out in a few years.

What about when it comes to our relationship with God?  If we have been betrayed again and again by others’ lack of substance, are God’s words any good either?  You might hear people’s amazing testimonies about God’s faithfulness; you can buy hundreds of books from Barnes & Noble about God’s promises and really try your hardest to believe that God’s promises apply to you too, but these books just don’t resonate with you because you have prayed and asked God a million times already for that one thing, and He still has not answered.  So yeah, He may be answering everyone else’s prayers except yours.  What gives??

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”  2 Timothy 2:13

Regardless of any poor role models you may have had in life, keep in mind that God was not that father who abandoned you, the mother who abused/neglected you, or the relative/family friend who betrayed you.  Just as you wouldn’t want your significant other to judge you based on his or her experiences with their ex, it would not be fair to God to use your life’s experiences as a metric for His faithfulness.

Because we are not perfect, we are guilty of sinning against God every day, hurting Him with our doubts, our lack of faith, and our hurtful actions.  Constantly He reaches out to us, tries to woo us through some random act of kindness through a stranger or a friend, or maybe He tries to get your attention but you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His existence.  Despite all your rejections, God still waits for you faithfully, because He longs to fill the void in your broken heart.  God is faithful, and no matter what you do, He will remain faithful because that is who He is. Your behavior does not change God’s character.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

We are finite, and God is infinite, so is it possible for us to ever understand God and His ways?  Just because God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted (or when you wanted), it doesn’t mean that He is deliberately holding out on you.  God is always good, all the time, but trusting Him with your unhealed heart is probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your faith.  We are tainted with memories of broken promises and words that meant absolutely nothing.  And the media isn’t very helpful in building up the concept of loyalty in its truest form, either.  How do we rid of ourselves of such polluted, warped belief systems?

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts…”

Isaiah 55:6-7

Negativity, warped notions of loyalty, and wrong actions that result from such thinking are all wicked in God’s eyes.

Let go of your preconceived notions of who God is and allow yourself to fully embrace what the scriptures say about God’s unfailing love and loyalty.  Abandon any presumption that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and fully pursue Him with all your heart.  Don’t allow your bitterness from broken promises to ruin your understanding of God.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”  Numbers 23:19

#unfailinglove #promises #loyalty #integrity #Godisfaithful #faithfulness #reliable

Make Waves with Your Faith!

waves“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:3

In this momentous point of Peter’s faith, he faltered even though he was already walking on water towards Jesus!  His faith started out bold; no other disciple dared to challenge the verity of Jesus’s identity except Peter.  Instead of caving into fear, Peter confronted it by asking this Man on water to do what only God can do:

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, tell me to come to you on water.” (Matthew 14:28)

Peter asked God to do the impossible but it required participation of both parties.  God granted Peter’s request and now it was Peter’s turn to meet God where He was at (literally speaking)!  Even as Peter was in the midst of experiencing a miracle right in front of Jesus with the other disciples as his witnesses, he encountered a new obstacle that threatened to shake his foothold:

“But when he saw the winds, he was afraid and began to sink…” Matt 14:30

You don’t have to be a sailor to understand the unpredictable nature of the wind and waves at sea.  If you have ever taken a cruise, you might have gotten stuck in the middle of a frightening wind storm.  The ocean is calm one minute, and the next minute your very life is in danger.  The #1 rule about waves is that there is no rule.  The scriptures say that the boat was already at a “considerable distance from the land” (Matthew 14:24), which probably means the disciples were sailing in the big seas when Jesus popped up.  There was no mention of any storm – only the appearance of Jesus at the break of dawn.  When Peter “saw” the winds, most likely he saw some large, threatening tidal wave suddenly coming his way while he was walking on water.

Isn’t this how life works?  We are all sailing on the ocean of life.  Life could be going well for a while, but then small problems break violently into your boat while another large wave quietly passes by, or big tidal waves are threatening to overturn your boat as the passengers are tossed wildly back and forth, hanging on for dear life.

Taking that first bold step of faith is scary but God is with you through faith and fear.  When you are walking by faith, God is there to meet you.  When you are faced with fear, God is there to catch you.

Dare to ask God for the impossible.  What have you got to lose??

#makewaves #storm #stormsoflife #impossible #Godcandoanything #prayer #faith #fear #failure #bold #boldness #musingz4life #nothingisimpossiblewithGod #nothingisimpossible

 

Are You Extinguishing the Flaming Arrows or Holy Spirit?

holy-spiritIf some men in the Bible were referred to as “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:3), this implies that not everyone has the same measure of the Spirit.  In fact, you can actually extinguish the Holy Spirit after you become a Christian.

Do not quench/stifle/extinguish the Holy Spirit. – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (I extracted 3 different verbs from various translations)

This command suggests that the presence of the Holy Spirit can fade away to the point that you no longer recognize His voice.

 “Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you are unable to accept my message.” – John 8:43

Definitions:

Quench – to subdue, destroy or overcome

Stifle – to suppress, curb, withhold, crush, or end by force

Extinguish – to put out, bring to an end, annihilate, obscure, eclipse, wipe out of existence

 

Before extinguishing the Holy Spirit, ask yourself if you are currently grieving the Spirit:

 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. – Ephesians 4:30

What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?

The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:6 (Berean Study Bible Version)

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on things of the Spirit.  The mind of the flesh is death but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so… Romans 8:5-7

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. – Romans 8:12-13

Let me just say first of all that living to please God is not easy.  Obedience to the scriptures requires supernatural help, but that’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us when we are weak.  Obeying God begins with the mind; if you set your mind on pleasing God, the Holy Spirit will help you obey Him (which is why you put to death the misdeeds by the Spirit).  Have you ever felt that battle between your flesh and spirit, when you know you want to do what’s right but you do wrong anyway?  That is the classic struggle as described in Romans 7:7-12.  God understands our human nature.  But He always provides a way out of temptation and His Spirit enables you to obey the scriptures which go against the human grain.

Day by day, you have a choice – to live according to the flesh or to crucify your sinful nature.  Every day, you can choose to build upon the foundation of the Spirit or you can slowly extinguish the Spirit with your actions.  Every choice comes with a consequence:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  – Galatians 6:7-8

We are caught in the midst of a spiritual battlefield, and Satan wants your soul.  Until the day you die, he will continually fire flaming arrows at you, especially in the areas where he knows you’re weak.  You can shield yourself from the devil’s arrows with your faith:

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. – Ephesians 6:16

It is with your faith that you can extinguish the devil’s flaming arrows — not just some of the arrows but ALL of the arrows!

How can you get more faith?

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ.” – Romans 10:17

Keep feeding your faith instead of your doubts.  Keep digging into the Word, study out topics, ask lots and lots of questions, and surround yourself with people who will help you grow spiritually.

#faith #HolySpirit #FanIntoTheFlame #obey #truth #musingz4life

What does it mean to “work out your salvation with trembling and fear”?

endTherefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling….Philippians 2:12

Surely, we are saved by grace and not by works, so what does Philippians 2:12 really mean?

  1. Make sure your life matches your doctrine.

 “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).  It’s not enough to just claim that Jesus is Lord.  Your life – your decisions, your thoughts, and the motives behind your actions – must be centered on pleasing God.

  1. Be diligent in these matters and absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all (1 Timothy 4:15).

 You’ve heard it said many times before that people’s opinions don’t matter.  At the end of the day, they don’t, because ultimately, God’s the judge.  However, the Bible still does not entirely discredit the importance of reputation and progress.  How’s your walk with God going?  Is your progress evident to all, or has someone told you lately that you’ve been stagnant?

  1. Persevere until the end.

“These [trials] have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7)

In God’s eyes, your faith is precious, and it will be tested over and over again to see if it’s genuine.  Will life’s worries and problems weigh you down and choke your faith?  If you don’t get what you want in your timing, are you going to take matters into your own hands that are out of God’s bounds?

  1. Build upon your foundation with quality material.

 The foundation is Christ, but how you build your life upon the Foundation will be shown for what it is on the Last Day. In your day-to-day routine, are you nurturing your relationship with quality prayer times, deep study of the Word, and applying the Word to your life?  Or are you barely spending any time with God?  Are you going to finish strong or barely escape the flames?

 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

The older we get, the longer we’ve been a Christian, the easier it gets to take God for granted.  If you’ve been going to the same church for years and years, you know the drill, you know all the songs, and Christianity doesn’t seem “exciting” like it used to be.  However, it’s up to you to determine the level of “excitement” in your own walk with God.  How will you change things up and illuminate others’ lives with your spiritual revival?

#firstlove #salvation #trembling #fear #loveGod #foundation #Christ #workoutsalvation #musingz4life

 

 

 

Trusting God: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

promiseWhen you say you trust God, how do you really know you trust Him?  Church is like a school where you learn all the theories about trust, and life is the school of application where you put these theories to the test. The true litmus test is when you are called to put God first even when it conflicts with your personal agenda and/or it makes no sense at all.

Look at the areas where you wish you had more success. Are you putting God first in those areas?  Consider the following scenarios:

Marriage

  • Fighting with your spouse all the time
  • Not applying scriptures to your marriage, such as submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) or considering your partner better than yourself (Philippians 2:3-5)
  • Not spending enough time praying together
  • Neglecting your spouse
  • Nagging your spouse

Career

  • Putting in overtime hours instead of spending time with family
  • Missing church services for work
  • Calling in “sick” when you just want the day off
  • Being dishonest in your work habits
  • Compromising your work ethics

Money

  • Spending money on yourself rather than tithing
  • Anxiety and worry instead of trusting in God’s provision
  • Harboring the wrong perspective about tithing (i.e., “the church is run like a business”; “all they want is my money”; “who knows where all the money is going?” etc.)
  • Living beyond your means
  • Choosing between paying bills and tithing (oftentimes, we pay “bills” outside of utilities and rent that we don’t really need to pay)

 Health

  • Neglecting self-care
  • Weak boundaries between self and others
  • Lack of exercise and a good diet
  • Shouldering all your stress instead of casting your anxiety upon God (1 Peter 5:7)

 Relationships

  • Looking for love in all the wrong places
  • Compromising your sexual purity
  • Linking up with non-Christians who can turn your heart after other gods
  • Marrying a believer too quickly as a gateway to guilt-free sex

As you may recall, Abraham went through a series of tests, from uprooting his whole life to an unknown land to sacrificing his firstborn, for whom he waited 25 years.

“By faith Abraham, when called to a place he would later call his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

By faith, will you still obey even if you don’t know what will happen tomorrow?

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…” Hebrews 11:17

Do you embrace God’s promises when you need to make the tough (and righteous) decisions?

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

In the verse prior to this, the Scripture says if Abraham was justified by works, he’d have something to boast about.  If we were brought up in a household where we only received recognition when we did well in school, it would be tempting to get validation from our acts of obedience.  We’d only feel like “good Christians” if we are 100% obedient, never straying, never deviant from the Word.  We can point to our acts of obedience and say, “Look, God! Look at all the things I’ve done for you and all the ways I served!”

But time and time again, the Scripture highlights Abraham’s faith.

If faith is not the primer for your obedience, you will become short-sighted and blind (2 Peter 1:9). You will grow spiritually weary and lose sight of what’s truly meaningful.

In closing, I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

#Godspromises #promisesthatneverfail #Christ #trustGod #musingz4life #obedience #faith #belief

The Difference between Desperation and Desire

boiling-waterHave you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it? How badly would your faith be shaken if you didn’t receive it in one, five or twelve years?  In the story of the Bleeding Woman (Luke 8:43-48), we see an example of a woman who was determined to get what she wanted.

Backstory of the Bleeding Woman

 “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.”  Luke 8:43

All we know about this woman is that she had been suffering for 12 years before Jesus came to the scene.  If you have a loved one who has been suffering from a terrible illness for which the doctors have not found a cure, or for which certain medications/surgery would not be an option because of comorbid conditions, you know the frustration of hopelessness and despair.  Yet the woman did not give up hope.

Amidst the crowds, Jesus felt her desperation.

The woman didn’t just desire to be healed.  She was desperate to be healed!  When Jesus came, she was so determined to meet him because she knew in her heart of hearts that He was the only one who could heal her.  Nothing was going to stop her – no sardine-packed crowd, no doubt, no hesitation, no one’s opinion – she was adamant about getting through to Jesus for His healing power.  Amidst the crowd that was packed so tightly that no one could breathe, this woman reached out and her faith made Jesus turn His head.

The difference between desire and desperation is determination.

When you’re desperate for something, there’s a sense of urgency that propels you toward your goal.  The crowds who surrounded Jesus wanted to meet Him, so they followed Him wherever He went, but this woman cut through the masses and made Jesus notice her.  They say that the difference between a winner and a loser is one’s character that will carry one through. Why does one achieve his goal while the other one doesn’t? Character.

  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 5:3-5

You achieve character first through suffering, then perseverance, and then you get hope from the character that’s forged within you.

“A sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4

Waiting is part of that diligence. But what about faith?

Without faith, people give up, and therefore they allow their character to soften instead of fervently relying on God.  How long will you wait before you receive the desire of your heart?

I cannot even fathom what it’s like to be in the Bleeding Woman’s shoes, but I do know what it’s like to wait for something forever and never receiving it.  Oftentimes I wonder if I should just give up and chalk it up to “It’s not God’s will,” but if the Bleeding Woman caved into that kind of thinking, she would have never gone after Jesus because she would have believed that Jesus never wanted to heal her. 

Twelve years is an awfully long time to wait for something.  You don’t know the future; you can only hope for the best.  I wonder how many times this woman felt like giving up.  Will a miracle ever turn up?  Will the suffering ever stop?  Waiting year after year, waiting in the dark, not knowing the future – that does something to your soul.  In my despair, many times I have “surrendered” my desires to God with a hint of unbelief.

Will you surrender your desire to God with a spirit of resignation, or will you, like the Bleeding Woman, fight with urgency and desperation to get God’s attention?

#nevergiveup #faith #prayer #determination #God #Jesus #character #hope #perseverance #persistence #healing #miracles #fightofthefaith #keepupthegoodfight #musingz4life #dependonGod