Friday, December 19, 2014

Paint Party Friday: New Every Morning!

 Looked through my clippings
to find a man who looks strong like Samson!

 "The woman bore a son and named him Samson." Judges 13:24
Samson is one of those bible characters larger than life. And he foreshadows Jesus in some ways. His birth was miraculous, announced by an angel, and he was used by God to deliver the people of Israel. But at the very beginning of his story, it was about his mother who was barren just like Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, and Abraham's wife Sarah, and Rachel, Jacob's favored second wife. Poor woman! She was not even named in the Bible! But the Midrash, an ancient commentary on the Hebrew scriptures gives her name as Hatzlelponi.

There is so much anguish related to infertility even today. Women are made to feel inferior, and a burden to their families. Women in the Bible lived without hope, suffered Indiscrimination and stigma. You can imagine the joy that Hatzlelponi felt rise up inside her when the angel brought her the good news, "Though you are barren and have no children, you will conceive and bear a son."

 We can relate this with the season of Advent. It is a time of waiting and hoping for a very real blessing. A blessing that changes the very meaning of our existence. We wait in anticipation and excitement for the coming of our Savior in a new way. God is never static, He is new every morning. His mercies, His love, His faithfulness are new every morning of our life! Let us prepare our hearts to give Him room! Let us set our sights on God's promises and hold fast to Him! Maranatha!

 "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about." Matthew 1:18

17 verses above this particular passage lists the genealogy of Jesus Christ. For Jews, genealogy was very important. It shows what tribe you are from, which land belonged to you. It was a significant part of your identity.

RC Sproul, the American theologian tells a fascinating story of a Wycliffe Bible translator, who worked on translating the book of Matthew for an obscure tribe for 10 years. To expedite the process, she skipped the genealogy and had the Book of Matthew printed. The tribe was not interested. She noted that they were even more interested in the truck that brought the book. She persevered and came out with a second edition that included the genealogy. As she was explaining the genealogy to the tribal chief, he exclaimed, "You mean to tell me this Jesus you have been telling us about is a real person?" She replied, "Of course!"

He said, "I thought he was some mythical character!" Soon after he realized Jesus was a historical person, that he had walked on the earth, he accepted Jesus, and the whole tribe followed him.
The genealogy of Jesus is also very important because it showed he was a descendant of David, and showed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. We believe in a real person, not some fictional character. And it is Jesus, the real man, who wants to have a real relationship with us.

Lord, during this season of Advent, may my heart be Your manger. 
May I really know You more and more each day. 
Open my eyes to the reality of Your love for me, and Your perfect plan!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WOYWW: Who are They?

 I had all these scrap paper that was piling up,
so I decided to paste them on bookpaper.
After I will put wall putty on them, and
paint them and use them as backgrounds.
Wish I had more time to do this!!!

 "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ..." Matthew 1:1-17
I don't know how many times I've skipped this first part of Matthew. It's at the very start, and already is boring! All those names! But when you consider ALL THOSE NAMES, it's actually very good news! There are men and women there who, if I chose my family tree, I wouldn't want them! But God chose them!
There's Rahab the prostitute, Tamar who slept with her father-in-law, Abraham who lied, Terah who was an idolater. We all know about King David, who although he was a man after God's own heart, and was Israel's greatest king, was a murderer and committed adultery! Then there's Manasseh who became king at 12 years old and reigned as an evil king for 55 years ! And who were Azor, Zadok and Eliakim? Who in the world are they?

 So why are all these sinners and nobodies good news to us? Just as they were chosen by God to be part of His family, so are we chosen by God to be part of His family! God chose these imperfect people, imperfect vessels, to bring His light and grace to a dysfunctional world!
Thank you Lord for choosing me, a nobody, a sinner, yet You chose me! Thank you for making me part of Your family, for showing me I am important in Your plan, that I have a place in Your Kingdom! May I bring light and grace to my corner of the world!

 "He changed his mind and went." Matthew 21:29
Today's Gospel story is about a father and his two sons. The father went to the first and asked him to go out and work in their vineyard, but the son said no. After a while, the son changed his mind and went off to work. The father also asked the second son and this son did the opposite. He said yes right away but did not appear for work.
I started working in our family business when I was 11 years old. Sometimes my siblings and I hated having to work and we called it Siberia. It did feel like indentured slavery especially compared to my classmates who were playing all the time during vacation. But once my mom asked us whether we wanted the business to continue. We all agreed that yes, we liked the business and wanted to go on. After all, sometimes we did have fun, working together as a family.

I got reminded of this because of the first son. Although he didn't want to work, he thought better of it, and went to the vineyard. Sometimes being a Christian is hard. Too many rules. Too much giving of your time, money and whatever you have. Can't do this, can't do that. No easy way out. But then I think of what I get in return. Blessings. Fulfillment. Guidance. Love overflowing. Grace filled relationships. A clear conscience. A good night's rest. The list goes on. But the best part is the retirement plan that is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I get excited just thinking about it! I wouldn't exchange my life for anything this world has to offer!

I thank God He called me to work in His vineyard, the same way I thank my parents for training me when I was young, to work hard. To appreciate what I have. Life is a series of decisions. But when we make the wrong one, there's always God calling us back. Waiting for us just like the Father in the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. We can always change our mind and turn back and go to Him.
Lord, thank You for calling me to be with You in Your vineyard. Help me always to appreciate the place I have beside You. And please always call me back when I stray, if even my eyes stray to another vineyard!

Joining the lovely Julia Dunnit for a 
peek at desks and projects!
I find a lot of inspiration
visiting my friends here:


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Double Portion

 "Remember that Your compassion, O Lord, and Your kindness are from of old. In Your kindness remember me because of Your goodness, O Lord." Psalm 25:6-7
The Bible is full of verses about God's compassion and loving-kindness. Jesus, while He was on earth, showed compassion and pity for the lost and the sick. Even if He was very tired, even when He wanted to be alone to pray, He would feed the hungry not only with bread but with His living Word. He would tirelessly heal the sick wherever He went.
Sometimes we, and even great preachers steeped in the Word of God ask difficult questions. How can a loving God permit all the evil and suffering in the world? Why doesn't He put a stop to it?Why doesn't He punish tormentors? Why does He allow His name to be mocked and ridiculed?

 Perhaps, if Saint Paul could answer us, he would say: "I was the tormentor once. I hunted and judged and killed Christians. I cursed Christ and was the enemy of people who loved Him. But God in His mercy and compassion took pity on me. There are many terrorists just like me. Many dishonest and evil men who have not seen the light of the Gospel. God is patient and not willing that any should perish, but that they would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)."
"My heart is turned within me, and my compassion overflows." Hosea 11:8 (NLT)
Lord, may I not grieve You by my sins. May Your kindness and compassion lead me to repentance.

 "The God who calls you is faithful, and He will accomplish it." 1 Th. 5:24
One of the best examples for God's faithfulness among the Bible stories is in the book of Hosea. Hosea married a prostitute, and she was unfaithful. She ran away the same way we run away from God sometimes. But Hosea went to look for Gomer, the same way God, the good shepherd looks for His lost sheep. Hosea found Gomer being auctioned off on a slave block, and no one wanted her because she was disheveled and destitute, as any woman would be if passed from man to man. 
Hosea bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and thirteen bushels of barley. He restored her as his wife, and loved her.

 Even if we run away from God, even if we sin so many times, even if we ourselves think we are filthy and cannot be redeemed, God ransomed us from the auction block by His beloved son. He wants to restore us as His very own, and love us, and bring us back as His sons and daughters. How can we run away from a love like that?

"How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!" Sirach 48:4
Yes, Elijah was a wonder worker and awesome in the power God gave him! When he challenged 450 of the prophets of Baal to prove Yahweh was the one true God, he was able to call down fire from heaven to light the altar stones even if it was drenched in water. That was the most spectacular miracle I think, in Elijah's life, but only one among many others.
He took Elisha on as his protegee and before leaving him, asked, "Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you?" Elisha replied, "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." Obviously Elisha was a young man eager and hungry for everything God could give him, and was not afraid to ask.
How about us? Do we desire for more of God's spirit or are we complacent and content for what we already have? No matter what our work, or where we live, we are all God's ambassadors. We could be good ones, or we can be mediocre ones. We all need God's spirit to be effective in what God has given us to do. So like Elisha, let's not be afraid to ask for a double portion of His Holy Spirit!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Paint Party Friday: The Ultimate Whisperer

 "Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord...whatever he does, prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

I really am not that good with money, but my mom was. She could really save and make money grow. Although she didn't study anything about it, she listened and learned, and she read the Bible from cover to cover I don't know how many times. There's a lot about money in the Bible, and if we follow what the Bible teaches, we will prosper. That's what it says.

But what is prosperity? I googled it, and I like this definition: "It's a state of flourishing, thriving. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but does include other factors independent of wealth in varying degrees, such as happiness and health."

When we delight, are captivated by, entranced, thrilled, gladdened, take pleasure in the word of God, and meditate on it, reflect, deliberate, contemplate, ruminate, chew on, mull over His law constantly- whatever we do, we will prosper in it!

 A lot of people put down the "prosperity gospel" because it doesn't really give a true picture of the Christian life. But I do believe that if we obey God and His teachings,we will thrive, we will be content, blessed and happy. Because we will have the right perspective about not only money, but things. From reading the Bible, I know that our money, our business, our things are not ours. It's all Gods and we are stewards. We are supposed to use our gifts, talents and resources, and make it grow and do good. If we work with God, anything is possible!

God wants us to be generous with everything we have because He s generous and He wants us to learn to be like Him. And how generous is God? He gave His only beloved Son so that we might have "all things" added unto us (Mt. 6:33). THAT is what prosperity is all about!

 "Fear not, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13

There's a plethora of self-help books out in the market today. Perhaps the first self-help book was written in 1859 by Samuel Smiles, and his first line was, "Heaven helps those who help themselves." Since then, the marketplace has exploded with not only books but support groups, life coaches, counselling sessions, etc. One of the more well known life coaches, Tony Robbins, is called the "CEO Whisperer" because of his high profile clients.

But God is the ultimate "whisperer". Before we go to self-help books or coaches, do we go first to the source of all wisdom and help? Do we quiet down and leave the hustle and bustle of our life, to ask God to walk with us? Do we take the time to talk to Him and ask Him questions? Do we read the instructions in the greatest "self-help" book of all time, the Bible?

Someone said that man knows so much about the cosmos, but is a stranger to himself. And although I know that some self-help books are great, it is a better path to seek FIRST the ONE who created us, who knows us inside and out. We are no stranger to Him!

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