Friday, October 31, 2014

Paint Party Friday: God's Armor

 This is what Saint Paul prayed for the people of Philippi: 
"That your love may increase, grow, 
abound more and more in knowledge, depth of insight, 
discernment, judgement, and every kind 
of perception so that you may be able 
to approve that which is excellent, 
that which is best, pure and 
blameless, what is of value..." (Phil. 1:9-10)

We are indeed blessed if we witness real love in action. 
It is very seldom that we see it on TV or in the movies. 
It is sad that many people are governed by the counterfeit love 
that seeks happiness for themselves, 
and not the kind of love that brings joy. 
Saint Paul was able to write about joy a lot, 
even while he was in prison!

 In St. Paul's prayer, it is apparent that 

when our love for God and others increases, 
so does our wisdom and discernment. 
We will be able to sense 
"what is vital and prize what is excellent and of real value" 
(Amplified Bible). 
Wisdom is seeing things through the eyes 
of the giver of wisdom, God Himself. 
To see life, people, situations from God's perspective. 
To see others as they truly are- God's children, God's beloved. 
To have a depth of insight into God's heart.

Seems impossible? 
If we want to know how a person thinks, 
who he cares about, what should we do? 
SPEND TIME with them. 
That is the only way we can know what is important to God.

"Dear friends, let us love one another...for God is love." 
1 John 4:7-8

 "Put on the whole armor of God, 
that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil... 
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, 
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness... 
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, ...
and take the helmet of salvation, 
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." 
Ephesians 6:10-20

Why do we need God's armor? 
If we believe the Bible and I do, 
it's because there are unseen forces doing battle against us. 
Many people don't believe in the existence of the devil. 
It's like he is something we outgrow, 
like a child's plaything. 
But Jesus believed the devil existed, didn't He? 
And He battled against the devil with what? 
God's Word, which is, in this verse, 
the Sword of the Spirit.

A soldier uses a sword not only to defend himself 
but also to expand his territory and 
to take over the enemy's position. 
So it is necessary not only to read and hear God's Word, 
but we should also know how to use it. 
The way Jesus wielded the Word of God was 
He had it with Him. It was in His heart. 
Imagine if Jesus was in the wilderness with Satan, 
"If you really are the Son of God, 
tell the stones to become bread!" 
(Matthew 4:3), 
and Jesus had to search the scriptures for His parry!!! 
That would be the same as a soldier going to battle 
without his sword, without his armor!

So let's try to put God's Word in our hearts, 
and again, trust in the promises of God: 
"Submit yourselves to God. 
Resist, stand against the devil, 
and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Yesterday we went to visit my mom's grave.
It's been 8 months since she left us to go 
to her Father's house.
How we miss her!
The only consolation is she is is now
free from any pain or tears.
Till we see each other again, mommy!
We love you very much!!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WOYWW: A Grander Vision

 I woke up to this. I'm going to need
another plastic bag to shove all this in.
But not the hard drive on top.
That's where my son saves the Downton Abbey series.
I was watching the latest one last night.
Poor Edith! The writers should give her a break!

Didn't know how to illustrate this verse.

 "Lord, will only a few be saved?" 
Jesus answered them, 
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." 
Luke 13:23-24

Sometimes when we listen to preachers, 
it seems like all we need to do is 
say the sinner's prayer and that's it. 
You're saved. But Jesus says here we have to strive, 
to "strain every nerve to enter", 
to "force yourself through it", 
"to endeavor with strenuous zeal".  
The word 'strive' is translated from 
 where the word 'agony' comes from. 
This word is used to describe athletic contests and war. 
And we know what kind of 
contests and war the Greeks had!!! 

 It sort of reminds me of the big man 
who insisted on going through 
Fat Man's Squeeze in Rock City, Tennessee. 
His friends said no, let's find some other way, 
but he insisted on going through this 
narrow passage between two huge rocks. 
First he removes his jacket, gets out, 
removes his shirt, tries again. 
Then his belt comes off. 
He was able to "force himself through finally"! 

 Jesus is saying here it's not as easy as saying a prayer, 
or getting in a line to accept Him as Lord and Savior.  
It's working at it for our whole life. 
There are things we have to get rid of too, 
like the man unbuckling his belt, removing his jacket.

 But I hold on to Philippians 1:6, 
"...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." 
Let's strive with confidence and finish the race!!

 "Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, 
and He spent the night in prayer to God. 
When day came, He called the disciples to Himself 
and from them He chose twelve." Luke 6:12

Before Jesus chose the twelve apostles 
(from the Greek word meaning "one who is sent away"
, like a messenger or ambassador), He prayed. 
This was a very important decision. 
Jesus prayed the whole night!

Most of the time, my prayers bring good fruit. 
Someone gets healed. A problem is solved. 
A brother gets a job. We reach somewhere safely. 
I have been praying big and small prayers 
since I was very young. 
But sometimes my prayers are not answered. 
My mother died in February. 
I still have my thorn in the flesh. 
Right now I have 3 canker sores in my mouth :^((

But I look at Jesus and see that 
after praying the whole night up in the mountain 
(not in the comfort of His bed), 
He still chose one man, Judas Iscariot. 
We can't say that was a good choice, can we? 
But I do believe it was an inspired choice. 
In a way, because of Judas and what he did, I am saved. 
Because of Judas, God's plan was fulfilled. 
But what of Judas? God only knows. If only he repented.

So when my prayers aren't answered 
the way I want God to answer, 
I can only look to Jesus' prayer on the mountain 
and trust that God knows best. 
He has His own purposes. 
A bigger plan. A grander vision. 
I need only to stay in faith and trust 
that He has my very best in mind.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Lift Us Higher!

"Grace was given to each of us 
according to the measure of Christ's gift." 
Ephesians 4:7
We have to realize that mankind, all of us, 
must have done something terrible to merit Jesus, God's son, 
dying on the cross for us. 
Sin is terrible, horrible to a Holy God. 
And that's why Jesus gave the gift of His life. 
We are all recipients of God's mercy and grace. 
C.S. Lewis, when asked what made 
Christianity different from other religions, 
answered, "That's simple. Grace."
Victor Hugo's "Les Miserable" is a remarkably beautiful story 
about a man who made something of his life 
because he was the recipient of the 
unmerited favor of the Bishop of Digne. 
When the hero of the story, Jean Valjean, 
was released from prison on parole, 
he was given food to eat and a bed to sleep in by the good bishop. 
Valjean steals the silver and is arrested 
by the gendarmes and brought back to face the bishop. 
Jan Valjean was surprised when the Bishop says 
that he had given the silver to Valjean. 
"My friend, you left the best behind!" he exclaimed, 
and offered the massive silver candlesticks. 
These candlesticks were treasured by the Bishop 
because they were the last remnants of a 
formerly rich life, and presents from his great aunt.

In the musical, the Bishop sings to Valjean: 
"But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!"

 Just as the Bishop recognizes that he was "bought" by God, 
ransomed to be reclaimed by God, 
we too should realize that Jesus' gifts of 
forgiveness, mercy and grace, should be passed on to others. 
Just as God gave us His Son as a free gift, 
we too should make our lives a gift to others.

 "If he cries out to me, I will hear him; 
for I am compassionate." Exodus 22:26
Last night I attended the Thanksgiving celebration 
Joe Dean Sola and his wife Ardis started this 
in 1997 to feed streetchildren. 
Now, they not only feed them, 
they help with putting them through school, 
tutoring, health programs, micro loans for parents, etc. 
They are even constructing a building right now 
in Project 6 to house 100 streetchildren.

 How did Joe Dean's dream of becoming a drug dealer 
transform into a vision to build a 
permanent home for streetchildren? 
He used to think the pages of the Bible 
perfect to roll marijuana in. 
Now his life is the Bible for these children!

The children and their parents know 
God's love and compassion because of the 
love and compassion of Joe Dean and the He Cares volunteers. 
When praying for a name for his foundation, 
God led Joe Dean to 1 Peter 5:7: 
"Cast all your anxiety on Him, because HE CARES for you."
To be able to help others, to love them and to care for them, 
we need to get a revelation like Joe Dean, 
that God indeed loves and cares for us. 
That God is compassionate and has His eyes on us! 
Only then will we be able to spread out our arms 
and have the love and strength we need to care for others.
Want to help 100 homeless street children have a place to call home? 

"...and a woman was there at the synagogue 
who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. 
She was bent over and could not straighten up at all." 
Luke 13:11
Not much is known about this woman 
except she had been attending the synagogue 
and was crippled, bent over, unable to look up, for 18 years! 
Jesus saw her, called her over, laid His hands on her, and said, 
"Woman, you are released, freed from your sickness." 
She straightened up and began glorifying God.
There are many of us who need God's hands laid on us. 
Not only do we need freedom from sickness, 
but from low self-esteem, impatience, 
lack of confidence, failures in the past, wrong relationships. 
The list goes on. 
Many of us focus on our limitations, flaws, mistakes, 
and we can be as crippled as the woman in the synagogue. 
Sometimes those very things that we see 
as our handicaps can be what God will use 
to build His Kingdom, to bring Him glory.

I learned something about a golf ball. 
Did you know that golf balls used to be smooth? 
But then golfers noticed that their old balls, 
the ones with the bumps, flew farther. 
So they used their old balls. 
An aerodynamist explained that the nicks and cuts 
"reduced drag and induced turbulence in the air next to the ball". 
Now all golf balls have dimples in it!
We can say we are God's golf balls. 
God knows our imperfections can make us fly higher. 
He sees our potential, what we can become. 
I used to think waking up at 3 in the morning 
was a terrible thing. 
I couldn't sleep and used to stare at the ceiling. 
When I decided to get up, and read the Bible 
and meet with the Lord, I was at my most productive! 
I know many people who have used their disabilities, 
their past sad experiences, their mistakes, to help others.
Whatever we see as our imperfections, 
our weaknesses, let's see it through the eyes of God, 
and work with Him, and it will lift us higher!

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