Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Great Reminder

1 Kings 22:48-52 (NKJV):

48 Jehoshaphat made merchant ships[d] to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber.

49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not.

50 And Jehoshaphat rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the City of David his father. Then Jehoram his son reigned in his place.

51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel.

52 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin;

53 for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done.

I don`t know how about you, but I find this place of scripture very encouraging to read. For once, it`s rewarding to read about the authorities who followed the Lord because the distinction of their ruling period is drastically different from those of the wicked kings. The contrast is clearly stated even in this passage, where the Lord shows us the difference of the wicked king Ahaziah and a godly king Jehoshaphat. This is a picture of a blessed king who chose to walk in the ways of the Lord. His life was full and abundant, but most importantly he chose not to compromise with the sin for more money and ungodly union with the king Ahaziah.

It prompted me to examine my heart today once again to see if my heart is in the right place with the Lord, or am I chasing after “gold”? Do I have enough courage to turn down ungodly fellowship and unions through compromise in order to get what I want? I think this is such an obvious challenge for many of us who like to get what we want.

There are few important things to note here:

-When we read the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, the Bible is very clear on stating who the parents are of the kings, and this is to let everyone know who was responsible for their godly or ungodly upbringing. In this case, we see that Jehoshaphat had Asa for his father, who was a godly king and ruled for 41 years (1 Kings 15:9-11).

42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 And he walked in all the ways of his father Asa. He did not turn aside from them, doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Nevertheless the high places were not taken away, for the people offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places (1 Kings 22:42-43 NKJV).

I don`t know if you noticed this, but the Bible labels people with certain titles, and they could be either rewarding or embarrassing. David was walking in the ways of the Lord, and his subsequent generations, like Asa king, and Jehoshaphat listed here are marked with this label: they followed after the Lord the way David did.

11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did his father David (1 Kings 15:11 NKJV).

However, when we look at the disgraceful kings and idolatrous kings, we see the way they are labeled, and I think this is a loud rebuke from the Lord:

52 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin (1 Kings 22:52 NKJV).

This is what`s said about the ungodly king Ahaziah; he did evil in the sign of the Lord the way his father did, but most importantly look at the last part of the verse: “in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin”.

God makes it very clear of what our “title” is. When we walk with the Lord, He promotes us and blesses us with great reputation, but when we blaspheme His name and disgrace His name, we get appropriate "title" for that as well.

This is a very loud and clear reminder for me, being a parent, to make sure I raise my daughter in the ways of the Lord, so she could be blessed and knew how essential it is to be cleaved to the Lord with all her heart. The Bible is very consistent on making this point. God reiterates this message to us over and over again, so it`s worth noting. Let`s remind ourselves of this essential responsibility of a parenthood and the way the Lord will hold us to this accountability when we face Him one day.

-The other important fact here to note is that Jehoshaphat although sent the ships for the gold to Ophir, but he didn`t make that his ultimate focus or ambition to obtain this treasure at any cost. Please note here that in the verse 48, it`s stated clearly that the ships wrecked. That was the end of the story for Jehoshaphat.

48 Jehoshaphat made merchant ships[d] to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber.

This was the message from the Lord reminding him to store his treasures in the Lord and not in earthly possessions. How many of us, would have ignored such a simple message and kept on the course on the task of getting what we want or think we should have?

Have you ever try to find a place to live only to be faced with obstacles and hindrances of finding a place in the area of your choice? Your reasoning may have been to have better schools for your kids, or better house to live in, or more prestigious area to live in to make a big statement to your co-workers of your financial status? Or perhaps, you tried to book a vacation in the place of your choice only to see that the dates you picked suddenly started to climb up in price making it unaffordable for you? Whatever the reason it may be, you can fill in the blank.

The message is the same to all of us: when we see obstacles in whatever we do, this is the right time to stop and check them against the scripture-His Word that would give you guidance, or even more importantly bring the desires of our hearts to the Lord.

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths (Proverbs 3:6 NKJV).

Jehoshaphat had a very unique heart, just like his father Asa, he lived for the Lord. He was a king, and to send the ships to Ophir for gold made all the sense in the world. What kind of a king would not want more gold and money to stand out among the other rulers? But Jehoshaphat chose to heed to the obstacle of the wrecked ship at Ezion Geber to know better than that, that if the Lord would have wanted him to have that gold, He would have provided him a way of getting it.

What`s even more interesting, is Jehoshaphat was faced with temptation of going into agreement with Ahazaiah in order to get this gold. Look how simple and blunt this verse is:

49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not.

Didn`t we just read about Ahaziah and the kind of a king he was? Look at what it says about him:

51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. 52 He did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; 53 for he served Baal and worshiped him, and provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger, according to all that his father had done (3 Kings 22:51-53 NKJV).

Here we see again in the verse 52 that he was an evil king and walked in the ways of his mother and father. That`s a loud statement right there and a reminder once again for us as parents to be godly parents. Ahaziah only ruled for 2 years as opposed to the king Jehoshaphat who ruled for 25 years (verse 42). God sees everything and the way we live ourselves as well as the way we raise our children, so this is a sobering reminder for me to examine my ways and the way I bring up my daughter.

We see that the king Jehoshaphat chose not to get gold at a cost of rejecting a partnership with the king Ahaziah who did evil in the sight of the Lord. I think it is no doubt that the king Jehoshaphat had his grand-grand-grand-grandfather’s Psalms in his head who said: 

3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness (Psalm 101:3-4 NKJV).

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. 3 For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth. 4 I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, Nor will I go in with hypocrites. 5 I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked (Psalm 26:3-5 NKJV).

Jehoshaphat chose not to compromise with the evildoing and idolatrous king in order to obey God`s word. He did not think it was foolish turning down an offer of assistance getting gold of his choice in order to preserve his heart in the right place with the Lord. I find this such a great encouragement and comfort for myself. This only possible to do when we walk in the Spirit and have relationships with the Lord because this is the only way to realize how futile and small the treasures of this world are in comparison to how much we have with the Lord.

This is a wakeup call for many of us whose hearts went astray to turn to the Lord and choose Him over any possible “gold”; be that a better place to live, or a more expensive and luxurious vacation.

This is what Jesus reminded us of:

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34 NKJV).

Do we all understand that this is exactly what the king Jehoshaphat chose to do: he chose to guard his heart and to have God as His king rather than the treasures of this world; he chose to turn down the friendship with the wicked king in order to please the Lord and obey His commandments?

Are we doing the same? Could the same be true of us? Could the people who know us, claim the same facts as we read about Jehoshaphat: that we have godly parents, that we don`t mind missing on career ladder in order to preserve His word, turn down ungodly friendships in order not to compromise with the world?

I don`t know how about you, but this is a challenge today from the Lord for me and a reminder to examine my heart in order to cleave to the Lord all the more.

I would encourage you to do the same. If you think that you were chasing after career promotions, or a batter and fancier place to live at a cost of your relationships with the Lord, and perhaps even ignored the obstacles He sent your way to heed to Him instead, I would challenge you to soften your heart and examine it just the way David prayed in his Psalm 26. It`s so easy to harden our hearts and become deaf to God`s guidance when we`re focused on something we want sometimes, and I am guilty of this myself. God will bless you and will guide you when you put Him and His word first over your desires. He promised, and is faithful to direct our paths.

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things (Matthew 6:33-34 NKJV).

Let us not seek the earthly treasures but store treasures in heaven with the Lord!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel!

Psalm 126:5-6 (NKJV):

5 Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.

How great and mighty our Lord is! I was reminded of this promise once again yesterday, and I had to share and encourage those who feel hopeless right now. This is one of those promises from the Lord that we have to hold on to no matter what happens. We know that He is faithful, and we know that his word does not return void, so when reading this promise, it should direct us to Him thanking for this blessing.

The important fact to note here is the sequence of the tenses. Sowing has a completed action to it. You have to sow something in order for the seeds to grow and to produce fruit. If the sowing is done with weeping and with tears, we are promised to harvest with joy and in abundance. God gives us this word “doubtless” confirming His identity: He is a true God who does not lie. Those who sow the righteous and right seeds, they are doubtlessly promised to harvest rejoicing. I love this scripture!

Look at what Paul wrote to Galatians:

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9NKJV).

The only way to reap what we sow is to stick around to the end. We cannot sow the seeds and then leave them alone. Anyone who participated in a gardening process knows that sowing requires watering and nourishment. After we sow the seeds we need to water them to produce growth and then apply treatment. It`s a lengthy process requiring patience.

This is what the Lord reminds us of in these scriptures: to be patient, not to grow weary, to continue weeping if we must, but at the end of the process there is rejoicing!

I went through the extended season of weeping when everything looked like it would never get better, and the Lord continued to encourage me: “just a little more and you will see a breakthrough”. Nine months ago I was absolutely hopeless and on my knees seeking His mercy. Harvest takes time, but it promises rejoicing. Today I`m rejoicing in what God is doing because I stuck around and sought the Lord.

God is faithful, and He is good. If you feel like your life came to an end, so did mine. God allows us going through the desert in order to refine our faith and to grow us spiritually. It is a necessary part of sanctification. However, He is faithful to never leave us or forsake us. There is a reason why there is this Psalm requiring to sow with weeping because God allows us this “desert” experience. He also promised that while going through this “desert”- the valley of Baka (valley of weeping), He would open up the new fresh springs providing this spiritual growth.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.[b] (Psalm 84:6-7 NKJV)

I would encourage you today to make a prayer list of things that you are weeping about and seek God`s specific answers to. Be that bankruptcy, divorce, death in the family, loneliness, poverty, loss of a job, being homeless. There is no end for the Lord to reconcile your life and to being this rejoicing in harvesting after you`ve completed the sowing.  He is the mighty Lord who knows everything and rewards everyone accordingly (Psalm 73, Psalm 125).

If you feel hopeless, you need to realize that God`s word does not return void but completes what it was sent to do: be that reconciliation of the family, complete healing, or anything else.

 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11 NKJV).

The only way to get through any kind of a trial is by drawing closer to the Lord and seeking His face. He is faithful to direct us when we are honestly seeking Him first. This is what this weeping is about when we sow the right seeds. I spent a lot of time on my knees and fasting in order to see the specific answers to my prayers coming to pass one after another. God is blessing me, and I can testify that I am rejoicing by harvesting these “sheaves” of specific prayers` answers.

The only way to stick through any trial is by writing out the scriptures, and cleaving to the specific promises from the Lord. This Psalm 126 has been my consolation and a promise for many years, and now I can testify of the Lord`s goodness in my life. My marriage is being restored, my debt is being paid off one by one, my new job is doing great, and my daughter is being brought up in His word!

This blog exist to show a trace of someone who was hopeless and had impossible circumstances, but someone who chose to seek the Lord and stick through with Him to show this testimony of His faithfulness. I cannot repeat this too many times to remind you that our God is faithful and good.

We make mistakes, but He upholds us to bring closer to Him through all the circumstances we face. I know personally from my own experience that there are days when you just want to stay in bed and never see another day, but in those days I sought the Lord the most because I realized how much I am in need of His help.

Weeping produces repentance, desperation to seek Him, and to persevere through praying. We have an example of Jeremiah who was called a weeping prophet because through both of his books: Jeremiah and Lamentations, he was weeping about the destruction of Israel and the upcoming judgment from the Lord. He was weeping of people`s hardheartedness and rejection of the truth. Weeping produces sowing of these right seeds that promise in return to yield sheaves of joy.

I encourage you today to stick to the end to watch for the Lord to move the mountains for you if only you would stick to the end. God`s promises always have conditions- “if”. If we would persevere by doing good we would reap a harvest. Let our actions be reactions to God`s word that would yield the crop of rejoicing!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Salvation Has Come To Your House

Luke 19:1-10 (NKJV):

19 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.
And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;
10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

It just so happened to be that Zacchaeus became a favorite character for my little daughter, and she can sing Zacchaeus song day and night. Today reading his story, God showed me something else: Zacchaeus` precious heart that was so dear to Jesus when he saw Jesus walking by. You see, Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and he couldn`t reach to Jesus because of the compressing overwhelming crowd, but that didn`t stop him. He climbed up a sycamore tree to get to Jesus. Do we all understand how humiliating this looked to everyone who saw him do what he did? Zacchaeus didn`t care about what people thought of him or the fact that they accused him for being a cheat (since he was a chief tax collector), nor did he care that it took him so much effort to get to Jesus.
The Lord sees our hearts and He honors those who truly desire Him. I am humbled and amazed reading this story how lowly Zacchaeus chose to be in order to receive Jesus. He didn`t fully understand who Jesus was, as we read that in the verse 3, but He truly wanted to see Him and understand more of who He is.

God loves it when we come to Him and ask questions because that implies friendship and relationships. Now, I am not talking about this daring and disrespectful attitude as many people display by demanding answers from the Lord. I am talking about the honest and genuine cry of the heart that only can come from the longing for the Lord.

This is one more day to thank God for how good He is. About a year ago I made a list of prayer needs that were crucial to be resolved in order for me to have this major shift in circumstances. There were particularly few things that only God could resolve by His hand, and He surely did.
I think in today`s day and age we get so wrapped up in daily needs and actions that we forget to extol the Lord and give Him what belongs to Him- complete praise and glory. I take this day to praise His name and to thank Him for how good He is and how mighty He is for resolving my problems, for rebuilding my destroyed marriage, and for delivering me financially. He is the almighty God who deserves our time and our hearts, so let us remember to honor the Lord with what we have-our time and our hearts!

Zacchaeus was a very rich man because it says so in the verse 2: he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. In those days tax collectors were considered the scum and the worst trash in society because everyone knew how much they could rip people off of their taxation rates. People felt oppressed, just like many of us feel nowadays with the current tax rates we have to put up with, and the people felt justified blaming the tax collectors for their financial disparities and hardships.
To me, seeing Jesus extending His hand of mercy even to the “lowliest” of the society by looking into Zacchaeus` heart, gives me hope. I realize how loving and merciful our Lord is. This is why I choose to praise Him and to thank Him for all that He has done and continues to do in my life.

Another important point to note here, is that Zacchaeus wasn`t boasting of what he was doing. He was almost checking with Jesus if he was on the right track (verse 8). How much time do we check honestly coming to the Lord seeking to know if we are on the right track and seek direction? This is a reminder of how much the Lord appreciates when I seek His input and direction and how much He longs to direct me. I have learnt my lesson awhile back to make sure I seek His direction in even the smallest of the things that I do because I don`t want to do anything of myself. It`s not beneficial to me or to my circumstances. God`s ways are higher than our ways, and we should always ask His input on what we do. I promise you it will pay back with blessings and closer relationships with the Lord.
If you feel hopeless today, please know that Jesus is saying to you the same thing He told Zacchaeus: salvation has come to your house! You can either accept it or reject it, but please know that Jesus came to save the lost of this world. It all comes down to the heart- how much are you willing to humiliate yourself and change your lifestyle like Zacchaeus offered to do: “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (verse 8).

Do you have a lot? So did Zacchaeus. Do you not really know who Jesus is? So did Zacchaeus. Are you losing the meaning in your life? So was Zacchaeus. All these stories in the Bible serve to us as an encouragement of our human predecessors who struggled the same way we did and in the same areas we are. The only thing that made them different is their choice to follow after the Lord and to live for Jesus. I would encourage you to make this same choice today to accept Jesus and to ask Him personally to point you to the right direction. Zacchaeus only had the Old Testament, but we have a fully written Bible-God`s word with thousands of promises that God keeps always.

Numbers 23:19 (NKJV)

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? 

Isaiah 55:11 9NKJV)

11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

I am grateful today that God didn`t give up on me, and He didn`t think of me as unworthy of His salvation, but He chose to knock on my heart and patiently wait until I answered. My life became content and complete with Him, and with Him only. The problems would always be part of our lives because we are living in a sinful fallen world, but with the Lord as our Savior, it makes a big difference as to how we walk through the journey and where we store our treasures.

I would really encourage you to think through what you really live for and if the gain worth the pain without the Lord. Looking at someone like Zacchaeus- a prosperous and rich man with Roman connections, you would think that he had it all made up really good for him, yet the major part of his life was missing. He was chasing after Jesus as soon as he found out that Jesus was going to pass by his way, and he chose to use whatever means he could find to reach out to Jesus. Since we were created in God`s image, there would always be this void without the Lord being present in our lives because He created us for relationships and communication with Him.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Is All You Need—Wisdom?

Proverb 4:1-9 (NKJV):

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

If any of you have children, then you will notice the same thing that I am emphasizing here: generational teaching of God`s word! I was wondering for a long time, how is that when God showed up to see Solomon, he was able to ask the right question and asked for wisdom instead of everything else.  
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”And Solomon said: “You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 King 3:5-14)
As we read in the proverb above, we can clearly see the answer to this question: David, his father, made sure to bring him up in knowledge and realization of this urgent need to have wisdom in order to please the Lord and to do what`s right in His sight (verses 3-9). It doesn`t just happen overnight that we wake up and ask for the right blessing or make right choices, but rather it`s the result and fruit of the upbringing in walk with the Lord. It is the fruit of abiding in God.

This is something that`s always in the back of my mind when I think about my daughter and her upbringing: how much of God`s word I place in her heart on the daily basis, so that going through her life, she could seek the right direction and motivation from the Lord.

Solomon was passing over to his sons this same guidance he received as instruction from his own father David:
My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path (Proverb 2:1-9 NKJV).

Please note the way Solomon emphasizes the need of wisdom and what he clears it to be:

- Will understand the fear of the Lord (verse 5)

- Find the knowledge of God (verse 5)

These two crucial things without which we cannot function in life and do what`s right: understanding what the fear of God is, and having knowledge of God.

Jonah was running away from the Lord because he knew who God was: merciful and longsuffering God.

So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm (Jonah 4:2 NKJV).

Knowing God enables us to fit in His plan and allows Him using us whichever way He needs to. It is by seeking Wisdom that we can completely comprehend the heart of the Lord and see our circumstances through His eyes.

Do you live your life knowing who God is and seek His understanding the way David did and the way Solomon did? What`s more, do you instruct your children in His way to make sure they are brought up in God`s word and knowing that they need wisdom from the Lord to bear fruit in their lives?

This became one of my primary prayers for each day—seeking the wisdom from the Lord in whatever circumstances I have. I still have some unresolved issues that I`m praying about, so I ask the Lord to guide me and to give me wisdom.

Wisdom points us to study God`s word, wisdom guides us to seek the Lord first, wisdom directs to be still waiting on the Lord to go ahead of us instead of launching forward ourselves. It is wisdom that we should teach our children the same way David taught Solomon, and if we fail to do that, we should not be surprised why we see our children fail in life. It is the time that we invest in them teaching who God is and what is essential in order to be a man or a woman after God`s own heart, that`s what matters.

I would encourage you today to take your time and to commit being that parent who would ponder on God`s word seeking wisdom yourself and teaching your children to do the same just as we read in Proverbs. Solomon did not wake up one day out of the blue and decided to seek wisdom, but it was something that David invested in him through the God`s word, quality teaching, but most importantly living it out with his own life`s example. It is when we see David being called a man after God`s own heart, that I want to have the same title in Lord`s eyes.
All the suffering I went and still go through, all the trials, they should amount to something that makes it all worth at the end of the day. It is when I see my daughter asking to pray with her or asking where Jesus is, my heart rejoices and I know that I fulfil my duty as a parent as much as I can. At the end of the day God would hold me responsible to what I pondered and reinforced in her life, and I am well aware of it. That`s why I would encourage you and remind you that each parent is responsible for the way the children are taught, so let`s make sure, we point them to the Lord`s wisdom, so they have a full knowledge and understanding of who God is. Without wisdom we could never completely comprehend it and live it out.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Do You Face “Lions” In Your Life?

Daniel 6:22 (NKJV):

22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.”

Some of you may look at this verse and say: “Why in the world this parallel with lions?” To me the verse makes sense because it spoke to me personally, and I will try to relate to your possible circumstances to show how much our Lord is faithful to deliver those who keep their hearts clean.

On the day of my custody hearing, I received a text message from my pastor with the scripture from 2 Timothy 4:16-18 (NKJV):
16 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

I really didn`t know how to accept this scripture and how to apply it that day because I felt destroyed from within completely. But so many times the Lord would speak something and it would be for the future although it ties to one`s current circumstances the same way it did for me. I know that God`s promise is faithful and true, so this promise above that I will be delivered out of “every evil work” and being preserved for His heavenly kingdom is all true. I accept that, and I thank the Lord for how much He loves me!

When reading the chapter in Daniel though, I didn`t realize the crucial component of these two places being tied together, and that component is: “Because I was found innocent before Him”. I know that every single decision I made was based on my willingness to suffer in order to do what`s right in God`s sight. I wanted to be as much “innocent” as possible regardless of the accusations that I heard to be otherwise. I also know that the same way God protected Daniel for “being innocent”, He protected me through the impossible circumstances that I faced.

This component of keeping one`s heart clean and pure is the crucial part of being delivered out of the “lion`s den”. God only cares about our hearts and the motivation that we have. I was honest with the Lord that I needed His strength to do what`s right to help me suffer in order to glorify Him.

Look at what Peter wrote:

Be sober, be vigilant; because[c] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[d] the God of all grace, who called us[e] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:8-11 (NKJV).

We can clearly see 4 main things here:

-We have an adversary- devil who is walking around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour

-The weapon against devil is our Faith, and this is why the Lord makes sure our faith gets refined to the point of being effective against the enemy, this "roaring lion"

-Sufferings produce growth of faith and consolation to others who go through the similar circumstances

-God placed this example of the lion`s den in the Old Testament to remind us of how much of a tangible image we can relate to when considering the possibilities of devil when looking at Daniel`s story. If God was able to shut lion`s mouth`s in Daniel`s story, He does the same thing with devil when we exhibit our refined faith.

I told you before how the Lord spoke to me to write everything down, and the reason for this blog is to be this consolation to those who suffer and go through the similar trials. The Lord Jesus who was able to console me with the same consolation He had, He gives me the strength to show compassion and consolation to those whom I meet daily or to those who read this blog (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). I was promised to be strengthened by the Lord, so I could bring forth His message, and this is exactly what I try to do here. It is my testimony of God` s faithfulness and His ability to fix the broken lives that I testify to those who feel hopeless today.

My marriage is being restored slowly and God is doing the impossible by bringing my family together again after such an excruciatingly painful waiting period.

I really hope you understand that what God is able to do in my life, He is more than capable to do in your life. He blessed me with a great new job, a great new supervisor, a better and shorter commute, with more time with my daughter, and with the ability to pay down my debts. Do you understand that God is faithful always!!!

It comes down to trusting the Lord, believing in His word, and accepting Jesus as your Savior. If you have all these things, than expect miracles because God is not a liar to say and not do it.

I mentioned before the promise in Proverbs 16:7 (NKJV):

When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

I believe in this promise because the same way we can see Daniel being delivered, me being delivered, I believe that God is faithful to bring all those who spoke evil of me to repentance and realization of God’s faithfulness.

If you face “lions” in your life, please understand that God gave us all the necessary weapons to be the victors in Him. We must abide in Him and in His word:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5 NKJV).

Abiding in the Lord is essential, and I hope we all understand the significance of this. I grow weary when I don`t spend my time with the Lord DAILY. I make a sacrifice of waking up an hour and half earlier every morning only to have this special time with the Lord because of my understanding of how crucial it is to me. Guess what? When He sees this kind of willingness, He blesses it and gives strength to wake up daily. What`s more, He gives strength keeping up with the daily schedule. If there is anything that you can take out of this entire message, please know that the Lord is faithful and blesses the pure desires of the heart; He blesses honesty.

What makes Bible so special is when we read all these honest accounts of mistakes and the way God`s people accepted their accountability and honestly repented. It`s not the horror of the sin, it`s the deceit of the heart that`s an abomination to the Lord; when we attempt to make excuses for why we did something instead of repenting and accepting accountability for our actions.

God is faithful, and He is good, so please don`t forget about that. You may say, you have no idea what I go through, and it`s easy for you to say this……. I have been through the worst nightmare anyone could wish not to have, and my only hope was my God. The Lord came through for me, and I know He will come through for you. He is capable to deliver you out of the Lion`s den the same way He delivered Daniel, and the same way He delivered me. Satan will always try to break us and take away our hope in the Lord when we look at these “impossible circumstances”, but please do not give up. Job suffered a great deal, but he was able to say later in chapter 13:

Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. 16 He also shall be my salvation, For a hypocrite could not come before Him (Job 13:15-16 NKJV).

Job was desperate, frustrated, and decaying in the worst imaginable pain, yet he was able to honestly acknowledge that he would trust the Lord and wait out what He would do.

Important point here to emphasize is the purity in heart! Job`s heart was innocent. Daniel`s heart was innocent. My heart was innocent because I knew what I was doing and how I was obeying the Lord. This innocence gives us audacity to trust in the Lord and to rely on His promise to deliver us. Please understand how important this is.

If you live in a blatant unrepentant sin and you expect the Lord to bless you, He will not do that. This will be a preventative stumbling block in your life from being delivered. If you repent, God is faithful to forgive you and to give you a hope and a new start in life. This new start will provide you with this opportunity of God`s protection.

It starts with the heart, so I will challenge you today to examine it once again and see if you are in the right relationships with the Lord. If you feel like you need Jesus, all you need to do is to pray a simple and genuine prayer of repentance and accept Jesus as your God and Savior.

Dear Lord, please forgive me of my arrogance and self-sufficiency. Please forgive me of my self-reliance and pride in thinking that I can live my life on my own without You. I desire you, Jesus, to come into my life and to be my Lord and Savior. Please forgive me of my sins. I surrender my life to You, and I seek to honor You, Lord, with my life. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

If you have prayed this simple prayer of repentance, then you are a child of God, and He more than welcomes you in His family. Jesus died for you, so don`t hesitate to abandon your life and your plans for His because God`s ways are higher and better than our own. I urge you to realize how much the Lord has done for me and how faithful He`s been for me all my life even when I went astray. We have an all-powerful, almighty, and victorious Lord, so let`s honor Him with our hearts and with our lives, so those who see us, they could seek Jesus the same way we did.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Good Shepherd

Hosea 6:1 (NKJV):

Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

Psalm 147:3 (NKJV):

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

In the Middle East one of the old traditional ways to guard and tend for the sheep is by making them aware of the Shepherd`s voice. When a stubborn sheep or a ewe doesn`t listen to the shepherd repeatedly, the shepherd breaks both legs of the disobedient sheep/ewe and carries that animal on his shoulders for the whole period of healing. The animal learns to eat, drink, and to be transported through the help of the shepherd, and once the sheep healed, a new phase of attachment, bonding, and dependence takes place. The disobedient sheep is no longer disobedient but obedient.
God repeatedly throughout the scriptures painted and illustrated a picture of Jesus being a Good Shepherd carrying for His “sheep”- us human beings. He craves our obedience and bonding. Unfortunately we are sinful and fallen by the nature that we inherited from Adam, so having wicked hearts prevents us voluntarily to abide in Jesus. That`s why the Lord is so loving when He puts us through the discipline just like the Good Shepherd would do to one`s disobedient sheep.

God allows trials, tribulations, and pain into our lives to make us aware and completely dependent upon Him. He is the one who breaks and binds up our wounds. He knows that the temporary pain that we experience is a medicine in a long run for our wicked hearts. I have experienced this kind of discipline in my life where Jesus placed me on his shoulders making me completely dependent upon Him through some desperate and impossible circumstances. I did learn obedience, surrender, and dependence. But most of all, I have experienced the freedom that I have never knew before. His healing carries an unbelievable sense of security knowing that He continues to walk with me and to pick me up when I fall.
As I go through the reconciliation period with my husband requiring to honestly discussing some of the excruciatingly painful subjects, God continues to show me the direction that leads to more freedom and healing. It could never be possible on my own, and I could never get to the place of forgiveness on my own either, but it is through this realization of a constant dependence in the Lord that He gives me strength to do what`s right in His eyes.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11 NKJV).

Jesus once again showed me that as I go through this healing process, He makes me more “independent” once again, and this is a big test to continue abiding in Jesus once the healing is over. As humans we have short circuited memory, and for some reason we easily forget all the blessings, or a pain associated with wrongdoing which prompts us to repeat certain mistakes. I was reminded once again today of this illustration of the Good Shepherd who teaches His sheep to depend and abide in Him in order to be safe from the predators. I was reminded once again to never forget that it was God who broke me down, so He could bind me and carry with Him to show me my inaptness in existing on my own. Healing sheep can run around once again on its own, and so can I now. The more healing takes place, the more independent I become, and this is where the true danger is: to never forget Who is the ultimate Shepherd and whose voice I should never estrange or forget.
We know that our biggest predator is Satan, and the Bible describes him as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour:
Be sober, be vigilant; because[c] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[d] the God of all grace, who called us[e] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10 NKJV).

We have to be vigilant, sober, and be able to resist him with the faith. This is that weapon again that we need so much in our daily walk with the Lord: Faith. Without that we cannot please God, and we cannot survive either because when our “adversary” shoots his fiery darts at us, the only weapon that would help us resist them is the “shield of faith” that God gave us (Ephesians 6:16). The scripture also calls us to be sober and steadfast, and that requires once again us dwelling in the scripture daily. As much background in the bible school and from my personal relationships with the Lord that I have, I still get bombarded with the fiery darts of the adversary, and there are days when I fail to resist them because I either lack faith or patience.
Jesus is our hope, and he is our Savior to continue to guard us and to guide us, but we need to remember of our dependence upon Him at all times.

I have to testify that the Lord blessed me abundantly and comes through for me daily when I face impossible tasks in my marriage or financially. God blesses obedience every single time, and I am no exception. I have to testify that He blessed me with the new job offer that came through just on time for me to be able to tackle my financial hardships. He is faithful! I and my husband started a 40 day Love Dare journey using the dares assigned for each day, and today this is Day 23 for us. It is very hard to complete a task assigned for certain days because it deals with the core of our issues. If He is mighty enough to save my family with all its horrible circumstances and tragic painful past, He can do the same for you.

I am here to testify of the Lord our God being a faithful and true God who is our Good Shepherd and desires to heal those whom He inflicted with wounds in order to spare our lives in a long run. Think about it, if a disobedient sheep would continue to wonder off, the predator would ultimately kill it one day. This is why when we read in 1 Peter 5:10 above, we see that God allows this kind of a discipline through trials and hardships to teach us obedience to His word and most importantly to trust Him. God calls it “suffered awhile”, while I would call it “suffered a lot”, but it doesn`t matter as long as the result would produce the desired outcome for the Lord.
This is why I would encourage you not to estrange the trials and sufferings because our Good Shepherd who inflicts the wounds, He is faithful to bind them and to heal them. The victorious result always outweighs the discipline process. I would encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus and to never forget that the place of where you are today is all according to His will in order to either break you or to bind you at a place where you are now.

If you are going through the blessing stage where you were healed, please don`t forget of your ultimate dependence upon Jesus in order to be safe and vigilant. The worst danger comes during the times of peace and quiet, and this is why the Bible is so clear about us being sober and steadfast in our faith.
For those of you who go through some bad times in marriage, I will definitely recommend a Love Dare guide with assignments, which is what I`m using because it really helps to break the barriers down and to restore any lost communication. The catch is: You have to do it willingly and obediently!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do You Really Want To Know God`s Will?

Hebrews 10:36 (NIV):

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.

When I read this verse yesterday, I was overwhelmed by the consolation of the Lord.  All these promises of the Lord that we have that we can hold on to. God reminded me yet again of His presence in my life and of His enduring patience with me. In my Bible the word “persevere” literally is stated as “patience”. I don`t know anyone who would like this word- “Patience”. Who likes to wait? Who likes to endure? Nobody does and I am no exception to that. Yet this is something that became such a big routine of my life, an exercised practice exhibited in my daily walk with the Lord.

As with all of God`s promises, there is a condition. If we would do the will of the Lord, then we will receive what He has promised. Now God spoke this particular verse to me specifically into my heart and into my circumstances. There were particular things that He wanted me to admit that I didn`t feel I had to do in light of my husband`s ongoing behavior, so I kept putting them away until the other party would act better. See, that`s not how God operates. He holds each one of us accountable, so by delaying, I was limiting the work of the Lord in my circumstances. I had to get them out in the open, and regardless of how tough it may have sounded I had to say them out, so I did that yesterday.

Perhaps today you struggle with certain things that you feel like you don`t want to admit to others due to their ungodly or sinful behavior, so this verse is for you as well. Do your part, and fulfill the will of the Lord, so He could bless you in return and provide you with the promise He gave you. God gave me few promises, and I know that He is faithful so long as I will be obedient to Him.

Let`s look at the 3 specific things outlined in this verse above for conditions and the potential outcome:

1. We need to persevere. That means whatever we are doing that he commanded us to do we need to keep doing that. There is a list of things that I am supposed to do, and daily I come to the Lord in need for patience and strength to endure, so to finish this race and receive His promises into my life.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.”[d] 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:13-15 NKJV).

Abraham serves us as a perfect example of exersied patience that he performed obediently walking with the Lord and enduring to the end for 25 years while waiting for his promised son. As we all know God was faithful to fulfill this promise after He challenged Abraham and grew his faith making him into the Father of Faith. That title doesn`t come at a free cost, that`s for sure.

2. The second part of the verse, tells us that we have to do the Will of God in order to receive His promises. The will of God was manifested to us through His Son Jesus specifically, and we definitely need to comply with that. There is also a personal revelation, a specific word of the Lord into one`s heart that He gives as a direction in order to complete His work. This revelation we receive when we commune with Him in our daily time.
If you don`t have a direct word from the Lord into your circumstances and into your life, this is something you can freely ask Him about and seek in your relationships with the Lord. He would be more than faithful to point you to the places or people or specific goals to accomplish.
Of course there is a flip coin to that, sometimes we don`t like to know or hear what the Lord tells us to do because it contradicts our comfortable lifestyle or habits, or finances, etc. The point is, God is faithful to respond when we seek Him, and when we seek Him with our whole heart, so it`s really up to us whether we really want to know His will, so we could fulfill it and receive His promises.

12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV).
This is one of my favorite assurances from the Lord that He will listen when I call for Him; that He will respond to me when I seek Him with my whole heart. I can truly testify that He never failed to respond to me when I sought Him earnestly and genuinely.

3.The third section of the verse is the assurance that we have from the Lord of His faithfulness when we stick with our side of the bargain, a.k.a. fulfilling His will: that we will receive His promises.
It all comes down to this: Do we really want to know what His will is?

Afterall, that would mean responsibility to obey it and complete it. There is always this kind of hesitation in our hearts because of the potential burden it may impose on the convenience of our lifestyles. What if the Lord would ask me to give up my house, or my boat, or my job? What if……….
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38-40 NKJV).

Jesus, speaking of Himself, made it clear that He came down to this earth to fulfill the will of the Father, which is the ultimate will for everyone to be in sync with the Father and to be obedient to His will. So the primary will of the Father is for everyone to know Jesus and believe in Him in order to have an everlasting life. This is what`s called: getting saved. We accept Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior, and He becomes our God transforming our lives into the image of the Father. Salvation followed by sanctification process- transformation which is a lifelong process. We don`t stop conforming until the day we die.

This is what Paul wrote to Romans:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

We get transformed by the renewing of our minds through the word of the Lord, and this is why dwelling in the scriptures is so crucial to each believer. This transformation is the tangible factor testifying in one`s life of what this perfect and acceptable will of God is. In other words, when people look at the way I change in my thinking, in my attitude, and in my behavior, it testifies to them of what God did to me and of what His will is. People start to inquire what prompted this kind of transformation, and to us, believers, in return it gives an opportunity to testify of Jesus (of Who He is and what He`s done in our lives).
So this is what we define as a Primary will of the Father, that when we fulfill this part of the condition, He is faithful to bless us to bestow His promise of salvation into each of our lives (get saved and commit our lives to the Lord for complete makeover- transformation).

The secondary will of the Lord, which is something God spoke to me through this verse yesterday, is something He showed me through the list of specific things that He requires me to do as part of the evidence of my transformed lifestyle.

I`ll share with you one of them, just so you have an idea what to look for and what to ask the Lord about when seeking for His will. One of the things He showed me was 1 Peter 2 (the whole chapter), and He told me to do some specific things.
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God (1 Peter 2:15-16 NKJV).

In this whole chapter Peter outlines a manual for the believers as to what an attitude and behavior should be of a Christian. I prayed to the Lord for specific things that I should do, and He was faithful to point me to one of these scriptures. I am to do good to those who hurt me or to those who defile me. It`s a tough call, but God`s stakes are always high because it has to do with the lives of the unsaved people: eternity in Heaven or eternity in hell is at stake.
So the verse in Hebrews 10:36 would translate for this particular will of the Father that if I will comply with this requirement(s), He would be faithful to fulfill His promise. He also gave me some definite promises, and I trust the Lord to be faithful to complete them because His word doesn`t return void but finishes what it started.

If you look at these scriptures and you don`t have the secondary will from the Father as to what to do in your life, then you can look at the Primary will and see if it aligns with your lifestyle. God commanded us to be like Jesus, so whatever Jesus did, as we read, we are to called to do too:
39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day (John 6:39 NKJV).

We should not return anything in void from what the Lord entrusted us to care for. For those of us who don`t know where to go from the initial stage of salvation (fulfilling the primary will of the Lord), we can start right here: treating with care and wisdom entrusted talents and abilities the Lord assigned us to worship Him with. At the same time we can pray for the Lord to direct us to His specific will for each one of our lives: to open the door for ministry, to help someone, to change something. God is creative enough to challenge us to grow, and I am forever grateful to Him for that.
Let`s not forget that patience is a major virtue that comes at a steep price and requires discipline by walking with the Lord. Let`s endure, let`s persevere to receive all the promises of the Lord that He would love to shower us with!