Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review: Trials and Triumphs II

Trials and Triumphs II
Living the Christian life is not all smooth sailing, and like everyone else, the authors of this book have gone through some extremely difficult times. The difference is, rather than dwell in despair, their relationship with God flourishes as a result.

My heart is deeply moved and stirred within me reading some of the testimonies in this book. The experiences shared in this book lets us know we are not alone in our pains and sufferings because God is always with us.

This book is a good read especially for those who have gone through or are going through difficult times and for those seeking to know God more deeply and how to help others in their pains.

Get a copy of the book @ Xulon Press or Amazon.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In His Will

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, (Philippians 3:8 NAS)

In His Will
We have read heart-warming stories of men and women giving up their careers to become pastors, ministers or preachers. We have also heard or known some who have left the ministry. Surrendering our all to pursue the one or things we seek or something we consider of great value or importance is to some a calling.

Counting our cost before committing ourselves to the pursuit of what we want in life or our calling is important as well as wisdom. 

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Jesus said. “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:28-30 NAS)

The call to discipleship demands that we be willing to surrender our all for something greater. In the case of the apostle Paul, when the Lord called him, he gave up his pursuit in the Law as a Pharisee. Whatever things were gain to him, he count as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing his Lord (Luke 14:33; Philippians 3:5-8).

What about us? Are we willing and ready to surrender our all for the Lord and His purpose? Or are we giving our all to the pursuit of things on earth that we deem of greater value?

Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all that we need He will give to us. If, therefore, His will becomes our will, there is nothing for us to be afraid of because God is our strength. Surely, He will help us and uphold us with His righteous right hand (Matthew 6:33; Isaiah 41:10).

Thank You, dear Lord, for the assurance that You will supply all our needs when we seek first Your kingdom and righteousness. Help us set our priorities right in our pursuit of the things we seek or consider of great value or importance. Grant us a willing heart that esteems Your will above our will, for Your will we seek to fulfill as we surrender our all to You.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Times of Prayer

Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10b NIV)

Times of Prayer
An hour a day? That’s a lot to ask! Perhaps an hour a week?

Not everyone is likely to respond to and negotiate with God in such a manner when it comes to prayer, but some of us are likely to understand this sentiment. We are always very busy, and we seldom have the time to even spare an hour a day just to pray. The truth is spending time to talk to God and listening to Him benefits us much more than benefits Him—if at all.

Prayer is an essential part of Christian living—a time we set aside to converse with a Friend and our Daddy God. Spending time with our friend who loves us enough to lay his life for us is a joy, not a burden. Conversing with our father who cares for us to want to give us the best shouldn’t be fearsome or uncomfortable. If we choose to refuse the love of our friend or the care of our father, we are the ones on the losing end, not the giver.

Perhaps, the hour we hope to have should be broken down into different times in a day. That would surely be easier for some of us. We know the Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. To pray without ceasing is to keep within us a spirit of prayerfulness and thankfulness at all times. This is more difficult than we care to admit or realize, especially when we get too busy in our work or in whatever we are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

A good way to maintain prayerfulness through a day is to take moments and short intervals to pause and seek the will of God in everything we do. If that is difficult, then we need to have a routine, such as three times a day like the prophet Daniel, or an hour of prayer like Peter and John, and other believers (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Daniel 6:10; Acts 3:1; 10:30).

A day in the presence of our God is better than a thousand elsewhere. Similarly, an hour in prayer conversing with God is worth much more than thousands of hours doing something else. Our Lord God is our shield who bestows us with favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from us whose walk is blameless (Psalm 84:10-11).

Are we busy to the point of neglecting our prayer time conversing with our Friend and with our heavenly Father? Are we losing out on our blessings because of not spending enough time to be cared for by our loving God?

Let us take time to pause and make time to consult God in everything we do. Keep a prayerful and thankful spirit at all times, knowing that no good thing does our loving Father withhold from us.

Dear Lord, thank You for the privilege to come to You and to the Father in prayer anytime of the day. Guide us each day by Your Spirit with an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. Bestow on us with favor and honor for You are our shield and friend.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fortress of Refuge

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2 NAS)

Fortress of Refuge
On July 27, 1758, 11,000 British troops and 200 American Rangers fought against the French garrison of around 6,000 at the North East coast of Nova Scotia on the eastern seaboard of Canada. General Amherst was the commander of the British and American force with Brigadier James Wolfe, his subordinate commanders. Chevalier de Drucour was the commander of the French and Canadians.

Amherst knew before the British could conquer the French colony, Louisburg had to be captured, so he camped to overlook the Fortress of Louisburg. Wolfe, meanwhile, engaged the defences around the bay and the French ships. The walls of the fortress began to batter down as Amherst’s troops continually opened fire. On July 26, 1758, the last French gun positioned on the wall was destroyed and a breach made. Drucour eventually surrendered.

The account of the Battle of Louisburg is recorded in an article at BritishBattles.com. We know a fortress is always built to last and be impenetrable. Nothing that is man-made, however, lasts forever. No walls of any stronghold or fortress here on earth are able to withstand bombardments for long. 

Thankfully for us, the mighty fortress we put our trust in is built on the rock that is everlasting, and can never be shaken or battered. The LORD is our rock and fortress, our deliverer, our God, in whom we take refuge. He is our shield and the horn of our salvation, our stronghold (Psalm 18:2; 91:2; 144:2).

Are we finding ourselves frequently fighting our life battles on our own? Are we putting our faith and trust in things on earth which do not withstand or last? Are we battering others to achieve our goals?

Let us constantly remind ourselves as followers of Christ not to fight our battles out of worldly motives. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We demolish false  arguments, pretension,  and intellectual arrogance that keep people from knowing God, so as to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Dear Lord, thank You for being our mighty fortress in whom we can place our complete trust because Your steadfastness lasts forever and You are eternal. Help us set our minds captive in obedience to You forever and never to put our faith in things on earth, for You are our deliverer, the horn of our salvation, our shield, refuge and stronghold.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Counting our Misgivings

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NAS)

Counting our Misgivings
My career life has been anything but smooth sailing. The last few years have been especially difficult for me and my loved ones after I was laid off from a corporation and had to go into waiting mode with occasional freelance and contract assignments. When it came to the last straw on a number of occasions, I cried out to the Lord and He heard me, and provided a way. The way out, however, frequently involved a choice I had to make between pride or humility to turn away or humbly accept what was given, and perhaps someday repay the ones who had given help in my time of need.

Counting our blessings when we find it hard to, often contradicts how we feel. Yet the Bible exhorts us to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

More often than not, however, we have chosen to count our tears and pains instead of our blessings. This is usually because of our lack of humility and because we prefer to sulk in our misery to complain. We question God why He did not answer the way we expect Him to or because He said “No” or to go through to learn. If only we are able to put aside our pride and misery, we might just realize the number of blessings we have far exceeds the number of times we go through the humbling process on our training ground.

Trials are times we come to realize our dependency and sufficiency are in the Lord and not in our own abilities. Difficult times open our eyes to see the many occasions God had placed the right people at the right place in His time to help care for us. Although, presently, I do not have plenty or the ability to share good gifts with those who have far greater needs than me and my loved ones, we have enough.

There is much truth in the saying, “If God is all we have, we have all we need.” For every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. If as parents we know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly Father give good gifts to us who ask of Him (James 1:17; Matthew 7:11)?

Knowing our heavenly Father loves us so much, let us never ever doubt His plan for us is good. Stay thankful always and count our blessings instead of our short stints of sufferings, knowing that He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all will also freely give us all things (Romans 8:32).
 

Dear Lord, thank You for blessing us and seeing us through the many areas of our life. We know Your plan for us is always good because You are Abba, our Father who loves us so much. Help us not doubt in our times of need to think that You would leave us without Your sufficiency. Keep our hearts humble that we might not because of pride turn down the help of others. Bless us wherever You place us, and keep us burning bright for You.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Understanding Suffering

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (1 Peter 3:15 NAS)

Understanding Suffering
As a digital media coordinator handling the website and social media for a Christian organization and writer of a Christian blog, I sometimes receive feedback and comments that put into question the faith, the authenticity of the Bible, the loving care of God, among many others. While I am able to direct some of the questions to the relevant parties to answer the enquirer while at work, I stand with God and His word alone when it comes to defending the faith in replying to comments on my Christian blog.

One of the longest discussion I had with a person who commented on the blog was on the topic "Why would a good God allow suffering?" None of us, in actuality, is alone in our sufferings, for Christ Himself had suffered. Since Christ had suffered in the flesh, then all the more we should arm ourselves for this same purpose because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. There is hence no need for the one to live the rest of the time in the flesh for evil human desires, but for the will of God. Anyone who suffers as a Christian do not need to be ashamed, but should glorify God for bearing the name (1 Peter 3:18; 4:1-2, 16).

Although suffering did not exist until after the fall of man, it is not entirely bad in our present condition. Without suffering, many would live lives as they deem fit and not know when to turn around to seek God. In a sense, suffering is one of the many ways man can be molded and be brought to the realization of a God who cares. Instead of complaining about our sufferings, therefore, we should learn to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. He is the One who comforts us in all our affliction, and we who suffer much will also receive much comfort through Christ, so that we may in turn comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

In our suffering, let us sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts that we might be always ready to make a defense to anyone who questions our faith and hope, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15).

Dear Lord, You know and understand the sufferings we are going through, for You have also suffered for our sins once for all time to bring us to God. Grant us Your strength to go through the trials we are to learn from, and bring us to triumph. In our affliction, comfort us and grow us up to love You even more. Put in us a heart like Yours to comfort others in their sufferings that they may experience Your love for them, just as we have experienced and known Your love for us.

Friday, April 17, 2015

He is Near

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 34:18-19 NKJ)

He is Near
So often, when our heart is broken, we feel that the Lord is far away, but just the opposite is true. He promised that in our anguish, He is near us. We do not always feel like the Lord is there, but when we look back, we can see His hand upon our situation all along. When we reach Glory with Him, in eternity, we will surely see the days of our lives and how the Lord has been active and present and ever helping us in every aspect of our lives. 

I can honestly say from personal experience, that if not for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, I do not know where I would be. So often I hide from the fact that God loves me so much and that He is there to comfort me in times of trouble. It seems too good to be true. However, God IS good, and so are His truths and promises. He is infinitely good and faithful and everything about Him benefits us. 

Another thing He promised is that the righteous will be afflicted, and often, to boot ... can I get an "oy vey"?? Haha. However, He did say that He would deliver us out of ALL our trials. God is not a "sometimes, maybe, when I feel like it God" He is eternal and so is His help. There is only one thing God cannot do-fail. And He will never fail to help us. 

Unfortunately, I, as well as others, I am sure, fail to realize this, and the more we doubt God the deeper we dig ourselves into a pit ... a pit of doubt, self pity, and unnecessary pain. I've been a Christian for five and a half years and every time I have doubted God the results have been the exact same-pain, fear, and anguish. And whenever I turned back to Him again, there has always been a renewed hope in my heart. It's inevitable. 

When your heart is broken, its easy to give up, and give into the hurt. Often, it even seems like the only solution. However, when we fall into the arms of He who loves us, who IS love, He will catch us and hold us close until it is over. This verse promises that He is the Deliverer. When troubles come, call upon the Deliverer. Let Him fight your battles, He is more able to handle them than we are. Jamie Glaser

Friday, April 10, 2015

H.U.G.S.!

More than anything, keep loving each other actively; because love covers many sins. (1 Peter 4:8 CJB)

H.U.G.S.
Have you figured out yet that this life is all about relationships? The Relationship Expert Himself wrote an entire Book about this matter of relationships. The First Four Words of The Ten (Commandments) He gave us had to do with relating to Him … and the Last Six Words had to do with relating to everyone else!

What I'm trying to say, folks, is that it matters to our LORD how we deal with one another ... yes, even 'Sister Scouring Pad' (the one known for her abrasive qualities).  Did you know that our (horizontal) relationships are the TELLING FRUIT of our most vital (vertical) relationship to the Father ... the ROOT?  We are able to know the true condition of how our Heavenly Father views our relationship with Himself simply by examining our relationships with the 'one another' in our lives.

We all have at least one relationship in need of His healing touch, don't we? 1 Peter 3:8-12 describes a process of His sanctification in us through friction with others …'it is to this we have been called that we might receive a blessing'. We receive this blessing as we do things His way and give up the right to ourselves.

Recently, I had the privilege of sipping some very expensive coffee (as in 'Venti fat-free hazelnut latte, please!') across the table from a new friend. We both shared our strange love for acronyms. You see, the LORD gave me a brain that can be easily confused, so I have found that acronyms serve me well in remembering what I should do in a complicated situation. Sometimes I do not have time to grab my Bible and look up the appropriate responses. Perhaps this is why His Spirit instructs us to 'hide (the Word) in our hearts that we might not sin against Him'!

H.U.G.S. is surely one great acronym to commit to memory in dealing with inevitable conflict. The definition of conflict is 'to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; to clash'. Has this ever happened to you? John records these words from Jesus: "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

We have tribulation because sin resides in every human heart. But let's not kid ourselves - even if you or I were the only one on this earth, we'd still have our issues! Therefore, we can look at conflict as an event and H.U.G.S. as appropriate God-honoring, Christ-exalting responses to a brother or sister. Until the LORD comes back, His Spirit will be teaching us all about His blessed grace and giving us ample opportunity to grow in it and extend it to others.

What would our relationships look like if we dealt in the following manner with each other?

  • H - Honestly (Proverbs 24:26; Romans 12:9-10)
  • U - Understandingly (Proverbs 14:29; James 1:20)
  • G - Graciously (Colossians 4:6; Proverbs 11:16; Ecclesiastes 10:12)
  • S - Simply (Matthew 5:37; Proverbs 10:19; Ecclesiastes 5:7)

Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:35). This ahava (Hebrew: 'love') is the first attribute listed of the Spirit's fruit because it is from this 'ahava' that the remaining Kingdom fruit flows. Ahava, at its core, is a heavenly action displayed through an earthly vessel. It is His very love flowing through us.

Because HUGS are a very SUPERnatural response, they are able to soften the edges of even the harshest Sister (yes, even Sister Scouring Pad or Brillo Britches … whichever you prefer). Carmen Schroeder

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Blessed Easter 2015

Blessed Easter 2015

He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.

~ Matthew 28:6a (NAS) ~

He is Risen
 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday 2015

Good Friday 2015

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, 
And by His scourging we are healed. 

~ Isaiah 53:5 (NAS) ~

Good Friday 2015

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