Superhuman Strength

So I’ve been away for nearly 11 months and not dedicating myself to writing here as I resolved to at the beginning of this year. At first, I didn’t know whether I wanted to continue this blog with the way it was. I’m not the best with putting in pictures and I love words… Then I flirted with having non faith-related content on here as well. But then I wasn’t sure that was the purpose God had laid on my heart when I started this. And then I got busy with works and all I could say at the end of every day was “I’m tired, I’m so tired.”

I think many of ua make that negative prophesy over our lives daily. “I’m tired.” Sometimes it’s not even about physical tiredness, it’s about emotional or spiritual or mental tiredness. Like hamsters on a wheel, we run and run endlessly, never stopping to breathe. It’s easy to ignore how “tired” we are when things are going well and we’re hitting all the targets we set for ourselves. But when everything seems against us, nothing goes our way and it seems we just can’t find success, it’s easy to lose hope. It’s easy to despair and feel lonely and isolated. We begin to say things like “I can’t” and make negative prophesies against ourselves “I’m never able to do x” or “that never works for me” or the infamous “I’m tired, I’m so tired.” We may not even truly believe these statements but in moments of weakness, we may fall prey to these expressions of hopelessness.

No matter how heavy the burden seems, no matter how impossible the challenge or however unbearable and exhausting the weight, God in Heaven is faithful and has promised to help us with our load. He has promised us strength and peace. Therefore, we need not worry because with God’s strength, everything is possible, every load is feather light. With God’s peace comes the assurance that everything will be alright and with that assurance comes the joy of The Lord. So let’s trust in God’s strength not in ours to face all our challenges.

Therefore, I still don’t know what God has in store for me and this blog. I still don’t have the picture/animation thing sorted out. Work is still hectic and I’m not sure what I should be doing with my life. But I am not tired and I am not discouraged because thought alone, I am weak, turning everything over to My Father, gives me strength and in that, I find hope, and in that, I find peace. Peace to everyone!

Psalm 29:11 (MSG)
[11] God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace.

New Years Resolutions- Doubts and Fears

Starting a new year or any new venture really, is always tough! There is excitement and plans and resolutions, hopes and goals, things we want to achieve. Sometimes especially if we’ve had similar plans and resolutions in years past, we have doubts about the new year. Will we be able to meet our goals? Will we achieve what we’ve set out to do? Where are we even going in life? If you’re in anyway like me, doubts about little things can escalate into doubts about major things like how well I know myself and what my purpose is in life- major philosophical questions! 

If ever in doubt about your situation or where your life is going or about anything even as basic as what to do next (in other words, if you thirst), seek out the Lord (to satisfy your thirst) for your solutions. This is THE TRUTH! 

It might sound like a philosophical answer but SERIOUSLY go to the Lord with your problems, genuinely relinquish them to Him, recognizing that you are limited in your human ability and understanding and trust that He will and is ever sufficient to satisfy your needs. Yes fellow worrier, no “giving your situation over to God” and then still stressing and fretting over “what next” or “how He will help you.” Nope. Giving the stresses, doubts and concerns to God means TRUSTING God that once you’ve given over to Him, His Holy Spirit will fill you and inspire you and guide you and direct you and help you and bless you exceedingly, abundantly to overflowing with solutions, answers,support, guidance, resources, ideas, whatever it is you need! Believe in Him because He is sufficient.

So let us enter the New Year (or our new venture) with faith. We are not promised a smooth and easy road, but we are assured that we won’t go it alone! Our Mighty God, Redeemer and Friend, is holding our hand through it all!

John 7:37-39 (MSG)

On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)

Thankful For Christmas

This psalm is a wonderful praise song to God and a great reminder of all He does for us every day. Today I’m especially thankful for the gift of His son, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we celebrate today. Thank you for Your Amazing Love that made the miracle of our Salvation possible. Thank You Jesus for coming and becoming flesh for us and sacrificing Your life for each and every single one of us! Thank you Lord for Your Mercy, Forgiveness, Healing, Salvation, Blessings, Grace which you gift us EVERY SINGLE DAY! Thank you Jesus for coming and loving us enough to make this all possible! Hallelujah! 

Psalm 103:1-22 (MSG)

O my soul, bless God . From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God , don’t forget a single blessing! [3] He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. He redeems you from hell—saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal. He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence. [6] God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud. Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here. God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said. [19] God has set his throne in heaven; he rules over us all. He’s the King! So bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding, quick to hear and do what he says. Bless God, all you armies of angels, alert to respond to whatever he wills. Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are— everything and everyone made by God. And you, O my soul, bless God!

Mixing God and Politics

I have to admit that I’m not a political person. I neither follow politics nor do I care to. I have limited interest mostly because I do not trust the people that come forward to run for office, I do not trust the electoral process and I cannot compel myself to vote for someone I know does not have my interests at heart. I’ve been proudly apolitical for years listing my political leanings as “trying to live as best I can and find my happiness with whatever government is in power.

However, none of this is a good thing. My thinking is skewed and it’s actually quite bad. The role God sees for us in a political system is not just to turn away, close our eyes and pretend injustice and corruption aren’t happening. Even if we can afford to focus on the things of God and leave the things of Caesar to Caesar (Matthew 22:21), we are called to love one another, and there are those more vulnerable who are more affected by poor leadership and so for their sakes, we are compelled to care. Besides, even if we are not feeling the pinch of government oppression yet and so can ignore it, one day we will and then it will be our problem in a dramatic way.

It is not enough for us to ignore the political situation and keep living in a non-political bubble. We need to pray for our country and leaders if we want to live a peaceful life filled with progress. We cannot distance ourselves from what’s going on where we live no matter how disillusioned we are with everything happening around us. This doesn’t mean we should get into politics and fight the government (unless we are called to do this). So what does it all mean? How do we change things in our country when we see things going awry. How do we mix our God with our politics.

God is great and God is faithful. It is our DUTY to pray for our leaders everyday. Instead of daily abusing and condemning we should profess change, hope and goodness of the type that comes from God our father in Heaven. We should be PRAYING for our country and it’s leaders, PRAYING for the changes we want to see, PRAYING for the rise of good leaders, PRAYING to see what we should during elections, PRAYING for our leaders at ALL levels. 

No matter how hopeless and far-gone the situation in the country seems, we should pray for our government and leaders to rule well so it will be well for everyone in the country. This is how God wants us to live.

1 Timothy 2:1 (MSG)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

The Depressed Christian

As a Christian, because of my expectations of God’s Grace, I sometimes feel like something is wrong with me and my faith when I struggle with depression. I’m not talking momentary disappointment or sadness,  I mean the kind of sadness, anxiety, loss of hope that seemingly comes out of nowhere that keeps me up at night, afraid I’m losing my mind. I’m not a mental health expert, but I know that mental health issues can affect anyone at anytime just like physical health issues are. It may be a one-time only deal, prayer and counseling may be enough or it may even require medication. I don’t think that just because as Spirit-filled Christians, we have access to the joy of The Lord, we don’t struggle with affliction. The road here in the World isn’t easy and it is lined with affliction. It is how we deal with it that makes us victorious or not.

When I struggle with depression, I find it difficult to turn to God’s Word, even though that is what I’ve found helps and encourages me the most. It’s like sometimes, I almost feel a physical barrier to accessing healing for my soul through God’s promises. My favourite verse in dealing with this is Psalm 42:5, especially when I can’t even rationalize why I’m feeling so down. This verse makes me realize that it doesn’t even matter WHY I’m down or WHY I’m not feeling able to pray, what matters is putting my hope in God and trusting that my joy will return by His Grace. After reading this verse, I feel a lot more able to cry out to God and pray.

This verse always reminds me that I may not know how or when I will feel better, but God knows and He is there for me, He hears my cries, and He will restore my joy if I put my hope in Him. God never abandons the downcast and desperate. If we reach out to Him, He meets us more than halfway. Let us run to Him for peace and guidance. Let us trust in His Healing Power and use the tools and resources He has made available to us (the Word, prayer, church family, pastor, loved ones etc etc).

Psalm 42:5 NIV

[5] Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Also read Psalm 34:1-8,14-15,17-20,22 MSG

[1] I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. [2] I live and breathe God ; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy: [3] Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out. [4] God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. [5] Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. [6] When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot. [7] God ‘s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. [8] Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. [14] Turn your back on sin; do something good. Embrace peace—don’t let it get away! [15] God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan. [17] Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. [18] If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. [19] Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time. [20] He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken. [22] God pays for each slave’s freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.

Caveat: If anyone happens to read this and you’re struggling with severe depression, please seek help even as you pray and put your hope in God. Let Him lead you to seek counseling with a trained pastor or reverend or a psychologist. Just as you pray and trust in God for healing when you go seek a doctor’s professional help for a physical ailment, have the same trust and know there is nothing wrong with seekin help for a mental and emotional ailment. Pray when making your choice of counsellor, pray for God to give your counsellor His Wisdom and to use Him/Her to help you. It’s important. God is faithful and His Mighty Arms cover many paths to healing.

Bad things, Hard times,Good people.

In our idea of a perfect world, only good things will happen to good people, bad things to bad people and every good deed will bear fruit. Illness will only be for those who deserved it, failure for those who didn’t reah make the effort and hunger for the lazy. 

However, we were not promised that troubles wouldn’t come or affliction or bad times just because we are in Christ. This is a sinful world now, not the Eden that God created, and the gift of free will and free reign over the world, means sin and imperfection is rife in the world. In fact, if anything, through history, it has been God’s Special Chosen Ones who’ve gone through the most difficult times. 

1 Corinthians 10:13b says “…He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…” and this is often paraphrased as God won’t give you more than you can handle. I think people often take this to mean that God expects from them a superhuman strength to bear all things- pain, depression, failure, sadness, disappointment, grief, hardship. God knows each and every one of our weaknesses and failings. Moreover, He knows the measure of our faith and our ability to understand the important truth that we are never abandonned and never need to or are expected to bear anything alone on our own.

Rather than perfection here on earth, what God has promised us is that we never have to face these tough times alone on our own steam. We are never lost or abandonned unless we choose to be. Rather, in our darkest hour, on our darkest day, The Lord is there for us, with us, crying with us, comforting us and holding us up every single time. 

It is God alone that comforts and strengthens us and moreover to delivers and rescues us when we call on Him. He is the one that takes our feet from the quicksand when we feel like we’re sinking and sets us on solid ground from which we can continue (Psalm 40:2). God is our new page, our new lead our inspiration and strength to get up and keep striving and trusting in Him.

So basically, hard times may come, but we do not face them alone and can rely on the Lord’s strength, presence and deliverance because He is always, ALWAYS with us. And because of His word and His promise, we are always assured of victory and so we do not fret, knowing that God will deliver us as promised.

Psalm 34:19 (AMP)

Many evils confront the consistently righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 34:19 (MSG)

Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.

Prodigals Unite- Return from The Lost Months

Where have I been for months??? That is the question! Let’s call the past few months The Lost Months. You know how sometimes we run away from God and His love because we feel tormented by our sin or something we’re not doing or are in bondage to. We let guilt, rebellion, shame and just plain old stubbornness separate us from the joy and love of The Lord. We lie to ourselves that we’re too busy or too sinful and allow those lies to fester until we’ve lost valuable time we could have shared with our Saviour.

Firstly if we are saved, then we cannot be in bondage because Jesus already broke all those chains when He died, overcame death and rose again and so no other power has dominion over us anymore. Many times the self-condemnation, regret, self-loathing etc might be justified by the standards of the Law, but those don’t pertain to us anymore. We are sinners by the old law, hopelessly bound to dozens of burnt offerings and ash and sackcloth to do penance for all our wrongdoing.  But being the Redeemed of The Lord Jesus Christ, we’re no longer subject to standards of The Law. We’re now held to the standards of God’s love and the Grace His Son Jesus bought for us with His precious blood. There is therefore now no condemnation for us and we are free to confess our sins with sincerity and trust in the Lord’s Grace to wipe clean our slate if we confess and repent with a penitent heart.

And if we do as we should and Love (God and man) in the way that we should, then there is no more condemnation because we are obeying God and we realize that he forgives us just as he expects us to forgive ourselves and others, because of Love. God knows us and our motivations and worries and weaknesses and triggers better than we know them ourselves. If He is willing to wipe our slates clean who are we to keep dwelling on them?! 

Rather than obsessing over our wrongdoing, our focus should be on living a life filled with God’s love. And once we put aside the self-condemnation and the judgment etc, then we realize the manifestation of God’s love in our lives in all the things He does for us every minute of every day and we realize that we can ask and believe and we will receive from Him because of His abundant, exemplary love for us.

1 John 3:18-24 (MSG)

My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. [21] And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 3:19-22 (AMP)

By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, [20] Whenever our hearts in tormenting self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. For we are in God”s hands. For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything nothing is hidden from Him. [21] And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us, we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, [22] And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we watchfully obey His orders observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us and habitually practice what is pleasing to Him.

Never too far gone for God…

I know in Christianity, amongst all the silly things we choose to disagree on (and they ARE silly divisions once we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and our only path to Salvation). One of these things is whether one sin is greater than the other. So is a liar better than a murderer or is one sexual sin better than the next etc etc. I don’t really subscribe to ranking sins 1.) because I think for the fact that it offends God is already a huge deal whether it’s a criminal offense on earth or not, so it’s apples and oranges and 2.) we are all different, what may separate me from God may be as nothing to you and vice-versa. For example, I find some alcohol occasionally is alright, but it may interrupt another’s walk with God by leading to other activities that do separate them from God. As Paul said, everything is acceptable but not everything is beneficial.
Anyway the reason for all the above-said is sometimes we are in different places of sin in our lives. We may get tired of the struggle and of standing strong and just fall into sinful behavior that becomes habitual and makes us believe the lie that God’s expectations are too high or that the bible’s outlined code for behavior is archaic and impossible and that being “generally good people” is enough to satisfy God, after all “it’s not like we’re hurting anyone, right?” Do any of those justifications sound familiar? Or is it just me? Maybe it’s just me but sometimes our hearts can become cold to God’s word because we try to justify our sin and we can’t, and so we step away from God whose Holy Spirit convicts us because of our actions.
The truth is that God can renew the old, stone-cold heart of the sinner and replaces it with a heart filled with Him. God can renew us all, bring us back. He never shuns us or shuts us out if we are contrite. Rather, He will help us change. We don’t have to do it on our own. He promises to be part of the process and gather us back into the fold. (Eze 36:33-38) 
And I always wonder why God bothers with me, why he isn’t already over me and my nonsense. God’s Word tells that because He is sovereign and because He is our God who loves us and has made a covenant  with us HIS children to forgive us endlessly and catch us when we fall. God redeems souls and lights up dark lives so dramatically that it become a testimony or a hope for us struggling with sin as well as unbelievers and backsliders that God rebuilds, restores and replants the empty hearts and seemingly wasted souls of those in despair because of their sin. 
So, wherever you are in your relationship with God, however far away you may feel from Him and however unforgivable you think the things you’ve done are, God is willing and able to forgive and restore and rebuild. If we reach out just a bit to Him, just cry out to Him with a contrite heart and a repentant soul, if we just let Him know we need Him, He meets us more than half way because of His Amazing love.

Ezekiel 36:24 (MSG)
“‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!

You know that it’s no good… #CutItOff

I started this blog thinking I would post here everyday and for a few days, I was good and organized. I even planned my posts in advance at the weekend so that life wouldn’t get in the way. And then I fell off the  wagon… And I don’t just mean the blog-posting wagon. I fell into a place where I felt it would be hypocritical to put out messages when I wasn’t in a good place with God. It’s not that I think my record must be spotless before I post. If that were the case, goodbye forever blog! But I do think I must be at least open to hearing from the Holy Spirit and to praying and having a repentant heart.
I don’t want to waste my life living it in sin and feeling separated from God, unhappy and certainly NOT at peace. So when I know this is what I’m doing, I have to repent and avoid temptation. Sin can feel like we’ve disappointed God and let Him down in our relationship with Him. Sometimes because of the shame of this, we try to hide from Him which makes our situation and the lack of peace we feel in our hearts even worse. This is kind of the place where I’ve been and the reason why I’ve not been posting. 
But all of the above said, I didn’t really want to talk about repentance today (I’ll do that another time), I wanted to talk about sliding forwards towards God and staying in Him which I hope will be encouragement and reinforcement for me and anyone else who may ever stumble on this that knows what it’s like to be a recovering backslider and to struggle with repeated sins. Okay so…
We can’t expect to avoid the sin if we continue to hold hands with our triggers. God is ways there to offer His help, no matter what and He has promised He won’t let us face more temptation than we can handle. So, we need to live our lives in an open Godly way knowing He’ll help us and protect us along the way. 
Let’s not let others/society/our interactions lead us astray. Dark cannot befriend light, if there are people or things in our lives that directly or indirectly drawing us away from God or our faith through words, ideas, beliefs, actions, then these people or these things are not friendly to us and we need to limit the contact we have with them or cut them off.  
Before our salvation we were in bondage to sin. God saved us and broke that bondage so we were free. But like addicts who have overcome addiction, temptation still hits us hard especially living in a world filled with it, so although we are overcomers in Christ, sometimes we fall and need to choose between spiraling our of control or getting back up and persevering in our walk with God. 
We may struggle with certain activities, compulsions or addictions (e.g. drinking, smoking, drugs, porn/erotica, sexual behavior, violence, etc) that lure us to sin or make us think certain habits we’ve been convicted against “aren’t THAT. bad/serious.” Sometimes things that are benign for other people are triggers for us in our struggle against sin. If we have those things in our lives that separate us from God, that tempt us to sin, and disrupt us from living the lives God has called us to, then it’s time to reevaluate and cut those things out of our lives because of the impact they’re having on our souls (and our witness if we’re engaging in sin with others). 
In essence, let us live for God no matter our circumstances. We may convince ourselves in moments of temptation that it is “JUST a little thing,” but if we are honest with ourselves, we know our triggers and we know when we are being tempted. Let’s not set ourselves us to fail but rather let us be willing to give up momentary pleasure for the amazing destiny and the wondrous closeness God has planned for us, His children.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 MSG
[14-18] Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.” The Word of the Master, God.

I love you, but no, not yet…

In this world where we’ve become used to instant gratification, it can be hard to keep the faith. As Christians, in faith, we ask God for something full of confidence and trust, praising Him in advance and citing His promises, completely assured that we will get what we want. When we don’t get that thing we prayed for, we usually get a little discouraged at first, then maybe a little upset, then doubt may set in, then we begin to question whether we “prayed the right way,” or did something to cause some sort of barrier to God’s favor as if that’s the way God’s blessings work.This is not the way to go.

Sometimes the answer to our prayer is a “no” or a “not yet.” I remember praying really hard to get into a very competitive undergraduate program and being accepted on the condition of withdrawing my financial aid application. I didn’t do this and I didn’t get into the program. Years after I’m so grateful I didn’t make it because I’ve since learned things about myself (that God already knew at that time) that have shown me I wouldn’t have been cut out for the program.

Just like a child may make a request of a parent (for candy, for example) and get rejected for their own future good (health, for example), God whose plans for us are more amazing than any we can imagine for ourselves is in control. He hears our prayers and our heart’s deepest desires and He treats us right, knowing what’s best for us ultimately. I was reading someone on Instagram yesterday who had a post that said: “Dear God, if today I lose my hope, please remind me that your plans are better than my dreams.” The important thing is for us to keep the faith no matter whether the answer from God is “yes,” “no,” or “not yet.”

Let us never give up our confidence in God and in the Greatness of His plans for us, Greatness that is beyond our paltry human imaginings. We need to stay patient and endure what seems to be hardships or disappointments knowing that no matter what, God hasn’t abandonned us and has a special plan in store for us. Keeping the faith and trusting in God sets us up to stay living in God’s plan and in His Divine Will so that we are on track for the Glorious Fulfilment of what He’s promised us, His children, in His Word.

Hebrews 10:35-36 AMP
[35] Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. [36] For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.