A GIFT

As children, we were told and taught to be grateful because whatever pleasure we enjoyed was a scarcity for someone elsewhere. And in our day, society reminds us at Christmas time, at Easter, during natural disasters, droughts and crisis; the need to be thankful because someone somewhere isn’t enjoying the same liberty. And this can be a wrong outlook on thankfulness. In his exposition on the book of Jonah, Dr. Eric Mason tells us that the God of our theology should precede all our other “ologies” like sociology, psychology, ideology, philosophy, etc. Of course, true believers will agree with him. Unfortunately, societal norms, universal morals, and political correctness have influenced our theology which have formed our decisions and have translated into our actions.

Everything is a gift, God being compassionate on Adam and Eve is a gift, God rescuing the Israelites is a gift, God sending His Son Jesus Christ is a gift, Jesus Christ calling us His friends is a gift, God assuring us that whether Jew or Gentile He has no favourites is a Gift, God laying Jesus as a ransom for our sin is a gift, Jesus dying on the cross is a gift, Jesus raised from the dead is a gift. The list is exhaustive, we owe God everything, We owe him our lives. We are not thankful to Him because we have more than others. I am not saying do not remember the less fortunate but our indebtedness to him should rather be our motivation for everything we think, say or do. When I think of what seem to be unanswered prayers; when I think of suffering, of illnesses, of brokenness, of injustice, of sadness, of broken-heartedness, of rejection and feel like God has dealt me a bad hand, that I deserve better, I remind myself that everything is a gift and that I should have an attitude and a heart of thankfulness in the midst of difficulty and pain. In thinking like this, it has helped me appreciate people better, pushed me to seek forgiveness and reconciliation and more than anything it reminds me of my sin, my brokenness and my endless need of a Saviour. So can we not hope for more, for better?

God tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that, He has a hope and a future for us when we return to him. Through Jesus’s acts of obedience He is seated at the right hand of God; In Habakkuk, we are told though it linger it will not delay; God shows us in His word He is the promise keeper and the kinsman redeemer. So on one hand God owes us nothing and on the other hand we can live in expectation, being mindful that we are not entitled to whatever we ask or what He gives us.

Usually one has to prove themselves, meet the requirement or pass a test before a reward, or gift, or qualification is given. But that is not the case when it comes to God and our salvation. If you’re reading this and you didn’t know, I hope this comforts you. Jesus already paid the price and He has His hand outstretched to you. He is magnanimous. He really does love you even if it is unrequited.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Happy New Year to you.

Most people agree that 2016 was a difficult year. Just by looking at the headlines, it seemed like everything was wrong with the world; and it made some of us wonder. However, Jesus in four short sentences  forewarned and comforted us in saying  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I share in your pain if the past year was a rough one for you and I rejoice with you if it was a good one. I saw many good days than bad days. Not because everything was going right, I did suffer through many challenges, losses, and rejections. Yet the joy of the Lord never left me, and the promises of God in His word provided me with strength and inspiration. I see myself in Jeremiah 17: 8-9. It is my testimony and word of encouragement to you. I pray in this year, you will not fear, that you will have no worries, and that you never fail to bear fruit even in a year of drought all because you trust in the Lord, and your confidence is in Him.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.

Teach us to do this well. Pt 2

Here are some answers and promises that God has given me over the years. These are a few thoughts based on scripture that transformed my perspective and my thinking so I could do this well.

  • God’s word is everything, it is sovereign and it is the breath of life, it is trustworthy. John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. Luke 8:11 – Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. A seed sprouts life, let the word of God come alive in you and bear God fruit. Let your roots find their nourishment in the streams of living water and ask God to prepare your heart, to make it fertile, to make it ready to absorb the word of God.
  • The truth and good news is you are NOT alone, ever! Matthew 28:20 tells us, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” and Deuteronomy 31:6 asserts “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • You are not that smart. Sounds harsh but it is true, the sooner we come to terms with that and surrender our thoughts and desires to God, the less burdened we are. After all, our wisdom is foolishness to him. Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Seek the company and embrace of God-fearing people who live their lives out for God, seek accountability and advice from such people.
  • We will not be shaken. John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” What was true for King David in Psalm 23 is true for you and I, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me”. 
  • JESUS is the truest and best friend there is. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly,[b]But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” I prayed to God to show me how to love and care for others. It started with putting others needs before mine and praying for them tirelessly. Firstly pray for God to fill you up to a point of overflow so you can pour into the life of others. In my experience, the more I sought God, the more I was knowledgeable and had understanding to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Now it doesn’t mean I am perfect or that I have gotten the whole picture, not at all. 1 Corinthians 13, reminds us that we now see a blurry image but at the return of Christ we will see clearly. God knows the people I love and care for more than I can ever imagine, he created them, so I just ask Him to show me how to relate to and serve each individual. And there are moments where I am called to show up for a friend, to listen, to just be there and it took nothing out of me. I encourage you to just show up for your friend even when you don’t have the words to say or are struggling yourself. Two heads are better than one, right?! JESUS is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. I think of David who talked of being despised as an infant, was overlooked by his father Jesse, belittled by his older brother Eliab, mocked by his wife Michal, hated by his Son Absalom, yet, He found a brother in his friend Jonathan. Although, Jonathan couldn’t always be around; but you know who is? Jesus. Matthew 19:29 -And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. So if you look around you and find no one to be there or that those  around have failed you in the same way you have disappointed in the past, well take heart, JESUS NEVER FAILS.
  • Take a trip down memory lane – If for whatever reason, you cannot see the good that God is doing in your life and everything is bleak; remember how far the Lord has brought you. Paul, whether in need or in having plenty, learned to be content, he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. Know the God you serve, once again that happens through scripture and through your life as you see how God has delivered you from one trial to the next and through the lives and testimonies of others. Therefore, approach God’s throne with confidence, gratefulness and contentment.
  • God is kind. Ask for God’s mercy when you are undergoing the consequences of your sin or disobedience. Yes, because we are His disciples, He disciplines; because we are His children, He disciplines us for our own good. However, He is merciful, gracious and compassionate. Habakuk 3:2, O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.
  • Ask for more. James 1:5-6.If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 

Hope this helps

 

Teach us to do this well. Pt 1

After writing the title of this post, many reminders of how God cares, how He hasn’t forsaken us and how we are not alone sprung up. I am thankful to God that He is quick to vanquish our fears. Also, I believe scripture becomes a part of us- like the blood in our veins. God’s word is powerful, it is a seed that brings life. It reminds me of the immune system, the word of God in us is like an antibody or a group of antibodies that detects pathogens which in this case are the lies of the devil, our past, our sins, external ungodly influences. A signal is sent and the word of God is made alive more than ever, that double-edged sword becomes sharper and it slays, eliminates, engulfs, attacks, swallows, and degrades all that is not from God. Amen to that.

It does suck to do life alone. When I look at my life, I remember many periods of loneliness and hardships. Even though I had others around, I still felt very much alone, misunderstood and invisible. I isolated myself a lot, sought my own reason and believed in the lies I told myself, the lies that were said to and about me as well as the fears that tortured me. Everything else was bigger than I was, it appeared to be able to crush me to pieces and at times it did. Presently, I live alone and have been doing so since I was 18. I moved to Canada as an international student to attend University and so far this has been one hell of an adventure. There have been victories, failures, regrets, tears, laughter, pain, anger, heartbreak, and brokenness. Nonetheless, I can confidently say it has been one big lesson, one that I am still taking notes from. There were so many moments when I desperately needed my immediate family, I didn’t think myself knowledgeable or prepared to live life alone. I desperately yearned for familiarity in this new environment, for someone who knew me to some extent, I got tired of having to start friendships and to nurture them. I ended up forcing certain friendships and relationships to no avail. I only gave a little of myself to get enough of what I wanted from others.

There is nothing that beats the assurance one has of a truest friend, one who will understand my eccentricities, can make sense of my confusion, who I can learn from, be amazed by, who can challenge me, comfort me, wrap their hands around me, hug me, and kiss me. But I do have Jesus, which means I have everything I need.

I honestly do not know how I survived all these years. A beloved friend when asked “how are you?” always answers “day by day, my daughter, it is well”. There were times where I wanted to hop, leap, jump, sprint into the future to escape my past or my present. When I tried that I ended up hurting myself pretty bad, embarrassing myself in some instances. Taking it day by day is tasking, having to fully experience everything, to see how slow time moves as you move with it. And then one day, you look back and wonder how time flew by so fast.

So my dear friends, it is well. Take it day by day. God will take care of you. I was at a prayer gathering earlier today, and one of the girls concluded her prayer with this, “Teach us how to do this well”. I pray you seek God’s guidance and wisdom to do this well, whatever it is.

Power

Here is an excerpt from page 131 of the NLT (New Testament Bible)-New Believer’s Bible, How to Find God; about Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

One of the greatest things the Holy Spirit wants to do in the life of the believer is to empower his or her witness. The word for power in this verse comes from the Greek word dunamis, from which we get the words dynamite, dynamic, and dynamo. God didn’t give us the power of the Holy Spirit to feel something, but to accomplish something.

        Sometimes the Holy Spirit’s power acts like dynamite in our lives, blasting us with zeal, jolting us out of complacency, and motivating us to greater spiritual growth. At other times, God’s Spirit is like a dynamic, generating power that will help us live from day to day at a level we could not achieve on our own.

At other times, God’s Spirit is like a dynamic, generating power that will help us live from day to day at a level we could not achieve on our own.

Often times, when we are not reaching our goals we think that God isn’t with us or that we aren’t being empowered by the Holy Spirit. We end up stuck, waiting to feel something, waiting for this big push; and yes the Holy Spirit manifests itself in our life and in the lives of others in such a manner. But in thinking that way, our motives become self-centred and not Christ-centred.

I think of how far the Lord had brought me, from one day to another. Sometimes, it doesn’t look like there is much action or dynamic going on, but I know and am assured that there is an extraordinary force, a power, behind my every move. Our heavenly Father is ever-present, omniscient and equips us in the day to day. He truly does help us to live daily at a level we CANNOT  achieve on our own.

With this revelation, I don’t have an excuse. I shouldn’t. And neither should you.

 

 

You don’t love me. You never did.

This is a poem I penned on August 22 2012. Here it is, word for word

You never loved me and I’m sure it’s not all in my head
I see how you look at me,
If love is unconditional and goes above and beyond why are there disdain and disgust in your eyes?
The sight of me changes your mood, you huff and puff around me, it melts the little I have left off my bones
I make eye contact only to get a punch as a response,
And though the scars and vibrations of that blow fade away, the wound on my heart is here to stay.

Why do you keep breaking my heart in pieces, every time I try to pick them up you kick me and scatter more bits and shreds.
But the One who knew me. even in my unformed body picked me up and has me standing on my two feet…still broken.

How the hell is this weakness supposed to strengthen me?

Here I am, broken, incomplete, and I fight through what is left and still love you, oh how I do.
I have all these hopes for us and hold onto the promises; those of Deuteronomy and Ephesians,
The promises embedded in my mind, spirit and soul, that of a little young girl still crying in me.
You don’t love me, because if you did, you’d love her and if you loved her you wouldn’t hurt us, again and again and again.
But you do, and you know, and it doesn’t matter to you because you don’t care.

I remind you of a you, a young you, naive and immature.
Out of despair, grief over another, you had to stay, another you still mourn. Another that I can never be.

God’s time is the best, His ways are not ours and in His time all things are made wonderful. Ergo, I trust in Him and still cheer for you.

But truth is I am slipping away, I wish I weren’t but I am, my hold on you is getting tiresome, I want to let go.
Maybe you’ll notice me when I’m gone. However I’m afraid I’ll wake up one day to the conclusion that all this waiting and hoping was futile.

I’m afraid the truth is and always will be that: You don’t love me, You never did.

Quitting is not an option

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.                                         Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

For the past few weeks, I have been going through different situations that I initially would’ve described as isolated events. But as a Christian, I know better, God is sovereign and He is involved in everything, nothing is hidden from Him (Hebrews 4:13). It is easy to adopt a defeatist attitude when we’re being tossed here and there by life’s trials, to feel lesser than when accusations are being made, to crouch under the weight of pain and loss and suffering, to forget easily where our strength is found.

We have those go-to motivational quotes, images, videos, memory verses highlighted in our bibles, that we’ve written on sticky notes or printed on paper and are posted on our walls, fridges, and mirrors; and have little trinkets and symbols here and there to remind us; but then the going gets tough and yes the going GETS TOUGH.

Quitting is not an option, simple as that. It’s not about how you feel, it is a command, there is no middle ground, we have been given a command to not be frightened or dismayed, but rather to be strong and courageous.

PLEASE, don’t get caught up in Bible verses that we turn into slogans to fit our feelings. This verse was an emphasis to verses 6-8 where God stresses the infallibility of holding fast to the word, to meditating on it day and night, to knowing the truth about God’s character, of His fame, of His omnipotence. Once you know who God is, once you have a relationship with Him, as He has commanded, HE the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!