Posted in My Journey

God Is My Rescue

As many times as I cry out to God, he is always there. He listens to my pleas, he answers me in the stillness of the night, and when I am most vulnerable, he sends someone to comfort me. The fiery trial remains, but through my prayers I feel him listening to me; I feel him reassuring me. His word renders my troubles as a fleeting wind. He provides the perseverance I need to move forward. He supplies the strength I need to overcome adversity:

“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.” (Psalm 6:6-10)

Nothing is so great that God cannot intervene on our behalf. His power is beyond measure, and through it, he sustains all things. Therefore, how hard would it be for God to rescue us in our time of need? For I can say, nothing in this lifetime is greater than the crown set aside for us in the coming age. The treasures of this world will rust and wither, but our treasures in heaven will be without end.

No matter what I suffer in this life, God is my rescue.

Posted in My Journey

His Blood Covers All

The closer I draw to God, the sadder I feel from knowing just how much sin remains in me. When I was young in the faith, I could not see it. I could not understand it. Only after sharing intimate moments with God did he show me how fleshly-minded I still am. And I had to admit of the iniquity that has not left me. But I have hope:

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)

We cannot continue to allow sin to rule over our bodies. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, God will lead us to further repentance, which will encourage us to put away the transgression that so easily ensnares us. Our lives become his and our nature becomes his. For his spirit transforms us into new beings with the discernment to see right from wrong. Is it a surprise when we ache inside because we see how sin so masterfully enslaves us? Yet, our hope lies in our Savior Jesus. As wretched as I am, his blood covers all.

I may feel broken and ashamed for having sinned;
His blood covers all.
I may feel the sting of defeat for not having overcome;
His blood covers all.
My lips may preach his word, but my actions may say otherwise;
His blood covers all.
My feet may carry me away from him who saved me;
His blood covers all.
My hands may become tools of iniquity;
His blood covers all.
My eyes may drift to the lust of the flesh;
His blood covers all.
I may feel my sins are greater than he could ever forgive;
His blood covers all.

Posted in My Journey

Happiness Is Loving God

True happiness is to love God. Everything else, the pursuit of riches, the wanting desires of the heart, the need to love and be loved, aside from God, will leave us empty and continually searching for purpose and meaning. There will come a time in our lives when we will stand before God and he will ask, “What have you done with your life?” And if all we could say is, “I became a world-renowned pianist,” or “I wrote hundreds of bestsellers,” or “I climbed Mount Everest,” or “I became CEO of the largest and most successful company on Earth,” God will then ask, “Did you love me?”

God wants those he has chosen to be happy. The only way to gain that happiness is to love him, making everything else secondary to that love. Jesus puts it this way:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Apart from loving others, loving God should be our calling throughout our lives. No other commandment is greater than to give oneself wholly to God in service for his glory. That means not only in word but also in action. God would like us to love him in a way that would change us to think like him. What would Jesus do? But the question really is, what would we do apart from God? If we did not love God, what would our lives look like without that love? We do not want to stand before God one day to have him ask, “Did you love me?”

True happiness is to love God.

Posted in My Journey

God’s Word Is Life

Oh, if I could only wrap myself in the word of God and make it my blanket, my head would snuggle in its phrases and my heart would feel its warmth in delight. If within its pages I could lose myself and never return, I would ask God for others to do the same, and swim in the ocean of its truth to experience the breadth of God’s love.

God’s word is life. God’s word is love. God’s word is everything anyone would ever want, because everything is what God’s word is. It discerns. It reveals. It cuts to the bone to expose the innermost secrets:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Oh, how wonderful God is to have opened salvation to us through Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For only through Jesus, the Word, can we attain salvation (John 1:1-4, 14). Line upon line, verse upon verse; every word from God’s mouth is a light on to my feet. It builds. It edifies. It supports the church on a cornerstone others have rejected. And it floods the spirit of those wanting to know what truth is.

Be enraptured by God’s word. Be enthralled by it. Grow in its knowledge and in its depth. Know that he gave us this moment in time to draw nearer to him in absolute adoration and joy for him. For the joy of reading God’s word is life on to the reader.

Let us read life into our lives.

Posted in Other Things

Take Off the Mask

[Note from Jack Flacco: Erica Hedtke Barreto attends Hoboken Grace in New Jersey and is this week’s contributing writer for Looking to God.]

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other night when he came home from his men’s dinner group. He explained how the group’s discussion centered on sharing God’s message with others. The group consensus was that each of them was hesitant to talk about who God is, not only in their workplace, but also with the people who were not within their church circle. They admitted their fear of people’s judgement and the labels they would inherit, for instance “Jesus freak”. While we were sitting on the couch together talking about this, I knew I had to have this same conversation with you.

I remember how a few years ago I listened to a sermon telling us that we should be the same person in every moment of our lives. I did not understand this at first, but once I started paying attention, I could see that I would say and do different things at church than I would when hanging out with friends. I would be one Erica in my dinner group and another Erica at work. I would talk about my love for God to certain people, but then to others I would stay quiet. I could feel this conflict in my heart, and it bothered me that I could not be the real Jesus-loving me in every situation, even if I knew what it was that was holding me back. That it was the fear of others judging me for my faith. I was afraid of how people would look at me, treat me, and maybe go so far as to exclude me from activities all because they found out that I am more spiritual than I let on.

There is another side to the coin, though.

God calls us to be His stewards here on Earth. He does not say, “Talk about Me when you feel comfortable.” He does not say, “Praise My name only on Sunday morning surrounded by other Christians.” No, God calls us to be stewards every single day we are on this Earth. Look at what it says in the book of Mark:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

That is, to the whole creation. Not just some, not just when no one is around or paying attention to you, not just when you have an extra ten minutes to spare, not just when you feel like it, and not just to those like you, but to the whole creation.

If that sounds difficult to do, imagine what it was like for Jesus. He put himself in all kinds of uncomfortable situations with lepers, prostitutes, the high priest and the council, regardless of people not accepting Him and regardless of people hating Him; the latter of which ultimately led to His death on the cross. This is the type of surrender that verse is talking about. This is the kind of disciple God was looking for when He set out to create each one of us.

Therefore, why are we throwing ourselves under a cape, hiding our true identities? Is it to make others feel comfortable? If so, let us take off the mask of the image we are projecting, and live the real life God called us to live.

Posted in My Journey

Trust God

Our lives are like the wind. In a moment in time, we will disappear. But with God in our lives, we have meaning. He looks after us. He cares for us. He makes sure that we will not fail; for his destiny for us is greater than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves. Our salvation rests in Christ. No one can take away our reward. God is our king, and one day He will crown us with glory and honor, as He had done with His son Jesus. We need to trust Him:

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

May God pour love into your heart so that you may become a perfect witness for others to follow. May your light shine in the darkness so that you may become a bulwark for those who are seeking the truth. Glorify God always, giving Him honor in everything. Never allow Satan to take away what rightfully belongs to you. Trust God. His love for you will never fail.

In everything we do, let us trust God with all our might. Nothing in this world comes close to the wealth God has in store for us. Others will rebuke us for our beliefs. Others will condemn us. Others will go as far as falsely claim we are evil in God’s eyes. But we must trust God in everything we do. He knows what we suffer. And He knows what we will need in our time of need. God is just in all that He does. He will never surrender us to anyone. His love for us will be the same today, now and forever.

Trust God, for he will forever be with us always.

Posted in My Journey

Pray Always

Pray always, giving honor to God. He is good. He is awesome. He is our King. Let our prayers be as sweet incense to Him, for there is no one that can prevent us from drawing nearer to Him. His mercy is all-encompassing and His power is never-ending. Be not afraid to approach His throne with requests. He waits patiently for us to come to Him. Seek His will, and He will provide our needs:

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

If we pray steadfastly, God will never abandon us. He will never leave us. He will always be there for us, as He had done by giving His son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. God would do anything to give us everything under the sun.

Let us bend our knees to our Father, for He is a gracious God, the only god, who leads us, protects us, loves us for the sum of who we are, and does not judge us as others would judge us. Let us close our eyes and in deep humility let us worship Him for everything He has done for us in our lives. His spirit holds everything together. We may weep; we may wail; but in all things, God hears us and values our prayers as unmeasured treasure. Our voices are like gifts to Him. Let us give Him the gift of praise.

Pray always and never give evil a chance to sprout. God is a generous god, the only god, the One who will always give to those in need.