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.

Posted in My Journey

What Is Love?

Love does not hate; it does not boast, nor does it seek revenge. Love cares for another more than oneself; it is not proud, arrogant or unmerciful. Love leads, conquers prejudice, and gives even when in need. Love is not afraid and will always be kind.

It would be easy to quote the apostle Paul’s inspired words about love from 1 Corinthians 13, but one of the greatest thoughts about love comes from Jesus himself, when he said:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus demonstrated that very love when he died on the cross for us in order to pay for the penalty of our sins. And although the night before his death Jesus fervently prayed to God regarding this great responsibility placed on his shoulders, he still accepted it because it was God’s will. No other act in human history depicts just how much God loves us than for him to have given his son Jesus as a sacrifice to redeem us from death.

What is love? It is to look upon Christ’s sacrifice and to conclude how selfless an act it truly was for him to give his last breath for us sinners. It is to become like Jesus and to sacrifice ourselves for others as a means to allow Christ to live in us, not only in word but also in deed. We Christians owe our lives to God, and what better way to show our love for him than to give as he gave so that we can experience the fullness of his love living in us. No greater love is it than to sacrifice one’s life for friends.

As we move into the new year, let us resolve to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.

Posted in My Journey

God’s Love Endures Forever

God loves us more than anything in the universe. He loves us more than the sun, more than the earth, more than anything. God’s love for us is so great such that he sacrificed his son Jesus so that he might save us from the penalty of sin. There is nothing God has withheld in order to give us life.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about God’s love this way:

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.

(Isaiah 49:13)

Later, in that same chapter Isaiah reveals one of the most significant prophecies recorded in the bible, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). What is Isaiah talking about here? The context is all about Israel’s restoration, yet this one verse points to a time when God will give of himself for the salvation of those who believe. How is that possible?

When the Romans were holding Jesus’ hands steady on the cross, the engraver positioned his nails to write all our names on Jesus’ palms. Once our savior’s blood soaked the back of that cross, God’s love for us was complete. We all had a hand in the crucifixion, but God was the one who now had our names engraved on the palms of his hands.

If in our lives we reach a time when we feel abandoned, acquainted with sorrow, or rejected, there is no one else who felt that more than God’s son Jesus did when he hung on that cross. However, God’s love never failed Jesus, for he now sits at the right hand of the Father and is waiting for the day when he will come again. In the meantime, our names are safe with God, and he will not forget us when we pass from this life to the next, for his love endures forever.

Audio transcript:

Posted in My Journey

God’s Perfect Purpose

Jesus saves. God’s glorious work lives in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for others, saving them from the penalty of their sins. Oh, what a wonderful, delightful and pleasing sacrifice that was to God the Father, creator of all things. He purposed his son’s destiny from the very beginning and gave to humanity the very desire to seek eternal life through him. Jesus is the only satisfying need we have that will render us complete.

The apostle Paul wrote about this to new believers who sought encouragement regarding their salvation:

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Our faith as Christians in the one who is our savior, Jesus, is a testament to those who are seeking him but have not yet found him. For when we demonstrate our love for him, by keeping God’s word and testifying in his name, then truly we are preaching the gospel not only by works but also by faith. By believing that Jesus is the son of God will we rise to eternal life. The Book of Hebrews speaks about this faith this way, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).

Therefore, whatever may be holding us back, whatever we may fear, let God’s purposed reason for our existence (Romans 8:28), proclaiming Jesus as his son, fill our hearts with joy and give us hope for the kingdom to come.

May God bless you all, and may peace dwell in your hearts and in your minds.

Audio transcript:

Posted in My Journey

Trust in Jesus Until the End

My wife and I recently celebrated another year of marriage. As it has been our habit of late, we booked a very nice hotel for several nights north of town and enjoyed each other’s company in the midst of all that has been going on in our lives. We are incredibly thankful we could do that, considering our autistic son’s condition. He really wanted us to leave him in his younger brother’s care while we had time alone. It was a tough decision, but it also involved a certain amount of trust from our end to feel everything was going to be fine when we came back.

Now I understand what Jesus must have been thinking when he left his disciples to be with the Father. As it says in Acts, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11).

Much like my wife and I did, sending text messages to our younger son to reassure him we’d be back soon, Jesus sent his angels to his disciples to reassure them that he would be back soon. Sometimes, we, as parents, have to let go in order to allow our kids to grow. Jesus, who loves us, oh, so very much, is doing just that with us, Christians. The apostle Peter confirms this when he wrote:

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

There is nothing God would not do to save us, including giving his only son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16). As we grow in knowledge and in truth in Jesus, let us grow to love one another as Jesus loves us, so that when he comes back on that fateful day he will be able to say to us all, “Well done, good servant!”

Posted in My Journey

Faith in God

God is leading me in everything I am doing. This recent discovery has led me to make many significant changes in my life that I would not have otherwise made had God’s spirit not been with me. The biggest of these changes is how I view Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. No longer am I taking his suffering lightly, for I now weep when I read the prophet Isaiah:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

I become distraught by knowing just how much Jesus suffered for me, but then my sadness turns to joy when I realize that I will never have to worry about my past sins ever again. God has forgiven me.

How wonderful a God I worship because now I have hope for a future where I will be with him forever. That faith he imparted through the Holy Spirit is the delight I now have living within me. And this has brought to life the beautiful belief I experience and is spoken of in Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

For as I believe Jesus is the Christ, son of God, who has saved me from the penalty of sin, which is death, faith is my guarantee that my reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:12).

And knowing this, what an amazing God he truly is!

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Love Is…

Love is helping the elderly carry groceries to their car. Love is holding the door open for those behind you. Love is making hot soup for someone sick in bed with a bad cold. Love is forgoing our needs in order for others not to need.

Love is flowers in full bloom.
Love is flowers in full bloom.

Allow me the liberty of this Freedom Friday post to share my deepest desire with you. That desire is to see others help those less fortunate through genuine acts of kindness motivated by love expecting nothing in return. To give in love so as others do not lack. Perhaps one day they, too, will love in the very same way, helping those who need it most.

Therefore, love is giving of our time to a cause even if it seems silly at the time. Love is filling the bowl for the homeless at the local soup kitchen. Love is returning money to the shop owner who gave you too much in change. Love is giving up your seat to the pregnant woman on the bus. Love is saying please and thank you to the waiter who treats you poorly at the restaurant.

Love is picking up the neighbor’s mail when they are on vacation. Love is buying groceries for the family down the street whose father lost his job when his company made his position redundant. Love is waking up five every morning to give the folks next door a ride to the train station because they can’t afford a car.

Love is cleaning the home of a friend stricken with illness because they can’t do it for themselves. Love is driving a friend home from an activity knowing how far they live and doing so would be out of your way. Love is helping a friend pick up furniture from a secondhand shop, lug it two flights of stairs to his apartment while hoping the good deed won’t irritate an already bad back.

Love is giving a warm smile to the individual who hates you, just as you would show warmth to your own family. Love is uttering uplifting words to that spiteful person who badmouthed you behind your back. Love is not allowing bitterness to enter your heart in spite of what others do to you.

Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is crying for loved ones who have achieved their dream.

I’m sure you can find other ways to love. The list is endless. It may simply be a matter of listening to that still small voice gently leading the way. Whatever we come up with, nothing compares to the joy we feel when seeing happiness in the eyes of the recipients to our selfless act of kindness.

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How else can we help? What more can we do to show our love for others?