Don’t ask me why

I can relate to this poem. I once was lost myself, but God came to save me from my own destruction.

THE HEALING ARENA

Don’t ask me why I dance so strong
Ask me not why I shout ever so loud
Do you wonder why I sing so merry?
Even when the dark clouds seem ever to menace
And storms loom so high in the horizon?

Once upon a time I was lost and gone
Treading the treacherous road of life
Chasing a mirage that seemed ever so far
Weary and worn and wanting and whining
How I sought and searched for answers

Then He met me bowed and weather-beaten
He took me out the miry clay
Gave me a song to sing to you
“I once was lost but now I’m found”
And if I’m alive today, it is proof He’s alive and true.

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Unleash Your Full Potential – Part One

JOHN 15

In the Book of John, chapter 15, Jesus metaphorically compares a vine and its branches to spiritual growth. The picture describes how Jesus explained this parable to the disciples.

In verses 1 through 4, Jesus says, “’I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.’”

In the Scripture above, we see the imagery of Jesus as the vine and God as the gardener. The vine “is the source and sustenance of life for the branches, and the branches must abide in the vine to live and bear fruit” (John MacArthur, “The Vine and the Branches”). Jesus sustains us and gives us life. God helps us grow to our full potential by nurturing and pruning us. Each one has a different role in our lives.

As we continue to read in John 15, Jesus says, “’I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples’” (verses 5-8).

The picture above is a great visual of what Jesus is talking about and gives us a better understanding of this parable. According to verse 5, we are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. We already know that He is our life source. We depend on Jesus to support us as we grow and mature spiritually with Him.

Jesus explains that as long as we remain in Him we will bear fruit in our lives. We will mature in Christ and not be separated from His presence. If we are apart from Jesus, God will cut and remove the bad fruit from our lives. In Matthew 3:8 says to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” We must repent from our sinful ways to reproduce good fruit and prosper. Colossians 3:23 says, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” “You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours” (Psalm 128:2).

The Prodigal Son

The story of the prodigal son, in the book of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11 through 32, is full of redemption and grace. In this story, the son spent all of his father’s inheritance and was living in a pig sty for survival. It took courage for the prodigal son to return to his father’s house. He felt shame and regret for his actions. This is not your typical story of a father disappointed in his son; this is a story of unconditional love.

Jesus is telling a parable to a crowd of people about a prodigal son who left his home for what he thought would be a better life. The story begins in Luke 15, verses 11 through 16, where the son asks for his inheritance. In verse 12, it states that “the father divided the property between them.” The son left his father’s home and went to the country. In verse 14, it says that he spent all his father’s money and lacked food and water with no shelter. He spent all his inheritance and had no other options but to return home. In verse 17, it sums up how we all feel when we make a mistake and do not know how to make it right. It says “when he [the prodigal son] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Imagine what this prodigal son was going through as he dreadfully walks back home. His head toward to the ground, kicking the dirt underneath his feet, feeling defeated and angry with himself. He must have felt fear of being shunned by his family. He was struggling on how to forgive himself for his selfish actions and did not know if his family would forgive him as well. As he continues walking home, he is preparing a speech for his father to accept him back into the family. Let us pause for a moment and think about how we handle situations in our lives. We are much like the prodigal son. We worry and fret over our mistakes and how our actions have hurt others. We even memorize long speeches about how sorry we are for hurting them and pray that we are forgiven. We make ourselves miserable, just like the prodigal son, and worry before we even know how the other person feels about us.

The next part of the story is not something you can predict. As we continue reading, we are expecting the father to have a grudge and be hurt by his son’s actions and betrayal. This part of the story cannot be explained by words but by emotion. Instead of being rejected by his father, the prodigal son received love and acceptance. In verses 20 through 21, the prodigal son was approaching his father’s home and “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son filled with shame and regret, is now ready to convince his father that he is not worthy to be in his father’s home.

The prodigal son did not need a speech to be accepted. The father was overjoyed to see him alive and well. The father was not concerned about his son’s actions.  Instead of expressing his hurt towards his son, he showed him grace and unconditional love. In fact, the father celebrated his return. In verses 22 through 24, “the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.   For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

How many times have we hung our head in shame asking God to forgive us for our sins and betrayal? I know, personally, I have been in a place where I did not think God loved me anymore because of my actions and I was afraid to approach Him fearing I would be rejected. This parable is a perfect example of our heavenly Father. He embraces us and accepts us back into His arms. He did not only forgive us for what we have done, but, in addition, He celebrates our return. The All-Knowing God loves us unconditionally. He gives us grace and mercy when we do not deserve it!

In the book of Luke, it says that the father treated his son like royalty with the best robe and a ring. A ring signifies a covenant which means it is sacred. The love that God has for us is deeper, wider, and farther than we could ever imagine. When God places the ring on our finger, it is a covenant with Him. It symbolizes a relationship with God. The robe stands for worthiness and righteousness. We are all worthy of God’s love. As stated in Scripture, we are given the best robe which means God gives us His best for our lives.

Have you walked away from God?
Are you frustrated or angry with Him?
Have you ever had a relationship with God?
Are you seeking something more than you have ever experienced before?

If you have walked away from God or just have doubts of who He is in your life, I encourage you to seek Him and take the journey of faith. Just like the prodigal son, he walked the journey back home to find that his father embraced him rather than condemned him. The heavenly Father will do the same for you. He is just waiting for you to come home to where you belong.

If you have never had a relationship with God, I encourage you, as you continue this journey to know Him, that you will find His hope and love for your life.

Application:

I encourage you to find a quiet place alone to pray and write down your thoughts on being a Christian. What does Christianity mean to you? What are some ways you plan to build your faith and have a closer relationship with Christ?

Follower of Christ

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

According to John 3:16-17, we must all believe that Jesus was crucified on the cross and rose on the third day to be followers of Christ. In the Book of John, chapter 14, verse 6, Jesus declares that He is “‘the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him].’”

We all have the choice to be a Christ follower. Before we can fully commit to the Lord, we must ask ourselves tough questions.

Am I willing to give up my old life completely to follow after God?
Am I willing to be obedient when God calls me to do something?
Will I stand up for my beliefs when I am being persecuted for being a Christian?

It takes courage and boldness to be a Christian and stand up for our faith. To follow after God whole-heartedly means we must surrender our lives to Him. Being a devoted Christian is not for the weak but for those who are strong in their beliefs. We cannot let what others think about us affect our Christian walk. The world will mock us for the decisions we have made to be a Christ follower. First Corinthians 11:1 says we are “[an imitator] of [Jesus], as [He is] of Christ.” According to this Scripture, once we are Christians, we act Christ-like and look more like Jesus every day.

We are to know God on an intimate level. We are to know His Word and know Him in our hearts. John 1:1 says, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” According to Matthew 7:13-14, not many are Christ followers. The Scripture bluntly states that a few will “enter through the narrow gate.” The wide gate “leads to destruction and many enter through it”; the narrow gate “leads to life.”

A follower of Christ will be set apart from the world. Christians will be judged by the words they say and how they act. Few people will choose the “narrow gate” because living for Christ means giving up everything we have ever known and learn a new way of living. The majority will say, “it will not be worth it” but the minority will say, “it is worth it all.” This is where we see the difference between a fan of Christ and a follow of Christ. A fan will blend into the crowd and a follower will stand out from the crowd.

The world may be full of chaos and confusion, but Jesus brings light into the darkness. John 8:12 says, He “is the light of the world. Whoever follows [Him] will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” Jesus is our hope in a world full of hurt and disappointments. God brings a world of chaos back into order. He dries up our tears and gives us joy. He heals our hurts and surrounds us with His compassion.

When we accept Christ in our hearts and believe He died for our sins, our faith flourishes into new levels with God. It is inevitable to see change in our lives and see Christ working in us as we are strengthening our faith in Him.

As we continue growing as Christians, we turn from being a fan into a follower. Followers of Christ understand that no matter what God calls them to do, they will not hesitate to obey Him. They also understand that making sacrifices to be closer to Christ is worth it!

Today, I encourage you to make a life-changing decision to follow after God with all your heart! If you are struggling in life right now, trust that God will see you through it. If you have doubts about following after God, take a bold step forward and see how God can transform your life. If you need help making this decision, find a pastor or a Christian friend to answer any questions you have on becoming a Christian or how to grow in your Christian walk. You are never alone in this journey with God!

Application:

I challenge you to evaluate your life and see how you are living out your Christian walk. What are some areas in your life that you need to surrender to God? What are some areas you would like to work on to be more Christ-like?

Write down some ways you can have a deeper relationship with God. Think about what it means to be a Christ follower and how that is compared to being a fan of Jesus.

Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Many have pondered the question: “Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?” How would you respond?

In reality, the answer is: it is not about the glass, it is about who is filling the glass. The more we believe and trust God, the more our glass is filled. The closer we are to God and walking out His purpose for our lives, our glass is overflowing!

What an image! I do not want to live a life that is half full or half empty; I want to live life to the fullest. A life that is overflowing in God’s love. I want to live a life that is bigger than myself. I want to dream big and believe in the impossible.

Putting on the Full Armor of God

Have you put on your armor of God today? Great read!

The Daily Bible Plan

Daily Bible Reading – Song of Songs 1-4; Ephesians 6

Today’s Key Passage – Ephesians 6:10-18

 

Can you imagine a medieval knight jousting without wearing his suit of armor?  Can you imagine a football player trying to play a game without pads?  Can you imagine a hockey goalie trying to play a game without protective gear?  Each of these scenarios sounds fairly ridiculous.  In each case, it is essential to the health and success of the person involved to use the “armor” that is available.  Likewise, as we walk the Christian life, it is essential for us to use the “armor” that is available to us – the armor of God.  In today’s key passage, the apostle Paul describes the armor that we have available as we go into battle against the powers of evil in this world.  Today, we will look at the armor that each of us…

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Fruit of the Spirit – Self-Control

Today, we will be breaking down the fruit of the Spirit: SELF-CONTROL. The following definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The Scripture version are from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible.

Self-Control

Self-control is described as having control over your feelings or actions or restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions or desires. Self-control can be described in a simpler way as not letting our emotions to get the best of us. There are many emotions that can override our faith such as fear, anger, and disappointment. Second Timothy 1:7 says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” To manage our emotions and desires, we must have a strong prayer life. If we do not spend time with God every day, there will be no peace in our lives. Our emotions would be out of control, and we would remain in a state of confusion. Our thought process and emotions will become irrational and our actions will not dictate who Jesus is. Our flesh will take over on what we say and how we act. First Thessalonians 4:4 says “that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” God expects us to have self-control over our lives and be Christ-like in everything we do.

Application

Do you let your emotions to get the best of you?  Do you get angry or frustrated quickly?  Can you control your emotions?  I can honestly say, I sometimes cannot control my emotions, and I have to take a step back, after reacting in the wrong way, to correct my actions.  I am a very passionate person, and if someone criticizes or judges me for what I love to do, I defend it with harsh negative words.  You might can relate with a similar situation.

We all have areas in our lives that if pushed too far, we will say or do things that is not of God.  We are all human, and that’s why God gives us grace.  He gives us second chances to make it right.

When our emotions override our faith, we are not being Christ-like.  When we have self-control and allow God to work through our emotions, we are showing the world that we can stay calm through difficult situations.  Where are your emotions today?  Are they under control?  Is this an area that you need to work on and pray about?  Ask God to help you.