Let the Walls Crumble

When we surrender to God, He begins the process of healing our heart and soul. Some of us have built walls in our lives that hinder those around us to enter, including God. The wall was built one brick at a time representing our hurt, disappointment, anger, etc. We think we are protecting ourselves from our past, but instead, we are isolating ourselves to be an easy target for satan to tear us down. With no support from family, friends, and church, life becomes lonely. The only way to remove the wall is to hammer out each brick and deal with what it represents. It was a process to build the wall; it is a process to tear it down brick-by-brick. Each time a brick is removed, a light will shine through where there used to be darkness. God is the light in the darkness!

Simplifying Christianity

We humans tend to complicate every aspect of our lives, especially God.  We want the best worship experience and an emotional message on Sundays.  We overthink God by our works.  All our lives most of us are told that you must be in church and studies to have God in our lives, which in fact, is not true.  Hear me out, I am not saying that church is not important.  I am saying God is more than a church service and group studies.  He is simply about relationship.  He does not want us so busy trying to figure out who He is that we have no time to personally have a relationship with Him.

For the last year, I have been going to one church to another trying to find the perfect setting — is the worship spiritual enough or is the message convicting to bring me to the altar.  I was looking for emotion rather than God Himself.  I was so insecure that I needed to be convicted to speak to God for forgiveness.  And when restlessness and discontentment came over me, I moved on to another church.  Through all the confusion, I caused more chaos in my life.  I caused more disappointment of what the church should be — to my preference.

A few months ago, I decided to temporarily stop attending church and have church at home.  Every Sunday morning and Wednesday night I would listen to a podcast from my iPad and worship God in my own living room. I spent daily in prayer.  In just a month, God showed Himself to me with simplicity and love.  It is not required to do works to find God’s love; He is love, and He only desires relationship with me.  When I complicated God, I was miserable.  The standards I put on myself only made me feel more inadequate.  It was only when I simplified the way I approached God is when I found the true God.  A God who is not demanding but unconditionally loving.  A God who is all comfort not judgmental.  A God who makes me whole when I feel incomplete.  God is complex in so many ways, but when it comes to a relationship with Him, it’s simple: Love God with all her heart and live a life abundantly in His love.  Love God and be a Disciple.  Simple as that.

We need to stop representing a demanding God who is false and scary.  We need to start showing others that God is all about the heart.  He is all about love.  We do not need an emotional message on Sunday to convict us of our sin, but a message of truth.  We do not need to a worship service to sound like a professional concert, but to worship God in purity.  We don’t need an in-depth message every week to tell us who God is; we need to experience God ourselves through group Bible Studies and an individual prayer life.  If we want a relationship with God, we need to pursue Him at church, at home, in our workplace, and with our family and friends.  God is everywhere!

When you seek God in simplicity, you will find His joy and His peace.  When you pursue Him with all your heart, you will find the true God that you have been looking for.  It starts with you — not the church or others — YOU!

Change Is Hard But Necessary

As we grow in Christ, God continues to remold us and reshape us into something new.  In life, change is necessary to pursue new opportunities.  It is not always easy nor is it always voluntary.  Change happens no matter we like it or not.

Currently, I have been put in a position to seek an involuntary change.  I did not realize what I was leaving behind until I took the first steps in a new direction.  But, at the same time, I cannot return to what was.  Change is a must.

I find that with change there is a moment when we grieve what was left behind as we gradually adjust to the newness of life.  There are exciting moments and sad moments blended together.  Even though a new adventure is exciting, it comes with the unknowns — the awkwardness.

The Bible tells us change is not to be feared. Deuteronomy 31:6 says for us to “be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”  God is with us and guiding us on where we should go.  We need to put our trust in Him and take another step forward into the unknown.  Jeremiah 29:11 declares that “‘God’ know[s] what [he is] doing.  ‘He has’ it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

When change occurs, we become anxious.  Our emotions are scattered.  Our old life seems to be fading away with every step we take.  What was familiar is not familiar anymore.  Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to “fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  The Bible instructs us to pray instead of worry.  It also tells us to praise God through the difficult times.  He will see us through every situation.  

God says to “forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.  Be alert, be present.  I’m about to do something brand-new” (Isaiah 43:20)  As we embrace the new and leave behind the “old”, we will see God working in our lives like never before.  We will have a closer relationship with God during the journey.  We will become stronger as we walk into a new chapter of our lives.  Yes, it may be scary but, the end result is worth it.

(Scripture – The Message Version)

 

The Bride of Christ

Today, I will be talking to the single women who are longing for their soul mate.

Imagine setting the date for your wedding.  You are in anticipation as you make arrangements and plan for the perfect day.  The cake and food has to be prepared, several dress fittings, guest lists, and all the other details required to make your wedding day special.  This is the moment you have been waiting for all your life.  It has finally come!

Now, imagine it looking a little different.  Instead of man standing there, God is standing as your groom.  In Isaiah 54:5 it states God is your husband: “for your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name!  He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.”  Close your eyes and visualize you walking down the aisle with your hair down and full of curls, make up is perfect, and wearing a beautiful white gown.  Your emotions are everywhere, because you are walking into the unknown, but, at the same time, you are filled with excitement.  You can barely hold back the tears with every step you take towards your Heavenly Father.  It is a magical moment as you walk closer to God and take His hand in marriage.  You give Him your all, and you allow Him to have control of every aspect of your life.

Just like any marriage, there are things that will be asked of you.  God is asking you today if He has made you single the rest of your life and just be with Him, can you accept His offer?  Do you trust Him enough to be His bride?  Is He enough in your life to feel complete?  Can you give up your own desires to be with Him, and Him alone?  Do you feel worthy enough to be His bride?

Since I am currently single, God has been asking me the same tough questions.  Is He enough in my life that I will give Him my all?  My desires, my heart, my love, and my worship!  Will I accept His offer no matter what my future holds?  Am I ready to walk down the aisle and take God’s hand in matrimony with these terms?  I am praying God’s will be done in my life no matter the outcome.  I am praying that He will always be my husband, my first love!

I am reminded of a song by King and Country called, “Priceless.”  The chorus is powerful.  God is saying to you today:

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable
Unmistakable,
Incomparible
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you!

God sees you whole!  He sees you dressed in purity and righteousness!   He sees you as PRICELESS!  He sees you “more than all the money or the diamonds and pearls [because] this is who you are” (“Priceless” lyrics).

As you walk down the aisle to become the Bride of Christ, remind yourself you have worth in Him, not in man.  Being single is not a curse but a blessing.  You are never alone when God is in your life.  He sees you, and He says you are beautiful in His sight!

Worshipping Through Scripture Series – God of Second Chances

In Luke 15:11-32, a son decided to selfishly take His father’s inheritance for the desire to live a better life.  In this parable, we learn that the son had to shamefully come back home, because he realized his life with his father was better than living on his own.  It was better than living in a pig sty for food and clothes.  He left his father’s house with money and returned home with only the shirt on his back.  He had nothing to give but himself.  This story is filled with bad decisions, regret, prayer, and a father’s love.

Many Christian artists have written songs about the prodigal son, and the love that the father showed upon his return.  Laura Story, a young Christian artist, wrote a song called, “Prodigal”, and in her song she tells a story of a father who is desperately awaiting for his son’s return.  The father used to go to the ballpark every day, but, since his son’s disappearance, he prays on his front porch, rocking in his chair, wondering where is son is.  “He is watching, and he is hoping” and “though his eyes are weary, his arms are still open” as “his prayer so softly spoken” begging his son to “come home”.  The father “longs to see his face in younger skin running down the driveway again”.  The father is crying out to God saying, “It was just a disagreement.  Why did my son leave?”

An American Christian rock band, 7eventh Time Down, wrote a song referencing the prodigal story called, “The One I’m Running To”.  It tells about a married couple with three children struggling to pay the bills, and they are both working multiple jobs to make ends meet.  The financial situation is putting a strain on the marriage and their family.  Their faith is running low, and they need of a miracle.  During the middle of night, exhausted from crying, they get on their knees declaring that they will never run from God, but run towards Him.  They know He is their “only Hope who satisifies [their] heart[s]”.  They know deep down that God is “everything that’s good and right and true.”  Their faith keeps them strong in their circumstances.

Another popular rock Christian band named Kutless wrote a song called, “Come Back Home”.  In this song, it is encouraging the prodigal to come home.  It challenges the person who is lost and reckless, to find freedom in his or her situation.  Just like in Luke 15:20-21, it tells the prodigal to “come back home” because “I’ll be running out to meet you”.  In this parable, the father forgives his son and runs toward him with open arms.

APPLICATION

We all relate to one of these songs that tells a story of broken people who simply Jesus.  Maybe you are the one waiting for the prodigal son or daughter to come home.  Or the one struggling to keep your faith in a difficult situation.  Or the one who is the prodigal child struggling to return home.  No matter which story relates to you the most, it is never too late to pray for God in a hopeless situation.  It is never too late to come home to a Father who loves you unconditionally.  The Father’s arms are opened wide desperately waiting for your return.

The Father is answering your prayers in His perfect timing.  If you are the father on the porch praying for your son or daughter to return home, keep on rocking.  If you are the child who needs to make the journey home, take the first step in the right direction.

Worshipping Through Scripture Series -Being An Overcomer Through Christ

As Christians, we live in a world filled with chaos.  Every day we put on our Armor of God and fight the battles of this world.  With God on our side, we face “giants” with confidence and come out as winners through Christ.

There are several characters in the Bible who have fought and defeated giants.  One of the characters is named David.  In 1 Samuel, chapter 17, David fought and defeated a giant named, Goliath, with just a sling shot and a stone.  His story encourages us to stand strong on the battlefield, no matter what we are facing.

Two Christian artists, Francesca Battistelli and Blanca, wrote songs based off this Scripture to encourage Christians to not give up in the fight.  These songs remind us to stay on the battlefield and to trust that God will come through for us.  Francesca Battistelli wrote a song in 2014 called, “Giants Fall”.  The song is written in honor of a young girl, at the age of 11, who wanted to start an organization called, “Project Yesu”.  The purpose of the organization is to minister to girls and women in Uganda.  When the artist read her story about being mocked by others and being told she was crazy to start an organization, Battistelli was inspired to write a song to encourage all of us to be bold and courageous for what we believe in.  It’s never “too late” or “too far” to turn away from sin and walk with God (prodigal son, Luke 15:11:32).  We are never “too small” and it’s never “too hard” to go after our dreams (David and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17).

In the chorus, it states “don’t you be afraid of the giants in your way [because], with God you know that anything’s possible” (Referenced: Matthew 19:26; 1 John 4:18).  The chorus continues to encourage us to stay in the fight with boldness and bravery and watch the giants fall.  “With childlike faith” (Matthew 18:2-4), mountains will move and miracles will happen (Hebrews 11:1; Matthew 17:20).

Blanca, also wrote a powerful song in 2015 called, “Greater is He”.  She wrote the song in honor of her mother being diagnosed with cancer.  The artist was inspired by her mother’s courageous fight to live.  The song lyrics expresses the struggles we deal with on a daily basis.  It starts out saying, “I face a giant in over my head.  Help me to look up [and remember to] take a deep breath” (Referenced: David and Goliath, 1 Samuel 17).  These lyrics are a prayer to God desperately crying out to Him to be present in our circumstances.  I imagine this artist face down on the floor crying out to God for a miracle for her mother.

In the chorus, Blanca declares who God is through Jesus’ miracles.  She states that her family have faced “an ocean [with] waves raging (Psalm 89:9, 93:4; Mark 4:35-41) and, with faith, they have “step[ped] out on the sea” to meet Jesus (Matthew 14:2-23).  The song continues on to proclaim God’s name.  We can face anything “in His name”.

APPLICATION

We were all made to be warriors through Christ.  The songs mentioned above are powerful and will lift our spirits when we are discouraged and feel defeated.  The lyrics and the meaning behind these songs come from the heart of these artists.  Battistelli and Blanca both wrote songs through inspiration of others.  They were inspired by someone else’s strength while going through hardship.

These two songs declare who God is through Scripture.  Just like David in 1 Samuel 17, we have our own battles to fight and win.  The lyrics remind us to stay strong in the fight and always have God by our side.  Philippians 4:13 states that we “can do all things through Him who gives [us] strength.”  I encourage you to put on your Armor of God and run onto the battlefield to face your giants.

OTHER REFERENCES TO LOOK UP

  • Joshua 24:14-18 (Joshua’s Story) – “Every Giant Will Fall” by Rend Collective, The Promise land.

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?