Jesus is Passing Over

The storms of our lives are passing by

Will Jesus hear our soulful cries

Does he see the stained teardrop face

As our life’s trials leave empty space

 

Jesus wants us to know he’s there

He says that he’s not unaware

But he wants us to look to him

And let it not be a passing whim

 

Take everything to him in prayer

knowing we are his blesséd heir

For he will see our heartfelt tears

As he allays all of our fears  

 

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In the Name of Love

imageStarving children in Venezuela, torrential rains in India, mudslides in Sierra Leone, and rampant terrorism are not new social crises throughout the world.  Regularly, we see news footage of such devastation, and even once again in our own country. Disturbed by what we see, we may have taciturn conversations with friends and family about the world’s condition, but we may lack the ability to empathize. Sometimes directly adjacent to our own homes, we see others devastated by life events. We respond at times through financial donations or through the giving of our vast reservoir of resources, but then we continue doing whatever we were doing before hearing about the crisis. Bombarded with events of our own lives, some of us may say, “What more do you expect me to do? I did all that I could do. I gave the last time.” Is it possible to innately have empathy or is it learned through life experience? Within the scope of our lives, through every fit of despair, does empathy increase or is the ability to understand the plight of another naturally within the purview of our hearts? Whether it’s either innate or learned behavior, we Christians strive to be conduits of love, to be conduits of grace, and to be conduits of mercy. We are not doomed because of any lack of innate ability. God can still work in us, however he chooses. If we can align our core beliefs with biblical teaching, then we can change our thoughts, and if our thoughts are conformed to biblical teaching, then God can change our attitudes, and if he changes our attitudes, then he can change our daily actions. Empathy Is possible, not hopeless to achieve, and if we have hope, we have everything. If we struggle to empathize because of life experience, then let’s change these contrary behaviors by learning how to show love (through giving our time, talents, and resources) and by learning how to pray.

To conclude, the horrific flooding, and other sociopolitical crises throughout the world would devastate anyone. Familiarizing ourselves with current disasters and foreign and domestic social ills will give us a sense of duty to empathize with the lives of others affected by tragedy. We, in this country, are blessed, and it’s easy for us to lose sight of the plight of others throughout the world. Change any thoughts that are contrary to Christian doctrine; it will make you feel better. Even Patti Labelle says in her song, “New Attitude,” “I’m feeling good from my hat to my shoe/ know where I am going and I know what to do/ I’ve tidied up my point of view/ I’ve got a new attitude.” If you need a new attitude, ask God to fill your heart with love for others, for the Bible says from out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Let’s not wait until mammoth crises occur, but let’s empathize, and then offer assistance regularly. Make praying and giving habits of mind that become second nature. If we are aware, then we can change our behavior, and if we change our behavior, we can change the world for eternity. Pray! Love! Act! And let’s see what God will do through us and in us.

Prayer

In the name of Jesus, we praise and adore you for who you are. We thank you for your love and mercy overtaking us daily. Help us to find meaning in our relationships with you. We ask that you bless the residents of Sierra Leone and India and Spain and Houston, and supply everything that is needed. Comfort those who have suffered catastrophic loss, including loss of life. Restore them manifold times. Give them back the material possessions in abundance according to your grace and mercy. Heal the sick and let them experience your love. Surround them with help from all around. Use these tragedies to show them how much you love them. Give them endurance to run this race. Comfort the children and the elderly. Shower blessings upon them that they cannot even contain. Hear their cries unto you. Be in the midst of this physical storm and the emotional storm of their lives. Help the waters to recede quickly. Stop the terrorists. Silence them. Open up daily the hearts of the people to help, to empathize and to give what they have of their time and resources. Use these tragedies to draw others to you. Let your name be exalted to the heavens. For those who do not know you, open the eyes of their hearts that they may know the far exceeding riches of your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray with thanksgiving and we wait with great anticipation for what you will do, amen.

 

For further Study: Read James 2.

 

 

 

Finding Satisfaction in Christ

IMG_0472The Rolling Stones famously said in its song, “Satisfaction,”

I can’t get no, oh, no, no, no, hey, hey, hey/
That’s what I say/
I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction/
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try/
I can’t get no, I can’t get no….

Have you tried and tried to find what satisfies? If that is you, please read on. If it is not, still continue reading, and perhaps you can use this post to encourage your friends and family, to seek satisfaction, in the only one created to satisfy. In the past I was hopelessly looking for satisfaction in material goods and in relationships with others. I thought that if I only had enough money or a great relationship with the opposite sex, then I would achieve a high level of satisfaction. I felt that my life could and would be complete. I also thought my level of education would foster satisfaction. I pursued higher education (I love learning), and thought that it would be a gateway to great opportunities (it is). These opportunities, I thought, would give me a level of happiness, that I otherwise would not achieve. After completing four degrees (I do not regret it), I neither increased my satisfaction nor found contentment. Furthermore, after purchasing material items, I soon lost the burst of joy that they gave me. I realized that my happiness was not found in any of these things, but in a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible says that godliness next to contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). Although, I now have had a relationship with Jesus for several decades, finding satisfaction in Christ did not happen immediately. I had to study the word of God, pray, and surround myself with godly individuals whom I wanted to emulate. Now, I know that my satisfaction is in Christ alone. My value comes from knowing Christ, and not from material wealth.

The Bible gives guidance for finding satisfaction. Through studying the Bible, I studied the life of the person who seemingly had “it” all, yet was empty. King Solomon, in the Old Testament of the Bible, says,

9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11).

Many of us dream of having more and more things, like Solomon. King Solomon, at first glance, had everything that a man could want. He had affluence, fame, and all the women a man could desire. Indeed, he had more than for which a man could dream. We acquire these things, and we are subsequently envied by many.  Moreover, wanting what we do not have grips us like a bad habit that is hard to shake. It holds onto us like a bad cold or disease. Sometimes the desire to have more seems pleasant, and seems beneficial, but the desire to have what we do not have begins to be the engine driving us. Once the allure of either material goods or a prominent job fades, then many of us are focused onto the next thing that we look for in which to find satisfaction. Solomon, eventually, stated that man should enjoy what he has and stop dreaming about what he does not have (Ecclesiastes 6:9). Through his musings, Solomon concluded that man has the responsibility to fear God and obey his word, for God will judge us for everything we do, covertly, or overtly (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Satisfaction in life, can only be achieved through a relationship with Jesus, “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things (psalm 107:9).” When we develop a relationship with Jesus, we begin to take the focus off of ourselves and onto Him and others. That philosophy of considering others, is contrary to the world’s thinking. But the Bible tells us to not love the world, nor the things of the world, including the lust of the flesh and of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16). If we care for those who are less fortunate, then the Lord will guide us, give us water when we are thirsty, and will strengthen our souls. Jesus, is Living Water (John 7:37-38). If we drink from him, we will never thirst again. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11-12,” Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

What are you craving? What do you desire? Do these desires have you? Has life become meaningless? Are you searching for fulfillment? Why not try Jesus. In addition to fire insurance (your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life), you will gain satisfaction that the world can never give you. You will be full of the love of God, and he will begin to bring satisfaction to your weary soul. If you desire a relationship with him, ask him into your life. If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, then the Bible says you shall be saved. Ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin and seek to be baptized. Find a God believing and teaching local assembly. Satisfaction is not about religion. It’s not about a list of behaviors. It’s about turning to God and away from sin. When that is done, you will be taking the first steps toward finding satisfaction in God.

Prayer for Satisfaction in Christ

Jesus there is no one like you. There is no one greater than you. I searched all over and I still could find no one greater than you. I looked high and low, and I still could not find anyone greater. You are the great I Am. You are the lover of my soul. Help me to find satisfaction in you. Keep me free from the love of money and help me to be content with what I have. Help me to love you the way you deserve to be loved. Work in me to will and do according to your good pleasure. I thank you for the work that you are doing in my life. I look forward to glorifying your name for all of your marvelous works. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

For further study: Read 1 John 2

Salt and Light: Matters of the Heart

Everyday we are bombarded with news about horrific crimes, terrorist attacks, hatred, racism, and other ill behaviors that have devastating consequences and a negative impact. Often we debate and talk incessantly about the origins of these actions. We blame parents, teachers, societal ills, and the perpetrators themselves for all of the horrid events taking place daily. Yes, they bear some responsibility, but these actions, however, also stem from the condition of one’s heart. Many people are distraught because they believe that there is no hope for lost generations. Christians believe man’s heart to be wicked because of original sin and that in him dwells no good thing. The truth is that apart from Christ, I (and everyone else) can do no good thing. Without the Spirit of Christ living in me, my soul would be lost. The Bible says from out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Additionally, the Bible says that where your treasure is will be the desires of your heart also (Matthew 6:21). What we value we place close to our hearts. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Christians’ heart should be full of salt and light so that they can make a high impact on their communities throughout the world. Apart from God, how can we accomplish this? The Bible says “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve (Jeremiah 17:9-10).” With the help of the Spirit of Christ, we can receive salvation, a new heart from the greatest surgeon in the world, and be rewarded according to the measure of our actions.

Christians, like salt, can and must have a high impact on the world. We can help sustain the world positively and give it flavor. Salt is a preservative that keeps food from spoiling and it gives food great flavor; without salt, food is not as tasty. Regarding Christians as salt, the Bible in Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” As Christians, we are urged to seek God’s heart by flavoring the world with love. To show love, we have to first tell others about the love of God. His love is the greatest love of all because he laid down his life for us, his friends. Knowing Jesus produces a template that enables us to know how to be the salt of the earth. Asking God daily to fill us with his Spirit, will help us bathe in the salt of his love. Like Epsom Salt, he will use us to soothe the aching souls of the weary and the wicked. God will create in us clean hearts and renew a right Spirit within us. With a sincere heart, God will never turn away from us.

Spending time in his word and in sincere prayer will keep us from losing our flavor. We do not want to be like a salt compound that has some value, but has lost its primary purpose, its flavor, and therefore, has become useless. Jesus wants us to seek to know him in a greater and more profound way through intimate prayer. He wants us to have deep roots so that Satan will not choke the words from our hearts because of problems and persecution. God says in Psalms 1:3 that he wants us to be “Like trees planted by the rivers of water that bears fruit in its season” and have “leaves [that] never wither, and “prosper in all they do.” Let’s sprinkle our hearts with the salt of God’s word and with the love of God. Our saltiness will never die and we will be God’s hand extended, prosper, and be instruments of change as we pray and spread his message throughout the world.

Jesus is the light of the world and in him is no darkness. According to the Bible, whoever follows him will not walk in darkness (John 8:12). Light provides direction and guidance. Very few people like to travel to an unfamiliar destination at night. There is insufficient light to provide the way. But, with God’s light we can have guidance and be holy as he is holy. We can encourage others to come into the light. God wants sinners to come to him so that he can provide hope for the world to turn to him and away from our sins. We Christians are to show others the light that lives within us. Our light should shine in dim places. Jesus is the living word, and his light through his word, should permeate one’s entire being. If our light shines before others, God will be glorified through our good works (Matthew 5:16).IMG_0464

Let’s continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as we become salt and light to others throughout the earth. Pray along with me as I ask God to regularly  “Search me and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties. And if there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting (Psalms 139:23-24).”  Let God be the treasure of our hearts and his word be our daily bread. He continues to do it for me and he will do it for you. Together we can destroy Satan’s Kingdom.

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Salvation is a Free Gift:

If you do not know Jesus, you can ask him into your heart. If you desire salvation repeat after me: “in Jesus name, I ask you into my heart. I confess with my mouth and believe in my heart that you, Jesus, were raised from the dead. Forgive me of my sins.” Get connected to a Bible believing and teaching local assembly.  Praise God. Amen.

Why I Love God so Much

img_0415I love the Lord Jesus Christ because He first loved me and He has delivered me from many situations. God is concerned about everything that concerns us, despite the size of the problem. I have fallen victim to many situations, but the Lord has delivered me out of them all. Every situation serves to make me stronger in my faith and more dependent on Jesus. I hope the following testimony will bless your heart. It may seem trivial, but it was no trivial matter for me. God never ceases to amaze me about His love.

Four years ago this month, I was very ill due to a serious but easily treatable disorder that often afflicts people much older than I was. The ongoing treatment, taken once a month for the rest of my life, caused my brain chemistry to change. I suddenly found myself behaving and thinking in a manner that was significantly different from my usual behavior. Some of the behaviors I initially welcomed. None of the behaviors were negative unless committed in excess; however, I began to engage in obsessive behaviors. Specifically, I began to shop excessively and attend performing arts programs excessively. The first year was especially difficult. I had to pray myself out of shopping obsessively (shoes & perfume). After the first year, I still however, continued to attend many cultural events. The problem persisted because I loved the theater, film, and dance. Like an addict, I attended a film or a performing arts show every week. Not only was I spending an excessive amount of money ( I rationalized it because I received significant discounts), but I had little time for other things that I also enjoyed (baking, reading, etc.). Because of my addiction, I was rarely available to go out with friends (I attended about 75% of my activities solo). I knew it was excessive, but I lacked the wherewithal to stop myself.  By the third year, I wanted to get off of this treadmill because the velocity was too great, and my behavior too negligent.  As the beginning of the fifth year was approaching, one of my friends prayed for me. My time suddenly became extremely limited and I had little time for my compulsive activities. I did not renew many subscriptions, and I suddenly became less than interested in all of these activities. When New Years Eve 2016 came, I felt as if I wanted to spend more time reading, cooking, baking, and going out with friends. For one month, I have done all of these activities and more. I’m busy doing more of what I love. I still love the performing arts, but now my interest is tempered. I no longer feel as if I am missing out on something, but that I am gaining an abundant life.

As a result of this experience, I understand how someone can become entangled with something that may be detrimental to one’s life, but with prayer God can work everything out. Some things are lawful, but not everything is beneficial (Romans 12:2). I know that God commands us to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). The Bible also says that this light affliction is working for us a far more eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). If we are called by God and according to His purpose, then we know that ALL things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).img_0416

Let’s pray: In the name of Jesus I pray. I thank you for your love and mercy and for your hand upon my life. I ask that you will help us to abide in you and in your word. Please fill us to overflowing capacity with your Spirit. Help us to put you first by praying and spending time in your word. Help us to turn toward you and away from anything that seeks to hinder our relationship with you. I ask all of these blessings in Jesus’ name I pray with thanksgiving always. Amen.

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Finding Intimacy in Christ

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Intimacy is defined as closeness or friendship with another; it is a state of familiarity. When we value another’s friendship, we desire intimacy with him or her as we share our lives, hopes, disappointments, and dreams. When we call someone a friend, we spend time getting to know him; we talk to our friends often. Moreover, we cry with our friends during both good and bad times. My closest friend is Jesus; we talk and listen to each other daily. He has seen me through some of the most challenging times in my life, while never condemning me for the mistakes that I have made (Romans 8:1). As I get to know Him, my Christianity matures and it causes me to love others the way He has loved me. My goal is to emulate him. Without intimacy with Him, I can never hope to become like Him. Although I have not arrived at perfection, I nevertheless press on to win the prize for which God has apprehended me (Philippians 3:14).

My friendship with Him did not develop overnight. It continues to develop as the years pass. When I began to understand that He wanted a relationship with me, I realized that I did not know how to get started. But, I soon realized that because He is a friend, I could talk to Him in as I would any of my other friends. My conversations first took the form of formal prayer. I then realized that my conversations could be informal. Currently I often talk to Him about my life and about His expectations for me. One of the greatest parts of our friendship is that He listens to me and is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He says that He even knows my thoughts from afar (Psalm 139:2). And He says that He is acquainted with me in every way (Psalm 139:3). God even knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 1:5). How could I call Him my friend, if I never spent time with Him? I get to know Him through His word, the Bible, and through prayer (intimate conversations with Him). I also write in my journal as a form of communing with Him.

Jesus wants us to commune with Him, to dine at His table. If we just open our mouths to talk to Him, we will show Jesus how much we love Him, and He will show us His abundant mercy and grace. If we abide in Him and allow Him to abide in us, we will produce fruit that will remain (John 15:5). He is waiting patiently for us to become His friend, for this glorifies Him! He “Searches the entire earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him .”(2 Chronicles 16:9)

I daily ask Christ to “Search me and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties, and if there is any wicked way in me, lead me in the way everlasting.” He is faithful to answer my request (Psalm 139:23-24).

For personal reflection read Psalm 139.

 

Hiding in the Light: A Review

Rifqa Bary’s memoir Hiding in the Light (a New York Times Bestseller) chronicles her teenage conversion to Christianity from Islam. It’s a poignant tribute to the power of God and to the power of Christian testimony. Bary, as a young child, emigrated from Sri Lanka to the United States with her family. Before leaving Sri Lanka, Bary suffered a permanent loss of vision in one eye. Furthermore, in her memoir she details the impact of sexual abuse from a relative. After losing her vision and her “honor” because of the sexual abuse, she felt little love from her family. When she and her family moved to New York City, she developed a curiosity about Christian prayer and the use of the word “Amen.” From a young age, she sensed the presence of God in her life, knowing that He was always there. After 9/11, practicing Islam was not easy in New York City. Her family then located to Ohio, near Columbus. While in middle school, she was introduced to Christianity. She began to have a relationship  with Jesus Christ, later accepting Him as her savior. She was baptized years later, unbeknownst to her family. After hiding her conversion for many years, her family was informed of her Christian activities. Bary states that her father threatened to kill her (“honor killing”) if she did not renounce Christianity. Renunciation was not an option. While running away during the night, Bary with the help of Christian acquaintances absconded to Florida. Weeks later, a media frenzy surrounded her escape as the alleged threat to kill her became known. Her dependency/ criminal case (it’s against the law for a minor to run away) as well as her illegal immigration status received international coverage that pitted Christians against Muslims. Bary, seventeen years of age, was placed in foster care and moved from home to home for security reasons. In the end,  when Bary turned eighteen, she was allowed to become free from her parents. She received her Green Card, allowing her to legally stay in the United States (she is currently on the path to citizenship by her twenty-third birthday next month). At no time did Bary’s family admit any of the allegations against them.

Bary’s courage in the face of both adversity and danger is deeply moving. Although she was afraid, fear did not immobilize her. Bary desired to know the love of God and His providence in spite of the danger of turning toward Christianity. Through every step of her relationship with Christ, God led her to safety. Meeting all the God ordained people helped Bary survive crisis after crisis. She never lost her faith in Jesus. Prayer  and Bible study became the most effective tools to get her through all of the difficulties that lay ahead. The hand of God was upon her from the beginning of her questioning of Islam and throughout her conversion and later ordeal. She realized that the Lord orders the steps of a righteous man or woman (Psalm 37:23). Moreover, God did not give her a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).image

This memoir is respectful to Muslims and it appears to be authentic. Bary never maligns Muslims; she, however, boldly states her position about the potency of Christ. From my own personal relationship with the Lord, I know that God works everything out according to the counsel of His own will ( Ephesians 1:11). Some agnostics or atheists may question the authenticity of this memoir, but my visceral response says it’s true. God loves His children, and he sometimes takes us to the brink before deliverance comes. Why would someone risk her life for a lie? Why would someone give up her family and her culture for a lie?

This memoir brought tears to my eyes. Seeing a steadfast Christian woman who made a life changing decision knowing the longterm consequences of family alienation makes me have a stronger commitment to Christ. Many of us come from a country in which we have religious freedom. We suffer little if any Christian persecution, yet we are afraid to share our faith. Most of us never will endure trauma and adversity like that of Bary’s. This memoir makes me desire a greater prayer life, and to be used to a greater degree.

Currently, Bary is in hiding, and has no contact with her biological family. She has forgiven her family, and continues to allow God to use her. God has restored her in manifold ways. She truly knows no weapon formed against her shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). I pray that you read her book, and that it will have an impact on your life. Amen!!

For Personal Study: Read Romans 10. God bless you.