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Posts Tagged ‘care’

Speaking Of...

Recently, I’ve encountered a lot of talk on “relationships and love” with people – and it got me thinking about God’s love. How his love sets us apart (as well as himself) from all the other people and their religions/beliefs. This also made me think of how even when we fall into chaos and unknown territory – he is there; he’s always there, for us. And he’s never mad, even when we fumble big-time, or turn out backs on him, or even commit a serious wrong or hold a grudge against someone that we need to let go of – he’s always there calling to us. And when we find him – his bright and ever-lasting light in the darkness of our lives, he opens his arms wide and embraces us, crying or laughing, or smiling with us.

There’s a verse my youth past told us and taught about to us on Sunday (11/3). This is about God’s love and relates to all the things I’ve said. Luke 6:27-33:

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do no withhold you tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Now, I want to first point out that the first phrase of the verse says “to you who hear.” Why do I point this out first and foremost? Because Jesus is calling people to really listen, as what he’s about to say hasn’t been said before. He knows – as well as you and I, that some people just zone things out or do that “half-listening” thing when people preach/teach on a topic that’s been heard before. He wants to get everyone’s attention, letting them know that this is a new topic, it’s a topic that people really need to whole-heartedly pay attention. Make sense, right? I hope so.

Okay, with that covered, let’s talk about the rest of the verse. This verse is obviously about loving our enemies and treating others how we want to be treated, right? In fact, one of the verses (vs 3) – “do to others as you would have them do to you” as many know it by – is a very well-known verse to many people (not just Christians). And at a first glance of the verse, people get the obvious theme (which I pointed out at the beginning of this paragraph) – be kind to people I don’t like/are considered my enemies, treat others fairly, and take care of the needy. Easy right? No. Is there more to the verse? Of course. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tend to those who need help or turn the other cheek, or treat others wrongly – their all great and wonderful things to be practiced, but I want to focus on the last bit of the verse plus a few in-depth details about the first part verse.

I’m going to start at the end – with verses 32-33 (the last paragraph of the given verse). Jesus is saying that when we love and treat those who are good to us and love us – what’s the point? What do you truly gain? Yes, it’s crucial for those who love you to love you and for you to love them back, but what about that kid who bullied or you really bad once – maybe more? It’s easy to hold a grudge against them, hoping something bad will happen to them, just as something bad happened to you, or if they try to apologize, you want them down on their knees begging for mercy while you have your arms crossed, foot tapping, and your head angled enough to look down on them making a disgusted face and refusing – until they collapse – to forgive (Jesus even points out that when we love those who love us – even murderers, prostitutes, etc. love those who love them – that’s what he’s referring to when he says “sinners.”) Why is it easy to hold a grudge and not “love our enemies” as we’re instructed? Let me tell you a secret – it’s called flesh; sin. We want to have revenge; satisfaction, making whoever made us feel unloved, unwanted, and not good enough… we those who weren’t good to us, have the same feelings, if not worse.

See, if we only love and do good to those who love us and do good to us, then we do not truly treat those how we want to be treated, we don’t understand truly what it is like to love our enemies. We don’t know what it’s really like to show them God’s love, and we don’t try to understand how to act or reply in a Godly way to those who wrong us. Just like in school, teachers teach and have the students practice the concept they teach – for without practice how can we truly learn and know the material?

Rewinding to the first section of the verse (vs. 27-31)… try applying what I just said about verses 32-33 to these verses. Have a different perspective now? What about a new plan or way to approach situations in relation to these?

Now, in verse 27, isn’t just loving loving your enemies that “Oh, that wasn’t nice – but all well” attitude, it’s about coming along side them, helping them; showing God’s true love, and forgiving them even if they haven’t asked forgiveness. As a Christian, we should always strive to go that extra step. And – or more – but, when these situations come up, we need to check ourselves – giving/praying (to) our hearts to hearts to God and letting him take those grudges and put them away – destroy them. We also need to make sure our actions are for self-glorifying reasons.

You know that sarcastic phrase that people (you) often mutter when in or towards a situation that comes up and is hurtful, benigning, etc.? The one that goes: “Well, that was a slap in the face.” Literally, it could of been – but that’s also when you show grace and turn the other cheek. Don’t lash out, don’t retaliate. Humbly offer the other side of your face. Either they will “hit” you again or be in shock from your actions. And even if it seems that your actions had no effect – let me assure you, they did. God is planting that seed in their heart through you. Some may often even come back asking questions, because their so dumb-founded, of “Why?” and “How?”. That is your opportunity to tell of the “why” and “how.” The same application can go for the second half of verse 29 – where it talks about offering someone your “tunic.” When someone begs – have a compassionate heart. Give to them – and don’t demand repayment or ask for what you gave to be given back to you. Whether is was simply loaning a money to a friend who forgot their lunch at school to food to someone needy… don’t ask for repayment. These actions and showing love sets us Christians apart (and God), as I said before.

You do need to be careful though, of people who have a false claim, do show them God’s love, but be wary, going to God and seeking counsel on the situation you’re in. It’s sad, but there are people who imitate and act in ways that are deceiving to gain things they are have and don’t need.

Referring back to the first paragraph – where I was talking about how we oh-so-often struggle, I want to conclude partially in reference to Tammy Maltby’s book, Confessions of a Good Christian Girl. In the book, she talks and tells of women who struggled – these were good Christian women, leading Christ-like lives and living well, or that’s what it appeared. Yes, they loved God, but these women were conflicted with suicide, cutting, addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography), self-image and confidence. The book tells countless testimonies of how in the deep dark, these women found the light, the love. One of the quotes Maltby put in her book, which is by Angela Thomas, goes:

“Jesus wants you to know that when you are broken, shivering, alone, or afraid, with nothing left and nowhere to go, then you can turn in His direction and lay yourself at the foot of his love…. God wants you to know that when everything is gone, that makes more room for Him, and every time there is more room for Him, you are blessed.”

(pg 5, Maltby)

In this we can take an apply the concept of that when we hold on to grudges, hate, and hurt (etc.) when you give them up and lay “yourself at the foot of His love” we are revived with his love and forgiveness. This helps us make that step to forgiving those who may have hurt us or even ourselves. Because just as other people may be our enemies and slap us in the face, we can do just as much damage, if not more to ourselves; we can easily become our own enemy. We must learn to have compassion on ourselves and others and to have respect for ourselves and others.

I wish I could write on about this topic, but time is such an enemy to me lately, so short and demanding. Before I part, until next time, here’s some verses in parting. Don’t just go, “Oh cool, verses to look at!” and ignore them or think I’ll look at them later. Look at them now. It won’t take much time.

Psalm 36:5, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, 1 John 3:1-2, 1 John 4:7-12, 16-18

Some questions for reflection:

  1. Are you able and confident that in times when people wrong you, you can stand up, humbly, forgive, and give your burden to God, even though it’s not easy?
  2. Even when you mess up, or others, are you able to go the extra mile for God’s sake?
  3. Loving your enemy will be hard, but will you be able to rise above the offense and “offer the other cheek?”
  4. In times of distress it’s easy to forget about God – it’s easy to blame him, and in times when you want something badly, and it may not be his will – are you able to accept him and trust him to lead you 100% through?
  5. Sometimes it’s our very selves that get in the way of seeing truly what’s right – having a personal conflict is hard to accept, confess, and be able to reason and respect yourself, but sometimes that’s the first step to forgiveness. If some of these questions were hard to answer, maybe start deep in your heart and soul. Really think about it.

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Prayer & Perspective

A verse that I’ve thought of on and off lately is the Lord’s Prayer – or as I like to call it ‘The Disciple’s Prayer’ – since Jesus gave the prayer to his followers as a guideline of how they should pray; Jesus already knew how to pray. I’ve always thought of prayer as something more than “special wording meant for Jesus.” It’s a personal thing; and that’s how God intended prayer to be – he wants your true thoughts and word, coming straight from your heart. A prayer shouldn’t be something you memorize and recite each night; it shouldn’t be like a script for then it loses its whole meaning.

I am only using the first four verses of the passage (Matthew 6:5-9), but the whole passage can be found in Matthew 6:5-18. I use the ESV version for verses.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward,” (vs. 5).

Pause there for a second. Before I go on, I want to point out these lines alone, are the first verse. This is a crucial verse. For oh-so-often, too many Christians get caught up in themselves – believing they know it all. The modern day “Little Christ” is not like the early, first Christians. “Little Christ” is what Christian means – it was coined when the first disciples were teaching, and actually the word Christian or “Little Christ” was meant as an insult.

The modern day Christians often think highly of themselves; thinking of how much better off they are because they know Christ and others don’t. They don’t care about the poor and needy – their focus is on money, while they teach Jesus’ sermons on how to care for the poor, broken-hearted, and lost souls. This is wrong, wrong, wrong; the opposite of how a Christian is supposed to act. Sadly, by preaching and having people look at them and either marvel or scoff, they get their reward of satisfaction. They are not true Christians – they do not live up to the definition of a “Little Christ.” Because these Christians are so caught in themselves they do not receive or get to experience the amazing wonders, things, and feelings that Jesus has to offer us.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who is in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” (vs. 6-8).

It is true, often it is the short, simple things that work best. Long, drawn ouutttt things make people lose interest, especially if they aren’t to the point. When people ramble on and just add “fluff,” they really don’t know what they are talking about. As it says in (some concordance to) verse 7, they are just wasting their breath and their words are “heap[ing] up [like] empty phrases” – they have no meaning.

God knows what is on our hearts and minds, he’s more than aware of our needs – but he also knows that we need a way to communicate our feelings, needs, and what is on our minds and hearts to him (not just other people). He gave us a way to do so: prayer. This, to me personally, meant so much, knowing I had a way to connect to my Father in heaven. Knowing there was someone, someone who was so powerful and perfect, was always there for a sinful ridden and hurting person like me… is just indescribable. He always listened. He always comforted in some way. He won’t tell anyone. And to me, that meant a lot, as my trust to certain people has been cut. I know that when I can’t find the words to express how I’m am feeling – he knows exactly what I’m feeling and going through. All I have to say in my mind, in the quiet of my room, is: “Father, help me – you know my heart and thoughts. Please help me to get over this painful feeling that’s tearing me apart in an indescribable way.”

He’ll always listen to you in your hardest moments.

It is comforting to know that my Father knows what I need before I ask him, that relationship between Father and daughter (or son) is unbreakable and imaginable by people who don’t truly know what it is like to know such a force. Those people who stand on the streets proclaiming out loud don’t hear when God calls them, like we do, they don’t hear it because of all the noise they’re making. For God doesn’t normally communicate in the form of a thunderstorm (per-say) – loud and noisy, but he comes like a soft wind, blowing gently. Only those who are quiet and listen can hear it.

When God calls to those lost people out proclaiming on the streets or elsewhere, they don’t hear him, or if they do, they ignore him. Even when fellow believers try to humbly point out that their ways are wrong or try to kindly help them in the right direction, they most often push them off. They point their finger at them, saying they are the wrong-doers; they are the false believers. And it is sad, but it is reality. We live in a fallen world and we are waiting desperately for our Savior to return to take us home.

Our Lord is like a shepherd – he calls and pulls us back when we are lost. He is most persistent and never gives up, even with those who are stubborn. But there are cases when flesh must die and their time to be redeemed runs out or the sheep don’t want to live under the wing of their shepherd. They believe there is something better; they get lost in the ways of the world.

I hope you all got as much as I did out of this verse – if not more.

I am no longer eager, bold, and strong

  All that is past; I am ready not to do

At last, at last, 

  My half day’s work is done,

And this is all my part,

  I give a patient God

My patient heart.

p 265, March by Geraldine Brooks

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What Is Love?

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about love.

It talks about how love is essentially perfect – or the love shown by Christ and how Paul explains it in its true context.

People today think love is envious – that we are to envy those in love or love itself. Some people think they need to boast about their love lives and how they’ve found “that perfect person” (at age 16), when in reality they haven’t. They become full of pride and their hearts turn haughty — “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18 NIV).

These days you see so many people – young people broken and ruined. They chase after lust, not love. Their “love” is self-seeking, it seeks to please them and only their desires. It becomes dishonorable. Their love doesn’t seek to protect or look out for the other person’s interest or their own.

You may be thinking, This is  all ridiculous – outrageous. Where on earth are you getting these ideas – this verse?

Well, were am I getting all these ideas — these references? By simply looking around the halls of the high school and even in public. Social media is also a good source of information. Pictures, videos, even songs. Examples of the type of fake “love” I’m talking about in pictures can be seen on these two:

A few examples of the type of fake “love” I’m talking about in pictures can be seen on these two: Make Them Hate Us (found on Tumblr.) and Make My — (found on We Heart It). Examples of these in songs — Well I could make a huge list, but some artists I’m sure you all are familiar with are Rihanna, Neon Trees, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Karmin, Krewella, and so on. And videos are pretty self explanatory – or their covers and title are.

“This verse” is Corinthians 13:3-8. I’ve used this verse before in a previous post – but it was about God’s love. For Bible translations, the two primary translations I use are ESV (English Standard Version) and NIV (New International Version). I tell you this because for this verse, though both translations are good, the prefer the NIV, as the wording is better – or more meaningful to me, at least. Here’s the verse:

If I give all I possess to the poor and I give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn’t not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

It’s a beautiful verse. The part that jumps out to me, personally, is the last verse – verse eight. It’s the first sentence, though it’s short, it’s powerful.

“Love never fails.”

Or in the ESV version:

“Love never ends.”

I don’t know what part may have jumped out at you – or if anything did – but I encourage you all to read it over a few times, memorize it even. It is an amazing verse, and to me it is one of the verses that I treasure in my heart.

In the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, Josh talks about this topic – love – he talks about it very seriously, too. In chapter 4 (or 5, depending on which version of the book you have), the chapter’s title is: Looking Up “Love” in God’s Dictionary. And in the chapter, Josh mentions the verse I just told you about – 1 Cor. 13:3-8 – but he also talks about what true love is.

“God’s definition [of love] can be as startling as an unexpected slap in the face.

The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, ‘This is love.’ God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, ‘This is love.’ 

God always defines love by pointing to His son,” (pg 64).

Amazing, isn’t it? When I first read this, I had to do a double-take. It really was – is – a slap in the face. You know on the second page, Josh writes, “Christ taught that Love is not for the fulfillment of self but for the good of others and the glory of God.  True love is selfless. It gives; it sacrifices; it dies to its own needs,” (pg 65).

Guys, girls – “as we seek to love according to God’s design, we must pursue sincerity.’Love must be sincere.’ – this brief command given in Romans 12:9 leaves no room for misunderstanding,” (Harris 67).

Love these days isn’t sincere, it’s actually a joke. Rarely do you see people saving themselves for marriage – protecting their purity. Rarely do you see (unmarried, young) couples protecting one another’s purity and hearts.

Obedience is key. Listen to God and the people (committed Christians) around you. Listen to the wise and experienced. Learn from their mistakes, don’t let history repeat itself in your life.

Even if because of selfish or envious love you’ve sinned, God is there, waiting to forgive you. But you have to be willing to change, listen, and repent. There’s still hope and time to truly love again. – Even if you’ve messed up whether it be major or minor.

It’s all by God’s grace and love.

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Oh so often we often question ourselves, “When will I have time to do anything?” Oh so often we are running around from place to place, watching the time carefully and making sure we are where we are supposed to be at a certain time. I know too many people who are away from their home almost all day (excluding school); they get back around 11:00 at night and don’t go to bed until 1:00 am, because of how their day was scheduled. It’s crazy and a little insane how our society has that constant push to go, go, go. There’s never a break, or leisurely pace.

I can say when me and family went to Ecuador, I could care less what time it was. I go up early in the morning and went to bed whenever. Our days went by according to what we did, and the projects we helped out with were finished whenever they were finished; there was no set date or time. We took each day accordingly. I can admit it was hard to adjust back to my “regular” pace of life. I suddenly had to be places right on time and and leave when it was over almost immediately. I suddenly had to get up for school; set my alarm clock, and make sure I stayed on my morning schedule.

I tell you all this because once in a blue moon do we sit down and read God’s word. We tell ourselves, “I need to make time for Christ.” And maybe a few mornings we read the Bible and study a passage, but rarely do we continue this in an appropriate manner. We get caught up in life. We get caught up in this day and age’s way of how things are thought to be; not how they should be.

Are you familiar with the questions like “how do I make room for Jesus when my life is crazy?” and end up answering it with: “I should make time, maybe the down time later before practice, but I planned to go out and practice earlier with my friends…” and after that, it becomes a “should I or shouldn’t I” situation? For me this is, all too often.

I know we’re not perfect; no one is, but this is the very reason why we need to study God’s word and take and apply it to our lives and store it down in our hearts. That extra time you have before practice? Tell your friends you made another commitment. This isn’t lying, it is the truth. You made a commitment to God way before you made a commitment to your friends. I know it may be hard, trust me, but the rewards are worth it. Taking that extra time to spend with God will be the best thing you ever chose to do.

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In the section of verse going to be ‘read” today is found in 2 Peter 1:5-11 (NIV) and it is this:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the first verse, verse 5, it makes conclusion that we have a responsibility to grow; supplement; increase our faith in a godly way. Some people think that Christians have a big “Don’t Do” list – don’t do this, don’t do that, blah, blah, blah. Others think that they should let go and “let God lead them.” Truth is: They don’t understand, they have a passive detection. What we mean; true followers (to say), when we say “let go and let God lead” is that we need to let him dictate our actions, not just “deject” like some. We need to think, and I mean think generously, “What would Jesus Do?”

The Greek word, “chorea” which is were “choreography” originates from, which means  to come together – it’s the the art of composing ballets and other dances and planningand arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers [dictionary.com] – like a melody, we need to come together, to work, like a dance. Now, it’s not a “do the dance once and you’re perfect” no, you have to practice; work to get the moves right. Our inward character, we must build wisely. For when we are under another influence we lost that appearance, the pressure causes us to fall down. We must have a virtue, knowledge, and self-control – being steadfast in a time of wen all the odds are against us; you. What must we be steadfast int? Our relationship with our Heavenly Father; just like a married couple are steadfast (committed) to each other. “*Philadelphia” which means  our love of brethren. We must, even if we hate, show compassion, love, and kindness to those who hate us (and don’t hate us). We must sacrifice our own concerns for other’s sake.

There was this story of one of our presidents – **Abraham Lincoln. It went like this:

“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say. The letter read, “My dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.” Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.”

When we show love to those who need help, etc. it opens a door, showing others our kindness and makes them wonder. We are the image of God, we potentially show what He’s like, if we show a bad example, people turn away like a magnet – with the ends negative to negative. Living a balanced life, it leads us to an effective life, one that involves Christ. It is our responsibility to increase our spiritual life to grow fruit – healthy fruit.

We also are led – through God – to a clear perspective on life. A person who’s become in the light cannot see past their stuck up nose. They don’t care, love, or allow their fruit to grow healthy; they are what we call nearsighted. Those who are nearsighted only see the world, they are stuck wandering. They are in need of a Savior, but haven’t found the “time.”

When we have a life full of Christ it leads to assurance. When we have an assurance in God, it leads to a godly-like life, knowing that when we die we aren’t going to be stuck wandering the earth, instead we’ll be rejoicing in heaven. If we are active in our walk with Christ, we increase the good fruit – we have more confidence in our salvation.  Even the greatest Christians known (Apostle Paul, King David, etc.) have started with regrets, but with Christ, they know they are forgiven and have a purpose in life; something to live for!

*brotherly love, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, about 25 miles south-east of Sardis. It was the seat of one of the “seven churches” (Rev. 3:7-12). It came into the possession of the Turks in A.D. 1392. It has several times been nearly destroyed by earthquakes. It is still a town of considerable size, called Allahshehr, “the city of God.” – biblegateway.com

**The Daily Bread 2 Peter 1:1-11, February 12th.

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Our value is this: That we must remember that we are created in Christ’s own perfect image image.

For it says in Genesis 1:27 (NIV):

 “So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.”

Sin is evidently supposed to take us all. It’s like a glass of milk with a drop of blood contaminated with a deadly poison, the milk still has all the vitamins, anti-oxidants, etc. but in the end, because of that deadly blood, it’ll be the permanent end of you.

But. But God had a rescue plan, to save us all from sin, and that plan is to evidently save you from drinking that deadly glass; a warning label has been applied to it. Now, people thought this rescuer would be invisible; like our modern day Superman or Captain America (in a way – if they really existed). God thought otherwise and surprised us, like he normally does with his amazing  plans, he sent a lamb, a delicate Lamb who was nailed to a cross. Now, like most you’re probably thinking, A lamb? You have GOT to be kidding me. Well, no, I’m not and neither was God.

Because of our sin we are in a ginormous debt to Christ. I am going to start in Genesis, with Abraham, who is told to go and sacrifice his one and only son – which he did, almost, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son, ‘” (Gen. 22:12 NIV). In the whole summary of the verse, the Lord saw that Abraham’s faith was great and saved Isaac, replacing him with a lamb – ram, which the Lord had provided.

Now, going to Exodus, we see with Moses that he was told off by Pharaoh countless times, even with God’s help – the plagues, etc. – until God sent the Passover Angel, taking every first born – man or animal – and the Israelites had to kill and sacrifice a male, year-old lamb that had no defects; blemishes. They were commanded to eating the meat and take the blood of the animal and put it on the door post and lintel. It was through the blood of a innocent lamb that saved the lives of God’s people.

Jumping to the time of the Passover, Jesus – so the Disciples’ thinking – would’ve explained the meaning of the Passover done over centuries telling the story of how Moses (with God’s apparent help) led the people out of Egypt. But instead, Jesus tells what it really meant: his death on the cross to save the lives of people, them, and countless numbers people; the world from sin. And how he is the ultimate Lamb. The Israelites had really “celebrated” Christ’s sacrifice for hundreds of years.

See, Abraham didn’t need to sacrifice his one and only son, because of losing his son for his own sin, God sent his one and only son to die for the world’s sin and to vanquish it once and for all. If we believe and ask Christ to live in us and walk beside us, we are covered, like those door posts during Moses’ time, in the blood of Christ; the Lamb, then we are saved. There is no greater love in someone, for someone, than when someone lays down their very own life for yours. We needed a substitute – other than the lambs used – and Christ interceded and paid that ultimate and unpayable, till then, price.

In first Peter 1:13-21 (NIV) it says:

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”

In this passage, it give an amazing image; summary of Christ’s love for us and how his love redeemed us from ourselves; flesh.

Note: The passages with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus’ talk with his Disciples at the Passover can be found in Genesis 22:1-14, Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14, and Luke 22:7-20.

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Just another small entry I made a while back and thought someone might enjoy (:

Feb. 14

 

God is our savior. He saves/saved us. However if someone saved you would you just say ‘thanks’ and walk away? Then next time you needed saving call them up? Not bothering to build any other sort of relationship with them? Probably not…

But we seem to only remember God when we are in trouble, then don’t bother ‘calling’ him up when we are doing just fine. Or we get tired and we try to use our own strength to get through it. We believe somehow we will grow stronger by doing that. Yet we only grow stronger by following God.

We think we are better off alone, then at breaking point we scream out for God to rescue us… like He only lives to save us. God doesn’t just want to save us; He wants to keep us safe.  And in order to do this, we must have a real, active relationship with Him.

~Andi.C

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“Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.”

-Psalm 25:20 (NIV)

Suicide. It’s a sensitive topic, to everyone. Before I go into the biblical study of the topic I want to share some statics, ways to prevent, review, and at the end, story with you. A site called TeenDepression.org, which is a site that has information on teen depression and such, states,

“Teen suicide is a major cause of death among teens, though many do not recognize suicide as a serious threat to a teenager’s well being. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and teenagers. According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), about 8 out of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000. For every teen suicide death, experts estimate there are 10 other teen suicide attempts. In a survey of high school students, the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center found that almost 1 in 5 teens had thought about suicide, about 1 in 6 teens had made plans for suicide, and more than 1 in 12 teens had attempted suicide in the last year. As many as 8 out of 10 teens who commit suicide try to ask for help in some way before committing suicide, such as by seeing a doctor shortly before the suicide attempt.”

It’s surprising and sad. For everyone. I know a friend who experienced almost losing a friend while talking to her. I won’t say what happened further, but  I know for people who see, hear, add to the cause, or are actually the ones who hit the person (like with underground subways) it’s very depressing and can send that person into a total shell shock. It requires a lot of strength and help to overcome, and even with professional help, it can still be hard. People nowadays go to the furthest extent to keep teens from slipping up, people too. In high school there are counselors who keep up with you and check in, or who you can go to vent to. There are “procedures” you can go through to attempt your best to prevent someone from committing this undo-able act.

The Teen Suicide site lists warning signs of someone who may attempt or is thinking about suicide.

Somethings that can lead to suicide:

  • Emotional distress brings on physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines)
  • Hard time concentrating and paying attention
  • Problems at work and losing interest in a job
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug (illegal and legal drugs) use
  • Behavioral problems
  • There are also verbal hints that could indicate suicidal thoughts or plans. These include such phrases as: “I want you to know something, in case something happens to me” or “I won’t trouble you anymore.”
  • Creates suicide notes.
  • Expresses bizarre or unsettling thoughts on occasion.

Also, verbal things like “I want to kill myself,” “I’d rather die,” “I wish  I could just die,” etc. are also things to take note of and investigate with seriousness.

In Ecclesiastes 7:17 (NIV) it says:

“Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?”

For those struggling: remember: God has a purpose for you and you alone, no one else can fill that spot where your life is. He also has numbered your days specifically to what you’ll do and what’ll happen in your life. Let me ask you some questions –

Do you really think there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to live for? 
What “evidence” do you have to have the right to kill yourself?
Is there no hope left, no “second chances?”
Are you willing to give up everything for something you’ll never live to do again? Because there aren’t any second chances.

If you answered, “yes” to the first question, I’m going to say you’re wrong, you may think that, but there’s plenty to live for. What would your family do if you left the planet? They absolutely adore and love you. What about your friends? They wouldn’t know what they’d do if you were gone. For who’d fill that hole when shopping or playing a sport together? None, but you. Even your pet(s) love you. And there’s someone who loves you more than you can imagine; God. He created you in his amazing, and perfect image. There’s a verse that goes:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?”

-Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

What shall we fear? People? No. Not fitting in? No. Death? No. What will my life be like? No. It says, “The Lord my light…” he’s the one we need to be focused on. [He] “Is the stronghold of my life,” he’s the one who’s holding down your life, my life. Keeping it safely in his hands that comfort and help. The Lord has many names of different meaning, but they all refer to the same person. There’s El Roi – the God Who Sees Me. He sees you in your worst and best moments of life; the most depressing and joyful. Yahweh Raphe – God Provides. I have this written on my right wrist. And on my left I have written in Hebrew, “Yahweh Nissi” which means “God is My Banner; My Refuge.” He’s the one I go to in time of trouble, the one I let all my anger, sadness, and feelings go and let him guide me.

God didn’t make life perfect, I can testify to that. But he made it so that in times life would be easy; leisurely, but God knows when you start to stray, just like he knew that Adam and Eve would leave; human would leave him because who needs a God when everything is perfect, no granted, God didn’t create sin. He didn’t make Adam and Eve sin, it was their faults that got them to sin and fall. He creates those hills in your life that can test your faith and trust, making you run to him.

Now, for the second question that you may have answered “yes” to. There’s no evidence you can say that makes it right for you to kill yourself. Or for anyone to kill themselves as a matter-of-fact. You may be thinking, No, you’re wrong. My life stinks. My friends abandoned me. My family hates me, my parents are divorced. School is so hard, I’m not sure if I can bare it. No one cares for me, who’d care that I was gone anyway… no one would notice... Stop.

Yes, your parents would notice. Your friends would notice. People who are aware of you and know you would notice. God would cry at what would happen. Sure, sometimes there are friends who leave or ignore you. I know the feeling. But there’s always at least one friends who’s your real friend,you can tell that friends are real friends when they stay by your side no matter what, and care about you like a sister or brother, when they express concern. Sometimes, though you may not notice, but that people push others away, instead of you thinking they blocked you out, make sure you’re not the one actually blocking them out.  Now school. Oh boy, no one likes it. Especially when you have to wake up at (what seems) the crack of dawn. You may be failing your classes, or suffering with some part, but never fear! Most teachers are eager to help if you seek it and are willing to work hard. People care for you, for who you are- fun, energetic, intelligent, kind, silly, etc.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”

-2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

There is hope. There are counselors, your parents, youth leaders, and people who are trained to help you and want to make sure you live a life that’s amazing, even God wants and makes sure your path is made for you! There is always room for second, third, and fourth, (so-on) chances. God gives us hope and tells us to live a holy life, one made possible by his death on the Cross (and rising again).

Would you be willing to give up everything? Your amazing and precious life, love, and future. The fun, spending time at the amusemet park, riding the roller coasters, going to the mall, or going to that concert you dreamed of going to? You may think it’s your fate – well Humph! Fate. Only God knows your fate, not you, remember that. He’s in control of everything.

Now, I’d like to tell you a few stories, one I heard, or watched at my Youth Group meet, and the second will be a personal story; journal, from my life…

There’s a story of a woman, who’s two daughters where abducted and killed; murdered. And the woman couldn’t let go of what that man had done, she started to turned from God. Thoughts like, Why did he…? and How dare he… started to course through the mother’s mind. She suffered depression and the feeling of lost. It was when someone came and helped her realize, praying to God, confessing and handing over; letting go, of those feelings she felt a weight be lifted and was able to forgive the person who was responsible for the murder. This was about 10-20 years (if I remember right) after the incident.

Amazing, huh? God provides and he’s all sufficient; El Shaddai.

There’s a song by Matt Redman, actually a couple songs, one called You Never Let Go and 10,000 Reasons.

I’d like for you to listen to them – You Never Let Go and 10,000 Reasons.

Remember and “absorb” the lyrics, when I find myself in a situation that seem hopeless, if you will, I remember theses songs, and repeat them in my head.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

-Romans 12:2 (NIV)

“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.”

-2 Corinthians 1:6 (NIV)

“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.”

-Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

If you or you know someone thinking about Suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK

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I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
  I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
  I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,
  I’ll fly away;
Like a bird from prison bars has flown,
  I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory
  I’ll fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
  I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

Just a few more weary days and then,
  I’ll fly away;
To a land where joy shall never end,
  I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

By Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch, I’ll Fly Away

The song, I’ll Fly Away, has a meaning to me personally, and I’m sure to many of you too. There are so many times when we simply just want to fly away, fly away from our troubles, fly away from our fears and past. We live to regret all those times we let a friend down or team. Most, if not all, people forgive, move on, and forget, while you, well you feel like you relive that moment anytime you see, hear, or think of something near that topic or situation that occurred. The memory replays just like a broken record.

That song helps me to remember God’s grace and his comfort, and that someday I’ll fly away and be with him in paradise beyond our wildest dreams. From this earth we shall be removed and “when the shadows of this life have gone” we’ll “fly away.” And right now, I want to point out a couple verses, the first one being found in Psalm 28:1-2, 7 (NIV). It goes:

“To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

From this verse hope and light shines, and knowing our God is rock solid in everything, he doesn’t turn away, though we may think. And just as David wrote, “For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit,” I think we all can relate. When I feel, personally, that God isn’t helping me or responding, I feel useless, angered, and so many other feelings, I ask myself, “Is this really happening?” Yes it is, but then, I remember that God responds to all cries for help, it’s just not in the way we imagine. He has a plan for us, one is according to his purpose for us. The verse finishes with “The Lord is my strength and my shield… My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” We, too need to remember that the Lord truly is our strength and shield in time of hardships, and when as we see through his eyes how he helps us, we then leap, cry, or silently leap for joy and sing (aloud or quietly) thanks to him.

The second verse, like the first, is found in Psalm. It is a longer verse, but yet contains many meanings. Psalm 40:1-3, 11-12, 17 (NIV) goes like so:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.
Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.”

As we wait patiently (and anxiously!) for the Lord to respond to our cries, he hears, as said before. That slimy pit we once felt like we were in, well, we’re not lifted out by his grace and love. You know how in Psalm 28:1 and how it says, “To you I call, O Lord my Rock?” Well after he lifts us out, he sets us on firm and solid ground and it is on “Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sicking sand.”  In our hearts and mouths he puts songs of praise and joy. He gives us mercy countless times, even when we don’t deserve it. The truth of his word will protect us, and so will his true and pure love.

The verse, “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see,” is part of the verse that speaks to me, for it’s true, when I feel like all my troubles; my sins, have consumed and blinded me, it’s his love and his word that breaks that blindness and makes it so that I can see the light shine once again. We are poor and demanding people; needy. We think of ourselves most often and what we need most; what we want. We can try all the things in the world – fame, love, success – to make ourselves happy and it’s only God who can fill that want in our life.

The Lord is the only one who can save, and he did that without hesitation, without delaying, and though he didn’t have to die, he loved us so much, he had so much compassion, that he couldn’t stand seeing us sink into the dark and be blinded from the light. God is our helper, our rock, our Father, and our deliverer, our hope, and our redeemer.

Here’s a few songs for you all to listen to, and that’s if you wish. I love them all. They all have an amazing meaning behind each of the lyrics.

In Christ Alone [originally done by Stuart Townsend & Keith Getty] – Sung (Live) by The Newsboys

I’ll Fly Away [originally done by by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch] – Sung by Jars of Clay

Our God by Chris Tomlin

You Never Let Go by Matt Redman

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“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

-2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NIV)

It’s exam day, you studied hard and long for the past few days,

and you still have butterflies and doubt stuck in your gut.

What if I missed something? You wonder, What if I suddenly

forget important pieces right before the test? What about

those “trick” questions? What if I somehow studied the wrong

material and missed a subject? What words do I use to explain

the topic asked in the short answer problems? And so on, so forth.

There are so many “what ifs” in life alone, and tests… oh tests they set a lot of people in a “worry trace.”  Just like you, I worry too; tests, pop-quizzes, and quizzes make me nervous and put me sometimes at the edge of my seat, especially pop-quizzes. I like to make sure everything is just right; I’m a perfectionist with OCD, and in an imperfect world, it’s hard to perfect precisely. With pop quizzes – and sometimes tests – I start racking through my brain trying to replay image of the things I’ve learned, trying to recall how to explain or define. Well, and I’m sure you can relate when you knew something and then forgot it. You first get up set and angered with yourself, and then the wave of panic comes through!

But do this: just stop. Stop worrying for a moment. Breath – in out, in out, in out, in out- and listen for a second. Remember that God is in control of everything. Pray to Him for peace and for a working mindset when you’re in those scenarios. Also, remember that you worked hard – at least I hope you did, for your sake – and did your best possible to know everything you were told or wisely predicted to study. As long as ou gave your best effort, that’s what counts.

Remember the verse above, it says “may the Lord of peace himself give you peace.” Peace is peace; calmness and a clear state of mind; comfort. The Lord, who created everything – feelings, thoughts, emotions – and is “the Lord of peace himself” is able to help you in all ways. So if he can do that, the I assure you that he can comfort you when your nerves are at the edge of a cliff.

Prayer is the strongest tool God has given us, it’s the (or a) way we can communicate to our Father. And just like you would tell your mom or dad the feelings your feel, tell God too, just the way you’d tell your earthly parents. I find when I pray and tell God my troubles and request help or peace, I can almost immediately feel God’s presence and peace. Now, it doesn’t happen, or it won’t happen all the time, but God is there, he’s always there; omnipresent. And he cares very, very much for you.

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